969: Secrets of the Master Emerald – Chapters Seven and EightPosted: February 19, 2015
Title: Secrets of the Master Emerald
Media: Video Games
Topic: Sonic the Hedgehog
URL: Secrets of the Master Emerald: Chapter 7
URL: Secrets of the Master Emerald: Chapter 8
Critiqued by Herr Wozzeck
Hello once again, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome back for more of the fic that has provided lots of dumb but nothing that’s actually all that wrong. Don’t you love it when a fic does just that. It’s actually kind of great to not be angry at a fic for once, you know what I’m saying?
But yeah, we still have more of this fic to go. So let’s not waste any more time, yeah? Let’s get to it!
Our next chapter has the usual disclaimer, and then we move on to the chapter itself. All par for course, really.
Rouge sat in the beach house with her legs crossed. So Knuckles lied when he told her that mark wasn’t rage. He was trying to keep his knowledge of the emerald a secret.
Thank you, Rouge, I’m pretty sure most of us would’ve been able to figure that out without the narrative aside there.
Rouge observed her hands as she thought. The markings hadn’t faded away, and there were random moments when she felt the pain again.
Well, you haven’t applied Neosporin since you got those wounds, Rouge, so that might be part of it at least. Jeez, at least treat them first before you go bitching about how the pain comes back sometimes!
When Knuckles isn’t dozing in the hammock she’ll ask him about that. For now, she had some information to report.
*grabs temporal sickness bags*
Oh. Oh, thank God. The perks of having a good digestive system, am I right patrons?
“Shadow it’s Rouge.”
“Did he tell you anything?” Shadow asked immediately. Business as usual.
“Yes. He told me a lot. The Master Emerald is like a living thing in a way. It missed Knuckles and that’s why it’s been acting up. Knuckles said there’s more but he hasn’t told me yet,” Rouge said quickly, hoping this would resolve G.U.N.’s control issue.
I don’t know, Rouge; as long as the NRA still has Wayne LaPierre around, I think that we have a long way to go before we’ve solved that particular issue on G.U.N. control, am I right?
Oh come on, I normally suck at puns! Give me that one, at least!
Shadow took his sweet time responding, and Rouge nearly shouted at her communicator. When he did, it wasn’t what she wanted to hear, “We’ll need more information before the President will let him come back. Just hope it’s soon. The Master Emerald’s power is growing with every passing hour.”
Okay, now G.U.N. is starting to lose me. I mean, Rouge has just told them that Knuckles told her “the Emerald won’t calm the fuck down unless I’m there”, and they still want to keep him away?
Seriously, this isn’t enough?
Rouge frowned, “This isn’t enough? It’s going to get worse and the only way to fix it is bring Knuckles back!”
Thank you, Rouge, it’s good to know you’re actually on the ball with this whole thing.
“That is only a temporary resolution. We need to find a way to either destroy it or destroy its emotions. Knuckles is the last of his kind and he won’t live forever.”
Yes, and? It’s a temporary solution that can tide you over as long as Knuckles lives, Shadow! And last I checked, Knuckles wasn’t that old! He’s still got quite a bit of life left in him yet at this juncture, so maybe you could have Knuckles go in and calm it down while you find a way to stop the Master Emerald from going out of control for good!
Oh, wait, sorry, that would negate Knuckles needing to tell Rouge about it, and this romance therefore wouldn’t be clichéd enough. Never mind!
The communicator shut off and Rouge glared daggers at it. She knew they were right about that, but this wasn’t the way to do this. They need to keep that rock under control while finding a way to stop it. Sending Knuckles away was an egghead move.
Yes, we know that, fic. Unlike a lot of the other authors we’ve seen on this site, the narration is in fact lining up with what we perceive from the characters’ actions. You don’t need to spell that out for us, m’kay?
Rouge’s hands flared up and she winced. The flashes were worse and more often now, which was hardly a surprise. The wound is linked to the emerald after all. Perhaps all of the pain is linked with its anger. If only she knew more about it.
Oh, so the pain was getting worse, and you somehow managed to link it to the Emerald’s flaring up? Hm, that’s actually quite intelligent of Rouge. It’s kind of informed ‘cause we didn’t see it happen and you could very easily have said this earlier, but hey, I’ll take it! I mean, for once, someone is actually showing a bit of intelligence here!
Seriously, why isn’t she the one in charge of G.U.N.? She’s got better thinking skills than her superiors do: they should be taking orders from her!
Rouge looked outside at the peaceful waves, rolling in and out of the sea. The sun had set by now and it was darkening rapidly.
