The short thirteen-year old sat silently on the cheap plastic chair, resting just slightly on the back two legs. His head was down, stuffed into his coat and leaving just his untamed hair poking out the top. He swung back gently, but his uncle held out a hand and pressed his knees down. The boy looked up and his uncle shook his head without a word.
Behind the desk in front of them, a kindly looking Indian woman sat next to another, larger woman who looked far more threatening than she really was. She was Mrs Johnson, the boy's head of year, and she shuffled her papers with a twinge of uncertainty as the boy and his uncle watched intently.
"Mr Price, I know you're aware of the problems we've had with Kai. We've given him extra tuition, and his progress has really improved. Ms Malhotra has shown me some glowing reports. It's clear he's clever and strives to do his best."
Mrs Johnson sighed, and pushed her glasses up her face, giving the boy a subtle look. Kai shrank further into his chair, his eyes far away.
"However we need to consider the safety of the other students in the school. We are well aware that Kai's trying, but you must understand the severity of the situation. It'll be destructive to the other students to have him around after this incident, not to mention it'll be destructive to Kai himself."
Geoffrey Price leaned forward, clasping his hands and resting them on the table. "Is there really nothing else you can do? Surely a little more individual tuition or help. Look, I know it doesn't excuse what he's done, but you do know how devastated he feels about it, right?"
Ms Malhotra nodded. "We are aware. He did come to tell us the moment he'd done it. It was a moment of anger. Nothing more." She blinked, and quietly readjusted her position. "Unfortunately that was a moment too much, and because of it, a child has ended up in hospital. I'm sorry, but Mrs Johnson and I agree this is the best course of action. For now at least."
Geoffrey sat back as the other woman took over. "Please understand this is not a permanent exclusion. Kai is welcome to return to normal study at the start of next year; under supervision, of course. We want the best for him."
The man sighed, and rubbed his hand over his chin. "I understand." He looked to the boy sitting beside him. "Kai, you understand, right?"
The boy shrank back even further, mumbling something. He waited for a few seconds, before giving a slight nod.
Mrs Johnson nodded, and passed the papers over to Geoffrey. "If you could please sign and date these, that'll be all. I'm sorry about all this."
As Geoffrey got on with the paperwork, Ms Malhotra looked over at Kai. "Hey, look at me."
Kai did so, and his supervisor smiled. "Don't worry. We'll get you through this. I'll still be coming to see you every fortnight, so you won't be completely out of the loop."
Kai looked at her smiling face for a minute, before poking his mouth out. "Sorry." Then again. "You must hate me. I bring you nothing but trouble."
"Kai…" The supervisor tilted her said with a sad, pitying smile. "I don't hate you. None of us do."
"I know I do."
"Don't talk like that. You're a good kid; you just need to know when to calm down. I know you can do it. I know you want to do it, right?"
Kai nodded quickly, and Ms Malhotra beamed. "It'll be fine. You'll see."
"I think we're done here?"
Geoffrey stood up as Mrs Johnson nodded. "That's everything. Thank you for being so understanding, and my deepest apologies to both of you."
"We understand." Geoffrey looked down at his nephew, who was stood up, shuffling his feet. "I think it's time we got going. Come on, Kai."
They did, Kai gently closing the door after him as he gave his teachers one last look. The door closed, and Ms Malhotra bowed her head. "Poor child."
"He's been through a lot." Mrs Johnson sat down, feeling very fatigued all of a sudden. "It's not all his fault. It's just the way he is. That saddens me."
The other lady stared sadly at the door. "Imagine how he must feel…"
The journey home was very quiet as Kai sat slumped in the passenger seat, picking at the plasters on his hands. Geoffrey gave him a quick sideways glance. "Don't do that, Kai. They won't be anywhere near healed yet."
Geoffrey looked back at the road, the rain splattering against it as the wipers hummed back and forth. He smiled. "I used to get into fights all the time when I was a boy. Got myself excluded once as well; you're not alone. Just don't let it happen again, right?"
"I won't. I promise I won't."
"Do your best. It'll be okay, kid."
Kai sat back, and resigned himself to staring out the window, despite not being able to see anything. His face was blank.
Geoffrey frowned. "Howsabout we pick up McDonalds for lunch?"
"You don't have-"
"Don't worry about it. It'll be a treat. We could probably all use a pick-me-up."
Kai turned around and nodded, smiling a small smile.
"Alright then. Thanks Geoff."
The clocktower's shadow loomed over the road as dust clouds flew up, obscuring the vision of the three brawling warriors. Still, they didn't let it distract them. One false move here would mean the end.
Teslamon made a back flip as the yellow streaks shot past her head, before skidding towards a nearby wall. Thrusting out an arm, she impaled her claws into the metal, ripping it away and throwing it forwards. Galvamon's eyes widened as the sheet flew towards him like a guillotine, but he ducked just in time for Teslamon's head to slam into his chest. He reeled back, stumbling over the piece of wall as Teslamon leapt towards him.
The shark-woman veered round, the burning cable twisted around her forearm. She yanked, but Kuaramon quickly retracted his cable, giving her no opportunity to attack him. Teslamon winced, and rubbed her arms. "That smarts, y'know."
"Oh, I am sorry." Kuaramon wheeled back, his motors letting even more dust into the air as he shimmered. Teslamon rolled her eyes, raising an arm lazily.
Another building went flying and Kuaramon let out a yell. Teslamon frowned, running forward towards the now-human boy kneeling on the ground, clutching his arm. She stopped, looking somewhat disappointed. "Huh. You didn't last anywhere near as long as I thought you would."
Aaron grinned, and lowered his hand, revealing the glowing D-Nexus within it. "Guess again. We're not playing around this time."
The dust cloud cleared and Teslamon found herself face-to-gunbarrel with Dimetromon, the circuitry across his body glowing as his tail span wildly.
Teslamon yelped as jumped out the way, but the sheer force of the destructive light beam still sent her spinning. She landed on all fours, before scrabbling forward, aiming for the defenseless boy. Aaron had already gotten behind his partner, however, and Dimetromon was having none of it. "Come no closer, you monster!"
"I'm the monster now? Seems like you're quite familiar with being a badass beast yourself." She smirked, cracking her knuckles one at a time as she circled the great reptile. "Let me guess; you can only reach that level if the boy lets you borrow all his power?"
"I know, right?" The shark-woman winked. "So very sweet. Inconvenient, sure, but very sweet. Either two weaklings, or one decent fighter powered by a piece of cannon-fodder. It really must suck for the both of you."
Dimetromon roared as he lunged. "Do NOT insult us!"
Teslamon raised her glowing hands as Dimetromon's still whirring tail came swinging towards her like a mace. The force-field prevented it from hitting her, true, but she hadn't had time to take the inertia into account. The sudden change in force catapulted her away, where she lay sprawling, rubbing her head. "You guys really are causing me grief."
"You won't win, Teslamon." Aaron stepped some way out from behind Dimetromon, the prehistoric beast still charging power, his sail a great yellow and blue blur. "We know what you're after, and we will stop you. You and everyone else."
Teslamon snickered. "Good luck with that. Any moment now, I'm gonna get my prize. I can feel it. It's gonna take more than a boy and his lapdog to stop me."
"We seem to be doing okay so far."
"Not if you insist on talking to me when you should be killing me! Perilous Field!"
The shark-woman flung both arms forward, sending the two buildings to her left and right flying towards her opponents in a scissor motion. Dimetromon shoved Aaron out the way but was pinned, the metal wrapping around him and halting his movements. Teslamon wasted no chance; she ran forward, claw raised and punched Dimetromon right beneath the eye, the claw leaving a great gouge in his unprotected flesh. Dimetromon roared, and snapped forward, his mechanical jaw nowhere near his adversary. Teslamon seemed even smugger than usual. "I love punching them when they're big. It's so satisfying. Like you're saying screw you to the evolutionary status quo. Again!"
Teslamon swiped, but Dimetromon's head dissolved mid-swing, the metal prison bunching in tighter as Galvamon shuffled out the back. Teslamon yelled after him. "You bastard! Stop changing!"
"Why would we do that?"
Teslamon turned too late as Kuaramon's coils wrapped around her, pinning her arms tight to her body. Kuaramon dug his foot-wheels in and began to spin, pulling with all his might. Teslamon tried to break free, but she was hoisted off the ground almost instantly. She swung in a great arc like a thrower's hammer, before being released in mid air and sent flying into the clocktower. Her impact made a few more pieces of rubble fall, and she looked down, slightly dazed, at the warrior and the dinosaur below. She gritted her teeth. "Damn you guys."
The projectiles flew wide as Teslamon leapt again, the sunlight glinting off of her claws and her right eye glowing wildly.
"This battle ain't over just yet!"
Seismon braced himself as the full force of Latroditmon's torso flew at him, her hands grappling with his spear as her claws snapped forward. The great bug twisted left and right, keeping her moving, but it was obviously hard going. He glared up at her snarling face, and redoubled his efforts to push her back. "I don't suppose we could just talk this over."
"Have fun with that, sweetie-pie. Serpent's Tail!"
Seismon scuttled again as the tail scraped down his right foreleg, leaving a gouge that glowed with pink residue. He winced inwardly. Still, he knew he'd gotten off lucky due to his heavy armour. If she'd gotten too deep a hit, then he would be in trouble.
"Leave him alone!"
Cratomon barreled forward, knocking into the siren's spidery body, but she twisted willingly, wrapping herself around him and spinning him away. "You'll never catch me like that. You two idiots are no match for me."
Latroditmon sniggered. "You laddish types are all the same; thinking you can solve a problem just by punching it enough times."
If the earthen warrior had had eyebrows, they would have flown skywards. "Laddish type? Have you met me?"
"It's actually rather cute."
Cratomon chuckled. "If you say so, ma'am."
Latroditmon felt several hard collisions on her back and twisted again to see Seismon scuttling back and forth, fists raised and letting off explosive green projectiles in her direction. She hissed, opening her mouth as she lunged towards him, using her coils to surround him, blocking off his escape.
Seismon brought both arms back and shoved forward, the explosive energy pressing against the naga's green carapace. She jolted, sent backwards as her spider-body struggled to stay upright, but she bounced back quickly, murder in her eyes. Seismon backed away, sharing a side glance with his partner. "She's everywhere at once. It's going to be a pain to keep hold of her."
Cratomon nodded. "As long as she thinks she's in control, she's going to keep toying with us. That gives us one advantage."
"Okay then, trump card."
"You've got to be kidding."
Cratomon rolled his eyes. "We know something she doesn't, alright? We'll have to work with that."
"Fine by me." Seismon's eyes widened at the siren currently slithering towards both of them. "Let's split."
Latroditmon spewed web fluid as the two warriors of Earth broke up, but Seismon halted in his tracks, the snare covering his back half holding him back. He cursed, and flipped out his spear to slice through the material, but suddenly let out a cry of pain as Latroditmon slammed down with a great crushing claw, causing a couple of his segments to splinter. She grinned, licking her lips with a pointed purple tongue.
Seismon glared up, and twirled his spear dramatically. "Seismic Shards!"
The bone fragments flew up, grazing Latroditmon's flesh, but she paid it no heed; instead lunging down. One claw swiped at Seismon's hands, batting the spear across the road. The other clamped itself around his head, and began to squeeze as the bug writhed helplessly.
"Teensy little insects like you should watch where you tread. You might get squashed."
"SEISMON!" Cratomon swung his arm back and ran forward, his blade threatening to slice into her, but the siren was prepared.
"Eyes front, soldier! Siren Gaze!"
The earthen warrior halted mid-step as Latroditmon's four remaining spider eyes darted towards him, the hypnotic effect holding him in place as he felt the naga's presence in his mind. Latroditmon ran a finger over her cheek, nodding quietly. "Oh yes, I see everything. Mmm…you humans are so deliciously interesting."
Cratomon struggled. "Don't…no...stop searching…through my head…"
Images flashed before his eyes; alien, yet familiar at the same time. His own past; his own brother, walking away, that bleak, rainy day. Abandoning him. No. It was himself who had walked away.
