A chameleon by the name of Espio was walking around in a field, calm and serene. Or so it seemed, until he leapt into the air and flung a shuriken at a training dummy. He became surrounded by training dummies, and he immediately went total ninja, punching, kicking, and flinging shuriken in all directions.

A voice called, "Espio!"

Espio turned, then immediately leapt out of the way as a blur of blue passed him by at near the speed of sound, at the same time tearing apart several training dummies. The chameleon shook his head, then got back his training, muttering, "Sonic."

Indeed, the blur is Sonic the Hedgehog, racing through the fields. After ensuring that there's nothing he can run into, he breaks the sound barrier, shooting forward with new speed. Eventually, he reached a small cannon, which he lit (by scraping one of Espio's shuriken against the side, causing sparks) and entered. When the cannon fired, Sonic was flying through the air.

Nearing the floating Angel Island, Sonic shouted, "Knux! Heads!" On the island, a red Echidna looked up, only to see Sonic flying towards him, and he leapt out of the way at the last second as the blue blur hit the ground, skidded, and spun.

"Woah, Sonic!" Knuckles shouted. "Give me a little more warning next time!"

Sonic shook his head, laughing. "Whatever, man. You up to much or just hanging around? I'm feeling bored as heck and need something to do."

Knuckles thought about this for a moment. "Well, I'm stuck here. Tails was going for a test run on his Turbo Tornado. Amy was hanging around Station Square. Haven't heard too much from Big or Cream lately. If you happen to know where that Zyx guy is, then..." Suddenly, he perked up. "Oh, yeah. Shadow wanted to talk to you, but couldn't find you, so he asked me to tell you. However, I doubt he'll keep calm, so I can I ask you a favour?"

"What kind of favor?" was Sonic's reply. Knuckles laughed, then turned to the shrine of the Master Emerald, phasing through seven colours, and raised his hands. Miraculously, the great Emerald seemed to shrink, until it went from fifteen times the size of a Chaos Emerald to about three. Knuckles turned, holding the shrunken Master Emerald, and handed it to Sonic.

"Kick his rear end for me."

Sonic took the Master Emerald with doubt. "Wait, doesn't Angel Island need the Master Emerald to keep afloat?"

Knuckles shook his head. "It'll keep afloat as long as either me or the Master Emerald is on the island."

"Alright then," Sonic said. Then he nodded to the Chaos Emeralds resting around the shrine. "Thanks for keeping the Chaos Emeralds here for me, by the way. If I need to go gold, I can't risk them being drained like with the Gaia incident.

"Not a problem," Knuckles replied. "How are you getting down?"

Sonic leapt high into the air. Before he fell, he called, "I have no idea." Then he passed the side of the island and vanished. Knuckles ran to the ledge to see Sonic, flashing gold, flying off. The Echidna turned to see the seven Chaos Emeralds standing on their points, spinning and glowing brightly. He slowly started to shake his head.


At Tails' workshop, Sonic powered down and came to a skidding halt, the Master Emerald in one hand like a weapon - or a shield. He looked around. No Shadow, only Silver, laying on a bench in front of the workshop. Silver noticed him and stood up.

"Hey," he nodded. He motioned to the Master Emerald in Sonic's hand, phasing through seven colours. "What's with the Master Emerald?"

Sonic shrugged. "Shadow said he was going to be here," he replied, "and Knuckles wanted me to knock him back to the ARK." Silver laughed, then dropped his head suddenly.

"Well, hate to say it," he said, "but Chaos boy isn't around right now. That was actually me."

"What?" Sonic reeled back. "How did you...?"

Silver cut him off. "Mental manipulation," he answered, holding his hand up. The psychokinetic ring was glowing. "I needed to talk to you."

"For what?" Sonic asked. Silver turned around, thinking. After a while, he turned back, a depressed look on his face.

"Before I came here, to your time, I'd had strange memories that I didn't really recognize. It was mostly a blur, but I could make out this one figure, sort of fading away in the sky. I didn't really understand it, and when I came here they seemed to fade. But recently, they've been returning. I still don't understand it, so I was wondering if you could help me sort of figure it out."

Sonic thought about this for about two seconds. "Well..." he started to say, but suddenly cut himself off and shouted, "Watch out!" before knocking Silver out of the way with an instant sound-speed tackle, just as Tails came skidding through the ground, slamming into the wall of his workshop. Sonic ran up to him and asked, "Tails! What happened?"

Tails weakly picked himself up and said, "It's that Zyx guy! He's gone mad!"

Silver was the first to respond. "Zyx? Where is he? What did he do?"

"I'm starting to descend in the Turbo Tornado when Zyx comes by, coated in shadows!" Tails explained. "Rather than not minding me and continuing on his path a couple of miles away from me, he turns and tears through the rocket!"

Silver was speechless for a short while.

Then he vanished in a blur of silver energy lines.

"Where is it, Echidna!?"

Zyx was holding Knuckles against the wall by the throat, and the Echidna could see darkness coursing through his eyes. The hedgehog had already taken in the power of the Chaos Emeralds and powered up, gold turning platinum and black turning gold, but it didn't matter that his quills didn't change in Chaos form because right now it was clear that Zyx was as mad as hell even without Shadow's quills. Knuckles was trying to fight back the hand around his windpipe, but he was losing consciousness fast.

"Tell me where the Master Emerald is!" Zyx shouted.

Knuckles managed to gasp, "Bite... my... dreads... Black Boy!"

Zyx gave a furious shout, and darkness started to course through his other arm. "This is your last chance before I send you to your grave like I did the dimwitted bundle of weight!"

Even Knuckles could tell who he was talking about. "You killed Big! YOU MONSTER!"

There was a shock as Knuckles took a hand off of Zyx's arm and delivered a punch to Zyx's face. The black hedgehog reeled back, and Knuckles fell to his knees, but kept his head up and his fists ready. Zyx turned away, the darkness fading from his arm.

"I won't kill you this time, Echidna," he said angrily. "But if I'm not holding a reaper's scythe before sunset, then you will die. And any attempt to resist will just make it more painful." Then he vanished in a blur of darkness.

Sonic was the first to know something was coming.

After a lifetime of Mach-speed dashing and breaking the sound barrier, he knew that something was coming at them fast, and he immiately knocked Tails out of the way before a black-and-gold blur sent him flying into the trees surrounding Tails' workshop. He was still holding the Master Emerald even after Zyx appeared in front of him and locked his hand into Sonic's neck.

"So it's you that's holding the Master Emerald. How amusing."

Sonic was hardly able to gasp, "What... in... Space.... Colony... ARK...?"

Zyx simply laughed, then dropped Sonic and grabbed the Master Emerald, expanding it to full size. "Fear, Sonic! Fear the Reaper!"

Sonic managed to dash out of the way as Zyx transformed with the powers of the Chaos and Master Emeralds, which immediately vanished. He momentarily flashed back to his original form before undergoing a violent transformation. His arms and legs bulked slightly as his gold became a murky grey, patterned with black. What was originally black changed to a sinister shade of amythest, and his eyes became completely black, with Xs of grey streaking them. His quills, partially flared up like Shadow's, frayed in every direction, with a few of them forming a line of what would appear to be horns. In his hand formed pure darkness, which slowly took the form of a reaper's scythe.

Zyx turned to Sonic and Tails. "You die first, hedgehog!" he shouted before shooting forward at an immense speed. Sonic couldn't escape; he was trapped purely by the sight of Zyx's corrupted form.

Suddenly, Tails' orange-yellow form appeared in front of him, and he shouted, "Run!" Then, before anything else could happen, a crimson liquid spewed forth from his chest. A blade the colour of newmoon night was sticking out of his chest. Sonic stared up into Tails' eyes, which were staring straight at Sonic. His mouth curled into a weak smile.

"Goodbye, Sonic the Hedgehog."

Then there was an explosion of blood as the blade of the scythe came straight up. Zyx twirled the scythe in a violent blur, slicing Tails apart. The golden hedgehog looked upon the dead body, then looked up to Sonic.

But Sonic was already dashing away at an impossible speed, trying to get as far away from the scene of his best friend's death as possible.

Reaper Zyx stared at the escaping figure of Sonic. Then he turned away. The Dark Master still preferred to reside within him, and so he only had to speak mentally to ask the question that was volting in his mind.

"I do not understand. My powers are weakened now. I can feel it. Why is it that you have chosen to use both the Chaos and Master Emeralds? You say darkness is meant to kill. So why have you called upon a form in which even I can tell shadows are weaker than another?"

"You misunderstand me, reaper," was the reply. "Despite being disabled in shadows and in electrokinesis you are still highly advanced in the Chaos arts - although I will admit that both electricity and Chaos are admirable companions to darkness. So call upon the Chaos, reaper! Restore your abilities!"

Zyx closed his eyes. "If you say so," he replied. Focusing, he called out, "Chaos..."

The sun started to set upon the ocean. Just as the light vanished from the day he snapped his fingers, shouting, "MAGIC!"

Around him, the area started to distort in time and in space. Trees shrunk. Rocks grew. The workshop exploded. When all had calmed, Zyx was at full power. His electrokinesis was mastered. His darkness was intensified. His Chaos, already mastered, was unchanged. And he was still holding the reaper's scythe.

"Where to next?"

The Dark Master replied, "Get the Master Emerald - it will have returned to the shrine of the Angel Island."

Zyx laughed. "I've been waiting to kill that Echidna," he stated. Rather than flying off, Zyx faded into shadows; then he shot through the air, aiming for Angel Island.

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