Rain splattered against the ground, making a tapping noise against the tent canvas and dripping down onto the two figures inside, much to their annoyance.
"Can you stand?"
Aaron held out his hand as Jack hoisted himself up, his bad leg shaking. It was a wonder he could move at all, given how much he'd been thrown around by his confrontation with the manticore. Thank heavens for fast digital healing, Aaron thought to himself, although Jack's knee was still somewhat swollen, and there was an ugly purple mark from where he'd twisted it harshly.
Shaking a little, Jack got to his feet. He tapped his foot, then moved the leg around a little.
"I think it's okay. Feels a little weird though. A bit lumpy."
Aaron scratched his chin. "Hmm. You probably ought to rest for a little while longer. Just to make sure."
Jack pouted, but lowered himself back down to the makeshift bed the group had made out of some spare tent canvas they'd found. He manually repositioned his leg, wincing slightly as he felt a dull ache. Then he lay back, looking up at Aaron with large, almost puppy-like eyes.
"This sucks, Aaron."
Aaron was about to respond, but Jack turned away from him, trying to get some more rest. Aaron sighed, and stood to his full height, blinking as the rain got in his eyes.
"Yeah, I know."
The boy glanced over to where Eloise was, as she pulled her head out of a tent, shaking it at Aaron and putting a finger to her lips. Grace was obviously still asleep, Vulpimon curled up against her delicate body, keeping her as warm as her thin pelt would allow. She'd been close to collapsing when they'd gotten back to camp, but Eloise had done what she could for the girl's injuries (a sprained wrist and several bruises on her left arm), then had pretty much ordered her to stop panicking and rest. Grace had resisted, but by this point pretty much everybody was close to collapsing.
It had been nearly a week since then, and although everyone seemed to be getting better physically, Aaron doubted they could get back to their old selves. Cephalomon had been one thing, but this time they'd seen the true horror of what they were up against.
The boy wandered over to where Eloise was stroking Pteramon, running her hand over his large head crest as water cascaded down his beak. The beast opened his good eye wider, all the weight of the world seeming to lie in its yellow pool.
"You didn't have to do this, you know." he croaked.
"Nonsense." Eloise gave a half-smile, "You saved us back then. The least we can do is help you to recover."
It was true. The moment she could run Vulpimon had taken Eloise and Ladomon and headed off to locate the creature, eventually finding him struggling to lift off with a largely missing and highly charred wing. They'd persuaded him to come back with them and had dug him out a place in the side of the clearing, out of sight from prying Fire Kingdom eyes. Being much larger, the giant was still healing, the metal underside of his left wing slowly replenishing itself.
Pteramon bowed his head. "Some help I was. The two children, are they okay?"
"They'll be fine. Don't worry about them, just get some rest."
Reluctantly, the pterosaur lowered its head again, and Eloise looked over at Aaron. Her eyes seemed glazed, like someone who hadn't slept for days due to their tears.
She nodded at him. "You don't need to stay awake for me. I can manage."
Aaron shook his head, "I can't sleep. Not right now."
"You too, huh?"
Eloise's shoulder sagged, and she looked at Aaron despondently. He opened his arms and the two hugged, each taking in the other's burden for a brief moment. In a moment, they were sat facing each other underneath the canopy of the trees, staying out of the worst of the rain.
Aaron looked up. "You still worried about him?"
Eloise let out a breath. "Of course I am. We have no idea where he is or whether he's okay. He could be dead for all we know."
"Don't say that."
"Sorry. I don't mean to, it's just..." Eloise looked towards the forest, all the previous life and energy from her eyes having been drained out by exhaustion and worry, leaving them a dull grey in contrast to their usual vibrant green.
"I thought maybe we could do it, you know? Maybe this could be like those awesome Saturday morning cartoons where we pull through at the last minute. You know, power of friendship and all that jazz." She pulled herself into a ball, her D-Nexus glowing faintly on the ground next to her.
"Are we going to die here, Aaron?"
Aaron didn't answer. For a moment he struggled to think of something to say, before he pulled himself to his feet.
"Don't worry, we won't."
"How can you be so sure?"
Aaron gave a short chuckle. "I'm not. But we're all still alive right now, right? I'll make sure we stay that way."
He stretched, strangely not feeling too tired, considering. He took a couple of steps towards the forest, "I'm just going to talk to Kent. You okay here?"
Eloise looked over to where everyone's partners were huddled together, shivering in the cold and wet, sans Vulpimon, who was with Grace, and Colchimon, who was...well...missing in action.
"I'm sure we'll be fine."
Aaron gently brushed aside the foliage as he came upon the older boy, sitting with his legs apart and head leaning back against a slightly scorched tree trunk (a common sight nowadays). He didn't seem to notice as Aaron drew closer.
Slowly, the older boy opened his eyes and glanced to the side. "Hey."
Aaron crouched down beside him, "We're missing you back at camp."
"Sorry about that." Kent budged up, allowing Aaron to sit next to him. It was obvious that he didn't particularly want to go anywhere anytime soon.
"Sorry, I didn't realise how long I'd been gone. How is everyone doing?"
Aaron looked away. "How do you think?"
The two sat in silence for a bit. The forest, which had seemed quite beautiful when they'd first arrived, now seemed to be closing in on them; harsh and oppressive. It felt more and more like they were trapped the more the days went on.
Eventually Aaron broke the silence. "You know, we can't go on like this. Sure, we're royally screwed right now, but there's got to be something we can do."
Kent didn't answer. Aaron turned to face him, "You're the smart one, what do you think?"
Kent laughed. "Ha. Smart. Nice thought, but I have no clue what to do anymore. Every time I think I might be getting somewhere, something else comes along and shakes everything up. I don't have the confidence to try anymore. I may as well be an idiot for all the use I am here."
Aaron frowned. "You still shaken up about the battle...?"
"I wanted to help. Believe me, I did. But, well, it was hopeless. I saw that, and I couldn't bring myself to fight." Kent glanced over at Aaron, who was listening intently. "I wish I could be more like you, you know. You have the instincts of a survivor, someone who doesn't give up until the last second. I just can't believe that right now. If it wasn't for that, maybe Seismon could have helped. As it was, he lost all his power, thanks to me."
"That's nothing to beat yourself up over."
"It is when it could lead to you or anyone else getting hurt again."
Aaron couldn't respond to that. He sighed, and bunched himself tighter. "Look, there's got to be something we can try. Anything. Any little way we can gain the upper hand."
