GeneX - Knuckles the Echidna
Chapter 7 - The Despair Seal
Stage 6(Dark 3) - Giant Jungle
Minor Boss 2 - Guard
Note: Sonic the Hedgehog and related characters are (c) SEGA and
Sonic Team. You knew that, right?
GeneX and related fanchars are (c) 2BIT (TheGreatGator), the author.
The story thus far:
On the way to Angel Island to once again attempt to nab the Master Emerald, Punchy the Echidna encountered the mysterious Deathbringer, who warned him to leave the country, or else! Then, as he left for the train station with Rainbow, she spotted her sister with the Covenant of Despair! They followed her to the beach, where GUN's Sergeant Drol and even Illusi the Shrew got in their way! Soon enough, they found the Covenant of Despair, fighting with Drol over an ancient stone tablet. Rainbow's sister escaped with the tablet, leaving Punchy and Rainbow to battle one of GUN's mechs! Convinced that Rainbow's sister was now long gone, at the very least, Punchy decided it was best to resume their original plans and head for Angel Island.
Now, on to the next chapter!
When Punchy and Rainbow reached Angel Island, they found it on the ground rather than in the sky. This seemed suspicious to them, but not quite knowing the connection between the Master Emerald and the island's flight, they decided to head up to the shrine anyway. There, they found a bat wearing a Covenant of Despair uniform standing guard. Leaving Rainbow to wait at the steps, Punchy went up to interrogate the intruder. The bat jumped upon seeing him. "Hey! What you doin' here?!" he yelled. Punchy sneered at him. "I'm the one who should be asking that! Where's Knuckles and the Master Emerald?" he barked back. "With any luck, at our headquarters... Well, the emerald anyway." the bat mused, "The guardian should be sleepin' with the fishes." he said, pausing to glance at Punchy. "Hey, uh.... You his twin brother? You look just like him!" Punchy rolled his eyes at this. "Enough! You tell me what happened here RIGHT NOW!" he snapped. "Hey! Mind your temper, One!" Rainbow called up. The bat snickered at this. "Yeah. Mind your temper, One!" he teased. "I am Punchy!! PUNCHY!! Now are you gonna talk?!" Punchy growled. The bat shook his head. "No. I ain't no stool pigeon." he said. Punchy growled and socked the bat in the gut! "Stool pigeon THIS!" he shouted. The bat grunted in pain, but didn't seem fazed by the attack. "Hey, what's your problem, One!?" he grumbled. "Stop calling me One!" Punchy warned. Rainbow was shaking a bit, getting worried. "C-calm down now..." she whimpered. The bat didn't share her concern, though. "Naw, don't calm down! I wanna see what ya do about it! Mr. One!" he taunted, as Punchy growled, growing angrier and angrier. "One, One, One, ONE!!! Onnnnnnne! Ha ha ha! Look at you! You're such a baby!" the bat chortled. However, the laughing stopped in an instant when a rage-crazed hand seized the bat's throat! "I'll wipe that smirk off your smug little face!" roared Punchy, now having taken the frightening form of Dark Punchy! He socked and smacked the bat while Rainbow cowered at the bottom of the steps, only to be joined by the bat as Dark Punchy hurled him down in her direction! "O-one! Snap out of it!" Rainbow cried. "Had enough, you slimy insect!?" Dark Punchy growled as the bat climbed to his feet shakily. He took a deep breath, then shouted "MOMMYYYYYYYY!!!!!" before flying off! Rainbow stared up at Dark Punchy nervously. "OooooK One... He's g-gone... Now... C-calm down... Please?" she yelped. Suddenly, Punchy reverted to normal, and sighed deeply. "Whoa, that was counter productive.... But kinda fun, too." he said. Rainbow looked at him quizzically. "I didn't completely turn into Dark Punchy. I was able to restrain him a bit." he explained. Rainbow sighed with relief. "Don't scare me like
that, One! You gotta be calmer!" she shouted.
