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‘Countdown to Chaos,’ Part 2. The long-awaited debut of the new Freedom Fighters continues! The mysteries deepen as Sonic and Tails find their long lost pal Antoine! But what is the state of our formerly fallen fellow freedom fighter? What has Uncle Chuck’s research uncovered about the nature of the dark power they’ve found seeping from the earth? And an unlikely return of a character you won’t expect alongside Uncle Chuck! Plus, Eggman versus G.U.N. and the prize is Eggman’s life!
Countdown to Chaos Part Two: The Soldier
The issue begins with Dr. Eggman, Orbot and Cubot flying over the skies of Avalon, evading attacks from G.U.N. fighter planes. Eventually, the right wing of their Egg Mobile is shot off, and they make a crash landing in Lord Hood's Egg Army base. Somehow emerging unharmed, Eggman immediately demands Hood's presence, and the startled Egg Boss appears before him, not having expected Eggman's arrival. Eggman furiously asks why the airspace over their base is overrun with G.U.N. soldiers, and Hood desperately responds that the Crazy Kritter Freedom Fighters have been giving him a hard time, and he was too distracted to prevent a G.U.N. carrier from coming into dock near their base. Uninterested in Hood's excuses, Eggman demands for a new aircraft, stating he is in a hurry. Hood says that they don't have one, and even if they did G.U.N. would shoot him down in an instant. Orbot also chimes in, saying that the Egg Mobile is in no condition to fly, but Eggman sinisterly replies that it will be good for JUST enough...
Meanwhile, Sonic and Tails are walking outside the restored Knothole Village (now located in the Wood Zone), discussing how nice it is to have the old village back, and how they may get a similar second chance with the Freedom Fighters. NICOLE urges them to find Antoine, Bunnie, Sally and Amy as soon as possible, but Sonic is distracted by a familiar face: his Uncle Chuck. The good doctor's greeting is interrupted by Sonic's joyful embrace, and the overjoyed hedgehog thinks how Sally no longer being a robot, Knothole not being destroyed and Uncle Chuck still being around are making him prefer the new universe to the old one. A surprised Chuck asks Sonic what's gotten into him, and he tearfully responds that he was just happy to see his uncle safe and sound. Chuck replies that no one will be safe if he can't figure out what has been causing the recent tremors, which he believes to be Eggman's doing. He has been collecting samples of some sort of purple energy that's been seeping out of the cracks in the earth, and requests NICOLE's assistance in analyzing the samples if she's free. The damaged supercomputer apologizes and says she is needed elsewhere, albeit with a garbled signal, prompting Chuck to ask about her condition. Tails says it's complicated, while Sonic replies that they need to see Antoine to help fix her, and Rotor said he was here. As if on cue, the new and improved Antoine walks up to them with a small Mobian dog in tow, and remarks that he was not expecting to see Sonic and Tails here. The two friends immediately hug their rejuvinated comrade, confusing him somewhat with their seemingly unwarranted elation.
Chuck once again asks Sonic if he's feeling okay, and the latter replies that he's just happy to see his buddy again, much to Antoine's confusion. At the same time, the Mobian dog is happy to see Sonic and Tails again, though they don't seem to recognize him. When he refers to himself as "The Mutt", a surprised Sonic suddenly asks if he is Muttski, to which he confirms, having been transformed from a regular dog to a full-blown Mobian dog known as Ben "Mutt" Muttski due to the effects of the Genesis Wave. Noticing Sonic and Tails' shock and confusion at the revelation, Antoine asks why they are acting so "funky", to which Chuck surmises that they might've had some spoiled chili dogs on the flight over. He then tells Sonic that he and Ben have work to do, and that they should leave with Antoine. Sonic whispers to Tails that they should restore Chuck's memory, but Tails disagrees, saying that his former status as a roboticized slave may complicate the matter, and they should focus on restoring the memories of the Freedom Fighters first. Sonic reluctantly agrees, but says that Chuck is the first person they go to once this is all over. As they walk with Antoine, the coyote says that if they have a new mission for him, he must decline, as his top priority is to protect Chuck and his research at all costs, even if it is a boring job. As they prepare to restore his memory, Sonic asks if he wants to sit down first, but Antoine impatiently asks why the two of them are acting so unusual, and says that if they just tell him what they want him to do, he will do it. Without a more pleasant option, Tails hands NICOLE over to Antoine, and the swordsman is suddenly overwhelmed with memories of the old world, including his former cowardly nature, his marriage to Bunnie, and his grave injury at the hands of Metal Sonic. He nearly collapses from the shock, obviously terrified at remembering his near-death state, though Sonic and Tails frantically try to assure him that he would've been fine. With his thoughts in a jumbled mess, Antoine asks them about Bunnie, wanting to know how his wife is faring.
