Episode 49:
The Divine Fall

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The main entrance doors slammed shut behind Private Greig, the noise echoing around the large reception area. Despite the devastation outside, everything inside looked almost perfect. Other than a few plant pots having been knocked over in what had probably been a panic, everything else was as it should have been.

Though the doors to one of the five elevators were jammed somehow, and kept making an annoying ‘ding’ sound while opening and closing.

The reception hall to the Atlas Corp building gave a perfect impression to the decor throughout the rest of the building. It was sparse and white for the most part. The walls were smooth white tiles, offset by the floor, which was a pale grey. The seats were plush armchairs and sofas, with light, coffee-colored upholstery around low coffee tables. The main reception desk was a large curved area to one side, normally manned by three or four receptionists, each with their own computer and placement.

The lifts went to each floor, traveling up a central column that connected the two Atlas Corp towers, while at the same time keeping them and their different sides of business relatively separate. On the uppermost floors card keys and pass codes were needed to get into any room in either building, but on the lower floors people were able to come and go as they pleased.

Hunter knew these buildings like he knew his own apartment. He had been here more often than he cared to admit, and could remember using the upper floors as a playground and a perfect place for hide and seek when he and Rose, as children, were brought here to see Bella.

He crossed the entrance to the reception desk in a few strides.

Piper and Reyez followed after him, while the two foot soldiers, Eva, Tom, and James waited near the elevators. The two soldiers were on high alert, their automatic rifles poised to fire if necessary.

The reception desk was a mess of papers. The phones were all off the hook and each of them had a number of flashing red lights, which indicated people had been trying to call, were still trying, or voice messages had been left.

“Where are the receptionists?” Reyez asked as Hunter sat down in one of the vacant chairs and pulled himself up to one of the computers.

“Hopefully they got out,” replied Hunter. “Though I doubt it. Likelihood is, they along with a lot of other employees are still here, probably congregated together for safety.” He was tapping furiously at the keys on the keyboard in front of him, bringing up several different screens, including a log in.

“Are you looking for something specific?”

“Private Louis,” Marius called, “we’re going to start up the stairs, and secure the area in case there are any hostiles.”

“I wouldn’t,” Reyez called back. “There’s over seventy floors, and two towers to check. I don’t want us to get separated and we need to know which tower Bella is in, and if we can get up there faster than on foot.”

“Understood,” Greig replied.

Hunter cursed under his breath. “She’s taken me off the main log in, so I can’t find out what the power is like... I don’t fancy getting in one of the elevators and getting us caught between floors with no escape.”

“So? We’ll take the stairs,” Eva said, walking over. “It’s not the end of the world.”

“Seventy flights,” Piper told the plum haired girl. “I like hiking, but even I don’t want to walk up seventy flights of stairs.”

“Are there any other elevators then?” Tom inquired impatiently. “We’re wasting a lot of time.”

Reyez regarded Tom with a bored expression. “I doubt Bella is going anywhere. I bet she knows we’re coming for her.”

“That’s comforting,” James quipped, crossing his arms.

Hunter tugged on his dog tags while he checked a few other screens on the computer that flashed up with images of red and green spikes. “The industrial elevators are powered by a separate power supply to these business ones, our best bet would probably be to get on one of those. They’re slower, but bigger, and if we get stuck it's a lot easier to get out of them.”

“Sounds like a plan.” Eva shrugged. “How do we get to the industrial elevator?”

Hunter stood. “It’s around back. It’s what would be used to send up food, furniture, and that kind of stuff. Easiest way to access it would be through the third floor cafeteria. Follow me.”

He took the lead, heading towards the door which led to the stairwell and began ascending, taking the steps two at a time. Reyez and James followed with Tom, Eva, and Piper bringing up the rear, while the two armed Privates tailed after, ensuring they were not being followed.

The stairwell was stark white, much like the rest of the décor in the building they had seen so far, with black iron banisters as a form of support. The stairs went up in two flights per storey; it was six flights before they reached the third floor. None of the steps looked particularly worn, giving them the impression that the stairwell wasn’t used very often, or by many people.

The door that let out onto the third floor opened into a pale yellow corridor, which opened up in two directions. To the right, the corridor led down to a selection of small offices and a larger meeting room with an oval table and eight chairs around it. To the left, the corridor curved around and opened into an open-plan cafeteria with a large selection of tables and chairs. Most of them had been overturned or were broken, and it looked like there had been a panic or scuffle as some of the windows had been broken by chairs being thrown at them, or the pile of chairs scattered around the windows suggested.

The cracks in the windows had been covered up by the crystal that encased the entire building, so the attempts at breaking them had been futile.

Any food that had been left out in packets, like crisps or chocolate bars, had been lifted from the food hall along with cans of soda and bottles of water.

Very little remained except bars and packets that had been dropped on the floor and crunched underfoot.

“Guess that means there are people still in here,” Eva pointed out. “I hope they don’t think we’re the enemy coming in...”

“Maybe we should hope they’re still alive first,” Reyez said pointedly, “before we worry about whether or not they are going to be hostile towards us.”

“Come on,” Hunter snapped, calling over his shoulder at the two.

He was charging full ahead through the cafeteria, around the back of the serving stations and through a single door which led out into a huge kitchen. It too had not been left alone, though there were no chairs overturned here, and no tables to knock over. Utensils were littering the ground, and the storage cupboards, fridges, and freezers had been ransacked and left open by those who had gone in search of food.

“The elevator is back here,” Hunter informed them, pushing through a final door which led out into a darker and cold hallway, a large iron grating at the end of it. The grating was pulled across a sheer drop down to the lower floors, and long wires and cables ran the height of the building. Hunter pressed for the elevator to come and waited, folding his arms.

“What’s the rush, Hunter?” James asked. “Your mom isn’t going anywhere.”

Hunter gave James a cold, silent stare for a moment, before returning his attention to the elevator and listening for its arrival.

For a few moments, the others were quiet too, each listening for the sounds of the elevator and trying to see if they could hear any noise coming from the fighting outside. Everyone was a little on edge. The whole Atlas Corps building was unnerving. It was like something out of a suspense horror film – that at any moment the people still inside would appear as if from nowhere and a chase would ensue.

When the elevator clunked noisily and stopped at the grating, everyone jumped a little.

Reyez lifted the latch that kept the iron gate locked in place and yanked it across enough to allow everyone into the lift, which itself was big enough to fit all of them and then some. When Reyez closed the gate again behind him, Hunter pressed the buttons for the uppermost floors.

“How far up does this go?” asked Eva, grabbing the edge of the lift as it juddered to life.

“It goes all the way up to the top floor, but you have to have a specific access code to get past the fifty-eighth floor, so we’ll get off there and walk the rest of the way,”  explained Hunter. “You guys,” he indicated to Private Greig and Marius, “will probably have to fire on a few doors because past the sixtieth floor, all the doors are key card or pass code access only.”

“That won’t be an issue,” Greig confirmed with a short nod.

After watching the lights on the elevator go up from one number to the next painfully slowly, James cleared his throat and ran his hands through his hair once, before clasping his hands behind his head at the nape of his neck. “I guess it’s stupid to wonder what we should expect.”

“Probably,” Tom confirmed, “but I suppose there’s no harm in speculation... I worry that Bella might offer resistance.”

Eva quirked an eyebrow. “What kind of resistance?”

“I’m not sure.” Tom shrugged. “I just don’t think talking to her is going to be very... easy, y’know?”

“Try impossible,” Hunter corrected.

“You think you know how this is going to turn out?” Reyez inquired, tilting his head to one side and giving the taller man a tired look. “Great boost to morale there.”

Hunter shrugged. “I read the journals left by my dad. He barely had any mind left at the end of it, his brain had been so warped and confused by Mukademon. My mother has been exposed to that parasite for twenty years...” He sighed. “You do the math.”

“We’ll find out when we get there,” Eva said, trying to relieve the tension that had settled on them. “I doubt we’ll be able to reason with Bella – but we might get... something out of her.”

“Keep the faith,” Hunter retorted sarcastically, leaning against the wall of the elevator with his hands in his pockets. He bowed his head, allowing his hair to cover his eyes and breathed deeply through his nose, falling silent.

“This is difficult for him,” Piper explained, before Reyez or Tom made a retort, as it appeared they were about to. “Just leave him be.” The blonde moved towards Hunter and the two began to speak in hushed voices, barely audible to the others over the sound of the elevator.

The remaining forty floors passed in uneasy silence, with only the groaning of the service lift for company. Numbered buttons for each of the floors illuminated one-by-one. Greig and Marius seemed the most on edge, they were the ones who kept moving and talking quietly to one another, fidgeting with their guns and belts.