As they were turning to leave, and Rainbow was muttering about how they might as well look for her sister now, two strangers approached them! "Excuse us. Can we ask you something?" They turned to see a pink fox wearing a red shirt and blue jeans accompanied by a white fennec wearing black clothes, similar to a priest's. "What now?" Punchy mumbled. "I'm Evelyn, and this is Fred. We're here looking for the Master Emerald guardian." the fox said. "So am I." Punchy grumbled. "Never mind that. Perhaps you can help us instead." Fred suggested. Punchy shook his head. "No way! I'm not helping Red's pals!" he shouted. Rainbow scolded him. "Don't be mean, One! Let's find out what they need first!" she insisted. Evelyn nodded. "You see... We're really looking for a fennec named Gemini. A bunch of us were looking together." she explained. Rainbow remembered Gemini from Soleanna. "You mean Wanda?" she asked, using her nickname for Gemini. Fred and Evelyn stared at each other in confusion, but shrugged. "Anyway, in our search for Gemini, we lost our companions." Fred said. "Lost is hardly the word. They were kidnapped!" Evelyn interrupted. Rainbow frowned. "Kidnapped!? Who would do such a thing?" she gasped. Fred looked thoughtful. "Well.... He was a heavy man, with a big bushy moustache." he said. Punchy's eyes went wide. "That sounds like Dr. Eggman! Why would he kidnap your friends?" he wondered. "...they have an eggman here, too?" Evelyn whispered under her breath. "never mind that!" Fred replied, "We know not why this Eggman kidnapped our companions, but we need help to rescue them. We were hoping that the Master Emerald guardian might help us, but instead we found you." he explained to Punchy. "Please! Will you help us?" Evelyn asked. Punchy frowned. "I dunno... Sounds like a thankless chore...." he grumbled. Rainbow was more enthusiastic. "Don't joke around, One! Of course we'll help! Tubby can be so mean sometimes!" she said. "Thank you!" Evelyn cheered. "We will await you deep in the Mystic Ruins jungle. Our friends are being held near there. Safe journey, Punchy! Galaporta!" Fred said, waving a wand to teleport himself and Evelyn away! Punchy stared as they vanished. "He has magic... Why does he need us?? And wait, how'd he know my name!?" he stammered. Rainbow shrugged. "You must've told him and forgot. Let's go!" she said.
As Punchy and Rainbow made their way to the exit tunnel leading back to the Mystic Ruins, they suddenly found their path blocked as the Deathbringer swooped down in front of them! "Wha?! You again!?" Punchy growled, stopping in his tracks. Rainbow shook her fist at the hooded figure. "Go away and bother someone else, Grim Reaper!" she shouted. The Deathbringer stood there, glaring at Punchy. "You aren't paying any heed to my warning at all, are you?" it growled. "You'll be paying heed to my fist if you don't get out of my way!" Punchy warned. "Yeah, you tell him, One!" Rainbow cheered. "You think you are a match for me?" the Deathbringer said mockingly. Punchy raised his fists. "Maybe I do!" he growled, some small residue of dark energy falling from his gloves, left over from his earlier transformation. Most beings could not see this dark energy, but the Deathbringer gasped upon noticing it. "The darkness inside you is growing..." it muttered. "Huh?" Punchy asked, only to be taken off guard as the Deathbringer suddenly charged at him! "I'll kill you!!" it roared! However, before it could strike, an icy wind blew violently in the Deathbringer's direction, knocking it away! A strong rain suddenly started to pelt the island, and the voice of the Doomsayer called out, "Deathbringer!!" Punchy and Rainbow turned to see the glowing yellow eyes of the Doomsayer cut through the sudden storm! The Deathbringer turned to him in a fury. "Don't try to stop me! He needs to die!" it yelled. "All this is pointless. He will die when the world ends." the Doomsayer said. "Uhh... Rainbow, you seein' double, too?" Punchy murmured. "Must be the Grim Reaper's brother..." she muttered. The Deathbringer panted a bit. "If it doesn't matter either way..." it sighed, "I'LL KILL HIM!!" Once again, the Deathbringer charged at Punchy, forcing him to shove Rainbow aside to keep her safe! However, the Doomsayer summoned another wind to catch the Deathbringer's wings and force it to land! "LISTEN TO ME!" the Doomsayer bellowed. The Deathbringer yelped, and then stared at the Doomsayer for a moment. "But, I..." it murmured. "Go. Now." the Doomsayer ordered. The Deathbringer paused, then flew away quietly. "Whew! That was close! Thanks, Reaper 2!" Rainbow sighed, rejoining Punchy. "What's all this about, anyway? Who are you clowns?" Punchy asked. "I am the Doomsayer. You need know nothing else." the hooded figure said. Punchy nodded. "Well, see ya then..." he muttered. "A word of caution... The Deathbringer will come for you again." the Doomsayer warned before vanishing in a burst of hail, seemingly taking the rain with him.
