Archie Sonic Universe Issue 21 was the twenty-first issue of the Sonic Universe spin-off series.
The mysterious and powerful Blaze the Cat has returned to Mobius! In her search for the Sol Emeralds, she comes across many familiar faces - but are they friends or foes? Maybe Amy Rose and Cream the Rabbit can help her decide! The rollicking adventure begins here!
- "Treasure Team Tango" - Part 1: "The Salida"
A portal opens in a forest area, with an insect-like aircraft emerging from it with two Zone Cop vehicles in hot pursuit. One of them calls out for the aircraft's surrender, only for the pilot to retaliate with gunfire. A Zone Cop vehicle fires back, knocking a mysterious capsule from the aircraft's "legs." The Zone Cops, addressing their target as Dr. Nega, chase him through another portal as the capsule falls through the forest canopy. A few days later, Amy Rose is showing Cream the Rabbit and her mother, Vanilla around Freedom HQ. Cream is very enthusiastic, but her mother is less so, given the "rustic" surroundings. As Amy shows the way to the lab. NICOLE calls from within, asking if anyone's around. She tells Amy that she has been investigating a mysterious energy signal for the past few days, but cannot find the exact location of the source. Amy offers to investigate the signal using NICOLE's hand-held computer form, to which she obliges. She apologizes to the Rabbit family, saying that the tour will have to be cut short, but Cream eagerly asks to accompany her. Vanilla is hesitant, but Amy assures her it'll be a simple trip out to the forest and she wouldn't mind having someone along. Vanilla agrees to let her daughter go, telling her to stay close to Amy and not get "mussed up," and Cream (with her pet chao Cheese in tow) follows Amy outside.
Cream is happy to be going on an adventure with Amy, but mentions that it's a shame that the HQ is located in an "ugly" place. Amy tells her that the whole area used to be forested and that the overgrown valley had served to hide them from the Eggman Empire. Cream asks what happened to change that, and Amy tells her of the Destruction of Knothole; the whole area was bombarded and burned to the ground. She tries to point out where her old house was but says that it's hard to tell now, given the scorched surroundings. Cream is intensely apologetic for having brought up the subject, but Amy waves it off, saying she didn't know any better and that she can relax around her. Suddenly, Cheese spots a strange flash of light in the distance. Thinking this to be the source of the signal they're tracking, Amy and Cream start to run towards it, but a stream of fire suddenly cuts them off. Blaze the Cat tells the two that if they're searching for Sol Emeralds, they had better back off. Amy, indignant, pulls out her Piko Piko Hammer and tells Cream to hold NICOLE for a moment; Cream suggests that Amy be more civil, as Blaze "does seem to have fire powers, after all..." Blaze tells her she gave fair warning, but Amy isn't in the mood to back down, saying that Blaze attacked them first and won't explain herself. Cream timidly tries to suggest they talk things out, only to be ignored as the two begin to fight. Amy stumbles over her words and wonders aloud how Sonic the Hedgehog manages to banter in the middle of battle; hearing the hedgehog's name causes Blaze to pause. "Sonic the Hedgehog? Hero of Mobius?" she asks. Amy in return asks how she knows Sonic, but Cream finally manages to get a word in edgewise. She politely but flatly informs the two that since they've stopped fighting a moment, she felt she ought to tell them that the shiny object Cheese had spotted earlier was nothing more than a broken glass bottle. Amy and Blaze are both mortified to have been fighting over a piece of garbage.