Despite not knowing what would be waiting for them once they had to leave the lift, none of the others seemed especially agitated. There could have been hordes of crystalline Digimon feasting on the remaining corpses of the Atlas Corps employees...

Mukademon himself could be waiting for them to disembark, but none of them were showing signs of being concerned, despite the fact their Digimon were outside, on the other side of a practically impenetrable shield that surrounded the whole building, and aside from the two armed soldiers, they had no other form of defense or attack.

Eva had received a text from Frankie on the way up, just telling her she and Rose were fine with the others. She had asked to be kept informed of anything they came across in the Atlas Corps building, too. When Eva asked how the battle with Raijumon was going, Frankie had said there wasn’t much to report. That the giant electric Digimon was faring well against the eight Megas, and that so far their attacks only seemed to annoy him.

When the elevator finally lurched to a stop on the fifty-eighth floor, Hunter opened the iron grate and left it open as everyone filed out.

“From here on,” Private Greig explained as everyone disembarked, “I think it would safer for myself or Private Marius to take the lead in case there is anything aggressive waiting. We are armed, and you are not.”

“Makes sense,” Reyez reasoned. He looked at Hunter. “You have any problems with that?”

Hunter shook his head. “No. I’ll just tell you which direction to go in.”

“Very well,” Greig confirmed, taking up the front, while Marius took the back.

The door to the sixtieth floor was locked, as Hunter had explained it would most likely be, with a keycard reader that Greig was quick to shoot to allow them access. From this floor, the stairwells were at opposite ends of the large hallway that connected the two Atlas Corp towers. The upper floors all looked the same, with similar pictures on the walls of flowers, landscapes, or cityscapes. There were small reception areas, which led into large open offices with glass doors, and big tables all surrounded by chairs. The windows, which would have given a perfect view over the city, were all completely obscured by the crystal, making it impossible to gauge the battle below.

Each door to the stairs either had a card key reader on it, or a key pad which required a pass code. The high level of security wasn’t surprising, it was something Hunter had grown up with. Rose had always been the one in possession of the card keys and pass codes, mainly because Bella had never trusted Hunter with them, expecting him to lose them in one way or another.

On opening the door to the sixty-sixth floor, Private Greig grabbed for the wall, leaning against it and taking a deep breath.

“What’s up?” Reyez went to his aid, while Eva and the others filed out onto the main entrance floor.

“The air,” Greig explained, loosening a button on his uniform, “it’s very tight up here... difficult to breathe.”

Reyez stood back, giving the young solider some space to get some air as he leaned over, his hands on his knees, inhaling and exhaling deep breaths. Private Marius wasn’t faring much better. Trying to climb the stairs and wheezing on every breath as he clasped the banister with one hand to support himself.

The two men had started to struggle about five floors ago, complaining of sudden shortness of breath. That they both suddenly felt very out of energy, like they had run an intense obstacle course with a full sixty pound pack, when they had been taking the stairs slowly and carefully, being vigilant and overly cautious.

“This is... weird,” Tom pointed out, his expression showing concern for the two slowly breathing men. He stood a few meters away, and turned when James stepped to his side.

“Piper and Eva have gone to get some water for you,” James explained to the Privates, “maybe that will help?”

“We can’t stop,” Hunter said loudly, his hands stuffed into his pockets. “We need to get up to her office.”

“Give them a minute,” Reyez retorted.

Tom agreed. “They’re exhausted, Hunter. Let them have a breather.” Hunter went to reply, but Tom stopped him, trying to keep his tone as level as possible. “We get it, that you’re anxious to get upstairs, but we have to keep an eye on everyone.”


Hunter grit his teeth, though said nothing in return.

For a moment, the only noise was that of Greig and Marius breathing in and trying to recover.

“TOM!!” Eva’s voice rang out from a short distance away.

Leaving the two soldiers recovering under Reyez’s watchful eyes, Tom ran in the direction of the sound of her voice, down one short corridor and into a large meeting room.

Eva stood over the threshold, while Piper made her way around the room, stepping carefully over strewn bodies.

The sight was one to behold, laying slumped on the floor and in chairs were people dressed in business suits – Atlas Corp employees. Many of them looked as if they had just collapsed where they had been standing or sitting. Some lay over others, while others lay in piles of bodies.

Hunter and James were quick to join Tom, stopping just behind him so as not to shove the blond over the threshold.

“What... the Hell?” James aired the question, taking in the view in front of him, of all these people scattered around, all of them appearing to be lifeless. The skin of every person was nearly the color of chalk, everyone’s eyes were closed, and none of them appeared to be breathing.

Piper was leaning over one person, an older man who was seated; his head had lolled back over the back of his seat. Where her fingers pressed into his neck, struggling to find a sign of life, his skin was like ice. A look of hard concentration marred Piper’s face.

“I know him.” Hunter announced, pushing through the others to get into the room. “His name is Fredrickson... he’s one of the Financial Buyers for Atlas Corp.” He approached slowly, leaning on the arm of the chair the old man slouched in. Hunter’s eyebrows furrowed together as he stared at the motionless bodies around him, unable to fathom what this meant, or even why these people appeared to be dead. It made no sense. Not to his mind.

“Is he dead...?” Tom asked from the doorway.

Piper shook her head slowly. “He has a pulse. Really faint one.” She pulled her hand back. “Does this - seem at all familiar?” she asked, looking at Hunter and then the others. “Private Greig and Private Marius were fine until what, the sixty-first floor when they suddenly become breathless and feel a strange, inexplicable weakness? Now we get to this floor and not only do we find all these people comatose, but our escorts struggling even more.”

James looked confused. “This is supposed to remind us of something?”

“The Gala,” Piper said simply, loosely folding her arms across her chest.

Eva shook her head. “But at the Gala we were affected too. We all collapsed because of Mukademon and Bella doing their weird... energy-stealing trick.”

“Maybe we’re strong enough to fight against it now?” Piper shrugged. “Ryudamon did say that as Tamers we have a natural... antibody, I suppose, that fights off the Parasite infection and influence. That’s why Frankie’s infection was so bad, because her natural 'goodness' as a Tamer was trying to fight it off...” She sighed and pinched the space between her eyebrows. “I can’t explain, but this cannot be a coincidence. Mukademon needs energy to feed off of, to be strong and to get stronger. Atlas Corps is a perfect residence to do that if he has people trapped inside all panicking and frightened; he has masses of negative energy to devour before he faces the Gods.”

“Where are you going with this, Piper?” inquired Tom.

“It’s like Ryudamon explained when the first war happened a thousand years ago,” explained the blonde patiently, “that he fed off the anger and the negative emotions of the Digimon he infected to get stronger. Strong enough to take on the six rulers of the Digital World. Well here, he doesn’t have Digimon to do that, instead he has humans, most of whom are just bottles of pent up anger and hate waiting to explode.”

James tilted an eyebrow. “That’s a fair point. If he’s been eating up the energy of angry humans, who knows how much stronger he is now? Maybe that’s something we should ask your mother.”

“Yeah. Great, add it to the list.” Hunter sighed, running his hands back through his hair. “But as far as we can tell, Mr. Fredrickson and the others in here... they’re alive?”

“As far as I can tell,” Piper confirmed with a short nod. “We should get moving.”

They found Reyez with Private Greig and Marius, and the two men exactly as those they had found in the meeting room. They were slumped over on the ground, out cold with clammy skin and their faces drawn of all color.

Reyez had relieved them both of their firearms, and taken a few extra rounds of ammunition just in case. James and Hunter decided to take the two men to the lower floor, where they seemed to breathe a little easier. They remained comatose, but after they were laid in a safe place, out of harm’s way, the group of six continued up the stairs.

On each of the next floors, they took a short break to check and see if there were more hostages, which as it turned out there were. Most rooms were full of people on the floor who had just collapsed in place. In some rooms, chairs had been pushed together to create make-shift beds, and the people who had been sleeping, using jackets and coats for warmth, had been affected during their slumber so they looked relatively peaceful.

They found litters of food that had been consumed, and some rooms had piles of preserves that could be eaten at later dates. Rations for people who didn’t know when, or if, they were ever going to get out of the grand prison Bella and Mukademon had created for them.

Reyez opened the door for himself and the others on each new floor they came to, until they were at the final door, which was already open, swinging on its hinges as if it had been left open on purpose.

“She knows we’re coming,” Hunter announced, pushing the door back to allow him in. The others followed slowly, Reyez bringing up the rear, gun in hand.

The stairwell door led out into the hallway, and at either end were two large double doors. The only other doors there were ones which led to two separate offices, according to Hunter.

