Episode 50: The Fate of
Two Worlds

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Mukademon did not move for the moment, he simply stared down at the Gods beneath him.

He floated in the air, his tail curled around his legs and his arms crossed beneath his chest. The manifestation of Bella in the dead centre of his chest moved slowly, as if it was trying to break away from its fleshy prison. The way she moved was similar to a heart, pumping blood and beating constantly.

The sky darkened, taking on a heavy grey and navy color, obscuring any sunlight there had been. Strong wind picked up around them suddenly and without reason, and sent debris scattering over the ground.

Beneath their feet the ground began to quake, shaking buildings, setting off car alarms again and causing what street lights remained to flicker. It was like an earthquake, setting off small fissures into the tarmac and concrete, spreading out from beneath buildings.

Still, the Gods stood their ground, waiting silently for this new form of Mukademon to make his first move. They could not flee, or turn and go on the defensive; if they did, they knew all would be lost and all their efforts would have been for nothing if they let him win.

Ymirmon and Vayumon stood the closest to Mukademon. The two brothers stood side by side, mirroring one another with their blades drawn. Ceryneiamon crouched close by on top of a car, ready to attack at any moment, an arrow already nocked into her bow.

Gaiusmon stood opposite her, with water circulating around his body as he concentrated, breathing deeply to keep his mind focused.

Morrigamon stayed idle in the air, her wings beating slowly like the steady hum of a heart beat. She channeled the darkness and shadows around her in a murder of ravens that hovered and flew around her, cawing.

Selenemon readied her scythe, perched on the roof of the next tallest building with Heliomon standing furthest away in the street. His hands were ignited in flames, but his focus was on his Tamer and the others, making sure they had found their way back to the safety of the cellar bunker.

While Marquismon was nowhere to be seen, her vines covered the streets and buildings, as if the city was coming under some type of dominant plant attack.

Mukademon unfolded his arms letting them fall to his sides, in what would have seemed a casual gesture in any other circumstances, but the movement put the Gods on edge immediately. The mouths on the sides of his arms pulled the flesh around them into wide grins, even Bella on his chest had her mouth curved in a benign smile.

His tail unraveled, thrashing back and forth.

“Gods...” Mukademon finally spoke.

The voice that came from the colossal Digimon was not the one the Gods had become accustomed to. Instead the voice was like four combined, all speaking in unison. They recognized Bella’s voice in amongst the four, and Mukademon’s own original voice too. Though over the sounds of the others they were almost lost. His words came not only from the mouth on his face, but also from the mouths on either shoulder.

“For over twenty years I have hidden from you, waiting, planning. I have manipulated, and I have fed and gorged myself on the despair of this place that you so pointlessly protect. I have grown stronger each day as you slept peacefully, thinking that our great battle was over and you had won so long ago. But you were sorely mistaken. Your peace was a lie, a facade. The truth was one you all could not bear to face. While you lingered and grew weak, I thrived. And finally, this long awaited day of mine has arrived...I am here to reclaim what was rightfully mine.”

Mukademon lifted his right claw, holding it towards the sky as the clouds parted. He opened it wide, palm up.

The sky shimmered with what could have been sunlight, but as the shining passed, the darkened sky gave way to a shocking view.

Above them, peering down from the Heavens, was the Digital world in plain view, clear as day, staring down at the Earth from an aerial point of view. The central point the Gods could make out was the rebuilt Circle. Spreading out from that, lush green fields and meadows littered with brightly colored flowers. Beyond that, the vastness of the Gardens of the Dead, grey and colorless in comparison to the fields that lay just after it and the wild and winding forests that led to it.

“He's drawing power from both worlds...,” Gaiusmon spoke, with terrible realization.

Ceryneiamon arched her head back, looking at what had once been their home. “He intends to merge them,” she added slowly.

“Yes.” Mukademon's voices were calm and clear, and it was the calmness, the clinical tone he used that was most disturbing. “I will merge them. They will collide in a catastrophic ending which will give birth to a new beginning. My new beginning.”

Vayumon snarled, as the wind around him began to pick up. “Not if we stop you first.” He raced towards Mukademon, followed by Ymirmon, whose blade created a trail of ice behind it.

The two brothers ran at blistering speed. Vayumon's wind blowing about them picked them both up from the ground and caused them to spiral around one another, with their blades pointed towards their enemy.

Mukademon dodged their combined attack with ease, grabbing Ymirmon by the his long hair and tossing him back towards the ground where his impact made a crater in the crystal. Vayumon dodged one of Mukademon's arms, taking a chance to gain the upper hand early, swinging his four katanas at once.

Sensing the incoming Digimon, Mukademon twisted his body, swatting Vayumon down like a mere fly with his tail and snarling menacingly.

In a rush, the other Gods attacked, bounding forward with their weapons all poised. The knowledge that they could not give Mukademon an opening only too real in their minds. One attack, and it could change everything.

“Monsoon Rhapsody!!” Gaiusmon's water-made broadsword swung, the pulsating aquatic energy slicing across Mukademon's midsection. Gaiusmon plummeted to the ground, landed easily and jumped back, repeating the attack before Mukademon could strike with his powerful claws.

“Howling Gust!” The howl of Selenemon's attack took to the air, charging for Mukademon's face.

Morrigamon and Ceryneiamon followed behind with attacks of their own, unrelenting. The three assaults from the female Digimon combined and drove into Mukademon's face as one, causing the newly formed parasite to roar indignantly and flail his long arms.

The monstrous Digimon had to re-evaluate the situation.

The Gods were sloppy, that was obvious; they were so focused on trying to get rid of him quickly, certain their attacks were damaging him, that they were expending their already depleted energy just as quickly. That was their major flaw, their haste to rid themselves of him, and for that he was quietly grateful. He could predict each of their attacks, who would combine their attack with whom, he knew their movements, their timings.

They were each, in their own way, unchanged, and he had seen them work like this before. Their method of battle had not differed or adapted, even after a thousand years.

In a flash Mukademon disappeared, leaving the Gods dazed and lost for a moment. He reappeared behind Ceryneiamon, and grabbed her around the waist with his claws, squeezing tightly until the satyr-woman released a strangled yelp.

Vayumon roared, airing his rage at Mukademon's back-handed tactics and the attack on his wife. He raced towards the pair at blistering speed, his tornado winds picking up, giving him an additional boost.

“Winds of Hell!” He charged, blades drawn, their edges shining.

“Wait-- Vayumon!!” Ceryneiamon screamed.

Heliomon came racing from behind in an attempt to sneak up on Mukademon and unleash a surprise attack. Mukademon was aware of everything around him, and Heliomon's immense body heat gave him away before he even had a chance to get off a single attack.

Growling, Mukademon's huge tail wrapped around the flaming Digimon's body, lashing him back and forth until he threw him over both his own head and Ceryneiamon's, right into the heart of Vayumon's attack.

Ceryneiamon felt a warm essence around her body and struggled to break free, aware Mukademon was generating an attack within the hand she was clasped in.

Chuckling, Mukademon sent the Lady of Light flying from his palms as he shot off a beam of dark red light to go along with her, swallowing up her form until she was a mere shadow in the sea of crimson. The blast sent her flying through the walls of a building, and she landed on the hard ground, burnt and singed by the other Mega’s attack.

With a sudden force, Mukademon felt himself hit the ground, the crystal cracking and groaning beneath his weight. Thick vines wrapped around his legs, attempting to keep him in place as huge razor-sharp thorns sprouted from them, piercing his tough skin and for once causing the Virus Digimon to feel pain.

Morrigamon came at Mukademon in a rush, punching him in the face with a dark wave of energy surrounding her fist. Mukademon grunted, kept secure in place by the vines that snaked around his legs. Another punch landed against his forehead, and he attempted to dodge Morrigamon's following attacks, as she attacked relentlessly.

