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- This story continues from Sonic Quest Miniseries #3 and takes place before Sonic Live
Archie Sonic the Hedgehog Issue 42 was the forty-second issue of the main Sonic the Hedgehog comic series.
- "In Every Kingdom There Must Exist A Little Chaos"
On the Floating Island, Sonic and Knuckles engage in battle, Sonic demanding that Knuckles hand over one of his Chaos Emeralds. Knuckles refuses, accusing Sonic of trying to make the island sink, though Sonic is quick to retort that Knuckles has a spare Chaos Emerald from the Power Ring Grotto, which he claims is royal property. Knuckles still refuses to hand it over, but Tails then flies in to stop the two, remarking that their fight isn't helping King Acorn. The Guardian questions this, as the King was imprisoned, and Sonic reveals that they rescued him only for his body to start transforming into crystal. After failing to cure him with a Power Ring, the Freedom Fighters decided that a Chaos Emerald might work instead, and Sonic also remarks that they would be able to use it against Robotnik. Knuckles questions why they can't just use more Power Rings from the grotto, prompting a reply from Tails that Sonic cuts off before revealing that Robotnik drained the grotto. He makes an apology for his rash action, which Knuckles accepts, only to once again deny their request for an Emerald. Sonic and Tails then depart, Sonic remarking that Knuckles will regret not helping Sally, while Knuckles replies that he already does.
The next day, the pair greet Sally in Knothole, only for Tails to reveal that Sonic and Knuckles got into a fight once again. Sonic then provides Sally with some Power Rings to see if they can help with her father, and they report on their failure to obtain the Chaos Emerald over lunch. Uncle Chuck then arrives to report that the Power Rings failed to cure the King, but then reports that their intention to use a magical item is a correct one. Sally then reveals that after going through the royal records, they have discovered that the Crown of Acorns might provide a cure, though Sonic is quick to point out that the Crown was supposedly with the King when he went into the Zone of Silence. Lamenting that they didn't recover it, Sonic is then informed that the Crown King Max wore at the time was apparently counterfeit. She then shows him a document citing the House of Acorn's duty to protect the Crown, and that in times of great peril to the wearer they were to send it to the Hall of Limbo. Sonic then questions how they are to find it, and Chuck replies that while the documents don't detail the Hall's location, they might be able to uncover it using a Power Ring. He reminds Sonic that the Rings can grant knowledge in addition to power, and then departs for Robotropolis while Sally announces her intention to go to the Lake of Rings the next day.
The next day Sonic, Sally, and Tails approach the lake, and Sally remarks that a ring is supposed to come out of it once every hour, with the next one due in a matter of minutes. Tails then questions why they are so far away, prompting Sally to remind him that they are trying to keep the lake secret from everyone but Uncle Chuck and the main Freedom Fighters, and that they are worried its location might already have been compromised. They are awaiting word from their friend Fly Fly Freddy on what Robotnik knows, only for Sleuth Dawg to emerge from bushes nearby. He reports that Fred was unable to leave Robotropolis, and promises to share the details of his report with an irate Sally. The group then reluctantly decide to head to the lake with Sleuth, who reveals that Robotnik didn't learn the lake's location, but then attacks Sally from behind. A force of SWATbots then emerges from the forest to back him up, Sleuth revealing that he has joined Robotnik in exchange for the promise of power. The three Freedom Fighters engage them, only for Sleuth to call in a flying robot who attacks with lasers, whom Sonic identifies as a Roboticized Fly Fly Freddy.
Sonic continues engaging the SWATbots in a fury over Freddy's fate, while Sleuth's gloating is interrupted by the arrival of Bunnie Rabbot, who was on guard at the lake. A Power Ring then emerges from the water, and Sally orders Sonic to retrieve it before it can vanish. He does so reluctantly, only to be targeted by Freddy, who is unexpectedly tackled by none other than Knuckles. Tails then rescues his friend from midair, while Knuckles leaps into the fray and reminds them that the fight isn't over. Sonic then attacks by spinning his arms in a Whirlwind Whammy move, scattering the combatants. With the SWATbots defeated, Freddy in pieces, and Sleuth under arrest, Knuckles pulls out one of his Chaos Emeralds, revealing that he has changed his mind about helping the Freedom Fighters.
Back in Knothole, Uncle Chuck reveals that he had suspected a double agent in the Robotropolis Spy Network, and that after Freddy missed their rendezvous he decided to call upon Knuckles for help. Knuckles reminds them that he is only loaning them the Chaos Emerald, and Rotor then hooks it up to a machine in an effort to restore King Acorn to normal. Unfortunately, the Emerald's powers accelerate the transformation, though fortunately the King returns to his previous state when the machine is shut off. Left with only the hope that the Crown can cure him, Sonic calls upon the Power Ring for knowledge, only to collapse from the effort. Sonic then reveals that while he failed to determine the Hall of Limbo's location, he learned that the Crown can be found through a connection it has to the Sword of Acorns. Sally despairs, as the Sword's location is unknown to them, prompting a sympathetic Knuckles to make finding it his own quest.
- "Knuckles' Quest" - Part One
Knuckles finds himself uncomfortably seated on a makeshift attachment to the Sea Fox as Tails teases him. He then reminds Knuckles that the Echidna was the one who proposed seeking out the Ancient Walkers to begin his quest for the Sword of Acorns. Knuckles remarks that he intended to do so alone, while Tails replies that the Walkers show up only under special circumstances, and that his great-grandfather Athair is the only connection between the Walkers and the two of them. They finally arrive in Downunda, where Tails believes Athair can be found, but after investigating the Great Crater they are unable to find anything. When Tails reveals that the crater was once the site of the Floating Island, Knuckles is astonished, and both are then surprised by the arrival of Athair. The two Echidnas are quick to argue, Knuckles going after Athair for refusing to become Guardian, while Athair counters that the welfare of the universe is more important than one small part of it. Tails attempts to explain their objective, but Athair reveals that the Walkers are already aware of it as dark clouds roll in. The two younger Mobians are then transported into a strange dimension, where they are greeted by the Ancient Walkers. In response to Knuckles' inquiries about the Sword, they send the pair flying through their realm, revealing the faces of a Sorcerer, Wizard, Alchemist, Charlatan, Enchantress and Paladin whom Knuckles must encounter if he hopes to find the Sword. His quest set, Knuckles takes leave of Tails to continue his search alone.
- Sonic and the Freedom Fighters set out to the Power Ring Grotto in an attempt to stop the crystallization of the newly rescued King Acorn.
- Attempts to cure King Acorn with Power Rings and a Chaos Emerald prove unsuccessful, leading the Freedom Fighters to seek out the Crown of Acorns.
- Knuckles sets off on his quest to find the Sword of Acorns, which is needed to locate the Crown in the Hall of Limbo.
- Sleuth Dawg turned on the spy network and the Freedom Fighters.
- Fly Fly Freddy is roboticized and then destroyed.
- Knuckles meets Athair for the first time, before learning that he will encounter several individuals in his quest-later to be introduced as Sir Connery, Black Death, the Enchantress, Mathias Poe, Damocles the Elder, and Merlin Prower.
- A Sorcerer, Wizard, Alchemist, Charlatan, Enchantress and Paladin are referenced in this issue and shown in panels, though not formally introduced. They would appear in following issues with their names told.
- This issue's cover is similar to that of StH:189.
- Athair's viewpoint of the universe as a whole being more important than Angel Island echoes when Knuckles himself would later take in his reasoning for fighting Robotnik during and after STH:130.