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Archie Sonic Universe Issue 41 is the forty-first issue in the spin-off series Sonic Universe comic series.
The Secret Freedom Fighter arc begins here! Geoffrey St. John has been sent on a mysterious mission by the evil Ixis Naugus. It's up to Silver the Hedgehog's squad to find out what he's after - and to stop him! What is Naugus' sinister plot? Who are these Secret Freedom Fighters? The answers begin here!
- "Unsung Heroes" - Part 1
Within the hidden Secret H.Q., Harvey Who briefs the Secret Freedom Fighters. Harvey explains that, thanks to an informant on the Council of Acorn, they know that Ixis Naugus has sent Geoffrey St. John on a mission to Soumerca; Harvey wants to know why. He assigns "Agent Ace" (Silver the Hedgehog) a team to track St. John, while "Agent King" (Elias Acorn) is to investigate Naugus himself. Timidly, Silver attempts to remind Harvey of their deal; the owl assures him that he hasn't forgotten, and that while Silver works for his team, he will investigate the identity of the traitor for Silver.
Hours later, Silver, "Agent Jack" (Shard) and "Agent Joker" (Larry Lynx) are flying over Windy Valley in Soumerca. They find an Extreme Gear hoverboard near a cave entrance and surmise that it belongs to St. John. Shard makes a dramatic, mocking show of placing a tracker on the board, irritating Silver, who insists they're on a serious mission. Shard is confident, however, saying their opponent is a single person and that he can handle it with ease. He adjusts his eyes to scan for traps, and notes that the cave leads to a long shaft underground. Silver offers to use his telekinesis to lower them all into the cave, but Shard rudely protests, fearing that Silver's powers will cause him to short out. As the two bicker, the ground gives way under Larry's feet, and he plummets into the shaft. Silver and Shard quickly fly after him as he falls towards a pit of spikes; Silver attempts to telekinetically grab Larry, but Shard swoops in quickly and catches the lynx, setting him safely down and taunting that he can move faster than Silver can even think. Silver grows further annoyed, insisting that the noise of Shard's jets will have alerted St. John to their presence. Shard is annoyed by Silver's pessimism, and warns Larry to be more careful. Larry says that he can't fully control his jinxes, prompting Silver to ask about his "powers."
Larry explains that bad things simply seem to happen around him -- sometimes to himself, sometimes to those around him. As an example, he talks about how his old team had disbanded, and that when he attempted to run for the Council of Acorn, his ballot box had spontaneously combusted. He became miserable with a lack of purpose. However, one day he sat on a tree stump -- which turned out to be the hidden entrance to Secret H.Q. -- and accidentally fell into the presence of Sir Charles Hedgehog and Harvey Who. Recognizing Larry as the leader of a former Freedom Fighter group, Harvey offered him a position on his new team.
Silver is not impressed, not seeing how someone who generates bad luck is a good candidate for a spy team. Shard takes the opportunity to mock Silver on his many failures to locate a supposed traitor among the Knothole Freedom Fighters, and snidely reminds Silver that Harvey Who is giving himself and Larry a second chance. While the two argue, Larry notices they've come upon a suspicious-looking hallway. Shard again scans for traps, picking up nothing, but points out that depending on the age or construction, he might not notice anything. Larry decides it's up to him, and to Silver's shock, walks straight into the hallway. He almost immediately trips, activating a volley of arrows; however, his gauntlet strikes one, causing it to go askew and throw others off their path. As Shard yanks Larry back to safety, the arrows ricochet out of control, destroying the trap.
Deeper in the cave, St. John hears the commotion and realizes he's being followed. He takes something hidden within a statue in the chamber and places it in a bag.
Silver, Shard and Larry have come upon another trap; a set of swinging spikes suspended from the ceiling over a pit. Larry and Silver surmise that it's supposed to be impossible to cross unless one has Ixis Magicks; Silver is about to hold the pendulums still with his telekinesis, but Shard pushes past him and merely blows up the obstacles with his arm-cannon. Irritated, Silver points out that they're being too noisy, but Shard merely replies that they've already made enough noise to have been noticed. Carrying Larry, they fly across the pit -- not noticing the smoke traveling in the opposite direction. The smoke materializes into Geoffrey, having just narrowly dodged his pursuers.