Kent shook his head. "There's nothing left, Aaron. There's nothing else we can do. Sorry, I've thought and I've thought, but I'm out of ideas."
Aaron thought about this, before standing up. "So we're just going to sit around doing nothing until they come to clean us up, then." Kent looked up at him, wanting to argue, but Aaron carried on.
"I don't like to give up. I said to myself, when I knew we were staying here, that somehow I’d get us all back home. I know how you feel, and trust me, I'm out of ideas too. I don't know what to do. But if we don't think of something, then the Fire Kingdom do what they're planning, and we get crushed, like the nuisances we are. Apparently."
"Isn't that going to happen regardless?"
Aaron sighed, and put his hand to his face, rubbing sleep from his eyes. "Look, right now, either we die trying something stupid, or die doing nothing at all."
Slowly, he made his way back through the undergrowth, Kent watching after him.
"If there's anything that we can do, we really have no other choice."
Kent was left staring at the ground. The leaves rustled above him as Aaron's words reverberated around his head.
Aaron was right. Even if they tried something stupid, they were at least trying. But, like Aaron, he was out of ideas. Nothing he'd tried so far had worked; the only way they could get an advantage was if someone unlocked godmode or something.
His mind began to wander back to that day; the attack of that Asuramon. Something had happened then that wasn't natural, and it had scared him so much that he had sworn to play by the rules of the Digital World from then on. But maybe...maybe since playing by the rules wasn't working, maybe...
He shook his head vigorously. There was a last resort and then there was just plain stupid. For all he knew, the next time he tried something like that he could wipe out everyone around him. He couldn't take that risk.
"Hey, Trilomon, wake up."
Lights began to flicker in the little insect's eyes as he came to, moving jerkily as he saw his partner's face looming above him. The rain was beginning to die down and the sun was rising steadily on the horizon, bathig the forest in its golden light.
"What is it, Kent?"
Kent swallowed. "I'm going to try something stupid. Are you in?"
Trilomon thought about it. "Is it the good kind of stupid, or the kind of stupid that's likely to get us all killed?"
"Sorry. I don't know yet."
"Then I'm in."
"Good. Then do you know where my laptop was. I've kind of ignored it recently."
Trilomon uncurled himself and pointed with a claw towards a tent in the middle of a cluster, "All the bits should be in there. Why, are you going to try...that thing...again?"
"I don't know, Trilomon. But I need to try something."
Trilomon stretched, his armour making little clicking noises, before he nodded. "Fine with me."
"Excellent. By the way, I don't suppose you'd know anything about tools...?"
In a few hours the sun had risen to its full height, and was shining down oppressively on the unprotected settlement. The Digimon, out in the open as they were, had initially ignored the rising temperature, but it soon became too hot for them just to lie out in the open. Perimon's next port of call had been to ask Vulpimon if she could please come out and keep them cool; he had been greeted by a blast of ice to the face and a warning not to disturb her partner.
Eventually they decided to just head deeper into the forest; it was still humid, but they were at least in the shade.
The high temperature made it even more surprising when Aaron, back from keeping Pteramon company for a while, came across Kent and his partner sitting surrounded by little bits of metal and plastic, seemingly organised into little groups. Kent was presently holding two bits of circuit board in his right hand, when he noticed Aaron standing over him. He raised his other hand in greeting, holding some sort of sculpted sharp stone.
"I thought about it. In the end I decided I'd attempt to fix this thing."
Aaron crouched down, looking at the myriad of pieces before him, "I don't know quite what to say. You really did a number on this thing; are you sure something like this is humanly possible?"
Kent thought about it briefly. "Well, I've built computers before. I know what I'm doing at least, it's just a case of getting everything in the right order." He nodded at Trilomon, "He shaped some tools for me, so I think we might be okay."
He stared at the circuit boards for a couple of seconds, before giving off a frown. "Okay, maybe we might need a little help."
Aaron couldn't help but laugh a little at the absurdity of it all, "I'm not sure what use I can be, but I suppose I can help where I can."
"What's going on over here?" Velocimon wandered over to where the three were crouched around the scattered device, brow furrowing in confusion.
"Wait...you're not..." He glared at Kent, who looked back innocently. "You don't seriously think playing around with the Digital World is a good idea right now, do you?"
Kent shook his head, smiling a little. "Trust me, I don't want to go that far again." His smiled faded as he looked at Trilomon. "The truth is that this computer business is all I have to offer for you guys. I figured if we can at least get this working again, I might just be able to find some more information."
Velocimon sighed, arms folded in disapproval. "Everything's 'information' with you. It's not going to work; the only hope we have against the Fire Kingdom is if we band together and become as strong as we can."
"And look how well that turned out." Velocimon immediately shut his mouth as Aaron twisted round to face him.
"Look, I know we've all had a hard time. Yes, we need to work together and grow in power, but we can only do that if we make use of every opportunity we have. I know this is a risk; this time we at least know how wrong it can go. But right now, if this has a chance of helping us, I say we at least need to try."
Velocimon rolled his eyes, "I still don't like it. But..." He relented, "...If there's a possibility...I suppose this can't hurt us any more than we already have been..."
Aaron put his hand on his partner's shoulder and pulled him down to their level. "Just sit down and help out, okay? Thanks."
The boy grinned at his partner, who didn't return the pleasantry. "You're awfully chipper, considering."
"I think we've spent enough time collectively moping. Maybe it's time to rebuild and start again. Literally."
Velocimon shrugged, but Kent caught his attention before he could answer back. "Hey, I don't suppose you can make a small, controlled spark or something, can you? I kind of need to fix a few bits of circuitry."
Velocimon looked down at his hands. "I suppose..." He grimaced as Kent passed over the pieces he was talking about.
"Mind you, I don't really approve of becoming someone's power tool."
"Ah, don't worry about it." Trilomon waved a claw of dismissal, "It's not that embarrassing."
"Says you, lap-dog."
"Ow!" exclaimed Velocimon, as he was struck by a small rock thrown by a rather indignant insect. As the two argued and Velocimon got down to soldering, Kent couldn't help but feel a little more encouraged.
In fact, throughout the day, things seemed to get better and better. One by one, the others began to join the little repair club, who were still finding the work slightly more difficult than Kent had initially let on (Kent secretly blamed the tools, but he didn't want to upset his partner). Eventually, even Jack was up on his feet, and had come over to give everyone moral support. Slowly but surely, everybody began chatting and squabbling like they had before everything had gone to hell.
