Sonic performed a spinning slash to strike down a Soldier-One with a spear, leaping to the side after he landed to avoid a swing from an axe-wielding Soldier-One and then performing a horizontal slash to take it out. He then started to back away as a group of Soldier-Ones approached him, trying to get the right angle to attack them from, but Lancelot solved the problem by launching what looked like several Chaos Spears at the knights, causing them to disperse. Sonic turned to look at the black hedgehog and they both nodded at each other.
They both looked to the side when they heard a grunt and saw Gawain leaning against a large rock while trying to catch his breath. “They’re actually starting to push now. We might have to start doubling our efforts to keep them back,” the echidna said.
Lancelot nodded, “We’re going to have to do something. Reinforcements haven’t shown up yet and several squads have already fallen back to the city for medical attention.”
Before Sonic could say anything, he looked to see that a school of Fish-Ones was flying in their direction and held Caliburn ready, Lancelot doing the same when he saw them. Before the school could even reach them, however, several light blue magic spheres shot down some of the higher flying Fish-Ones, followed by Lady Nimue appearing in front of the two hedgehogs and casting a wave of magic at the lower ones, knocking them back and causing them to dissipate. “Nimue! What are you doing here?” Sonic asked.
The pink hedgehog took a moment to cast a barrier spell around her, Sonic, Gawain, and Lancelot in case any Underworld knights tried to attack them. She then turned to face the knights with a worried expression and said, “Something’s happened. Smithy and our allies from Equestria are in danger!”
Sonic looked surprised at that. “What?! How do you know?” he asked.
Nimue explained, “I was trying to keep track of their status with my reflecting pool like I said I would, but ever since they arrived at Avalon, it’s been harder for me to keep an eye on them. I’m sure they’re in danger because, while trying to get into a tower that was constructed by the Underworld, Twilight and Smithy were stalked and attacked by someone. And just like with Merlina, I could only hear what was happening; some magical interference kept me from seeing their attacker, but I’m sure of it now. This ‘Lord Terios’ I heard them mention must be the one who attacked Merlina, and now he’s gotten Smithy and Twilight as well!”
Lancelot raised an eye, “‘Terios’?”
Nimue replied, “Whoever he is, he apparently fashions himself the ruler of the Underworld. I don’t know how that could be; it shouldn’t be possible for someone completely unknown to usurp the title of Underworld ruler, but that doesn’t matter now.” She looked at Sonic, “What matter is, I believe they’re all in mortal danger now, and you’re the only one who can help them, Sir Sonic.”
Gawain asked, “But what about our situation?”
Caliburn spoke, “Sir Gawain is correct, m’lady. This battlefield is not something Sonic can easily leave from.”
Sonic gritted his teeth as he looked out through the barrier at the Knights of the Underworld approaching their gathering. “I trust Nimue’s words. Whoever this Terios jerk is, I can see maybe he wouldn’t just let them walk up and capture him. He’s probably prepared for that. Still… I can’t just leave like this. There’s gotta be a way to slow them down more…” he said.
He turned to Nimue when she spoke, “I’ve already checked the status of our reinforcements. The soldiers should be arriving on the battlefield soon, and we have yet to call the Crew into action. The aid will help, and I can command Camelot’s forces in your absence.”
Lancelot thought for a moment before saying, “I have an idea.” He held his left hand to his ear, tapping into the magical link Nimue had created, and ordered, “Percival, Galahad, Lamorak, Tybalt, Frederick, fall back to the command outpost! This is not the time to question it; just meet us there!”
As the black hedgehog lowered his hand, Gawain asked, “You want us to fall back, Lancelot? So basically, we’re retreating?”
Lancelot replied, “It’s too open out here, Gawain. The outpost will give us a chance to discuss what we’re going to do in secrecy.” Nimue nodded at his words and lowered part of her barrier, allowing the four of them to start moving back towards Camelot. The Knights of the Underworld that saw this thought they were actually retreating and this information began to spread among them.
Soon, everyone had regrouped at the command outpost and Nimue used her magic to create a blue portal in front of her. A second later, the Crew stepped out of it and Sonic immediately recognized the group due to it being composed of Chaotix counterparts. The Espio lookalike from earlier was there and Sonic could see that he was wearing a blue tunic with a black shirt underneath. He was the first to introduce himself, revealing that his name Suterusu. Vector’s counterpart was named Cooper and he wore a greenish-black Aussie hat and tan vest in addition to Vector’s chain necklace, and Charmy’s counterpart was named Chami and he wore a metal helmet with goggles that were similar to Charmy’s as well as a brown jacket that he left open.
Surprisingly, they weren’t the only ones to have been summoned, as four others also stepped out of the portal as well. In particular, Sonic recognized the black and red-shelled armadillo and the yellow-furred flying squirrel that came with them. The armadillo introduced himself as Kaz and he was wearing black fingerless gloves with brown cuffs and brown and black boots that almost went up to his knees. The flying squirrel’s name was Glide and he was wearing a pair of blue goggles, white gloves with blue cuffs, an open blue jacket, a blue scarf, and a pair of dark blue shoes.
The last two, Sonic wasn’t sure he knew who in his world they represented. One was a golem made of gray stone with red hands and black shoulders with short arms and legs. The other was a floating, glowing red sphere that stayed close to the golem and did not say anything. According to the golem, their names were Golo and Pyre, respectively.
Once all the introductions were made and the situation was explained to the Crew, Gawain turned to Lancelot and asked, “So what’s your idea, Lancelot?”
Glide added while balancing on his tail and holding his right hand over his eyes, “And how come the Underworld army seems to be approaching slower now? I feel like they should be closer than they are…”
Lancelot answered, “They must think they’ve backed us into a corner when really it’s quite the opposite, which works in our favor. As Lady Nimue said, Smithy and our allies from Equestria have walked into a trap, and if they’re lost, not only is there no chance of this battle ending, but the Underworld will have time to prepare Avalon for any future invasions. Sonic must go to their aid now, before they have that chance, and he’ll need to get there fast. So we’re going to make sure the Underworld army gets that message.”
Nimue asked, “What are you saying, Lancelot?”
Sonic held his left hand to his chin, “I might be wrong about this, but… are you suggesting a bum rush?”
Lancelot nodded, “Exactly. We’re going to mount an offensive blitz on them. If we can catch them off guard, then it will be even more effective, but at any rate, we have to force them back, give the rest of our reinforcements more time to arrive.”
Lamorak spoke up, “I like the sound of this plan. I say we go for it!” Sonic, the other knights, the Crew, Caliburn, and Nimue all agreed with the hawk’s statement and began preparing their strategy. After a minute, they settled on a plan of attack. Nimue would remain in the outpost until Sonic had left the battlefield, the blue hedgehog heading west with Glide and Kaz until they were past the Underworld army, at which point the two Crew members would return to the battle and Nimue would take his place. As for the others, Lancelot, Gawain, and Frederick would push to the southwest, Suterusu, Chami, and Cooper would go south, Percival, Lamorak, and Tybalt would go to the northwest, and Galahad would aid Golo and Pyre in the north.
Once the Underworld army had drawn closer to Camelot, the teams began their blitz. Everyone started their part with an offensive attack; Golo threw Pyre at the Knights of the Underworld, the sphere giving a massive explosion in front of the marching knights, Percival led with a tidal wave made of flames, Lancelot rained Chaos Spears down on the enemy, Cooper breathed fire while Suterusu threw throwing stars, Chami following up by dive bombing with his stinger, and Sonic led Kaz and Glide, all of them attacking while running. Their team was intentionally the first one to start pressing forward, all the other teams starting to move once they were going.
Sonic, Kaz, and Glide lined up side by side as they ran, charging headfirst into the Underworld army, crashing into the first soldiers and leaping up, trying to catch as many as they could with a Spin Jump. They then shot towards the ground and resumed running, bowling into more knights and sending them flying, causing them to knock down others of their kind as they landed. The other teams were following a similar strategy, slowly but surely pushing back the Underworld army and leaving their forces in disarray.
It didn’t take long for Sonic, Glide, and Kaz to reach the edge of the battlefield, ending up near the Deep Woods area. The trio came to a stop and Sonic turned around to look at Kaz and Glide, the former saying, “This is as far as we can accompany you, Your Highness. We have to go back and help protect Camelot. The rest is up to you.”
Sonic nodded and held his left thumb up as he said, “I know you’re more of the peaceful type, Kaz, but you and Glide sock it to ‘em good!” The armadillo and flying squirrel nodded and turned to head back, hoping to get a few Underworld soldiers from behind, while Sonic turned and started heading south for the coast. He didn’t get far when he suddenly planted his feet against the ground upon seeing Camelot soldiers emerge from the woodlands in front of him, skidding to a stop in front of the battalion. “Whoa! Are you the reinforcements we requested?” he asked the leader.
The soldier nodded, “Yes we are! What are you doing here, my liege? The situation was explained to us by the messengers. Are we too late?”
Sonic replied, “Nope, I’d say you’re just in time. The Underworld army’s starting to knuckle down and march on Camelot. We could use the extra help. As for me, there’s been a hitch in the plan. I need to get to Avalon, but Lady Nimue has assumed command. You’ll want to report to her as soon as possible.”
The leader replied, “Understood, sir! Come on, men! For king and country!” The soldiers behind him echoed the shout, Sonic moving past them before they started moving again. He waved back to them before he took off at high speed again, the soldiers heading straight for the battlefield.
As Sonic was running, Caliburn looked up at him and said, “I only hope that whatever the situation on Avalon, it does not get worse.” Sonic said nothing, focusing on the path in front of him, but he was thinking the same thing. If Spike and the ponies were in trouble, then Lord Terios had to be a dangerous player, ruler of the Underworld or not. He only hoped they could hold on until he got there.
Everyone in the group stared at Twilight and Smithy, desperately hoping that this was just some bad joke or illusion that Terios was pulling on them, but that didn’t seem to be the case, especially after how they were acting earlier. The two were still glaring at the group, both standing ready at Terios’ sides and daring any of them to make a move.
The period of silence was shorter than it seemed to them, but Terios finally snapped them out of it when he smirked, “What’s the matter? No one’s got a witty retort all of a sudden?”
Cadance was the first to speak, glaring at the faux hedgehog as she demanded, “You! What did you do?!”
Terios rolled his eyes as he said, “I added some fresh bodies to my army, sweetie, and it just happened to work that it was a way of dealing with invaders as well. Just because I made it easy to open the way up here doesn’t mean I was going to wait for all of you to arrive.” He tilted his head towards Smithy, “Like my toy here said, I’ve been well aware of your little incursion ever since you arrived. No one just struts around on my territory and gets away with it!”
Applejack yelled, “Don’t you call him that!”
Cadance argued, “Why attack without making your presence known? As if what you’ve done isn’t low enough!”
Terios replied, “I hail from the Underworld, honey. NOTHING is beneath me. And for your information, they knew I was there and they still weren’t ready for me. I think it’s safe to say my assumption that the rest of you would react the same way was correct.” He then smirked, “Besides, I seem to recall it was you who agreed with the divide and conquer strategy. Sacrificing safety for speed… is that how you handle things back home?”
Rainbow spread her wings as she shouted, “I’ll give you a taste of speed, you faker!” She shot straight towards Terios, but as soon as she was off the ground, Twilight’s eyes narrowed. Her horn lit up with a red aura and a similarly colored rune appeared in the air in front of Terios. A large, glowing stone hand came through the rune, the hand closing around Rainbow Dash once she was close enough. Surprisingly, it didn’t do anything to hurt her; it just flipped over and opened, Rainbow standing up in confusion. Suddenly, a second rune appeared in front of the first and another hand came through it, this one using two fingers to flick the pegasus back into the locked doors.
While Fluttershy tended to her friend after she fell down onto the floor, the others looked back at Terios as Twilight banished the hands and the runes, the unicorn’s glare seemingly deepening as she looked back at the group. While she was glaring, Terios reached over and ran a finger under her chin as he said, “That’s a good girl.”
Shining gritted his teeth as he looked on. “This is disgusting! I can’t believe this is happening!” he thought to himself. He yelled, “Release them at once!”
Terios glanced at the stallion and pulled back his finger a moment later, holding it to his chin as he seemed to contemplate the demand. He soon spoke, “As you wish. Seems we both want the same thing.” He glanced between Smithy and Twilight as he said, “They’re all yours. Have some fun with them.” He then looked at Twilight and put his index finger and thumb under her chin as he added, “And doll, feel free to use any means you’d like. Up to and including… deadly.” With that, he pulled his hand back and his throne began to move backwards, stopping in front of the painting behind it while Twilight and Smithy stepped in front of where it had been.
As the two stared down the group, Pinkie cried, “Twilight, don’t listen to that meanie! He doesn’t care about you like we do! Fight it!”
Smithy spoke up, his voice sounding like a distorted version of his regular voice with Terios’ voice behind it, “No love for me? I can live with that.” Before anyone could respond, his tails started spinning and he shot towards the group, Rainbow and Fluttershy taking to the air while the others scattered. Smithy turned after he landed and began to unleash a flurry of kicks, punches, and tail whips as he began to spin almost like a top, bouncing around the room as he attempted to hit anyone he could, though never once coming near Terios.
Twilight, meanwhile, remained in the center of the large circular room and followed Fluttershy and Rainbow Dash with her eyes. As the two flyers came to a stop after escaping Smithy’s charge, they noticed the way she was looking at them. “Twilight, I know you have things you’re afraid of, but don’t you remember what the Nightmare Forces did? How they tried to prey on our fears and that’s why they took Rarity? Terios is doing the same thing; he doesn’t actually want to help you,” Fluttershy tried to reason, but it seemingly fell on deaf ears as Twilight’s expression didn’t change.
Instead, the unicorn’s horn lit up red again, a rune appearing on the floor behind her. Upon seeing it, Rainbow spoke up, “Hey, whatever you’re planning to do with that, Twilight, don’t! We can work this out another way; we don’t need to do this!” Again, Twilight paid the words no heed, instead glancing back as she pulled a large wooden bridge out of the rune. For a moment, she just stared at it, but then her eyes narrowed and the bridge began to wobble as she applied magic force to it. Suddenly, the bridge broke apart and she glared up at Rainbow and Fluttershy again, now holding the broken pieces of the bridge with her magic. She then began throwing them at the two pegasi, both of them splitting off to hopefully make it harder for her to hit them, but while she focused on Rainbow Dash, her magic threw pieces of wood at where she thought Fluttershy was too.
As she began to run out of wooden shrapnel, the unicorn created another rune to summon something else. Meanwhile, Smithy’s spin had run out and he had his hands on his knees, whether he was trying to catch his breath or shake off dizziness, it wasn’t clear. Still, Applejack took the opportunity to break out a rope and try to hogtie him while Spike made a break for Twilight. He leapt on her back, breaking her concentration and causing the rune to disappear. He then grabbed onto the unicorn and cried, “Come on, Twilight, snap out of it! I don’t know what this guy did to you, but you’re way better than him! Show him who he’s really messing with!” In a softer tone, he added, “I don’t want you to do this too…”
Twilight turned her head to glare back at him with a yellow eye. She spoke, her voice like Smithy’s since it was her normal voice distorted with Terios’ voice behind it, “Pathetic. You call yourself a dragon?” Without another word, she managed to get him up off of her back and bucked him into the wall with her hind legs.
“Spike!” Rarity cried when she saw him hit the wall. She, along with Pinkie, Shining Armor, Rainbow, and Cadance, had helped Applejack restrain Smithy, the fox’s arms and legs tied together by the rope. They all looked up at her cry and what had happened, so Applejack got up and produced another rope, moving towards Twilight with it. The unicorn turned her head to look at the earth pony as she got closer, Applejack throwing the rope so it went around Twilight before tightening it before it hit the floor, tying the unicorn’s legs together and flipping her over onto her back.
Twilight struggled for a moment, but stopped and looked up when Applejack was standing over her. “Sorry, Twilight, but you ain’t in yer right mind right now. You’ll thank me later,” the earth pony said.
Twilight narrowed her eyes, “How about I thank you right now?” Her horn lit up red as she finished and Applejack looked surprised for a moment before trying to punch Twilight with her hoof to get her to stop. The unicorn was able to roll onto her side to avoid the blow however, and her attention focused on the end of the rope. She gripped it with her magic and made it tie itself around the end of Applejack’s tail. The earth pony glanced back at it in confusion, but her attention was soon redirected when she heard her friends shout. She saw that, during her confusion, Twilight had created a rune right underneath Smithy to transfer an updraft that blew them all up, Smithy using his tails to hover while the others landed on the floor. While the fox struggled to break out of the rope, Twilight caught Applejack off-guard again by using her magic to send electricity through the rope, seemingly not concerned with also being shocked by it. While the earth pony was stunned, Twilight rolled back onto her back and smacked her in the side of the face with her bound legs, knocking the stunned earth pony onto the floor. Twilight then used her magic to cut herself and Smithy free.
Throughout the whole fight, Terios remained sitting in his throne as he watched, though he had shifted to a more comfortable position, his upper thighs resting on top of one of the chair’s arms. “Ah, I do love some drama. It’s always worth a chuckle, and at this rate, I should be entertained for quite a while,” he smirked to himself.
Shining overheard the hedgehog as he picked himself up off the floor and glared over at him, angered not only by what he’d done to his sister and Smithy, but also by that smug, all-knowing look on his face that never seemed to go away, so assured of his victory over them. No longer able to put up with having to entertain his sick mind any longer, Shining charged at Terios from the side.
The hedgehog noticed the white unicorn coming, but simply rolled his eyes and leaned his head back, further infuriating the stallion. He was so infuriated that he didn’t even notice Twilight until she teleported directly in front of him and reared up on her hind legs, placing her forehooves against his chest when he reached her. She was pushed back a bit, but she managed to force him to stop before he could reach Terios. Shining struggled to push past her, but Twilight wasn’t giving an inch. “Argh… Twily, please, fight it. This isn’t like you,” Shining begged.
Twilight let out a snarl before saying, “That’s a stupid name. And not like me? What, I have to fit perfectly into the neat little submissive box you’ve made for me?” With that, she threw Shining to the side with just her hooves, the stallion letting out a gasp before he hit the ground.
Spike looked up from tending to Applejack and saw that Twilight was moving towards where he had fallen. “Oh no, Shining Armor!” he cried, Applejack looking up as well. Though she was still reeling from the electric shock, Applejack climbed to her hooves and charged at Twilight, hoping to distract her. Her advance did catch Twilight’s attention and she stomped on Shining with her hooves once before charging at Applejack, the two ponies meeting halfway and getting locked in a struggle of hooves.
Rainbow, seeing an opportunity now that Twilight was distracted, spread her wings and shot towards Terios again, hoping to reach him this time. She didn’t count on Smithy suddenly managing to get underneath her and throwing her off-course with an uppercut to her chin. She landed on her side and, as she opened her eyes, she saw Twilight overpowering Applejack, grabbing the orange pony’s head and slamming it into the ground. Rainbow was about to go help her friend, but a shout redirected her attention. She looked up to see Smithy fly up above her and then drop down towards her, his left shoulder held out in front of him.
Reacting quickly, Rainbow rolled onto her back and bucked the fox as hard as she could when he was close enough, knocking him back up into the air. She then flipped herself back onto her hooves and shot up after him, grabbing him with her forelegs and swinging him around, throwing him at Twilight. The fox landed on the unicorn’s back as she was rearing up to stomp down on Applejack with her front hooves, the earth pony taking advantage of the opening to swing her head up to knock Twilight further off-balance, followed by her getting up and pushing both her and Smithy away with her hooves.
The two landed in a heap on the floor, both of them looking up a moment later to see that the ponies were all moving closer to them. Undeterred and unshaken, the two stood up, Twilight’s horn lighting up red while Smithy pulled Clarent from its scabbard, spinning it around in his hand a few times and making a horizontal slash with it before pointing its blade forward. The ponies stopped moving closer at that, seeing that the two were about to get serious. Still, they hoped there was still a chance of snapping them out of Terios’ spell without getting any more violent with them.
Suddenly, Spike yelled, “Get out of the way!” Everyone looked to see the baby dragon leap up and unleash a burst of green flames from his mouth, aiming for Twilight and Smithy! The ponies in the path of the flames leapt out of the way and, before it could hit, Twilight teleported away, leaving Smithy to take the full brunt of the flames. The fox tried to shield himself, but the flames hit him and he was set on fire almost immediately.
The ponies turned to Spike to find out why he did that, but they saw Twilight appear right behind the baby dragon. “Spike, look out!” Pinkie cried, pointing. He turned and saw Twilight about to grab him with her hooves and leapt out of the way, leaving the unicorn with nothing. As she got her forelegs under her again and stood up straight, Spike suddenly leapt at her, sinking his claws into the sides of her neck and dragging them most of the way down.
“Spike, what are you think-” Shining started, but he stopped when he noticed something. Spike had managed to get his claws beneath Twilight’s skin, but she wasn’t bleeding. Instead, long trails of black against the lavender on both sides of her neck marked where Spike’s claws had been.
The unicorn’s eyes looked down at the scratches in surprise for a moment before looking back up at Spike as he exclaimed, “I knew it! I knew you were a fake! Your magic’s way too different from Twilight’s!”
The ponies looked back at Smithy at that and realized the fox had been completely changed from being set on fire. He was black, but not because he was burned. Everything about him had changed to a dark black color: his fur, his shoes, his clothes, even Clarent was completely black. He looked more like a shadow of Smithy made solid, and when he opened his eyes, they saw that his irises and pupils had disappeared and his scleras were both a glowing yellow color.
“They’re both imposters!” Cadance realized, and at her words, the fake Twilight’s body lit up red as she unleashed magic from within. It caused a brief flash, and when it faded, they saw that she was completely black with glowing yellow eyes just like the fake Smithy. The shadowy Twilight didn’t even have any sign of the streaks of violet and rose in the real Twilight’s mane and tail.