The team enters the chamber Geoffrey was in earlier. Shard is able to translate the ancient writing within, declaring that the room is "the crypt of Ixis Vale, one of Ixis Mogul's four elite." Silver is shocked at the mention of the name, noticing a statue of a hooded figure that resembles his master; he questions whether Shard's translation is accurate, but unconvincingly claims it's not important. Larry figures that for a crypt, there should be remains somewhere; Shard points out that they should be located before the stone statue of a hooded Mobian raven, presumable depicting Ixis Vale. Since nothing is there, Silver realizes that St. John must have already been here and left. Shard scans and finds recent footprints on the ground; realizing that they had just missed St. John, he rockets off to catch up with their target, despite Larry's protests.
Silver mentally calculates the path that lead to the chamber, and uses his powers to cave in part of the ceiling; this causes the floor in the arrow chamber, where St. John is passing through, to collapse. From above, Shard confirms that he saw St. John fall among the rubble. However, in the confusion, Geoffrey manages to slip away and back into the upper hallway. Shard catches sight of him and gives chase, only for St. John to retaliate with an explosive arrow, causing another cave-in. As Silver and Larry attempt to dig out Shard, St. John uses a zipline to escape the entry shaft, dropping a trail of bombs in his wake and causing even further collapse. Weary and strained, Geoffrey assures himself that whoever was following him won't trouble him again, and takes off on his Extreme Gear -- unaware of the tracker placed upon it.
Back within the cave, Silver is straining, using his telekinesis to prevent the team from being crushed under fallen rocks. Badly damaged, Shard remarks that his auto-repair will help take care of things, but that he shouldn't push his power core too hard. He tells Larry to sit aside and "think non-jinxy thoughts" while he begins to dig their way out. Larry wonders if the other team is doing any better on their mission...
Elsewhere, within a dark set of caverns, Elias, Leeta and Lyco find themselves turned around. Elias remarks that the structure of the cave is being changed to trap them, and orders the team to split up. As Elias makes his way down a tunnel, he notices a light approaching quickly from behind. He ducks behind a stalagmite as a monstrous Ixis Naugus passes by, roaring that no intruders shall escape him.
Shard asked Larry Lynx how having bad luck was an ability as they paced through a hall. Before Larry could explain, Shard's arms fell off and made so much noise as one of them blasted at the floor. The former's body fell apart some more before he gave up and told Larry to forget it.
- Silver: (to Larry) So the director decided to send you -- someone who causes random things to go wrong -- on sensitive spy missions?
- Shard: *cough* I know who the traitor is! *cough* 'Scuse me while I leap to conclusions in a single bound! *cough* *hack* *cough* *Ahem!*
- Silver: The director is helping me with that.
- Shard: I know he is, hot-shot. He's also giving me and Larry a second shot with his little spy team. Might want to keep that in mind since this is your -- what -- fourth?
- Silver: Hey! I'm trying to save your time period!
- Shard: And Larry's been fighting for it since before you were born!
- Silver: That's because I'm from the future!
- Shard: Okay, I think it says: this is the crypt of Ixis Vale, one of Ixis Mogul's elite four.
- Silver: Ixis... Mogul? Are you sure?
- Shard: Pretty sure, yeah. Why?
- Silver: Uh... no reason.
- Shard: Sure. "No reason."
- Silver, Shard and Larry track St. John to Soumerca and place a tracker on his vehicle
- St. John recovers something from the crypt of Ixis Vale
- Silver, Shard and Larry are trapped in a cave-in
- Elias, Leeta and Lyco are being pursued by Ixis Naugus
- The convention exclusive variant cover for this issue, which was available as San Diego Comic Con 2012, depicts the Secret Freedom Fighters.
- This issue marks the return of the original Metal Sonic
- With this issue, Sonic Universe is the longest running Archie Sonic spin-off, passing Sonic X
- This issue's cover is a reference to the boxart of Sonic Rivals
- Shard's color pallete is based of Metal Sonic 3.0 from Sonic Rivals 2.
- Shard mentions that he hates being buried alive and that once is enough, an obvious reference to his supposed demise in Archie Sonic the Hedgehog Issue 87.
- Silver's new look is based of off his race suit from the sonic rivals series.
- At the back of the comic, it shows the top three longest lasting Archie Sonic spin-offs, with Sonic Universe in first place, Sonic X in second, and Knuckles the Echidna in third.
- Windy Valley originally appeared as an act in Sonic Adventure.
- Another variant cover would depict the same poses as the final cover, but with Elias in the foreground. Eventually, this was changed for Silver to be in the foreground, being a more recognizable character than Elias.  Funnily enough, Silver would've been in the exact same position and pose he was in on the Sonic Rivals boxart of which it's based.
- Ixis Vale's name-spelled Veil-and her mortal remains were mentioned by Naugus during his debut appearance in StH #53.