Well, almost like it. Occasionally Eloise or Ladomon would turn to talk to someone, only to remember that they weren't there. Eloise tried her hardest to keep it in the back of her mind, but Kai's presence wouldn't leave so easily, even if he himself had.
The work was long and it was late evening before the group had finished, but eventually Kent stood up, holding a completed laptop. He held it out in front of him and shook it a little. The group heard a rattling from inside. Grace scratched her head, "You don't think it's still broken, do you?"
"Well...it's not exactly stable." Kent wiggled the keyboard panel around a bit, before shrugging. "Still, I expect the warranty on this thing is void now anyway."
He pressed the power button. The group braced themselves, preparing for any psychotic monkeys to begin jumping out and attacking them all.
Luckily, the button did what it was supposed to, as the laptop flickered into life. Everyone let off a little cheer, and Kent turned to the motley group.
"Thanks guys. Thanks for the help."
He pressed the button again and closed the device down. "I think it's a little late to begin any major data handling right now. Let's call it a day."
Eloise yawned. "Sounds like a plan."
Kent put the machine back in its case and left it where he'd got it from, before he and the rest of the group headed their own ways; to sleep, to keep watch, or just to sit and talk.
Slowly but surely, it was beginning to feel like old times once again.
"I feel like we've been in this situation before."
The group was gathered around Kent, watching as he tapped at the keyboard like a professional, the casing rattling to and fro thanks to the lovingly haphazard repair job. In truth, most of them were looking very suspiciously at the little machine, as if it might let off a swarm of bees at any moment.
Pteramon had his head bent over the group, trying to get a better view. "Um, can anyone fill me in on what he's doing?"
Perimon, sitting in the tree just above him, slid down and landed on his beak, looking into the dinosaur's irritated good eye. "He's looking at the Digital Code, seeing if there's any clue in there that might give us an edge."
Pteramon cocked his head, nearly causing Perimon to slide off. "That sounds kind of vague. Has it worked yet?"
"Well, he managed to get a power increase."
"That's good. What was the catch?"
"He also released a psychotic monkey that turned into a rampant four-armed wrestler that beat the crap out of Seismon."
Perimon tilted his head back, stretching his wings as the sun fell on his body. "Well, you live and learn."
Pteramon tapped his foot impatiently as Perimon opened his eyes and sniffed the air. He turned and looked back into Pteramon's eye, "You know, no offense, but your breath really smells."
"Getoff!" Pteramon shook his head vigorously, causing Perimon to tumble ungracefully to the ground. He picked himself up and dusted himself off as Pteramon stomped back into the forest, grumbling at the lack of proper respect from those pesky young ones.
"Right, did anybody scan Martyaxmon's data when he was around?"
Nobody was sure, but they checked their D-Nexus's anyway. One by one they shook their heads; nobody had exactly been in the right frame of mind at the time.
Kent sighed, and leaned back, clasping the top of the screen with both hands. "Well, the plus side is that there doesn't seem to be any trace of Mandrimon in here. The minus side is that I don't know what else to do."
"What, you can't scan for data or anything?"
Kent shook his head. "What would I scan? This isn't just magic you know; it's not just a big friendly button that solves all our problems."
Trilomon, lying beside his partner as usual, raised a claw. "Um, have you thought about trying that other program again?"
Everyone around him looked at him, Kent included, and the insect shrank back. "I mean, of course..."
Aaron broke in. "Look, what exactly was that you did back then?"
Kent thought for a minute. "I'm not really sure. It started when I scanned that mask; I was able to glean all the information about this...Karatenmon out of it. Then I tried the same program on Trilomon, and it all went haywire. It was as if I was taking whatever it was from the mask and passing it onto Trilomon, except it didn't get that far."
Vulpimon raised her eyebrows at Ladomon. "Let's be thankful for that."
Aaron carried on. "That's right. Beforehand, you said you were able to change the characteristics of trees and that. Could it be that you can somehow transfer power with that thing?"
Kent looked at him, before closing the screen. "Look, I don't know what I did, but I've already told you I'm not doing it again. No matter what, it's too risky."
He slowly ambled away. Aaron went after him but was grabbed by Eloise, "Wait, Aaron. Think about it, is it really worth the risk?"
"What else do you suggest?" Aaron turned to face her, his face completely straight. "It's not like we have any other leads at the moment."
Grace put her hand to her mouth. "Well it's not like this is a particularly safe lead either. It might not even go anywhere."
"Look, just..." Aaron thought about it, Eloise's eyes boring into him. "Just have faith in me for the moment. I need some encouragement that I'm doing the right thing once in a while."
Eloise sighed. "You seem to know more of what he's up to, so you talk to him. My head hurts, and the air's really thick all of a sudden."
Aaron nodded and walked after Kent, Velocimon jogging along next to him. Aaron gave his partner a sideways glance, "I thought you were against this idea?"
"I am. I'm just against the idea of sitting around waiting to be picked off one by one even more."
"That's not like you. You're not really a risk taker."
Velocimon shrugged. "I guess you're rubbing off on me."
Aaron smiled, then called over to the older boy, "Hey, Kent."
Kent was looking around with a puzzled expression on his face. Aaron caught up to him, "Hey, look, I-"
"Hang on a minute." Kent held up a finger to silence the other boy, who looked around, utterly confused.
"Do you smell something?"
"I thought that was Pteramon."
"I highly doubt that. Also that's rude, but no matter. There's something odd going on round here."
Aaron sniffed. It was true; the air seemed thick with a hot, heavy stench. Something like smoke? No, it wasn't that. Sulphur? Aaron couldn't tell, but he noticed it seemed to be getting stronger, almost intoxicating.
There was a rustle in the trees to the side as Pteramon poked his head out, walking towards them. "Listen, I have the strangest feeling that something's gone off around here."
Aaron and Kent turned towards him, their partners at their feet.
The ground gave way beneath them, sending the four tumbling into nowhere with the shattered earth tumbling down after them. Pteramon gave an anguished croak and awkwardly hopped backwards, just avoiding slipping in himself. Eloise and the children ran over almost immediately."
"What the hell was that noise?"
Pteramon nodded towards the sunken hole in the middle of the clearing, shards of earth scattered all around like porcelain. Jack walked forward and picked one of them up, only to yell and drop it immediately, blowing on his hands.
"They're really really hot." He looked up at the blue giant, a worried look in his eye.
"Pteramon...where are Kent and Aaron?"
"In there. Velocimon and Trilomon went in as well."
Eloise shook her head in disbelief, before running towards the pile of rubble. She scrabbled in an attempt to get in, but she immediately started wincing as the hot rock burned into her. Her partner flew in and practically dragged her out by the arm; all the while she was yelling, "We have to help them! We have to get them out!"
"Calm down!" Ladomon looked her partner straight on, taking on an unusually assertive voice.
"Think about it. We can't just dig them out of there; the rock's too hot and it's piled too thick. We wouldn't get down in time. They've got their partners with them; I'm sure they'll be okay. They'll get out soon enough."
Eloise exhaled. "I hope so."
Grace knelt down and put an ear to the ground, her partner sniffing the air and pulling a face. "That smell's still getting stronger. It's like charcoal with vinegar or something." She let off a small cough as Grace raised her head.
"I don't know about this, but I thought I heard something banging beneath there. It was pretty faint, but it was definitely there."
Eloise looked between Grace and Pteramon. "Do you think it could be them?"
"Possibly." Pteramon frowned, his good eye glinting in the sunlight.
"I think the main question here is why did this happen? Could there be something else down there with them?"
Aaron and Kent bundled into each other as they hit a solid surface, Velocimon and Trilomon having recovered quickly. Kent scrabbled around, trying to figure out which way up was, and Aaron felt the wind come out of him as Kent's boot went into his stomach.
"Hey! Watch it!"
"Sorry. Here, move yourself."
"I can't, you're-" Aaron stopped, feeling a sudden burning sensation in his hand. He yelped and scrambled to his feet, checking his palm. Kent quickly discovered the hot floor as well and got to his own feet.
"What is this?" The group of four looked around. They seemed to be in some sort of tunnel; circular and about four metres in diameter. The walls seemed to be carved out of solid rock; unnaturally smooth and shiny, with grooves running parallel to the tunnel. Aaron gingerly touched one of them, then drew his hand away. It was hot enough to be uncomfortable, but it didn't cause serious damage.
Velocimon sniffed, and made a face. "Well, I guess this is where the smell was coming from."
He was right; there was a heavy, humid atmosphere in the tunnel and the smell was even stronger, causing the humans to choke.
"What the hell is it? And where the hell are we?"
Kent put his hand to his chin. "Some sort of trap, perhaps?"
"I don't think so." Trilomon turned, his claws clicking against the hard rock floor. "At least, not a deliberate one."
"What do you mean?"
"I've seen this kind of thing before; I've run into them once or twice. They're created by a Digimon of some sort, but it's just how they get around." The little insect glanced around uneasily, "At least, I hope that's the case."
Aaron sighed. "Well, regardless of what it is, we need to find a way out. We can't stay down here or we'll suffocate before too long. I assume we can't make our way back up the tunnel?" he said, looking at his partner.
Velocimon nodded. "Well, if you wanted to be crushed by red-hot rubble, then sure."
"Ever the bringer of optimism. Thanks mate." Aaron gave his partner a sarcastic grin.
"Hey, is it just me, or is the wall cooling down?"
Kent put his palm to the wall and held it for a minute. "Scratch that; it's almost stone cold all of a sudden."
Aaron did so, feeling the rough smoothness against his palm. He looked at Kent in confusion, "What does it mean?"
Kent leant back against it, his laptop swivelling around his body with the movement.
"I may have a theory. I'm guessing that whatever made this tunnel went under us at the wrong time, and we collapsed it. I'm also guessing that it makes its tunnels by some sort of melt and solidify process, allowing them to be made quickly and cleanly."
"So basically something with a blowtorch strapped to its back or something."
Velocimon raised a claw. "Pardon me, but does that mean that we're now stuck in a tunnel with a feral Fire Digimon?"
Nobody else even had the chance to answer before something crashed through the ceiling not five metres away from them. Well, not really crashed; the wall seemed to melt and a fiery form came crawling through on all fours. It was like an oversized lizard; about the size of a large crocodile, with huge three-toed feet that gripped the walls and fiery orange patterns over its deep crimson body. It blinked, its eyes small and beady with a faintly glowing aura, before turning its head from its ceiling-mounted position, grumbling as it did so.
"I haven't finished it yet, you're not supposed to come here until-"
He stopped as he caught sight of the two humans and two partner Digimon standing staring at him. Aaron had his D-Nexus out, and was scanning the creature.
"Salamandemon. Champion Level, Virus Attribute. Attacks: Backdraft, Heat Breath"
The creature blinked again, its mouth hanging open.
Aaron blinked himself. The creature seemed more embarrassed than anything else. Gingerly, Aaron raised a hand, "Um, are you-"
"No questions!" The creature suddenly raised itself to its fully height (still stuck to the ceiling, making it look like a novelty lightbulb) and opened its mouth wide, showing rows of disjointed orange teeth.
"You are an unprecedented external interference to this situation and must therefore be purged from the system. Do not resist and this will be painless."
Its voice felt forced, as if it was reciting a piece of protocol rather than genuinely threatening them.
Not that anybody cared to comment on its poor presentation skills as they were busy running the other way down the tunnel, not looking back. The lizard tilted its head, watching them scamper away.
"You sons of-"
It decided to not waste any more time trying to follow procedure and to just get on with it. With one fluid motion he scooted round onto the tunnel floor and made off after the escaping interferences.
It wasn't a big deal. They wouldn't get far.
Trilomon's claws skittered across the tunnel floor as he and the others ran from the flaming lizard. Panting, Aaron glanced sideways at Velocimon. "Well, are you up to getting rid of this thing?"
"It's going to get cramped, but I can give it a go."
"You up for it, Kent?"
Kent looked at the little insect running along beside him, "Uh, sure, I guess…"
The two ran into a place where the tunnel split either way. Aaron had his D-Nexus in hand and was looking around frantically. Velocimon nudged him, "If you want us to fight him we've got to evolve now."
Kent got out his own device and prepared to evolve his partner, "Good luck guys."
The two boys held their arms out, ready to transfer energy. From deep within the tunnel they'd just emerged from, a low croaking sound could be heard.
Kent saw it first.
Everybody hit the deck as a blast of flame shot from the tunnel entrance, all four of them feeling the heat as it barely missed them. The blast stopped, and the group could hear something scuttling towards them.
Trilomon scrabbled to his feet, the hard rock making it difficult for him to get purchase. "It's trying to purge the tunnels. Quickly, evolve us!"
Bolts of energy flew around the tunnel, but the process was interrupted as the wall next to them suddenly melted away, Salamandemon revealing himself once again.
"There you are…"
Salamandemon leapt towards them, flames adorning his body, but he quickly found himself colliding with a bipedal lizard with a ticked-off expression on its face. The amphibian gritted his teeth. "Crud."
Galvamon quickly shook off the flames that had gathered over his body. "This guy's hot. Seismon, you ready?"
Galvamon braced himself as the amphibian charged him again, as Aaron looked around to see Trilomon standing there, Kent furiously trying to get the D-Nexus to work.
Trilomon shuffled worriedly. "Any time now, Kent!"
"I'm trying!" Kent furiously shook the device, before throwing his arm forwards, yelling at the top of his voice.
Nothing happened. Aaron shook his head, "This isn't good."
Trilomon ran up to his partner, "You've got to trust me, Kent! I can only evolve if you can form the link!"
Galvamon slammed against the wall, holding both Salamandemon's jaws apart as the amphibian tried to take a bite of him. He winced as his opponent's skin burned into his palms, before he noticed something gathering in the back of Salamandemon's mouth.
Salamandemon croaked the words as a torrent of molten rock flowed from his mouth, melting into the wall where Galvamon had been just seconds beforehand.
Aaron winced at his partner's peril, before turning back to the other two. "We don't have time for this right now. You get out of here; we'll handle this as best we can."
Aaron shook his head. "Trust me, we'll be fine. Try and find a way out of here."
Feeling utterly helpless, Kent nodded, before beckoning Trilomon to follow him as the tunnels rumbled ominously.
"Can you see anything?"
Kent shook his head; all he could see was a dim red glow whichever path he looked down. The tunnels shook again; they were holding surprisingly well, but they obviously hadn't been built as battlegrounds, and it was only a matter of time before the whole system caved in. The two had already passed pathways that had been blocked off by rubble.
Kent immediately bent over, letting off another fit of coughing. The burning smell was dangerously thick right now, and he knew he couldn't last much longer. He turned to talk to Trilomon, before the insect barreled into him, knocking him backwards.
Another blast of flame rocketed out of the tunnel, a tongue of flame just licking at Kent's trouser leg. He drew it back, catching his breath as the flame died down. He had no idea how well Galvamon was holding out back there. He seemed to be physically stronger than Salamandemon, but the amphibian could melt through the walls with ease and knew this place like the back of his webby fingers.
He gulped the increasingly toxic air, trying to stay focused. Trilomon looked on worriedly.
"You're not going to last much longer at this rate. Don't push yourself."
"It's not like I have a lot of choice." Kent swallowed. "There's no way out of here."
He laid back, his shirt sticking to his skin in the heat.
Trilomon banged the floor next to him, his little armoured face determined and stubborn. "You can't give up now!"
Kent laughed a hollow, bitter chuckle. "I'm sorry for what happened back there."
"You just need to have faith in me, Kent!"
"You make it sound so easy. I can't carry on like this, Trilomon. I can't just blindly follow a path that I know to be hopeless."
"It's not hopeless!"
"Martyaxmon was relentless. We didn't have the strength to beat him and we don't have a way to find it. There's no way we're going to live through this."
He let out another laugh. "Sorry, I'm rambling. Look, you go on ahead. There's nothing I can do for you now."
Trilomon was about to argue, but then he rethought. He took a few steps away from his partner, before walking towards the tunnel they'd just come from. Kent raised his head, "You can't go that way, that's where those three are battling."
"I know. But if you're so adamant that we're fighting a losing battle, I at least want to go down fighting!"
Kent's eyes widened, but before he could reach his partner Trilomon had rushed back down the tunnel. Kent scrambled to his feet and made after his partner, but stepping in front of the opening he could see the flame building deep within it.
With one last burst of energy he threw himself to the ground again, feeling the heat of the flame above him. Shaking, he got to his knees, looking down at the ground. With a frustrated cry he banged his fist against the hard rock floor, the impact sending a spasm of pain through his hand.
Trilomon was right. He knew that. He didn't want to just abandon everyone like this. He sat up and looked at his hands. As much as he wanted to help, he'd been virtually useless since he'd gotten here. He couldn't fight, he couldn't come up with a good plan, and right now he couldn't even support his partner. What could he do that they hadn't already tried?
He thought back to Aaron's words, "Either we die doing something stupid, or we die doing nothing at all."
His gaze wandered down to his laptop; he could see the light blinking where the power was still on. It seemed to bore into him, enticing him to try the unthinkable.
Maybe he was right. Maybe there was nothing he could do. But while he still had a faulty grenade left to throw, the battle wasn't over yet.
He could hear the sounds from the tunnel getting louder as he whipped out the computer and booted up the screen. He could see the icon where he'd left the program; by some miracle it had survived everything the laptop had been through.
Kent felt a familiar cool energy and he picked up his D-Nexus, which was glowing, seeming to react to the laptop and the mystery of the creation program. They had one small glimmer of hope after all.
Without thinking, he put the computer on standby and set off down the tunnel, towards the chaos he'd run away from.
He didn't have to run far down the maze of tunnels before the battle practically threw itself in his face. He leapt back as Salamandemon powered through the wall, sending molten rock every which way and causing another rumble, this one much more violent than the last.
Galvamon leapt through after him, not in the best of shapes. His hand blades had been bent by the massive heat, and there were great dark marks adorning the lizard's forearms and hands where he'd been grappling with the searing-hot amphibian hand-to-hand.
Aaron stood behind his partner, trying to keep clear of the hot walls. His eyes were sunken and his breath came in short rasps from the heavy atmosphere. He looked like he was going to collapse at any moment.
Galvamon noticed Kent and threw Salamandemon to the side, giving the boy a brief moment to run past the chaos and get to Aaron. Aaron gave a quick smile, "What are you doing here?"
"I came to help. Where's my partner, he should have joined you by now?"
Aaron pointed, and Kent followed his gaze. He hadn't noticed, but his partner was deep within the fray as well, nipping around beneath the amphibian's feet, attacking where he could. Kent had to admire the little insect's tenacity.
"What are you going to do?"
Kent knew Aaron couldn't hold out much more; even if Galvamon wouldn't go down that easily, then his partner’s body would definitely give out before too long. Swallowing, the older boy opened up his laptop, hand hovering over the button that would begin the creation program. He stalled; he still had no idea what would happen. What if this took out the tunnel? Released something else? Deleted Trilomon?
He felt a hand on his shoulder; Aaron nodded behind him; too tired to speak, but the gesture spoke for itself. Go for it.