Latroditmon laughed. "You're so weak, the lot of you. Fuelled by emotion and compassion and guilt for one another. It doesn't suit you." She adjusted herself, leaning towards Cratomon as Seismon continued struggling in her claws.
"It definitely doesn't suit you at all, my dear." Latroditmon purred, her eyes flashing hypnotically as Cratomon's shoulders began to fall.
"You never needed to earn anyone's approval. You could get them to like you other ways. You could win their approval through promises of help and comfort. I can respect that." She tilted her head. "I could use someone like you. A manipulator approaching my level. Serve me, and maybe stand by my side. We can get the whole Digital world to adore us together."
Cratomon shook, and groaned. "You…know…NOTHING…ABOUT…ME!"
Focusing as hard as he could, he let out a roar and flung himself to one side, causing Latroditmon to lose focus temporarily, her armoured arm shifting, allowing Seismon to wriggle free, the bug reaching towards his spear. The naga didn't notice; instead bearing her gaze down on Cratomon once again.
"That was foolish, boy. If you won't join me as a partner, I will wipe your mind and force you to join me as a slave. Nobody resists me; not for long, anyway."
Seismon screamed as he ran forward, spear in hand. Latroditmon was so focused that she didn't even notice until the blinding pain spasmed through her body, causing her to reel back in shock. She peered down, and saw Seismon glaring up at her, the prongs of his spear impaling the spider's two left-most eyes. On the ground, Cratomon struggled, shook, then jerked as the naga's influence left him, too weak to hold him anymore.
Latroditmon howled, and raised both crushing claws. "I should have killed you when I had the chance! Die!"
Latroditmon saw a flash of green, before flying backwards, a searing pain blinding her temporarily. She lay, sprawled out on the road as she tried to recover. One shaking hand went up to her face, gingerly touching where Kent's attack had struck her. She winced, running her fingers over the shifting bone and ravaged skin, before scuttling to find the nearest window as she looked at herself.
Cratomon stood up, blade losing its glow as he panted heavily. Seismon nodded at him. "Nice shot. Finally."
Cratomon coughed. "That's probably not funny."
"We'll probably need a little more power."
"I think it's about time." Cratomon shimmered, and his form disintegrated. Seismon collapsed his spear as Kent thrust his arm forward, energy swirling in a green tornado. "Primal Fury!"
Latroditmon screamed as she turned to face them, the fractured bone in the left half of her face shifting, contorting her skin. One great red fang had been ripped clean away, and the other hung loosely, barely connected. Her scalp up to her left temple had been ripped away, leaving an ugly bald patch, and one eye was unfocused and squinting, the cornea blank and cloudy. She howled again, dark lines of fury marking her face.
"My face. My beauty. You stole my perfection. I am the rightful queen of this city and you dare defile me in such a way?"
Kent stepped back, trying to avoid the siren's no longer hypnotic but still deadly gaze, as his partner completed his transformation. "Tectonamon!"
Latroditmon's eyes darted towards the great insect, before she shook with rage. "This isn't over!"
"You're right. It isn't."
Latroditmon had barely scuttled a few feet when a wall of crystal shot upwards, barring her escape route. She hissed, and twisted, clutching her face, but she'd barely moved again when the wall continued round, spreading in a vast circle as her escape was cut off. She stood, claws dragging on the floor, as the circle was sealed, turning the courtyard into a makeshift arena, about thirty-metres across. Tectonamon let out an alien growl, and removed his glowing sabres from the ground at his feet.
The naga blinked. "You've been keeping me here, haven't you?"
Kent stared at her, his eyes betraying little of his true anger.
"This has been a massive distraction while your friends worked on your real plan." She stepped back. "I fell for it. I fell for it again."
Kent's mouth twitched, just slightly. "You're not our real target. But you need to be out of the way. All of you. That's our job. So you're not getting out of here until we've saved this city and you're no longer a threat."
The boy narrowed his eyes, barely concealing his anger. "And don't you DARE assume I am so easily won over that I would throw my friends away for mere approval."
Latroditmon lowered her head, considering her options. There weren't many. At all. She couldn't scale these walls; the crystal was too hard and smooth for her to get a grip. She certainly couldn't 'persuade' him to lower them; not with her damaged eyes. There was no way she could retreat. She had no choice but to fight, and looking at the situation, she wasn't even completely certain she could win.
It was happening again.
Her thoughts cleared in an instant. With a cackle she through her head back, ignoring the pain as she spread her body wide, facing the goliath before her. "So you decided you'd trap yourselves in here with me. How utterly stupid of you!"
She screamed, rushing forward with her armoured arms held wide, snapping her claws, all pretenses of civility and control melting away.
"I won't be humiliated again!"
Mistramon swooped down and swerved at the last second, the air currents buffeting the sea leopard on the ground. The bird rose again to where his partner was waiting, poised to dive himself. Down below, Chieftriaskismon yelled up at them. "Cowards! Come and fight me! Spear Shower!"
The two aerial warriors split and swerved as a new rain of spears flew past them. One of them grazed Aeolumon's armoured shoulder and he spun, losing control for a second, before finding his balance. He gave his partner a concerned look. "That was close. We can't stay up here much longer."
"We have to. We have to bide Andromon time to get inside the clocktower. I can't do anything with this anti-flight field still running."
He frowned, flapping ever so slightly harder as he tried to stay airborne. Even at this relatively low altitude, flying was a major drain. But he knew they wouldn't stand a chance if they were grounded.
Another flurry of spears flew their way and the two swerved in unison, lowering down some way to get a better view of the sea leopard. Chieftriaskismon stood atop the ruins of one building, his arms glowing with a watery aura. "Y'make me sick, the both of ye."
Aeolumon cupped his hands to his mouth and called down. "Not our fault if you chose the wrong power!"
Chieftriaskismon lowered his head, gritting his teeth. Lower…just a little lower and he could make it…
"Y'd better laugh while y'have the chance."
"Give it up, kitty." Now Mistramon flew the slightest bit closer, eager to take part in the show of mocking. "You're out of your depth."
"Y'fools! TIDAL PANTHERA!"
Both aerial warriors prepared to swerve again, but the aquatic warrior lowered his arms instead of raising them, the water in his hands pounding against the rubble. He snorted, and leant forwards, before increasing the water pressure and jumping.
Mistramon yelled, and Aeolumon, distracted by the sudden spectacle, found himself flying too low as, against every law of common sense, Chieftriaskismon launched himself skywards. He was fast; too fast. Within seconds he was above the little soldier, and he grinned as he redirected the flow of water downwards, straight into Aeolumon's back. The warrior cried as he was sent tumbling down, and Chieftriaskismon fell after him, threatening to crush the child alive with his immense muscle.
Aeolumon released an orb of wind just in time, propelling himself across the rubble as Chieftriaskismon landed heavily, crushing the ground beneath him. Aeolumon wasn't quick enough to recover though, and he bounced roughly across the ground, rolling to a stop as he heard the sea leopard bearing down on him.
"Jack, watch out!"
Aeolumon raised his head, raising his arms just in time to stop Chieftriaskismon's great fist slamming into his face. The impact still sent him reeling, and he rolled into the pile of junk below. Chieftriaskismon snarled, planting one fist in the other.
"I've been mocked fer long enough by th'likes of you. I will take this city under my rule and I will use it t'crush any and all who dare question my authority."
He skidded downwards, his tail swishing as he formed another spear, each new creation still showing the slight bend from where Kuaramon had used it as a lightning rod. Not that it mattered right now. It was still plenty good enough for stabbing.
The cat leapt back as a column of pink energy scraped the ground in front of him, but Mistramon was way off, turning mid-flight as he tried to get another shot. He didn't need to, however, as Aeolumon took advantage of the distraction and ran up, fists raised. "Hurricane Pummel!"
He made a punch, catching Chieftriaskismon in the chest. The cat seemed unfazed, but it did allow Aeolumon to duck down and swipe with his feet, also powered up with pressurized air. The sudden blow caught Chieftriaskismon off guard and sent him to his knees, and with a cheeky nod Aeolumon had leapt off of his back and back into the air. The leopard swiped, but the boy was already out of reach, sticking his tongue out as he dropped a few more orbs of wind.
Mistramon was short of breath when Aeolumon reached him. "You okay?"
"Bruised." Aeolumon scoured the landscape. "We don't have long, do we…"
"No. Unless Andromon gets his job done right now, we're not gonna have time. There's got to be something else we can do."
Aeolumon looked around for any chance of winning, before his eyes settled upon the great wall behind him. Just slightly along, one of the elevators hung in perpetual suspense, the cables reaching up to the very top of the wall.
Mistramon barreled forward and shoved his partner out the way, wincing as two of the spears brushed against his back. The bird narrowed his eyes. "If you've got an idea, now would be a good time…"
"I do. It's a massive risk, but it might work. But we're gonna need help." Aeolumon's eyes darted down to where the elevator mechanism stood. His eagle eyes could make out the faintest hints of dust clouds, snow and flashes of coloured light. Maybe, just maybe, they could do this.
Aeolumon banked sharply as he skimmed the ground, hearing Chieftriaskismon pursuing him almost instantly. Mistramon flew just above him, sending back shockwaves to disrupt the cat.
"Stop running, y'mangy self-proclaimed saviours!"
"You want us to stop, you'll have to catch us." Mistramon winked, before flying ahead with his partner, their opponent in hot pursuit.
Neomon darted left, right and all around in a series of multi-coloured teleportations as the nomad and the arctic fox fired all around, their projectiles leaving patches of ice wherever they hit. The clown sniggered as he moved, and occasionally disappeared altogether, only rapidly reappearing to slash at the two warriors.
Chionemon and Alopemon swiveled again, keeping back to back as Neomon performed his disappearing act yet again. Alopemon lowered her head and listened. "He's toying with us."
Chionemon felt a rough tug on her arm as she turned to see it being pulled by several shadowy arms towards Neomon's waiting maw. She didn't waste time screaming as she was pulled away from her partner; instead she raised a hand of serrated daggers and slashed wildly, dissipating the shadow before it trapped her. Neomon bowed, and disappeared, reappearing on the roof above them, crouched like a monkey.
"You you nowhere to run. Will find you. You such fun fun."
"Has anyone ever told you you're the tiniest bit weird? Icicle Barrage!"
The clown vanished in a puff of pink as more shards flew past his head. Chionemon folded her arms briefly. "I'm beginning to suspect that throwing stuff at this guy doesn't really work."
"Well we can't match him for speed, so we don't have much choice."
"Then I guess we'll just have to slow him down." Chionemon flexed her fingers, her knuckles cracking as she took a step away from her partner, her yellow eyes darting left and right. "Come out, you crazy little disco ball!"
"Gotchya." Chionemon twisted, her hand balled into a fist as cold ether swirled around it. "Petrify Hand!"
Her fist made contact, but Neomon had learnt from the last time, bringing his own oversized arm up to counter her attack. The fabric glistened with frost as the arm froze instantly, but Neomon grinned, before spinning on the spot and bringing the arm around like a sledgehammer into Chionemon's head, sending her sprawling.
Alopemon ran forward, but had to leap sideways as Neomon brought the great frozen claw down, threatening to slice her leg off. Instead it connected with the ground, shattering and leaving the whole thing at an odd angle, but the clown wouldn't go down that easily.
Neomon shimmered and split into three; two clones harassed the fleeing fox, while one ran at breakneck speed towards Chionemon, arms raised as she tried to right herself.
"Into little little pieces!"
The clone's claws sliced forward, but connected with solid ice as Chionemon caught the blow in the palm of her hand, wincing as the claws broke the fabric of her gloves and fracture the hardened skin behind. Still, she was just quick enough to throw the clone's blow away and implant a well-placed dagger through its skull, shattering it. She heard Neomon's disappointed mumble as the lights danced away.
She turned, about to give her partner a hand, when she heard a voice in her mind.
"Jack?" Chionemon turned away, feeling the tiniest bit silly that she was effectively having a telepathic phone conversation in the middle of a battle. "What the hell are you doing? You're supposed to stay near the clocktower."