Back in Avalon, Eggman has converted his Egg Mobile into an Egg Walker combat mech, though Orbot is unsure what it is supposed to do. Eggman replies that he MUST get to the Death Egg as soon as possible, even if it means attacking G.U.N. directly. Inside the armored mech, Eggman, Orbot and Cubot jump onto the G.U.N. carrier and open fire on their forces. While Eggman distracts the hostile robots, Orbot and Cubot sneak off the mech, hijack a jet from one of the G.U.N. soldiers, and inform the doctor that they are taking off. Bidding his faithful Egg Mobile a fond farewell, Eggman abandons ship and uses his jet pack to board the vessel while the armored mech explodes upon contact with a nearby defense tower. Proclaiming his superiority over G.U.N., Eggman flies off in the hijacked plane while the destroyed carrier sinks behind them.
Back in the Wood Zone, Sonic and Tails are checking on Bunnie's current mission status via NICOLE, who at this point has regained the ability to speak properly thanks to Antoine's interaction with her, though she is still unable to access her holographic form. She mentions that she is running out of energy from the Genesis Wave, and may only be able to restore the memories of two or three more people at most. Antoine asks what the deal with "energies and memories" is all about, to which Sonic simply replies that he fell through a hole in reality, and NICOLE's database seems to react to the bonds he has with his friends, which they plan to do with Bunnie next. NICOLE says that this may be easier said than done, as Bunnie is currently undercover in the Egg Army and hasn't contacted them in over a week. Wanting to help his wife, Antoine decides to go find her, though the discussion is cut short by a sudden vicious earthquake. Part of the earth is split open, causing Uncle Chuck and Ben to fall down the gap. Sonic, Tails and Antoine immediately spring into action to save them, Sonic catching Chuck and Tails catching Ben. Chuck panics that the samples he collected are also falling, but Sonic insists that saving him is more important before throwing him over to Antoine. The soldier hands him over to Tails and clears a path for them using his sword, spinning similar to Sonic while slashing a stray log clean in half before landing safely on the surface. Tails barely manages to carry both Uncle Chuck and Ben to safety, while Sonic goes further down the pit to catch his uncle's research, which he does.
During his way back up, a rock hits one of the glasses that was holding a sample of the purple gas, causing it to break as the gas envelops Sonic and prevents him from reaching the surface. Fortunately, Antoine catches Sonic while Tails carries him back up. Once Sonic is back on the surface, he grunts and snarls viciously while seemingly beginning to transform, apparently having a strong reaction to the purple gas. However, he quickly calms down and says he's okay, apologizing for losing some of his uncle's research. Uncle Chuck is more worried about him, saying that the sample he inhaled was potentially dangerous and requires medical assistance, though Sonic insists he's fine. Somewhat disappointed with losing an entire sample, Chuck and Ben decide to return to Knothole to make sure the villagers are safe, and then go to Spagonia to analyze what's left of their research. As they bid the heroes farewell, Chuck urges Sonic one last time to see a doctor, though Sonic is still unconcerned. Antoine agrees with Chuck, telling Tails to make sure Sonic sees a doctor while he ensures they get to Spagonia safely. Putting his trust in Sonic and Tails, the soldier says that he will only rejoin them after his current mission is complete, and he can leave Bunnie in their hands. Before departing on the Tornado, Sonic asks Antoine if there's anything he would like them to tell her once they find her, and after a moment of thinking, Antoine responds in the affirmative. He says to tell her that he is well, but will not be whole until he is with her again.
Meanwhile, in an Egg Base within the Metropolis Zone, a passerby Egg Soldier tells a long-eared "rookie" to hurry up and get fully suited up before someone reports her. The familiar soldier apologizes and puts on her helmet before walking off and sarcastically remarking "All hail the Eggman Empire and all that jazz, right?".
Sonic and Tails go about their business when all of a sudden, Sonic regains another memory from the old world: that he had left the iron on!
- It's revealed that in the altered Prime Zone, Knothole Village is not burned to the ground and Sonic's pet Mobini dog Muttski is now a full-grown Mobian dog named Ben "Mutt" Muttski.
- Dr. Eggman, Orbot, and Cubot arrive at Lord Hood's base in Avalon, to find it being attacked by G.U.N..
- Bow Sparrow and the Crazy Kritter Freedom Fighters are revealed to still exist in this new world.
- Sonic and Tails arrive in Knothole where they reunite with Antoine, Uncle Chuck, and Muttski.
- Antoine regains his memories of the old world.
- It's revealed that there is a limit to how many people can be given their memories back.
- Sonic and Tails learn about the cracks on the planet.
- Sonic begins to get a little ferocious after he inhales a strange puff of smoke from Uncle Chuck's machine.
- Bunnie is revealed to be undercover as a member of the Egg Army in the Metropolis Zone.
