You know, when I said this would take a month, I kinda meant it as a joke. But apparently, life likes to play jokes on me. Go figure. Anyway, the moment you've all been waiting for.

Disclaimer: I do not own the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise. I mean, do you know how much responisibility that creates? Too much for me.

Level Theme: Rail Canyon (Sonic Heroes)

Team Hunters vs. Team Adventurers

"Who are they?" Glide asked. Everyone could get a better view of the strangers now: a rat, an owl, and a lemur.

"Not sure," Wiz said. "They don't look like tourists, though. I mean, one of them looks Babylonian; you don't see too much of them around. And that lemur sitting on a moon? Definitely not normal."

"Hey, guys," Lee said. He was off a short distance, though still outside the ring of stones. The others went to him while trying not to be noticed. When they reached him, Lee pointed into the ruins. "Check it out."

They both looked and saw a shining object, purple in color. It looked like a diamond.

Wiz started, "Is that a…?"

"Chaos Emerald," Glide finished. He had his goggles over his eyes. "The physical structure matches, and the power levels are off the charts."

"Maybe that's what they're here for," Lee suggested.

"It's more than possible," Wiz replied. "But for what?" They all saw the rat move toward the Emerald. "But we better find out."

"You think this is what's been going on?" Glide asked.

"Too many coincidences for my taste," Wiz admitted. "But let's go about this very calmly. No sense in starting any unnecessary conflict."

"Speak for yourself," Lee said. "Anyone messes with a Chaos Emerald that we don't know about, even I don't want to risk it."

"That's just it, though," Wiz said; "We don't know."

Blade walked toward the Emerald, shifting his head around as he did. "Looks like Knife didn't make it," he said to himself, smiling. He reached out his hand to grab it, but before he could touch it…

"Hey!" Blade turned to find three other Mobians at the border of the ruins.

"Who are you guys?" Snowy asked.

"The name's Wiz," the wolf said. "This is Lee," he motioned to the raccoon, "and Glide," and again to the cardinal. "Who might you be?"

Blade thought about the situation he and his team found themselves in. "Call me Blade. That's Snowy and Pluto."

"So what do you think you're doing with that Emerald?" Lee asked.

"Ah, I see where this is going," Blade said. "Look, we've got no quarrel with you guys, so I'm sure we can be reasonable about this."

"Blade, are you sure about this?" Snowy asked quietly.

"Look, if it were Knife, I wouldn't hesitate," Blade replied. "But we don't know a darn thing these guys."

"All we want to know is what you're planning on doing with that Emerald," Wiz said. "Give us a good answer, and this will all be as uneventful as a vapor in the wind."

Blade thought for a quick second and said, "Treasure hunting, my friend. Nothing more."

Wiz thought about this answer, but it was Glide who spoke up. "I don't know. Even if that is the truth, I make it a point not to trust treasure hunters. They're too much like Lee here; arrogant, risk takers, and they never think about the consequences of their actions." ("Yeah, I love you too," Lee said in a low voice.)

"I can assure you—" Blade started.

"Forget it, they're not gonna listen," Pluto suddenly interrupted. She separated the two halves of her moon seat, creating the scythes, causing the visitors to gasp in surprise. "Let's just take them out right here, RIGHT NOW!" She jumped and twirled around, heading for the newcomers. She was stopped just in time by Lee's expert moves with his staff.

"I was afraid of this," Snowy whispered. He moved toward the two, but Glide suddenly flew into him, knocking him back with a swipe of his wings.

"Back off, buddy," he said. Before anything else could happen, however, Glide found himself just a few inches away from a spiked tail.

"This might be just me," Blade said, "but that was uncalled for."

"You're right," Wiz said. He quickly shot a hand up and blasted Blade back with a wave of magic. "It's just you. I mean, considering one of your friends just became Jacquelyn the Ripper, I think we're entitled to a little self-defense."

Blade grunted as he got up. "I really, really hate magic." He stood up and faced Wiz. "So, this is how it's gonna be, huh?"

"Probably," Wiz said. He lobbed a shot at the rat. Blade quickly turned around and swiped his tail at the oncoming magic. The energy struck and exploded, but Blade was still standing.