Morrigamon vanished suddenly in a puff of black cloud, and Gaiusmon appeared in her place, bellowing.

“Vengeance Crunch!” He grabbed a hold of Mukademon's face, water pooling from his hands, beginning to build up around the parasite Digimon's head until he was totally submerged in a bubble full of pressure.  Mukademon struggled, the immense pressure weighing against his head and face. The mouths on his shoulders and Bella were all crying out with pain, as the water compression became too much.

“Howling Gust!” Selenemon expelled her attack from her hand, the huge icy wolf's head speeding towards the crushing bubble.

The two attacks colliding together resulted in a small explosion, and Mukademon was sent stumbling back, breaking the vines Marquismon had on him and crashing to the ground.

“Don't let him rise!” Gaiusmon ordered, forming his signature broadsword out of water, tightly grasping the handle and charging, blade over his shoulder, ready to swing.

Marquismon's vines shot from the concrete and crystal of the streets, tightly wrapping around Mukademon's fallen body.

“Glacier Strike!” Ymirmon stabbed Rimefang into the ground, causing large icicles to explode from the ground. They made their way towards Mukademon, jutting up from the ground until Mukademon was jerking each time one pierced him, spreading all the day down to his hips.

Roaring, rage filled, and manic, Mukademon tore himself up from the ground, ripping through Marquismon's vines as if they were no more than thin bits of cotton thread. The open mouths on each arm drooled and gnashed their teeth, while Bella in the centre of the gigantic Digimon's body writhed and moaned, reacting to the anger of her host.

“Torch Strike!” Heliomon released flaming bullets from his fingers, each small fire burning and stinging Mukademon's back.

He rounded on the incoming hits.

"Remorseless Winter!!" Ymirmon cried, a wide arc of snow and ice aimed straight towards Mukademon's centre.

Attacks from Gaiusmon, Morrigamon, and Selenemon followed rapidly, each one aimed perfectly and catching Mukademon square in the stomach, forcing the Digimon to lurch, staggering on his clawed feet.

As Mukademon wobbled, more of Marquismon's vines rose from the ground like huge tentacles and slammed down upon his back, causing the Virus Digimon to tumble forward, landing flat on the ground once again.

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

Vayumon had gone to search for Ceryneiamon, while his brother and the others dealt with Mukademon for the time being, taking leave of his better senses over concern for his wife. He followed the direction in which Mukademon's attack had gone and found her a few blocks from the battle.

She was covered in debris and struggling to get to her feet, creating small glimmers of light in an attempt to heal herself. Several open wounds oozed blood on her legs and arms, while her slow healing light helped knit them back together. Vayumon landed easily beside her and offered a hand, which she refused.

“No, I can get up on my own,” she told Vayumon softly, allowing him to see a small smile. "Truly, I am fine."

“Clearly you aren't...," Vayumon argued. "You took a direct hit.” He kneeled beside her, not masking the concern on his face.


Ceryneiamon winced as she gingerly moved one leg and then the other, relenting and leaning on Vayumon's shoulder for support.

“Mukademon... is much stronger than we've faced before," she explained, talking through the pain littering her body. "With him drawing power from the Digital World, I fear he is unstoppable. We shouldn't kid ourselves thinking our simple attacks will win...” She rose slowly to her feet, her body trembling under the effort it took to stay upright.

“Don't say that... we can win this,” Vayumon corrected, grabbing her hands and placing them into his own.

“Oh, I know we can win... but we have to have a strategy," Ceryneiamon explained, her tone becoming a little firmer. "We each have to finally put Ryudamon's training to use. What we have learned in the past must be put into practice now.”

“But how--”

Before another word could be said, Marquismon and Ymirmon crashed through another building. Beams of dark red energy followed them, further damaging the building and sending brick and concrete crashing to the ground.

Ceryneiamon gasped, quickly pulling her hands from Vayumon's and launching herself into the air. Palms raised, a shimmer ebbed between her hands, creating a light shield that reflected the beams away.

Ymirmon was damaged, badly hurt, blood flowing freely down his face from beneath his snow leopard helmet. He used Rimefang to help him stand. “This is impossible,” he grunted, checking the rest of himself over, and examining the other wounds he had sustained along his arms.

Marquismon summoned her crystal ball so it floated between her palms. “It's annoying.”

“As Ceryneiamon said, we must come up with some sort of strategy, attacking him head on isn't working...," Vayumon explained shortly. "He must have a weak spot somewhere."

Ymirmon grumbled before speaking. “Gaiusmon has already tried his best to find it. Mukademon is made of pure virus and negative emotions. There's no blood of any kind running through those veins, even in the real world.”

Marquismon pursed her lips, bringing one long finger to her chin as she thought, furrowing her brows. Thus far, their attacks were either doing nothing to damage Mukademon, or they were doing so little damage to him that it hardly seemed worth their effort. His skin was almost impenetrable, as if it was some kind of armor, the mouths on his arms seemed there only to make more noise and echo louder attacks.

She then suddenly remember the one thing that was most out of place on Mukademon's body.

“Bella!" Marquismon gasped, enlightenment hitting her hard. Vayumon and Ymirmon looked at their companion curiously. "He fused with Bella, and was only able to mutate like this after fusing with her. She must be his weak point.”

Ceryneiamon landed easily on the ground alongside the trio. "Morrigamon and the others are struggling, we should return."

Ymirmon murmured an agreement, clasping Rimefang in his hands.

“As we have nothing else to go on...," Vayumon said slowly, "we must attack Bella. It may give us the edge we require.”

Nods were given, and the brothers took off through the air, rushing back into the battle. Ceryneiamon followed close behind, loosing arrows as she went, while Marquismon burrowed back underground.

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

The bunker remained set away from the worst of the fighting. Occasionally it seemed that Mukademon’s attacks and those of the Gods were drawing closer, but each time the fear took one of them, the Gods moved the battle away, apparently not wanting to endanger their Tamers any further than they had already been.

No one was especially calm; the adrenaline of surviving and watching a massive fall had worn off, and it left everyone in a state of unrest of varying degrees.

Rose couldn’t stop trembling, even as Eleanor tended to the bleeding cut on her hands and carefully tried to tweeze small shards of glass from the open wound. Rose’s hands shook so hard that Eva had to hold them still, despite her own injuries.

In the process of the tower collapsing, everyone who had been inside had been injured and cut up by the fragments of window glass that had been littering the floor that they had all been trying to grip, and sliding across at one point or another.

The insides of Eva’s arms were cut up badly, and were the next injuries Eleanor wanted to look at. She had Piper helping her because she had some medical training, even though it was more animal focused. She knew how to deal with wounds and clean them, so it took some of the pressure of off Eleanor. Despite the fall, Piper had seemed to fare the best, with only minor wounds on her face and hands.

Tom had a gash on the crown of his head that had matted his hair with blood and refused to stop bleeding, no matter the amount of pressure he held to it. Piper did her best to cover it and close the wound with sterilized medical strips, though she commented medical glue would have been her preferred choice. Aside from his head wound, Tom also had a selection of small grazes on his hands.

A large piece of glass stuck out of James’ left bicep, leaving him to hang his arm limply by his side. Frankie, who was relatively unhurt and only shaken, held a piece of cloth around the wound to stop the glass moving and to keep the blood flow to a minimum until Piper and Eleanor could deal with it. Reyez’s face and neck had been nicked and cut by the glass, and his lower arms were a mess, as small streams of blood flowed down either arm from small but deep wounds.

Ryudamon had noticed that even if the Gods’ attacks did hit, they seemed not to make a dent in Mukademon, or he seemed not to notice them.

 “There,” Eleanor said, her voice as soothing as possible, “that should help until we get a chance to get you to a hospital.”