- Dr. Eggman (to the G.U.N. fighter jets attacking him): STOP PUTTING HOLES IN MY PLANE!
- Orbot: I don't think they can hear you, boss!
- Cubot (with a German accent): Push, push! It vill make us go schnell!
- Sonic (in his mind): Sally's not a robot, Knothole's still standing, and Uncle Chuck's still around. Maybe this whole "new reality" thing isn't so bad...
- Antoine: Ah! Bonjour, mes ami! I was not expecting you here. (Sonic & Tails both grab him in a hug) ...I am missing something, perhaps?
- Antoine (noticing Sonic & Tails are acting wierd): Why are they acting so--how you say--"funky"?
- Chuck: I dunno. Maybe they had a bad batch of chili dogs on the flight over.
- Antoine: If you are here with ze new mission, I must be declining. Do not be misunderstanding, this bodyguarding? Peh! Boring! Not ze single badnik attack! But, Uncle Chuck's work is important, and zo I must remain at his side.
- Antoine (to Sonic & Tails): What is ze matter with ze two of you? You are acting as if I am ze ghost, here to be haunting you. If you are needing me, say so. If I must be doing something to help, I will do it. Stop being the namby-pambies.
- Sonic (catching Antoine as he collapses from the shock of regaining his memories): Easy, buddy, I've gotcha. (Toldja to sit down first.)
- Antoine: My thoughts...they are jumbled. Where is Bunnie? How is my wife?
- Chuck (to Sonic & Tails): Good luck on your mission, boys! And Sonic? See a doctor! That was super concentrated mystery gas!
- Sonic: I did! You're a doctor!
- Chuck (correcting him): A medical doctor!
- Antoine: Tails--be making sure Sonic sees ze doctors. I will go with [Chuck & Muttski].
- Sonic: You sure? You said it was boring.
- Antoine: Oui. But today is proving danger may strike at any time, non? If Chuck's research can help stop ze tremors, then he must deliver his research safely. Only after that will I rejoin you. And I know I can trust ze two of you. For everything.
- Sonic: Anything you want us to tell Bunnie when we find her?
- Antoine: Oui. Tell her...I am well, but will not be whole until I am with her again.
- Bunnie (sarcastically): All hail the Eggman Empire and all that jazz, right?
- Eggman's line at the beginning of the story "Stop putting holes in my plane!" is a nod to Jack Sparrow's line "Stop blowing holes in my ship!" in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl.
- Cubot speaks with a German accent in this issue.
- This issue marks the return of Antoine with his new design, as well as a "Mobianized" Muttski.
- Rotor appears on the cover, despite not appearing in the issue itself.
- This is ironic, because Chuck is on the cover of 253 despite not being in the story that Rotor appears in.
- Antoine's design on the cover was altered slightly for the final release: the original version of the cover depicted him with yellow markings around his eyes, brown fur, and a long, straight muzzle with brown on top similar to his counterpart in the unaltered universe; the final cover depicts his final design, in which there are no such markings around his eyes, his fur is a dark red color, and his muzzle has been redesigned to look more like a Sega Sonic character's, with a rounder shape, a Sonic-esque nose, and no brown on top.
- Eggman's modified Egg Mobile is made to resemble the Egg Walker from Sonic Adventure 2. In addition, Eggman's line "And now you know why I am the best!" is taken from what he says when he gets an A-Rank in said game.
- When Uncle Chuck is introduced in this issue, his caption refers to him as "Uncle to many". This could possibly be a reference to how many of the characters in the comic refer to him as "Uncle Chuck", despite him only being Sonic's uncle by blood.
- It could also have something to do with the Sega mandate banning the comic from featuring non-Sega relatives of Sega characters; if Uncle Chuck is an "uncle to many", then Sonic can call him "Uncle Chuck" without necessarily proving that he's actually Sonic's uncle.
- In this issue, Tails acts as if he had never met the newer versions of Antoine and Muttski before now, showing that his memories of the altered universe were damaged when he regained his memories of the unaltered one.
- Antoine is seen using a move similar to Sonic's Spin Dash combined with his own sword techniques, meaning he is most likely a much more skilled fighter now than he was in the unaltered universe.
- Stangely, the solicits for this issue refer to Mobius as Earth instead. Whether this is a typo or possibly linked to the fact that the comic's opening title now says "Welcome to Sonic's Comic Book Adventures" instead of "Welcome to the planet Mobius" remains to be seen. The cause of this may be the Super Genesis Wave. However, it should be noted that the use of earth is uncapitalized, and may be a general reference to the ground.
- Ian Flynn later confirmed that he is no longer allowed to use the name "Mobius" in the comics for the time being, though the exact reasons are unknown.
- Antoine's flashbacks of the old timeline include:
This issue has been reprinted in the following places: