| Knuckles the Echidna #06|
Writer: Ken Penders
Knuckles the Echidna 6 is the sixth issue of the Knuckles the Echidna comic.
This comic features one story: "Zero Hour and Counting", the third part of the Lost Paradise arc.
With Knuckles and Julie-Su investigating Echidnapolis, the other Chaotix have been left behind to guard the island, unaware of what is occurring in the city that has mysteriously reappeared. While Espio leaves his camouflaged room in a tree, the other Chaotix relax, but Vector is agitated about everything. He expresses his displeasure at being left behind to guard the island instead of helping Knuckles, though he is interrupted as the entire island shakes tremendously. Although there were tremors earlier, the Chaotix notice that the sound of the tremor made it appear much closer than normal.
In Echidnapolis, the dingoes continue to have Knuckle's mother, Lara-Le and some other echidnas as hostages. Knuckles, with help from Archimedes, transport into the room adjacent to where the hostages are being held. Although Knuckles wants to get into the battle right away, Archimedes advises him to wait for the dingoes to come to them before they do anything. One of the dingoes, Jasper, hears the transport, so he and his partner decide to go and investigate. They enter into the dark room containing Knuckles, resulting in a quite one-sided battle. The leader of the dingoes hears the battle, then seeing his two partners being thrown out of the room like rag dolls. With his cover blown, Knuckles leaps out of the room and at the lead dingo. Lara-Le ducks out of the way, allowing him to knock the dingo flat to the ground. The attack distracts one of the other dingoes, so one of the other echidnas stands back up and disarms his guarding dingo, knocking him down as well.
With the dingoes down and out, Knuckles thanks the other echidna in the attack, Wynmacher, for a job well done. Lara-Le runs over, asking if they are alright, then goes and hugs Knuckles, having not seen him for so long. Archimedes then appears, alerting them all that more dingoes are on the way.
The backup contingent of dingoes hear about the trouble and run through the apartment to where the hostages are being held. Upon arrival, they notice everybody is gone, except for the other dingoes that are unconscious from the battle. The leader of the pact orders the others to check all the other rooms, but are stopped short as they start to fade away. Despite leaving the dimension, the leader notes that their general will be happy with what has gone on.
Outside the apartment, Constable Remington and Julie-Su, along with other members of the Echidna Security Team, await to enter the apartment. One of the EST members runs up to Remington and Julie-Su, telling them that headquarters is ordering them back. They wonder why they are being ordered back as they are led back to the van. They open up the door, revealing somebody they never expected to see...
While all of this occurs, Hawking watches from his personal base, contemplating the situation at hand. While he thinks aloud, an old red ant by the name of Deo arrives, wondering what is up. Hawking tells Deo that he doesn't believe the dingoes are involved with the energy fluctuations disrupting the links between the zones, but that 'Haven' has the answer to the problem. He calls up Locke on the monitor, but the energy disruptions create a very fuzzy connection. He asks Locke if he received his previous transmission, which he did, and Locke is thus able to explain what is going on with the disruptions. When the Ultimate Annihilator was activated by Dr. Robotnik in Robotropolis, for a billionth of a second, everything in the primary zone was wiped out. This effect also accelerated the disruptions between the zones, which had already started when the Dark Legion was able to arrive on the Floating Island and, ultimately, Echidnapolis' return to the island. Locke concludes that, now, multiple zones are attempting to compete for the same space in the primary zone, which could result in a collision of the dingoes zone and Echidnapolis, in which only one can survive.
In the EST van, Knuckles, Archimedes, Lara-Le and Wynmacher are present, having transported to the van earlier. While on the way back to the security station, Remington congratulates Knuckles on saving Lara-Le, however, Knuckles notes that many other echidnas that were taken hostage weren't saved. Once they arrive back at the station, Remington leads them all to a room, while he states that they will fight back against the dingoes when the time is right. In the meantime, Remington tells the group to remain comfortable in the room until they are needed again. Of course, not wanting to be out of the loop, Knuckles tells Archimedes to head out and keep them informed. Once he disappears, Knuckles turns his attention to Lara-Le, who mentions that he hasn't said much to her. He doesn't know where to start, so she starts the conversation, wanting him to acknowledge her as his mother, recalling when she gave birth to him, thinking that Knuckles was the key to joy and wonder in the future. She then notes that, even though she knew Knuckles would be a guardian, she wanted a say in his growth. Alas, Locke took control of Knuckles' upbringing, and she had little say. Due to that, she decided to walk away from both Locke and Knuckles.
Knuckles wonders if there was anything else she could've done, but because of the ways of the Guardian, she couldn't have any other say. Not long afterwards, Remington barges in, telling the group that he received word from Guardian Hawking that he has determined a solution to the zone disruption issue. Remembering the statue he saw before, Knuckles realizes that Hawking needs his Hyper-Zone Projector, however, Remington notes that it is only part of the solution. Before he can continue, the ground shakes again, as the two zones of Echidnapolis and the dingoes collide again, with the citizens of each witnessing each other in shock.