Wait, the sun is darkening rapidly?
Welp, I’ll just leave you to it then. Whether or not Knuckles can stop the Master Emerald’s flare-ups is a non-issue now, Rouge. Sorry to have to ditch you there, but… well, you’re fucked anyway, given that your sun looks like it’s about to die.
Rouge’s trained eyes scanned the area, but there was something missing.
“Where’s Knuckles?” She walked out of the beach house and looked around the small island. He was on the far end, sitting beside the ocean. Rouge sat beside him without a word. The moon was beginning to rise on the horizon, lighting up this side of the sky with it’s pale glow. The scene was beautiful, and Rouge wouldn’t have wanted to spend it with anyone else.
“I’m worrying about the Master Emerald… and that’s why I’m gonna go spend time I could be formulating a solution to this whole dilemma sitting here watching the moon rise with my love interest! Time budgeting? What’s that?”
She looked at the echidna and her thoughts changed. His eyes were blank and little streams of tears trickled down his face. He hadn’t even made a notice of her presence.
“Knuckles? What’s wrong?” Rouge asked softly, adjusting herself so she could face him. He closed his eyes and looked away, “Knuckles.”
“I’d rather not talk about it Rouge. I want to be alone,” His voice was full of anguish and dull pain.
Oh boy, here comes the trite, clichéd romance conversation in three… two… one…
Rouge’s jaw set stubbornly, “Honey you’ve been alone for too long now. I think it’s time you’ve let me in.”
He growled and looked at her with malice, “Everyone I let in dies. You want to be next?”
Rouge pretended to be observing her fingertips, “I’ll take my chances.”
Knuckles turned away, “I won’t. I’m done losing people I care about. I’m doing this alone!”
His words made Rouge’s blood freeze, then her pulse kicked into hyper speed, “People you care about huh? You don’t need to do this alone Knuckles! I’m not letting you!” Without warning, she pounced on the echidna, pinning his arms and legs with her hands and boots, “You can’t hide on that floating chunk of land forever!”
There was surprise in his violet eyes, then challenge, “And who’s going to stop me?”
Rouge flashed her seductive smile and leaned closer, her face inches from his, “Me,” Then she closed the distance.
What? Come on, it’s only appropriate!
It was meant to be a quick kiss, but a deep desire flamed up inside her chest that craved more. Knuckles surprisingly, didn’t pull away. He grabbed her forearms firmly and kissed her back fiercely. It was a battle of domination for at least a full minute. It was a battle neither wanted to end, neither cared to win nor lose. They both only wanted it to last.
*points at story*
See? You see? It’s only appropriate!
When Rouge broke away for air, she realized she’d somehow ended up under the echidna. She grinned again with narrow eyes and rolled him over, “That’s not how I play,” She kissed at his chest, feeling his strong arms as she did so. For a minute, he seemed to enjoy it, but after that, he pushed her off.
“No! Stop!” He backed off and looked away with anger written all over his face. Rouge was so bewildered it took her a moment to respond.
“What did I do wrong?” She demanded with a hand on her hip. She glared at him, waiting for an answer.
Well, you did start trying to go down on him, likely before he was ready to go that far with you. That might have a big hand in it.
Knuckles didn’t make any attempt to answer. He crossed his arms and made sure he was looking at anything but Rouge. After about three seconds she’s had enough.
“What did i do wrong Knuckles?” She demanded again with a louder voice.
Again, you probably took it to a place he wasn’t ready to take it. Believe me, that can change a lot.
Knuckles spun around and got in her face instantly, his eyes flaming.
“What did you do wrong? You really want to know?” His voice was dripping with venom and he dared her to answer him with his violet eyes.
Rouge nodded, holing her ground. Knuckles pulled her to him and kissed her fiercely for a second then pulled back again, “You did everything wrong when you made me love you!”
Oooooor, Knuckles was just going the route of “lonely person scarred by a relationship in the past who fears he’ll hurt the people he cares about just by their presence around him”.
Eh, it is an overly clichéd romance plot, so I can’t really say I was expecting anything different.
Rouge felt like stone the moment he said it. He trudged away, leaving the shocked bat to stare after him. She felt her heart skip then sink like a rock with a lake. He loves her… yet he hates her. What had caused this? Why do the only words Rouge had ever wanted to hear have to hurt her so badly? She walked slowly in the direction Knuckles had fled until she saw him sitting in the bench swing. He glared at the water as if it was to blame for this whole thing. Rouge wished it was that simple.