Unlike the other floors – which had been flooded with the bright artificial daylight bulbs that Atlas Corps favored – the lights here were off, giving the whole hallway that went between two main offices a cold and uneasy feel.

“Which one?” Eva asked, indicating to the two opposing doors. She stuck like glue to Tom, who held onto her hand tightly as the six of them moved as a group so not to lose each other in the gloom.

“This one.” Hunter indicated the door to the far left. “The other has been out of use since... forever.” It had been Russell’s office, though he didn’t feel the need to elaborate on that fact. Taking a breath through his nose, Hunter swallowed thickly as they made their way towards the office door. “I... don’t really know what to expect when we get in there,” he admitted.

“Let’s just take it a step at a time, huh?” Piper said gently, giving Hunter’s hand a squeeze. Hunter reciprocated with a weak smile.

Reyez went to the double glass doors and touched the door handle, finding it ice cold in his palm. With a swift movement, he pushed the handle down and shoved the door open with his shoulder. Both doors swung open and crashed back against the walls of Bella’s office.

The first thing they noticed was that the crystal hadn’t reached the windows here, and that they were blinded momentarily with bright white light from the sky outside. The electrical lights were all off in the office, and sitting behind a desk in the middle of the room, calm, collected and perfectly presented, was Bella Divine.

-----------------------------

Ceryneiamon back-flipped with ease and poised her bow, releasing an arrow of light onto Raijumon’s side. “Shooting Star!”

The electric beast howled as the arrow pierced his electrified body. His attention left Ymirmon for a moment as he turned his attention back to the deer satyr Digimon, who nocked another arrow, ready to fire.

“Bolt Sniper!” he shouted.

Ceryneiamon leaped back from the attack, watching as it caused the car she had been standing on to explode in a fiery ball. She loosed the arrow from her bow again, watching the shimmering trail it left “Shooting Star!”

Raijumon lashed out with his tail, the metal plates catching the arrow and diverting it into the ground where the arrow disintegrated. He growled in aggravation, whipping his tail back and forth, crackling with suffused energy and leaving trails of bouncing electricity in the wake of his huge paws.

From a high building, Morrigamon and Selenemon sat on the edge of the roof, each with their legs crossed. Their weapons lay at their sides as they casually watched the unfolding battle with the lightning tyrant, appearing to any onlooker as if they were recovering expelled energy from their earlier fights with Malkimon and Capellamon.

Selenemon suppressed a yawn, stretching her arms above her head. “I am growing bored of this toying...” she said slowly, groaning as her muscles relaxed from their stretch.

Morrigamon said nothing in response, for while she recuperated, she still had her gaze trained on the battle below.

The battle with Raijumon seemed to have become a kind of twisted form of entertainment for the Gods. It made sense to them, that if it had only required four of them to destroy Capellamon and Bacaloumon as easily as they had, then eight could take Raijumon in one big, all out attack. But there had seemed no sport in that to them. The male Gods, mainly goaded on by Heliomon and Ceryneiamon, had decided to make a game of their battle, toying with Raijumon, wearing him down until his energy was completely expended.

Raijumon’s base beast instincts made him open for most any attack. His attention never fixed on any one of the Gods for very long, as another would draw his attention away, so they were never in any real danger. It was like keeping a ball away from a dog.

“It's like torturing a mindless animal,” Morrigamon said breezily, examining the fingertip ends of her gauntlets, ensuring they were still sharp.

Raijumon snapped his jaws at Heliomon as the wolf-man, fully aflame, blazed in front of him and then up, out of reach. Vayumon stood casually with his katana sheathed and his arm resting in his hakama top; he had been watching the aerial acrobatics of the flaming Digimon, and only noticed Raijumon charging him when he turned towards the noise of the oncoming attack.

Finally taking notice of Raijumon storming his way, Vayumon adjusted his stance, barely. “Huh.”

Before the beast Digimon could fully launch an attack against the tiger God, Vayumon's wind paws came up before him, pushing against Raijumon. The paws snapped around his muzzle, stopping him in his tracks. Shoving Raijumon back roughly, they came hurtling towards Raijumon, smacking him square in the muzzle and sending the Digimon reeling back and crashing into an already partially damaged building.

Gaiusmon followed after the tumbling blue giant, swinging a watery broadsword. “Monsoon Rhapsody!” The wave of energy came hurtling towards Raijumon, crushing him against the building he had landed on.

Roaring with indignation, Raijumon threw his head back, yowling. “Static Cling!”

Electricity began to crackle all around the battlefield, as power lines, both active and fallen, sparked to life. Visible bolts of electricity began to form a huge net, trapping Gaiusmon, Vayumon, and Heliomon within its confines.

Vayumon snarled as the sparks began to fly, electrocuting himself and his companions. With further power given by Gaiusmon’s watery attacks, the electricity quickly began to burn and singe.

Raijumon laughed hoarsely, pulling himself to his feet.

Marquismon floated above her trapped companions, the healing spores that escaped her lotus bloom keeping the damage at bay for the moment. Summoning her crystal ball, Marquismon cried, “Enchanting Kiss!” and let the ball fly.

Floating just above Raijumon, the ball spun swiftly and created a vortex, pulling Raijumon forcefully from the ground and sucking him in. Raijumon’s claws clung to the ground despite the pull, and eventually he was yanked from his place and pulled into the vortex, howling and gnashing his teeth.

After barely a moment, a beam of bright, turquoise light exploded from the ball and spat Raijumon out, slamming his against the base of one of the Atlas Corp towers.

“Bad dog.”

Ceryneiamon hopped from the roof off a building onto one of Marquismon’s vines, using it as leverage as Gaiusmon, Vayumon, and Heliomon recovered on the ground from their electrocution. In her hands sparkled a collection of pale energy which she threw up into the air yelling, “Starlight Nova!!”

The energy split off into six, seven, eight, more spherical missiles as the one ball of energy dispersed into many smaller ones, each one aiming perfectly for Raijumon’s fallen form. As each tiny missile hit, Raijumon’s body jerked and the electricity that formed him snapped against the power.

“Lightning Chain!” Raijumon managed to form his attack, lashing his longer tail with its sharp, blade-like magnets towards Marquismon.

Ceryneiamon dodged one way while Marquismon the other, avoiding the wildly thrashing tail as it left scorch marks wherever it landed.

There was no aim to Raijumon’s attack, he was just trying to fend off his adversaries as best he could.

As Vayumon was fully recovered, he gathered up his sword and summoned a second wind blade in his other hand, and two more in his large wind paws. “Full Moon Requiem!” he hollered, charging towards Raijumon at ground level, leaping up at the last moment as the blue Digimon spotted him coming.

Swiftly, the magnets on Raijumon’s tail came together, turning his tail into a giant spear.

Countering Vayumon’s blades with his tail, Raijumon snarled and sent Vayumon reeling back. The tiger God bounced against the windows of the building and pushed himself off again, hurling himself towards Raijumon, roaring as he flew through the air.

With Raijumon distracted, Ymirmon charged along the ground, dragging Rimefang with him. “Remorseless Winter!” He swung the blade in a wide arc, sending forth a blizzard, at the same time as Vayumon’s blades and Raijumon’s tail-spear clanged once more.


From the safety of the military bunker, McTyre watched the battle, with Rose, Frankie, Ryudamon, Rubimon, and Corneliamon. Eleanor nursed Eric’s head wound with the medical supplies that the bunker had been kitted out with. Ideally his injury needed stitches, but for the moment Eleanor had sealed the worst of the cut with sterilized medical strips, cleaned it, and redressed it.

McTyre never would have imagined he would find himself watching something as dramatic as these Gods fighting what he would have ordinarily seen as an impossible foe, with creatures he had once viewed as the enemy. Yet here he was, with Rubimon and Ryudamon on either side.

The battle seemed to be in the Gods favor, from all he could see, they toyed with the giant blue Digimon, and it almost seemed cruel to watch, though they showed no sign of letting Raijumon up or even giving him a merciful death...

But these were circumstances McTyre did not fully understand. And he doubted he ever would.

When the walkie-talkie on his hip crackled to life, it made McTyre jump, though he recovered quickly and responded to the communication.

“We’ve secured a chopper for you, General,” one of his soldiers spoke from the other end, his voice little more than a garbled mess of static. “We’re sending the co-ordinates through GPS.”

“Understood,” McTyre confirmed. “Once I have the co-ordinates, ETA will be five-to-seven minutes.” Replacing the walkie-talkie on his hip, McTyre turned to Rose and Frankie, who had followed him away from the edge of the bunker where they could see the fighting.

“You’re leaving?” Frankie pointed out.