There was quite a lot to talk about as Punchy and Rainbow made their way to the jungle to find Fred and Evelyn. Threats on Punchy's life, the missing Master Emerald, and Rainbow's sister all made Rainbow think that they should probably reassess their priorities for the time being, but Punchy remained determined to find the Master Emerald after this next side trip. Having been kept waiting, Fred left them a sign pointing the way they needed to go, so Punchy and Rainbow headed into the jungle without Fred and Evelyn. "Not sure how we'll save their friends if we don't know who they are...but what the hey. We find Eggman, we free all hostages he's keeping, mission complete." Punchy said. This section of the jungle once had possessed massive trees, the likes of which make normal trees look like broccoli. Now, what remained were mostly house-sized stumps, except for a single massive tree at the center of the area. "Look at all these house-size stumps! It's amazing and sad at the same time." Rainbow said. Punchy nodded. "Who could have done this to the jungle?" he wondered aloud. "Who else?" came a disdainful voice nearby. They turned around to see Fera the Wolf, standing solumnly and surveying the destruction. "Humans did this. They destroyed this jungle, as they did many others." she said. Rainbow glanced at her, then at the giant stumps. They were hardly useful for their wood. "But, why?" she asked. Fera scoffed. "Why? I gave up on asking that a long time ago. Humans are hateful, destructive creatures. I can never forgive them..." she said, clasping a hand near her covered eye, "Instead, I will exact the world's revenge on every last one of them." She then started to leave, turning briefly toward Punchy. "Remember my name. I am Fera the Wolf." she said in parting. Punchy and Rainbow started towards the last huge tree in the jungle. "Boy, she has issues. Still, those humans got a lot of nerve..." Punchy said. Suddenly, a yellow Egg Pawn with wings and a jetpack ran up to them! "Halt! You are trespassing on the territory of Dr. Eggman! I, E-5X now place you under arrest! Come join the other prisoners at the Tree Fort!" the feisty robot shouted. Rainbow smiled. "Awww, what a cutie!" she said. Punchy chuckled. "Really blew the old budget on E-5X, eh, doc? So the prisoners are at the Tree Fort? All right, take us in!" Punchy said, figuring he'd easily be able to fight his way out. However, the robot suddenly jumped. "EGAD!! I just realized that I just finished stashing the keys to the fort for safekeeping!! Then... I erased their locations from my memory as a security measure..." he groaned. Punchy rolled his eyes and started walking off to look for the keys. "Come on, Rainbow..." he grumbled. "Report back here for jailing if you find the keys!" E-5X shouted.
