The demolishers growled among themselves. They were hungry for blood and had no real will to speak of, but even they were somewhat hesitant to proceed after what just happened. They had felt the raw power of the element of Electricity, and there had been casualties.
Eloise didn't even notice them as she ran forward, the newly devolved Velocimon struggling to keep up beside her.
"Eloise, no! It's dangerous!"
"Shut up." Eloise skidded to her knees beside Velocimon's fallen partner. It wasn't a pretty site; Aaron's body looked even worse than before he'd evolved, with great red raw burns over his exposed skin. His eyes were sunken in and his mouth hung open. Trying not to panic, the girl leant down and listened at his mouth for any sign of breathing. She tried to take his pulse, but her fingers were shaking too much.
"Oh god. Ohgodohgodohgod please don't be dead. Don't you dare be dead."
Kent ran over, "Eloise, get back. Those things aren't going to hold off forever."
"Shut up, Kent." Eloise glared up at the older boy, her breathing erratic. "I'm not leaving him."
Velocimon spotted something clasped in Aaron's right hand; it was his D-Nexus, strangely unharmed from all the chaos it had undergone over the past few minutes. He carefully prized Aaron's fingers open and scrolled through the tiny device, looking for any sort of clue as to what happened.
Eloise fell back to her knees. "I-I-I don't know what else to do. I can't feel anything."
Her vision began to blur as she stared at Aaron's still form, half-expecting him to open his eyes at any moment. After all, they always pulled through somehow…didn't they?
Aaron didn't move.
Kent grasped Eloise's shoulder and began to tug backwards, but she flinched.
"Eloise, if we don't move then we're all going to die."
Eloise flinched again, as Kent stuttered. "I mean…
"He's not dead."
Both boy and girl stared at Velocimon as he (somewhat clumsily) held out the D-Nexus. It was his own stats screen; his health was high, but his energy was low, and the soul transfer meter was almost empty.
Almost. Kent looked in close and saw a tiny strip of yellow on the far left of the meter.
Velocimon looked down at his partner. "I don't know what happened just then, but he's still sharing energy with me. He's still hanging on, but only just. We need to get him away from here."
As if in answer to the sudden urgency, the demolishers chose this moment to begin their advance once again. Eloise tried to drag the unconscious boy to his feet but Kent stopped her, "No. You'll only slow yourself down."
Before Eloise could answer, he called over to the others, "Seismon, we need you to carry Aaron. Get over here."
Seismon, along with Karatenmon, were there in a flash. The great insect lowered his upper torso, balancing himself on all six limbs instead of his usual four. Karatenmon effortlessly picked up the boy and gently laid him over Seismon's back, using the bug as a makeshift stretcher. Seismon was still exhausted from the earlier battle, but he stood without comment or complaint.
Karatenmon's cold eyes briefly surveyed the boy. "It's not ideal, but given present circumstances, it'll have to do." Those eyes darted towards Eloise and Kent, his expression unreadable. "You know, you humans never fail to both surprise and appall me."
"You're welcome." Kent huffed.
"No time for this witty banter." Velocimon hopped upon Seismon's back himself, the oversized insect lowering slightly from the weight. "We need to move now."
As the demolishers moved on, the group retreated further into the forest, as the settlement; Karatenmon's home, and their home for the past several weeks, burned up behind them.
The charred remains of a once beautiful forest crunched beneath Cephalomon's barrel feet as he marched forward, fury in his eyes. Somewhere…somewhere around here…
He brushed a couple of tentacles away from his mask as he squinted into the distance. There! Right where the mountains met the forest was the faint glimmer of water. He marched towards it and came across his mode of transport; a huge reservoir that connected all his little pools across the land. These kids thought they were safe so long as they stayed out of the water. Well, he wasn't going to give them any choice.
"Hey, where do you think you're going?"
Cephalomon lifted his back left barrel and peered down. Martyaxmon scowled up at him, out of breath and obviously not in the best of shapes.
Cephalomon turned and squatted down, his own breath coming out in guttural rasps.
"Doesn't look like you had the best time with those kids."
"Could have gone a hell of a lot better." Martyaxmon whipped his head round. "Where's your army gone?"
"I've been found out." Cephalomon narrowed his eyes. "Snake-boy decided to intervene."
"Rinkhalmon?" Martyaxmon swallowed. "So…Surtremon knows?"
"I'd guess so. According to the Fire Kingdom, I've officially gone rogue now." Cephalomon straightened up and gazed at the horizon, where the glow from the demolishers was slowly edging away.
Martyaxmon stepped forward. "It didn't work. We can't fight them like this. We need to return to the fortress and formulate a better plan. Separate them or something. They're too powerful to take on as they are."