Kent steeled himself and pressed the button.
The screen seemed to explode into light; illuminating the whole tunnel. Kent dropped the laptop, preparing for the inevitable danger, but it never came. There was something different this time; there was still the same wild energy emanating from the machine, but there was no malice behind it, no tyrannical rage. It seemed natural somehow.
Salamandemon noticed the light as well; he screamed and pushed his way past Galvamon.
"That is forbidden power! Get rid of it!"
Kent flinched as the amphibian shot towards him, but Trilomon shot out of nowhere, slamming into the side of his adversary's head and clamping on tight with all four legs.
Smoke poured from between the insect's armour segments as Salamandemon tried to shake off his assailant, but he was quickly dragged away by a still mobile Galvamon, breathing heavily but still willing to fight. Wincing against the pain, Trilomon called over to his partner, "Whatever you're going to do, do it now!"
Aaron smiled. "Looks like we're not finished just yet."
Kent didn't hear; he was busy staring at his computer, strange numbers and symbols dancing across the screen. Somehow, he understood it. He could almost see what the machine was telling him.
"It's the link."
Aaron looked over at him, "What?"
"That's what this thing does. It doesn't just detect energy and stuff; this program was made for us. It's the link we have between us and our partners; between the elements and our soul energy."
Aaron blinked. "You've lost me."
Kent's D-Nexus was going haywire in his hand. The boy could feel the energy coursing between him and his partner, powering them both up. He knew it was there, but there was something more. As if they were both storing energy; ready to release it, ready to get to the next level.
"We've been holding back."
Aaron was stumped. "How...what?"
Kent turned to the leader, a new spark in his eye. "We spent so long trying to find a way to grow in power, but it's been here the whole time. We lost against Martyaxmon because we've been holding back our full power. With this we can reach new levels of power.
"Kent! A little faster?"
Kent immediately tapped the keyboard, his fingers a blur as he moved the symbols around effortlessly. Aaron coughed and stumbled, feeling a brief spat of pain that made Galvamon flinch. Salamandemon took the opportunity and lunged at his head, clamping his jaws around the lizard's shoulder. Galvamon cried out as molten rock dripped onto his exposed flesh, his arms lacking the energy to fight back.
Kent stepped out, laptop in hand, finger poised to press the final key. Salamandemon let go and turned to face him, his face contorting into one of rage and fear.
"I was told that power must not fall into your hands!"
He slithered off the downed lizard and skittered towards the boy, flaring up menacingly.
Kent noticed his partner eying him, silent encouragement passing between them. He smiled, and brought his finger down.
"Tell your Commander that this power belongs to us."
The energy surge rocketed out from the body of the computer, making the loose assembly rattle alarmingly. A portion of energy shot into Kent's D-Nexus. Aaron felt the force as his own device reacted, the data within it rearranging itself, creating something new, something undiscovered. Salamandemon felt himself being pushed back by the force as he writhed and gnashed at thin air.
Outside, the group felt the disturbance. One by one they got out their D-Nexus's and felt the energy surge through them; some sort of higher power they hadn't felt before. A blip appeared on Eloise's pinpointing the location of their friends.
"Follow me, you guys. I know where they are."
The three children and their partners ran off after the signal, Pteramon struggling to keep up behind them.
Deep in an unknown forest, the boy and his dragon felt the disturbance too. Kai felt the energy pass through him; he looked back, squinting against the sun, as if he was listening out for the call of his ex-comrades. Something new was happening.
Salamandemon squinted, and hissed his disapproval. The whole tunnels were shaking now; dust crumbling down from the ceiling as great cracks appeared along the smooth walls. Aaron stumbled and fell to the ground. He looked up at Kent, who was simply standing there, his eyes locked with those of his partner.
"Hey, I think we ought to get out of here."
Kent ignored him (or he didn't hear) as he stared at Trilomon, their hearts beating as one. Trilomon looked around him.
"What is this? It feels different. More intense."
Kent smiled, and held out his D-Nexus, the symbol of earth emblazoned on his chest. Salamandemon rushed towards him, screeching. "Cease, you human scum!"
Galvamon pummelled into him before he could reach the boy, but he lay, kicking and screaming, burning more into the lizard. But Aaron's partner had given Kent all the time he needed.
In one fluid motion, Kent swung the D-Nexus wide, the ground literally shaking beneath his feet.
It was like opening a floodgate; a mass of green light poured from the device, engulfing the little insect entirely. The seal had been lifted; the full power of the element of earth was being shared between the two partners. Inside the cocoon of light, Trilomon's body began to change.
It wasn't like his previous transformations. His body seemed to disintegrate, leaving a formless mass of static, which writhed and growled like some wild animal. It began to grow, slowly moulding itself into something huge. The mass twisted itself into great segmented legs and lethal front claws, which dug into the floor, hoisting the mass up as it grew ever more.
Galvamon, quick as he could, grabbed his barely-conscious partner and hoisted him underneath the mass, as rocks and rubble fell all around them.
Still holding firm, Kent seemed to be immune to the chaos around him. In the corner of his eye he could see Salamandemon wriggling, trying to dodge the falling rubble but failing as it pinned him down.
The boy smiled to himself, as the group seemed to rise up through the layers of rock.
The other children noticed the ground begin to move as they rushed towards the radar blips on their devices. Grace pulled her brother back as the earth in front of them cracked, then began to erupt and fall away as something emerged from below. It unfurled, revealing a huge, mantis-like creature, with a pair of lethal front sickles and serrated legs of bone and green rock. It reared up and opened its many jaws, letting off a terrifying roar into the sky.
Eloise was speechless. Her partner was cowering behind her, staring up at the mighty creature.
"What the heck is that thing?"
Her question was quickly answered as Galvamon landed beside them, placing Aaron down on his feet. The boy was swaying a little, dizzy from the ride and the sudden improvement in air quality. Galvamon fell to his knees, his wounds evident but still very much capable of battle.
Eloise turned to Aaron, "Is that what was chasing you down there?"
Aaron shook his head, "No, that was a flaming lizard thing. We were struggling, but Kent managed to evolve Trilomon to the next level."
"Wait, so..." Grace let go of her brother as they stared up at Tectonamon, still trying to balance itself on unfamiliar legs.
"That's my partner."
Kent leapt out of the rubble, a new spring in his step. He looked up at his much larger partner, as the insect rebalanced himself again.
"How do you feel?"