Despite being found out, the fake Smithy and Twilight looked like they weren’t about to back down. Seeing this, Rainbow yelled, “This game is over! Two words: eradicate ‘em!” The two dark copies resumed fighting at that, but so did Spike and the ponies. Now that it was clear they’d been played from the start, the group wasn’t holding anything back against the fakes. They used their numbers and abilities to overwhelm them, Cadance and Shining Armor using their magic to stun them and allow the others to close in with less risk of being attacked.
While she was admittedly mad at being led to believe that her friends were under mind control, Fluttershy resolved to be the one to keep her anger in check and not lash out with it again. She was content to watch the brawl unfold. It didn’t last long; soon Cadance used her magic to hold the fake Twilight in place while Rainbow quickly flew around the fake Smithy, spinning him around. Shining ran up to the fake Twilight and punched her, his hoof connecting with her right eye, which was followed up by Rarity using a flying jump kick to knock her towards the wall, the imposter hitting hard and crumpling on the floor afterwards. The same thing happened to the fake Smithy, with Pinkie popping up from underneath him to get him in the air, at which point Applejack bucked him into the wall. Both dissipated into nothing shortly after their collapse.
As they all caught their breaths, Terios spoke up, “Well, that was mildly entertaining, even at the end there.” They all looked towards him and saw him twirling both Smithy’s slingshot and goggles around his index fingers, the hedgehog still lying in a relaxed position on his throne. “Wouldn’t have minded seeing it go on longer, but those are the breaks,” he shrugged, his eyes looking up at the ceiling.
Panting, Shining spoke, “Enough of your games, Terios! This is your last chance to call off the Underworld army and surrender peacefully!”
Terios’ eyes shifted downwards to look at the stallion, still twirling Smithy’s possessions around his fingers. “Hm… nah. I don’t think I have any good reason to do that,” he replied.
“Well, how ‘bout we give ya one! We beat yer bodyguards, so how ‘bout you reconsider facin’ us!” Applejack said.
Terios was silent for a moment before he replied, “I did say that, didn’t I? Well, you’ve certainly proven you’re willing to sacrifice.” He smirked, “Maybe you lot can be cold as ice after all.”
Rainbow yelled, “Whatever, pal! Stop stalling! Let’s get this over with so we can actually save Twilight and Smithy!” Terios stopped his twirling at that, the slingshot and goggles flying off of his fingers and landing on the floor. He stared at the cyan pegasus for a moment before a smile started to spread over his face. “What? What do you look so happy about?” Rainbow asked.
Terios swung his legs off of the arm of his throne and placed his feet on the floor, standing up. “Do I look happy? Maybe it’s because I find that a very funny statement,” he answered. Before Rainbow could respond, he held up his arms, his hands open and the palms pointing towards the group. “The way I see it, you might’ve made sure you’re too late for that,” he said before swinging his arms down. Two runes appeared on the sides of the portrait behind his throne and something emerged from each one. Looking up, they saw that what came through was worse than they thought it would be.
It was Smithy and Twilight, both suspended in the air and a barrier that appeared to be made of electricity surrounding them. Smithy’s body was curled up a bit, his hands clutching at his stomach, and Twilight was lying on her side, only twitching a little bit. They were both unconscious and appeared beaten and bruised, marks from various blows visible on their bodies. From the looks of it, though, being beaten wasn’t the only torture they went through.
Looking down, Rarity glared at Terios as she said, “You… You monster! How could you do whatever it is you did to Twilight and Smithy?!”
Terios looked shocked, placing his right hand on his chest as he replied, “Me? You’re pinning how they look on ME? Well, that doesn’t seem fair.” He gestured his head up left towards Smithy, “Just look at the pup. In addition to looking beat up, he also looks a bit singed, like someone set him on fire. And he looks like he’s trying to reach for his stomach, as if someone, ahem, kicked him really hard there.” He then gestured to Twilight, “And she’s got some nice red scratches running down her neck, and that black eye forming on her right eye? Kind of looks like it’s shaped like a horseshoe.” He sent the two back through the runes and put his hands behind his head as he gave the group an unnerving grin, “Much as I’d like to take credit for all of that, I don’t think I can.”
The meaning of his words was not lost on the group, as they realized he’d managed to play them twice. Rainbow gritted her teeth, her anger bubbling over at the thought that he’d gotten them to do what they were trying to avoid without realizing it. “Why, you-!” she growled before she shot straight towards him with her wings spread, closing the gap between them in less than a second.
Before she could hit him, Terios jumped straight up into the air, going up high enough to pull a flip while Rainbow crashed into the back of his throne and landed on the floor in front of it. As she rubbed her face with a hoof, Terios landed on the throne, standing on the arms of it. Looking up, Rainbow saw him looking down at her, still wearing that grin on his face. “Now I’m gonna have some REAL fun,” he whispered.
Pinkie had been struck silent at the revelation, but when she heard that whisper even as far away from Terios as she was, she snapped back to reality, an angry look forming on her face. The hedgehog looked up as she screamed, “He’s gone too far! He’s crossed too many lines! Forget surrender, forget capturing him; he’s going back to Camelot in a GIFT BOX!” With that, she reached over and grabbed Cadance with her hooves, the pink alicorn seeming confused until Pinkie pointed her straight at Terios, at which point she charged her magic up and left it to the pink earth pony to fire it. Pinkie began rotating her tail around in a circle, causing shots of magic to fire from Cadance’s horn.
As the first shots came towards him, Terios leapt to the side, his throne surviving most of the shots while he rolled upon landing. As soon as his feet touched the ground, he ran up the nearest wall and began running around the room at Sonic speed. Pinkie kept firing Cadance’s magic at him and Shining joined in as well, but despite the barrage of shots being fired at him, even when it looked like he got hit, Terios didn’t seem to get hurt.
This continued for about a minute until Terios changed course, suddenly running down from the wall and crashing into Shining and Pinkie from the side, sending both them and Cadance flying. They landed on the floor and looked up a moment later to see Terios standing over them, frowning in disappointment. “Okay, it was fun at first, but now I’m starting to get bored. Try something else,” he grunted.
“You want a challenge?! Well, here it comes, you jerk!” Rainbow yelled and Terios looked to see her flying straight at him, the pegasus having ducked out of the way like the others when Pinkie and Shining tried to magic down the hedgehog. Now that the air was clear, she was ready to take the fight to him again.
Terios smirked and answered her challenge, racing towards her. The two collided near the center of the room, both of them throwing a shoulder at each other. For a moment, it looked like Rainbow was pushing him back, but he retaliated by introducing her to the back of his hand. He landed on the floor while she was knocked back, but she quickly recovered and flew after him, the two side by side as Rainbow tried to get in front of him. Terios used his left hand to slap away Applejack as she tried to intercept him and grinned, “This is more my speed!”
Rainbow began to move closer to Terios and pushed her left shoulder against him while yelling, “Shut up, you creep! The only reason you’re this fast is because you look like Sonic! It doesn’t actually belong to you!”
While pushing back against her, Terios replied, “I beg to differ!” He managed to get his right arm underneath her and punched her in the chest, causing her to crash. He came to a stop a short distance in front of her and turned around to look at her as he said, “I’ve got all the moves, all the looks, and I actually know how to use them!” He grinned, “I AM Sonic the Hedgehog, or more accurately, what he would be if he didn’t surround himself with namby-pamby idiots like you! I’m him at his full potential!”
A shout caused him to look up and he saw Rarity sailing through the air at him with her left hind leg held out. “Don’t you dare sully Sonic’s name! You’re nothing but a twisted reflection!” she cried.
As she was about to reach him, Terios held up his right hand and cleanly caught her hoof, the kick only managing to push him back a little bit. He grinned up at her and, before gravity caught up, said, “Mirrors are so much fun, honey. They show more than most people can see.” With that, Rarity leaned backwards with a yelp, gravity pulling her down while Terios still held her hoof in his hand. He looked off to the side and saw Shining running towards him, his horn glowing. Terios leapt straight up and performed a full spin before releasing Rarity, sending her down to the floor and underneath Shining’s legs, causing him to trip.
“Rarity!” gasped Spike, seeing the white unicorn sprawled out on the floor. He glared at Terios and ran straight for him, fire already welling up inside his mouth.
Before he could unleash it, Terios dashed in front of him and grabbed him by the neck, cutting off the flames. He held the baby dragon up in front of his face and smirked, “Wait your turn, baby. I’ll get to your spanking soon enough.” With that, he swung his arm back and threw Spike towards the wall, Fluttershy diving to catch him before he hit the floor.
Applejack looked over at the two from where she had been knocked before turning to look at Terios. She soon started charging straight at him, Rainbow climbing to her hooves and joining her, hoping they could take him together. Terios punched Applejack away and kicked Rainbow Dash in the chin, knocking both of them back, but as he brought his foot down, Pinkie suddenly dropped down on top of him, causing him to buckle forward.
Seeing this, Cadance called, “Everypony, help Pinkie!” She demonstrated the kind of help she meant by spreading her wings and diving down on Terios from behind, forcing the hedgehog onto the floor. They all got the message and they all did the same except for Fluttershy and Spike, the two not joining due to the former being concerned for the latter. As they all piled on top of Terios, Cadance ordered, “Lock legs! Hold him down!” As they all tried to restrict his movements, they could feel Terios struggling underneath, inspiring them all to make it harder for him to get out.
Shining looked over at Cadance and spoke, “I think we got him down, Cadance. Now what do we do?”
Cadance replied, “I don’t know. But if we can keep him from running, then he can’t attack us!”
Before Shining or anypony else could respond, Terios spoke up, “Let me ruin the moment for you.” They all began to feel vibrations welling up from underneath them, and suddenly, their attempt to chain him in place was ruined as he sent them all sprawling with a Spin Jump. Landing on the floor, he pirouetted before grinning, “Cute plan, but no lolly for you!”
Spike broke free of Fluttershy’s hooves and ran towards Terios, flames already starting to build in his mouth. Once he was close enough, he leapt up and shouted, “Eat this!” before unleashing a burst of green flames from his mouth.
Terios, however, merely sidestepped the attack, the flames flying just over Cadance and Rainbow’s heads, and quickly dashed over to Spike, once again grabbing and lifting him up by the throat. “You really want to get spanked, don’t you? Fine, I’ll make sure to teach you some respect, something Twilight apparently couldn’t do!” he said.
“Stop!” Fluttershy cried as she flew towards Terios. It wasn’t a loud cry, but he looked up anyway, only to lower Spike a bit as his eyes widened. Fluttershy was giving him the Stare as she hovered in front of him, her eyes becoming an icy blue as she looked into Terios’ yellow eyes. “You put Spike down and put a stop to what you’re doing right now, you rotten hedgehog!” Fluttershy commanded. Everyone looked on as Terios stared at her in silence, Fluttershy moving her head closer to his when he didn’t respond right away, staring only into his eyes and seeing little else.
Suddenly, Terios smirked and swung his left fist upwards, striking Fluttershy under the chin and sending her flipping backwards with a yelp. As she landed on her side, he laughed, “Did you really think I was going to listen to you?! You poor, gullible fool! You can wallow in your own insignificance with this dragon!” As Fluttershy tried to stand up, Terios suddenly punted Spike straight at her, sending them both flying into the wall.
