- "Journey into the East - Part Two: High Price for Rich Nights": Having endured a fierce battle with the Spider Ninja last issue, Sonic and his friends must now face Bat Ninja! While ambushes threaten around every corner, the intrepid heroes proceed on their journey to the temple under the firm resolves of Sally and Monkey Khan. Are these deadly skirmishes any match for the political chess games and machinations of war that lurk beneath the surface? The big picture gets even bigger in this issue that ties into this month’s SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #211.
Journey To The East Part Two: High Price for Rich Nights
Having set out in response to a summons sent by the Yagyu Clan, Sonic the Hedgehog, Tails, Sally Acorn and Monkey Khan find themselves ambushed by Yagyu ninja in a marsh. The group quickly fights back, Monkey Khan saying that they shouldn't have trusted the summons. While dodging attacks, Sally comments that the ambush is a sloppy one, concluding that this clan isn't as organized as the Gossamer Clan, who'd had them captured in a matter of seconds. Tails wonders why then the Iron Queen took this clan along for their take-over of New Mobotropolis; Sally figures that they may have simply been the easiest to relocate. Tails teases that the Yagyu may have been chosen only to make the Dark Egg Legion feel better by comparison; Sally merely tells him to be nice as the Legion has been through a lot. With the ambush quickly subdued, Monkey Khan angrily grabs a ninja, and demands that they honor their summons. The Yagyu reacts in surprise, having not realized that these were the people for whom their lord had sent. Sonic dryly asks whether they look like tourists, and the Yagyu apologizes profusely, explaining that their intention had been robbery, thinking the group to be random passers-by. Monkey Khan tells him to shut up and lead the way to the Yagyu Lord.
Later, passing through a bamboo forest, Sally and Monkey Khan discuss the situation. Sally starts by saying that the Yagyu Clan no longer has its own Bride, which Khan confirms, saying that the Iron Dominion slew the Bride of Rich Nights in order to take over the clan. Sally wonders if that fact will make it easier or harder to convince the clan to break its ties to the Dominion, saying that, without a Bride, the clan make not fall back on tradition, but that may also make them unwilling to break away from the Iron Queen. Khan replies that he doesn't know, only saying that if they can't deal with the Lord, they'll just have to play things by ear.
The group finally arrives at the Yagyu stronghold; an ancient, overgrown temple that Khan thinks may date back to something known to locals as the Lost Dynasty. Wary, they enter the temple, Khan announcing that one who invites guests should tell his servants that they're coming, lest they get the "wrong idea." The current Yagyu Lord, sitting atop a throne, is unimpressed by the entrance. While messily eating grapes, he dismisses Khan's success in getting the Gossamer Clan to break its ties with the Iron Dominion, commenting that Khan's being in his presence only proves his failure to stop the Dominion elsewhere. He mockingly asks if Sonic, Tails and Sally are "a group of Freedom Fighters [Khan hasn't] been tricked into destroying," referring to the loss of the Dragon Kingdom Freedom Fighters, which greatly enrages Khan while Sonic sarcastically deems the Lord's comments "classy." However, Sally gently touches Khan's arm; she gives him a knowing look and he brings his temper under control.
Khan announces that he is here to discuss peace between the Free People and the Clans, but before he can get far the Lord holds up a hand; he explains that he will meet with Sally, as the princess of the Acorn line, and even Khan, as the King of the Free People (though he says this with a chuckle). However, he bluntly states that he is uncomfortable with the famous Sonic the Hedgehog present, and adds that he does not wish to discuss important matters with "mere children," a comment that angers Tails. As Sonic guides him out the door, Tails retorts that the Yagyu fought earlier wouldn't consider him "mere" and indignantly adds that he once fought Master Mogul. Sonic tells him to calm down, saying they're being saved from enduring political discussion.
Khan sarcastically asks the Lord if he's happy now; the Lord admits that he is not, casually removing a sword from a nearby urn. He explains that, in the past, the Yagyu were known as expert assassins, and that it was only after they fell under the rule of the Brides that they became lowly thieves. Staring over the blade, he says that he envies the regional lords of the past; as Yagyu ninja enter the room, Khan wonders if they've been lead into a trap.