Gerbil of the dingoes reports to General Stryker again, reporting of the collision of zones. Stryker tells him to calm down, noting that this could be the final conflict between their group and the echidnas and that, no matter what, their civilization will prosper. He turns to his desk and presses a button, bringing up another dingo on a display. The dingo, Field Commander Rat, salutes, asking the General for orders. The Commander has the echidnas from the hostage-taking in his custody, so Stryker orders him to put the echidnas on display in the main square...alive or dead. The transmission ends, so Rat orders his men to line the echidnas against the wall. Although they are nervous, one of the echidnas stands up, telling Rat that they'd rather die than submit to the dingoes. Rat doesn't care for the message, quickly telling his men to fire.
The dingoes fire...but there are no clips in the guns. While the echidnas remain confused, Rat laughs, noting it was just a game he was playing with them, and that they'll never know when he wants them dead for real. Suddenly, the group hear a voice from above. They look up to see Knuckles flying down at them, with Julie-Su climbing down a nearby wall. Gliding into the scene, Knuckles takes out three of the dingoes by surprise. One of the other dingoes then takes aim at Julie-Su, firing plasma shots at her. She dodges the blasts by jumping out of the way, then landing on the dingo's back. Knuckles then turns his attention to Rat, taking him by his collar, while the other echidnas tie the dingoes with rope. Knuckles asks Rat to get him in contact with his master, but the dingo is reluctant to do so. One of the echidnas tells Knuckles that they know how he can contact the master of the dingoes, leaving Rat useless, so Knuckles punches him out.
Grabbing the dingoes weapons, the echidna that stood up to Rat leads Knuckles and the others down a corridor to where he needs to go. Julie-Su thinks that everything is going too easy for them, when the ground shakes tremendously, sending her falling to the ground. Knuckles asks to help her up, but she shoos him off. Outside, the disruptions are getting worse, as the dingo city and Echidnapolis, trying to conflict with each other, start to tear apart. The citizens of each city run for cover, while Hawking contemplates his next decision, and what consequences it could deal. He orders Deo to contact Archimedes to get everybody to safety.
Archimedes, receiving the message, appears in Knuckles' hand, warning him to get everybody underground. He wonders how much time he has, as they enter an elevator, which Julie-Su notes that they are already running out of time. He presses a button on the elevator, taking them to the suite of Stryker. Stryker, meanwhile, is in his suite, suiting up while the room around him starts to crumble due to the tremors. Gerbil runs in, warning him to get to shelter, but the General would rather go down fighting. He puts on his metallic power glove, which he claims will give the echidnas something to really fear. Gerbil hopes so, as Knuckles, Julie-Su and the other echidna barge into the room. Knuckles tries to talk to Stryker, concerned for everybody's safety, telling him to get everybody underground or many people will be hurt. Stryker, only thinking about conflict, doesn't listen to him, taking a jab at Knuckles with his glove. He ducks, narrowly missing the powerful swing. He goes at Knuckles again, missing, while he warns Julie-Su to stand back. Julie-Su gets angry at Knuckles for defending her again, as he holds off another attack by Stryker. Concerned for everybody's safety, he orders Julie-Su to get the others to get to cover and to find the other echidnas taken hostage.
They leave, taking Gerbil hostage to lead them to the rest of the echidnas that were taken hostage, while Hawking watches over. The old echidna contacts Remington, telling him to get all the citizens of Echidnapolis to the bunkers as the zones are breaking down faster than he anticipated. He ends the communication, then telepathically opening a cover to a button on a nearby console. Using his telepathic powers, he presses the button, which powers up the Hyper-Zone Projector.
Back in General Stryker's suite, Julie-Su and Knuckles continue to fend off Stryker's never-ending assault. Wanting safety for all, Julie-Su rips off a window cover from a nearby window and throws it over Stryker's head. This gives Knuckles time to grab a nearby flag pole, then hits Stryker over the head with it, sending him into a daze. He takes the cover off, telling Stryker that his men need to follow along with their plan, ordering him to call a truce or that Echidnapolis will destroy the dingo's city.
In both cities, all citizens are led into bunkers, while the Hyper-Zone Projector starts to activate. Knuckles, Julie-Su and Stryker, now in a temporary truce, run for the bunker as well, but the tremors are starting to become a lot more aggressive. Archimedes jumps into the scene, as the Projector just starts to do its work. He grabs the group, transporting them instantly to the dingo bunker just as the Projector goes into full-effect, bringing the zones together and back into the primary zone on the Floating Island. The resulting collision brings both the dingoes and echidnas together in one bunker, shocking both groups. Once Remington and Stryker see each other, they prepare to fight, but Knuckles steps in, telling them that cool heads are better at this stage in time. With that said, Stryker finally thinks about the situation rightfully, deciding to go outside and investigate.
Everybody leaves the bunkers, arriving on the surface, revealing Echidnapolis, now fully returned to the primary zone on the Floating Island, however, many of the buildings are in ruins due to the tremors. One question on Archimedes' mind is what has happened to Hawking. Deo Volente appears on the scene, the grandfather of Archimedes, noting that the fate of Hawking is out of his hands. However, Deo leads Knuckles into a nearby building, telling him that Hawking had left something for him. Both Knuckles and Archimedes follow Deo into Hawking's building, curious as to what he left. They enter a room where Hawking's old hat remains. Deo climbs the pedestal holding the hat, handing it over to Knuckles. He's curious as to why he is receiving the hat, but Deo leaves before he can answer. Nonetheless, Knuckles puts the hat on, asking Archimedes what he thinks. He gives him a thumbs up, thinking that hat fits him perfectly.
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