"Tough." Cephalomon began to walk backwards into the reservoir, the black-tinted water quickly swallowing up his lower tentacles.
Martyaxmon was adamant. "I'm serious, Cephalomon. I saw one of the children turn into a Digimon himself. If you try and go after them now, they will kill you."
Cephalomon continued backing away, until only his head and shoulders were visible. His eyes, fiery and hate-filled that they were, seemed incredibly dull.
"Cephalomon, please. Just come back and leave them for now."
"You don't understand." Cephalomon slowly shook his head. "I won't get a second chance. They'll kill me. Because of my own stupid temper I took a gamble and it didn't work. The children are alive."
He sighed, putting his hand to his mask. "I'm too old for this. Too big. Too clumsy. I don't even think I can shoot straight any more. I don't belong in this war."
"What are you going to do?"
"The demolishers are aimed right towards my central pool. I can reach it before they do, and hopefully catch those kids."
Martyaxmon was solemn. "And what are you planning on doing to them?"
Cephalomon shrugged. "Same as usual. It's all I can do. I'm a dead mon either way so I wanna take as many of those little pricks down with me as I can."
His eyes darted down, and he sank a little lower.
"I have to go now."
"Wait, Cephalomon!" Martyaxmon hopped to the edge, his voice cracking slightly. "Don't throw your life away. Not for them. Not for the humans."
Cephalomon raised a hand. "Save it. I've made up my mind. This is for the good of the glorious Fire Kingdom, whether they think it is or not." He chuckled. "Mostly though, it's because these kids really piss me off."
Martyaxmon sat down as Cephalomon looked down at his partner from all those years ago.
"Oh, little lion-boy. You never changed." He brought his hand up to salute. "Farewell, friend. Keep fighting the good fight."
Martyaxmon brought up his own paw in salute as the giant disappeared beneath the surface. The manticore felt a rumble beneath his feet; obviously Cephalomon was wasting no time.
He stood there for a moment, watching as the last of the ripples on the water's surface died away. Then he turned and began the long trek back to the fortress.
The bestial cries of fury began to die down as the group pulled further and further away. Grace flinched as her partner sped up slightly, holding tightly to the fur around her neck.
Alopemon turned her head slightly, looking back at the young girl. "You're shaking."
Grace instinctively held tighter, but her trembling hands still betrayed her feelings. Ever since the fox had first evolved, Grace had wondered how she actually saw out that mask with no visible eye-holes. Right now though, she couldn't think clearly about anything. The past few hours had seemed to go in a blur. Karatenmon, Martyaxmon, the Demolishers, Aaron; it was too much. She felt so helpless. What could she do?
She shook her head violently. Now wasn't the time.
She glanced to her right, seeing Seismon with his two riders; one unconscious, the other desperately wishing he'd wake up. The insect was making good speed, scuttling along like a possessed cockroach, but his spiky, armoured back didn't exactly make for the most comfortable ride. Eloise accidentally nudged Aaron as Seismon stumbled slightly.
Kent ran alongside his partner, his face grave. Velocimon was at his feet, clawed toes scraping along the forest floor. "So, what's your plan?"
"Why are you asking me?"
The dinosaur looked behind him. "In case you haven't noticed, we're still being chased."
"We can't stay here." Eloise held onto Seismon's armour, her hair blowing in the wind. "We have to find somewhere safe to go. This…whatever just happened, we can't risk taking it into battle."
Kent frowned. "I don't understand what went wrong."
"You don't?" Eloise snapped at him, "How about the fact that he got struck by friggin' lightning? Is that 'wrong' enough?"
"That's not what I meant." Kent glared back at her. "Up until that point he was absolutely fine. He held off Martyaxmon. I'd say this is worth looking into."
"Are you insane? We're running for our lives and you're thinking of experimenting?"
"Evidently not. I can see this conversation isn't going to go anywhere."
"Piss off. Why don't you try one of your crazy power-up ideas on yourself next time? Leave us out of it." The girl raised her hands in mock shock. "Ooh, I forgot, you prefer to pretend we don't exist anyway."
Kent looked hurt. "That was out of order."
"You're out of order!"
"Hey, stop it!" Grace looked decidedly angry as the two teenagers glared back at her. "Just leave it for the moment. We don't have time to be arguing."
Kent sighed. "You're right. To be honest, we could use Aaron right about now."
Alopemon sped up and pulled next to the older boy. "So, where are we going?"
"Hopefully away from here."
The fox looked down at Velocimon, who was deep in thought. "I would have thought you'd have had some idea of where we go now. We obviously can't stay in the forest. As far as I know, the only other place around here's the wastegrounds. They'll pick us off in a millisecond there."