"We can't hold the furry fish off much longer. But I have an idea. Can you get over to the elevator?"
"Chionemon looked up at the towering wall near her, with the dangling elevator and the sky-reaching cables. She paused, before answering skeptically. "What are you planning?"
"No time. Being chased. Just head over there, and bring the clown if you can. We're gonna try and get both these guys together."
"Jack, that sounds like an insanely bad idea." Chionemon sighed. "Okay, fine. But I'll be a couple minutes."
"Love you too."
Chionemon shook herself out of her stupor, before turning to see Alopemon bearing down upon her. "What the hell were you just doing? I could have done with some assistance."
"It's Jack and Mistramon. We're going to the elevator."
"I don't know either. Just do it; it can't be much worse than what we're doing now."
Both girls screamed as a flash of light barreled past them, sending them spinning. Alopemon recovered first, and rushed to support her partner; the nomad clambering onto her back. "Onwards!"
Chionemon turned back, seeing the mess of shadows and colours in the vague shape of a demonic clown. She whistled. "Hey, glitterball! Come and get us!"
Neomon chuckled, and began to teleport after them. Sure, it was an obvious ploy, but he was game. They were so much fun to play with.
Deep beneath the clocktower, the excavating hordes found themselves faced with company from outside for the first time in days. As the ones at the front began to raise their weapons, Andromon extended his blade and pointed it at the nearest one.
"We're taking this place back, thank you. There are many hundred of us and far less of you. Teslamon's reign is ending. If you leave with us peacefully, I can guarantee that your crimes will be forgiven and you will be relocated and compensated for the major amounts of shit we've gone through. So, who's coming?"
There was no response. Andromon shrugged. "Of course, if you don't leave with us peacefully you're entitled to the same thing, but you will also be shot in the kneecaps or the nearest available expendable appendage. So, again, who's coming with me?"
The android smiled in a friendly fashion as several dozen lights illuminated the tunnel behind him, revealing the might of his rescue force. Near the front of the hordes, the digging crew looked at each other, before dropping their weapons.
You know, perhaps revolution was overrated.
The two blades collided mid-air as Rinkhalmon cackled, slashing wildly against Fornaxmon, who flawlessly countered every move. The golem stepped to the side and back, avoiding the serpent as he brought his arm forward in a pointing motion, the tip of his finger slithering. Fornaxmon cursed. That his own kind would resort to such dirty tactics.
Rinkalmon seemed to read his thoughts. "Now, Fornaxmon, surely you know I'll do anything to win the day."
The golem huffed, his internal fire glowing brighter as he stepped back again. "I know you'll do anything to aid yourself, you cowardly worm. Furnace Burst!"
Rinkhalmon halved in height and slithered to the side as Fornaxmon's beam of fire flew past him, singing the ground at his feet. He let out a hysterical laugh, and swiped again with his corrosive blade. "So focused with honour, you still fail to see the point of the matter."
The snake leaned forward, grinning inanely as his blade caused sparks against the mechanical man's.
"You are not getting out of here. The moment you turn your back, I will turn you. You will become my slave, and you will obey my every will. Your precious ideals are already dead."
Fornaxmon roared, and let out vents of fire as Rinkhalmon skipped backwards The golem stood within the devastated battleplain of his own making, his pistons working overtime.
"I know I'm dead. If it comes to it, I would take my own life rather than be your puppet. But my life isn't important. Whatever happens, you must be stopped. And I am willing to sacrifice everything for that to happen."
His head twisted slightly, and he ducked as a ring-shaped beam flew over his head. He turned again, facing both Rinkhalmon and Martyaxmon as they bore down on him, but Luminemon flew in from the side, her wings spread wide.
The glowing tendrils embraced Martyaxmon and dragged him away, but he wriggled free, focusing his attention on the wyvern once again. She was already out of breath, but was still holding on, staying out of reach of the manticore's brutal attacks. Colchimon stayed a little further out, aware of his own weakness. Still, he plucked up the courage to fly forwards, confronting the manticore.
"You've given us enough trouble. Where is my partner?"
"How should I know?" Martyaxmon growled and leapt forward as the serpent dragon scurried out the way. "That monster; he awoke, scarred me and escaped before I knew it. He could be anywhere."
"So quick to call him a monster, are we? Aren't you forgetting your own atrocities?"
Martyaxmon stood tall. "I do what I must for my general. I never go further than I need to."
"A murderer with morals is still a murderer." Luminemon growled, her gems glowing as she planted herself between Martyaxmon and Colchimon. "I will never forgive you for what you've done."
"How sad." Martyaxmon strode forward, unfazed as Luminemon charged up her attacks once again. "A Digimon of Light who cannot forgive, and yet cannot find the strength to kill. You are nothing to me."
Without warning he leapt forward and batted the dragon's head, causing her to fall to the ground as he leapt towards the vulnerable Rookie level. Luminemon looked up, "Colchimon, evolve!"
"I can't! Kai isn't here!"
Luminemon closed her eyes. "Borrow my power for now. We're siblings; we're linked. I can cope; it's alright. Take the strength you need."
She glowed, feeling the energy swirling around her as Colchimon gave her an anxious look. He suddenly yelled as Martyaxmon's great paw pinned him down, the manticore glaring down at him. "You're just an affront to our cause. You would be better off dead…"
Colchimon squirmed, and blinked, the colours in his eyes inverting. "Primal Control!"
Martyaxmon hissed as he was blown back by the short burst of energy, and all of a sudden, Achromon was there before him, his tail blowing back and forth as he flexed his fingers. It wasn't much power; he was sharing after all. But it was something.
Achromon flew forwards and curved up, his razor-sharp wings releasing black fire towards the manticore. There was a flash and another explosion as Fornaxmon fired again across the courtyard, and Martyaxmon found himself back to back with Rinkhalmon. The serpent grinned. "Isn't this fun, Marty? Just like old times."
The Red Beast smirked. "I gave up on fun a long time ago. But I will avenge our colleague, and I will fight for the cause." He braced himself as the two dragons bore down on him, as Rinkhalmon squared off against Fornaxmon's oncoming charge. "What do you say; on three?"
"Oh honestly, Marty, you do like to fight by the book." Rinkhalmon hollered as he raised his blade, before twisting and switching targets, facing the warriors of Light and Darkness.
Shadows and particles spun through the air as cloak and armour clashed, phasing through each other and reforming the other side. Daigambilastmon inverted himself as he pointed his shoulders forwards, the gaping maws opening.
A storm of jagged purple diamonds spread wide, but the cloak twisted and turned, billowing out as Cerebrumon revealed more arms, each holding their ethereal blades.
The magician retaliated, sending his daggers into Daigambilastmon's armour, where they disappeared. The armoured giant jerked, before sending himself flying off the roof and baring down on the illusionist. "Yah black magic don't have a hope in high hell o'stoppin' me no more!"
"Maybe so. But I'm still carrying on until you see sense, old friend."
"Don't taint those words with yah tongue of mercury. Roulette Destiny!"
Cerebrumon ducked slightly too late as a black javelin pierced his cloak, sending him flying backwards several metres as corporeal hands grabbed at the roof tiles. The illusionist winced, feeling the hand with the venom scar scraping across the stonework, as Daigambilastmon landed beside him, utterly furious.
"Ah thought we were friends once. Ah thought we'd do anythin' t'save each other. But y'left us there, gallopin' off to yer own life as soon as y'could."
Cerebrumon gritted his teeth and tried to phase into the house below, but before he could get all the way through he felt the scarred hand block the stonework. He wriggled, trying to break through, but he felt something grasp it and yelled as Daigambilastmon dragged him back up, before tossing him across a rooftop.
The iron cowboy threw his arms wide. "Look at me! Look at me! No body, no life, nor bone left in me! Decades ah spent in that pathetic little jar, just circlin' round and round till there was nowhere left t'circle. And the whole tahm you were here, just waitin', all along."
He rushed forwards again, his dice pattern going into overdrive as he released spears and sickles of shadow-matter every which way, slicing into Cerebrumon's ethereal flesh as the magician desperately tried to fend him off.
Daigambilastmon let out a yell of anger and backhanded the magician, sending him rolling down the roof and landing in the courtyard below. No sooner had Cerebrumon landed then Daigambilastmon was on him, eyes blazing.
"Y'helped me back there. You were there since the beginning; y'helped me t'escape. Why? Was it ahll for nothin'?" He breathed, particles of black sand floating down from his mouth, before he straightened up, pinning the illusionist beneath his foot.
"Things are gonna be different this tahm. This tahm, I ain't dyin'. And this tahm, you ain't runnin'. So y'd better think up some goddamn good excuse why ah shouldn't just kill yah now."
Cerebrumon struggled, wincing in pain. "I…didn't want…to fight you…here…I just…can't let you…get in the way…"
"Huh?" Daigambilastmon put one hand on his hips, tapping the other against his visor. "Sounds like yer implyin' it's all mah fault. Not th'smartest choice o'words." He pressed harder, shadow-matter swirling around his foot and through Cerebrumon's cloak, creating miniature flashes of light where the two sources of darkness mingled.
The armoured giant raised his visor, and loosened his grip a little, as Cerebrumon coughed a little before continuing.
"I'm sorry I didn't rescue you. You have every justification for killing me. I've spent far too long hiding in the shadows. Running away. But not any more. Now I'm fighting for the world I want to see, and even if it kills me, I promise you, I'm going to DO IT!"
With a rare flash of fury, Cerebrumon released a flurry of arms, sending blades flying up into Daigambilastmon's face. The iron giant hissed and the magician slipped out from his grip, before sliding behind a wall. Daigambilastmon glared over at him, his shadows fluctuating wildly as he stumbled forward, his sense of balance affected. "Why didya even come back? Why didya want me?"
"Because I thought you were the only one who would listen. Obviously I was wrong." Cerebrumon twisted back around and planted two hands either side of his old friend's head.
Daigambilastmon writhed, his head coming loose as Cerebrumon held it high, twisting it around. He felt the jaw move up and down in his hands as Daigambilastmon complained. "What happened to our promise? Ahlways be better than the big man!"
"But never become him!" Cerebrumon floated up, breathing heavily from the effort but keeping his old friend held high. "Look around you! Is this what you wanted? You yearned for a life of freedom and mischief and the best parts of life, but you've only gone from one prison to another! Don't you see? Teslamon's will is binding you here! Don't let her aaargh-"
"Scythe 'n' Dice!"
Cerebrumon buckled as half a dozen black spears penetrated his chest area, causing him to drop the cowboy's head. Daigambilastmon spun like a tornado a few times, before reforming and staring down at the magician, who held his chest in pain.
"Think yaself lucky. At least I didn't stab yah in the back."
"Please…you're better than this…"
Cerebrumon backed away as Daigambilastmon strode leisurely towards him, spinning his bent gun hand nonchalantly. "Ah'm afraid ah'm not better than anyone any more. Ah'm no more than another ghost on the wind. Why do ya think ah should care about mah own life any more than ah care about yours?"
"Because you know what it's like to have no freedom." Cerebrumon raised a hand, feeling a wall against his back as his old friend towered over him. "Right now, everyone in this city is feeling the same. I'll admit; you're vain, careless and a bit of an egotist, but you could never sit back and watch innocents die under your rule."
"Shut yah mouth! Yah've blabbered enough, and yah have no more morals than ah do, so stand still and let me silence yah!"
He placed his gauntlet against Cerebrumon's head, the barrel glowing.
Cerebrumon reached forward and planted his hand on Daigambilastmon's reflective torso, disappearing inside instantly. Daigambilastmon fired as the last vestiges of shadow flickered away, and felt something fall at his feet. He looked down, and saw Cerebrumon's severed, scarred arm, yanked from its ethereal tether and discarded. It too vanished in an instant. Dispersed in the wind.
Daigambilastmon yelled and landed an immense punch on the wall. It ruptured, causing the whole building around him to tumble in a cloud of dust and rubble. The mineral devil reformed outside, looking left and right for any sign of his opponent. Around him, he could still hear the screams and yells of battle as the rebels and the Silicon Army battled for dominance.
