- "Forged in Fire": Celebrate 50 issues of Sonic Universe and 20 years of Sonic the Hedgehog comics with this double-sized anniversary spectacular! Metal Sonic has been one of Dr. Eggman’s deadliest creations. But what happens when the fastest robot around has to track down… itself? It’s a clash of metallic titans as Metal Sonic is sent to take down his original model – now known as the Secret Freedom Fighter Shard! All this plus a special bonus presentation of the very first race between Sonic and Metal Sonic! Featuring a brand-new, bone-chilling cover from Sonic artist supreme Patrick “SPAZ” Spaziante, and special foil cover enhancements available EXCLUSIVELY for comic shops!
Forged in Fire
Some days prior to current events, the Death Egg Mark 2's most recent attack on New Mobotropolis is revisited. Several Egg SWATs are seen driving back Royal Army personnel and civilians back towards the pit created by the destruction of Castle Acorn, with the civilians panicking at having nowhere left to retreat and the soldiers desperately holding off the attackers. Much to the confusion of the army, the Egg Swats are dispatched by a speeding blur, which in truth is none other than Shard the Metal Sonic. Shard then intercepts the latest version of Metal Sonic v3.0 before he can harm Heavy and Bomb, and is recognized by his adversary. Easily overwhelming the newer model, he destroys Metal Sonic; the events are then revealed as being a playback from that Metal Sonic's surveillance footage to Dr. Eggman. In his laboratory, Eggman is completing the newest model of Metal Sonic, and is infuriated by the superiority afforded Shard by his ability to think for himself, given that he had purposely limited the willpower of previous Metal Sonics to prevent them from rebelling.
Orbot then reminds the doctor that he's been employing Mecha Sally in order to utilize that kind of strategic advantage, annoying his creator. Cubot-now speaking with an Italian accent-reports that he's finished downloading information into the last Power Gem they have, which Eggman contemplates gleefully. Now imprinted with battle data to help Metal Sonic be more effective, the gem-which happens to be Eggman's last-is installed into the new Metal Sonic v3.7. The new robot comes online, and Eggman is thrilled with its new voice, having tired of its previous "silent killer" status. Metal Sonic, now equipped with the memories of all its predecessors, notes their various defeats and is angered, though Eggman points out that the experience of the previous units now gives it an edge. Metal Sonic is eager to attack Sonic, but is then informed that Shard is its first target. It rebels, but then complies, having been equipped with a soft-reboot defiance kill-switch to prevent it from turning against Eggman as robots like Gamma and Omega have in the past.
Meanwhile, in continued pursuit of the Death Egg, Amy Rose notices that Sonic seems distracted and asks him if he's all right. He responds that he's thinking about both Knuckles' recent loss of his people and the unexpected return of Shard. He's perplexed by the fact that Shard, who previously attacked them on two occasions, came out of nowhere to help them fight the Krudzu Hybrid Hydra. Tails admits to being surprised as well, but then reminds Sonic that they have seen good in Shard before, and that he is personally glad that Shard has another chance to make the best of his existence. Sonic reveals that while he's not against giving Shard such an opportunity, he's worried about such a powerful being who's still coming to terms with his identity, and thinks not only of Shard, but of Metal Sonic and Scourge. Over in New Mobotropolis, Shard is plugged into the city network through Secret HQ, and is enjoying a game of chess with Nicole. She defeats him despite his use of lasers against the virtual playing pieces, and he asks her if she's up for another round. While she agrees, she then asks why he's been spending so much time visiting her when he could be spending time in the real world.
Shard answers that it's difficult for him to interact with others given his status as both a member of the Secret Freedom Fighters and a robot, and also admits that he doesn't feel quite ready for it. Nicole points out that his teammates trust him, only for Shard to respond that they're six out of a whole city. Nicole cites her own unpleasant experiences with the citizens, when she briefly was controlled by the Iron Queen, but points out that they've gotten to know and trust her more, and says that Shard might have the same chance. Still playing negative, Shard points out that the Knothole Freedom Fighters spoke up for her, whereas he doubts that Sonic would have anything positive to say about him. Nicole disagrees and points out how far he's come, and Shard is bashfully about to pay her a compliment when an alarm goes off. Nicole informs Shard that the city has been invaded, disrupting her command systems, and that the attacker got in too quickly for her to bring up defenses. Shard asks for more info, and Nicole discovers that it's the new Metal Sonic at the hospital, and that he has a hostage. She reports that Team Freedom is on their way there, but Shard exits the system to confront Metal Sonic himself, rocketing to the hospital and finding Metal Sonic holding the comatose Antoine.
Greeting his "brother", Shard invites him to face him elsewhere, but Metal Sonic is initially intent on finishing Antoine off. Shard then appeals to Metal Sonic's ego, pointing out that Antoine is hardly a challenge and that it would be more fulfilling for Metal Sonic to engage a fellow robot. Throwing Antoine down, Metal Sonic accepts, following Shard out just before Rotor and Big burst into the room. The pair head for the Great Wastes, which Metal Sonic has chosen as their battle site due to its status as a proof of the power of machines, due to the damage wrought upon it previously by Mecha Sonic. Shard waxes philosophical, asking why they're trying to become more like living beings when they're supposed to be superior to them, and notes that Metal Sonic is more lifelike than on their previous encounter. Claiming that it has been perfected, Metal Sonic is then informed by Shard that the two of them are feared by others, and that Shard for one is trying to earn their trust, which Metal Sonic quickly dismisses. The pair stare each other down briefly before engaging in an epic battle, employing weapons, shields, and brute strength against each other.