"You can't stop." Karatenmon sidled next to them, with Strabimon running along beneath him. The bird man carried on, "You're not ready to fight yet. You need to head somewhere away from the Fire Kingdom."
"But they've taken over the world-"
"Not quite. You just need to get behind strong enough walls."
Above them, Luminemon nodded, "Of course. The last great stronghold. My home."
"Silicon City." Karatenmon's eyes narrowed. "I don't know what happened to your leader, but if you're looking for somewhere to recover, there's no safer place. Head towards the centre of the continent; you just need to follow the line of stars below the moons there." At this he pointed upwards, marking out the celestial landmark in question.
"Are you coming with us?"
Karatenmon shook his head. "I can't stay with you, not now. We, my group, need to fight this on our own. In our own way."
At his feet, Strabimon looked worriedly up. Kudamon was nestled deep within her arms.
"Can't we bring them with us?"
Karatenmon nodded, but Eloise answered before he could. She shuffled a little, her face solemn. "The Fire Kingdom's after us now. If you stay with us, you'll only be putting yourselves in danger."
Mistramon lowered himself down to canopy level. "It's because of us that…things got so out of hand today."
"That wasn't your fault-"
"Doesn't matter if it was." Velocimon glanced up at Karatenmon, a knowing look passing between the two soldiers, before the dinosaur spoke to Strabimon once again.
"We may have the same enemy, but our fights are very different right now."
Reluctantly Strabimon nodded. Velocimon could still see the tears glistening in her eyes. "OK. But we'll see you again. I promise. When you're ready, we'll fight the enemy together."
Kent took another look over the bedraggled remains of their group. One Centarumon was supporting the other as they galloped along, and Yasyamon seemed to be limping. Their battle hadn't exactly gone that well.
He nodded. "Good luck. Stay safe. And please…" He paused, trying to think of the right words. "We're trying to help. Please have some faith in us."
Karatenmon let out a 'hmph', but said nothing. He raised a hand, whistling, before veering away into the forest.
Kent looked up. "Hey, Jack, can you see the line of stars?"
Jack nodded. "Is that where we're going?"
"We're headed to Silicon City." Kent gritted his teeth. "Once we get out of this damn forest."
"It's a bit of a trek. We've got to reach the wastegrounds yet." Velocimon looked uncertain. "I'm not sure it's wise, to be honest."
"The longer we draw this out, the stronger the Fire Kingdom gets."
Luminemon shook her head. "Velocimon, we're not ready. Just look at us. We can barely stand up to a single Mega level, even with help. Wherever this Silicon City is, it might allow us to grow stronger."
Mistramon swooped down, Jack clutching tightly around his neck. His eyes were panicked, "Guys, the Demolishers are closing in from the left. They're gonna hit us if we don't move now."
"Go faster then!"
"I can't!" Seismon looked desperately at his partner. "I'm fully loaded as it is."
Kent clutched his head. "Go left then. Just try and keep the stars in sight."
They did so, but as they kept running the sound of the approaching onslaught grew louder and louder. Worse, the Digimon were beginning to tire. Nobody complained, though. They just kept running, trying desperately to stay alive. The forest seemed to go on forever, becoming more and more oppressive with each step. The eagle and wyvern up above the canopy had to squint to see where the others were through the thick foliage. Down below, Eloise and Grace found themselves ducking to avoid being knocked off. Despite everything, they pressed on. There was nothing else they could do. They carried on without a word; the only sound being the snapping of branches and the rustling of leaves around them.
The silence was broken by Mistramon.
"Guys, is it me, or have the Fire Forces stopped chasing us?"
"I think it's you." Velocimon cocked his head. "Although, they do seem to be quieter."
Grace raised her head hopefully. "Perhaps we lost them!"
"We can't have…how could we outrun something that was leveling an entire forest…?"
Seismon skidded to a halt and the others followed suit as they ran into something extraordinary. Out of nowhere, in the middle of the forest, was an enormous lake. The sunlight glinted off the dark surface, and it seemed to expand off to the horizon. Mistramon and Luminemon hovered low as the others stared at the natural oddity before them.
Grace broke the silence. "Not to ask the obvious question, but why is there a massive lake in the middle of the forest?"
"More importantly…" Alopemon fluttered her ears, squinting slightly, "Why can't I hear the Fire Forces?"
The others looked among themselves, puzzled. Mistramon spiraled up and looked back the way they'd come.
"I told you so!"
Velocimon folded his arms. "That's impossible. You're an eagle; try opening your eyes when you look."