McTyre nodded. “I said I would. I’m just waiting for the location of the chopper to be sent through to me.” He wrung his hands together for a moment, glancing back at Eleanor, who held Eric’s head in her lap. He moved towards Eleanor slowly. “Are you certain you wouldn’t like me to take him?”

Eleanor looked at the old General and blinked owlishly. She had the look of someone who had been awake for over twenty-four hours. Disorientated and a little confused. With the dried blood on her face and Eric’s blood smeared over her hands and fingers, it didn’t help to make her appear any less perplexed.

“No...” Eleanor said finally. “I mean. Thank you, but taking him would slow you down. And we may need him here.”

McTyre pursed him lips and said. “Then perhaps you could help escort him with me.”

Eleanor shook her head. “Thank you, General...” She smiled gently, “but I want to stay here with them,” the nodded to Frankie and Rose, “and I know Eric would feel the same. We both have faith that their Digimon will win... what kind of impression would it give if we left?”

Though her logic confused him, McTyre knew there would be no arguing with the dark haired young woman, so he bid her a farewell, and turned back to the two other human occupants of the bunker.

“I imagine you two are the same?” he said slowly. He had offered Frankie and Rose the option to come with him and escape the danger – they had both refused, but there was no harm in double checking.

“Thanks, General,” Frankie smiled, “but we have to stay. It’s our Digimon fighting... they’ll probably need us at some point.”

“For a pep talk,” Rose added, “or something.”

Rubbing his forehead, McTyre released a short bark of laughter. “I think you all, Private Louis included, are insane.”

“We know,” Frankie said cheerfully. “But we’re not.”

Rose added, “you won’t believe us... but we know what we’re doing. And so do you. Leaving the fate of the city in our hands is the right thing to do... The only thing to do.”

McTyre chuckled. “Somehow, the thought of leaving an entire city in the hands of eight... children, and their monsters, does not fill me with contentment. But the sentiment behind your words is appreciated.”

“They’re not children,” Ryudamon informed him, stepping out from behind Rose and Frankie, “and you should leave. Raijumon has been drawn away, it should be safe for you to make your escape if you do it now.”

“Very well.” McTyre nodded. “I hope to see you all when this is over.”

Without another word, he checked the view outside, satisfied to see that Raijumon was being kept well and truly busy. He climbed out of the cellar bunker and began to run for the safety of the buildings, something to hide behind, and to start making his way to the destination his men had sent to him.

He felt a terrible sense of foreboding before he even looked over his shoulder, as if he were being followed. And when he chanced to look behind him, he saw he was correct. Raijumon had left the fight with the Digimon, and was tracking him, his large steps covering more ground than McTyre could cover at his fastest sprint.

In a matter of seconds, the huge electric Digimon towered above him.

The heat from his limbs caused a thin film of sweat to form over McTyre’s brow – though that could have been from the terror that filled him up from his very core.

Raijumon’s limbs crackled and fizzed with the electricity that teemed over his body, at this close range the sound was almost deafening.

His fear caused McTyre to trip up, and he landed with a hard thump on the ground. He froze. He couldn’t find it in himself to get to his feet. His body trembled with fear and he found himself curling up into the fetal position, hoping the death coming to him would be quick and painless.

He heard Raijumon take a deep breath, reading an attack.

“Crystal Nebula!” Ceryneiamon’s cry was heard first, and then the dozens and dozens of arrows fired on Raijumon’s body, spreading over the blue form and drawing his energies back to Ceryneiamon.

Raijumon yowled, his heard jerking in the direction of the oncoming arrows.

“Torch Strike!”

“Deadly Circle!”

The flaming bullets and the wave of watery energy collided against Raijumon’s body, drawing the animal towards them, snarling and snapping his jaws together furiously.

Slowly, feeling began to return to McTyre’s limbs, and he peered out from his protective ball. Raijumon had been drawn away from him again, but it still took him a few moments to gain up the courage to move more than just his eye in its socket.

He found his feet, but was jerked gently off them, with a vine wrapping around his waist. It carried him speedily away from the battle, the vine travelling towards Marquismon, who sat happily in her lotus flower on the outskirts of the fighting.

She placed him on the ground and gave him a benign smile and salute. “General.” With that, she went to join the others in the fight.

McTyre ran.

-----------------------------

Raijumon struggled to get onto all four of his paws, the impact of the attacks on him from the Gods as he had perused McTyre had sent him flying to the ground and it took every ounce of remaining strength the blue giant had to struggle to his feet, only to collapse onto his side again.

He roared in pain. In outrage. In anguish. A roar so loud and terrible that it shook the entire block of buildings, like an earthquake happening beneath the crystal ground. The sound bounced off the walls and building blocks alike, sending it reverberating and echoing back and forth.

Rimefang appeared in Ymirmon's grasp. “And so it ends,” he stated softly with a smirk, watching Raijumon struggle again to get to his feet.

“Oh, no...” A voice came broke through the diminishing sounds of Raijumon’s roar, like broken glass in a silent room. The voice was familiar, deep, and more like a gruff hiss as it struck the ears of the Gods. “We’re... just beginning!”

The streets began to rumble and shake, far more violently than they had when Raijumon had cried out. Car and house alarms began to ring out from beneath the crystalline containment in response, while remaining street lights cracked and fell, flattening cars they landed on, and creating small dents in the ground.

In the cellar, Frankie and Eleanor had fallen on each other as the shaking had started. Eleanor cuddled Eric protectively, keeping him still, shielding his head with her body and covering her own head from any falling debris. Frankie and Rose grabbed each other and the walls as they struggled to regain their footing against the tremendous shaking.

“Wh-what’s happening!?” Frankie shouted, hoping one of the Digimon or even Rose might answer.

Ryudamon along with Corneliamon and Rubimon stared at the cellar door. Each of them looked poised and ready to attack, tense and trembling. Their pupils had contracted to the size of pinpricks, and each of them showed their teeth. Corneliamon began to snarl and Rubimon looked as if she was trying to control herself, flames licking around her maw. Ryudamon's fur was standing up on end, his eyes were focused and his pupils mere black slits in the green of his eyes. He looked almost ferocious, a state in which neither Rose or Frankie had ever seen him.

“He... is here.” Ryudamon’s voice retained its constant tone of calm, though it was laced with a tainted anger and rage he struggled to keep within.

Corneliamon sprinted towards the cellar door, her instincts taking over her better judgment. She head butted the door open, letting it swing back on itself.

“Corneliamon!” Eleanor shouted, releasing Eric’s head and struggling to her feet to pursue the white otter.

“No!” Frankie ordered, grabbing the young woman’s arm. “Stay here! I'll go get her,” she told Eleanor, her words coming out in a rush. “You look after Eric.”

Eleanor nodded weakly, settling back down.

“I'm coming with you,” Rose stated, moving in tandem with Frankie. The other girl aired no sound of refusal.

Ryudamon and Rubimon had already run out from the safety of the cellar bunker, pursuing Corneliamon, fuelled by the same adrenaline and instinct as the little otter had been. Shortly after, Frankie and Rose followed them out, moving steadily over the ground towards the three Rookies, who stuck together.

Once again, the ground trembled and shook, the worst of it appeared to come from beneath Raijumon’s paws, where the ground looked like it was about to give out.

Raijumon continued to struggle to his feet, battling against not only the ground but his own exhaustion. Suddenly, the earth gave out beneath him completely and Raijumon growled as he attempted to gain some purchase on the gradually disappearing ground.

Mukademon's laugh filled the air.

He rose up from the ground like a behemoth, a giant, and larger than any of the Gods recalled. It was as if, since last seeing him, Mukademon had grown three or four times as big, almost the same size as Raijumon when standing up on his hind legs.

The color of Mukademon’s body had changed too, becoming darker. The mottled brownish-grey of his chest was now more grey-blue, and the scythes on his first set of arms were longer, more curved, and looked sharp enough to cut a building in half with a single swing.

The feelers that extended from his eye sockets moved one way, then the other, seeking out the eight Gods who congregated around him.

Morrigamon hovered in the air with Marquismon, while both Heliomon and his sister stood on low buildings. Ceryneiamon stood on top of a truck, and Ymirmon, Gaiusmon, and Vayumon kept to the ground. Each of them had their weapons drawn, and struggled not to feel the fear that threatened to overtake them at seeing Mukademon at this size.

“It is so good to see you all again...” Mukademon said slowly, his words coming out in a harsh, snappish whisper. “So good indeed. And I owe you each my thanks for ridding me of those... troublesome followers.”

“What–”

“Do I mean?!” Mukademon wheeled on Marquismon and she recoiled. “My dear, you didn’t think I meant for them to be any kind of struggle for you? No... I needed you to destroy them so I could gorge myself on their data, and generate the remaining energy I needed to get to my full power...”

