The twentieth and final major chapter of Book Three: The Invasion by Flashfire212, with the rounding off of the first arc-sort of thing.

Chapter Twenty: Proposal

Sitting under a majestic Oak tree near Doctor Kintobor’s tower, Maddy found herself admitting that she’d never had an experience quite like it. From fighting in a war to being kidnapped by her boyfriend’s counterpart, the past week had provided more excitement and fear than she felt she had needed, but at least now she could relax. The blue hedgehog snuggled further into the arms of the echidna relaxing underneath her, her head against his chest as the two simply watched the sky. Nearby, she could see Scourge, tied to a post while the people who had planned everything discussed his fate, but despite that, she refused to pity the monster that her father’s counterpart was. Will turned slightly, then sat up, prompting Maddy to do the same. He seemed nervous, but Maddy figured being in a hostile world would do that, despite being protected by massive shields.

“Maddy, I was thinking…you know…Ah, how do I say it?” Will muttered. Maddy tilted her head slightly, and gestured for him to continue. Finally, he sighed and reached into his pocket.

“Maddy,” he started, pulling a tiny black box with a familiar gold hammer emblem atop from his pocket, “Will you marry me?” With slight difficulty caused by his mitten-like gloves, Will managed to open the ring box, revealing the most beautiful thing Maddy had ever seen. The ring itself was gold, but the diamond set in the middle was flawless, cut to perfection, with not a flaw to be seen. Her face lit up, and finally, she managed to utter a single “Yes” before engulfing her fiancé with a massive hug. Nearby, Sonic smiled. He liked Will, and felt even better knowing that his daughter was happy. Finally, he heard the noise he had been waiting for, a Zone Portal opening.

“You’re about a week too late for the battle, cop.” Sonic commented, exchanging a fist-bump with Zonic, his Zone Cop counterpart. “I had Dr. Nega and a bunch of theft complaints to deal with, Sonic. Bunch of regions lost their items of power to Scourge, but we came under attack before we could get here. Question is, should we reimprison Scourge in the No Zone? I mean, we’ve imprisoned him there three times, and he’s escaped every single one.” At that point, the others, whom had arrived from Mobius and Col’nesia soon after the battle finished and had been discussing Scourge’s fate approached.

“We’ve got an idea on that front. Apparently, Ronan had a prison built in Paradox Slide Zone, a world whose temporal fluctuations drove the original inhabitants mad. It has access to each and every other zone, but cannot be accessed from outside without a portal generator. Not to mention the entire prison is built from Echidna iron.” Knuckles gestured to the hedgehog in question, before smirking. “Now all we’d need to do is get him there.” Ronan nodded, but Zonic looked perplexed.

“What’s keeping him from breaking out?” To that, Ronan already had an answer.

“One, inhibitors will keep his powers under control. Two, despite the fact that many groups have dimensional engines, the zone itself constantly shifts. I’m the only person with the equation to track it for access. Finally, the zone’s version of Sonic, called Paradonic, is more than just insane, he’s paranoid. If he sees Scourge free, which is likely considering he lives in the area that controls the portals, he’ll round the hedgehog up and inform us. I’ll provide you the access equation, Zonic, for your escape risks. No rehabilitation here, simply a truly inescapable prison.” Finally, the Zone Cop agreed, and a pair of guard robots grabbed Scourge and started lugging him towards a Vorstec portal.

“I’ll be back! I’ll break all the zones to my will, once again, and you shall all bow to me!” he roared, only for a taser attached to one of the two guard ‘bots to jab him, rendering the corrupt Sonic unconscious. The others watched him get dragged from the zone, before Commander Tower and his team bid the others farewell and returned to Mobius. Zonic gestured to the array of items. “My people will return most of these to where they belong, so you can take the ones from your world back, I think.” Sonic and Knuckles both nodded, with Sonic turning his head to see Miles Prower in a heated conversation with Blood.

“…I swear, the boy had control of my every thought! I tried to resist, but Striker had me…” he overheard. Finally, nobody could delay any longer. Despite Dr. Kintobor still requesting to treat the combatant’s wounds, the way he had treated Will’s, Sonic managed to convince him to use his Globe Posts and send them home. One by one, the Mobians went, with people continuing to shuttle emeralds, rings and other items back home, with Maddy the last person to cross the threshold. Will, on the other hand, waited. “Not leaving, Will?” the kindly doctor asked. Will shook his head.