"Very funny, sparkysaurus." Mistramon squinted, scanning the horizon. "I'm serious though. I can't see them. Not a glow or anything. I can see where they got to, though." He scanned the massive black crescent that had once been a forest, but came up with nothing.
Kent furrowed his brow as he began to think. "Who'd stop the Fire Forces just before they took us out. It's almost like they were trying to push us here…"
His eyes widened, before he turned to Eloise.
"You saw Cephalomon, didn't you?"
Eloise winced from the memory. "Yeah. Well actually we didn't really see him so much as we heard him and definitely felt him, so he was definitely there."
"That's the problem. Cephalomon's a sea creature. So, given that we only got here by crossing a grassland and a mountain range..."
He trailed off, as the others began to put two and two together. Jack finished for him
"...how did he get all the way out to the middle of a forest…?"
Everybody present turned their eyes over to the lake surface, which lay deceptively still. Then, a single ripple appeared, spreading out from the dark centre.
Velocimon's eyes widened in horror. "We've got to get away. Back into the forest."
"We can't go that way! The Fire Forces are there!"
Mistramon nodded over to the far side of the lake. "Head around the bank, it's our only way out!"
Another batch of ripples floated to the surface as he began to fly round, Luminemon following him. The other two Champions hurried around the right side, staying as far away from the water as possible.
Grace felt an ominous rumble through her body, and yelled. "Faster! He's going to appear any second!" The surface of the water began to bubble and froth as the tired warriors pressed on, desperately trying to pass this final obstacle.
They'd barely even got halfway round when a terrible cry filled the air,. The same cry they'd heard all those weeks ago, when they'd first arrived here. It grew louder, and louder.
With the power and menace of a breaching shark, the leviathan that was Cephalomon broke the water's surface, arms raised in front of his head. Trails of water cascaded from his immense form, with the exception of his forearms, which glowed bright orange, the water evaporating instantly. His eyes darted down and saw his quarries, as they gazed up in horror.
Cephalomon spun on the spot, flinging his arms wide as the wave of energy flew outwards and downwards. The group flung themselves to the ground as the heatwave passed over them, burying into the ground behind them.
Velocimon leapt to his feet and looked around. The entire lake was surrounded by a great wall of fire that rose at least fifteen metres into the air. Mistramon yelled and fluttered back, the heat making his feathers wilt.
Cephalomon vented again, a great cloud of steam engulfing his masked face, leaving only his eyes gazing furiously around. "I've gambled a lot on taking you out. Unfortunately I lost it all. But I'm not stopping. The Fire Kingdom won't stop me now."
Eloise shielded her eyes as Cephalomon leant forward, his movements in the water decidedly faster than before. He glared down at Aaron, still unconscious on Seismon's back.
"Well, is this the boy who evolved into a Digimon?"
He leant down, but Kent and Eloise simultaneously moved between the boy and the titan. For all the good that would do, but it did make Cephalomon stop moving. Instead he snorted, causing his head tentacles to vibrate.
"Shame, I'd have been interested in seeing that. No matter though. Just eliminating you all will satisfy."
Cephalomon backed away as Kent and Velocimon looked behind them. The wall of fire seemed to be slowly advancing. They had nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. Only four capable fighters, in a terrain where Cephalomon had the advantage.
Eloise sagged as she looked up at Kent, tears in her eyes. "I can't do this anymore. I just wanna go home!"
"Stay strong, Eloise." Kent got out his D-Nexus, anger rising in his voice.
"What would Aaron do?"
Eloise and the younger kids looked down at Aaron for a second, then looked at each other.
"One more battle."
Cephalomon rose two tentacles, pointed straight at the children, barrels spinning. Luminemon swooped down. Mistramon and Alopemon braced themselves. Seismon began to scuttle away.
Luminemon snatched up Eloise, with Velocimon grabbing onto her leg as she took off. Kent ran like the wind, staying close to Seismon all the way. The two projectiles exploded, the substance lying like a poisonous scum atop the water. Alopemon ran atop the water's surface, her icy paws freezing the lake on contact. She shouted out as she kept her six eyes on Cephalomon, who was watching her every move.
"GO! Protect our partners!"
Cephalomon snarled as the Champions circled around him, as Velocimon, newly atop Luminemon's head, thrust an arm forward.
Mistramon and Luminemon circled the great beast from above, as he looked up and snarled at them from beneath his mask.
Cephalomon fell like a ragdoll, easily dodging the two attacks as he disappeared beneath the surface. Alopemon stood at the edge of the lake, her icy paws making the water solidify beneath her feet. She squinted, scanning the horizon.
"I don't like this. Keep on your guard."
Before anybody could even react, Cephalomon broke the surface again, bringing a tentacle up that slammed straight into Mistramon. The bird woofed and spiraled back.