He heard a shout and turned around. Pinkie was leaping at him forelegs outstretched. He caught her hooves with his hands and, as they started pushing against each other, she yelled, “That’s another line you’ve crossed! No one, NO ONE, hurts Fluttershy!”
Terios just smirked as he toyed with the pink pony, “Really? No wonder she doesn’t have any skin.” He then forced her forelegs out and grabbed her by the waist, lifting her up over his head. She began beating on his head and face with her front hooves, but he hardly flinched at this. He simply leaned his head back a bit and asked, “So what’s my punishment? I don’t get invited to one of your picnics now?”
Applejack shouted, “No, this is what you get!” He glanced down and saw Applejack running up to him. Once she was close enough, she planted her front hooves on the ground and swung around, bucking him in the face as hard as she could. This caused him to let go of Pinkie, the pink earth pony landing on Applejack’s back, and sent him flying into the wall near Fluttershy and Spike, the two moving away as he landed on the floor and slumped forward. Panting, Applejack turned herself around and asked, “There, how do ya like that, Mr. Fake Ruler?”
Terios was silent for several seconds, the kick having seemingly knocked him out if his slight movements were any indications. Then suddenly, to Applejack’s horror, his head snapped up with a wide grin on his face. “Aw, that’s so cute. You want to compare legs. Okay,” he said. He quickly stood up and, before Applejack could react, dashed up to her and crashed into her, knocking Pinkie off. As Applejack was pushed up off the ground slightly, he brought his legs up, kneeing her underside several times before pulling back and performing a spinning kick to her face, sending the earth pony flying into the wall. As he landed, Terios dusted his hands off and grinned, “Who’s next?”
While Rainbow, Rarity, and Pinkie answered his challenge, Cadance moved to Shining Armor’s side and helped him up. “Are you okay, Shining?” she asked.
The stallion replied, “I’m fine, Cadance, but this is ridiculous. We’re throwing everything we’ve got at this guy, but it’s like we’re just tickling him! How is he so durable?!”
Cadance turned and looked on in worry as Terios pushed Rarity onto the floor and threw Pinkie to the side. “I don’t know, but I don’t know what else we can do,” she admitted.
While looking at Terios, Shining thought about how, when they were firing lasers at him, he always seemed to have his back to them when they hit, and, aside from Applejack’s earlier buck to the face, he never let anything hit him from the front. “Well, hitting him in the head didn’t seem to do anything, but maybe another spot…” he murmured.
Cadance heard him and turned back to him, asking, “Shining?” The unicorn looked at her a moment later and nodded before turning back to Terios and running straight at him.
As he ran, the hedgehog jumped over a tackle from Rainbow Dash, landing in the center of the room and looking at the pegasus, his back to Shining. At a shout from the stallion, he started to turn around and, as he did, he noticed his head was lowered. As he turned around completely, he felt the unicorn’s horn go into his chest and his eyes widened, a legitimately shocked expression appearing on his face as he choked out, “Guh…!” There was no time for anything else as Shining filled his horn with as much magic as he could and released it, a shot surrounded by a wall of magic blasting into Terios, sending the hedgehog flying until he crashed through what remained of his throne and the portrait behind it.
Shining panted heavily with his eyes closed for a moment before opening them, seeing the dust that had been raised by Terios’ crash. He couldn’t tell for sure at the moment, but it looked like the portrait might’ve been hiding a passage behind it. As everyone stared, Shining caught his breath and yelled, “How about that?! Do you like that?!”
There was silence for several seconds. Then Terios spoke, “Well, I must say I’m rather displeased.” Everyone immediately noticed the change in his voice. He still sounded like Sonic, but before, his voice had made it clear he took great pleasure in beating them down and mocking their efforts. Now his voice sounded completely dry, as if he no longer found humor in the situation.
As the dust began to settle, Shining could see Terios standing, turned slightly away from him, his head tilted down as if he was staring at something, though with his left eye closed, it was likely that the right one was too. And he was shaking. It didn’t look like it was much more than a tremor running through his frame, but one could guess that his composure was starting to slip. “I rather liked that painting,” Terios stated, still in that same dry tone, a few seconds later.
He slowly turned around to face Shining, and the stallion could see a hole in his chest where his horn had entered. What looked like cracks lined its circumference and it was black inside the hole. He also noticed that Terios was quite noticeably frowning, and when he opened his eyes, he saw that they had changed from yellow to red. “I was having fun, but now you’ve gone and upset me,” the hedgehog snarled. A dark blue aura started to appear around him and he began to hover just above the ground a moment later. “It’s time to put you in your place.”
In a quick flash of movement, Terios moved forward and then dropped into a Spin Dash, reaching Shining before he could react and bouncing up to hit him in the chest, knocking his forelegs off the ground. While he was reeling from the hit, Terios landed on the floor and immediately launched into another Spin Dash, this one knocking Shining into the locked doors behind him. The stallion juddered and groaned as Terios held there, still spinning into him. After holding there for a few seconds, he moved back and broke out of his spin before floating forward, this time punching Shining repeatedly in the face without any mercy.
“Shining!” Cadance cried, spreading her wings and flying towards Terios. The hedgehog, however, only glanced back over his shoulder to see where she was and went from punching Shining to swinging his left hand back and slapping the pink alicorn in the face, the force strong enough to knock her backwards.
Shining hoped he could get a chance to attack Terios while he was distracted, but all too quickly, the hedgehog turned back to him and pinned him to the door again, this time by wrapping his left hand around the stallion’s throat. As he held up his right hand, red electricity began to spark around it and he sneered, “I bet you’re wishing your sister was here to save you now.” With that, he slammed his right fist into Shining’s face. The last thing the stallion registered before everything went black was his body hitting the floor.
“NO! Shining!” Cadance cried as she saw her husband collapse and not get up. Terios spun around to look at her and she shivered as his eyes focused on her. Still, she climbed to her hooves and called on her magic. She fired at him, but he just flew at her, not even bothering to get out of the way, her shots bouncing off as they hit his head. He quickly reached her and wrapped his left hand around her horn, clamping down on the magic within it and sending electricity through it. The feedback from both caused Cadance to scream out in pain, Terios then pulling her up off of her hooves and swinging her up and down by her horn several times before throwing her up, followed by him flying up to grab her and slam her back into the ground.
As he stood on top of the defeated princess, Terios looked up to see Rainbow flying at him. Easily sidestepping her, he turned around to look at her as he held up his right hand, a light blue orb forming above it. Rainbow turned around and attempted to fly at him again, but he held his right hand out and released the orb, which split into two smaller orbs as it flew at Rainbow. Both hit the base of her wings, and immediately ice climbed up both of them, quickly encasing them completely. Terios leapt off of Cadance as Rainbow crashed into the floor and then the pink alicorn, both flopping across the floor at the impact.
While Rainbow recovered and tried to break the ice on her wings, both Rarity and Pinkie Pie tried to take Terios together, both launching themselves at him. The hedgehog caught Rarity by her hoof and Pinkie by her head, both of them managing to do little more than push him backwards a fair distance. Terios just sneered at them and tossed Pinkie up so he could hold her by a hoof as well. He then slammed them both into each other before slamming them repeatedly down on the floor. When he got tired of that, he slammed them into each other one more time before tossing them up and unleashing a barrage of punches, ending with him crossing and uncrossing his arms in an ‘X’-shape, a large explosion occurring that blew both ponies away when he uncrossed his arms.
Applejack charged at Terios and began trying to stomp and kick him with her front hooves, but he merely stepped around each of her attacks. After several seconds of this, he created a dark purple sphere above his right hand and shoved it into Applejack’s chest, some of the dark purple staying there even after the sphere broke, causing her to stop moving as she began to feel pain from that spot. She refrained from voicing her pain, but she was still left distracted for a moment and in that moment, Terios charged up more spheres. He then fired several from his right hand at her face, then from his left hand, and finished up by performing a kick during a backflip, the orange earth pony’s hat falling from her head as she went sailing into the wall.
Both Fluttershy and Spike wanted to help everyone, but they were frozen in place as Terios turned to glare at them. He looked them over for a moment before deciding they weren’t worth his time and instead simply pointed his right index finger at them, red lightning shooting from the tip of it at them. It caught them before they could move and they both screamed as he turned it up.
Rainbow finally managed to get the last of the ice off her wings, helped in small part by the heat generated by the explosion that Pinkie and Rarity were caught in. With her wings finally free, she was prepared to help Fluttershy and Spike, but then she noticed that Terios stopped sending out electricity from his finger. Horrified, she looked over to see that Spike and Fluttershy had already passed out, both of their nerves too wracked by pain for them to stay conscious any longer. Looking around, she realized she was the only one still standing; everyone else had already been beaten down.
She gritted her teeth as she spread her wings and turned to glare at Terios, the hedgehog turning to face her as well. She noticed his eyes were orange now, but she didn’t care about that; all that mattered was stopping him and getting her friends some help. He smirked at her and knelt down on one knee, saying to her in a voice that still had some seriousness to it, “You ready to get beat, pony girl?” Rainbow responded with an anger-filled shout as she and Terios flew straight at each other.
Letha paced around nervously on the deck of her ship, occasionally looking up at Avalon with a worried expression. “This is bad. This is really bad. Why are they taking so long over there? What are they doing? Are they in trouble?” she wondered to herself, her mind working itself up into a panic. She soon heard something coming from behind her, from the starboard side of her ship, and she whirled around, her right hand already reaching for the back of her dress, towards something hidden underneath her vest, but she relaxed when she saw the blue hedgehog flipping himself over the banister. She sighed as she watched him set Caliburn down and wring the end of his cape out over the banister, saying as he turned back to her, “Gracious! You’re that rightful king fella, aren’t you?”
Sonic nodded as he walked forward, “Yeah, that’s me. And you’re Smithy’s friend, Letha, right?” The raccoon nodded, so Sonic asked, “What are you doing out here? Not that I don’t appreciate having a place to stop where I won’t get splashed, but where’s everybody else?”
Letha pointed to Avalon as she replied, “They all went on to Avalon! They told me to stay put until the weather cleared up or they got into trouble, which I suspect is what’s happened if you’re here!”
Sonic sighed, “I think you’re right about that. Lady Nimue can’t keep an eye on everyone anymore, so she told me to come and help. Apparently they’ve run into someone named Terios and he’s the cause of the Grand Kingdom’s troubles, so…”
Letha noticed the way he trailed off and nodded, “Right, that’s a problem! Dead men tell no tales after all, so better get to them before that happens!” She turned and ran towards the stern of the ship, where she leaned over the side. As she began to pull the anchor up, she said, “No more waiting around; I’m bringing my ship in to land! I’m not leaving it behind and I’m not taking any chances!”
Sonic nodded, “Right, good idea.” Seeing that she was focused on getting the anchor out of the water, he went over to the port side and leapt up, boosting out towards the water. He landed on the surface of the water and kept running, turning and heading straight for Avalon. Even if it was brief, his stop on the ship ensured that he would make it to the island without risking sinking. Letha looked up as he ran by but soon turned back to her work, knowing she needed to hurry too.