So, they started searching the surrounding area for the keys. The aerial variation of the Egg Pawns known as Egg Flappers were patrolling the jungle, but there were enough ordinary-sized trees still standing for Punchy and Rainbow to sneak around without being seen. "Eggman's robots are pretty dumb... But that's exactly why I bet the keys'll be a pain to find. Leave it to his robots to lock themselves out." Punchy grumbled. As they walked, Rainbow looked around skittishly. "One... Do you hear something? It better not be those Reapers again..." she mumbled. Punchy shushed her. "I'm trying to look for those keys, Rainbow. Just let me know if you see any trouble." he grunted. Suddenly, they both saw several robots appear out of nowhere, having snuck up on them with cloaking devices! They were Eggman's Newtrons, and while some clung to their lofty perches in order to start lobbing laser blasts at them, the others dropped down and transformed their bodies into rockets to charge at them! "Yikes! Do something, One!" Rainbow shouted, picking up a stick and running around in a feeble effort to bat the rocketing robots away! Punchy hastily evaded the lasers, then grabbed at the nearest rocketing Newtron! "Shoulda stayed invisible! Now you made me mad!" he growled, hurling the robot at one of the others clinging to the nearby trees! However, there were still several others left, and they quickly ganged up on him, making him jump and spin almost like he was dancing in order to dodge them! "Why do you hold back?!" shouted Fera, observing them nearby. Punchy glanced at her, only to have a laser blast kick up a cloud of dirt in his face! "AHCHOO!! W-well... I could Chaos Avalanche the rest of the jungle down right on our heads! Very productive!" he growled. Fera stepped in and raised her hands, generating dark energy which she soon tossed at the Newtrons as several small balls, smashing them to smithereens one by one! Punchy and Rainbow stared at her in surprised. "Gee, thanks Wolfie." Rainbow said. Fera scoffed, then handed Punchy a bracelet emblazoned with the Covenant of Despair's symbol. "This is something we use to train our dark mages: the Despair Seal." she said. Punchy stared at it. "Huh? Well, thanks, but I'm no magician." he said. Fera looked him straight in the eye. "I sensed a great dark power within you... Yet it appears to be beyond your control. With this seal, you may tap into this power at will. Use it well, and embrace the true power of shadows!" she said before walking off once more. Rainbow looked at Punchy nervously as he slipped the seal onto his wrist. "I feel kinda silly... But c'mon, wouldn't it be awesome for Dark Punchy to be playing for our team?" he asked. Rainbow shuddered. "I have a bad feeling about this, One..." she said.
They continued exploring the jungle, and found a gigantic tree stump that was hollowed out on the inside, looking like a small cavern. It looked suspicious, so they went to get a closer look, and found a GUN Agent standing around at the entrance to the cavern! He was dressed in the trademark black suit of a spy, with reddish hair and blue shades. He was twirling a big red key in his hand, which had a distinctive, Eggman-shaped handle. "That GUN stooge has one of the keys! All right, let's get him!" Punchy said, walking up to the agent. The man reached for his gun, but didn't pull it out of the holster right away. "Hey... What's the big idea? This part of the jungle is off limits to the public!" he said sternly. "Yeah, good for you. Gimme that key!" Punchy snapped. Rainbow peered into the cave inside the giant stump and noticed a big cage, holding a prisoner. "Hey... Who you got in there?" she asked. The GUN Agent stood in front of the cave and held out his arms. "None of your business!" he shouted. "Rainbow? Punchy?? Help! Get me out of here!!" Gemini's voice could be heard from inside the cage, and Punchy raised his fists angrily. "How'd she even get caught? Well, you're gonna let her go, and you're gonna give me that key!" he said threateningly. The agent shook his head. "You can't take her! She's to remain here, by order of Dr. Nammad!" he said. Gemini started to rattle the cage. "That doctor's crazy! He plans to experiment on me or something!" she shouted in a panic. The agent chuckled. "No, he's busy experimenting on that cool magic wand she had." he explained. Punchy stepped toward the GUN Agent. "That's it. Enough outta you, shades!" he growled. This got the agent worried. "Intruder is hostile! Guard!! Chase this guy outta here!" he called. The familiar green, scythe-wielding gargoyle swooped down from the sky and landed between Punchy and the GUN Agent! "Grrr!! I'll take it from here, Agent 64!" he growled.
Punchy groaned, backing away in order to gain some room to fight Guard. "For some strange reason, I didn't see this coming... Dang it!" he grumbled. Guard swung his scythe and pointed it at Punchy. "Grrrr... Leave now, or I will be forced to place you under arrest!" he warned. Punchy rolled his eyes. "You'll just do that later, anyway! Let's get this over with now!" he shouted. Guard charged at him straight away, slashing his blade and firing a beam from it as he did! Punchy fell over, but rolled aside before Guard could strike again, and quickly got back on his feet! While they were busy fighting, Rainbow snuck over towards the cavernous hollow in the tree stump being used as Gemini's prison. However, Agent 64 stood in her path, tapping his foot disapprovingly. "Ma'am, I'm going to have to ask you to stay back." he said. Rainbow pouted and sat a few feet away. "You black suit guys are so RUDE!" she grumbled. She then gasped as she saw Punchy's situation. Somehow, Guard had gotten the upper hand! He had Punchy pinned down, and they were grappling against his scythe, but it seemed like Punchy would need help to get out from under the gargoyle! "Ah! One! Hold on!!" Rainbow shouted. "He flew up and sucker-punched me! Stay back, Rainbow!" Punchy grunted. He needed a way out of this predicament. "Grrrrr!! Surrender!!" Guard growled. Punchy growled back and glanced at the Despair Seal on his wrist. "I could try it... But what if I can't control it? Meh... How much worse can things get if I'm losing to Guard?" he muttered. Guard raised an eyebrow. "Rrr? What are you mumbling about? Do you surrender or not!?" he growled. Punchy clenched his fists and concentrated on his rage. "...Not!"