And I wish the narrative would stop rambling on and on about this and let the characters’ actions actually speak for themselves instead of spelling their significance out for the readers every ten seconds.
She stood in front of him, her eyes deep with misery. He closed his eyes, refusing to look at her. She made a bold move and sat on his lap, snaking her arms around his neck and nuzzling her face in his chest. Knuckles tensed from her touch but she didn’t pull back. She only sat there, tracing his arms as if it were ordinary behavior. If felt like it should be.
“What are you doing?” Knuckles asked with fear in his voice. Rouge sat up enough to see that there was fear and pain in his eyes as well. She kissed his cheek softly then rested her head on his shoulder.
“I’m showing you that it’s not wrong to love me. I’m not who I used to be and you need to get that in your head. What are you so afraid of?”
Knuckles didn’t answer at first, but when he did, his voice was thick, “I’m afraid of history repeating itself.”
So your solution to that is to just cower in fear, huh? Well, it wouldn’t be a clichéd romance track without the whole “my girlfriend was once alive, but she’s dead now and it’s all because she was around me” plotline, I guess.
But hey, Rouge is sitting there, she knows what she wants, and she’s gonna get it. So what’s an echidna to do, eh?
“What do you mean?”
Knuckles held her tightly suddenly and unexpectedly, “To know that, you’ll need to know what the Master Emerald did to me. You’ll need to know everything.”
“I’m willing to listen Knuckles. Just tell me,” She whispered, silently begging him to do it, but not letting her hopes up.
Knuckles sighed, “It was many years ago, before I met Sonic.”
Rouge’s eyes widened as she listened.
Yay, he finally decided to fulfill the typical romance clichés! Well, I’ll give the author this, she’s at least good about getting to it somewhat quickly, you know?
OOOO what will it be? Any ideas about what his story will be and what the resolution of the conflict might be? Review!
Well, considering the hints we’ve got so far, we’ve got “girlfriend absorbed by the Master Emerald, Knuckles feels bad about it, and he has guilt from what happened with that, blahblah blah”. So my money is on that, and I’m pretty confident it’s right despite the fact that it makes zero sense within the video game canon.
But hey, that’s what the next chapter is for, right? So let’s get right to it!
Knuckles carefully pushed Rouge away and scooted a couple inches. She let him, knowing he’d need some space. He stared at his mitts while he talked.
“I was engaged… to be married,” He began slowly, “That’s who Ellie was… is.”
Well, that’s dead girlfriend/girlfriend in the ether, so I was right about that, at least.
*checks item off the list*
Rouge nodded, listening eagerly.
“I was very young and in love then. My cousin was guarding the Master Emerald at the time, and when he was gone the privilege was to go to my children. That’s how it works. The wedding was coming up and I couldn’t have imagined my life any better.”
I mean, um…
*gestures to Knuckles*
Knuckles eyes darkened and his mitts clenched into fists, “She was preparing for her first day as priestess. The sky was perfect and cloudless, and everyone was happy. No one could have seen it coming. The Master Emerald was only a precious object at the time. We knew legends of its power, but didn’t know the extent of it. We didn’t think all of the evil it held was true.
“That day, a handful of kids decided to tempt the emerald. They were being immature and annoying but no one really payed attention. That is until one threw a rock at the Master Emerald. It started a reaction that no had seen before. The Emerald was angry and lashed out. The legend was, it sucks a person to it, absorbs their soul and keeps their last emotions. Well that day, we saw just how awful that really is.”
*raises hand, then pauses*
Actually, I’ll let you finish this one off, Knuckles. And then I’ll bitch about canon a bit, and why this would be totally full of shit.
He closed his eyes, and his voice darkened with anger and pain, “I was on the opposite edge of Angel Aisle when I noticed clouds forming unnaturally. I was headed to report them, worried about Ellie’s ceremony to the current priestess. On my way, I saw a strange spot in the grass. When I looked at it, I saw it was blood. In the time it took me to look up again, the Master Emerald had created a vacuum affect, pulling my people to it in all directions. There was a small pile of bodies around it by the time I got there, but my main attention was on Ellie. I searched and searched, not yet noticing that the vacuum wasn’t affecting me at all. I was beginning to fear for the worst when I saw her.
“Even now, I remember every part of that moment. Her quills were painted white, and she wore her priestess robes. She was holding on so tight but it was no use,” His voice began to thicken and tears were forming in his eyes, “I ran as fast as I could to her. My hand was out, I was almost there when she lost her hold. My hand grazed her arm as she passed. I watched her as if it was in slow motion, the pain in her eyes, the silent apology. She seemed to almost give a brave smile just before her head crashed against the rock.