Rose nodded dumbly, staring at the bandages wrapped around her hands with a blank expression. She hadn’t said much since getting back to the safety of the bunker, she had only murmured softly to herself and fallen silent when Eleanor had begun to treat her hands.

As the dark haired woman moved on to see to the cuts down Eva’s arms, Rose got to her feet shakily and crossed the small space towards Hunter, careful to avoid stepping on the Digimon or anyone else in the somewhat cramped conditions.

Hunter had split off from the group almost as soon as they had reached the bunker. He was leaning on the wall, watching the battle raging outside, though his main focus was on Mukademon and the form of Bella that writhed in the centre of his chest. His t-shirt was blood-soaked down one side, and some of Hunter’s hair was matted from an injury on the side of his head, but so far he had refused to let Eleanor or Piper see to his cuts.

Hunter watched the fighting with Ryudamon, Rubimon, and Corneliamon with hope diminishing with every passing second as the Gods’ attacks were easily countered and rebuffed.

Worry pooled in Ryudamon’s belly, though he didn’t dare mention his worst fears to the injured humans.

“You... You should sit down,” Rose told her brother slowly. “Let Eleanor have a look at you.”

“I’m fine,” Hunter returned sharply, shrugging away from Rose.

“Must you be so difficult?!” snapped Rose, sounding almost tearful as she spoke to him. “We can’t do anything from here.”

“I don’t want to miss anything,” Hunter explained. “I want to see everything...”

Blinking slowly, Rose stared at Hunter for a moment, and then followed his gaze out towards the battlefield, she noticed where it was fixated, and on what. Even with Mukademon’s speed, and the attacks that never seemed to end from the Gods, her brother’s eyes never left the form of their mother that dangled in the midsection of Mukademon’s chest.

Rose was struggling to put into order what she had seen. How she had witnessed her mother plummet from the window and Mukademon snap her up in his huge jaws. The moment was replaying even now, when there were other things more important for her to focus on, she couldn’t get the image out of her mind. The sight of her brother and what had followed was just as lingering.

She wasn’t sure if she should regret not going up into the tower with the others. Perhaps there could have been something she could have done, or said.

Turning her gaze back to Hunter, she hesitated for a moment before speaking.

“What happened?” Rose asked softly. “Up in the tower before she...” Pausing for a moment, Rose bit her lip and sighed softly. “Did she jump? Was she pushed...?”

Hunter glanced down at Rose. He swallowed hard, there was a lump in his throat that had been there since before falling out of the collapsing tower. It had settled in his throat when Bella had spoken to him, when it had been her and not this person she had become. “She jumped,” he answered finally.

Rose nodded dumbly.

“But...” Hunter sighed. “She... there was a moment where she was different.”

“Different?”

He shrugged one shoulder. “She was sad. And genuine. It was like seeing this other side, this whole suppressed side, for a second.” He turned, wincing as he did so to look at his sister fully. “She said... she was sorry.”

Again, Rose nodded silently, unsure what to say or how to feel. Everything was so jumbled up and confused in her head and in her heart. There was no easy way to understand what had happened. No simple way to feel or think, and oddly, the most overwhelming thing she felt ebbing throughout her body and veins was a feeling of numbness she couldn’t fathom.

There was a crunch of shoes behind the twins, and they both turned their heads.

Piper stood a few feet away, waiting patiently, and gave a weak smile when both Rose and Hunter looked at her. “Come on,” she reached a hand out to Hunter, “please let me have a look at you.”

Hunter gave a loud sigh as he went to protest, but Rose gave a reproving look.

“You’re a mess,” she told him. “We’ve all been looked at, and Eleanor and Piper have patched us all up.” She indicated to the bandages on her hands. “Your turn.”

Casting a look back at the fighting, watching as Heliomon sped into Mukademon’s belly like a flaming torch, Hunter relinquished to his sister’s wish and took Piper’s hand, limping from where he stood to the small bench where Rose had been sitting before.

Eleanor had had the foresight to move Eric onto the floor and prop him up against the wall, now that he was awake and somewhat coherent, though the painkillers she had managed to administer to him left him a little disorientated. Rubimon and Ryudamon stood close by, in case he needed either of them, while both trying to keep their eyes pinned on the fighting.

“What... happened?” Eva asked after a few minutes of silence, broken only by Hunter’s hisses of pain and Piper uttering soothing words and apologies for it. “To Mukademon?”

Ryudamon turned towards her, and saw her expression was one of fear and concern. And that her expression was matched by everyone else. Their confusion was well founded. In all his years, Ryudamon had never actually seen the phenomenon that he had just witnessed. He had read about it, and heard tall tales from passing Digimon and even the wisest Digimon said what had happened could never actually occur...

But it had.

And now Ryudamon was faced with the unknown and that thought unnerved him more than he cared to admit.

“Ryudamon.” Frankie prompted the old orange dragon, with a sharper tone than that of Eva. “What happened? What was it?”


“I believe,” Ryudamon began slowly, breathing deep, “what we witnessed was a mode change.”

“Mode change?” Reyez repeated. “Is that another form of evolution?”

Ryudamon considered his comment for a moment, tilting his head one way and then the other. “Yes and no,” he said finally. “It is a type of evolution, but not in the traditional sense. There is nowhere to go beyond a Mega-level Digimon. That is the highest level of Digimon there can ever exist, so instead, a Digimon with enough energy and power goes through a mode change. It strengthens them, revitalizes them, heals any already existing wounds and generally increases their strength... but it’s never been witnessed. Only ever rumored.”

“Rumors have to begin somewhere,” Tom explained, crossing his arms. “Do you know what triggers it?”

Ryudamon nodded. “According to readings, an immense surge of power and pure energy...” He turned towards hunter and Rose. “While I do believe your mother may have been part of that energy, my main belief was that it was the glowing light that surrounded her as she fell.”

“It was a D-Touch,” Hunter told him, leaning his head to one side as Piper patched up the wound in his hair line. “What she showed us... it was the original remote dad would have used on the transportation pod. Only it was silver and had had some adjustments made to it so it looked almost exactly like a D-Touch.”

Ryudamon was able to school his shock over this news relatively quickly, without giving away his feelings on the matter to the humans who stood opposite him, nor to the other Digimon who kept close.

His worst fears were being realized, and he did not want to show the humans he had come to care for just how close he was to giving up hope. Not when they had come so far. He turned away from them, allowing them all a brief smile. He needed to gather his thoughts and think.

He needed to think clearly. To make sense of everything that had happened so quickly and without warning so he could form a coherent plan. One that would allow him to relay to the Gods how to handle this new and obviously more powerful threat. But his mind was blank. He could focus only on Mukademon’s new form, and the helplessness he was beginning to feel wash over him.

“They aren’t doing very well,” Rubimon admitted softly to him, her eyes following the movements and blurs of the Gods as they dashed and darted in different directions, avoiding attacks and firing off ones of their own. “In fact, it’s almost as if the Gods’ attacks are doing nothing at all.”

Her words pulled everyone’s attention from their wounds and each other to the battle unfolding before them.

Mukademon continued to move with blinding speed, easily dodging attacks that were aimed at him, and his own attacks were hitting hard and fast on the Gods whenever he let one go. If ever one of the Gods’ attacks did hit him, Mukademon only seemed to twinge with annoyance, rather than feel any pain. He easily retaliated to each attack, and his were much worse than they had been before.

Even though the fight had been going on for only a few minutes, the Gods were not faring well. They were moving sluggishly, as if their energy was slowly depleting. Their attacks, while readily available, seemed to be weaker than they had been, and most of them now showed some kind of injury from the fight, where there had been none before.

Even combined efforts weren't enough. The Gods had used every attack they could, combing them and still doing little against Mukademon.

