- “Journey into the East Part One: Endless Reach of Fate”: After a fierce battle with the Spider Ninjas, Sonic rescues Sally, Tails and Monkey Khan from the Gossamer Clan Cave in which they’ve been imprisoned. Things get introspective as Sally blames herself for the recent turn of events, but when they all meet the Bride of the Endless Reach, our heroes realize they are in the middle of a much bigger picture than they thought! Ties into this month’s SONIC THE HEDGEHOG #210.
Journey to the East Part One: Endless Reach of Fate
In Stormtop Village, Sonic attempts to fight off a number of Gossamer Clan ninja before the village elder, Li Yuen, calls him into the Temple of the Golden Lotus. Sonic rushes in before Li Yuen can complete his sentence, and they shut themselves in, hoping to give themselves time to figure out a course of action. Looking about the temple, Sonic reflects that it was only a few hours ago that he and Tails were being given a tour of the place.
When being shown around the temple, Tails had asked about its history, and Li Yuen explained that the Dragon Kingdom was home to the Dragon race before recorded time; however, they viciously warred with each other. Eventually, their fighting destroyed the land, and in their regret they decided to settle elsewhere around the world. Before leaving, however, they prophecized that the land would eventually fall again into turmoil, only to be united by the Golden Lotus King.
Looking at the statue within the temple, which depicts a serene monkey figure clad in a sash and holding a simple staff, Sonic reflects that while he didn't think much of the prophecy the first time he heard it, he's starting to believe that Monkey Khan has his work cut out for him. Li Yuen regrets that he's been a poor steward, as Sonic's companions have all been captured by the Gossamer Clan. Sonic brushes off his apologies, confident that he'll think of something. Suddenly, Gossamer ninja begin to enter through the windows. Li Yuen scolds them, saying that they cannot desecrate the temple with violence. To his surprise, Sonic suddenly spin-dashes into a ninja, pinning him to a wall. Sonic, grinning, insists that they're not going to fight, but rather have a "friendly conversation."
Sonic notes that the Gossamer ninja aren't using their full ability and asks why; the ninja simply replies that while their master knew of their arrival, there was no guarantee that they would come "willingly or peacefully." Sonic isn't impressed by their tactics to arrange a meeting, since it amounted to attacking and kidnapping his friends, but he agrees to leave with him, despite some slight misgivings from Li Yuen.
Lead by the ninja, Sonic arrives at the entrance to the Gossamer Clan's lair, a temple-like structure built against a mountain. In front of the entrance are Monkey Khan, Sally and Tails, all tied up. Upon agreeing to meet the master with "obedience and humility" the three are freed. Sonic asks how they all are; Tails happily insists he's fine while Monkey Khan is somewhat irate at not only having been captured, but having to have been rescued by Sonic. Sally, however, turns away, distraught. Sonic attempts to speak with her, but Monkey Khan asks that he be allowed instead, putting his hand on Sonic's shoulder; Sonic then shrugs Monkey Khan's hand off his shoulder and gives him a dirty look, but then agrees, walking off with Tails. Khan approaches Sally and tells her to speak with him, saying they need her at the top of her game. Sally replies that she felt she hasn't been such in months; bitterly, she explains that she felt she's made several mistakes and failures recently, citing having not arrested Eggman when he lost his mind, the takeover of New Mobotropolis by the Iron Dominion and, now, that she immediately got captured on the current mission. Khan attempts to comfort her, but she interrupts him, bursting out that in the past she was capable of combating SWATbot and leading a winning campaign as a mere teenager - and now she laments that she's only free because she fled, finishing with "I feel like I'm at the end of my rope here!" After an awkward pause, Khan pulls up her chin to face him, and insists that she's better than this, saying that she was the one to come up with the plan to destabilize the Iron Dominion as well as rescue Nicole and adding that she's the only reason any of them have hope now. He points out that while she got captured by the Gossamer Clan, so did he, despite being a powerful cyborg, and that while she may have made some tactical errors in the past, it's no reason to give up. He tells her that while she's not perfect, he's closer to it than anyone he's ever known. Smiling slightly, Sally thanks him for the "lousy pep-talk," and the two walk towards the temple entrance hand-in-hand.
The group comes before the Bride of the Endless Reach, and Sally formally announces herself by her full title. When Monkey Khan merely gives his name, Sally nudges him and he reluctantly adds "...King of the free people. Appointed defender of the people of the Dragon Kingdom without a clan to call their own." Sonic and Tails give their own flippant introductions, much to Sally's annoyance, but the Bride takes no notice, recognizing Sally's name and requesting to know of Uma Arachnis. Sally is surprised to hear that Uma was of the Gossamer Clan, and Khan is confused to find that they'd had previous interaction with a Dragon Kingdom ninja. Sally explains that Uma initially seemed an enemy, working with the wizard Ixis Naugus and later the rogue warlord Kodos, but later turned on them and helped the princess recover the Sword of Acorns. Apologetically, Sally adds that Uma eventually succumbed to radiation poisoning brought about by her time in Robotropolis, and that while she'd had six children (who later took the Sword of Acorns), they perished in the Egg Grapes. She regrets that they were unable to help any of them as they worked in such secrecy, but the Bride merely holds up a hand and asks the fate of the Sword of Acorns. Sally replies that it was destroyed before it could fall into the wrong hands.