“I’ve got one last thing to do first, then I’ll get home under my own power. My dad knows, he’ll tell the others.” Dr. Kintobor looked skeptical, but did nothing to delay the echidna as he headed within the hospital tower.

He was aware of who he was, and who the girl was normally next to him was. He could feel parts of his body he had never felt before, parts that had been beaten to a pulp by his counterpart, plus his mismatched eyes ached after overuse of their power, but he refused to speak, to focus. Instead, the echidna was still within himself, mulling over what he had been told, over what had broken his brain. Suddenly, he felt a sharp shaking forcing his mind up and out of his self-created prison.

“Striker, snap outta it!” he heard his counterpart saying. Finally he agreed to it, opening his visible eye to see Will standing before him.

“Come to finish the job?” he croaked. Will looked at him, with the look carrying over the key point, that he was pathetic. Striker accepted it.

“Dude, I spoke to Shady, and to others who really care about you. You want to die, don’t you? I humiliated you, broke you, and you can’t see the point in living any more, can you?” The echidna remained stonily silent as Will continued.

“Striker, I have only one demand of you, the demand of the victor over the one he defeated – live. You are my counterpart. For all intents and purposes, that makes us brothers. You forcing yourself to death isn’t the way anyone wants you to go. Scourge might be gone, but this world is still unstable. Scourge’s defeat probably brought around warlords and others whom are trying to replace them.” Now his counterpart was starting to get to him. “Striker, there are no other Guardians in Moebius. Scourge had them all killed. For a job like reigning in the warlords and bringing balance to the world, it’s a guardian that is needed. What are you? A Guardian, or the one who is guarded?” Finally, Striker opened his mouth, and let himself speak.

“Why…why are you showing kindness to me? I killed your best friend. I could have killed your girlfriend. I am you, and perform all the darkness you could do. Why spare me Scourge’s fate, or that of my father?” Will shrugged.

“You were a soldier, following orders. I guess I was, too. We aren’t so different, both controlled by our emotions.” Will walked around to where Striker could reach, and offered his counterpart his hand. “So, are you going to live, brother, or am I going to have to tell Shady to find a new boyfriend?” Shady. She was the pivot. Youngest child of bitter enemies, born of a night of drunken panic. He couldn’t bring himself to harm her any further than either of her parents had. He sat forward slightly, and grasped his counterpart’s hand with a strong grip.

“You have a deal…brother.” The two shook, and then Will gave a strange, dry smile. “Well, I got engaged to Maddy today… good luck with Shady, my friend.” With that strange point, the echidna left, leaving Striker in his bed, alone, but now he didn’t retreat into his thoughts, but smiled himself. Yes, he would live, and he would atone for the damage he did. He would become greater than ever, and he would prove that he could be an ally to his counterpart, the most unusual Moebian ever. Yes, that was him, and he found that he enjoyed the idea.

Will left the castle and found Ronan waiting around for him, the Vorstec portal set up and waiting for him to return to his homeworld.

“How’d my Exa-Diamond ring go, earlier?” he asked. Will smiled.

“She loved it. Thanks for that. I mean, I couldn’t ask her to marry me with anything less than a gem of the same perfection as her…” Ronan made a gagging motion, so Will took the message. “Anyway, I wanted to thank you, Ronan. For all you’ve done in the last year. You saved my life, then spent months in prison on war crimes charges on a heat of the moment decision.” Ronan shrugged.

“Eh, guess it’s what I’m good at…but I expect an invite to the wedding. You Mobians haven’t really left me enough time to get my business back in order, what with your request for a diamond ring and locking me up, so give me some time before the next time you need help, will you?” Will laughed, and shook his friend’s hand.

“Until next time, Ronan.” The echidna said. Ronan simply nodded once, and smiled in return.

“Good luck keeping the girl happy, and don’t dwell too much on Kyle. His memory touched even me, and that’s not just because we’re related distantly.” Will nodded back as Ronan stepped into the Vorstec portal, leaving the young guardian alone. Finally, he closed his eyes and Chaos Controlled away, leaving Moebius silent…for now.

Dramatis Persona

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