The Despair Seal suddenly flashed, and Punchy rapidly transformed into Dark Punchy, startling Guard! Punchy then kicked the gargoyle off him very forcefully, leaping to his feet while Guard flapped his wings to hover in the air in front of him! "No! One, don't!" Rainbow yelped, covering her eyes. "This isn't good..." she whimpered. Guard growled. "I don't know what you've just done here... Grrrr... But I will not fall to your trickery!" he shouted, flying at Punchy only to be slammed in the gut by a darkness-charged punch! Guard tumbled to the ground, while Dark Punchy laughed at him. "Not so tough now, are ya? I don't even REALLY have to move..." he said, attempting to call on some dark magic. However, nothing was happening, and Guard got up during the pause. "What!? Aw, this dumb bracelet is inhibiting me!!" Dark Punchy growled, reaching to take it off, only to find that he couldn't even touch it! "Errrgh... No... It's letting YOU control me..." he growled. Rainbow scratched her head. "Wha...? Oh, yeah. Dark One's a different guy. So... One's controlling him?" she wondered. Guard attempted to slice his scythe at the distracted echidna, but Punchy swiftly grabbed at the handle! "Make us madder... I dare you." Dark Punchy growled, tapping Guard's chest and jolting him with dark energy! Guard stumbled backward as Punchy released his scythe, and Agent 64 stepped forward. "That's enough! Guard, we're getting out of here!" he said. Guard glanced back. "Grrr? Col. Gunner would never approve a retreat!" he pointed out. "Well, I would! Get us out of here so we can warn Dr. Nammad!" Agent 64 ordered. Dark Punchy sneered at him. "Better listen. While you can." he said. Guard looked back at Dark Punchy with disgust. "Grrrr!! I'll remember this!" he said, running over to pick up Agent 64 before flying off!
Rainbow looked up at Dark Punchy fearfully. "O-one...? You in there?" she asked. The Despair Seal flashed, and Punchy reverted back to normal. He then glanced at the ground and saw that Agent 64 left Eggman's key behind. "Good. Now we're getting somewhere." he said. Rainbow sighed heavily. "Stop doing this, One! My heart can't take it!" she groaned. Punchy shrugged. "You'll get used to it. This Despair Seal's gonna make life a million times easier!" he said. They then turned their attention to Gemini's cell. "Tell you what, I'll rip this open with my own strength." Punchy said. Gemini stood back as Punchy tore down the flimsy cage door. The white, pink sweater and blue jean-clad fennec then stepped out and stretched. "Freedom!! Finally!! Thank's guys! So, what brings you to the jungle?" she asked. Punchy motioned for her to follow. "Long story. I'll explain on the way." he said. Gemini shook her head. "I'll pass on that, then. I think I got enough. You need some keys. I need my wand back. We're both stuck here for a bit, so we might as well explore together." she said. Rainbow nodded. "Good! And maybe once you find your wand, One won't feel the need to go all dark for a while! Let's get moving! Follow me, everyone!" she said, taking off in a random direction. Punchy and Gemini watched her awkwardly. "Does she have any clue where she's going?" Gemini asked. "I've given up asking that..." Punchy grumbled.
As they were leaving, they were unaware that Fera was observing them from atop the giant tree stump. She grinned to herself. "Ah, the first taste. That exquisite darkness..." she mused, turning to finally take her leave of the jungle for real. "Soon, that power shall belong to the Covenant of Despair..."
To be continued...