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Archie Sonic the Hedgehog Issue 163 was the one hundred and sixty-third issue of the main Sonic the Hedgehog comic series.
- "The Darkest Storm" - Part Two ("Onset of the Squall")
Anonymous states his agenda once again: to destroy all of Sonic's most powerful enemies, including Mammoth Mogul. At the same time, the Freedom Fighters launch a desperate attack against the just escaped Mogul, while Merlin and Sir Connery realize that the Mammoth's freedom means that the Ancient Walkers are dead. Mogul calls up a shield to protect himself from the attacks of his enemies before unleashing a stunning wave of power, allowing him to claim the Crown of Acorns from the unconscious Elias. Elsewhere, in New Mobotropolis, Anonymous continues to muse on his plans as Mecha and Dr. Robotnik head back into the Egg Grape Chamber. At the same time that he muses on how he has brought a new player into the game, Robotnik recognizes Anonymous' latest pawn: Ixis Naugus, freed from the Zone of Silence by the dimensional breach that killed the Ancient Walkers. Mecha attacks the wizard on Robotnik's order, but Naugus transforms his body into smoke to avoid the laser beams before attempting to suffocate Mecha with a vacuum. After learning that she is a robot, he changes tactics, and uses his power to freeze her solid before taking the Sword of Acorns from the Arachne. He then informs Robotnik that he will return to exact his vengeance once he has claimed the mate to the Sword. Disappearing with the Arachne, he leaves Robotnik to worry over these developments, while Anonymous takes pleasure in the completion of his efforts to this point.
Back in Knothole, the Destructix are sitting in their cell, being mocked by fellow prisoner Nack the Weasel for their swift capture. He is then astonished as Mammoth Mogul dissolves the wall to their cell, allowing the group to escape and pledge their allegiance to their old master. Mogul then informs his minions that their next goal is to locate the Sword of Acorns, only for Naugus and the Arachne to arrive mere meters away. The two villains each demand that the other hand over their Source of All relic, Naugus boasting of his elemental mastery, fusion of the Void and the Zone of Silence, and status as the last lord of the Order of Ixis. Mogul waves aside these claims, informing Naugus that he is not the last lord of Mogul's Order. The two villains are then interrupted by Sonic, who appears on a nearby rise in company with most of the Freedom Fighters, the Chaotix, Sir Connery, Merlin, and Elias, announcing their intentions to reclaim the artifacts.
Nack, taking advantage of the confusion, squeezes out through the bars of his cell and decides to leave his former henchman a "gift" so as to eliminate any competition. Meanwhile, Anonymous glories in the success of his plan as the three groups engage in an epic battle, with Naugus and Mogul dueling with their respective magical powers as the heroes do battle with their henchmen and vainly attempt to get involved in their confrontation. The mysterious enemy then takes his final step as the scene switches back to New Megaopolis, where A.D.A.M. is informing Robotnik that all the empty Egg Grapes are still intact, though those that were occupied have been drawn into the Zone of Silence. A.D.A.M. then informs Robotnik that he has learned how the Arachne made their way into the Egg Grape Chamber, and cites the culprit as Anonymous, assisted by the now functional Mecha. Mecha denies involvement, prompting A.D.A.M. to show footage of her meeting with a blurred out figure who claims to have organized the Arachne to serve Ixis Naugus. The Mecha in footage then agrees to trigger the Egg Grapes when the time is right, which will allow the two to remove Robotnik from power and take over themselves. A.D.A.M. then claims that he was unable to discern Anonymous' identity due to some interference field, while an enraged Robotnik orders Mecha to self-destruct. He then orders A.D.A.M. to delete all backups of Mecha's programming, as well as terminating Project Metal Snively, saying he is done with henchmen after Mecha's betrayal and Hunter's failure on Angel Island. A.D.A.M. then has a cleaning Flapper come to deal with Mecha's remains, reporting that he has destroyed Project Metal Snively. Robotnik then muses on how he must now find a way to deal with Naugus, whom he knows will be coming after him.
Finished deleting Mecha's files, A.D.A.M. listens as Robotnik remarks on the threat Naugus could pose were he to obtain the last of the Source of All. He then realizes that to stop Naugus would be helping Sonic and his friends, something that would be intolerable for him. A.D.A.M. then reports that his spy satellites have located Naugus in Knothole, doing battle with Mammoth Mogul, Sonic, and every A-ranked enemy of the Empire. Robotnik is surprised, and then smirks wickedly as he conceives of a contingency plan. His work in New Megaopolis done, Anonymous returns to watching the battle in Knothole, where Naugus finds himself frustrated in his attempts to overpower Mogul with elemental assaults. Mogul remarks that Naugus' abilities are impressive, but that Mogul's own abilities with the Ixis Magicks are superior. Naugus attempts to use his crystallization technique on Mogul, only to have it turned back on him, while Mogul remarks cuttingly that he has gotten to used to the added power of the Zone of Silence. Naugus then decides to try and overwhelm Mogul's mind and control him, but once again finds that Mogul is his better. Watching their confrontation, Merlin begins to grow anxious, and informs Connery that they must recover one of the Source of All artifacts while they still have the opportunity. The two then attempt to recover the Sword, which Naugus has dropped, only for Mogul to send them flying for their trouble.
Fortunately, the plight of the two is noticed, and Sonic catches Merlin while Knuckles comes to the aid of his old ally Sir Connery, the two meeting again for the first time since their shared battle against Black Death and the Enchantress. As Mogul grits his teeth over the failure to remove them from the battle, a humbled Naugus questions who Mogul, with his proficiency in the arcane arts, really is. Mogul then shares part of his history with Naugus, remarking that after his initial conquest and defeat, he set about learning how to control his Chaos Emerald's powers, developing the Ixis Magicks in the process. His success drew acolytes to his cause, but the growing Order of Ixis was defeated in the Forgotten War by the Albion Knights of Aurora. Mogul had believed himself the only survivor, but now recognizes that Naugus must have been one of his students (though in truth he is an amalgam of three: Agunus, Nusgau, and Suguna). Deciding that these revelations have changed the order of things, the two dark magicians call out to their respective minions, gathering them together.
The Freedom Fighters and there allies question what their foes could be up to, though Elias is confident that they will defeat them, as Geoffrey St. John has been sent to gather the Palace Guard. Merlin then informs the group that the Order of Ixis is making a comeback, though Connery is quick to delcare that they will fall. Naugus, bowing to Mogul, presents him with the Sword of Acorns and apprentices himself to his old master so that he might one day become his equal. Welcoming his new subordinate, Mogul takes the Sword and activates its power, blinding the Freedom Fighters with a flash of light. As Sonic observes that retrieving the Acorn artifacts has just become even more difficult, and Mogul prepares to lead his now expanded force against the heroes, Anonymous comments that Phase Two of his plan is now complete.
- "Sonic Riders" - Part One
Jet the Hawk laughs as he flees several Egg Pawns atop his Extreme Gear board with a mechanical component in hand, gloating over their inferior speed. He is then intercepted by an Egg Hammer and captured, later to be placed in a holding cell by Dr. Robotnik. While examining his board, Robotnik questions Jet's theft of his Vapor Accelerator, and determines that he must have been planning to upgrade the board, while Jet retorts that things have been difficult for him since he left the Armada. Robotnik then remarks that Jet was traveling as fast as Sonic on the board, prompting Jet to question who Sonic is, only to deny Sonic's claim to being the "Fastest Thing Alive". After hearing Jet say he would show Sonic that he was the fastest, Robotnik releases him, offering him the chance to go after Sonic for him in exchange for clemency for his attempted theft. Jet agrees, asking if he can "bring some friends?"