Grace screamed. "Jack!"
The boy tried to hang on, but the g-force was too much for him and he lost his grip. He yelled as he fell into the water below. Cephalomon saw him fall and made a movement towards him, barrelling through the water like a torpedo, but Alopemon was already on the move, dashing across the surface and catching up with the squid.
Cephalomon flinched as shards of ice shattered against the back of his head, before he swung an arm round, sending a great surge of water back at the fox. Alopemon jumped, but messed up the landing, sending both her and her partner plunging into the cold lake.
Eloise yelled down from above, "GET OUT OF THE WATER NOW!"
Jack was desperately trying to tread water, but the titan was bearing down on him at a rate of knots. He scrambled backwards, swallowing water with every movement.
As the giant squid reared above him, the eagle shot out and slammed straight into his mask, scrabbling with his sharp talons. Cephalomon swatted and sent the bird flying again, but Mistramon had been just enough of a distraction for Alopemon to leap in and snatch Jack away.
On the shore, Seismon had his hand outstretched, glowing a vibrant green. Kent stood atop his back, gauging the position.
The projectile hit Cephalomon on the chest, dispersing against the heavy armour. Kent let out a 'gah' of exasperation.
"We can't even touch him when he's like this!"
Seismon looked back. "We're going to need more power."
"You're right. Are you up for it?"
"Do we even have a choice?"
"Fine." Kent raised his D-Nexus, symbol on his chest glowing brightly.
Cephalomon didn't even notice; he was too busy pursuing the fox around the lake as she fled for her life. The titan bellowed, "You won't escape this time!"
Grace held on tightly to her brother as Jack held out his own arm, D-Nexus in hand.
Cephalomon brought his hands together with a bang, causing a great flaming shockwave that powered over the water's surface. Alopemon tried to jump it, but it was too large and she was flung away into the lake again. She swore; the impact had burned her frozen paws, and try as she might, she couldn't get them to freeze the water again.
Grace's head broke the surface as Jack flailed about beside her, looking decidedly green.
"I hate swimming."
"So will I, after this."
She held onto her brother and tried to swim for shore, but with all the commotion it was tough going, like trying to swim against a wave machine. Cephalomon at this point was thrashing about as Luminemon flapped around his head, wings glowing brightly.
Chains of light exploded around the giant's head, wrapping around in a deadly embrace and leaving black scorch marks, but Cephalomon simply shook his head and the chains snapped. Luminemon reeled back as Cephalomon swung a tentacle at her, clipping her on the leg. There was a loud crack and the dragon cried out, before she hovered away, her left leg bent at an awkward angle.
Cephalomon roared. "Who else wants a piece of me?"
"Screw this!" From atop Luminemon's back, Velocimon cracked his knuckles. Eloise shook her head, "Don't even think about it. You wouldn't stand a chance against him as you are."
The lizard glanced back. "I could hardly call myself a proper general if I don't enter the battle myself."
Without another word, he leapt from the dragon's back, tail blade glowing as he spun towards one of Cephalomon's tentacles.
He landed perfectly, his claws and tail digging into the soft flesh, just as it had the first time the children had seen him battle. Cephalomon roared, and flicked his tentacle, but Velocimon hung on tightly, trying to clamber up.
Cephalomon's eyes narrowed. "You insolent little reptile. You've been a burden for me long enough."
He rose a hand above the lizard, intending to squash him like an insect. Kent yelled out, "Velocimon, get out the way!"
The dinosaur heard him, but his tail was stuck. As he yanked against it, he was fully aware of Cephalomon's oversized palm closing in on him.
It never struck true, however. With a bestial roar Cyclomon soared down from the heavens, breaking apart into three as he rushed towards the giant squid.
With an explosive force the three air-serpents collided with the aquatic behemoth, sending Cephalomon flailing back. Cyclomon reformed himself as, on the shoreline, Tectonamon reared up with his jaws wide open.
Cephalomon turned too late as the projectile slammed into his face, sending shards of bone into his eyes. He roared and fell back into the water, his great bulk disappearing from sight yet again.
Kent ran to the shoreline. "Where's Velocimon? Did he get out in time?"
"He knows what he's doing." Alopemon skidded to a stop next to Kent and the giant insect. Aaron was still catatonic on the mantis's back, but Kent was going to make sure that he stayed safe.
Out in the middle of the lake, Jack raised his head and retched up a load of water. He sniffed, droplets dribbling down his nose. "Please don't fall in again."
"Alopemon, out of the way!"
"Gotta go." Alopemon ran without even looking as Cephalomon's head broke the surface, shattering her ice platform mere seconds after she'd leapt off it. The giant glared all around him.