Once Sonic reached dry land, he headed straight for the castle. It didn’t take him and Caliburn long to find the hole along the side of the castle path and the tower that it led to. Sonic tried to go through the dark tunnel slowly in case they were any holes or traps, but he soon saw a light coming from up ahead that made the tunnel brighter, so he resumed running. He soon reached the tower entrance and headed inside, ignoring the tablet in the center of the room and running up the stairs. He soon reached the doors at the top and, after removing the locking bar from them, pushed one open and went inside.
Inside, he found a mostly empty circular room. Directly across from the doors were the remains of Terios’ throne and portrait, still lying in the opening they had been blocking. Looking around a little more, Sonic noticed Smithy’s goggles and slingshot lying against the wall to his right and Applejack’s hat near the wall to his left. He ran over to the hat first and let Caliburn go before he picked it up with both hands. “AJ’s hat… This is bad,” he murmured.
“She never leaves it behind?” Caliburn asked.
“At least from what I’ve seen, she doesn’t go anywhere without it. Seems pretty attached to it, considering Rarity repaired it for her earlier when it got set on fire,” Sonic replied. He took his backpack off and tucked the hat inside of it, on top of the medical supplies he had left. He then ran over and grabbed Smithy’s goggles and slingshot and put them in the pack too before shutting it and putting it back on, making sure it was underneath his cape.
Caliburn floated over to Sonic as he finished and gestured to the opening, “That passage appears to be the only way forward from here. Smithy and your friends may lie beyond there, but be prepared for anything.” Sonic nodded and took him in his right hand again before running over to the opening, peering inside for a moment before walking into it.
The opening led to another long flight of stairs going up. Sonic quickly ran up, both him and Caliburn keeping an eye out for any sort of danger as they went, but they didn’t encounter any traps or Underworld knights. It didn’t take long to reach the top of the stairs, where they found another large set of doors. He looked up at them for a moment before he ran over to them, pushing one open and moving into the room behind them.
The room he entered looked like a large throne room. There was a dark red carpet on the tiled floor running from the doors to the other end of the room, going up a set of stairs to where the throne would likely be. Sonic couldn’t see one, but given he was at the other end of the room and the dim lighting in the room, perhaps that was more because of his position than anything. The floor to the left and right continued flat for a short distance before it rose up to the level of the top of the stairs. The whole thing made Sonic feel like he was standing in a pit.
He moved forward slowly, both him and Caliburn looking around. When he was close to the stairs, Sonic looked forward and stopped. “Why are you stopping?” Caliburn asked. Sonic responded by bringing his right arm in front of himself, allowing Caliburn to see. He quickly saw the reason.
Now that they were closer, they could see that there was no throne at the top of the stairs. Instead, there was only a sword in a scabbard, no doubt the Clarent, resting against the wall. And above it, scattered all across the wall, were Smithy and the Equestrians. They were all being held against the wall by some sort of black cuffs. Smithy’s were wrapped around his wrists and just above his feet, with the Equestrians’ cuffs similarly positioned, though strangely Rainbow, Cadance, and Fluttershy’s wings were left free, as were Shining, Twilight, Rarity, and Cadance’s horns. Spike was being held differently, having only one cuff that wrapped around his torso, pinning his arms to his sides.
Sonic took a step forward, eying their injuries and noticing the lack of movement from any of them. “Don’t tell me I’m too late…” he murmured, trying to keep his voice steady.
Caliburn was silent for a moment. Then he noticed twitching start to come from Pinkie, as well as some of the other ponies and Smithy. “Look! Movement! They’re alive!” he pointed out. Sonic remained silent at that, watching as they began to groan and move a little more.
Pinkie was the first to open her eyes. When she looked down and saw Sonic, her eyes went wide and she screamed, “AHHHHH!!! It’s Terios! Terios is back!” Her scream caused Smithy, Spike, and the other ponies to start struggling to get out of their bindings, especially Rarity and Fluttershy.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Relax, everybody! It’s me!” Sonic shouted, holding his hands up as he started moving forward again.
As he began to climb up the stairs, Pinkie whimpered, “He’s back, he’s gonna have his fun with us again, he’s gonna drag it out, we couldn’t do anything to him…”
Cadance’s vision was still a little shaky, but she calmed down enough to get a decent look at the approaching hedgehog. “Sonic? Is that really you?” she asked, some of the other ponies going limp at her question, though it might also have been due to them tiring themselves out.
Sonic replied, “Yeah, it’s me, Cadance. Hang on, I’m gonna get you all down from there.” He reached the top of the stairs and started moving towards the wall.
Twilight’s right eye was mostly closed due to the pain, but she could still see fine with her left eye. While looking down at Sonic, she blinked and noticed something that hadn’t been there a moment ago. “Sonic, your feet!” she cried. The blue hedgehog looked down and saw what looked like the top of a black cyclone forming on the floor underneath him. He immediately jumped back with a backflip, ending up at the bottom of the stairs. After he landed, he heard the doors he’d come through close and lock. He glanced back at them over his shoulder before turning his attention back to the top of the stairs.
As Sonic and his friends watched, a figure rose up out of the black vortex. It was Terios, the hedgehog still looking the same as he did earlier, still sporting a hole in his chest and a blue aura around him, though his eyes were back to being a yellow color, having only a slight trace of orange still present in them. The vortex disappeared once he had fully emerged from it, the other blue hedgehog glaring down at Sonic with a slight frown on his face. “King Sonic… Just the hedgehog I’ve been wounding to see,” he remarked after a moment.
Sonic stood up straight at this, understanding the reason for his friends’ injuries and panic. “Terios, huh?” he asked, trying to keep a calm tone.
“That’s KING Terios, Lord of the Underworld, to you now,” Terios replied.
“…So are you a lord or a king?” Sonic asked.
“I am the king of all that I rule over, and the lord of everything I conquer. I conquered the Underworld, I conquered Merlina, I conquered these worms, and you and your kingdom will be the fruits of my current conquest,” Terios stated proudly.
Pinkie, while balancing a cake that had appeared on her head, cried out, “I’m so sorry I thought you were someone else, Sonic! Here, I got you an apology cake! It’s really good!” Terios turned and glared up at her over his shoulder. He raised his left hand and snapped his fingers; a second later, a bolt of lightning shot down and struck Pinkie, destroying the cake and making her cry out in pain.
Sonic recoiled at this and then dashed up the stairs, shouting, “Hey!” Terios turned to look at him and held his right hand out, generating a barrier around himself that Sonic slashed at several times before Terios made part of the barrier expand. This pushed Sonic away, but he landed on his feet a bit further back than he had been before. “What’d you do that for?!” Sonic yelled.
“She is my prisoner. I judged and sentenced her. Prisoners may not talk unless they’re called upon,” Terios stated simply.
“Judged and sentenced? With injuries of that nature?!” Caliburn asked.
“It was a fair trial! It’s not my fault they tried to resist!” Terios replied.
Rainbow and Applejack tried to speak up, but Sonic held up his left hand, signaling for them to stay quiet. When they complied, he lowered his hand and asked, “So am I being judged too, now that I’ve stepped into your land?”
Terios replied, “Perhaps.”
Sonic nodded, “Then this trial is still going on. And in that case… the defense calls a witness!” While Terios gave him a confused look, Sonic pointed Caliburn at Applejack and asked, “Applejack, what really happened?”
Though she was unsure of where Sonic was going with this, she answered, “He ambushed us! He attacked Twilight and Smithy while we were split up and locked ‘em up, puttin’ phonies in their place ta make us believe that they were under his control! When they didn’t stop us, he beat us all up, as you can plainly see!”
Sonic nodded, “I figured something like that happened.”
Terios asked, “Why would you listen to her? She’s not the biggest idiot in this lot, but she’s right up there, and her accent makes my ears bleed!”
While Applejack angrily struggled to break free, Sonic replied, “Because even though none of them have any reason to lie about this, I figure asking the Element of Honesty really helps drive the point home. She’s not a liar, unlike you!”
Caliburn spoke, “This argument, while not pointless, is getting us nowhere. Release your prisoners and we shall settle this in a diplomatic manner!”
Terios sneered, “Oh, I don’t do diplomacy, butter knife. I do things my way.” He thumped his right fist against his left palm, “And I prefer the way that results in me getting the most.”
While Caliburn quietly seethed at Terios’ insult, Sonic asked, “So what, you would prefer trial by combat or something?”
Terios replied, “Blue, I’m fast, I’m superior, and I LOVE to hurt people. So yeah, that sounds like a fantastic idea.”
Rarity cried, “Don’t do it, Sonic! He’s too strong!”
Spike added, “We all fought him together, but we couldn’t do anything to him!”
Neither Sonic’s stance nor the look on his face changed at their pleading. “I don’t need to be able to sense his emotions to know what he’s thinking. He’s not going to back down after what Terios did to us,” Cadance murmured.
Shining hesitated for a moment before saying, “He might not be as invincible as he thinks he is, Sonic! Try focusing your attacks on his ch- mmph!” He was cut off as a black band suddenly appeared around his muzzle, tightening to the point that it nearly caused him pain and leaving him unable to open his mouth.
While Sonic thought about what Shining had tried to say, Terios said, “Enough out of you peasants. The only sounds I should be hearing from you are those of despair, and that one tiny little hit was insignificant.” Sonic’s eyes focused on the hole in Terios’ chest at that, guessing that that was Shining had been trying to say.
He looked up at Terios’ face when he spoke again, “And it doesn’t matter what you do. Run, stay, try to leave this world, there’s no escape from me, your true form.” He held his arms out and a dark blue aura rose out of the floor behind him, stopping just above his head. The shape of a longsword began to take shape there, forming into the former King Arthur’s Deathcalibur at a size more appropriate for Terios. “I will not rest until I've broken your spirit and driven the fire of life out of you. And since you were so nice to come to me, King Sonic, I might consider granting you a semi-quick death. En garde!”
With that, he took Deathcalibur in his right hand and showed off with it a little bit, spinning it around in his hand and then spinning around himself before pointing the blade at Sonic. The crowned hedgehog spun Caliburn around in his hand once before performing two quick swipes and taking his trusty sword in both hands, pointing it at Terios. And with that, the fight was on. Terios was the first to move, hovering above the ground and launching down the stairs. Sonic held Caliburn out to his side as he dashed forward. When Terios leapt up at the bottom of the stairs, Sonic did the same, both hedgehogs slashing at each other in midair and the resounding clang of their swords meeting filling the air.
The two hedgehogs landed in a crouching stance, their starting positions reversed. From there, they leapt up and slashed at each other again, their swords meeting and pressing against each other. They remained like this for a moment before Sonic placed his left hand on Terios’ head, vaulting over him. The two spun around to look at each other as they fell, both landing on their feet. They both shot towards each other, a flurry of slashes following. It stopped when Sonic moved his right hand farther than he meant to and hit Terios in the chest, the other hedgehog being stunned and knocked back by the hit. Sonic moved forward again and Terios held his blade up, their blades locking against each other. They both glared and growled at each other, both pressing harder. For a moment, it seemed like Sonic had the advantage, pushing Terios backwards fairly easily.