Aw, that kind of does sound like how someone would relate a flashback of something bad that happened to them. Huh, our author is better at naturalistic-sounding dialogue than she lets on at first. Now if only she didn’t have a totally clichéd backdrop with which to display that. ‘Cause trust me, overly clichéd backdrops tend to inhibit your ability to actually write good dialogue, you know?
Anyway, now that it’s over, I—
So you had Knuckles relate all this exposition that already related everything, and then you’re adding a flashback to that, too!? And wait, why the hell did you label it as a flashback!? I just… what!?
Okay, what are you going to say now?
Knuckles’s screams could be heard from miles away. He fell to his knees, clutching the lifeless body to his. He collapsed with Ellie’s body next to him.
Wait, didn’t you say she got sucked into the emerald? So that had to mean her body got sucked in as well, right? Unless it didn’t work like that, which, I don’t know why it wouldn’t, but whatever.
He felt the physical pain in his chest, as if a gaping hole had been ripped out, taking his heart with it. The tears in his eyes were hot against his skin, and hit throat was raw from his wailing.
I don’t know what a “hit throat” is or how it relates to Knuckles, but something tells me I don’t want to know…
The clouds had parted, leaving the perfect day it had interrupted. The Master Emerald was glowing almost sadly; as if it was sorry for what it had done. Knuckles didn’t care what it felt. He wanted it destroyed! He slowly stood up, blood, tears and dirt caked his body. He glared menacingly at the Emerald, daring it to take his life as well.
“Well?” He yelled at it, “What about me? Am I alone here? Am I not good enough or have you had your fill?” His eyes blazed with a slight craze and pure fury, “Your mistake rock! I will kill you!” He pulled his fist back just as the rock shot out a surge of power at the echidna. He stumbled back, his head swimming strangely. He looked around, seeing the scene before him.
“My god what happened?” He saw the bodies as if they were strangers. He felt sorrow for the massacre, but that was all. As he looked down at the body a foot from him, he stopped and cocked his head to the side. Something about her looked familiar. Even under the blood and the fractured skull, he felt like he knew her.
He shook his head, “Well, better clean this up. I am in the presence of the Master Emerald.
Rouge’s eyes widened in shock, “It took your memories?”
*headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk* *headdesk*
Wait, so the Emerald did all that, and then it fired a fucking amnesia beam at Knuckles? Why the fuck would it do that!? What logical sense would it make for the Emerald to take his memories away when it could just hit Knuckles, have Ellie tell Knuckles what it wants, and then use that to keep Knuckles in its sway?
Knuckles nodded, angry tears streaming freely down his face, “The damned thing gave them back recently. That was when the moping started. I can’t destroy it without it killing the planet, and I can’t kill myself because its anger would do the same.”
And wait, it returned them anyway! So then why the fuck would it take the memories away, only to give them back immediately?
Rouge thought a moment, “Ellie was the last one. Her love for you is what spared you.”
Knuckles snorted, “Yeah and gave me no choice but to live with her death. It could have at least left me without the memories. I was happy to guard the frricking thing before it gave them back,”
Ooooooh, right, sorry, I forgot:
How silly of me.
He stood up and delivered a strong blow to a nearby rock, turning it into gravel, “It doesn’t matter now though. Without me it’ll be angry and destroy everything.”
Rouge pulled out her communicator, “An easy fix. G.U.N. Come in! Shadow, we need to get Knuckles back on Angel Aisle pronto! I’ll explain there. It’s a little… elaborate. Thanks.”
There we go! Rouge doing the sensible thing! Man, that’s awesome that the author actually had Rouge finally act on the thing that would’ve solved this whole dilemma several chapters ago!
She shut her communicator off and walked over to Knuckles, placing a hand on his shoulder, “We’ll work together to destroy the Master Emerald Knuckles. We’ll fix this.”
He looked at her with tortured eyes and crushed her to him, “It can’t get you too! I won’t let it!”
Rouge smiled, feeling her throat tighten with emotion, I know. And I won’t let it hurt you anymore.”
And there Rouge goes, actually being the stronger of the two on an emotional sense. For once, I actually don’t mind the romance track here. Sure, it’s still a clichéd and uninteresting romance, but again, it’s better than a lot of the other romances we’ve got here. Hey, you’d take “clichéd and uninteresting” over the kind of shit we found in Raptor and I and A Jedi’s Destiny, you know?