"How did you do that?" Wiz asked.

"These blades have been with me for so long," Blade answered, "that I've lost all sensation in my tail. And, for the record, this isn't my first time dealing with magic."

"That so?" Wiz said, intrigued. "Care to elaborate?"

"I've been around." Blade whirled around, his tail ready to connect with the wolf. Wiz held up a hand in defense, using magic to stop the tail in mid-flight and hurl Blade back.

"You may know about magic," Wiz said. "You may even know how to defend against it. But pain isn't the only thing I do."

"Good," Blade said. "For a moment, I thought this would be too easy."

Meanwhile, Lee and Pluto were trying to get past each other's weapons, almost in a dance as scythe met with staff. "Not bad, lady," Lee said. "You're almost as good as me."

"Oh, trust me, punk," Pluto sneered, "I'm much better than you." She pulled away from the attack and thrust her ring hand forward, shooting two star projectiles at Lee. Lee put the end of his staff on the ground and, using it as a pole vault, jumped over the stars and landed next to Pluto, renewing his initial attack.

"Okay, you got me there," Lee said. "All I've got is just my staff here. But I still got a few tricks up my non-existent sleeve." He ran to Pluto's side and started circling her. Without warning, he jabbed his staff into her. Pluto tried swinging her scythes in retaliation, but missed, allowing Lee to strike again.

The process kept repeating until Lee finally stopped to admire his work. Pluto seemed to be worn out, hunched over with her scythes touching the ground; she was even standing with her feet flat on the ground. She was breathing hard.

Seeing this made Lee think of a crazed madwoman and couldn't help but say, "Ah, finally the flesh reflects the madness within."

"Believe me, buster," Pluto said. "You ain't seen madness yet." She spun around and threw out her arms, releasing her bangles, which extended in size. Lee moved his staff forward and expertly caught both bracelets through the empty spaces.

"Oh!" he exclaimed. "A double ringer!" He spun his staff around, hurling both objects back at Pluto. Pluto only stopped them by blocking them with her scythes. "Eh," Lee said, "not bad, but it would have been cooler if you used your arms."

"Do you ever shut up?" Pluto asked angrily.

"What? And rob the world of my glorious voice?" Lee replied. "That would be a crime against nature."

"Nothing compared to the crime I'll probably commit by the end of this."

"And what's that?"

"Murder." Pluto said this with venom in her voice.

"Yeesh," Lee said. "And I thought Wiz was tough to break."

While this was going on, Glide and Snowy were having their own bout; actually, it mostly consisted of Snowy dodging Glide's attacks. "Any chance you could cut it out?" he asked.

"Sorry," Glide said, "but the more distracted you are, the less likely you are to try something."

"How do you know I'm even going to do anything?"

"You made a move for Lee and your lady friend there," Glide pointed out. "Forgive me if I seem overcautious as a result."

"So you always rush to conclusions?"

Glide did a quick wild take before sulking. "Okay, there are many things you could criticize me for, but you do not, I repeat, do not compare me to a certain raccoon." Glide swooped down again. Snowy barely got out of the way in time.

Okay, he thought, talking it out just got harder. No choice then. Snowy breathed out a row of icicles and fired them at Glide just as he was slowing down. Glide managed to avoid the brunt of the attack, but some of the ice clipped the ends of his feathers. Glide was taken by surprise and stopped, just in time to see another icicle coming toward him. He quickly swiped his wing, knocking it off balance.

"I'll admit, that was good," he said. "Kinda curious as to how you pulled that off. But, living with a magic wolf has taught me to just deal with the unexpected." He flew down again for another divebomb, but was caught by surprise from a sharp whack to his side. Glide crashed to the ground and saw Snowy holding a large icicle in his hands like a club.

"That was unexpected," Snowy said. "Can you deal with that?"

"Drop dead," Glide said.

"I can help with that!" Pluto shouted from a distance. ("Oh boy," Snowy whispered.)

"Well, she's sweet," Glide said. "Bittersweet."