"I expected more from you all. How long has it been since we last met? And yet you're barely managing to survive."
From up above, Cyclomon let out a screeching retort, "At least we are surviving. Seems to me like you're not doing a very good job of eliminating us."
Cephalomon seethed. Then he chuckled, saying very quietly, "We'll see…"
He disappeared again, and the warriors braced themselves for the next attack. They didn't have to wait long. With a terrifying roar, Cephalomon corkscrewed out of the water, tentacles trailing around him.
Instead of fireballs, the barrels at the end of Cephalomon's tentacles spewed out a stream of liquid magma in every direction, so that he looked like some strange fireworks display. The napalm splattered against the shoreline and straight towards Kent, Tectonamon and Aaron, who were still out in the open.
Tectonamon raised a wall just in time, but the napalm stuck and began to eat through the crystal. Kent looked either side of them; there was virtually no beach left.
"YOU GET AWAY FROM THEM!"
Before Cephalomon could launch another attack, Cyclomon barreled into him again, forcing him away from the vulnerable children.
Kent looked in Alopemon's direction, but she'd not aimed at Cephalomon; she beckoned at the ice platform that had just materialized in front of the boy.
"Quickly! You have to keep moving!"
"I can't just leave Aaron here."
"Leave him to us."
Luminemon landed roughly next to them and Kent helped to haul Aaron's body up on top of the wyvern. He looked at her hopefully but she shook her head. "Sorry, I can't carry that many."
"Ah well. Plan B it is."
Hastily but carefully, Kent leapt out onto the ice as his partner began to march into the water. Kent looked back, surprised. "Where do you think you're going?"
"Don't worry, I can breathe underwater."
"You're going underwater? Are you mad?"
"It'll give me more space to move about. Plus there's a lakebed down there. Maybe I can slow him down from below."
"True…Be careful though."
Tectonamon gave a lucky click of his jaws, before the water swallowed him up. For a moment, the giant insect's vision was blurred. But his eyes adjusted, and soon he had a decent view around him. He was right; there was plenty of earth down here, but what caught his interest was the large chasm near the centre of the lakebed.
"Must be how Cephalomon gets around so quickly."
Gingerly, he moved closer, fully aware of the clash of the titans going on above his head. He peered over the edge, taking care not to fall in. The chasm morphed into a solid tunnel some way down, which seemed to split off in different directions. While it was still open, Cephalomon could use it as he pleased to gain depth. With depth, the Commander got speed and power. It also doubled as an escape route.
With grim determination, Tectonamon raised his forelegs. They glowed neon green in the water as he brought them down near the edge.
Jagged crystals exploded out from the chasm, but they weren't big enough. He'd have to go round if he wanted to seal it off completely, and his initial attack had caused commotion on the surface.
Cephalomon turned his head as he felt the water pulse below him. He glared downwards, all the while holding Cyclomon's barbed beak apart with his bare hands.
"Who's that? What are you doing down there?"
Cyclomon's eyes darted down as he struggled to bite the squid's hands off, however something caught his eye. Hanging there, on one of the Commander's rings…
"Velocimon!" cried Cyclomon, although in his current position it sounded more like "Heroshiong"
Velocimon gave a quick salute, but Cephalomon wasn't impressed. "Do shut up, you flying worm."
He tightened his grip and powered up his gauntlets, so that they burned into the sky-serpent's soft flesh. Cyclomon pulled away with a roar of pain, and Cephalomon took the opportunity to dive. He obviously hadn't noticed the dinosaur on his back.
On the other side of the lake, Kent and Alopemon held onto the sides of their icy floats as the mini-tsunamis buffeted them about. Kent released his hands as soon as he could, wincing.
"Yow…freezeburn. How do you do that all the time?"
"Practice." Alopemon swung her head. "Try and head over to my island. We should stay together."
"Thanks-woah!" A sudden surge of water hit Kent's platform, knocking him off into the water. Grace jumped, but Kent's head broke the surface quickly.
"A little help, please?"
"Here." Holding onto Alopemon, Jack held out his hand for the older boy. Kent took hold of it, spluttering as he was pulled to safety by the kid-fox combo.
"Alopemon, we've got trouble…"
The fox whipped her head around to face the giant swell making its way towards her. She yelled at Kent, "Get on my back!"
Kent joined the two younger children as Alopemon set off, turning the water beneath her feet into her own personal stepping stones. However with an extra member on her back the movement was hard going, and Cephalomon had already proven to be surprisingly manoeuverable in the water. Alopemon just kept running, aware of the great mass of water rising up behind her
Grace leant forward, whispering into her partner's ear. "Come on, you can do it."