Outside, Tails continues his indignant ranting, angrily listing his accomplishments; Sonic again tells him to calm down, insisting that the Yaygu Lord is a jerk anyway and not worth getting angry over. However, Tails is still bitter, saying that he's always had to work hard to prove himself as a Freedom Fighter, adding that the Yagyu knew of Sonic's reputation but not of him. Sonic tells Tails that he's his closest and most trusted friend, and adds that Tails has accomplished more in his short life than the Lord ever has, telling him to not get worked up over one low-life. "I don't know, Blue," says someone behind them, "he's still pretty hung-up over this low-life." Tails is shocked to see Fiona Fox, though Sonic merely remarks that he'd wondered where Fiona had gone after their last encounter, in which she disappeared during the battle between the Freedom Fighters, the Suppression Squad and Scourge the Hedgehog. Perched atop a bent piece of bamboo, Fiona casually remarks that she just got out while the getting was good; smirking, she adds that she's been keeping herself busy. Sonic wants to know what she's been up to while Tails asks what her purpose is within the Dragon Kingdom. She replies that she'll tell them if they manage to catch her; with that, she acrobatically springs into the bamboo thicket. Sonic and Tails glance at each other before giving chase.
Fiona skillfully makes her way through the bamboo, taunting her pursuers; Sonic is finding it hard to build up speed as the bamboo is so thickly grown and Tails regrets not simply flying above it. Fiona, on the other hand, claims that she's having no problems, suggesting that the two ought to be more "flexible" - and she bends a stalk of bamboo, launching herself gracefully. The stalk snaps back and catches Tails in the face; Sonic asks if he's okay, but Tails replies that Fiona has hurt him worse in the past. Sonic attempts to resume the chase, only to be struck by another piece of bamboo. Having had enough, he angrily buzzsaws his way through the stalks. Fiona exits the bamboo grove, saying that Sonic's almost caught her; the hedgehog is suddenly grabbed by Sergeant Simian, who slams him to the ground as Fiona coos "Oh! So close!" She offers him a consolation prize; the knowledge that she's once again working with the Destructix, which of course at this point comes as no surprise. Tails flies in to assist but is struck down by Predator Hawk; Sonic attempts to retaliate only to be shoved back into the dirt by Flying Frog. With the two subdued, Fiona prepares to address them...
Meanwhile, back in the temple, Sally attempts to regain control of the situation. She tells the Yagyu Lord that if he breaks his clan's ties to the Dominion, they'd be able to select a Bride of their choosing and would be recognized by the King of the Free People. The Lord sighs, saying that the Yagyu aren't interested in having another Bride, adding that being affiliated with the Iron Queen gives them the ability to hold their own against their rivals. Stammering, Sally says that the Yagyu are being used for evil; the Lord smoothly retorts that evil is subjective. Sally attempts to argue that the Iron Queen is the only one profiting from the current arrangement; the Lord dryly replies that it was the same under the Bride of Rich Nights.
Suddenly, Khan suggests they try a different arrangement altogether. The Lord mockingly invites him to speak. Khan suggests that the Yagyu reject both the Iron Dominion and the Bride system, and instead go back to the days of regional lords. The Lord is impatient and unimpressed, reminding the monkey that without the Dominion, they'd fall victim to the other clans. Khan argues that if the Yagyu themselves are no longer a clan, they'll no longer be in competition with the others and cease being a concern to them. The Lord, annoyed, points out that without a clan, the Yagyu would become Free People, adding that they would not accept Khan as their king, but Khan replies that he wouldn't expect them to, saying that he's merely a protector; he's no more a "King" than the Lord is really married to the "Bride." He adds that he wouldn't be keeping too close an eye on the Yagyu as he'd be too occupied keeping peace between the other clans. The Lord muses about a return to the days of the regional lords, how they would no longer he bound by ceremony and clan tradition... he asks Khan for his word of honor and he gives it. The Lord gives his own and announces that the Yagyu are through with the clan system. The two shake hands.
Once outside, Sally admits that while she's glad that another clan has broken from the Dominion, this change of structure might encourage more lawlessness. However, Khan claims to have it all figured out; he figures that while some of the Yagyu will want to adopt the old ways, others will be unwilling to lose the support of the Iron Dominion, and others within the clan will be trying to profit from the split. He concludes that the remains of the clan will be too marred in conflict within itself to have enough organized manpower to cause anyone else large-scale problems. Sally is impressed, but Khan credits her with giving him the ability to think around problems in such a way. Sally teases that her influence is only tactical and that Khan's solution here was "devious." He replies that her cunning and his temper would make for a devious result anyway, and the two flirt; he ends their banter by kissing the back of her hand, to her surprise. Smiling, she nonetheless says that they're still on a time-sensitive mission; two clans remain tied to the Dominion. Sally wonders if it will be difficult to confront them; Khan replies that the Raiju Clan is far more dangerous than the Yagyu, and that even finding a single Shinobi Clan member will be hard, never mind finding the Bride herself. Speaking of finding others, Sally wonders where Sonic and Tails are, and is shocked when they come across the two and their company; she orders Khan to get ready as she spots Fiona, backed by the Destructix, announcing she has something to discuss...