Without a word, Daigambilastmon held up his gauntlet and looked at his palm, then at the armour all over his body; the dents, scrapes and cracks which he'd accumulated in the space of a few short days.
Then his gaze moved up to the clocktower, and there it stayed for a good while.
"Ah'm far too old fr'this Bullmon-shit."
Back again. Back even further.
The ten-year old lay on his bed, with the lights off and the curtains drawn, as he tried to ignore the muffled sounds of his aunt and uncle arguing downstairs. He couldn't make out the words, but he didn't need to. His mind was filling them in with the phrases he'd heard earlier that day.
"TAKE YOUR HANDS OFF MY SON YOU MONSTER!"
"MUM, HE'S HURTING ME!"
"You don't belong here!"
"DON'T YOU DARE TOUCH HIM AGAIN!"
"Wanna run home to mummy?"
"I HATE YOU!"
He bunched up tighter, feeling the tears against his cheeks as his heartbeat pulsed through his head with a regular vroom-vroom. His eyes darted sideways, catching himself in the mirror. Scrawny. Red-faced. Terrifying. A proper little demon; that's what he looked like.
"Like father like son."
His face bunched up so much he felt it would tear in two, and with a cry of anguish he grabbed his pillow and threw it against the mirror, dislodging it and causing it to fall from the desk, where it lay among the rest of the mess, face up, and thankfully unbroken. He could still see his face, as if the mirror was continuing its torment.
Kai let out a sob, then another, before pulling the covers up and flipping over, curling up even tighter.
He could still hear the arguing. And the sound of his cousin Strachan in the next room, also crying his eyes out.
The world seemed to shift and warp as the tubular, beady eyes of the leeches followed Ljosamon's motion through the cavern as she ducked and rolled, spears of darkness lashing out behind her. She leapt high, twisting in mid-air as she tried to catch another glimpse, but Dokkamon was already behind her, corkscrews of darkness slicing towards her.
The holy warrior brought her arms up just in time as the lances struck her shield, sending her slamming into the nearest wall with an almighty crash. The wall shifted, more leeches becoming dislodged as they scurried away, disorientated and scared. One landed on Ljosamon's arm, causing her to recoil and throw it away, but she had no time to lose focus; she had to duck again as the dark elf leapt towards her, blade in hand as he threatened to impale her.
Ljosamon leapt up and over her opponent as Dokkamon's blade struck the wall. There was a shimmer and a dozen out-of-phase screams as about eight leeches melted away, only to be replaced by the surrounding ones.
Dokkamon paid them no heed; his head whirled round and his furious eyes were only fixed on Ljosamon as she descended, landed and ran again.
Inside the flawless fighting form of the holy warrior, Eloise's mind was racing. Her body seemed to be moving almost without her control, and yet completely under control. The leeches seemed to be avoiding her rather than trying to take her over, but she wasn't about to be that thankful for small mercies. Not with her friend trying to kill her.
She held up an arm and trails of shadow struck it, Dokkamon's attacks relentless and ongoing. Ljosamon turned her head. "Kai, stop! I'm not going to fight you!"
The dark elf turned his head just slightly, as if processing what she just said. He charged again, his cloak flailing as he spun, his metal claws outstretched.
Dokkamon landed in front of her like an animal, his eyes wild as he rushed forward and slashed with his claws. Ljosamon could only back away, holding up her arms in turn as Dokkamon landed blow after blow against her force fields, weakening it with every hit.
Eloise tried to compose herself and stammer out the words as she tried desperately to stay alive. "Don't you recognize me? It's me; it's Eloise. I've evolved, just like you. See, you don't have to let it control you-"
Another slash as Ljosamon pushed back just a little, trying to regain some ground. Dokkamon responded by swinging his foot round and planting it into her side, sending her flying twenty metres across the cavern, scraping against the floor. She rolled to a stop, only to quickly get to her feet, her armour having protected her from the worst of the impact. There was a rustle above her and she looked up to see Dokkamon, clutching onto the ceiling like a demented spider, with tendrils of shadow twisting around him. He jerked and his head twisted round, his eyes catching hers and never losing their cold grip. Ljosamon backed away as he hung there for a few seconds, condensation puffing out from behind his mask.
"You are the enemy. I will destroy the enemy. Then the world will be saved. Then I will be fixed. I'm gonna kill him. I'm gonna kill you."
"What are you talking about? Kai, this isn't you!"
Ljosamon leapt back as more shadows flew towards her, her expressionless face betraying nothing of the terror pulsing through her.
Luminemon jerked, feeling her partner's voice in her head, before suddenly ducking as Rinkhalmon's blade swiped at her neck. She growled, opening her mouth wide as Rinkhalmon giggled.
The blast hit the serpent square in the chest and sent him flying backwards, as Achromon swiveled over to her side. "What is it? You shouted Eloise's name just now."
"She's in trouble, I can feel it." She nodded at Rinkhalmon, who had leapt back onto his feet almost immediately and was fiddling around with his various needles. "Keep him busy."
Rinkhalmon stepped to one side as the dark beam flew wide, before giving three quick flicks of his hand.
Achromon twirled in mid-air, but one of the mystery vials caught him on the wing. He cursed, before suddenly dropping as the wing started going into overdrive; flapping wildly in a whirr of bone and spines as the poison affected his nerves. Rinkhalmon cackled, holding his blade again as he sauntered forward. "Having some technical difficulties?"
"Go to hell." Achromon tried to angle himself before swiping with his tail, the crescent just nicking the serpent on the nose. Rinkhalmon stopped, slightly put off by the attack. There was an explosion nearby and Martyaxmon ran past, pursued by a piece of house thrown by a flaming mechanical giant. (Just another normal day)
The Red Beast glanced back, looking slightly irritated. "Rinkhalmon, you idiot, stop playing around!"
The serpent shrugged, before backing away, rubbing his bleeding snout as he circled the flailing shadow dragon. Luminemon kept an eye on him, ready to fire, yet trying to converse with her partner. All she could get was a mass of white noise, until…
"Eloise? Can you hear me?"
"Luminemon? Help me!"
"What is it? Is it the leeches?"
"No, it's Kai. Kai's down here and he's trying to kill me!"
Luminemon shot up as Achromon turned towards her. "Kai? What about Kai?"
"He's trying to kill Eloise! He must be in the leeches' cavern!"
"Y'wot?" Rinkhalmon turned and glared at his colleague, who was busy batting off Fornaxmon's blade with his beads. "Commander Martyaxmon, why is there a crazy guy causing havoc in my inner sanctum?"
Martyaxmon avoided another swipe and rolled his eyes. "Gee, I guess I led him there so he could sabotage our plan."
"Did you? You bastard; I thought we had something! I'm feeling so betrayed right now!"
"No, you moron! Crimson Wrath!" The Red Beast reared up and placed both hands on Fornaxmon's chest, the shockwave sending the golem reeling back. The manticore shot daggers right back at his partner. "He escaped. I was bringing him into the city, he woke up, attacked me, slashed me everywhere and knocked me out. I'm guessing he phased through the elevator or something.
"Why would he do that? He can't have known."
"It doesn't matter. What matters is that we're going to lose everything unless we get them out of there!"
Rinkhalmon pouted. "But I was having fun."
"Playtime's over. Let's finish this."
Luminemon and Achromon backed away, giving each other sideways glances. "We need to get down there before it's too late."
"You're not going anywhere!"
Three beams of pure energy and destruction shot towards the two Commanders, causing them to split. Fornaxmon stood tall, his visor burning as he raised his blade. "You hold no power over us."
Martyaxmon gritted his teeth as Rinkhalmon twiddled the fingers on his left hand. "This is going to take too long, Marty."
"I know that. I'm thinking."
"I could always speed it up…even the odds…"
The serpent's fingers shimmered as the leech swum between them, but Fornaxmon saw it and focused his attention on the serpent. "Just try it, reptile, and you will see the full fury of hell."
Rinkhalmon grinned and went to move, but Martyaxmon held him. "No, don't do it."
"Leave him; I'll handle this."
His beads spun in front of him and began to glow, forming a ring of bright light that he aimed towards the light and shadow dragons. The two backed away, trying to run, but Martyaxmon was quick.
The ring-shaped laser ripped up the dust of the ground and turned it to glass, so furious it was. Martyaxmon twisted the spinning rosary as the dragons scrambled frantically, the blast threatening to melt them alive. Luminemon looked back. "No! Eloise!"
"Enough of this. Mesmeric Disruption!"
The beam vanished as soon as it appeared, as Martyaxmon keeled over, his sense of balance disappearing. Achromon opened his eyes, looking at the destruction the beam had caused. The elevator had been hit; a great gouge taken out of the side. Not huge, but maybe big enough for them to slither through in their Rookie forms.
"How lucky you are."
The two dragons turned as Cerebrumon gave them a tip of his hat, his face slightly strained from the pain of his wound. "Go and deal with your partners. I'll take it from here."
Luminemon nodded as she dissipated, leaving Ladomon. "Thank you. Stay safe."
"Oh, no you don't!" Rinkhalmon scrambled forward, flailing wildly, but he was suddenly stopped by a blast of fire as Fornaxmon barreled into him, throwing him back against a wall.
The golem backed away, unwilling to touch the snake-man more than necessary. "Go! Now!"
Rinkhalmon reached out helplessly as the two serpent-dragons spiraled away and, quick as a flash, burrowed into the hole. He glared up at the golem and made a swipe, but Fornaxmon countered it, his blade glowing white-hot. Cerebrumon stood behind him, his hands holding blades as he turned his focus between each Commander in turn.
Rinkhalmon nodded. "Nice to see you again, Marvo."
"I do believe we never finished our duel." Cerebrumon nodded at Fornaxmon. "Captain, you take care of the manticore. I will deal with the serpent."
"Much obliged, magician."
The golem stepped away as Martyaxmon forced himself to his feet, his rosary spinning and his tail curling wickedly. Fornaxmon stepped before him, his own blade still thirsty for combat.
"It shouldn't have come to this." The manticore held his head low out of respect. "You could have been one of us."
"And yet I'm not." Fornaxmon's visor burned brighter with a flash of leech-fuelled anger. "Thank god."
Cerebrumon spread his arms wide, his cloak billowing as more and more arms appeared, each holding a dagger of energy. Rinkhalmon simply grinned, standing up as his arms went to even more needles, blades and daggers stored around his body.
The great elevator cable swayed and creaked as Alopemon and Chionemon shot into the clearing, eyes all around on the watch for their multicoloured assailant. Chionemon looked nervously up at the sky. "Where the heck are they?"
Chionemon hopped out the way as Neomon's clones homed in, but Alopemon spun her bladed tail and dispersed them with ease. The real Neomon hissed and backed away down the alley, disappearing in a flash. Chionemon reassumed her back-to-back position with her partner, looking all around. "How are you doing?"
"Not too good. My leg's been slashed." Alopemon winced, holding her back left leg as tenderly as she dared.
"Jack, where are you?"
Both fox and girl looked up as Mistramon hurtled into view, flying dangerously low with Aeolumon clutched onto his back. There was a roar from behind him and Chieftriaskismon entered the courtyard, thrusting his head left, then right, then straight forward as he caught sight of the warriors of Ice. He narrowed his eyes. "So, thought y'd cry fer help, now?"
Chionemon spluttered. "Jack, what exactly does your plan involve? 'Cause I don't think this was a very smart move."
Aeolumon pulled up, but the nomad heard her brother's voice, muffled as it was, within her head, as he relayed the plan to her. She shook her head incredulously. Impossible; it would never work. Never in a million years.
Well, they didn't have any other plans at the moment...
"Chiefy-chief." Neomon appeared atop the roof as his colleague looked up, before rolling his eyes. Neomon simply smirked. "Trouble trouble beating little kid kid?"
"Hold your tongue, puppet. These ones are mine. Besides, looks like y've got plenty of trouble on y'r own turf."