He breathed slowly, bringing his lower arms together, the fingers clasping as if he were addressing a congregation of people, perfectly calmly.

“They were just the icing on the cake, as they say,” Mukademon hummed. “The truth is, I only took their energy as a bonus on all the energy I’ve already absorbed here.” He rose higher, using his thorax to do so, leaning back on it like it was some kind of throne. “Humans are such... pitiful creatures, as I have always believed.

“They walk around every day with their anger bubbling beneath the surface. Never revealing their true personalities or expressing what they would truly like to do. So much negative energy, pushed down and down... It was so easy to take it from them, and delicious too...”

“Enough of your speeches!” Gaiusmon bellowed.

“Are you so ready to die?” asked Mukademon.


Behind him Raijumon whined and rose up, pulling himself out of the collapsed ground with his forepaws.

“Ah...” Mukademon murmured, “thank you for the reminder.” He twisted his torso without another word and disappeared under the ground with ease, leaving the Gods baffled and confused.

Raijumon had finally hauled himself to his feet, and readily braced himself for the Gods, spotting them all there, weapons in hand and ready to fight. As he moved a paw, preparing to sprint towards his enemies, Mukademon exploded right from beneath Raijumon, throwing the electric beast high into the air like a shark with a seal pup.

The Gods, the smaller Digimon, Frankie and Rose, all stared in terrified and somewhat disgusted awe to see Raijumon hanging out of Mukademon's mouth.

On the ground, Frankie and Rose screamed at the image.

Mukademon lurched his head back and threw Raijumon again. Raijumon released a pitiful yelp, like that of a kicked dog, as Mukademon’s jaws clamped down around him. He chewed violently on the blue giant’s body, seemingly unaffected by the currents of electricity that his body produced.

As Raijumon’s corrupted data dispersed, it was clear and visible as Mukademon absorbed it. The insectoid Digimon swallowed dramatically, and his mouth slipped into a manic smile.

“Ahhhh, it feels good to be back!” Mukademon crowed, clasping his hand claws together and rubbing them greedily. “Who should I choose as my next meal...?”

His feelers moved around, pin pointing each of the Gods in turn.

-----------------------------

Up here the air felt colder, like the windows were wide open and letting in a wintery breeze, when the windows were not just closed, but locked. Still, the breath of everyone was visible as they each exhaled in turn, no one daring to make the first move or say the first words.

Bella simply stared at the group with cold, almost unseeing eyes, and seemed barely to move in her chair. It was more like she was a display mannequin than a real, living person, considering how still she was. Even as she sat there, it was plain to see that she was not the same woman they had seen at the Gala and on the news.

She looked worn sitting there, her skin hanging off her face. She looked emaciated, the color of her skin nearly grey and waxy in appearance. Her black dress hung off her shoulders, baggy and ill fitting, and the once snug sleeves were now too big for her arms. Even her hair was different; it had thinned considerably, and where they had always seen Bella look so neat, clean and tidy, the hair hung around her shoulders in a tangled mess like it hadn’t seen a brush or comb in months.

The moments of Bella sitting, staring at them with a silent, vacant expression, and them all looking back at her dragged on, and on, with the silence only growing louder and louder as each moment ticked over.

Until Bella finally moved.

She seemed to stretch, tilting her head back and rolling it from side-to-side, slowly and purposefully, as if she was awakening.

Her eyes refocused on the group before her, and Bella was on her feet, using the desk in front of her for support. Though she looked at each of the Tamers in turn, examining them and judging them slowly, her eyes seemed to linger on Hunter, who stood uncomfortably in the back.

“You know how rude it is to come into places when you’re not invited,” Bella stated, speaking slowly. Her voice sounded thick and hoarse, like she hadn’t spoken in a while and her vocal chords weren’t warmed up at all. “You’re here now, though... and it would seem a shame to waste your trip.”

Slowly, Bella moved away from her desk, barely able to stand on her own two feet as she shook and trembled violently. It was clearer now just how gaunt and wasted her body had become. Her bones protruded from her skin as if it were just a thin sheet of fabric. Her dress sleeves barely stayed on her shoulders, and even her shoes seemed too big as she struggled to walk.

“What do you want?” asked Bella, her tone friendly enough, though it had an edge to it. When no one answered after several silent beats, Bella slammed her hand down on the surface of the desk, startling the six of them. She allowed the sound to circulate before she spoke again. “What do you want?” she articulated each of the words and waited.

One-by-one, Reyez, Piper, and the others realized... they didn’t know.

They had come up to Bella’s office to confront her. To get answers and demand explanations... but answers to what questions? And explanations to what things that could not be explained? Mukademon was working with or for Bella, that they already knew. Bella had lost her mind completely, that was also clear.

There were no questions that immediately sprang to mind that they needed answers to.

Even the ones they had each been conjuring in their minds on their trip up to her office seemed to disappear.

They didn’t want anything.

Bella’s gaze drilled into each of them in turn, her patience wearing thin with each dragging second.

Eventually she sighed dramatically. “What a waste...”

“I have a question for you,” Hunter’s voice echoed, clear and firm as he stepped in front of the others, his head and chin high, eyes narrowed and eyebrows furrowed.

The expression on Bella’s face flickered for a moment, a look of recognition and surprise before it was schooled.

“Can you remember... if you recall even the tiniest amount if you ever loved me, Rose, and Logan... Can you honestly tell me, has it all been worth it? Did you love us at all?” Hunter spoke slowly, leveling his mother, or what remained of her, with a gaze he kept cold and detached.

For months he had carried on, the weight of what his mother was doing weighing on his shoulders. He had fooled everyone, even himself to a point, that her actions and what she was doing to the city and its inhabitants had made him hate her, down to the very core.

But the plain fact was... this was still his mother.

She had given life to Rose and himself. And even though the memories were faint, he remembered snippets and flashes of a time as a child when they had been happy, when she had loved them and treasured them and seen them both as more than just pawns.

Silence filled the empty air Hunter’s question had left.

Bella stared at him as if looking at a person she didn’t know.

It was at that moment, while the stillness lingered,  that Eva decided to take stock of their surroundings, and noticed in the far corner of Bella’s office a leg, randomly splayed out on the ground. Morbid curiosity grabbed her by the gut and tempted her towards the curiously out of place limb.

She knew, before she even saw the whole image, that she was looking at something wrong and disturbed, her stomach told her so as it twisted and knotted uncomfortably, but she couldn’t tear her eyes away, and her absence would not be noted if she stepped only a few feet away.

The clothed leg gave way to another, and a body attached to it; a tall, thin body, with clothes hanging off each limb as if they were too big. She realized with increasing unease that there was a second person there that the first body lay over, the second one belonging to a larger person, a man with a bald head. His face she could see, and she could see the sunken look of his eyes and how skin, muscle, and sinew had practically melted from his face.

Eva recoiled, backing up frantically with her hands clasped over her mouth. She knocked something, a vase, over and brought all attention to her.

“What?” Tom grabbed Eva by her shoulders and held her in place, while Eva’s eyes remained fixed on the corpses. “What, Eva? What’s wrong?”

Everyone moved towards the plum haired girl, except Bella, who hadn’t spoken to answer Hunter’s question. Her mouth was drawn into a small, pleased smile.

“Talk to me, Eva.” Tom tried to move so that Eva looked at him, and eventually he seemed to grab her attention enough for her eyes to focus.

“Th... the...” Eva stammered, she shook her head, closing her eyes tight and just pointed with a trembling hand into the direction of the corner.

Reyez and James checked together, while Tom worked to calm Eva down. Hunter kept his eyes trained on his mother, and Piper felt helpless, unsure of which way to turn.

“The fuck is that?” Reyez demanded, pointing to the corner as he stalked back towards the group.

“You mean Mason and Richard?” Bella asked, innocently. She shrugged a thin shoulder. “Once Mukademon was able to take on full form, he no longer required vessels. They became obsolete. I couldn’t very well bury them now, could I?”

“So...” James stared at her with his eyes and hands open, “you’ve just been up here... with rotting corpses?”

“I like their company,” Bella replied smoothly. “They don’t talk. Don’t need feeding. They’re the perfect companions.”

“They’re dead!” Eva yelped.

Bella turned her cold gaze on the still hysterical Eva. “I am perfectly aware of that.”

“You didn’t answer my question.” Hunter’s voice fell flat, extinguishing at once the panic caused by Eva’s discovery. “Don’t avoid it.”

Raising her eyes skywards first, Bella then looked at Hunter for a few seconds, appearing to weigh up the question he had originally asked.