“It’s not surprising. They’ve been fighting a lot longer than they ever have before in these forms,” Tom reasoned, hiding his worry surprisingly well. “They’ve taken down Malkimon, Bacaloumon, Capellamon, and Raijumon to some extent between them...”

“They’re exhausted, and I’m willing to guess sending out henchmen was a ploy to make them use more energy to make them tired and easier targets,” said James.

“Probably,” Ryudamon agreed.

“There’s nothing to be done about that now. All they can do is dig into their reserves,” Rose said firmly. “Losing is not an option here.”

No one wanted to say anything to Rose about how it already seemed their Digimon were losing.

Mukademon was winning, and he wasn’t even trying. Every single deflection of the attacks sent his way was proof of it. The expression on his face was one of pure, unadulterated glee. He was enjoying this fight, drawing it out and making the Gods work to get close to him. Forcing them to work hard and push themselves, making them expend what energy they had left on half-hearted attacks that he could counter easily, and rebuke with ones of his own that were ten times more powerful.

He was enjoying tormenting the Gods and their attempts to attack him and make a dent in his defense.

He enjoyed how they tirelessly fought, refusing to let up, despite how dire the circumstances were.

Hope seemed in very short supply.

“I don’t understand it,” Ryudamon murmured to himself, watching as Morrigamon was thrown back into a building with a well-aimed swing of Mukademon’s arm. His tail had Vayumon pinned to the ground.

Rubimon turned to her mentor. “What? What don’t you understand?”

His expression worried her. She had never seen Ryudamon looking so anxious and uncertain. She had seen him doubt himself, once or twice, but those times had been fleeting. Now, Ryudamon looked like someone she did not fully recognize. The expression on his face was one of such severity; she had never seen it before, and it chilled her to her core.

“It makes no sense to me,” Ryudamon admitted slowly. “They should have no problems dealing with Mukademon in these forms. They have all their memories. They have unlocked their potential and grown into it over time... They are at the fullest power and strength they can be.”

Rubimon frowned, listening intently to his quiet words as they came out of his mouth in a babbling rush. “Ryudamon, you mustn’t...”

“Perhaps I am at fault.” He spoke again, continuing as if he had never heard Rubimon’s interruption. “Perhaps through everything, I did not do enough to prepare them... all of them.” He looked down at his claws, bringing them together in front of him thoughtfully. “I thought I had trained them enough. Given them the information they would require, and the tools on which to build. The strength and belief in themselves... perhaps I was wrong.”

“Don’t say that,” Rubimon told him, becoming increasingly concerned as her mentor continued to berate himself. When he didn’t respond to her, she snapped her jaws together, spewing a small breath of flame from her maw. “Ryudamon.”

Not even glancing at his apprentice, Ryudamon slipped his helmet from his head and scratched at his graying orange fur. He felt old and worn out. Like he could fall asleep right there and never wake up, and that in itself was a tempting thought. He was so weary, and only noticed it now, how his bones felt weak, and his joints ached with every tiny movement.

The horrible pit that had formed in his stomach as soon as he had heard Mukademon’s voice, now felt like the weight of a world had settled over him, and that he could not shift it. In fact, the weight of the world was not far wrong. He had been entrusted to bring knowledge to the Gods when they reappeared. It had been his purpose, his one true necessity in life... and now he felt as if everything he had been working towards, everything he had done, was crumbling around him.

That he had failed.

“If they lose... it will be my fault,” Ryudamon murmured softly. “It will be because I did not prepare them well enough. And they will lose their lives... not only that, but their Tamers too.” He turned towards the humans who stared at him with mixed expressions. “The Digital World will collide with this one... destroying everything in its wake, including the lives of the people here. It will be an ending the like of which has never been seen, and when the dust has settled, all that will remain is Mukademon’s vision. A land of desolation and despair...It will be an apocalypse. And it will have been my fault, because I did not do enough in preparing them to prevent it...”

Rubimon had resisted so far, but could no longer, and swiped her claw across Ryudamon’s face. “That’s enough of that!”

Startled, the old dragon turned to Rubimon, and stared with wide green eyes. The crimson and violet Digimon looked as if she were on the verge of tears, and lowered her raised claw after a few seconds and the shock had worn off. “Stop pitying yourself.”

“Rubimon...” Piper sighed, her tone soft, cutting through the atmosphere. It felt close in the small confines of the bunker. Despite his words being a confused mess, he had not kept them quiet, and everyone had heard Ryudamon’s words. They each stared at him and expressions were mixed. Some were gentle, full of sorrow and concern. Others were harder, almost angry, and some even Ryudamon could not read.

Rubimon breathed in deeply through her nose, watching as Piper moved across the ground towards them and knelt in front of Ryudamon, taking his discarded helmet in her hands. Rubimon moved, backing away from her mentor, Corneliamon followed after her, stunned by her dragon friend suddenly lashing out.

“You know what you are saying is all wrong,” Piper told the orange dragon Digimon, her tone firm but kind. She turned his ornate helmet over in her hands once, twice, before she settled it easily back into place on his head.

“How can it be?” Ryudamon returned, shifting his helmet with his claws. “I have failed you.” He looked past her. “All of you.”

“No,” Piper corrected him, “you haven’t.”

His face was a picture of confusion as he looked between the blonde who kneeled before him, the humans beyond her, and at his own apprentice and Corneliamon. He didn’t understand. By his own reasoning his lack of preparation for them and their Digimon would be the reason they would lose. They would all die, and it would be, at the end of it all, his fault.

“I don’t understand,” he admitted finally, speaking slowly as his tongue felt heavy.

Piper smiled. “Without you, Ryudamon, we wouldn’t have even got through our first trip to the Digital World. In fact, we probably would still be wandering aimlessly around with our Digimon, lost and confused.”

“It would be safer if you were,” he argued weakly.

Ignoring him, Piper lay her hands on his armored shoulders.

“You are the reason we all got this far. You made us aware just how big the parts we and our Digimon had to play were. You have helped us beyond anything you could imagine, and not only helping bond with our partners, but helping us each bond better with each other.” Piper smiled. “You’re the one responsible.”

“You saved our lives the first time we met you,” Eva spoke up, recalling the moment she and Piper had first set eyes on Ryudamon during the fire and the fight down at the docks, on Piper’s birthday when they had first discovered Hunter and Rose had Digimon of their own. It seemed like a lifetime ago, but that didn’t make the memory and her statement any less valid. “We would have all been blown to bits by Terasumon and Tsukuyomon’s joint attack that day. You leapt in and saved us...”

“Never mind that you’ve been watching over us the whole time in one way or another,” continued Frankie. “Making sure Ms. Lynn kept her eye on me, and watching us all grow up and develop with our Digimon. You probably knew us better than we knew ourselves.” She smiled, crossing her arms loosely across her chest. “You have to have more faith in yourself. We believe in you.”

James added, “Without the knowledge you had in that brain of yours, we wouldn’t have had a clue who our Digimon really were. Or what they meant to the Digital World. I think I speak for all of us when I say none of us imagined ever being part of something so big and important. And we’ve gotten here, prepared and ready, because we had a good guy to help us along the way.”

“Not just us,” Tom said. “If they weren’t busy fighting, I’m certain they would agree, but everything you have done for our Digimon has never gone unappreciated. They were all a bit broken and different before you got to them, and then the changes started happening – how they began to take things more seriously. That’s all you, not us.”

Ryudamon seemed awestruck and at a loss for words. His mouth moved, but no sound came out, so he closed his mouth completely. He had never expected these people – humans – to feel this way towards him. To have put so much stock in his words and his teachings to their Digimon and themselves.

He had rarely been struck speechless, but this was one of those times.