The clown grumbled, before hopping down, swaying slightly as he and the sea leopard squared off against the Ice warriors. Aeolumon and Mistramon hovered above, ready to dive down at any moment, but Mistramon cleared his throat.
"Guess we're reaching new heights, huh?"
Alopemon glanced up, and the bird winked, before nudging up towards the elevator. Alopemon looked again; one platform hung low, the other dangled high. Each counterbalancing the other; sharing the same cable. And further up again, at the very top of the wall. Her first battleground in this very city.
She figured it out a split second before the clown closed in.
Alopemon leapt back and fired off a round of projectiles straight into the clown's fabric, but Chieftriaskismon was already homing in, his spear point threatening to pierce her flank, but Chionemon stepped in, right fist raised.
Her fist connected with the sea leopard's muscular forearm, frost forming immediately. The leopard howled and drew back, clutching his arm as the sudden frost burned his flesh. He glared at the girl, "You witch. I'll make you regret that!"
Chionemon leant back and made a yawning gesture. "Everyone tells me that; it's getting old already."
"Well, I s'pose it's yer lucky day. Tidal Panthera!"
Chionemon and Alopemon backed away, dodging and swerving as they headed towards the elevator. Chionemon grabbed onto her partner's furry pelt and the fox leapt, dragging them both to the top of the ruined mechanism as the two Clocktower Rebels bore down on them. The two Ultimate levels slowed their pursuit as the nomad and the arctic fox turned round to face them.
"You you nowhere to run."
"And y'pint-sized brother's stayin' out of reach. Looks like yr'on yer own."
Chionemon shrugged. "Maybe, but we've lasted this long. At least we still have something to fight for."
Neomon hissed, but Chief held him, puzzled. "What are y'sayin'?"
Alopemon strode onto the lower elevator, looking almost smug behind her featureless mask. "Look at you two; a bored child and a washed-up soldier. You've been on hard times; that's obvious. Never had a say because you never got the break."
Neomon seemed disinterested, but Chieftriaskismon held his spear tightly, anger briefly flashing through his eyes. "Hold y'tongue."
"It's a pity, really." Chionemon joined her partner and stroked her, her form shimmering as the furs and jewels melted away, revealing Grace standing there, smiling wickedly. "After all, it was me that started all this."
"Didn't Teslamon tell you? Doesn't she value you enough? Such a shame; you'd probably be very interested." Grace chuckled, and shook her head. "I'm the one who let her out. I'm the one who held the source. You know, the power she's been looking for. Take that from me, and who knows? Maybe you could overpower her."
Chieftriaskismon and Neomon stepped back, each suddenly very aware of the other's desire as well as their own. The leopard shark pointed his spear forward, water building around him. "You lie! 'Tis but a bluff!"
"Really?" Grace's eyes darted up to Mistramon, still circling around, before bringing one hand up to her neck. She unclipped the cord and held it out, the silver string dangling in front of her opponents.
"The flash drive, right? You want it? Come and get it."
Chieftriaskismon's eyes widened, and he barreled forward with an animal roar, but Neomon was faster, teleporting next to the girl as his shadowy mouths opened.
"Mine, mini girlie girl. Inner Sanctum!"
Grace flinched, but held on tightly to the D-Nexus in her hidden hand as she pressed the button, energy flowing from her into her partner. "Primal Fury!"
"Neomon, get away from her!"
Chieftriaskismon leapt, water spraying out around him as he landed squarely on the platform. Neomon squeaked and released his grip, before disappearing and reappearing behind the girl, claws held to her neck. "One step and head off."
"Quieten down, y'maniac."
Grace yelped as the leopard shark grabbed her hand, bringing it forward and yanking the cord out of it. His eyes widened, then narrowed, as the silver pendant with the lapis lazuli inset dangled in front of him. "What the hell is this?"
Grace felt warm arms wrap around her as the elevator suddenly got very cold, huge sheets of ice engulfing the four of them. Chieftriaskismon jolted in shock, and Grace took her chance; swiping the pendant back from him with her free hand. "That's mine. Don't you dare touch it again."
Then she called up to the sky.
High above, the two warriors of wind had climbed up to the high elevator, perching atop of it as they charged their attacks. Now they had the signal, and they released all their force directly down.
The platform rocketed down, and as it did so, the other rocketed up. Grace held tightly onto her partner who in turn held tightly onto the block of ice that fastened the two disorientated rogues. The girl shook her head like a doll, chattering from the adrenaline. "Oh god, oh god, this was a bad idea, this is gonna be really really HIIIIIIGH!"
Hovering halfway up the wall, Mistramon and Aeolumon watched as the screaming platform shot past them, and carried on, scaling the wall right to the top and beyond. There was a smashing sound as the metal plate flipped over and rolled along the platform at the top. The silence after didn't last long; the two warriors of Air could soon hear the sounds of breaking ice and shouts of rage, and they turned to each other.
"We need to be up there too."
Aeolumon trembled. "We can't fly much higher than this. The anti-flight field; you've tried to beat it but it just doesn't work. We have to wait for Andromon."
Mistramon faltered for a second, before his gaze became steely. "We can't wait for them. The others need us now. I can make it to the top and I'll do it if it kills me. I'll fly higher than ever before."
He nodded at his partner, who was looking all the more tired. "Come on; give me encouragement. I'll get us up there."
Aeolumon nodded, and grabbed his partner's mane feathers tightly as his armour fell away, the energy returning to Mistramon's body. Jack gritted his teeth, smiling like a madman. "Come on then. Let's finish this."
Chieftriaskismon held his arm up against the barrage as Tupilamon tried to blow him back, but Neomon was already out of range; spinning around as the lights danced around him. "Neon Matrix!"
The clown swiped, green wires leaving gashes and scars against Tupilamon's muscled bulk, but they only served to make the ice monster angrier, and she slashed back, sending the clown skitting over the edge. He screeched and teleported back, skittering away and letting off strange "No no no" noises.
"Y'clumsy fool!" Chieftriaskismon grinned as he looked to one side, to where Grace stood, breathing erratically, very much out of the action. "Go fer the girl; she's got nothin' left up her sleeve."
"Don't you dare. Screaming Storm!"
Tupilamon roared and screamed again, but Chieftriaskismon gritted his teeth through the unbearable noise and punched the ice monster square in the maw. Tupilamon stopped and spat, but Chieftriaskismon carried on, driving the giant backwards with blow after blow as Neomon danced around, threatening to trip her up.
Grace held out a hand. "Tupilamon, look out!"
The spreading ice caught the feet of both her assailants, and the ice giant shuffled away from the edge, and the perilous drop. Growling, she lunged in with tooth and claw, slashing Neomon's black fabric and revealing the dancing shadows within. "Your time is up, monsters."
"Playtime not not over yet yet. Neon Blur!"
Neomon's arm moved like the wind and Tupilamon went staggering back in a yellow and blue streak, as the clown and the undersea warrior broke out of their glacial prison, both turning on the spirit at the same time.
The colourful clones danced on the raging water as Tupilamon was flattened against the tiny wall; the only thing keeping her from tumbling down into the abyss of the wastegrounds. She looked up, fear in her eyes and her body shimmering weakly as the two rogues looked down at her beaten body.
Chieftriaskismon sneered. "A valiant effort, but sadly there's two of us, and only one of you."
Grace ran forward, holding the ice spirit and glaring up at the rogues. Neomon lollopped nonchalantly behind Chieftriaskismon as the sea leopard chuckled, staring out over the ravaged city. "What a wonderful view. The perfect place fr'my new army."
"Nothing will stand in my way; not even Teslamon. The perfect fortress with thousands of soldiers ready to obey me."
He turned back to Tupilamon and Grace, raising his spear. "Now, shall I execute you quickly, or shall I let the fall take you?"
He held his chin in consideration, before grinning wickedly. Grace hid her face as the sea leopard stepped back, wild-eyed and triumphant. He raised his spear, preparing to make the killing blow.
There was a flash of bright green, and Grace flinched. But the death blow never came. She opened her eyes, Tupilamon holding her tightly as they both stared up at the sea leopard. Chieftriaskismon choked, and stumbled, a look of surprise on his face. He turned, and it became clear to the warriors of Ice that he appeared to have a sizable burnt hole in his lower back. He coughed again, and fell to his knees, as Neomon stepped forward.
For once, the clown wasn't smiling.
Chieftriaskismon looked up in shock at his colleague, who gave him a sideways glance of disdain in return.
"You shot me!"
Neomon responded by booting the soldier in the head, sending him sprawling as he gave a tut of disgust.
"Stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid more interesting."
He crouched down, smiling menacingly as he reached forward and grabbed Grace's chin, pulling her terrified face to face his.
"Alone now. No-one else. Tell tell me everything. All the power, Tesla's secret secrets. Everything. Will be new king and city will play play, all day, every day they play, slay, kill, die." He giggled, before yanking her face towards his. "TELL TELL ME!"
"I-I…don't know…" Grace shivered, a cold wind playing up and whipping her hair back and forth as she watched the clown's eye scrutinize her and her partner, up and down. The clown withdrew his claw, before reaching a single finger to her head.
"You had leech in inside in you. Still there. Take out out. Find out."
"No, it's gone-"
The clown yelped as he was suddenly thrust to one side, struggling and wriggling as his neck was held in the vice-like grip of Chieftriaskismon's paws. The sea-leopard's face was burning with utter fury, his teeth gnashing as he pulled his arm back and punched the clown's face again and again.
"YOU TRAITOR! YOU SLIMY BACKSTABBING BASTARD! I'LL KILL YOU!"
Neomon responded with a hiss and a quick slash against the cat's forearm. He tried to wriggle away, but Chieftriaskismon wouldn't let him. "YOU'LL SUFFER FOR THIS!"
Tupilamon shifted, holding Grace tightly as the girl shivered. "You okay?"
Grace nodded in acknowledgement, before holding her hand up as the wind grew more in intensity. Noticeably so, in fact, buffeting everyone around. The rogues were too ingrained in their brawl to pay it much heed, but Tupilamon noticed it first. Her jaw hung low as a shadow fell over the top of the wall.
Something was rising over it. Something immensely long, with four vast wings that hadn't seen the open sky in far too long. Tupilamon gawped as Cyclomon spiraled away, before corkscrewing back and aiming directly for the wall.
"That jammy goit..."
Jack jumped down and ran over to the two, hobbling slightly but grinning.
"We should get out the way right now; this may be very bad."
Grace gave a half-hearted smile. "You moron."
"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?"
Chieftriaskismon and Neomon hadn't noticed the giant flying monstrosity for a good few seconds, but they were now looking up in combined awe and terror. Tupilamon noticed, and made her move.
"No!" cried Chieftriaskismon, but it was too late. The ice had crawled over his and Neomon's body, locking them both in their deadly embrace and leaving them directly in the path of Cyclomon's wrath.
Tupilamon released the last of her energy, reverting to Vulpimon. She looked up, panting profusely. "We should probably run now."
She, Grace and Jack legged it across the top of the wall, fighting against the wind currents as the power of Jack's partner threatened to toss them away like nothing. The sky-serpent let out a long, melancholic cry as he began to shimmer, splitting into three as he charged forwards, the wind now blowing with the force of a hurricane.
Neomon tried to teleport, but his lights merely flickered dimly, damaged by Chieftriaskismon's onslaught. The sea-leopard gave an animal roar as he strained, breaking a single arm out of his prison as he looked up to see Cyclomon's furious eyes bearing down upon him.
The three serpents impacted one after the other, and the entire city shuddered. Houses were sent toppling, Digimon ran for cover, and the two tiny humans and their tiny fox atop the wall were sent sprawling in a messy heap, so great was the force of the impact.
Chieftriaskismon and Neomon didn't stand a chance.
Cyclomon alone watched as they were catapulted away together, flying over the ledge and away from the chaos of the city, their individual dreams of ruling this city getting ever more distant. In a last-ditch attempt, Chieftriaskismon summoned a spear and threw it forward at the departing wall, holding a trail of water behind it like a lasso.
But the spear was bent.