Grace looked back to see one of Cephalomon's tentacles bearing down upon them, ready to crush them against the water's surface.
Alopemon decided to move quickly. With a yell of "Hold tight to something and brace yourselves!", she leapt to the right as the tentacle hit. The lake exploded around her, but she kept running. Cephalomon cursed under his breath as he gave chase yet again.
"You won't escape from me this time!"
"Alopemon began to mutter to herself. "Just ignore him. Just keep moving. Just keep everyone away."
The fox glanced back before throwing herself to the left as another tentacle crashed against the surface.
This time, though, she didn't notice the second one veering round from the left, and was suddenly met with a wall of rubber hurtling towards her at a frightening speed. She screamed and tried to vault it, but she ended up colliding with it feet first and was carried along. Squinting against the g-force, she whispered back, "Don't…let…go…"
With a grunt, Cephalomon threw Alopemon and her three riders across the lake, watching as they plunged, one by one, into the raging water. With a satisfied puff of steam, he set forward, ready to finish them off.
"Get away from them! White Lightning!"
The squid felt tendrils wrap themselves around his head again, and he swiveled, looking Luminemon directly in the eye. The wyvern was shaking, but she opened her mouth and blasted the squid, multiple times, right between the eyes. Cephalomon's mask provided adequate protection, and he shook his head in a disappointed manner.
"Some advice; only pick fights that you know you can win."
He swiftly brought a hand up and swatted at the burning wires that clamped onto him, sending dragon and rider spiraling away. Cephalomon huffed and turned back to his original quarry.
"I certainly learnt that today."
"Are you absolutely sure? Because you don't seem as confident as you were the first time."
Cephalomon whipped his head round and came face to face with Velocimon; bedraggled, exhausted and soaking wet, but alive. Not only alive, but the lizard was standing on his shoulder pad, mocking him with his very continued existance.
"Don't you ever give up?"
Velocimon raised an arm, completely straight-faced.
"No. I don't. Spark Shooter!"
Velocimon let loose; a mini thunderstorm aimed straight into Cephalomon's right eye. The giant was caught off guard; he staggered backwards, bringing his hands up to his face, as Velocimon fell backwards, grabbing onto one of Cephalomon's rings to stop his descent.
Cephalomon had had enough. This one insolent Digimon had succeeded in taking his arm twice, and yet he still wouldn't die. With an exasperated roar, he flailed around, trying to crush the Rookie level, or at least throw him off. But Velocimon had found the titan's blind spot, and he held on for dear life as his tiny body was flung all over.
Cephalomon was seething now; making the water around him froth and boil, so angry was he. The entire lake seemed to shake as he slammed his tentacles against the lakebed.
"I am a Commander of the Fire Kingdom! You will fall before me!"
Over on the other side of the lake, Kent, Jack and Grace were holding onto Alopemon's back as she swam away.
"Seems like somebody's lost his temper," said Kent, flicking a clump of hair away from his nose. The others didn't answer; they merely hung there, in the process of evicting water from their mouths.
Cephalomon had long forgotten them. He turned again, swinging out with a blazing arm. Somewhere, in the very back of his mind, he heard something. His voice of reason. In amongst the anger and frustration, he could hear it yelling something. Something's wrong, it said. Look at the water.
With a great effort, the giant forced himself to stop flailing, and looked at the water around him. It was still frothing and bubbling, but now it seemed to be moving. Flowing, like a river.
No, not quite like a river. Cephalomon tried to turn, but the sudden current restricted his movement somewhat. The water was swirling in a giant whirlpool, with him at the centre. He felt the wind rustle his head tentacles, and he looked up.
Instantly he raised his arms in defense as Cyclomon's immense form circled above him, spiraling upwards and attempting to bring the entire lake with it. The sky-serpent was increasing in speed, and as he did so, so the lake grew more and more agitated and movement became trickier. Cyclomon finally had a shot, and he fully intended to take advantage of it.
Cephalomon sneered. "You're not going to get me with that." Immediately he ducked down beneath the surface, heading for the tunnel. Cyclomon's attack may make a big splash, he thought, but it was no use if it couldn't hit him.
His head hit something solid. Cursing, he looked down and saw that his escape route had been blocked off with many jagged shards of crystal. Furious, he looked up and saw Tectonamon, making a break for it as fast as his spiny legs could carry him.
"What have you done, you maggot?"
He tried to swim forward, but the column of water kept him in the centre, and he could feel it beginning to pull him round. Desperately, he flailed and thrashed, before resorting to hammering against the crystal with his oversized fists. It cracked, and cracked again. Just a little further...