“We would never have got to this point without you.” Reyez shrugged his shoulders, being of few words, but making sure he was heard. “You’ve pretty much been a guardian to all of us for over twenty years, I would guess...”

“And you welcomed us,” Rose explained. She stood beside Hunter. “Even after everything we had done to the others and their Digimon. After everything our father had done to the Digital World, he being the one to make things the way they are now, as one of the creators of Mukademon... yet, despite it all, you welcomed Hunter and myself as if we had been a part of it all along. You never made us feel guilty, or that everything that was happening was our fault. You treated us with kindness, which is not something with which we had much familiarity.”

Again, Ryudamon searched for something to say, and found himself able only to release a strangle croak as his voice failed him as much as his words.

“You can’t give up hope,” Piper concluded. “Without you... we wouldn’t have made it this far. Without you, there’d be no Gods to do the saving. We’re a good team. A strong team, with unimaginable bonds with each other and our Digimon... because you were our guide. So... please don’t give up hope. If you do, then... we’ve already lost.”


A warmth spread through Ryudamon’s small, old body as the words of these children, these chosen, sunk in and resonated within him. The warmth he felt seemed to fill him up to the point he felt he would burst, and he released a slowly shuddering breath finally, meeting each of their gazes in turn.

“I...” his voice was a low tone, gruff, and strangled with emotion, “am touched. I know not what to say that could properly articulate my gratitude.”

Rubimon nudged her mentor, looking a little sheepish. “Just don’t go giving up. I think that’ll be gratitude enough.”

Ryudamon nodded slowly, smiling gratefully at the younger dragon.

Overcome by their words of encouragement and kindness, Ryudamon excused himself, wanting to take a moment to find his composure. He had never been one for large or over-the-top displays of affection, and found he did not really know how to react accordingly to their words.

With space minimal in the cellar, everyone had comfortably taken up space together with very little extra room to move or think. Ryudamon debated leaving the bunker to get some air, despite the threat outside. He knew the danger, and how foolish it would be to do, but despite that, he was drawn to the double door opening that allowed them in an out of the safe haven.

Piper had returned to the others, tidying up bloodied cotton wool and gauze with Eleanor. The other humans talked among themselves, or strained their gazes to see the fighting, which had moved further off, pushing Mukademon back into the remains of the collapsed Atlas Corp tower. Even Rubimon and Corneliamon had moved off a little, keeping a close eye on Eric who was slowly coming round with the effects of the painkillers wearing off slowly.

Ryudamon felt an odd sense of being drawn out into the open, as if something was leading him out, something he could not see, but could sense. He could have sworn he could feel something, like a hand, holding onto his claw, leading him towards the outside like a parent would lead their child.

And yet he felt unafraid or conflicted by this.

Everything finally made sense to him. He had a sense of clarity that had evaded him for so long that he had forgotten what it felt like to have a mind so clear of conflict and confusion. He remembered now what it was to have a goal. A singular, driving thought that put all others aside, and made them and any doubts seem tiny and insignificant.

It is me. Ryudamon thought to himself, glancing back over his shoulder at the Digimon and the humans he had come to care for, and love as a family. I see it now.

And he did.

At the time, it had been a fact hidden from view, so obscured by other thoughts and worries that it had struggled to be realized underneath everything else. But now, in this moment of clarity, everything made sense to him, and he was certain of only one thing: that he was the key to Mukademon’s defeat.

He didn’t know how. Or why. But in his mind he knew it, and more than that, the certainty of knowing was so strong in his chest and gut that it was something he could not deny or ignore.

It made sense now, from all his lessons and teachings to the Digimon and humans alike, in keeping them safe from harm and nurturing them through the difficult transitions in the Digital World. Harboring all the writings, the myths, legends and stories about the Gods and the life before Mukademon, through all the rituals with the Circle, Ryudamon had been harvesting the knowledge the Gods required.

He had been storing it, squirreling it away until the right moment. Until they desperately needed it. Keeping the knowledge safe, and in the safest place he knew, inside himself. In his head and heart.

The time was drawing near where he could use it all for its true purpose, and help the Gods reach new heights, turn the tides on this dire circumstance.

A memory stirred, somewhere in the back of his mind. One he had not thought on for some time, but now reared up and came to the forefront of his thoughts. The warmth he felt leading him and helping him was familiar, he was aware of why suddenly. The reason it felt familiar and safe. It was one he recognized, a love and friendship that had been suddenly extinguished.

“You can come out now.” Claire’s voice came from her armchair as the door to her apartment closed swiftly, the voices of the departing humans and Digimon faded down the long hallway.

Ryudamon crept out from his typical hiding place, a false panel in the back of Claire’s husband’s old armchair. The space was covered by the upholstery, it was impossible to see and there was a space there big enough for him to sit comfortably unless someone was looking.

He smiled at the older woman, stretching as he let the fabric hang heavily back in place.

“Are you going to follow them?” Claire asked him, leaning back in her chair. “They seem panicked.”

“I will.” Ryudamon nodded his head. They had every right to be panicked. What was about to happen was going to be the real beginning of a long and arduous journey that none of them would have asked for. Claire was not aware of this, but Ryudamon knew. He had been watching closely from the shadows for so long... it had only been a matter of time.

“Why are you hesitating?” Claire asked him gently. She trembled a little as she lifted her tea cup from its saucer. Ryudamon was saddened to watch her deteriorating with age. They had known each other for over two decades. Though his visits had been infrequent, their friendship meant much to him, and it pained him to know that one day she would pass away.

“I’m not.”

Claire gave him a shrewd look, one he had seen her use on her son Eric more than once. Eric cowered under it, and even Ryudamon felt a certain sense of needing to shrink beneath her stare. “I know you well enough.”

Ryudamon allowed a small smile for a moment. “I am worried for them. For the things that are coming. They don’t know what awaits them... and neither do I for that matter. Not entirely.” He sighed. “I will protect them, of course. But there is only so much I can do.”

“You’ll know what to do when the time comes,” Claire said with a blithe smile. “You have a strong head on your shoulders, and a good mind. Even if you don’t want to do it, or admit it, you’ll do more for them in the times to come than they will understand...”

He shrugged. “I hope so.”

“Shall I tell you an old folk tale I was told as a bedtime story by my grandmother?” Claire asked gently, shifting in her armchair. Ryudamon cast his gaze up towards her. Time was of the essence, but Claire’s tales had a way of being the perfect thing for difficult moments.

“Please,” Ryudamon agreed.

Smiling, Claire leaned her head back, recalling the tale from the depths of her memory. “I was told the story of a wise, old eagle. He was a good, just creature, who was loved by all, and loved well in return. He was the cleverest and wisest bird, and all the other animals respected and revered him for his knowledge and wisdom.

“One day when the eagle was flying around, he heard the cries of dismay and terror from a nearby village were a temple had been erected. The village was under attack by a terrible darkness that had sprouted up suddenly from the ground, and was tearing through towns. Here, the leader of the darkness, a despicable vulture, purposely attacked the village to draw down the old, wise bird.

“They fought, and it was a terrible battle. The eagle saw off the worst of the darkness, while ensuring those people who still lived found their way to safety. When it was only him and the vulture remaining, the eagle was exhausted. He had used nearly all his strength and powers to protect the people still alive and to spread light through the dark crevices, banishing the vultures minions.

“As the eagle tried to recover from a particularly heavy blow from his enemy, the vulture made his way to the people the eagle had saved. In desperation, the eagle wrapped his wings around the people, protecting them and warding off the vulture, though it made him an easy target, and every attack the vulture threw at him was like fire cutting through his skin and veins. It looked hopeless, and the eagle was so tired, it looked like he was going to give up...

“Then suddenly a sound, a chanting came into his ears. The people he was protecting were praying, giving their good will and feelings to the eagle, and praising him with their gratitude and faith. Through their hope, the wise, old eagle was able to understand what it was he had to do to rid himself and the world of this terrible evil and the darkness that accompanied it, and that was to let himself be free.