It flew wide, spiraling away, alone, back into the city. Chieftriaskismon watched as the last of his stored water flew away in a spray, his orbs falling dull. He let out a raging roar, but the roar diminished as he fell further, growing ever fainter. In but a few seconds, both he and Neomon were gone. Lost in the Wastegrounds.
Grace rolled over, and stared up at the sky, utterly exhausted. "That's it. I'm done. Can't do any more."
Jack had already gotten up, and was gingerly staring over the wall at the dusty wasteland beyond. "Do you think they're…dead?"
"Unlikely." Grace sat up, eyeing her brother. "You survived a fall that distance, and no offence but they're way tougher than you. Although the fall's probably knocked them around a bit." She brushed a stray strand of hair from her face, and breathed a sigh of relief. "The main thing is, they're away from here. Thanks to you two."
Jack shrugged. "We couldn't have done it if you weren't there keeping them busy the whole time."
Vulpimon sniffed. "Yeah, thanks for that. I very much appreciate being the fall girl."
Grace stroked her partner's head, smiling sweetly. "Ah, let it go. It all turned out well in the end, right?"
A shadow fell across them again as Cyclomon slowly swooped by them, his two right eyes glancing at each of them in turn. "It feels so good to be back in action." He let out a booming chuckle. "So what now?"
"Lemme check something." Jack felt in his pockets and pulled out his D-Nexus, holding it to his mouth. "Andromon?"
"Hi Jack. I take it you're the one behind the giant sky snake that's been freaking everyone out?"
"Yup, and now you're two rebels down. So, how about the clocktower?"
"Everyone's out. We also shut down the anti-flight field in the observatory; you should find it less of a bother now."
"Cool. You'd better get out of there."
Jack hung up, and turned to his partner and sister. "Teslamon's gonna get through the floor of the clocktower if we're not careful. We have one other thing to do."
Vulpimon looked up at the sky snake, and winked. "By we, we mean you, if you don't mind."
"With pleasure, m'lady."
Cyclomon slithered off again, beginning to circle around the clocktower as he rose, air currents forming over his body. Vulpimon rolled her eyes.
"He's such a showoff."
Beneath the shadow of the clocktower, Teslamon's brawl with the warriors of Electricity had entered a timeout as the shark-woman gaped at the creature above.
"What the hell is that thing?"
Galvamon glanced up, and smirked. "Showoff. Glad he could make it."
"You know that thing?" Teslamon stamped her foot, and snarled. "This isn't fair; how come you get all the cool stuff? Perilous Field!"
She moved without warning, holding up her fingers as she attempted to drag the dinosaur towards her. Galvamon noticed just before she pulled him off his feet, bringing his blades forward as he was yanked towards her. She swerved, and Galvamon twisted, his tail lashing out, but she responded by grabbing it and throwing the dinosaur into the oncoming Kuaramon. The two fell in a heap, and Teslamon stood over them, hands on her hips.
"Give it up, guys. There's nothing you can do to me; I'm more powerful than any of you. Soon I'll be more powerful than anyone else in this world."
Kuaramon grunted, and looked up. "You sure about that?"
Teslamon grinned, before frowning, the rising wind whipping her hair. She looked up, puzzled, as Cyclomon continued circling around the clocktower, releasing air currents behind him. "What the hell…"
Galvamon released a storm and Teslamon reeled back, temporarily stunned. Kuaramon and his partner made their move; rushing away from Teslamon as she struggled to hold her footing against the eddies from the sky serpent. She noticed them running and held a hand out, but the wind got spaner again and she had to readjust her balance.
"What the hell are you doing?" She looked behind her, at the clocktower, as dustdevils began to rise from the rugged road. The wind grew ever stronger, and she felt it pulling at her. Kuaramon and Galvamon were already at a safe distance, watching as the clocktower began to shake.
Teslamon stared up at them, eyes wide as her feet began to leave the floor. "Stop this! I'm warning you; don't you dare pull this crap right now! Not now; not after I've put so much effort into this..."
She flailed her arms, trying to get a grip on something, but the now spiraling column was already dragging her around, sending her every which way. Kuaramon sent out a coil and grabbed onto a nearby building as he felt the pull of the tornado widening, but it was nearing the climax. It wouldn't be much longer...
High above the city, Cyclomon reached the top of his climb. For a brief moment, on the precipice of the drop, he could see everything down below. Every street, every alley, every building.
If he could have smiled, he would have. It was beautiful.
He took a deep breath, before lazily aiming straight down into the centre of his coils, the clocktower in his sights. He felt data falling away from him but he held on, putting all his remaining energy into one direct hit.
The sky serpent hit, disappearing in a flash of data as the shockwave blew apart the last remnant of a bygone city. Pieces of mysterious stone rained down heavily nearby as Kuaramon, Galvamon and any nearby citizens were buffeted, forced to the ground by the sheer impact. Teslamon herself was lost in a sea of rubble as the building she'd once escaped from now decided to entrap her once again in its final moments.
The noise faded away, and the dust lay still in the air. Galvamon looked up, stifling a cough, as Perimon staggered out from the rubble. He raised his wing, his arm spinning.
"That went better than expected."
He fell to the ground as Kuaramon rushed over, helping him to his feet as the bird tried to regain his balance. Galvamon folded his arms. "How goes things?"
"The sea cat and the crazy clown are no longer with us. By which I mean they fell off the city walls."
"The city walls? What were you doing up there?"
"Jack's idea. It worked, though it was kinda risky."
"I'll say. Still, two down." Kuaramon looked up at the newest pile of rubble; great chunks of stone in the very centre of the city. "I doubt that's gonna hold Teslamon for long though. What do we do; stay here and wait for her?"
Galvamon shook his head. "It'll be more productive if we help the others out. We'll probably want to all be together when we get round to sorting out Teslamon."
"Agreed." Aaron turned to Perimon, who looked up almost dreamily. "Get Jack and Grace together and go help out Eloise; I expect she's got the Commanders on her tail. Galvamon, come with me. We'll go find Kent and give him a hand."
"Roger." Perimon gave a salute before leaping up into the air again, flying (slightly wonkily) off to where his comrades were descending the walls. Kuaramon turned to Galvamon. "Shall we go?"
"Let's finish this."
The dust had nearly settled around the clocktower when Teslamon got round to digging herself out. She collapsed, panting heavily, before looking back at the giant pile of rubble and screaming.
"You bastards! I was so close! So bloody close, and you ruined it!"
With a grunt, she pummeled the ground, holding her head down. She remembered something and rushed nearby to where the secret passage lay, but her face fell as she saw the rubble there as well. Either it had been damaged in Cyclomon's attack, or that bloody robot had done it when he'd left. At any rate, digging would be hopeless. She wasn't getting into the sanctum; not this way.
Wearily, she wandered back to the courtyard, head facing skywards. She'd heard the news from beneath the pile of rock. Two of her colleagues down, and by the sounds of it the others were being kept very busy. She felt the sun on her face as she clenched her fists, gritting her teeth.
No. It wasn't going to end just like this. There had to be another way in, and she was sure as hell going to find it.
Teslamon's mind worked quick as clockwork as she tried to figure things out. Eloise was with them, not one of her guys. By all expectations they should've run away, to gather reinforcements or something. So why were they still here?
Teslamon frowned. The Commanders knew about the leeches; at least, Rinkhalmon certainly did. If he was still around, it would probably be to protect them. The fact that he'd be with the girl implied that she was probably close to where they didn't want her to go. Meaning they'd be close to their own entrance.
Meaning if she found the Commanders…
The leeches inside her nearly squealed in anticipation at the thought of reconnecting with their kind, and she buried her fist in her hand. Yes…she could find the right way in after all.
She'd barely taken a step when she heard a click, and a voice sounded out behind her.
"Just where d'ya think yer goin'?"
Teslamon trembled, and turned to face Daigambilastmon, who had his gun raised to her head. She smiled. "Dai, you've got it all wrong. You're supposed to be out there sorting out this little situation, not coming to me for help."
"Help? Nah. Never." Daigambilastmon rolled his other hand round in circles, his visor down, obscuring his eyes. "Ah'm helpin' t'stop this rebellion. Ensurin' our glorious future. 'Sept that seems as if it weren't on yah mind. Ah'm thinkin' you were just abaht t'betray us."
Teslamon put her hands on her hips, and sniggered. "Really, Tinman? And why would I want to do that?"
"Cause th'same thin' swimmin' around yah head is th'same thin' swimmin' around mine. Ah knew exactly what you'd be thinkin', and you'd have no qualms in lettin' us take th'fall for yeh, now, would yah?"
Teslamon folded her arms, raising an eyebrow. "I really don't have time for this, so will you get to the point already, you blithering metal moron?"
"Those things. Them critters that the sarpint gave to us all. Yer after them, aint'ya."
Teslamon shuffled, and scratched her cheek. "I was gonna tell you eventually..."
Daigambilastmon sighed, planting his face in his visor. "Believe me, however pretty it feels, yah don't wanna go that road again. Look at yah. Look at that eye."
Teslamon held a palm up, feeling the static from a distance. She looked up, a somewhat hurt expression lingering on her face. "Daigambilastmon, don't. Don't drag this away from me. Not now."
The armoured giant looked up, and his shadowy eyes were almost filled with sadness. "It's a shame. Ah was ready t'believe in yah. Ah would've, if y'hadn't resorted t'cheatin'."
"Cheating?" Teslamon spluttered, flinging her arms wide as she exploded. "How can I be cheating if I'm the one who's been tunneling through crap my whole life? Those bastards have been kicking me around all this time, and now some other bastards have come along trying to play the big heroes. I never got a chance! Just dumped in a box and forgotten." She stamped her foot, her hair standing on end as the charge built within her. "No matter what, I was always the enemy; I was always the bad guy. I could've beaten those guys at their own game. With their own stuff. And you know what; I still can. I can, and I will, and there's nothing you can say or do that's gonna stop me."
She took a step, making to leave the clearing, but she heard Daigambilastmon's gun finger clicked again and paused, her eyes on the shining red gun-barrel pointed at her face. He glared at her, all pleasantries fading. "This has gone far enough. Either yah call this off, or ah'll end it for yah."
"Are you threatening me?" Teslamon gave a hysterical chuckle, shaking her head incredulously. "You do remember I have perfect control over your body, right? Get the hell out of my way."
"Yah don't control me, maniac." Daigambilastmon took a step back. "Bring it on."
Teslamon threw her arms wide, causing the metal man's gauntlets and legs to fly away, but his torso and shoulders swiveled, aiming directly at her.
A blast of diamond-shadow-matter flew towards Teslamon, catching her in the chest and throwing her to the ground. She looked up, in shock, before the matter reformed, turning into a volley of spears that stabbed downwards. She just barely rolled out the way in time, getting to one knee before bringing her hands together with a clap. The discarded armour flew inwards again, but Daigambilastmon caught it before she did, rearranging it and releasing a barrage of shadow bullets. Teslamon was forced back, great blunt bullets piercing her shoulder and thigh.
"Yah may be able t'move mah vessel, but ah've been waitin' decades t'use this new body. Ain't nothin' or nobody gonna stop me now, includin' you, mah king! Scythe 'n' Dice!"
Teslamon held her hands up in pure self defense as the shadow-matter swarmed over her, yelling in pain as the blades sliced into her arms. She lurched forward, sending the iron cowboy back, before bringing an arm backwards. Daigambilastmon sneered as one of his gauntlets went flying away, clamping around Teslamon's wrist yet again.
Pulses of electromagnetic energy went flying all over the place, sending Daigambilastmon's body haywire as he was pulled apart piece by piece. Teslamon laughed all the while, her right eye letting off erratic bolts all over the place.
"What's that, Tinman? You still think you have a chance against me? Me?" She threw the gauntlet to one side before rushing forward, hands outstretched. Daigambilastmon scattered as she grabbed hold of his chest-piece, forcing it to the ground as her hands glowed.
"Let me explain it to you piece by piece as I take you apart piece by piece! Molecular Obscenity!"