Tectonamon didn't answer, but Kent heard his words nonetheless. "A little weird. I'm not used to this power." As monstrous as he now was, Kent could feel the excitement in his partner's voice, like a child opening a present on Christmas day.
Kent smiled, but his pride was cut short as he was suddenly rammed from the side. He rolled onto his back as Salamandemon, escaped from the wreckage, loomed over him. Kent gritted his teeth as drops of molten rock dripped down onto his exposed arms from the amphibian's maw.
"You won't get to use this power again. The Fire Kingdom forbids it."
Galvamon made a move, but Salamandemon, free from the confines of the tunnels, simply turned and opened his mouth wide.
A column of flame erupted from his head, scattering the group. Kent tried to roll away while the amphibian was briefly distracted, but Salamandemon saw him and reared up, his mouth brimming with lava.
Kent flinched, but Salamandemon's attack was suddenly silenced as a massive armoured head swung low, launching him across the clearing. He hissed and wriggled upright, but Tectonamon was already prepared. His many-jawed mouth was open and green lights were dancing in his throat, spiralling together into one pulsating ball of energy.
The projectile flew forward at a breakneck speed, as Salamandemon struggled to get away. The orb split in mid-air, morphing into dozens of spears and spikes that rained down around the amphibian, one impaling him directly through the tail. He screeched as the spear hardened into a bone-like substance, and he wriggled in vain as the shafts hardened around him, trapping him in a primeval cage.
In seconds, Galvamon was upon him, claw pressing down on his neck as Tectonamon and the others gathered around.
"You're out in the open now. We've got the advantage, right?"
Salamandemon said nothing. Galvamon squeezed a little harder and he nodded fervently.
"I've got some questions for you. You only need to nod or shake your head. Got it?"
A pause, then a nod.
"Are you part of the Fire Kingdom?"
"Underground division, perchance?"
Perimon stepped forward. "Let me guess, all part of the Fire Kingdom's elaborate plan to destroy us, once and for all."
The amphibian hesitated. Galvamon looked him square in the eye. "You'd do best to answer, you know."
Salamandemon hacked and a hunk of molten slag hit Galvamon in the shoulder. He swore and briefly let go, giving Salamandemon enough time to lunge sharply to the left. His tail broke off at the base, much like a real lizard, and he smashed through his prison walls, scampering through Tectonamon's legs as the giant tried to stop him.
Kent pointed, "Don't let him get underground!"
"Too late!" Salamandemon was laughing as he began to burrow downwards at a frightening speed.
"You can't stop the Fire Kingdom!"
His mirth was short-lived. Out of seemingly nowhere, Pteramon charged forward, reared his head and plunged it downwards, his sharp beak piercing the amphibian through the neck. Salamandemon gave one hoarse woof, as if he had just been punched in the stomach.
Pteramon grunted. "We can stop you."
Salamandemon's eyes flicked towards the giant as they glazed over. Pteramon gave a brief shake and the head was ripped from the body, both flying in different directions, shedding data as they did so. Eloise grimaced, and Grace covered her brother's eyes from the brief moment of brutality. But it was only a moment. In a couple of seconds, the amphibian was gone.
Galvamon let out a great sigh, and leant back against the pile of rubble. "Well, that was a load." He glanced over at Pteramon, "Thanks for your help there."
Pteramon lowered his great head, his bad eye staring dimly at the ground.
"It's only one soldier. It's nothing to write home about."
"Oh, cheer up!"
Jack ran over and threw his arms around the giant's leg. Grace chuckled as she watched Pteramon's blue skin slowly turn red with embarassment.
"You don't need to keep putting yourself down. We're just so glad you're on our side."
Eloise smiled at the scene, but she was quickly distracted by the two other boys staring down into the opened tunnel.
Kent scratched his chin. "So, I'm guessing this was a tactical move or something? This tunnel business."
Galvamon, keeping his eyes closed, nodded in agreement.
"That thing belonged to special forces. They're soldiers that aren't completely infected, so they can be used to carry out complicated military strategies." He knocked against the rubble, his metal gauntlets making a harsh noise against the hardened rock. "Basically the Fire Kingdom has decided they can't get rid of us the normal way after all."
Tectonamon strode over, effortlessly navigating the broken ground. "Well, if this is part of their plan, why don't we ruin it for them?"
Galvamon smiled, and walked away from the pile, the others following suit. "Be my guest."
Tectonamon stood still for a couple of seconds, his front claws gaining a green glow. Then he raised himself up, standing on his back four legs with his front appendages held high.
He brought his front legs down directly into the hole they'd appeared from. There was a muffled crack, then the ground seemed to explode into vibration, pieces of rubble sliding every which way as the shockwave spread out through the clearing. The children stumbled, Aaron falling onto his back, but the tremor was short and the noise gradually died down.
Aaron rubbed his head, still feeling dazed from his stint in the tunnel. "Can't you give us more warning next time?"
Tectonamon seemed to shrink a couple of feet, drawing himself into his segments, much like Trilomon would. Galvamon leapt up and examined the insect's work. Where there had been a hole, there was now only a solid mass of rough, green crystal, taking up the tunnel like silicon filler. Galvamon tapped it, and nodded approvingly.
"Let's see them try and get through that."
Kent walked up to his partner and tapped his great front leg. Tectonamon leant down and brought his head down to Kent's level, staring into the boy's dark brown eyes with his four insectoid ones.
"You did it again, partner."
Kent shook his head. "You have no idea how close I was to giving up. I guess I need you to keep me in check."
Tectonamon nodded as he began to shrink, his body glowing as he rapidly spiralled back down to his Rookie form. In a couple of seconds, Trilomon was stood in front of his partner.
The sudden rush of energy returning to him made Kent's head spin, and he fell forwards onto his knees. Trilomon laughed, and sat on his rear segments, staring up at his partner like a puppy.
"I'm here for you until the end, Kent."
Kent nodded. "The very end."
Eloise walked over to them, Ladomon hovering just above her. "So, what exactly happened to you two down there?"
"Yeah," said Jack, walking over with his sister and Pteramon in tow, "We felt something. Some sort of energy thing."
Grace looked sideways at her brother with amusement. He noticed her look and frowned, "Well, I don't know. Everything's an energy thing around here."
"You're kind of right." Kent stood up and tapped his laptop. "I ran the program, but it actually worked this time. It somehow allowed me to completely open the elemental link between me and Trilomon. That way we could share energy directly, and he could evolve to the next level."
Vulpimon frowned. "Then that jolt we all felt. Was that the program passing to us?"