“As the vulture went to administer the killing blow to the eagle, he released himself from his earthly form and set himself free, covering the land with golden radiant light, destroying the vulture and darkness once and for all. By being selfless, and understanding that he had always held the power in himself, and simply needed the push, the old eagle saved everyone.”

In her own way, Claire had been referring to him in that story. He realized it now. At the time, the significance of it had not registered, and even now, he had to wonder how she knew it would be appropriate for this time and this moment.

It was a question he would never get the answer to, but he was grateful to Claire and her memory nonetheless. That through her story she was telling him all he needed to know in how he could assist the Gods one last time.

Even though he had trained them, taught them, and given them all the tools they needed to fight, ultimately he was the key, and their full power lay with him.

He knew what he must do, and could not allow fear to overtake him.

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

McTyre hadn’t known exactly what to expect when he reached the city perimeter. He had already been informed that a military blockade had been set up and that was keeping the crowds of people who had surrounded the city at bay, but their numbers were great, and the soldiers and their reinforcements were thin on the ground.

Flying overhead in the helicopter, McTyre saw throngs of people filing back for possibly two or three hundred meters. The crystal encasement had not reached this far, so the buildings had color and proper shape, but because they were within city limits they had been completely blocked off. Soldiers were trying to deal with shoving members of the public. People who were eager to get back into the city to get to their homes, not entirely understanding the danger that lay within.

The helicopter landed and McTyre climbed out. He was met by one of his subordinates, a fast-talking Private Waller who had been one of the soldiers in charge of the evacuation in the first place. An inexperienced man, but well meaning.

“What’s going on in there, General?” Waller asked, as the two men ducked beneath the arms of the chopper and walked briskly to where the main barricade had been set up.

“You don’t want to know, Captain,” McTyre answered.

“Just you and the other men?” Waller asked, indicating to the small collection of uniformed men and women who disembarked the helicopter after McTyre.

McTyre sighed loudly. “Unfortunately. Though not through lack of trying. They are obstinate.”

Waller looked a little confused. “Who are, Sir?”

Shaking his head, McTyre declined to answer, and bent over a computer screen which showed footage feeding from various CCTV cameras set up around the city. The woman operating the screen tapped through various ones, keeping her eyes on the screen and seeing the developing battles.

“Stop there,” McTyre told her. The picture was fuzzy and there was no color or sound, but that wasn’t necessary to see what was happening and to make a good judgment on what had happened. The Atlas Corp building that had towered over the town was now nothing by rubble, and the streets around it were the same: cracked and broken, buildings leveled, trees uprooted, and vehicles overturned.

There was a flash across the screen that McTyre knew was a Digimon, which one he couldn’t be sure. They moved quickly and he did not know them by name, except Ailurmon, and she was now transformed into some half-human, half-plant creature.

“Can you see any people?” McTyre asked. “Have you see any?”

“No,” the woman replied. “Though who would be crazy enough to stay in that mess?”

McTyre clenched his jaw. He had felt an awful gnawing sensation of guilt in his stomach as he had run for the helicopter. He should have forced them to come with him. The Digimon could handle the threat themselves; there was no point in their partners dying in the mess of it all. He should have dragged Eleanor out, and Eric. They had both been in need of medical attention, letting them stay had been a stupid thing to agree to, whatever their feelings on the matter.

It was too risky to go back though, as he had been told by the soldiers who had accompanied him in the chopper.

He had been told there were plans to fire missiles down to take out the worst of the threat as soon as they knew what it was, but McTyre had cancelled that plan swiftly, and his soldiers had agreed once they had learned of the civilians inside the city still. A missile would be a risky tactic.

“What...” the woman operating the computer breathed, “is that what is responsible for all this?” She zoomed in using the camera she was on, and it showed on the screen the giant monster the other Digimon were fighting, standing erect on his tail, legs drawn up as if the creature was in the lotus position.

“I believe so,” McTyre confirmed with a solemn sigh.

“What is it?” she asked, frantically flicking through other camera angles to keep it in sight.

“All I know is that it is called Mukademon,” McTyre explained wearily.

“General.” Waller was beside him, his expression anxious.

“What now?” McTyre asked, becoming increasingly annoyed. He needed to get some control. Get these people away from here in case the Digimon weren’t able to contain this Mukademon abomination. There was no order, though his soldiers were trying they hardest to keep the people at bay, and push them back from their own lines. However, the amount of civilians outweighed the amount of soldiers about three to one, and had the knowledge that the soldiers wouldn’t open fire on them. “Do we have any tear gas to get these people away from our men if things become ugly?” he demanded, rounding on Waller.

“I believe so, General,” Waller answered slowly.

“You believe so?” McTyre barked. “I don’t want, ‘believe so’ I want to know for definite. Find out, and if we do, get them distributed to the men in case the public turns nasty. I will not have a riot.”

“Yes General.” Waller nodded. “I have some civilians who had asked to see you.”

“Can’t you tell them I’m a little preoccupied at the moment?” he growled.

Waller flinched a little. “I did, Sir. But they were insistent. They claim to be family members of some of the people still trapped inside the city.”

McTyre grit his teeth together painfully. He had things to do, soldiers to organize, and a conscience to wrestle with, as he was currently in two minds about staying here or leaving and re-entering the city to drag some people out whether they liked it or not. He did not have the time or patience to deal with hysterical family members.

“Send them to–”

“General McTyre!” A female voice rose up over McTyre’s own and cut him off, as a slight woman with strawberry blonde hair shoved Waller to one side. She was followed by a taller man with short cropped dark hair, flecked with grey. With him was another woman, in her early forties with dark brown wavy hair, and the two other people, a husband and wife he assumed, both with blond hair. They all looked stricken and as if none of them had slept in days.

“Waller, please get these people out of this zone.”


“You will listen to me!” the strawberry blonde woman shouted, wrestling away from the soldier who took her arm. Behind her, the man with the short cropped hair shoved Waller. “My name is Summer Parker, my sons and daughter are in the city!”

“As are many other people, Mrs. Parker,” McTyre snapped. “We are working on an evacuation plan just as soon as we learn how to break through the crystal that is keeping many trapped.”

“My son is one of those with the Digimon,” Summer told him, “and this is Cleo Swift, Piper’s mother. And Isabelle and John Lay, they are Tom’s parents.”

McTyre looked at each of the parents in turn, slowly. The names she had mentioned rang a bell, though McTyre would have struggled to put names to faces.

“Your men are useless at relaying any information we don’t already know,” Summer explained. McTyre could tell she was trying to be patient and keep her own panic under control. “Please just tell us if our children are alive.”

McTyre struggled for a moment. “All your children are alive,” McTyre told them, “last I saw. But I cannot be certain now as we have no surveillance in the city aside from the CCTV cameras and many of those are no longer working.”

Isabelle Lay choked on something in her throat and turned to her husband, who wrapped his arms around her. He looked coldly at McTyre. “Do you know anything that could be useful to us? What are they fighting against? What are you planning to do to help them?”

“They are battling against a creature I know only as Mukademon,” McTyre explained, “and at the moment I am trying to decide on the best course of action. Sending in airborne military is risky as they could attract the attention of this... thing they are fighting.”

“Can you get them out?” Cleo asked slowly.

McTyre regarded her before he lowered his eyes. “They are resistant to come. They wish to stay, in case their Digimon need them.”

“What on Earth could Poemon need with Tom?!” Isabelle wailed. “What if he dies, John? We aren’t there to protect him!”

“I assure you,” McTyre said slowly, “their Digimon are doing all they can to keep their partners safe. They would die before allowing them to come to any harm, of that I am convinced.”