Shortly afterwards, Sonic is rushing through the Great Forest in response to an alarm a few miles from Freedom HQ. He is then surprised as Jet, Wave the Swallow, and Storm the Albatross cut in front of him on their Extreme Gear, Jet commenting that Sonic doesn't seem very fast to him. Sonic eagerly takes up the challenge, bantering with Jet as they race on foot and board, respectively, Jet informing Sonic of the group's plan to attack Knothole after he beats Sonic. Sonic then boasts of his speed, only to be hit by Storm, who questions his strength, and then by Wave, who questions his skill. Jet then knocks him off his feet, boasting once again that he is faster than Sonic. The group then introduce themselves to a defeated Sonic by individual names and then as a group: the Babylon Rogues.
- Eggman: Ixis Naugus!
- Naugus: Doctor Robotnik. You've lost weight.
- Mammoth Mogul: How serendipitious. The acquisition of the Sword of Acorns has become infinitely less onerous.
- Mammoth Mogul and Ixis Naugus: (upon recognizing each other) You! Hand over that relic! I will possess the last of the Source of All!
- Mammoth Mogul: Now then, gentlemen...who's up for some revenge?
- Ixis Naugus is freed from the Zone of Silence and takes possession of the Sword of Acorns.
- Mammoth Mogul retrieves his Chaos Emerald, seizes the Crown of Acorns, and frees the Destructix from prison.
- Nack the Weasel escapes from prison and kills his former gang members through poisoning.
- Mecha is killed following evidence of her "involvement" in the Anonymous conspiracy (though it is later revealed that the evidence was forged by A.D.A.M. and that he was in fact Anonymous).
- Ixis Naugus and the Arachne arrive in Knothole and begin engaging Mogul, the Destructix, the Freedom Fighters, the Chaotix, Merlin, Sir Connery, and Elias over the Sword and Crown.
- Mammoth Mogul is revealed to have founded the Order of Ixis.
- Ixis Naugus and Mammoth Mogul join forces to combat the Freedom Fighters and Chaotix, giving Mogul possession of both Acorn artifacts.
- The Babylon Rogues are introduced when they attack Sonic.
- This issue's cover is the second part of a three-part full image.
- Although Dr. Finitevus is on this issue's cover, he does not appear in this issue, nor does he appear for the rest of the story arc.
- The second story of this issue is a comic tie-in to the video game Sonic Riders.
- It was implied, vaguely, that Nack killed his former cronies from StH: #122 - 123 when he said "I think I'll hit the kitchen on my way out and leave my former gang buddies a little 'gift'". Because many did not pick up on this, writer Ian Flynn explained that Nack killed his cousin weasels on his message board.
- Mecha's death was mandated by SEGA. Because writer Ian Flynn liked the character, he decided to make her death noticeable and worthwhile.
- Jet the Hawk mentions quitting the "Armada", later revealed to be the Battle Bird Armada. This issue was the first in which the organization would be mentioned, later to be introduced in SU: #17. Curiously, Robotnik showed no curiosity at the mention of the group, implying that he was either more interested in Jet or that by this time he had already formed an alliance with the group that would be revealed in SU: #18.
- "Sonic Rider - Part One" was originally slated to be reprinted in Best of Sonic the Hedgehog Vol. 2: Rivals, as noted by a footnote in Sonic Universe Vol. 5: The Tails Adventure. The story does not appear in the final version of the book.
- Ixis is misspelled "Isis".
- In the "Special Thanks" credits, "Sonic Team" is written as "Team Sonic".
- On page 14, Mogul refers to Sir Connery as a "Nettlesome paladin" instead of a "meddlesome" one.
This issue has been reprinted in the following places:
- "The Darkest Storm - Part Two (Onset of the Squall)" was printed in Sonic Saga Series Vol. 1: Darkest Storm
- "Sonic Riders - Part One" was printed along with Part Two in Sonic: The Games - Modern