Cyclomon finished his climb, before flying, head first, down the centre of his own spiraling coils, building air pressure within his beak.
Grace, Jack and Kent looked up as their foxy raft whipped her head around, "Brace yourselves."
Up in the air, Eloise held onto Aaron's body as Luminemon put as much distance between her and the attack as she could.
"Please let this work, please let this work…"
The lake exploded; great waves of water pressure crashing out in all directions. Cyclomon burst through the water's surface, heading straight towards Cephalomon, but the giant squid was thrown against the crystal slab which had once been his escape route.
On the surface and up in the sky, the tamers and their partners clung onto whatever they could as the wind and waves threw them outwards. Kent and the two youngest children skidded through the shallows, Alopemon following soon after. Eloise held on tightly to Aaron as Luminemon struggled to stay upright.
Then there was calm. The only sound was rippling water. There was no sign of life beneath the lake surface, and yet still nobody dared to move.
Alopemon raised her head and looked around, dazed. "That's it, I retire."
Jack shuffled forwards, ignoring the stinging pain all over his body and the ominous aching emanating from his right knee.
"Where's Cyclomon? Did he make it out?"
Eloise gave Luminemon a gentle nudge and they edge forward towards the centre of the lake. A few bubbles broke the surface, but the sky-serpent had seemed to disappear into the depths.
With the speed and power of a torpedo, Cephalomon broke through the surface; eyes blazing, tentacles waving and hand outstretched. Eloise screamed and Luminemon banked sharply, but the titan was too fast. With one swift movement he grabbed the wyvern, one handed, and pulled her close. Eloise and Aaron were knocked off before the girl could even react. She saw a glimpse of her partner, wriggling in Cephalomon's hand, before the water enveloped her.
"Luminemon! Aaron! No-" Her cries were cut short as water flowed into her mouth, and she began to choke. She couldn't see. She couldn't make out anything.
Then she felt herself rising, and collapsed onto something solid. She hacked up a load of liquid, before sitting up. She was on an island of some sort; a slab of green crystal, about three metres square. She looked behind her, and was relieved to see Aaron lying on something similar. She jumped over to him and checked his D-Nexus; he was still recovering. Thankfully Tectonamon was still down there, then.
She stood up and stared up at her partner, horror mounting within her. Luminemon struggled, but Cephalomon merely squeezed tighter. Something cracked, and Luminemon gritted her teeth in pain. She ignored it, instead focusing on the giant's face in front of her.
With an animal growl she fired repeatedly at Cephalomon's face, but the giant squid ignored her, only squeezing tighter. In the end it was all she could do just to breathe as Cephalomon brought her close. She could count the veins of fire that ran through his eyes, and heard his ragged breathing behind that mask as he spoke.
"This is for everything you've stolen from me."
His voice was soft, but Luminemon felt his hand begin to shake as he squeezed tighter. Her vision began to cloud. Down below, Eloise took a step forward, before stumbling and falling to one knee from sheer exhaustion.
"Let her GO!"
There was a flash of black and a flash of silver, and all of a sudden something darted upwards, circling around Cephalomon's massive form.
Cephalomon swore as his arm was struck by a needle of black lightning, and he drew his hand back. Luminemon began to fall, but her saviour banked sharply and plucked her out of the sky. Eloise watched in awe as her partner was carried down to her in a pair of long, almost skeletal arms.
It was Achromon.
Enraged, Cephalomon stepped forward, but was immediately blocked when a column of ferocious sky-serpent exploded from the in front of him. Cyclomon spiraled upwards once again, looking slightly the worse for wear, but still rather majestic. Jack couldn't help but punch the air and emit a loud "Yes!"
Achromon nodded at Luminemon, whose eyes brightened at the unexpected sight.
"We had to come back. You needed our help. He felt it."
Eloise and Luminemon turned their heads towards the shoreline. A figure stepped out of the shadowy undergrowth; the bright afternoon sunlight almost reflecting off his grey-white skin. For a second he remained hunched over, hesitant to move. He raised his head, and his eyes met Eloise's.
In a single moment, Kai's damaged figure straightened up. In one movement, the boy's withered, haggard appearence changed into something proud, almost majestic. He shrugged his shoulders and the heavy raincoat fell off his back, revealing a stocky, muscular figure in a ripped, blue T-shirt, the symbol of Darkness present on his chest, glowing with an almost jet-black energy. The boy stared up at Cephalomon with eyes that seemed to glow with darkness. One hand held his D-Nexus, glowing brightly. The other was balled into a fist, which was shaking.
As Cephalomon turned towards him, Kai spoke in a voice far deeper and more commanding than before.
"Cephalomon, this ends now!"