The back of Terios’ feet soon hit the bottom stair and he gave his opponent a smirk, Sonic raising an eye at this. Suddenly, electricity sparked around Deathcalibur, the bolts running into Caliburn’s blade and shocking him and Sonic both. While they were stunned, Terios performed a horizontal slash, more electricity leaping from his blade as he did so. Sonic was sent flying back and he landed on his front. He looked up to see Terios suddenly dash to his left and jump off the wall there, holding Deathcalibur over his head. Sonic gasped and turned himself so he was facing Terios before rolling to his left. The other hedgehog reached him as he was rolling and his blade caught near the top of Sonic’s cape, tearing it.
“No~! Not that!” Rarity moaned, unable to do much else.
As he climbed to his feet, Sonic looked at his shoulder, staring in shock at what little of the cape was left. He then glared at Terios, “Hey, I was starting to get used to that!”
Terios smirked and swung his sword downwards, generating a wind that blew the cape on the floor past Sonic towards the doors. “Well, now you can get used to THIS going through YOU!” he said before dashing forward and performing a series of thrusts. Sonic held up Caliburn and placed his left behind his blade, a small barrier forming from the red gem in his glove in front of him as he moved the blade up and down to block the thrusts. After a few seconds, Terios performed a horizontal slash that pushed Sonic back, though not nearly as far as Terios himself had been pushed back. He leapt up with Deathcalibur over his head again, but Sonic dropped his guard and dashed forward, leaping up and headbutting Terios in the chest. The hit stunned him and he was pushed back a bit. After they both landed, Sonic readied himself for a Soul Surge, Caliburn’s blade glowing as he ran up to Terios and delivered a series of powerful slashes, ending with a kick that sent Terios flying back into the stairs.
As he sat on one of the steps, Terios glanced down and noticed that the hole in his chest looked bigger than before. He placed his left hand over it and thought, “I’m feeling that strange throbbing again, only it feels stronger now… Is this…?” He looked up when he heard Sonic running towards him and began hovering again, the aura around him beginning to billow. He brought his arms and legs up close together, and a moment later he thrust them out, unleashing a dark blue wave of energy that blew Sonic backwards.
Sonic managed to hold his hands out, putting his left hand on top of Caliburn’s blade, and planted them on the ground to flip himself over so he landed on his feet. He then started running towards Terios again, the other hedgehog hovering higher than before as he held his arms out and created what looked like a molten rock over his head. He swung Deathcalibur several times to break it apart and then held out his left hand, launching the pieces down at Sonic like meteors. The rocks hit the floor hard, small flames coming from the top of some of them, but Sonic kept going, slashing at them with Caliburn to keep the rug from catching fire, even performing a spinning slash to cut through several at once.
As Sonic closed in, Terios raised his sword over his head and swung it down as he stopped levitating. Sonic leapt up at him at full speed, swinging Caliburn and crossing blades with Terios' Deathcalibur. They held for a moment before Sonic broke the lock and took the first swing, Terios responding in kind. They kept swinging at each other for several seconds, Sonic getting up to about Terios' level in the meantime, before Terios performed his own spinning slash, forcing Sonic to break off the attack and respond in kind. Terios was able to force him backwards and to the left, onto the raised section of the floor. They both rested a moment before dashing towards each other, both performing a spinning slash. They both backed off afterwards, though Terios soon ran towards Sonic again, though he left himself open when Sonic suddenly dashed up to him while performing another Soul Surge, slashing him several times before raising his left foot and kicking him away.
Terios’ backside collided with the wall, Deathcalibur falling from his grip as he dropped onto the floor. He shook his head before looking up, his eyes mostly orange now. He saw Sonic walking towards him with Caliburn at his side, watching him carefully. Terios glared at him for a moment before his eyes suddenly darted to his left. His mouth twisted into a smirk before he looked back at Sonic, the crowned hedgehog stopping and raising an eye at this.
Terios began to reach his right hand down as if to grab Deathcalibur, but his hand suddenly began to spark. Then, without warning, he got up on one knee and made a horizontal swipe with his right hand, releasing lightning from it! Sonic’s eyes widened and he dove to his right, missing being electrocuted and falling down to the floor below.
Sonic rolled when he landed on the floor, coming to a stop on the rug, close to the stairs. As he was standing up, he heard screams from Smithy and Twilight, followed by Cadance exclaiming, “Twilight! Smithy!” Sonic quickly turned to his left, only to get knocked off his feet when he was hit in the face by something furry. After landing on his side, he got up and looked to see Terios using magic to carry Smithy and Twilight behind him. He didn’t get a chance to do anything more as Terios was suddenly upon him, alternating between using Twilight and Smithy to hit him.
The beating ended when Sonic was struck one last time by Twilight, Terios’ magic gripping around her neck so her back hooves swung around and hit him under the chin. Sonic was knocked off of his feet again, this time landing on his rear near where he had been standing. As he climbed to his feet, Terios taunted, “Come on, little man, hit me.” Sonic growled and glared in anger at the taunt, running up to Terios ready to swing Caliburn at him.
Just as he was starting to, however, Terios suddenly put Smithy in his blade’s path, both Sonic and Smithy gasping at this, the former managing to stop his swing before his sword touched the fox. While he was frozen, Terios forced Smithy’s head forward, causing him to headbutt Sonic, and another whack forced Sonic onto his side. As he looked up, Terios kicked him in the stomach, causing him to grunt and be knocked back further. He rolled when he landed, stopping when he was on his front and growling as he thumped his right fist against the ground, quickly climbing to his feet. He readied an overhead swing, but Terios put Twilight in his path this time, causing him to hesitate again. Terios grinned and fired a small bolt of red lightning at Twilight’s horn, the unicorn screaming in pain as she suddenly began forcibly firing bolts of her own magic forward, all of them hitting Sonic in his face and chest.
While Sonic was stunned, Terios dropped Smithy and Twilight, Smithy landing on his knees and Twilight on her front, and pointed his index fingers at them. In response, their arms/forelegs were moved behind them and the black cuffs from earlier appeared around them and their legs, restraining them. Terios then dashed forward and did a backflip kick to Sonic’s chin, causing him to drop Caliburn and his shoulder plate to fall off as he was sent skywards. Sonic groaned while he was airborne, but Terios wasn’t done with him yet. He leapt up after him and, when he was just above him, spun around, planting the heel of his left foot against Sonic’s forehead and sending him spinning downwards at an angle, bouncing several times when he hit the ground before he slid to a stop on his right side near his cape, his crown falling off and clattering on the floor before it disappeared into the darkness.
Everyone on the wall gasped at this and Twilight cried out, “Sonic!” She and Smithy began struggling, but their bindings kept them from moving and the unicorn’s horn was still sparking from Terios’ earlier action, preventing her from using her magic.
Caliburn floated over to Sonic, hovering in front of the hedgehog’s head as he moved to place his right hand against the floor to push himself up. “Get up! On your feet at once, Sonic!” Caliburn pushed. Terios halted his efforts by wrapping his magic around Caliburn’s hilt and throwing him against the wall across from Sonic, where black tendrils emerged and wrapped around the sword’s crossguard and above his face, preventing him from moving.
At this, Sonic began trying to get up faster, but suddenly, a glowing white pattern appeared on the floor underneath him and he felt like the gravity around him had increased. He groaned as he kept trying to push himself up, but as he turned his head slightly to the left, the pull latched onto his quills and turned him over as it brought him down, leaving him lying mostly on his back with his backpack beneath him and his arms out at his sides.
Terios let out a chuckle as he stepped forward, his eyes back to their normal yellow color. He dismissed the pattern below Sonic as he reached him and raised his right foot, kicking the plate off of Sonic's shoulder before placing it on his forehead and saying, “You just got beat.”
Rainbow yelled from the other side of the room, “YOU CHEATED, YOU CHEATING JERK!”
Shining added, his mouth no longer held shut, “You dirty scum! How dare you use my sister and Smithy as leverage like that!”
Terios lazily glanced back as he said, “Didn’t I tell you? I can do whatever I want, when and how I want to. Besides, this is a duel; there are no rules in a duel.”
Caliburn grunted, feeling the tendrils pull harder on him at his struggling, and spoke, “There are MANY rules that should be followed in a duel! Have you no honor or dignity?!”
Terios replied, “I have plenty of both, because I have POWER. Therefore, I’m able to COMMAND honor and dignity from all who cross me. Might is all anyone needs to make a difference, not some pathetic shows of sympathy or belief in others. Only the strong have any right to rule, and all those underneath them will either make them stronger or perish.” He turned to look down at Sonic, “As I’m sure I’ve just proven.”
Sonic stared back up at him around his foot. “You are one messed-up fake,” he grunted.
“Fake? I’m everything that you are, everything you COULD be! I AM you, only properly focused and driven!” Terios replied. He leaned down closer, “Still, I must admit you’ve managed to impress me. You’ve lasted longer and given me more trouble than any opponent I’ve had in the past. Perhaps I would lose a valuable source of strength and underlings if you suffered the same fate as all who came before…” He gave a wide smile a moment later, “How about a deal? I’ll call off the Underworld army and spare the Grand Kingdom further destruction and bloodshed… if you agree to join with me.”
Sonic’s eyes went wide at this, and Smithy, Caliburn, Spike, and the ponies immediately began to protest. “Don’t do it, Sonic!” Applejack yelled.
“We’re not worth it!” Rarity cried.
“He is lying, Sonic! Do not heed his words!” Caliburn shouted.
Terios glared down at Sonic, “Are you really going to let them make your decisions for you? Let them live your life? Come on, surely you know yourself better than that.” Sonic stared up at him for a moment before he tilted his head a bit and rolled his eyes upward, looking in Caliburn’s direction.
From where he was on the floor, Sonic could manage to see Caliburn’s blade. It might’ve been the stress of the situation or his position on the floor, but in the dim lighting, it almost looked like Caliburn’s blade was beginning to glow. Sonic stared curiously, wondering why it was glowing. As he stared, sparkles of light began to appear down the blade’s length, each sparkle briefly showing the image of someone Sonic knew, from recent times all the way back to his early days. As the last sparkle disappeared, a shining white light went down Caliburn’s blade. Several of those sparkles appeared in Sonic’s eyes as he stared, and as that shining white light appeared, he blinked as words and memories flooded his mind, his mouth hanging open slightly.
Coming back to reality, Sonic looked up to see Terios mumbling seemingly to himself, “I know what I’m doing… I’ve got him right where I want him, where you never had him! …Will you relax? I’ve got this!” He then glared down at Sonic again, “I’m done waiting! I want an answer NOW!”
Sonic stared up at him a moment before saying, “Fine. …Let’s do this.” Gasps rose up from around the room at his answer while Terios grinned. Before the yellow-eyed hedgehog could say anything, Sonic held up his right index finger and said, “Just one thing.” When Terios raised an eye in confusion, Sonic pointed to his right, “Stop bringing them into this, will you? This is just between you and me. Cut ‘em loose, let them get off the island, let them leave these waters… just let them go!”
Terios replied, “Why would I do that? I conquered these worms, and with your consent, I’ve conquered YOU too! I’m not losing anything that belongs to me!” After he finished speaking, Sonic pointed his finger up, seemingly pointing at something above Terios’ head. “What? What are you doing?” Terios asked.