She tilted an eyebrow. “Yes.”

The admission seemed a blow to Hunter as his mouth and eyes opened a touch wider.

“That surprises you, I see,” Bella murmured, standing up a little straighter. “You didn’t really think being a mother compares to all the power I have now and will have... did you?”

“I...” Hunter’s voice was barely audible.

“Oh Hunter,” Bella laughed, “if you thought that... you’ve been sorely mistaken. If you believed, coming here, that you could somehow talk me away from the brink of a precipice, you were severely mistaken, and your trip has been an unmitigated waste. I threw myself over the threshold of the point of no return years ago. Just after your father died. I was given the option to complete his work and avenge the death wrought on him by those Gods, and I took it with both hands.”

Piper stared at Bella. “So this whole time... all the people who have been hurt and died, it’s been because of your desire for revenge?”

“I prefer to call it justice,” Bella sneered.

“It’s dangerous to get the two confused,” Piper retorted.

“What would you know?” Bella snorted derisively. “I am doing magnificent work with Mukademon. When everything we have been working so hard towards finally comes to fruition, it will be a beautiful and breathtaking thing! Once the Gods are destroyed once and for all, as they should have been so long ago, the Digital World and this world will collide... creating a new paradise! With Mukademon and myself at the helm, weak and feeble humans like yourselves, no better than insects underfoot, will bow to us both and to our creations as the supreme race!”

“She’s insane...” Tom murmured.

“So how could you, Hunter,” Bella looked at him squarely, “even think for a moment my dear, that this hasn’t been worth it?”

Refusing to submit to the burning sensation behind his eyes, Hunter grit his teeth and held his breath, turning his gaze away from his mother.

Releasing a small chuckle, Bella walked around to the side of the desk where her chair was situated. She pulled a drawer open and reached inside for something. “Now it’s time to end this... to put an end to it all,” Bella murmured softly.

“Is that...” Reyez didn’t finish his sentence, staring at the silver object that was all too familiar to him and the others, clasped in Bella’s hand.

“A D-Touch?” Tom breathed.

“Is that what you call them?” Bella asked. “How quaint.” She turned the glowing device over in her hand a few times. “I suppose you could say this was the original. The prototype. It’s had some modifications since Russell first used it when he was transported to the Digital World... it’s much better now. More powerful. It has more capabilities than you’ll ever know.”

Without another word, Bella turned towards the wide glass window that was situated behind her and the desk. She held the D-Touch out in front of her and tapped a single button. There was quiet, no noise except the breathing of those in the room.

Then cracking.

In a matter of seconds, the glass had shattered around her, littered the floor and flying in all directions from the fierce updraft caused by being up so high.

-----------------------------

Mukademon's speed was incredible for his size. He slithered around the street, moving in a zigzag motion, avoiding Vayumon and Morrigamon's joined blasts as they instead cut through cars and set black fire to rubble.

He laughed menacingly, twisting his upper body to their direction above, yet behind him. “Devouring Swarm!” He released the attack and began out run them again.

The two airborne Digimon leapt to the side, as Vayumon landed on the ground, causing a crater to form around  his area of impact. “Winds of Hell!” The tiger god performed his attack, releasing a raging cannon towards the monstrous Digimon.

Mukademon quickly placed himself onto a nearby building to dodge, crawling up it in a spiraling motion, avoiding the attack of the wind God as it flew past him and dissipated.


Heliomon grit his teeth in annoyance. “Torch Strike!” He released a double set of fire blasts from his fingers, simulating a cowboy in an old Western. His strikes struck the building, causing massive damage against the walls and windows, but still missed the fast slithering Digimon as he ascended higher and higher.
Marquismon's vines followed behind the insectoid as he reached the top of the building. Mukademon leapt away from the doggedly pursuing vines, almost crushing Heliomon with his bulk where he landed.

“He's toying with them...” Ryudamon spoke in disbelief. He had calmed down significantly, as had Rubimon and Corneliamon. Their initial reaction to Mukademon had been fuelled by an inexplicable instinct to attack, but they each held on to some sense of self and held themselves back.

“He seems to be much stronger than recorded, no?” Rubimon stated.

“Most definitely...”

Rubimon and Corneliamon were on edge, watching as the battle raged, filled with the desire to help but helpless to find a way how to. Corneliamon had tried to trigger her evolution to Liviamon several times, but only resulted in giving herself a headache and leaving her stumped as to how she had achieved the change in the first place.

They had found refuge in a corner store that was located just two businesses away from the Atlas Corps building. A car that had made its home in the store's window covered them nicely, without them having to kneel down or duck out of view.

“Strangulation!” Mukademon's eye feelers lashed out, wrapping around Ceryneiamon’s torso before she could fire off the arrow in her bow. He picked the Lady of Light off of the ground, and slammed her into the concrete. Once, a second time, then again.

“CERYNEIAMON!” Vayumon roared, rushing towards Mukademon as his wind claws formed into one, performing his 'Tiger Clutch God Fist' attack. The fist slammed itself into Mukademon's side, throwing the other Digimon off his feet and crashing into the ground floor of the Atlas Building. Mukademon released Ceryneiamon on the impact of Vayumon’s attack and the satyr woman landed in a heap on the hard ground where she struggled to her feet.

Gaiusmon followed Vayumon’s attack, releasing a violent wave of water that caused Mukademon to shout in pain.

“Don't give him time to recover!” Morrigamon ordered.

However, Mukademon was quick and had removed himself from Gaiusmon's range. The giant Digimon quickly scurried behind the Atlas Corps building, reappearing a bit higher.

Selenemon drew her scythe back, following Mukademon up the side of the building. Drawing her scythe into her body, she began to spin, while continually moving up the side of the tower. “Winter’s Waltz!”

She was covered in an icy mist caused by her tail and wings. In moments she had become a raging twister of snow and sharp blades of ice as she followed Mukademon around the side of the building, unrelenting as he tried to avoid her. Windows smashed in the wake of the she-wolf’s attack, sending debris falling to the ground below.

“Will-o-Wisp!” Blasts of black fire came at Mukademon from above, exploding against his thorax and arms, blocking him from moving further. Selenemon’s rapidly turning body neared him and the blades of ice began to cut into his flesh.

Mukademon dived, heading straight for the ground.

“Winds of Hell!” A cannon blast of wind energy fired from the ground up, throwing Mukademon back on himself as it hit him head-on. The only thing that kept him in place was his tail, wrapped around the building like an anchor.

Roaring, Mukademon swiped at Selenemon and Morrigamon with his scythe arms, slicing through the air as both Digimon narrowly avoided the sharp implements. He instead carved into the Atlas Corp tower, creating huge gouges and littering the ground with broken bits of glass and concrete.

Unhindered for a moment, Mukademon leapt from the building he had curled himself around, heading straight down to the hole that had been beneath Raijumon, disappearing underground for a time.

Rose screamed as Frankie yanked her away from the falling debris. Both girls hit the ground hard, before shoving one another hurriedly onto their feet.

“Mukademon! He’s going to bring the buildings down!” Rose yelled frantically, staring at the damage already done to the Atlas Corp towers.

“And we’re going to get crushed if we’re not careful!” Frankie snapped, grabbing the other girl’s arm roughly. “Girl, we need to get out of here!!” Digging her nails into Rose’s arm so she knew she couldn’t let go, Frankie began to run, dragging Rose behind her.

Mukademon burst from the ground with a thunderous roar, wrapping his immense centipede body around one of the Atlas Corp towers, spiraling up  as far as he could go. His laugh echoed into the air as his bulk caused the building to begin to crumble inwards with each minute twitch of his muscles.

It was like he was a snake, coiling and squeezing its prey.

The Gods had failed to notice where it was he was situated, and in turn did not recall the fact that their Tamers were still inside. Their focus was entirely on Mukademon and destroying him.

“Shooting Star!”

“Remorseless Winter!”

“Winds of Hell!”

“Howling Gust!”

Each attack as relentless as the last left more damage on the building than on Mukademon. Windows smashed and walls cracked and strained under each blast of power.

“STOP!! YOU GUYS, STOP IT!!” Rose pleaded, beginning to panic and losing her usual cool and collected exterior, allowing it to give way to sheer terror. Her screams fell completely deaf, unheard over the cries of battle and the groans of the building. “SELENEMON! HELIOMON! ENOUGH!”

Eleanor came to Frankie’s side, she had left the safety of the cellar for the moment. “They are so focused on Mukademon that they are forgetting everything else...” She held her chest protectively, watching the devastation unfold, her disbelief at the Gods irresponsibility was not well hidden in her voice or expression, though Frankie tried not to take it too personally.