Endless Reach joyfully announces that "As it was spun, so it has been done!" and adds that while she is saddened to learn of Uma's fate, she believes it was fulfilled as it was meant to be. Sonic and Tails are somewhat confused by this proclamation and ask for it to be explained for "the uninitiated." Leaving her throne, Endless Reach explains that Uma's family was among the most gifted "readers" and saw that the final remnants of the Source of All would fall into evil hands and instead ensured they would be destroyed. She leads the still-confused group into a large chamber containing a giant web and declares that they are the first outsiders to view the Web of Fate; she explains that the web, woven by the clan's first Bride, allows people to learn of the future—but only if they know how to read it. She further explains that the Web foretells future prosperity for the clan, and adds that it set Uma on her quest as well as let Endless Reach know Sonic and the others would arrive.
Monkey Khan angrily interrupts, unable to understand how a group with this "wisdom" would continue to fight and cause others to suffer. Sonic attempts to dissuade him, but it can't be helped; the Bride coldly tells Monkey Khan that the Web is theirs and not something for the rest of the Dragon Kingdom. Glaring, she adds that it only tells of key moments to come, and that it can't be used for "base" concerns. Almost going nose to nose, she pointedly states "Furthermore, we believe this 'king,' born in another land, powered by Robotnik's gifts, and given title only by clanless peoples is forgetting that he's talking to the Gossamer Clan's Bride!" Monkey Khan begins to retort, but Sally gently intervenes. Putting a hand on Khan's shoulder, she points out that the Dragon Kingdom should be big enough for both the unorganized people and the clans to live peacefully; Khan confirms this, saying that the free people only want peace. Sally then turns to the Bride, saying that if the Web doesn't give specifics, there could always be a peaceful option; Endless Reach concedes that much. Sally asks her if it wouldn't be worth the effort to try, pointing out that the clan has already lost Uma and "six young members who never got to see their homeland." Visibly saddened by this, Endless Reach admits that this is all true; however, she asks Khan if, as "King of the Free People," he would recognize the clan and its lands, or if they'd simply end up with a "King of the Four Houses" effectively replacing Regina Ferrum's takeover. While he hesitates to use his title, Khan gives his "word of honor" that he would recognize the clan and its claims; Sonic is dubious about this method, but Khan insists that in the Dragon Kingdom, giving one's word of honor is considered sacred. Turning back to the Bride, he says that he's all there is left to fight for the free people, and that if there is to be peace, the Gossamer Clan will have to make the first move.
Endless Reach turns to consult the Web of Fate. As she does so, Khan warns the others that should she say no, they'd be in trouble as they're deep in the clan's lair. Sonic whispers that they can handle things while Tails gets Sally to safety, but Sally insists that if it comes to that, they'll stick together. However, the Bride announces that while she foresees a difficult path, she believes it will eventually ensure peace for all. She says her clan will break its ties with the Iron Dominion, giving her own word of honor. She, Sally and Khan exchange bows and words of thanks, with the Bride adding "We will be watching you with great interest, King of the Free People."
That evening, Sonic, Tails, Sally and Khan have dinner with Li Yuen and his granddaughter Li Moon in Stormtop Village. Much to Khan's annoyance, Sonic tells everyone how he had thought that the monkey's temper had almost gotten them in deep trouble with the Gossamer Clan, and everyone laughs. Khan nudges Sally, asking if she feels better about her abilities now that she just managed to end centuries of hostility; smiling, she humbly admits that she did all right, and adds that he in turn seems to be accepting his appointment as King of the Free People, to which he replies that he feels he must. Tails wonders how those back in New Mobotropolis are faring, but Sonic is too busy glaring over his teacup to notice, though he eventually says that he's sure that, with Nicole's help, they're managing for the time being. Li Moon offers Tails more tea, and he blushingly accepts; as she comments on how it's nice to see the two of them again, the teapot suddenly shatters as a dagger is thrown through the window. No one is injured, though Li Moon and Tails are drenched with tea; as they attempt to dry off, Khan tries to rally Sonic to chase after those responsible, but Sally finds a note tied to the dagger and determines it's not an attack. Khan reads the note and announces that the local Yagyu group wishes to meet with them; Sally is surprised at how fast word of their arrival has traveled, but Sonic finds this perfectly acceptable. Determined, he announces that as they'd already settled things with one clan, they'll succeed with the next tomorrow.
- The story takes place after the events of Sonic the Hedgehog #209.
- The name of this story is a pun on the Chinese novel Journey to the West.