|Sonic Universe #31|
- "Inside Job" Part three: Scourge the Hedgehog, evil doppelganger to Sonic, is half-way to his goal: put together a gang and bust out of Zone Jail! But first he'll need to win the loyalty of two of the most dangerous members of the Destructix. If he can survive that, the rest is easy: fighting an army of Zone Cops and rival inmates!
Inside Job Part 3: Setting the Stage
In the recreation yard within the No Zone's Zone Jail, Jeffrey St. Croix is busy bullying Verti-Cal and Horizont-Al. Suddenly, he's knocked aside by Scourge the Hedgehog. Angry, St. Croix tells Scourge not to press his luck, saying that even though the Destructix have "claimed" Scourge within the prison hierarchy, that doesn't make him untouchable. However, Scourge has been regaining his usual arrogance, and tells St. Croix that he's as much as a chump now as he was back on their home of Moebius. He continues to taunt the skunk and dodges his attacks with ease, fighting back with a confidence he hasn't shown in a long time. He grabs St. Croix in a choke hold and warns him he's on the rebound, but before he can get much further, he's viciously kicked aside by Fiona Fox .
Fiona loudly berates Scourge for thinking that he can get away with fighting others just because her gang "owns" him now, making a public display of "keeping him in line" in front of St. Croix and the other inmates. However, this is all for show; as she whispers to him, they've got to keep up appearances. He quietly smirks and says he can take it—and then she knees him in the gut. She pins him to the ground, quietly telling him to be more careful so as not to mess up their escape attempt. She then tells him to say "uncle," and makes a point of publicly forcing him to submit. Shortly after, off to the side, Scourge says that, in addition to having once "ditched him" in the past, it's almost like she's trying to anger him. She insists that she wouldn't have gotten herself arrested in the first place if she didn't love him, but he walks off, saying he has to finish getting the rest of the Destructix back on their side.
Zouge the Bat is running the prison's group therapy sessions; today she welcomes Lightning Lynx to the group. Scourge casually strolls in, asking if there's room for him, and Zouge welcomes him in, saying the Warden will be pleased. She encourages him to "open up" to the group in order to confront his personal problems, and Scourge says that Lightning should get the chance to go first. Zouge pleasantly agrees, but only if he feels comfortable, and Scourge pointedly tells Lightning that they're there to help him. Lightning is a little unsure, but Zouge prompts him, asking if he ever felt wronged or betrayed in the past. Narrowing his eyes, Lightning begins to talk.
He explains to the group how he was once the best among the Raiju Clan, a ninja group that puts heavy emphasis on personal skill and strength. He says that the only one who had his respect was the clan's leader, Conquering Storm—but then he corrects himself, saying that he loved her as well. In order to make himself appear worthy of being by her side, he challenged her to a duel to prove his strength and devotion. However, she defeated him with ease, proving neither in her eyes; for his dishonour, he was exiled from the Raiju. He explains that he was later found by Mammoth Mogul, and served him for a time, but when the Iron Queen took control of the Clans, including the Raiju, he was offered the opportunity to come back as a liaison, which he happily accepted. Feeling his honour and pride had been restored, he worked by Conquering Storm's side, only to once again disgrace and dishonour himself by failing to win a duel against Sonic the Hedgehog to decide the future of the Clan. Disgusted, Conquering Storm exiled him once again.
Lightning explains that he's been unable to deal with his anger since, as in his eyes, he had all this skill, but it wasn't enough to gain the respect of the one he loved and admired. Scourge breaks in, saying that Lightning has every right to be angry, and reaffirming the idea that he deserved better; Zouge gently attempts to interject, saying that while encouragement is good, they need to be constructive. Scourge ignores her, however, and continues to push Lightning's buttons, saying that Conquering Storm was ungrateful and that Lightning's only "crime" was to be completely devoted to her; Lightning agrees, becoming agitated. Scourge continues to encourage his anger, hyping Lightning up and telling him he deserves revenge; then, he turns to the other prisoners in the room and tells them they all deserve revenge, to which they all enthusiastically agree. As Zouge desperately tries to calm the group and regain control of things, Lightning approaches Scourge and asks if Scourge will help him get revenge if he helps him escape. Scourge happily agrees. Seeing months of therapy lost, Zouge angrily calls in the warden to return the now-chaotic prisoners to their cells.