"She's got issues," Snowy replied. Reminded of his teammates' presence, Snowy looked over at Blade. Wiz had him wrapped in a ribbon of magic energy. Blade managed to sneak his tail out and swiped at a strand, cutting it off from the rest of the stream and causing it to disappear, freeing him from Wiz's grip.

Snowy looked at the icicle in his hand. "Hey, Blade, catch!" He threw the icicle toward him. Blade saw it and shot a hand up. The icicle stopped in midair, causing Wiz to stop short of performing another spell.

"What the—?" Wiz started before the icicle started to shrink and was replaced by water. "Interesting trick," Wiz said.

"Isn't it, though?" Blade replied. Wiz lobbed another energy ball at Blade, trying to aim for the orb of water hovering next to him. The water moved to the side with a wave of the rat's hand. As soon as the energy had passed, Blade thrust his hand forward, hurling the ball of water at Wiz. The water landed in Wiz's mouth. He accidentally inhaled it and knelt down on all fours, trying to catch his breath.

"That was a cheap shot!" Glide shouted. He flew past Snowy, swiping his wing across him in the process. He landed next to Wiz. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Wiz coughed out. "Just give me sec."

"I still say that was a cheap shot," Glide said while shooting Blade a glare.

"Well, to be fair, we're close to broke right now, so 'cheap' is all we can afford," Blade quipped.

"Says the guy who made sure we stopped to hit two reels on the way here," Snowy replied.

"Just let it go," Blade said. "Right now isn't the best time to bring it up. Pluto!"

Pluto had her scythes bearing down on Lee, who was mostly successful in blocking them, when she heard Blade's call. She flipped over Lee and threw him at his teammates before joining her own.

"We gotta take these guys now," Blade said. "You two remember what happened at that one village?"

"The cannibals or the sun worshipers?" Snowy replied.

"Sun worshippers," Blade answered.

"Is that really the best idea?" Pluto asked.

"You got a better one? We need to strike before the wolf recovers. Snowy, hit it!" Snowy raised his hands above his head and breathed into them, creating several icicles that, instead of lining up like they normally did, collided with each other into a ball of ice. "Pluto, you're up!" Pluto jumped up to the ball and spun her scythes wildly at it, hacking it into shards that were smaller than the original icicles.

Wiz, who was just on the cusp of recovery, figured out what would happen and shouted, "Guys! Scatter!" Glide and Lee quickly ran in opposite directions.

"Not gonna work!" Blade said. He held his hands up and threw them down to either side. The ice shards started shooting out in all directions. Lee spun his staff in every direction he could think of while Glide was practically both dodging and blocking at the same time. Wiz summoned a small shield that protected him from much of the mini hailstorm.

The rain of ice continued for a while. When it finally stopped, the only one untouched was Wiz; despite their best efforts, Lee and Glide were struck by the hail and had become exhausted by the end. Wiz slowly stood up, lowering his shield slowly.

"You're magic can only get you so far right now," Blade said. "Three against one aren't good odds in your state. Just surrender and let us get that Chaos Emerald."

"Don't you mean two to one?" Wiz replied. "I can tell. Using that much hyrdrokinetic power has left you drained. Me, on the other hand? Here's a little thing about magic I bet you didn't even know: shields are among the most efficient spells to pull off. Even the thickest I can conjure could use up to five percent of my magic energy stores at maximum. You wanna know what I was doing behind that shield? Recharging. I'm almost at full power now. Enough for this little trick. Oh, and don't count my team out just yet." Taking this as a signal, both Lee and Glide moved; Lee's staff crossed his body and Glide spread his wings out. "They may not be able to fight on their own, but who says that's the only way to fight?"

Wiz spread his hands out and charged them with magic. Lee and Glide started glowing with the same purple aura. Wiz raised his hands, causing his friends to float above the ground in the process. Finally, when Lee and Glide were far enough above the ground, Wiz slammed his hands together above his head, the palm of his left hand over the back of his right; the magic auras of both hands combined looked more solid. Suddenly, Lee and Glide zoomed around wildly.