While still pointing, Sonic replied matter-of-factly, “Hm? Oh, I’m just counting the little birdies flying around your head because, A, I’m not a twisted psychopath, and B, more importantly, you’re crazy if you thought I was agreeing to your little proposal. Obviously you’re not me, because if you were, you’d know that when I say ‘let’s do this’, I mean ‘let’s keep the party going’. In other words, I’m not done yet.” Lowering his hand, he went on, “Since that one flew over your head, let me give it to you straight about your ‘deal’. No, never. Not in a million years. You’re a loon. Go jump in a lake, preferably the middle of one.”
As he talked, Terios was seething inside, his eyes reflecting this as they turned completely orange. This gnat not only had the nerve to spit on his offer, but insult him to his face. “What a shame. It looks like all that pummeling didn’t straighten out your thoughts or your instincts. So now I’ll just have to crush all that along with your skull!” he growled. With that, he began pushing down harder with his foot, applying more pressure to Sonic’s forehead.
Sonic grunted; whatever power Terios had was giving him more strength and he could feel the difference, his head being pushed harder against the floor. Still, he was holding up against it and he could still use it to his advantage. “Hey, Terry! You know what I’ve noticed about you and your rule?” he asked as he rolled his head to the right, Terios growling at the insult as he kept pressing his foot down. “Neither one has a solid FOOTING!” he exclaimed as he suddenly jerked his head up and to the left, managing to force Terios’ foot off of him and causing him to go off-balance, the hedgehog letting out a yelp as he swung his arms around, trying to keep his balance. He may have been able to put more force into his leg, but he couldn’t change the fact that, underneath that strength, he was still lighter.
Quickly regaining his balance, Terios tried to stomp down on Sonic’s head, but Sonic rolled to his left to avoid it and grabbed his cape with his right hand. As he got up on one knee, he turned to face Terios, who growled at him, and threw the cape at him. Terios snarled as he tried to get it off, his face and part of his front covered by it. He got it off after a few moments and threw it to the side before looking at Sonic, only to get another surprise. While he had been distracted, Sonic had leapt back and planted his feet against the doors, pushing off of them and curling into a ball just as Terios got the cape off. Now he crashed right into the dark hedgehog, pushing him backwards for several seconds before backing off, sending him flying headfirst into the stairs.
Sonic looked at his fallen form for a moment after landing before turning and running over to Caliburn. He wrapped his right hand around the sword’s hilt, managing to squeeze his fingers between it and the wall, and held there for a moment. The gem in his glove began to shine, and a second later, he ripped Caliburn free, the tendrils breaking off and falling to the ground. As he took his sword in both hands, he asked, “Ready to get back to work?”
Caliburn replied, “Surely you jest.”
While Sonic’s friends were relieved that he was able to turn the situation around, Terios was obviously less than pleased by the turn of events. He rubbed his head as he sat up and then opened his eyes to glare at Sonic, revealing they were now a reddish-orange. “Do you really think you changed anything?” he asked as he began to hover. He flew over and got behind Twilight and Smithy before saying, “I still have my prisoners, and there’s nothing you can do about it!”
Sonic held Caliburn out to his side and said, “I’ll take that challenge!” He started running again, but instead of going straight for Terios, he began running in a circle around him. Terios shook his head and levitated Smithy and Twilight up again, Smithy’s legs and Twilight’s hind legs dangling down. Sonic noticed this as well as the slight movements they made as he ran and, after completing another circle, came to a stop and nodded downwards at them before running again, leaving the two wondering what he had in mind.
Terios, however, thought Sonic was only delaying the inevitable, that he would either come in to attack again or wear himself down running like this. Hoping to make his victory come to him faster, he called, “Enough of the drama, King Sonic. I’m not in the mood for it right now. Get over here and accept the fact that you’re about to join your soon-to-be former kingdom’s history.”
Sonic came to a stop in the same spot he had earlier before saying, “History’s not exactly my thing, Terry.” He then dashed forward towards Terios, who held up both Twilight and Smithy with his head turned up and to the side, not giving Sonic his full attention. “Physics, however…” he added before he suddenly dropped down, sliding on his rear across the rug. Both Smithy and Twilight realized what he had been getting at earlier and swung their legs out of the way, clearing the way for him.
Terios glanced down and his eyes widened as he realized Sonic was past his shields. While he was sliding, Sonic brought his legs up and pressed his feet into Terios’ chest, knocking him back and releasing his hold on Smithy and Twilight, both of them falling onto their stomachs. Sonic’s slide soon stopped after he kicked Terios and he stood up, dashing forward and ramming his left shoulder into the other hedgehog before he could recover, pushing him back farther. When they were close to the stairs, Sonic held Caliburn up and then swung him down, culminating in an upward swing to Terios’ chest that launched him upwards. Not wasting a moment, Sonic performed another Soul Surge as he leapt up after him, slashing him several times before giving one last horizontal slash that sent Terios flying up into the ceiling.
Sonic held Caliburn at his side after he dropped down and stared up at Terios for a moment, the hedgehog appearing to be stuck in the ceiling. He then turned and ran back to Twilight and Smithy, figuring they could help him free the others as well. The two looked back over their shoulders as he stopped behind them, Twilight saying, “Sonic! We can’t move…”
Sonic replied, “I noticed.” He took Caliburn in both hands, “Just hold still.” Smithy and Twilight watched a bit nervously as he held Caliburn out to the side and quickly made two horizontal swipes with the tip of the blade. The first broke the restraints holding Smithy’s arms and Twilight’s forelegs behind them, and after they brought them forward to rest on the ground, he cut their legs free with the second swipe.
The two moaned as they moved their limbs for the first time in a while. “Are you both all right?” Caliburn questioned.
“Oh… My legs feel really cold right now. It was not fun hanging up there…” Twilight groaned as she shook both sets of legs.
“Keep moving them around. Keep the blood flowing,” Sonic said.
“Hey! A little help over here, please?” Spike called.
Sonic turned and called back, “Be right there, Spike!” He turned back to Twilight and Smithy, noticing they were trying to get up. Suddenly, a crackle rang through the air, causing everyone to freeze. Smithy and Twilight looked back over their shoulders while Sonic turned to look, soon looking up at where Terios was. There were sparks of red electricity coming off of his body and he was shaking in anger again.
Inside his head, Terios could hear the voice of the fake King Arthur chiding him like he had earlier, “I warned you not to take him lightly. Now look at the mess you’ve created.”
Terios mentally growled, “Will you shut up already? The throbbing in my chest is even worse now; my head doesn’t need to be throbbing as well!” He didn’t need to open his eyes and look down to know that the hole in his chest was even bigger now.
King Arthur spoke again, “Your magic is nearly on the level of high ancient magic, you have the best swordsmanship skills in both the Underworld and the Grand Kingdom, you are as swift as the best of the Knights of the Round Table, and you are disappointing me! The first time you are faced with a worthy opponent and you are being overwhelmed! You are proving to be an inferior copy after all!”
Terios gritted his teeth, “Shut it, you clanking mess of armor! You are MY slave because you’re the one who fell! You may carry out my will, but you don’t get to talk back to me! And don’t you EVER call me a copy again! I am the true ruler of the Underworld and the Grand Kingdom, the strongest ruler to ever live!” His eyes shot open, now completely red, “And they’re all going to know it!” He let out a yell as he discharged his power into the ceiling, bolts of lightning shooting out from him across it, disappearing when they hit the walls.
The power he unleashed caused cracks to form in the ceiling, and suddenly, pieces of the ceiling began to break loose! Sonic’s eyes widened at this and he started running, zooming around to grab Twilight and Smithy before running around the room. Thankfully, no pieces came loose near the others, but the three still had heavy pieces raining down on them. Sonic did his best to move around the falling pieces while he held Smithy and Twilight under his arms, finally ducking behind a piece of rubble on the raised section on the right side of the room as the falling pieces slowed.
Below, Terios stomped around angrily, the aura around him billowing furiously as he searched for Sonic, Twilight, and Smithy. “All right, cretins, where are you?! I know you’re here! You can’t hide from me!” he snarled as he looked around.
Sonic peered out from behind the rubble as he sat with his back against it, looking out for a moment before pulling back and looking at the others, “Do you think I upset him?”
Caliburn murmured, “Perhaps a little. Unfortunately, that’s not a good thing right now, Sonic.”
Smithy nodded as he panted, “Yeah. He’s mad, and he’s still got everyone else.”
Twilight added, “And he could use them against us too. Just like…”
Sonic pointed at her, “No. Do not go down that road on me right now. I don’t know what this guy’s deal is, but until we know, neither of you are at fault here. We can figure this out.”
Twilight asked, “With him breathing down our necks? As soon as he finds us, he’s going to come after us! We can’t get everyone free with him around!” As if to drive the point home, they heard an explosion as Terios obliterated a piece of rubble as he searched for them.
They all looked to the right but stayed hidden since the explosion sounded like it was below them and close. “He’s focused on finding us. Seems like he focuses really hard on whatever catches his attention at the moment,” Smithy murmured.
“Yeah, he does,” Sonic agreed. He turned to them a moment later and gestured for them to come closer, “I’ve got an idea.” Caliburn, Smithy, and Twilight came closer to listen as Sonic whispered his idea to them.
When he was finished, they backed off, Caliburn being the first to speak, “It sounds risky… but at this point, I don’t think there’s any way around that.”
Smithy said, “I don’t know how well I’ll be able to distract him. I lost my slingshot somewhere. Twilight and I didn’t make it easy for him to take us down.”
Sonic replied, “Ah, right.” He took off his backpack and opened it up, reaching inside. He pulled out the slingshot he’d found earlier and asked, “Is this yours?” Smithy nodded and took it back. Sonic reached back inside and pulled out the goggles, “I also found these, but I’m guessing you might not want to wear them right now.” Smithy took them anyway and tucked them into his apron. He pulled out Applejack’s hat and looked at it for a moment before saying, “This can stay here for now, but I’m guessing Applejack’s going to want this back.” He set it on the floor and went back to digging through the bag.
While he was doing this, Twilight spoke, “Whatever he did earlier seems to have worn off. I can use my magic again, but I don’t know if I have enough at the moment to distract him AND teleport everyone out.”
Sonic looked at her, “I can give you a hand with that. No need to push your magic past its limit. Just make sure you get everyone free.” Another explosion sounded and Sonic glanced back before going back to the pack. “Before that… I don’t have a lot here, but let’s see if we can patch you two up a bit.”
Terios grabbed another piece of rubble with his magic and brought his hands together, the piece being crushed as a result. Seeing nothing behind it, he growled and yelled, "You can delay the inevitable, but it's still inevitable! Show yourselves!" A moment later, he heard Twilight teleporting and turned to the left side of the room when he heard her reappear, on the raised section of floor behind a piece of rubble, only to hear it again, the hedgehog looking at a nearby piece of rubble when he heard her reappear again. He started moving towards it, holding his hands out.
Suddenly, Smithy shouted, "Heads up, Terios!" The hedgehog spun around, only to get one of Smithy's bombs exploding in front of him. He stepped back at this and glared upwards, seeing the fox hovering above the piece of rubble he'd been behind with his slingshot in hand and a few bandages on him. Wasting no time, Smithy loaded another bomb and fired it, Terios catching it with his magic and throwing it back. Smithy moved out of the way and kept firing more, soon landing and unleashing a flurry of bombs around him, preventing Terios from reaching him while he darted behind another piece of rubble.