Shard admits that Metal Sonic has him impressed, but claims that his weaponry is still superior. However, Metal Sonic draws upon the memories of his predecessors, and takes a page out of Shadow's book by jamming Shard's laser cannon with a rock. Shard then employs his Spin-Dash, but Metal Sonic recalls his past selves' battles with Sonic and employs an energy shield to deflect the attack before retaliating with its own Spin-Dash. Metal Sonic closes in on his enemy, determined to finish Shard and then destroy the city, but while damaged, Shard isn't out of the fight yet. He then forces the rock from his cannon with an energy blast, turning it into a cannonball, but Metal Sonic recalls a predecessor's defeat at the hands of Marine and uses his torso laser to vaporize the projectile. He then moves in on the weakened Shard, acknowledging his enemy's ability but again claiming superiority for himself. Shard then tries to reason with him, telling him that he can be more than his programming. Metal Sonic remembers Shadow trying a similar thing on a previous Metal Sonic, but the kill-switch takes effect, and Metal Sonic is again focused on carrying out his orders.
Realizing that Eggman has insured that this Metal Sonic can never become good, Shard remarks that he'll undoubtedly slaughter the citizens of New Mobotropolis unless he is stopped. Metal Sonic agrees, and Shard then remarks that he's glad that his laser is working again. Blasting Metal Sonic, he informs him that the only way to protect everyone—including Nicole—is to destroy him. Deploying a drill from his cannon barrel, he attempts to finish the battle, cursing Eggman for forcing him to destroy a fellow sentient machine. Recognizing that Shard's arm is a potent threat, Metal Sonic activates his energy shield, severing the appendage. Not about to give in, Shard tackles his opponent, and Metal Sonic informs him that he's about to destroy both of them. Shard responds that his mission has never been for his own safety, and that the fact that Metal Sonic cannot comprehend such a reality is why he must be destroyed. He attempts to remove Metal Sonic's Power Gem core, but Metal Sonic stops him just before the pair plow into the ground. Realizing that his Power Gem is his weak point, Metal Sonic determines that he must rid himself of it, and initiates a self-destruct sequence that consumes the jewel.
Shard, badly damaged and with his own Power Gem core cracked, calls Nicole and informs her that he needs to be picked up, and that Metal Sonic has been defeated. Realizing that he's in bad shape, Nicole informs him that help is coming, and he then tells her to let them know that Metal Sonic has become infinitely more dangerous. He then tries to tell Nicole something, but his signal cuts out before he can finish. Some time later, the rebuilt Metal Sonic—now version 3.8—emerges and reports to Eggman, informing him that his target has been destroyed at the cost of his Power Gem core. While Eggman is somewhat disappointed, he is also happy at Metal Sonic's accomplishment, and informs Metal Sonic that they'll be leaving further attacks on New Mobotropolis to Tails Doll. Metal Sonic concludes that he's to be sent after Sonic, but is then informed that he is to travel to the Interdimensional Gateway to meet his new partner, whom Eggman describes as a "base villain." Metal Sonic complies, though Eggman can sense his displeasure, and informs him that he is now Eggman's ultimate weapon, which the robot deems is acceptable. He then departs as Eggman, Orbot, Cubot, and Mecha Sally look on, vowing that "All will pay."
Go Ahead, Mecha my Day: Part 3 and 4 (edited)
Shadow, Silver and Metal Sonic all watch as Sonic blows out candles on a cake celebrating the 50th Issue of Sonic Universe. Shadow smugly asks if Sonic needs help, Silver dismisses it as useless, and Metal Sonic accuses Sonic of being inferior to him. Breathless, Sonic challenges the trio to try and blow out fifty candles at once.
- Eggman uses the last of his Power Gems to give life to Metal Sonic v3.7.
- Shard has a one on one battle with Metal Sonic and is defeated. His ultimate fate is left uncertain.
- Metal Sonic v3.7 now has the memories of all past Metal Sonic's and is able to use those memories to improve himself.
- Eggman implies that he has already made contact with Dr. Wily and tells Metal Sonic that he is about to go to an interdimensional gateway to meet a "base" villain. This is an allusion to the Sonic & Mega Man: Worlds Collide event that occurs in the following issues.
- This is the second milestone in the Sonic Universe comic series.
- This issue's main story about Metal Sonic was foretold in a reader's comment about Metal Sonic getting his own arc back in Sonic the Hedgehog #239.
- The background colors on the front cover are a nod to one of the scenes in Sonic the Hedgehog: The Movie.
- This issue was initially going to feature an epilogue to the television series Sonic Underground, but it was canceled under unknown circumstances.
- This issue features a lengthier version of the battle between Shard and Metal Sonic v3.6 in Sonic the Hedgehog #240 via a recording.
- Silver's phrase "It's no use" in the Off-Panel is a reference to his taunt from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).
- Despite a brief lead into Worlds Collide, "Forged in Fire" is not included in the Sonic Free Comic Book Day 2013 issue.