There was a shuddering and a sparking and the chest-piece began to rock, letting off data bits as Teslamon's hands began to melt through the front. She knelt, cackling, as the rest of the armour swirled around her.
Suddenly a shoulder blade shot forward, clamping onto one of her hands. She yelped and fell back, only for one of Daigambilastmon's oversized jaws to clap onto the other, spreading apart as more pieces zoomed in, shadow-matter pouring in through every opening. Teslamon yelled in anger as Daigambilastmon's oversized helmet forced itself over her head, until she was completely covered in the armour, her voice muffled from the rising tide of shadow. From all around, a disembodied voice let out a chuckle.
"Yah really haven't the slight bit of an ahdea how much power ah have, do yah?"
He paused, Teslamon struggling within her armoured prison, before yelling out, the darkness growing volatilewith each word.
"Ace in the Hole!"
Without warning, the armour exploded, sending Teslamon flying back and crashing into a wall. She shook her head and held out a hand, but her expression turned to one of horror as she noticed the dark residue around her hand. She held it close, feeling the intense pain as it ate away at her. Other parts of her body were also affected, ripping out bits of data piece by piece as the leech within her screamed.
Daigambilastmon reformed in front of her, hands behind his back. "Yah've got nowhere else t'run. That stuff'll keep feedin' an' feedin' until it's eaten y'alive. Yah reign is over."
"Bastard! I trusted you!" Teslamon stood up, hunched over as she tried her damndest to nullify the pain, with little success. "I offered you the world and you shot me in the back."
Daigambilastmon shrugged. "Ah don't need the world. Ah just need mah own space. Since y'seem adamant on takin' it all, ah figured ah might as well get rid of you."
Teslamon glared at him, and debated whether to mash him up into tiny little fragments. Then she got her head in gear; there was no way she could do that in her weakened condition. As malleable as his armour was, the shadow inside was nigh uncontainable. It would only serve to kill her faster if she kept fighting.
"No. I'm not gonna die. I refuse."
She turned and ran, sprinting through the alleyway as Daigambilastmon watched after her. He gave a final salute to her disappearing figure.
"Too late, missy. Yah time is up."
Tectonamon growled as he pushed back against Latroditmon's assault, her tail wrapping around one of his forearms and slashing the armour. He winced, pulling back. Being giant and insectoid, he was resistant against the poison. However, resistant might not be enough if she kept this up.
He snarled and snapped forward with his multiple jaws as Kent held on behind him; the insect's bulk helping to shield him from harm. Latroditmon cursed as Tectonamon's crushing mandibles clamped around one of her armoured claws, and she struck out with the other, her fangs quivering.
"Let's see how you like it!"
Tectonamon tried to move away, but his instincts weren't as sharp in this form. The heavy claw caught him in the face, cracking the armour beneath his larger eye. He screeched, shaking his head violently, as Latroditmon pulled back, her claws twisting.
She flung both forward at the same time, releasing two continuous rivers of the sticky snare. Kent ducked out the way but felt some of it land on his hand, fastening him to his partner. Tectonamon rattled his armour, receiving the majority of the stream as he marched forwards. The web held tightly, but the bug was able to push forward with just the strength he required to break some of his bonds,
Latroditmon stumbled as the earth beneath her fractured, and she slithered out the way, bringing her torso back around as her damaged spider half retreated to relative safety. Tectonamon had barely moved when he was thrust down from behind, his scythes digging into the ground.
"Kent, watch out!"
Kent struggled, trying to escape his entrapment as Latroditmon loomed over him, licking her lips in crazed anticipation. Her skull shifted as she leaned in close, her injury barely slowing her down. "You haven't beaten me yet. I doubt your friends will be so keen to come save you if you're acting as my hostage."
Kcursed under his breath. "Not good."
Latroditmon reared back, her fangs opening wide as her tail rattled menacingly. "No more mistakes. It's my turn to win now."
There was an almighty crash as something burst through Tectonamon's crystal wall, sending gem shards everywhere and causing Latroditmon to look up in confusion.
Latroditmon screeched and reared back as a barrage of high-voltage projectiles flew towards her, as Tectonamon scurried out the way, Kent also hiding himself from the onslaught. Dimetromon strode forward, still firing relentlessly upon the naga, as Aaron kept pace behind him, holding his D-Nexus tightly as it glowed furiously. Kent nodded at him. "You took long enough."
"Figured you could use some help." Aaron nodded at his partner. "Keep her moving. Get her against the wall."
Latroditmon quivered in rage as she fired more and more web, but it merely disintegrated in mid-air as Dimetromon kept moving, immovable as a tank. The siren changed tactic; ducking down to the left in an attempt to get to the waiting humans, but Dimetromon merely grunted and swung his bulky tail, sending her crashing backwards.
"I won't let you defeat me! Not again!"
Latroditmon recovered almost instantly and made to scuttle towards the new opening in the crystal arena. Dimetromon swung again, but his great tail missed and he whipped his head around. "Someone stop her!"
Latroditmon had barely gotten fifty metres when the ball of energy slammed into her, sending her to the ground in a snare of spears and spikes. She hissed, trying to yank herself free, but Aaron brought his fingers to his lips and whistled.
The naga spat, releasing one of her arms quickly and working on the other. "This is futile! There's nothing you can do to hold me."
Aaron stared down at her, as a great roaring and yelling sounded from nearby. "Wanna bet?"
Latroditmon released herself, and twisted in shock as, like an infestation, a horde of angry citizens swarmed in through the shattered crystal, led by Andromon. Many of them held chains, ropes and metal casings as they moved as one towards the siren. She hissed, and made to back away, but she noticed too late that her spider body was still stuck fast within the earthen snare.
Andromon held out an arm as he and the Silicon Army began to spread out, encircling the siren. "Hold her down! Don't let her move! Not one bit!"
The citizens began to close in. The naga swiped and slashed, beating several attackers away at once, but more kept coming, and she found herself pinned back against the floor. She gnashed and screeched as her claws were stretched out and bound, web fluid flying everywhere. Her tail swung from side to side, threatening to dismember any who came near, great metal hoops bound it, pinning it down, until only the tip could move at all, wriggling uselessly against the dusty road.
It took minutes, but it felt like hours until the Silicon Army stepped back, staying at a safe distance as Latroditmon writhed, her movements becoming desperate as her entire arsenal of weaponry lay there, disabled. All she could move was her upper torso, but no matter how hard she tried she couldn't reach her bindings, or anyone close by. Aaron, Kent, Dimetromon, Tectonamon and the Silicon Army stood around her as she stared at them in turn, her eyes brimming with hate.
Eventually, Latroditmon's face turned from anger to pure annoyance, and her head rolled back as she pounded the ground with her fists. "Damn you all. Cheaters."
Andromon stepped forward. "Latroditmon, you are under arrest for crimes against the peace of this city. Until such time as this blows over, you may choose to remain still and silent, or you may attempt to escape and fail miserably. Whichever you choose, I'm afraid you're not going anywhere."
Latroditmon raised her head. "Blah blah blah. You've gotten cocky now the old biddy bought it. I think I hate you the most."
"Think whatever you want. We've still won this fight." Aaron smiled, before leaning over, his hands on his knees as he let out a breath. "I've had enough."
Kent walked over as his partner devolved next to him. "How did it go with Teslamon? I saw the clocktower fall."
"She's probably still around, but the tower fell on her so she was out the way. I figured we'd stand more of a chance if we were all together to face her."
"And the others?"
Aaron shrugged. "I don't know. We should probably get moving though. I'm guessing Martyaxmon and Rinkhalmon are out and about as well; they'll probably be causing problems."
Velocimon stepped up, planting his fist in his hand. "Let's go then. We don't have time to chat."
Trilomon looked at the bound naga, before up at Andromon. "Are you gonna be okay with her? She's a slippery one."
"Don't worry. She's not going anywhere. Go do what you need to."
The tamers and their partners nodded, before hurrying away. Andromon watched them go, before turning back to Latroditmon, who glared up at him. He smirked.
"Don't worry. Your wounds will be tended to and you'll be treated fairly."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever darling." The naga placed her hands over her face, letting out a deep breath. "I just want people to like me. Is that so much to ask?"
"Maybe it's your personality?"
Latroditmon shot daggers at the robot. "You'd best consider shutting your mouth before I decide to rip it off."
"Faster! I have a bad feeling."
Colchimon turned to Ladomon as the two dragons wriggled through the caverns, dread growing within their bodies as the sounds of fighting got ever louder. Suddenly, Ladomon gasped.
"There! I see them!"
The two rushed forward towards the cavern, feeling the gaze of every nearby leech upon them as the sounds got louder. There was a sudden blast of darkness and Ljosamon flew across their vision, Dokkamon chasing after her.
Ladomon screamed. "Eloise! No!" She rushed forward, when suddenly there was a screeching and she was sent hurtling back away from the cavern.
"What the hell?"
Colchimon tried to move forward, but was pressed back himself. The view before him shimmered, and he felt the eyes of the leeches upon him, writhing and screeching accusingly. The shadow dragon cursed, and tried to press forward, but the more he tried, the more the cavern pushed him away.
Ladomon flew up next to him. "What is it? Why can't we get inside?"
Colchimon glared at the leeches, who stared back with blank eyes. "I bet it's these guys. They can make force fields; I bet they're pushing us out."
"What for? They obviously let those two in."
"That's probably why they want to keep us out. It doesn't seem to be going well in there. I bet they're frightened."
Colchimon flinched as another shockwave exploded nearby. The air rippled and the leeches moved in unison, leaning away from the savage battle. Ladomon hid her eyes.
"Stop him! He's going to kill Eloise!"
"No he…" Colchimon gritted his teeth. "He wouldn't want that. He's struggling. He needs my help."
"She needs our help!" Ladomon planted herself in front of Colchimon, anger in her eyes. "You told me he was getting better! How is this better?"
"He wasn't like this. Something's wrong."
"Why the hell are you risking your life for him?"
"Because..." Colchimon narrowed his eyes, before ramming against the force field. "Just help me. We need to get inside. You're right about that; if this carries on for much longer, we're in big trouble..."
The city rumbled and shook as Rinkhalmon and Martyaxmon darted back and forth, dodging blasts of fire and spectral energy as they fired back themselves. Fornaxmon strode forward, fire in his belly as he swung his great cleaver again and again.
Martyaxmon hopped back, but Fornaxmon's other fist came round with an almighty swing and sent the manticore rolling across the ground. He coughed, and tried to get to his feet, but a blast of fire sent him reeling back, half-blinded by the light.
Fornaxmon let out a great, shuddering breath, the flames on his sword nigh inextinguishable. "Surrender! Give up your monstrous desires!"
Martyaxmon growled. "Why don't you ever listen? Crimson Wrath!"
He smashed a single paw against the ground, sending a shockwave of fire blasting out as he leapt to his feet. He kept his distance; shaky, but standing, as he circled his opponent. "I don't want to kill you. Not you. You were one of my best soldiers."
Fornaxmon vented. "I have nothing to do with you any more. Either you stand down, or I will be forced to bring you down; on my own honour be it."
To the side, Cerebrumon let out a side breath. "Bit late for people like us to be talking about honour isn't it?"
He was silenced as Rinkhalmon slashed forward, pressing his face right up against Cerebrumon's. "Quiet you, and pay attention. Venom Arc!"
Six hands clamped themselves around Rinkhalmon's, and he groaned, slipping to his knees as all energy left him. With a last movement he brought his great, long blade down, keeping him standing as he grinned hysterically. "You really are more interesting than I thought. You should totally join us."
"Don't you start."
The great beam flew wide as Martyaxmon fired wildly, but he only found himself backed next to Rinkhalmon as the golem and the illusionist faced them down. Rinkhalmon tutted. "This is just embarrassing."
"Can't you do something?"
"Well I can, but you told me not to."
The two dodged as spears of ice flew their direction, before looking in horror as Chionemon, Aeolumon, Mistramon and Alopemon ran in, taking their places in surrounding the two Commanders. Mistramon grinned, a wicked glint in his eye. "Looks like you guys are in over your heads."