Terios growled and then heard Twilight call, "Over here, Terios!" The hedgehog turned and saw the unicorn standing on top of the rubble he'd been walking towards earlier, also sporting some new wrappings as well as Sonic's backpack on her back. He snarled and held his right hand out, unleashing a fireball from it, but Twilight had vanished by the time it came towards her. He looked back when he heard her reappear and saw her running away from him. He growled and turned to go after her, but Smithy stepped out to shoot a bomb at him before ducking back behind cover when the hedgehog turned to look at him.
The two kept up the game for a while, even after Terios summoned Deathcalibur to him. The dark hedgehog eventually noticed that Sonic was not taking part and yelled, “I know you’re still here, you blue pansy! Come out and quit wasting my time!”
Sonic called, “You want something more than a distraction, Terry? Well, here I am!” Terios turned and saw him come out from behind the rubble he’d been hiding behind the entire time, running up and along the wall until he was over the doors, at which point he leapt straight towards Terios, swinging Caliburn downwards as he got closer.
Terios held up Deathcalibur and easily stopped his attack, making a horizontal swipe to push him back. As Sonic landed, he held up Caliburn and readied himself. Terios came at him quick and Sonic crossed blades with him, both pushing against each other. “I can’t believe you! How dense you are, how idiotic you are to think you can stop me, how cheap you are! Those last strikes you made were not allowed!” Terios screamed as he began slashing at Sonic.
Sonic countered his strikes with his own, deflecting them while moving backwards. “Why’s that, Terry? Because you got hurt? Or, more likely, because you didn’t see them? After all, you’ve gotta see everything, don’t you?” Sonic asked.
“Because you ruined my fun! You ruined it all! And now you have the gall to think you can turn things around!” Terios yelled.
Sonic stopped a blow from Deathcalibur and forced another blade lock, getting up close to Terios’ face and grinning, “Don’t you know? Turnabout is fair play, ‘contacts’!” He then pushed hard and slid Terios back, allowing the other hedgehog to come at him again.
As the two continued, Twilight and Smithy peered out from cover across from each other, watching. “Looks like he’s got Terios’ attention,” Twilight thought after a moment. She then looked over at Smithy and signaled him, the fox raising a thumb up in response. They eyed the two hedgehogs one more time to make sure it was safe before they began to move, coming out from behind their cover and heading for the stairs.
Spike and the other ponies brightened up when they saw the two reach the top of the stairs, none of them sure what Twilight, Sonic, and Smithy were doing until now. “Twi-” Spike started, only to be immediately shushed by Smithy and Twilight, both of them looking back to see if Terios had heard while Spike mentally slapped himself. Luckily, Terios was still focused on Sonic, so they put the rest of their plan in motion.
Smithy put his slingshot in his apron and spun his tails around, flying up and placing his hands around Twilight’s sides. He lifted her up, her horn already glowing as she was raised up to Cadance’s level. The pink alicorn smiled softly at her favorite filly, who whispered, “We’ll free you first, Cadance.” She fired a magic laser from her horn at Cadance’s bindings, freeing her hind legs first before doing the same to her forelegs. The alicorn’s wings had already started flapping when her hind legs were freed, so she was able to hold herself up when she was free. Her legs were still a bit jelly-like, but her wings were fine, so she joined the two in helping cut everyone loose, flying over to Shining while Smithy and Twilight moved down to Spike.
When they were almost done, Terios realized that Sonic wasn’t really trying to fight him. While their blades were still locked, he looked back over his shoulder and saw only Rarity and Applejack still on the wall, everyone else already free. Terios growled at this and turned back to Sonic, pushing harder against him and managing to knock him back against the doors behind him with a horizontal slash. He then turned and shot off towards the other end of the room.
Cadance finished freeing Applejack and Rarity, catching them both and setting them down on the ground gently while Smithy set Twilight down with the others, who were still shaking out their limbs. As her hooves touched the ground, both Twilight and Spike looked and their eyes widened when they saw Terios advancing. “He’s onto us!” Spike cried as he pointed, the others looking as well.
Before Terios could reach them, Sonic put his Boost into overdrive, managing to catch up and pass Terios, reaching the stairs before he did. He stood about halfway up the steps and brought Caliburn down, his blade colliding with Deathcalibur’s blade and forcing Terios to come to a stop. “Hey man, I’m feeling a little ignored here!” Sonic said as he pressed down.
“I refuse to lose any of my conquests! And it serves you right for not coming to deal with me yourself!” Terios argued.
Sonic grunted as Terios pushed up against him, his blade moving back slightly. “I’m sorry. I didn’t even know you existed until I got here. I figured the one leading the Underworld army was some two-bit wannabe, which it turns out you are,” he taunted, Terios growling and pushing harder at this. Sonic managed to maneuver Caliburn’s blade around to give him the leverage to press Deathcalibur’s blade up and he struck at Terios’ chest twice, first with a horizontal slash and then a thrust, knocking him backwards.
Seeing that the other hedgehog had been stopped for the moment, Smithy turned and ran over to the wall, grabbing Clarent and slipping its scabbard on around him. He then turned and called, “I’ve got Clarent back!”
Rainbow stood up, her legs feeling alive again even though the rest of her was still bruised and beaten. “Then it’s time for us to get back in this! This fake’s going down!” she exclaimed, spreading her wings and flying down towards Terios.
She was stopped, however, when Sonic suddenly whirled around and used his metal glove to project his personal barrier in front of her, the pegasus being pushed backwards by it. “Nope!” Sonic said, wrapping his left arm around Rainbow as he ran up the steps, stopping and throwing her back at the others when he reached the top.
She was caught by Applejack and Fluttershy, the former looking at Sonic and asking, “What the hay are ya doin’?” Sonic didn’t answer; instead, he got into a running stance and began running around them in tight, clockwise circles, creating a wind that lifted them all off of the ground. Everyone was further confused by this save Smithy and Twilight, the latter readying her magic as she waited.
As Sonic was completing another circle, he planted his feet against the ground to come to a stop, jumping straight up while spinning when he was to the left of the group. He uncurled from his spin and reached his left hand into his quills as he approached the height of his jump, pulling out the white Chaos Emerald. “Shadow’s more skilled at this than I am, but here goes nothing!” he thought. He looked over at the group, focusing on Twilight, and held the Chaos Emerald out to the side. He then raised Caliburn straight up, “Chaos…”
Applejack’s eyes widened at this, realizing what he was planning to do. “No…!” she managed.
As he began to swing Caliburn down, Sonic finished, “…Control!” As he swung downwards, a circular swirl of propelled sparkles shot through the air, the lead sparkle a bright white color. The swirl flew end over end until it hit Twilight’s horn, disappearing into it and beginning to shine brightly. Feeling the energy combine with her magic, the unicorn let out a shout as she used her teleport spell, the resulting flash being both magenta and white, looking like a cross between her usual teleport and a Chaos Control-powered teleport. When it faded, Spike, Smithy, and all of the ponies were gone.
Sonic landed on the ground and tucked the white Chaos Emerald back into his quills. “Excellent! Our allies are now safe, and it would appear you may have the potential to learn magic in you after all, Sonic,” Caliburn commented.
“You…” Sonic looked down and saw Terios approaching him, his red eyes somehow reflecting even more anger than before. “Do you know what you’ve done…?” he snarled.
Sonic started walking to his right as he replied, “I sure do. I got my friends out of here and away from you. Now you can’t use them against me anymore.”
Terios started up the steps, Sonic moving back a bit as he got near the top. “You’ve sent them away… by using a power I have no knowledge of…” For a few seconds, he was silent, seemingly content with staring at Sonic. Suddenly, he raised Deathcalibur over his head, “HOW DID YOU DO THAT?!” He moved forward, swinging his sword down as he went.
Sonic leapt back from the slash and moved around to avoid the series of slashes he made afterwards. “You ask me that while trying to kill me? Somebody’s priorities are messed up here, pal, and it’s definitely not mine!” he said.
Terios kept slashing while he yelled, “I have greater magic than any mage or wizard in this world, better skills with a sword than anyone who ever lived, I’m faster than any living thing, and YOU! You waltz in here and singlehandedly steal my conquests, my property, from me! How can a weakling like you not only do that, but also be in possession of a power I’ve never even heard of?!”
Sonic noticed he was being backed up against the wall and, when Terios made his next horizontal swing, he dove over Deathcalibur’s blade, rolling and spinning around to look at the dark hedgehog as he turned around. “Okay, first of all, you may have left the front door open, but I wouldn’t say I ‘waltzed’ in and took anything! You don’t get to OWN people! As for what I did, what makes you I’m gonna tell you?” Sonic asked.
Terios began swinging Deathcalibur again, Sonic responding this time by using Caliburn to repel his slashes. “That power is clearly some type of magic I don’t know about, and I thought I knew all there was to know about magic! Tell me how you learned to harness it! I WANT IT!”
After deflecting a slash, Sonic replied, “If you weren’t such a butthurt, self-entitled, conniving jerk, you probably would’ve learned about it long ago like I did! How did I learn about it? That’s easy; someone I know had it in him and learned how to use it because he had people he cared about, and I learned about it from him because I don’t kill everyone that looks at me funny!”
Terios let out a shout, “You deluded fool!” After ducking an overhead swing, Sonic moved forward and the two locked blades. “These connections of yours are leeching off of you, making you squander your potential! Can’t you see that?!” Terios asked.
While pushing back, Sonic answered, “The only thing I see right now is someone who won’t accept any view that doesn’t match up with his.” He pressed harder, getting closer to Terios before saying, “You’re the squatter here, not me!” He pushed Terios out of the lock and kicked him away with his left foot, the dark hedgehog flipping over once before he landed.
As he stood with his arms and legs spread out and his head facing downwards, Terios began to breathe heavily. After a few moments, he said in an unnervingly calm voice, “Now you’ve done it. I hate holding back. I think the world should always know just how powerful I am, but I held back this time because I thought it would be more enjoyable if the last face you all saw before you died was yours. But it’s true what they say: give a mortal an inch and suddenly they start thinking themselves your better.” He looked up at Sonic, “Now I’ll show you… my true power.”
He bent over, bringing his arms around in front of himself as his aura began to condense around him. Sonic and Caliburn watched as, slowly, his gloves and shoes broke away into nothing and his blue fur began to change to black, starting at his hands and feet and climbing up his body. When the black reached his head, his face began to change and his quills began to point upwards.
When the change was finished, he stood up straight and stared at Sonic, his arms down at his sides with Deathcalibur still in his right hand. He now had no gloves or shoes, exposing his hands and feet. His entire coloration was black save for the hole in his chest, which was now white on the inside instead of black, and his eyes, which were now completely white and lacked pupils or irises. Aside from his eyes and nose, he no longer had any discernible facial features. The aura around him was now much closer to his body, just above every part of his body with some of it still further out. He now looked like a dark version of Super Sonic. Taking Caliburn in both hands, Sonic braced himself for whatever was about to happen.