After all, Eleanor had a point. The Gods were completely immune to the cries of their Tamers, and had their aim fixed entirely on Mukademon. It was frantic and pandemonium where ever she looked, no order or thought to anything.

Their thoughts were all unified, that Mukademon must be destroyed at any and all costs.

“We have to warn Eva and Hunter and the others!” Rose said, frantically pressing the buttons on her D-Touch to ring through to either person.

 “Devouring Swarm!” Mukademon unhinged his jaws, releasing a dark red and black beam from his mouth, firing down at the Gods below him.

Ymirmon and Gaiusmon blocked the attack, Ymirmon creating a shield of ice with Rimefang, while Gaiusmon summoned a circular water shield to fend off the all-consuming centipedes.

When the worst of Mukademon’s attack was over, Gaiusmon pulled back the shield, allowing Ymirmon to fly towards Mukademon and the building, Rimefang’s hilt clasped in both hands with a firm grip. Ymirmon bared his teeth, pulling the sword back and swinging as hard as he could. “Remorseless WINTER!” 

The attack was huge, striking the building with a heavy single snowstorm that instantly froze anything it touched. The blast cut into Mukademon’s exposed underside, creating deep gouges where it hit and leaving frozen icicles in and around each cut, preventing the wounds from closing.

Mukademon released an agonized shriek, Ymirmon’s attack being strong enough to force him to move. Mukademon slid himself towards the second tower, wrapping himself around the other building like a cowardly insect cowering from a predator.

Despite his maneuver, Ymirmon released a second swing from Rimefang, a torrential blizzard followed Mukademon, slicing through the building, sending glass and stone shattering everywhere and making the building creak and shake.

As Ymirmon’s attack cleared, the tower gave a loud, low groan as it tipped harshly to the right, teetering dangerously as if hanging by a thread. It seemed ready to snap from its grounded lower half at any moment, which would cause it crumble into the second Atlas Corp tower.

-----------------------------

There was a scramble to grab something, anything, and hold onto it as long as it was stuck in place as the building lurched dramatically. Eva and Piper couldn't control their screams, watching as business papers flew everywhere, perpetuated by the wind and broken windows.

Piper held onto Hunter who found refuge beside a file cabinet against the wall. Reyez had planted his foot into the floor as he tried to hold himself against one of the fixed desks in Bella’s office. James, along with Tom and Eva, had found leaning against the podiums in the office easiest, though their smoothness gave them no purchase to cling to.

The tower shook again, trembling violently, causing more yells and screams to erupt as some almost lost their footing, and grips began to slacken. The tower was ready to collapse. Any moment it would. A tiny gust of wind could send it hurtling to the ground, if the seeming single wire that held it in place snapped.

“Mukademon is going to collapse the building, get out of there!”  Rose’s voice projected from Eva’s D-Touch.

“WE KNOW!!” Eva screamed back. She had answered her D-Touch just as the building had begun to tilt, not expecting Rose to scream at her down the phone. Now she held it in her hand tightly, trying desperately not to let it go.

The sound of Rose's voice and then Eva’s piqued Mukademon’s interest and the giant insectoid Digimon averted his gaze from the Gods below. Judging the distance he found himself a mere few windows below Bella’s office, and easily closed the gap between him and the room in one reach.

“There you are!” Mukademon said, releasing a low, guttural laugh as he looked in through the window.

“Well,” Reyez sighed, “fuck me sideways.” He stared directly at Mukademon, his expression was indifferent as his cigarette dangled loosely from his lips. Pointing the rifle at the Digimon, he unhinged the safety, getting enough leverage to quickly shoot.

The smirk on Mukademon’s face mutated into a growl and roar as the bullets impacted, creating no visible wounds. He bellowed loudly, as the face disappeared from the window and he moved to another part of the building.

“That was simple enough--” Reyez began, cut off as the tower jerked suddenly and tilted drastically to one side. Reyez lost his footing completely as did the others.

The only one who seemed unfazed was Bella, who stood by the open window, clinging to the frame.

“Gaia's Seduction!” Marquismon's voice called out as  she launched an attack from below. Her attack hit squarely against Mukademon’s bulk and the sound he released was a cry of agonized pain. Unable to attack from his current place, Mukademon was forced to relinquish his hold on the Atlas Corp tower, and he crashed to the ground.

The tower groaned again, creaking as metal scraped against metal.

“The tower’s going to fall!” James announced.

“Let’s get out of here!” Eva screamed, trying to crawl to the door which, like everything else in the room, was almost totally sideways.

Tom stayed close, followed by James.

“NO!” Hunter’s yell stopped them in their tracks and forced them to look back at him. He was on Bella’s desk, leaning against it as it tried to gingerly make his way around it without toppling out of the window.

His eyes were fixed on Bella, as she stood in the broken window. She gripped the frame for leverage, as the broken glass cut into her palm. She stared at the devastation around her, below and in the office, until her eyes met Hunter’s.

“You see!” Bella screamed, her eyes widening. “Once this is all over, everything will be finished! Paradise will come and I will be there to oversee it all!”

“Mom!” Hunter yelled. “Mom, stay where you are! I’m coming!”

“Hunter, leave her!” Reyez shouted.

“If you’d all only just open your eyes and see, you would understand just how much better life will be with Mukademon ruling over you! No difficult choices to make, no problems to combat! Everything decided for you in a joined Paradise of both worlds! It’s what Russell would have wanted, and I am here to see his life’s work, his life’s dreams, completed!!”

Bella began laughing, a laugh that was more like a scream and wail being yanked from her vocal chords.

The silver D-Touch in Bella's grasp began to shine brightly, enveloping her in a blinding glow that caused her laughter to turn to shrieks of torture, each released yell worse than the last. It was as if the light was burning her in its glow.

Bella coughed violently, bringing up a vile fluid of bile and blood which dribbled down her chin.

“I...” She stared at the glowing D-Touch. “I am... free!”


“MOM!” Hunter shouted. “MOM PLEASE DON'T DO THIS!”

In a strange turn of events, Bella turned towards Hunter and the others. Her appearance had changed suddenly, she looked youthful and her expression was soft, her eyes filled with sorrow while tears spilled over down her cheeks.  It was as if all the infection and virus of Mukademon had retreated for a fleeting moment, allowing Bella’s true self to appear.

“Hunter... I am...” Bella murmured, her voice so unlike the one Hunter was used to. It sounded foreign and so unlike her, Hunter found himself struggling to listen to it. The sincerity in her voice was almost painful to hear. “So sorry for everything, my darling boy. And to your sister...”

The image faded as swiftly as it had appeared, and the youthful, kind visage was replaced by the current Bella. The horror...

The nightmare.

She smiled at Hunter, her teeth cracked as much as her face. Twisted and sadistic.

Before Hunter could scream out again, Bella threw herself from the window.

-----------------------------

Rose couldn't believe what she just saw. Someone had jumped out of window of the top floor that now stood at an awkward forty-five degree angle. What amazed her most was that the person who had jumped appeared to be her mother. Even at the distance she was, her mother’s hair and shape was unmistakable, and none of the others would be so brainless to jump head first out of a sky scraper window.

She found a strange sensation settling in her chest, all the anger and hatred she has been carrying around and harboring towards her mother was dissipating. The loathing was leaving, and all Rose could focus on was her mother’s image falling fast, and that she wasn’t going to get to her in time to cushion the fall.

Rose couldn't find her voice, or any thought, but her feet moved of their own accord. They felt heavy and foreign though, like they had been weighted down with lead. But she made herself move, and soon she was running.

Sprinting towards the collapsing towers and the falling figure.

Tears began to fill Rose’s eyes. Tears of fear as she choked back panic. She couldn’t take her eyes off her mother’s body as it seemed to fall faster.

She had to get to her. Had to get there first. There wasn’t an option of failure here. Rose needed to get to Bella before she hit the ground. She couldn’t die, not like this.

Rose tripped on stray debris and caught herself on her hands and knees, cutting her soft skin on the crystal, concrete, and glass. The tears came faster as she pushed herself to her feet, swallowing down her urge to yell.

Rose knew this feeling, she recalled it so well from her childhood. It was the feeling she had always experienced when Bella would leave for work when Rose had been a small child. A feeling of helplessness and not being able to stay or keep the person she wanted close to her.

It was exactly the same feeling, the only difference was that she was older now. But the principle was still the same. Young or old, she didn’t have the power to stop Bella from leaving, or to force those feelings of emptiness away.

Rose ran, ignoring the bleeding of her knees and the shard of glass sticking out of her right hand.

The screams of Frankie and Eleanor fell deaf to her ears.