"I guess so." Aaron tapped a few buttons on his D-Nexus; it didn't look any different, but he could feel the new power behind the interface. "All the D-Nexus's are linked, aren't they?"
"All the elements are linked." Ladomon twirled in the air. "I've got to admit, it certainly feels like a huge weight's off of my shoulders."
Vulpimon felt it too, but it still wasn't satisfied. "So, does this mean the Fire Kingdom are going to know about this."
Her question went to Velocimon, who merely shrugged. "They'll find out sooner or later; it's just a case of when. But the main point is that we can now reach new levels of power. Perhaps we might stand a chance once again."
The group nodded in agreement, but inside they still all felt a twinge of uncertainty. It was never going to be that easy.
Martyaxmon felt like he was back in school in his In-Training days; sat on a rough stone floor waiting for approval. Regardless of this he kept his back straight and his head high, as was customary for him when in Surtremon's chamber.
He brought his paw forward and placed the mask, face down, on the pedestal in front of him.
"Oh Marty, you do spoil me."
The manticore barely hid his irritation as another figure dropped down from the shadows, before slowly, almost leisurely, striding towards his comrade.
"Rinkhalmon, I brought the relic you were looking for. I assume this is the right one." He muttered under his breath, "And will you please refrain from calling me Marty."
"Daw, you do take everything so seriously, comrade."
In a matter of seconds the mask was in the claws of the third Commander, as he looked over it with a professional's eye, twisting his long, flexible neck round as he scrutinised each and every detail.
Martyaxmon waited patiently as he did this. The beast was used to this; Surtremon almost never interacted with them directly, although he had decreed that all important developments, such as this, would take place in his presence. The beast grimaced as he looked ahead at the huge suit of armour at the far end of the chamber, sword clasped in hand and visor lowered. He knew the fate of those, even former Commanders, who would dishonour the General.
There was a hiss from the side as Rinkhalmon finished his initial inspection.
"You're right, this would appear to be the genuine article."
Martyaxmon exhaled. "Thank you. Now that that's out of the way, those children-"
"...are remaining alive for the time being."
The manticore turned on his comrade with confusion. "What? I thought that with the mask you'd no longer need them?"
"I never said that." Rinkhalmon put one claw to his lips, like a cheeky schoolgirl. Martyaxmon just wanted to wipe that obviously smug, oversized grin off his partner's face.
Rinkhalmon carried on. "True, this is what I was looking for, however it itself may not be of any help. If it isn't, then those children must remain alive."
Martyaxmon glared at his slimy comrade, the flaming torches making his beads flicker and cast strange patterns on the walls.
"You could be clearer about what you're talking about."
Rinkhalmon shrugged. "It's complicated. Don't worry though, the children are of little consequence overall."
"Still, they have been growing in strength since they arrived here. You can't deny the slim possibility that they might start to interfere."
Rinkhalmon let out a snide laugh. "Oh please, you kicked their collective asses, remember? There's no way they can stand up to a whole army should we choose, so there's nothing to worry about!"
"I suppose that's true..."
Rinkhalmon wandered away, twirling the mask around his finger as he scaled the chamber walls with the agility of a spider. "Look, if you're that worried, just throw them out of that forest of yours. We don't need it anymore anyway now that we have this." He brandished the mask once more, before he disappeared from sight.
Martyaxmon sighed, nodded, then ambled out of the chamber. The torches went out automatically as the door to Surtremon's chamber closed behind him.
Martyaxmon wandered down the long corridor. Rinkhalmon was right; now they'd found the mask and more about the children, there was no reason to keep them there anymore. At the very least he could try and control them, stop them growing in power. If he could keep them running and their spirits down, maybe that would give him peace of mind.
He shook his head, his shaggy mane swishing through the air. Something still just didn't sit right with him. Sure, they'd proved absolutely no challenge against him earlier, but there was something about that look in that one boy. Galvamon's partner. The manticore smirked. It figured that that raptor would choose the tenacious one.
He was collecting his thoughts when he passed the chamber to the underwater cavern. He double-took and noticed that the door was open. Curiously, he walked through, and found himself face-to-face with his familiar krakenesque comrade.
Cephalomon leaned in close, so close that Martyaxmon could smell the salt and oil being exhaled from beneath his mask. It made him feel quite nauseous.
"So what's the deal with those kids?"
"I...Surtremon still won't let us kill them." Martyaxmon glanced back, then closed the door behind him. Rinkhalmon was probably busy, but it was good to make sure.
"What are you doing here anyway? You're supposed to be watching over the soldiers."
Cephalomon was quietly seething at this latest information drop, but he calmed himself and lowered his voice.
"I gave them instructions. They're already carrying out my plans as we speak."
"I'm sick of waiting. And besides, those kids are dangerous. I'm gonna get rid of them and their pathetic partners as well."
Martyaxmon blinked. "Please tell me you're not really considering this. You know what happens if you defy Surtremon." He raised himself up to his full height. "In fact, what's to stop me from turning round and reporting this right now?"
Cephalomon rolled his eyes. "Look, I know you; you may be a little General's boy but you aren't stupid. The only reason you're still here is that you agree with me. The children need to die."
Martyaxmon opened his mouth but paused, unable to think of a response.
The giant squid carried on. "Surtremon and his little scientist lackey; they have their big master plan. But, in the end, aren't we just looking for a world ruled by Fire Digimon? In that case, we need to stomp out every little interference as it comes up. In the long run, we're doing the Fire Kingdom a great service."
"But Rinkhalmon suggested that we just move them out of the forest and keep them on the run. Surely that would..."
Cephalomon shook his head, his great tentacles flapping with the movement.
"You don't understand. You weren't there, but they faced me and they wounded me. They've been growing in power; you've been watching them, surely you've realised that? And besides, Velocimon and his comrades are with them, and you know the trouble they've given us in the past."
Martyaxmon knew all too well. It had taken over three-hundred blood-crazy ultra-powered Mega levels to crush that resistance in the end. There was no way they'd be able to conjure up more Fire Tyrants in such a short space of time.
Cephalomon was staring at him earnestly. The squid could tell he was winning.
"I know this goes against the way you work. Quite frankly, I hate it. But you've gotta help me with this. You know this is for the good of the Fire Kingdom."
Martyaxmon smiled. "I also know that this is for the good of your personal revenge."
Cephalomon looked around, trying to find another argument, but Martyaxmon silenced his comrade.
"Don't worry. I'm in. Let's get rid of these children once and for all."