Blaze coldly apologizes for the trouble and bids them good day, starting to walk off. Cream hurries after her, asking if she needs help with something, but Blaze politely but tersely brushes her off. Amy, as a Freedom Fighter, insists on helping, and asks to at least know how Blazes knows of Sonic. Blaze finally relents and explains that Sonic had once arrived in her Zone and assisted her in her search for the Sol Emeralds. Amy, putting the facts together, realizes who Blaze is and that Sonic had in fact told her about her; Blaze is less than impressed by her deduction skills. She goes on to explain that with his help, she recovered one of the emeralds and is now using it to find the others; she holds out her palm and, in a burst of flame, reveals the gray Sol Emerald to the impressed girls. Amy formally introduces herself with a curtsy as both a Freedom Fighter and "Sonic's future sweetheart." Cream politely introduces herself and Cheese... and then wonders if Amy isn't being a bit presumptuous. Through gritted teeth, Amy says that Sonic knows how she feels about him and that they're meant to be together; Cream interjects that Sonic seems to be currently involved with the princess and Amy tells her to drop the subject. With introductions made, Amy announces it's time to look for the emerald; Blaze is a bit taken aback that she wants to help after they were fighting only moments ago. Amy says that if Blaze is friends with Sonic, she can be their friend as well, and leads the group into the woods, with a dubious Blaze being pulled along by Cream.
The group enters the Great Forest and begins to search; Amy is annoyed because NICOLE's readings are inconsistent but the AI explains that the signal is sometimes weak or disappearing altogether. Blaze consults her gem, but when she notices Amy and Cream watching, quickly hides it away; Amy is displeased with her lack of trust but Blaze replies that her trust isn't easily won over. Cream insists that they only mean to help, and someone calls down that Blaze is right to be cautious because there are all kinds of "nasty people" in the world. The group looks up to find Rouge the Bat standing on a tree limb. She jumps down, offering to help, but Amy is instantly hostile, saying that Rouge only cares about helping herself. Rouge insists that she only wants to help find the Sol Emerald, and Amy accuses her of spying on them. Rouge smoothly replies that she had merely been following the same energy signal with her scanner, and then teasingly adds that she didn't need to spy to know what they were up to; she mockingly mimics them loudly calling out about searching for the emerald. Amy once again attempts to hand NICOLE off to Cream, ready to fight, but Cream pleads her down, asking if it's really so hard to trust Rouge. Amy insists that it is, pointing out that Rouge is a spy by profession; Rouge points out that she's a spy for G.U.N, which is an ally of the Republic of Acorn. Amy insists she's still shady, but Rouge shrugs and says that she's no worse than Fiona Fox, who was once allowed to join the Freedom Fighters. Amy struggles to find a new argument, but Blaze, annoyed, snaps that she doesn't care who any of them are; if they won't help her, they need to get out of her way. Cream is a bit hurt by this, but Rouge is impressed by Blaze's ability to take charge. She asks the cat why the Sol Emeralds are so important to her; Blaze bluntly replies that they keep her world alive. Rouge frowns a little, thinking to herself that this will make things more complicated.
The group comes to the edge of a deep ravine filled with roots; both Rouge's scanner and NICOLE detect a spike in energy. Cream worriedly notes that the old tree that's balanced across the ravine looks very brittle; as it creeks, Rouge offers to fly down herself to recover the emerald and spare the others any danger. Blaze firmly insists that she retrieve it herself, and Rouge tells her it's fine, offering to fly her down. Amy pointedly says she wanted to fly down with Cream, anyway, and they start to make their way down. Soon, a large branch breaks from the old tree and falls towards the group; Cheese attempts to deflect it, but is simply knocked aside. Cream is scared, but Amy remains in control; she pulls out her hammer and tells Cream to get ready to swing her towards the falling branch. To their surprise, however, Rouge rushes by with Blaze in tow; the cat sets the branch on fire and Rouge drops her, shatters the charred wood with a drill kick, and catches Blaze again. The younger girls are in awe.
Upon landing, the group congratulates Blaze (and Cream thanks Cheese for his efforts), which she begrudgingly accepts and thanks them for... before noticing that Rouge addressed her as "princess." She asks how Rouge came across that fact, and the bat breezily replies that she has her sources. Blaze attempts to press her for details, but Rouge instead points out that the energy signal has gotten much stronger. Consulting NICOLE, Amy agrees that it's pointing right in front of them; the group approaches a massive ball of roots and inside, sitting in the remains of a metal capsule, sits the blue Sol Emerald. Blaze is elated. NICOLE explains that the capsule around the emerald seems to have been designed to mask its energy, hence the inconsistent readings. Hesitating, Blaze apologies for her earlier behavior and thanks them for her help, shaking Cream's hand. Amy begrudgingly apologizes to Rouge in similar fashion; Rouge tells her to not feel too bad about it... since she plans to take the emerald anyway.