Recovering from his fall, Mukademon dug himself out of the crater his bulk had created in the ground, hauling himself forward on his arms and slowly pulling himself upright.

He was confronted by the Gods, their weapons all poised to attack, the point of one of Ceryneiamon’s arrows aimed perfectly at the centre of his head.

Mukademon found himself letting out a small chuckle.

“Why do you laugh?!” Morrigamon demanded, hovering not five feet away from him.

He mouth slid into a slow, lazy grin. “Because you think you have won...”

Without another moment passing, Mukademon summoned his strength and leapt up from the ground, his jaws unhinging and opening wide.

The Gods had failed to notice the glowing human form falling towards them from above, and now they watched as the light extinguished when Mukademon’s mouth closed around it.

“MOTHER!!” Rose screamed, stopping in her tracks. “NO!!”

Mukademon swallowed, not even chewing on Bella’s body as she slid down his gullet.

The smug expression on Mukademon’s face was swiftly replaced by a strained look of agony. He lurched back and then forward, curling his arms around him, shaking violently as if having some kind of terrible reaction.

His body seemed to close in on itself for a moment.

There was a beat.

A pause.

Then, Mukademon exploded with a deafening roar, his whole shape obscured by a blinding silver light that seemed to flow and shine from every pore and orifice.

Behind the light, Mukademon’s form was beginning to change.

There was an earth-shattering blast that seemed to come from deep inside Mukademon and ebb outwards like ripples on a pond. The noise echoed off the remaining buildings and rose upwards.

Shockwaves from the explosion shook the foundations of the buildings, and above, the collapsing buildings each gave out, releasing loud creaks and groans as metal cracked and snapped.

-----------------------------

The tower trembled and this time there was no standing up. Mukademon's sudden evolution was enough to bring about the final collapse and crumble of the offices. Eva and Piper’s high pitched screams masked the yells and cries of Hunter, James, Reyez, and Tom as everyone slid down the floor, trying to grab a hold of things to stop them from sliding.

Hunter grabbed onto Piper’s legs to keep her steady, he was sliding too, his hand wrapped around one of the drapes on the other windows, but he was beginning to lose his grip. Piper held onto one of the other drapes, practically dangling as the building lurched again.

Eva slid over the tiled floor, unable to grab anything or gain purchase, only her fingertips dug into the grooves between each floor tile. Tom slid after her, while both James and Reyez struggled to find anything to grip and hold onto that wasn’t already slipping.

Looks of horror and fear were matched, painted across the faces of the six of them as the building gave another jerk and stopped, leaving the only way out as straight down, to plummet hundreds of feet to the ground below.

The drapes Hunter clung to tore suddenly, and the only thing that stopped him falling completely was the grip he had on Piper’s leg. She screamed and jerked in reaction to his additional weight and grabbed the drapes tighter.

Eva and Tom tried to dig their feet into the floor to stop or slow the pull of gravity.

A drawer of the filing cabinet Reyez clung to flew open, and James’ fingers were digging into the edge of Bella’s desk.

Reyez and Hunter's obscenities were almost in a chorus.

Despite everyone’s best efforts to hold onto whatever they had to stop them falling, the building gave a final groan and toppled one last time, crashing into the other tower, everyone’s grip was jerked and there was nothing they could do. Piper’s drape ripped, unable to hold both her weight and Hunter’s. James’ hands slipped from the desk edge and Reyez’s tore from the filing cabinet, cutting into his arm and hand.

 “OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD!” Eva panicked, flailing as she tried one last attempt to stop herself unable to tear her eyes away from the vertical drop down.

“Holy shiii---”

The glass that remained in the window pane shattered as all six fell out of the window, into mid-air from sixty stories high. 

From the ground, Frankie, Eleanor, and Rose screamed, watching as the six bodies plummeted from the lopsided skyscraper, each one flailing and trying to grab one of the other falling bodies.

“HUNTER!!” Rose cried. “NO!!”

“LISTEN!” Ryudamon shouted, trying to gain the Gods attention. They were too preoccupied with the changing form of Mukademon to notice.

“JAMES!! EVA!!” Frankie held her hands up to her mouth for a moment, before her terror turned to unbridled anger. “HELP THEM!!” she screamed, aiming her rage at Vayumon and the others, who continued to attack Mukademon, still engulfed in the bright silver light. Their attacks did nothing to pierce his protective barrier. “HELP THEM NOW!!”

“THEY’RE GOING TO DIE!!” Rose added, tears streaming down her face.

Their cries seemed to knock some much-needed sense into the eight Digimon who had been so distracted.

Their faces mirrored slight confusion, and suddenly they looked past the light. Ceryneiamon gasped in a horror, sounding the Digimon's shared reaction to the situation.

“Give me a boost,” Heliomon ordered, turning to Vayumon who did as asked, grabbing Heliomon’s hand and launching him into the air with the help of his wind paws. Heliomon landed on a framed space between the windows; he began to run vertically upwards towards Hunter and the others plummeting towards them.

Gaiusmon followed close behind, grabbing broken window frames and broken pieces of metal to give him the leverage he required to get higher. Morrigamon swooped up behind them both, a trail of black shadow behind while she made a beeline for Tom.

Marquismon had expanded to a larger size and brought Ceryneiamon up with her on one of the petals of her lotus flower, while Ymirmon used one of her vines to give him a head start as he practically ran up the side of the remaining windows on the outside of the building.

Ceryneiamon threw out an almost invisible force field that wrapped around James like a bubble, stopping his fall and drawing him towards her, at the same time Marquismon reached out her hands, cupping them together to catch Reyez.

Ymirmon and Gaiusmon grabbed Eva and Piper mid-fall, both of them clinging to empty window frames. Piper hung her arms around Gaiusmon’s neck, and Ymirmon held Eva tightly in one arm as they both made their way back down to the ground.

Tom jerked, grateful to stop falling as Morrigamon held onto the back of his shirt, before she maneuvered him to carry him more easily under the arms. Heliomon bounced off one wall and then another in pursuit of Hunter, who he caught by the legs and righted mid-air to catch and carry down to the ground.

Heliomon was the last to reach the ground, carrying Hunter fireman style over his shoulder. As soon as the fire-wolf set him down, Hunter was set upon by Piper, who pulled him into a tight hug. He kissed her hard, pushing the hair of her face, barely willing to release the shorter blonde.

Tom was littering Eva’s face with kisses, both beside themselves to still be alive, while Frankie was almost suffocating James in an embrace so tight it didn’t seem like she wanted to let go.

In a fit of emotion, Rose yanked Reyez's shirt, pulling him down to her level as she planted a long, firm kiss on his lips.

Upon realizing, she jerked away as they both stared at each other in shock.

“...I didn't want to be left out... I'm an emotional wreck right now,” Rose said flatly, walking away from him as quickly as possible.

Reyez shrugged, pulling a cigarette from his pocket and lighting it, walking in the opposite direction.

The happiness of those who had survived their fall and those who had witnessed them survive it was short lived, however, as the silver light stopped finally, diminishing and revealing Mukademon in its place.

Though it was not the Mukademon they recognized.

In swallowing Bella, is seemed as if the gargantuan Digimon had gone through a terrible mutation, and was in ways unrecognizable to his previous form, and in others, far worse.

Mukademon had retained his large size, and seemed bigger by comparison. His thorax had split off into two long legs with red claws at the end of either foot. He retained a long, serpentine tail with a fork at the end of it, splitting into two sharp blade-like points. The rest of his body was human; his arms had all come together, creating large, well toned appendages with long fingers and equally long claws. On either shoulder there were mouths, that seemed to move on their own accord. The feelers that made up his eyes had reverted into his face, leaving behind gaping black holes which peered through a mask that might have been made of human flesh, topped with what appeared to be grayish-purple hair. His mouth was open, exposing sharp teeth and even longer fangs in place of canines. Leering over Mukademon’s shoulders were two large pincers that looked similar to scorpion stingers, or something belonging to a praying mantis.

The rest of his body was a pale, slate grey, decorated with large grotesque yellow boils situated all over.

Hanging in the middle of his chest, though, with her arms above her head and seemingly grafted to his skin, was Bella’s body. Apparently trapped, and still very much alive if the movement of her head was anything to go by.

For a moment this new form of Mukademon did nothing but look around before him, until he twisted his body around and turned his gaze on the small Gods and humans on the ground.

Ceryneiamon shoved James in the back, hard. “Run. And don’t look back.”

“But–”

“RUN,” she ordered again, never taking her eyes off of Mukademon as her companions did the same, murmuring orders to their Tamers to get to safety.

Everything up until now had been child’s play, they realized.

The final battle was about to begin.

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