It seemed his words did not comfort the frightened mother.

Seeing the faces of them all though, hollow and pale, their eyes dim and their expressions a mixture of utter terror and tiredness, McTyre suddenly had a resolve. “Please, excuse me.” He edged between Summer Parker and Cleo Swift, indicting for Captain Waller to follow after him. The younger solider did so, taking quick steps to keep up with McTyre’s long strides.

“You have a plan, General?” Waller inquired, taking a sharp turn to follow McTyre through a small group of soldiers.

“Those with Digimon may not wish to leave, and that I understand, but that is no reason for those without to be risking their lives,” McTyre began, talking hurriedly. “I know there are some inside the city on the very edge of the fighting who are badly injured and in dire need of medical attention. Gather together a small group no more than six, and a truck. We will be going in and taking those who require medical assistance out. By force if need be.”

Waller nodded once and took off back the way he and McTyre had come, stopping at the group of soldiers they had walked past moments before.

McTyre rubbed the space between his eyebrows and furrowed them deeply. He had no idea if they would be able to get to the battlefield through the crystal walls and blockades that he had seen littering the city from the air, but he could not sit by and do nothing. He had to try, even if he was unable to convince Eleanor and Eric to come with him... he could never sit idly by at a time like this.

“General?” McTyre turned, hearing someone call for him and expecting to see Captain Waller approaching.

Instead he saw a lean man marching purposefully towards him. He looked to be in his late twenties, with short but shaggy slate grey hair and intelligent, sharp teal eyes. He was smartly dressed, if a little disheveled, and despite never seeing the man before, McTyre could have sworn he knew him from somewhere.

McTyre braced himself. This was a member of the public who had broken through the soldiers line and was coming to give him a piece of his mind, he was sure. However, as the young man reached him, he stopped and looked at the General seriously.

“I need you to take me into the city,” the young man told him, no hint of mirth or question in his voice. “I can help.”

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

The idea to attack Bella, hanging in Mukademon's chest, was a good one, but the act of doing so was much more difficult than first thought. The assumption that Bella was Mukademon's weak point was proven when the Gods first began to make their attacks, firing them precisely at the chest. Mukademon deflected them with his arms and tail, or took the attacks on his back, keeping Bella well protected and out of harm’s way.

Despite their best efforts Mukademon was not slowing down, and any attempts seemed to fail. He had cottoned on to Marquismon's vines and her attempts to strap him to the ground, and was not concerned by them any longer, slicing through them with his claws if they came near him.

The other Gods we beginning to slow, their energy depleted rapidly as their task seemed to become more and more hopeless.

“Viral Infection!” Mukademon shouted, aiming the black ball of dark energy towards Morrigamon, throwing it as she flew towards him.

Morrigamon vanished in a puff of smoke just in time. The attack sailed through her trajectory, swallowing up the smoke and thundering into a building, causing the bricks to disintegrate.

“Witch Spear!” Morrigamon reappeared, attempting to attack from the side, throwing her weapon forcefully.

The right mouth on Mukademon's shoulder opened wide. “Scream Annihilation!” The beam of red swallowed the spear and Morrigamon. She screamed the agony of the attack engulfing her body, sending her flying back and crashing to the street below.

Gaiusmon had a hard time standing, his hood in tatters and flesh dangling from his left leg where blood trailed rivulets down his fur and pooled on the floor. Despite his injuries, he still had enough energy to summon an attack. “Deadly Circle...!”

The watery battle axe launched towards Mukademon, only scratching the surface of his skin. It was enough to get his attention, however. Mukademon turned to Gaiusmon, scooping him off of the ground and into his hand. The other held Marquismon tightly, finally able to get her out of the ground. Marquismon was damaged, hurt, and barely moving, many of her petals full of holes or crushed.

Mukademon held the two up towards each other, like a child playing with toys. Marquismon in one hand and Gaiusmon in the other.

“Now... kiss!” he said gleefully. Releasing the two at a blistering speed towards each other after blasting them from his hands with red energy beams.

The two gods crashed into each other with loud painful cries, they crashed to the ground, creating a large crater.

Towering above them, Mukademon let out a low chuckle, the pleasure he was taking sending a slow shiver down his spine.

“Your effort was valiant,” Mukademon said to them, speaking slowly, savoring the moment. The moment he had been planning, and waiting for all his life. He had failed once, and he would not fail again, not now that he was so close, and they were all so weak and helpless against him.

“Even with two extra,” Mukademon laid a hand over the twin wolf Digimon who cowered near one another on the ground. Both released weak growls which quickly turned to strangled cries as he increased the pressure of the hand they were beneath. “You were no match for me. You powers were weak and feeble against my own might and superiority... A shame... truly. For whom shall I have to fight against when I have destroyed you all?”

Bella in the centre of his chest, groaned and writhed wildly, almost letting out a growl.

Mukademon gave a wide, terrible smile, showing off his sharp teeth and the satisfaction he felt coursing through him. He would never have this moment again, these few seconds before the end. He would be able to replay them over and over in his mind, but he would never again feel this. Feel the excitement and how his heart rate increased and his adrenaline surged. How his power fuelled at its strongest point. He would never again truly hear the screams of agony as he unleashed his attack on his adversaries.

He would never get a moment like this again. He had to make the most of it, to save it, and he intended to.

He needed to ensure he had his audience's full attention.

“Are you watching?!” he shouted suddenly, his voice echoing over the rubble and bouncing off the buildings. His question was directed to the Tamers, to Rose and Hunter. The those watching from screens across the world. “Are you seeing how easily they are felled?! Do you stare with wonder and awe at me?! Me who will be your new sovereign Lord? I, who will bring you into a new age of Paradise?!”

“Save the speeches,” Vayumon groaned weakly from the ground.

Gaiusmon rumbled. “If you’re going to kill us, get it over with.”

Mukademon sneered. “Your bravado is admirable. But I see the true terror in your eyes, how you are frightened of the death that is coming to you.”

Ceryneiamon turned her head a little. “We’ve died once and come back. We will always return to defeat you.”

Her words seemed to strike a chord with the gargantuan Digimon above them, and his expression changed suddenly, twisting from anger, to consideration, and malice in swift motions.

“Perhaps you are right...” Mukademon murmured gently. “Perhaps I should give you a warning... something to make you think twice about returning a second time to face me.”

“Is that so?” Ymirmon asked dryly, but almost in the tone of a dare. "How do you intend to achieve that?"

Mukademon’s mouth twisted unpleasantly. “I will destroy that which you most the love.” He turned his gaze upon the building that housed the cellar where the humans had been hiding and watching.

Vayumon growled loudly, becoming animalistic as if he was losing control of himself from blind rage. While around him, his companions struggled with their injuries and their low energy, trying in vain, to summon up what dregs still remained.

They had to protect their Tamers.

“Watch... and fear me,” Mukademon hissed.

“RUN!!” Morrigamon screamed, flapping her good wing as her other was curled gingerly in towards her body.

Mukademon’s mouths gaped open, each one charging with a dark crimson glow, the noise they each made growing and growing in pitch and volume.

The Gods could only watch in horror as the dark cannon beams fired from each mouth, exploding into the building. It crumbled down slowly, causing those inside to begin to scrabble around to get out.

An explosion echoed up from the ground, sending debris scattering everywhere. The sound of coughing was heard as the Tamers and small Digimon made their way to the streets. The air was thick with dust and smoke from the debris.

The Tamers continued to cough, grabbing one another's clothing to keep together, drawing in breath despite the dust.

“Is everyone okay?” Eva asked, resting her hand on James’ shoulder as the sound from him seemed worse than the others.

"Think so," Frankie called to the plum haired girl.

"Corneliamon?" Eleanor called, hoping the white otter would appear at her feet.