Blade and his team didn't know what to expect, so they weren't prepared for the onslaught. The wild nature of both Mobians' movements made it hard to predict where and when they would strike. Snowy tried to form an icicle to protect himself, but he kept getting hit before he could concentrate. Pluto tried swinging her scythes, but she always seemed to miss them. Wiz's control of their movements seemed to be more deliberate than the randomness made it appear to be.

Blade was the only one having any luck. Unlike Pluto, whose weapons were in plain sight and easy to follow, Blade's tail was just barely noticeable and could strike quickly as an effective counterattack. By the time Wiz finally brought his friends back down, Blade was the only one who was relatively unharmed.

"I'll admit," Blade said, "that was good. But with that kind of power, you must be exhausted all over again."

Wiz just smirked and curled his hand into a fist, summoning more magic around it. "Do you so easily forget?" he asked. "Basic stuff like this is easier to pull off." He shifted his body so that his fist was behind him. Blade responded by brandishing his tail. The two started moving toward each other, ready to attack.

Suddenly, they were blinded by a bright light, brighter than anything they had seen throughout the park. The light was accompanied by a strange, almost melodic sound. When they could finally open their eyes, they found themselves separated by a literal wall of light. The sound kept continuing. They both looked around for the source. Wiz looked up and saw what was causing this: it looked like a humanoid made completely of light. Its appearance was reminiscent of a priest of some kind and it held an object like a fan in its hand.

The figure started glowing more brightly. This time, though, it wasn't unbearably bright; if anything, it was actually soothing. Four grunts were heard and everyone else there started getting up.

"Well, that's one way to wake up," Lee said.

"Shouldn't I be in a lot more pain?" Snowy said to himself.

"Hey, look!" Glide interjected. They all looked up and saw the figure of light above them. It started making the strange sound again.

"Is it talking?" Snowy asked.

"If it is," Pluto started, "any way we can find out what the bozo's saying?"

While not replying to Pluto, Wiz already head his hand up to his forehead. "'I am the Light Guardian, and I command you to cease your defilement of this sacred ground.'"

"Light Guardian," Glide repeated. "Like the Earth Guardian we saw back at the ruins?"

Lee spoke up. "Well, I got news for you pal; that 'defilement' isn't us. If anything, we're here looking for your defiler. Now if you don't mind, I'll just—!" He was cut short by a beam of light that was shot just in front of him.

"'Stay your words, foolish one,'" Wiz translated. "Yeah, that's what I've been saying for years, Lee. 'I mean your foolish battle. It does more harm than you realize.'"

"After what just happened," Snowy said, holding his shoulder, "I'll see that bet and raise you five."

"'A man more foolish than you all is looking to resurrect an ancient evil. You are the only ones who can put a stop to this. And while you waste time with your petty squabbles, the evil draws nearer and the world closer to its doom.'"

Everyone noticed a faint glow on one of the stone pillars. Glide went to check it out. "Hey, this one has an indent like the last one."

"'If you are to stop the evil, you must learn its secrets.'" Wiz held out his other hand and cast another Revealing Spell. The outline of a tablet, complete with ancient script appeared inside it. Glide lowered his goggles and took a picture of it. "'But be wary; my brethren who guard the other sacred lands are not happy with this turn of events. They have become vengeful and will not show mercy to any who cross their path.

"'Now, to the hunters,'" Wiz continued. The other three turned toward the Light Guardian. "'You must continue your quest for the Emeralds.'" Everyone was surprised at this, especially since the Emerald lifted from its perch and floated toward Snowy. "'These gems may be our only hope. Use them well.'" Cautiously, Snowy took the gem and placed in his pouch.

"What the heck does he mean by that?" Pluto asked.

"In any case, we've at least got three Emeralds," Blade replied. "I say we just go with it."

"'Time is short, so I will send you all to where you must go to complete your quest. Farewell.'" The area started becoming brighter once again. Everyone shielded their eyes. Eventually, the light faded, but everyone had vanished.

Didn't see that coming, huh? At any rate, what did you think? I'll be working on improving the battle narrations as I go along.

Anyway, I better get working on Team Sorority (hype fuel).

This is CF signing out.