So it’s kind of annoying that all of the clichéd trajeck backstory ignores one crucial element. As in, a massive, massive thing that’s true about the games canon. I’ll assume that this is the video game canon and not the Archie comics canon for the simple reason that the Archie comics had a whole echidna side cast with Knuckles (and also that this was written before the Super Genesis Wave rewrote reality in the Archie comics). Okay.
So, Ellie got trapped in the Master Emerald as a priestess. Okay, and she was sealed within the Master Emerald, after something tried to wipe out Knuckles’ echidna tribe. Okay, so this event happened in Knuckles childhood, right, offstage trombone?
*offstage trombone sounds*
Wait a second… Didn’t they go into a whole bunch of history about the Master Emerald in Sonic Adventure? And didn’t it involve nearly an entire game’s worth of flashbacks?
Oh my god! Of course! The history of Knuckles’ tribe, and of the Master Emerald, is all laid out in those 20 minutes of cutscenes! Of course!
Because either way, Knuckle’s tribe was negatively affected by something relating to the Master Emerald. But it’s different here, since Knuckles was apparently alive for Chaos to ruin his life. So either Knuckles is immortal, or there are some time-based shenanigans going on that are weird even for the Sonic canon.
But hey, it destroyed the echidna civilization, and it’ll end the world if it breaks. Okay, so Knuckles doesn’t want to destroy the emerald because of that. There’s just one small itsy bitsy problem with that, author: the Master Emerald was shattered at least twice during Knuckles’ lifetime, one of those times being the time Knuckles shattered it himself to keep it out of Eggman’s hands! ROUGE WAS THERE TO WITNESS THAT!! So why didn’t the Master Emerald destroy the world during either of those times?
And wait, actually, it did destroy Station Square one of the times it was shattered! Perfect Chaos, remember? But Perfect Chaos was defeated by Sonic! So whatever great evil is in the Master Emerald has already been dealt with? Unless they’re separate evils, in which case the original point still stands!
And wait, since when did the Master Emerald feel emotions? As you saw in the cutscenes above, it’s very clearly established that the Master Emerald was a controller for the Chaos Emeralds. Did it get emotions when it absorbed Chaos? ‘Cause it doesn’t seem like there would be anything lingering after Sonic defeated Perfect Chaos. Were they left over from Tikal? ‘Cause then, what crazy vengeance-obsessed lady came in and replaced Tikal before she was absorbed into the Master Emerald?
And it’s not even like the author didn’t know this existed, because she very clearly referenced Chaos in an earlier chapter, ergo, she’s acknowledging that Perfect Chaos, and thus the entire plot of Sonic Adventure, was a thing!
So of course, instead of checking back on the original Sonic Adventure to see if it could give background to the Master Emerald, the author decided to make up a property of the Master Emerald to give Knuckles a tragic backstory that, in all honesty, is kind of too bleak for the Sonic canon.
*BAM* *BAM* *BAM* *BAM* *BAM* *BAM* *BAM* *BAM*
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what prompted me to snark this fic. Knuckles’ backstory? Possibly gratuitous, but the way Knuckles deals with it propels the plot forward, so it’s not there for cheap sympathy points. The romance? Sure, it’s a basic dumb romance and it reads like a Nicholas Sparks plot line, but there’s nothing really inherently wrong with it apart from that. G.U.N.’s stupidity? Very annoying, but they’ve got the best intent in mind, so that puts them several leagues above some other things we’ve seen people in large organizations do around here. Overall, this fic’s biggest problem is that it’s just got hokey writing everywhere, and that is sometimes harder to make fun of than if something is all “OH GOD WHAT THE FUCK AM I LOOKING AT“. Frankly, I wouldn’t have considered snarking this fic at all if it had just remained the clichéd piece of writing that it is.
And then she had the backstory relating to the Master Emerald’s secrets make absolutely no sense with the established canon of the series; further, it makes absolutely no sense in a way that completely undermines one of the core pieces of the fic’s premise. This fic needed to ensure that there was one thing to hold it together, and in her rush to get it going she completely forgot to check not just the backstory of the Master Emerald, but even just the stuff that happens to the Master Emerald in the games.
And now, it’s gone from being hokey and clichéd into being a hokey, clichéd mess that was fucked from the beginning by a premise that fundamentally didn’t make any sense.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you the urtext of why you still need to research the canon you’re writing in, even if it’s a canon you love. Because then, what otherwise would have been merely an okay fic is ruined by something like this.
Thank God I only have two more chapters to snark in this whole thing. I think I’m gonna end it off here for this week. Join me next time when we finish this fic off!