"Is Eric okay?!" Rubimon yelled.

Reyez slowly looked up, noticing the error of the situation. “Fuck!”

The large blast that had collapsed the cellar had been a tactic to get them into the open.

Mukademon floated above them, drawing everyone's attention skyward. Beyond him, clawing the ground and using what little strength they all still had, were their Digimon, fallen and beyond help. Weaker than they had ever been and powerless to stop the parasitic Digimon, only able to watch and observe in horror.

From the air, Mukademon examined the faces below, watching as each expression mirrored the other, fear and terror taking over their expressions.

“Yesss! YES!!! THE FEAR!”

He raised his hand, aiming it in the direction of the small group. “I love it!”

A series of blasts left his hand, fired straight towards the group.

One by one, mere moments apart, the beams of red energy made contact and pierced each Tamer and the small Digimon that remained. Short screams were heard from between the blasts, hitting the ears of the fallen Gods.

Frankie fell first, crumbling to her knees, unable to stay upright. Her body fell limp onto the concrete. James fell close beside her, but was knocked back by another impact which sent him flying into a wall, where he slid down the brickwork and landed in a heap on the ground, unmoving.

Eva had her hand tightly in Tom's and they were hit together. Eva was shot back several feet, crashing into a fallen lamp post, creating a loud 'crack' sound as her bones broke against the impact. Tom was thrown the opposite way from the blast, and went through the windshield of a car, remaining practically folded up within, both their bodies lifeless where they lay.

Reyez tried to remain standing against the fired shots, holding the wound on his chest. He tried to take a step, but as his foot left the ground so did his strength and resolve. Another blast sent him back several feet, skidding across the ground. The jagged and sharp crystal tearing the skin from his face and chin.

Piper was thrown back towards the Atlas Corp building, a shattered metal pole - part of the window frame - sliced through her from the back, protruding out of her left rib cage and her body dangled there. Rose's body was sent the same way, and like Piper, her body fell upon the broken metal frames; one stuck out of Rose's stomach.

Like Reyez, Hunter was stubborn and tried his best to resist the agony rushing through him, but even his resolve faltered and his strength depleted entirely. He flew back, thudding against an abandoned car, splayed over the hood. Eleanor shot back against the same wall James had hit, but instead of falling to the ground, her body crashed through a ground window, and half hung out of it where she landed.

Rubimon and Corneliamon both landed nearly twenty feet from where the bunker had been originally, their size and smaller weight sending them further than the others.

None were left unharmed by Mukademon's wrath.

As the dust began to clear, leaving only destruction in its wake, and the bodies of their partners, the Gods were all struck speechless, unable to form words or make sense of what they had seen. Their Tamers, those they had protected all their lives and loved beyond measure, nothing more than lifeless sacks, not moving and none seemed to be breathing.

Mukademon chuckled to himself, menacing but pleased. He breathed in deeply and raised the Gods he had in his grasp towards him.

“And now, for your turn…”

He lifted his hands up, opening his mouth wide.

“Iai Blade!”

“WHAT?!” Mukademon rounded on the voice, dropping his prisoners from his hands and tail. They landed in heaps on the ground, each struggling to move, while desperate to see if their Tamers were still alive.

Ryudamon stood on the ground, tiny in comparison to Mukademon’s height and size. If he was afraid he did not show it, as he stood firmly in place, his eyes boring into Mukademon’s great form above him.

“You?” Mukademon released a small laugh. “You are their last resort?”

“Face me,” Ryudamon ordered.

“Do you not know when you are beaten?!” Mukademon bellowed. “I have won! There is nothing left for you to defend!!”


Ryudamon snarled. “There will always be something to defend!” He leaped up, opening his mouth and firing out a sword-shaped blast into Mukademon’s body. “As long as there is a world that is free of your influence, and should remain free.” Ryudamon released another attack, bouncing up towards Mukademon, using the fallen buildings and lamp posts to get high. “As long as there are innocents in the world who want nothing to do with your infection!” Ryudamon leapt again, dodging one of Mukademon’s large clawed hands.

“I will always defend this world, and others from you. As will the Gods!”

Mukademon snarled. “You’re an old, delusional fool!” He rounded on the small dragon, who paused for a moment, holding on to a precariously leaning window frame. “Why do you and your kind insist on these worthless follies of protection?! When these humans are not worth it? They are not worthy of your care!”

“You are wrong!” Ryudamon shouted, leaping from his perch just as Mukademon’s crashed down upon it, as if wanting to crush Ryudamon like an insect. “They are worthy of defending. Of being protected and loved! They are not perfect, but nothing is! And you shall learn that you have grossly underestimated them all!”

Landing in the middle of one of the broken window frames of the remaining Atlas Corp tower, Ryudamon released a bright glow from his mouth. “Iai Blade!!” The sword fired, a clean strike, piercing the belly of Bella’s limp form.

Both Bella and Mukademon released roars of pain, while blood began to drip from the wound Ryudamon’s blade had created.

Mukademon whirled around and slammed his arms and tail into the window frame, sending Ryudamon tumbling to the ground where he landed on his feet, despite the fall and the debris that followed. Mukademon towered above the small dragon, rage the only visible emotion on his face.

Ryudamon stood fast on the ground, his expression severe and resolute.

“You fool,” Mukademon said once more, saliva dripping from his maw, he drew his hands together, generating a singular dark ball of energy. “VIRAL INFECTION!!” He fired the attack, full strength, toward the ground at blistering speed.

As it careered towards him, Ryudamon felt the familiar warm sensation flow throughout his small limbs and could see his body glowing a brilliant golden color, contrasting to the black attack speeding towards him.

This was the right thing to do, the only option, and he was content with it.

“You can do it, old friend.”  He heard Claire’s voice whispering to him through the ages and the memories that flooded his mind, and it felt as if she were standing right beside him. “Let yourself go. Free yourself.”

He was filled up to the brim of feelings of warmth and love, the fondness he had felt for the humans and the Digimon alike that he had seen through this journey. He felt a pang of regret that he could not tell them now how much they each meant to him, and how much joy they had brought into his life, but the feeling was banished quickly, replaced by an overwhelming sense of goodness and fulfillment.

Tears brimmed in the old dragons eyes as Mukademon’s attack enveloped him.

Ryudamon roared, and it carried, deafening the sound of the other Digimon’s attack. The golden light that Ryudamon had been surrounded by swallowed up the parasitic attack, destroying it as if it had never been there. The light came in on itself for a moment, before exploding outwards, releasing a titanic blast of energy.

“WHAT--!!!” Mukademon’s cry was cut short as the explosion threw him backwards in a wide arc, sending him crashing into the piles of rubble and the jagged formations of crystal that littered the area.

As the golden energy filtered and scattered through the ruined buildings and streets, covering the area in a warm, soothing glow, it settled on each of the Gods and the Tamers it found, also covering Rubimon and Corneliamon in its blinding light.

From their distance, Summer Parker and the other parents could see the light blooming above the buildings and continuing to spread unabated. Some of the military staff stared in wonder and awe. Others scattered, believing this to be an attack.

The essence moved like an explosion, mushrooming up into the sky as it drifted through the buildings and the damage wrought by Mukademon and his followers.

McTyre's jeep came to a screeching halt on the outskirts of the main battlefield, and the other jeeps behind him did the same. McTyre peered through the windshield, his mouth open, and removed his sunglasses. Other military personnel peered out of the back of the jeeps or the windows, trying to get a better view.

Stepping out of the vehicle, McTyre noted how the golden air moved around him and how it warmed his body even through his thick clothing.

From afar, Summer Parker was watching the sky light up with different shades of gold and yellow, obscuring for a moment the image of the other world in the sky.

To her, and she did not know why, that light, that golden haze indicated one thing.

Hope.

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