Rouge shoves Amy to the ground and grabs the emerald; for a moment, she's taken with its beauty, crooning that she'd like to keep it for herself. Blaze is enraged, thinking she'd been a fool to trust them at all, but is shocked when Amy and Cream both confront Rouge, demanding she return the emerald to Blaze. Rouge taunts them, saying that if they want it so badly, they'll have to take it; with that, she kicks the capsule towards them. Cheese saves Cream from being struck, and the young rabbit is indignant, unable to believe Rouge's behavior. Rouge knocks her over as she attempts to fly away, only to nearly be crushed by Amy's hammer. Rouge says that Amy actually has some skill, but that that just means she won't go easy on her, kicking her away. She mockingly waves goodbye as she flies towards the entrance of the root-room, but she's suddenly cut off by a wall of flame. Blaze, seething, tells her that she has one last chance to hand the emerald over and leave alive. Rouge teasingly laments that there aren't any strong men around to help "poor, defenseless little me!" She grins cruelly as two figures burst in from above and land behind her. With Shadow the Hedgehog and E-123 Omega at her back, Rouge makes a counter offer, saying that Blaze should just leave her with the emerald because she can't guarantee the other members of Team Dark will hold back.
The Off Panel shows Blaze lighting a campfire using her pyrokinesis while Amy, Cream, Vanilla and Rouge roast marshmallows on the fire.
- Cream: "Excuse me, please! Since you've taken a break from fighting, I'd like to point out that the shiny thing we saw was this. You can go back to fighting now if you like."
- Amy: (putting her hammer over her mouth) Oh... That's not... So we were... My bad.
- Blaze: (facepalming while walking away) Fighting over a piece of garbage. How humiliating.
- Amy: "Wait! Fire powers! Sol emeralds! Your Blaze! Sonic told me about you!"
- Blaze: "And you're just now making the connection? Or were you too busy waving your hammer around to 'think?'"
- Cream: "Although...isn't it a bit presumptuous to claim Mr. Sonic like that?"
- Amy: "He knows how I feel and how we're meant to be!"
- Cream: "I'm pretty sure he's dating Princess Sally now..."
- Amy: "Cream? Drop it."
- Cream: "That belongs to her! Taking it would be stealing!"
- Rouge: "Little girl, you say that like I 'care.'"
- This issue marks Cream the Rabbit and Cheese's first appearance on the cover of a Sonic Universe issue or that of any series in the Archie Sonic the Hedgehog continuity universe.
- The cover of this issue is similar to the cover of SSS: #11 and StH: #152, as aside from Sonic and Cheese, the only characters on the cover are girls.
- Although, it should be noted that Cheese's gender is often left ambiguous: Cheese has been inconstantly referred to as both a boy and a girl throughout numerous Sonic media.
- The cover's background features symbols representing the characters: a hammer (Amy), fire (Blaze), a heart (Rouge) and a chao (Cream).
- Some changes were made between the preview and final versions of the cover, mostly in terms of adjusting the mouths and eyes on Amy and Cream.
- This issue marks Blaze's first appearance in Sonic Universe-or any other Sonic series issue-since SU #1.
- Salida is the name of a tango step: it's Spanish for "exit", "departure", or "start (of a race)." 
- In the panel showing Team Rose entering the Great Forest, a silhouette resembling Nack the Weasel can be seen on the right. This is a foreshadowing of his appearance in the next issue.
- Sonic only has a cover cameo and doesn't appear in the actual story. Sonic would later make a remark about this in an off panel short.
This issue has been reprinted in the following places:
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