Martyaxmon looked around, but saw no clear target. Fornaxmon had his blade raised and stood, prepared for whatever came at him. Chionemon had her daggers unveiled. Aeolumon hovered above, balling wind in his hands. Mistramon hung above him, his tail glowing with energy. Alopemon had her eyes narrowed, icicles hovering around her shoulders. There was a slithering and Cerebrumon closed off the circle, his multiple arms splaying daggers like playing cards.
Martyaxmon growled softly. "Shit."
Rinkhalmon opened his mouth. "Language, Marty!"
"Well, I don't think we can take all these. I'm out of ideas."
Rinkhalmon frowned, before leaning to the side. "Martyaxmon, give me some room. I think I can take down the kid."
"There's no way-"
"Trust me, I know what I'm doing."
Rinkhalmon winked, and his colleague looked back uncertainly. He had faith in his colleague - his friend - and yet something held him back. A lingering doubt.
The manticore shook his head and pushed it to the back of his mind. Now wasn't the time. He had to act.
He reared up, summoning all the energy he could muster. "Crimson Wrath!"
The shockwave shook the area again, and the surrounding attackers did their best to block it, but were still blown back. Rinkhalmon seized his moment; rushing towards Aeolumon with his blade raised high. "Say goodbye, kid!"
"Get away, demon!"
Fornaxmon stepped in as Aeolumon raised his hands, but it was a feint. Rinkhalmon let go of his blade and slithered the other way, twisting around to Fornaxmon's back as his fingers twirled. The golem yelled, twisting himself as he fought against the serpent's grip.
Martyaxmon watched in horror. "NO!"
"My apologies, Marty. I'm just leveling the playing field."
He brought his fingers forward with a snap as the leeches wriggled forwards. Fornaxmon jerked as first one, then two, then three presences began crawling through his systems, turning his mind to ash, forcing his arms. He screamed, releasing flames high into the air, as Martyaxmon rushed forward, shoving Rinkhalmon away.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"
Rinkhalmon ignored him, cackling wildly. "Commander Fornaxmon, you are a soldier of the Fire Kingdom and you are to obey my every order. Now kill the child."
It happened too quickly. Fornaxmon's visor turned as his hand flew sideways, catching Aeolumon bang on the chest. The soldier flew backwards, his armour disintegrating as he looked up in horror at the titan now striding towards him, all sense of honour dissipated like smoke.
"Get away from him! Fornaxmon!"
Chionemon, Mistramon and Alopemon moved as one, aiming to shove the golem out the way, but a few leeches did not dull the mechanical man's instincts. He twisted, his body shifting like clockwork as he let out great spurts of flame, causing the three to reel backwards. Temporarily distracted, they were defenseless as Fornaxmon's unbladed arm smacked into them in turn, sending them crashing away. Chionemon landed on her feet, but her Digimon form dissolved before she could take a step, leaving her useless against the behemoth now raising his blade above her brother.
Jack flinched, waiting for the blow, but it never came. He opened his eyes, jumping as he saw the tip of Fornaxmon's cleaver just in front of him, sticking out the back of a dark cloak.
Cerebrumon gritted his teeth, black blood spilling from his mouth as his many arms pushed the cleaver away, out from the gaping hole in his chest. He looked up, seeing the unending fire in Fornaxmon's visor as the golem stepped away, silent.
The illusionist fell to his knees, his hat slipping to one side. He removed it, leaving the top of his head exposed as he held the attractive garment over the hole in his chest.
Grace was frozen in place, her eyes wide. She heard a shout and found herself bowled to one side by Alopemon as Rinkhalmon shot past, head low and arms wide.
"Come now, Marvo, I'm not done with you just yet."
Cerebrumon shuddered as he heard Rinkhalmon's sultry voice next to him. He tried to move, his many arms raising, but Rinkhalmon simply sniggered, snapping his fingers next to his soul jar.
"You will provide much happy examination for the future. Dead or alive, you're coming with me. Incineration Soul!"
His hand plunged into Cerebrumon's chest, forcing green flames out every opening of the cloak. The illusionist let out a cough and a whispered scream, before slumping. It was over in seconds. Rinkhalmon withdrew his bloody hand, shaking it as the burning remains of a cloak fell to the ground. He stared around him, looking the tiniest bit smug, as the screaming green flames wriggled away back into his soul jar.
Mistramon's feathers bristled and he swooped forward, screaming all the way.
"Now now, language." Rinkhalmon stepped back, holding his hands up as he was buffeted by the bird's shockwave.
"GIVE THEM BACK!"
Martyaxmon gritted his teeth; horrified as he was, now was the best chance they had. He rushed forward, rosary spinning as the Champion level partners stood before him.
All of a sudden, a great chunk of metal flew into the throng, sending the Commanders and warriors sprawling. They looked up, their hearts sinking as they felt the familiar static buzzing through the air.
"Outta my way!"
Teslamon marched forward, gripping her arm as the skin peeled off in flakes, other parts of her body being affected as well. The shark-woman swayed, barely standing, but she lifted her head, looking around. It was here; she could feel it. So close...
She noticed the broken elevator and broke into a run, her eye pulsating with energy. Rinkhalmon thrust out an arm. "Fornaxmon, stop her!"
Teslamon was sent flying as the beam of fire slammed into her back, but she got up, ignoring the additional pain and the ominous numbness creeping outwards from her spine. She swept both her arms to one side, shearing the metal away and revealing the opening as the golem strode towards her. She slipped inside just as his blade came down, scorching the earth. She grinned, letting out a very croaky "See ya", before she slid into the cavern.
Rinkhalmon gulped. "Oh shit."
"Harder!" Ladomon grunted as she slammed repeatedly against the force field, tears in her eyes.
"Try harder!" Ladomon turned on him again. "Eloise is gonna die!"
"They're both gonna die if we don't get in there."
"I don't care about him-"
"Well I do!" Colchimon turned back, growling as the dragon of Light hovered in front of him. "He's my partner. I refuse to abandon him."
"Why are you protecting that monster?"
"He's not a monster; he's a scared young man."
"He's going berserk!" Ladomon thrust her wing out as another explosion took place inside. "I know you've blinded yourself, but take another look at him. He's done nothing but cause trouble; hell, it's his own fault the others are here in the first place."
"I'm sorry. I tried, I really did. But he stole you away from me, and is now threatening to steal my partner as well. You can't ask me to defend a monster like that!"
Colchimon turned on his lifelong friend, eyes blazing. "Then you can't defend me either."
Ladomon faltered. "You're different…"
"No, I'm not. I'm a creature of darkness and destruction, just as he is. I've been there; I've faced the struggles, the voices, the constant temptation to let loose. I know just how he feels, and the only reason I've stayed this strong is because of you!"
Colchimon's head fell down, his eyes staring at the floor. Ladomon fell back, shocked. "You...what?"
"You never told me about this..."
"It wasn't fair on you." Colchimon looked away, hiding the shame in his eyes. "You kept thinking of me as your stronger big brother, but the only reason I stayed so strong and in control is because you were there. Because you never gave up on me, despite my heritage. Despite the persecution. Despite the fact that we had to hide away in this city for years even before the war, because of who I was." He looked up. "I love you, Ladomon. I could never have lasted this long without you."
"But just like you never gave up on me, I'm not giving up on Kai. Because he needs me just as much as I need you."
He leaned forward, his head resting on the force field, as Ladomon looked as well. "Eloise isn't giving up on him either."
Colchimon blinked, watching as Ljosamon stayed just a few steps away, keeping the monster at bay. Her eyes flew towards the two dragons at the door, and her voice appeared again.
Help me save him.
The white dragon heard the words again through her head as she leant it against the rippling force-field. "God, I've been a selfish idiot."
"I think we all have."
"Agreed." Ladomon turned her head, smiling sweetly at the shadow-dragon. "Thanks for knocking some sense into me. You were always good at that."
"Don't mention it." Colchimon's face turned serious, and he stared at the shifting wall. "So what do we do now?"
Ladomon steeled herself, and turned to her partner. "Together. Let's do this together. The energy is strong here, and with Eloise…"
"Kai as well." Colchimon watched sadly at the monster beyond the archway. "I can feel his voice. Weak, but he's calling out. We're all here together."
"Then let's do this. Are you ready?"
Colchimon grinned. "I've never been more ready."
The dragons closed their eyes and breathed in unison, feeling the residual energy around them as they flew higher, their bodies taking on an ethereal glow. From within the cavern, the leeches shied away as lights now approached from every direction. Ljosamon looked up, landing as her own body began to glow. Dokkamon writhed, his head twisting unnaturally as the shadows writhed around him, reaching out towards the two dragons beyond the force field.
The two serpent dragons opened their eyes and spoke in unison.
There was an explosion of light and shadow that billowed through the tunnels and the grand cavern. Eloise was sent reeling back, her Soul form dissolving as the energy was lifted from her shoulders, but Dokkamon was still a slave to the shadows. They desperately clung onto him, ripping at his skin and flesh as they tried to feed on his despair.
The energy that was free swirled around the dragons as they melted, briefly turning into Luminemon and Achromon, before their bodies shifted again, dancing lights and shadow spots mixing in with raging static.
The two shapes looked back as Teslamon barreled through, her body falling to pieces but her face wild and furious. The shapes tried to move, to block her, but she charged past, her hands digging into the force field and tearing it away, ripping her bronze claws away in the process.
The leeches screeched and hissed as Teslamon fell to her knees, running her hands over the ground. "At last…I've found you…my reward for all this…"
Eloise's eyes widened. "No…"
The lights grew brighter as Teslamon cackled, bringing her fists down and planting them into the ground up to the wrists. The leeches nearby dissolved in an instant, and the bolts spread out, dragging the parasites back from further and further away. Within a minute the entire cavern was aglow, and Teslamon was changing. Morphing. Her body restoring itself. She shuddered and jerked as the power flew into her, gritting her teeth and clenching her fists as the power flowed through her and out of her, out of her tail and feet, out of every finger and every strand of hair. Her other eye turned yellow, then exploded in a frenzy of bolts as Teslamon rose into the air, the electrostatic charge making leeches rupture left, right and centre.
Eloise shielded her eyes, crawling towards Kai's writhing body as the ceiling fractured and the ground began to crack.
All around the city, all eyes were on the brewing storm over by the marked elevator. The Commanders stepped away, looking up in horror as Alopemon and Mistramon hurried Grace and Jack away. The ground rumbled, great fractures appearing as chunks of rock fell down into the cavern below. The cavern hidden from most since the city was constructed.
Aaron and Kent shook their heads as they ran towards the source of the storm. "No, no, no, no, this isn't good."
Daigambilastmon clenched his fist as he watched the proceedings from a rooftop.
With a massive explosion that rocked the city to its core, Teslamon burst out from beneath the ground, arms spread wide as she floated high in the sky, bolts of energy leaping to the surrounding walls, causing them to groan and creak. Down below, the onlookers shielded their eyes, her bolts glowing so brightly that it hurt to look.
Hovering effortlessly on her own magnetism, she looked up to the sky and laughed, her voice echoing and reverberating with itself.
"I am invincible! I am unstoppable! Bow before your king, you pathetic little people!"
She grinned, grinding sparks between her teeth.
"Howzat for a revolution?"
The floor of the cavern fell away in pieces as Eloise held tightly onto Kai, her heart racing like fury. She looked up, seeing two shapes falling towards them as the abyss threatened to claim the two tamers. The sky fell away, giving way to a blur as the pit beneath rushed up to claim the two.
There was a rush of wind, and a flapping of wings, and one of the two shapes fell down towards them, releasing an impossible black from its tail as its eyes glowed a furious purple.
The other hovered higher, its wings beating slowly as it released a blinding aura, that pressed against the falling rubble, slowing it, holding it in stasis. The aura spread wide, reflecting off the shape's glinting armour; its perfect form. It too hovered lower, like a guardian angel.
The darker shape landed, completing the ring as the darkness exploded wide.
"Circle of the Void!"
And everything went black.
TO BE CONTINUED…
Bright light. Give it to me.