Back in his own cell, Scourge laughs to himself, amused to the point of tears how easily he reduced the therapy session to utter chaos. He suddenly realizes that someone else has joined in on his laughter, and finds Flying Frog outside his cell. Slightly creeped out, Scourge initiates conversation anyway, as Flying is the last member of the Destructix he needs to recruit. Grinning, Flying slips his gangling body through the cell's bars and asks why Scourge has been talking with the others, and seemingly avoiding him. Scourge nervously insists that's not the case, even bringing up past times they'd worked together. He seems to have quickly placated the frog, but as he turns to leave, Flying wonders aloud if Scourge really wants someone like him around, adding that he's done... "things." Scourge replies that, seeing as they're all in prison, none of them are exactly innocent to begin with. Suddenly, Flying jumps in his face, asking Scourge if he wants to "play." He disjointedly explains that being with the Destructix lets him play the "games" he likes, implying that he used to play similar "games" in Mercia until he was locked away. His storytelling becomes more and more disjointed and hectic until Scourge finally grabs him by the shoulders and angrily screams at him to stop talking. Scourge bluntly says that Flying is working for him now, and the frog simply agrees and leaves. With him gone, Scourge breaths a sigh of relief, thinking that Flying Frog makes Rosy the Rascal look "cuddly" in comparison.
That night, Fiona Fox is doing stretches in her cell. Her cellmate, Abby, tells her to knock it off so she can sleep, but Fiona says she can't, and adds that Abby will want to stay up, anyway. Flying Frog and Lightning Lynx appear outside the cell, having stolen its keycard; Abby is shocked to see that Fiona is planning an escape. Fiona tells her to keep quiet, saying that she can try to slip out in the commotion they'll cause. Abby is surprised but impressed (Fiona explains Lightning and Flying's success with "One's a ninja and the other's a freak."). As Flying hands Fiona the card, Lightning explains that the two of them already took out several guards and hid their unconscious bodies. He also explains that the gravity outside the cells isn't "corrected" like it is within other areas of the prison. Fiona slips out, and the three "climb" along the walls using the sideways gravity. They make their way to the control room and ambush those within, including Znively; Fiona uses the console to open all the cell doors and adjust the gravity so that the other prisoners create mass pandemonium to keep the guards busy. Then, she remotely deactivates the Control Collars... but only those of herself, Scourge and the Destructix. Elsewhere in the cellblock, Sergeant Simian rips off his inactive collar and is soon joined by Predator Hawk.
Within the cell he shares with Scourge, Smalls the Cat notices the cell door opening from the top bunk. He tauntingly tells "Snot" that if he carries him out, he'll help him escape. Scourge, his collar inactive, responds by spindashing straight up through the bunk bed and slamming Smalls into the ceiling. Scourge tosses aside his collar and tears up his uniform, strolling out of his cell and announcing it's time for payback.
Scourge is in his cell, he asks an officer about the skills of the No Zone officers. He asks if they ever failed to apprehend a villain. The officer says "Well..." and a flashback of Feist is seen.
- The cover of this issue is a spoof of the cover of Sonic the Hedgehog #200.
- Due to Sonic Universe cover colorist Ben Hunzeker being absent at the time, Matt Herms became the cover colorist for this issue. Matt Herms uses Patrick Spaziante 's coloring style instead of his usual style.
- This will be the first time since Sonic the Hedgehog #59 that Verti-Cal and Horizont-Al have appeared on a cover.
- Zouge the Bat is not named in-story; however, her name was confirmed by writer Ian Flynn. •As the cover was completed before Zobotnik's design had been finalized, his appearance is slightly difference on the preview versions of the cover, but corrected for the final print.
- Flying Frog tells Scourge, "It's not easy being green." This is in reference to Kermit the Frog, the famous leader of the Muppets.
- Alternate-universe versions of the following characters appear as prisoners, as well as simple cameos: Knuckles the Echidna, Ray the Squirrel, Amy Rose, Robolactus, Silver Snively, Mecha Tails.