Journal Entry #810: Grid Central City

We've found it. We've found an opening to the Interface, in the far north of the continent. Finally, the opportunity we've been waiting for.

I've prepared everything we need, from all across the continent; here, Silicon City, the Spokes and the Infernal Fortress. Commander…no…General Surtremon sends his best wishes for the mission. My apprentice will accompany me, to make sure everything goes smoothly. I have a feeling I'll need all the help I can get.

If all goes well, we can seal this entity away for good. But we only have one shot, and I don't even know entirely what we're up against. Still, I have to try. At the very least, I know enough about the Interface to be able to open and close some of the pathways between worlds. But first, I must try and communicate with this thing. I must know what it's looking for.

We leave first thing tomorrow. I will be leaving this journal here, in safe care of the Obelimon; whatever activity is affecting the rest of the world seems to be lower here. If for some reason I don't return, and somebody finds this journal, I only ask that you let my brother know of my actions. I haven't spoken to him in some time after we broke contact. Brother, I'm sorry I couldn't be there for you. I don't expect you to forgive me, but know that I am proud of who you have become.

I'm ending this, right now.


Karatenmon lowered the journal, and ran his fingers over his mask. The afternoon sun was making the great hall stuffy, but he'd barely even noticed. His eyes simply ran over the scrawled Digicode again and again. The next page was blank. Karatenmon flicked through the remaining pages, but there was nothing more.

He sighed, pushing the journal away and leaning back. His eyes flicked to one side, towards the twisted swords that leant inside one of the alcoves.

He could still remember the night he'd found out. A visitation from a small, furry goat-like creature, with his brother's mask and swords wrapped up in parchment.

"He sends his apologies. Know he thought highly of you. I'm sorry to bring the news to you. I must leave his last relics in your care. We may never need them. But keep them safe, just in case."

The creature had vanished before Karatenmon had been able to ask him anything.

The tengu warrior stood up and walked over, running his hand down the perfectly helical blade. All these years, and still sharp as the day they were forged. Still useless though.

He heard noises outside as the Resistance members rushed around, readying themselves for battle. It wouldn't be long now. Like whatever his brother had faced back then, they had one shot, and they needed to get it right.

Karatenmon placed the journal beneath the swords, before placing both hands together and bowing his head.

"I wish you peace, brother."


"Primal Fury!"

The courtyard had certainly seen better days since before the tamers had arrived. Once the road had been intact and the buildings had been mostly standing, but an unsurprising increase in evolution-related mishaps had soon taken care of that.

Now, however, energy radiated out from the centre of the square as the four boys stood facing each other, hands gripping their D-Nexus's tightly. Around them the forms of their partners swelled, growing powerful and beastly. There was a cry as Cyclomon's immense body materialised in the sky above, and way down on the ground below, the forms of Dimetromon, Azdajamon and Tectonamon stood back, only slightly out of breath.

Jack held his right hand with his left, shaking slightly as he did so. He grinned nervously. "This feels really weird for some reason."

"It's the link." Kai exclaimed, looking sideways at his skeletal partner. "You and Cyclomon are both fully part of the same network now. You are one."

Kent nodded, gritting his teeth. "Keep that in mind. If all goes well, we should be able to slide between forms easily."

Jack bit his lip. "I'm still nervous."

"You've done it before. We've practised this."

"Yeah, but not straight between like this. What if I mess up?"

Aaron placed a hand on the smaller boy's shoulder. "We'll all do it together. Just let it come naturally. Don't worry, it'll be fine."

He stepped back, feeling his partner's electric presence behind him. Dimetromon leaned in. "You too. Remember to relax."

"I know."

"Are you sure you're ready to go all the way this time?"

Aaron sighed, and grasped the small device with two hands. "I have to try. If I don't get it now, I never will."

Kai looked around. "Shall we go?"

The other boys nodded, and at once the large forms of their partners began to glow simultaneously. All four tamers thrust their arms forward, yelling in unison.

"Soul Fury!"

The Digimon's forms dematerialised in seconds, the particles swirling around and down, through the D-Nexus's and into the tamer's chests. The four boys burst into light, their bodies immediately morphing and contorting under the strain. Perimon descended quickly from his great height, joining Velocimon, Colchimon and Trilomon as they watched the spectacle, lights dancing in their eyes.

The bird landed, grinding his beak. "Are you sure this is gonna work?"

Trilomon hummed. "No."

"Oh."

"You asked, I answered." The bug sat down. "Let's just watch, and be ready to move if we need to."

They did so, and they didn't have long to wait. It wasn't quite as instantaneous as their own evolutions. Paleomon appeared first, holding himself up with the great axe. He looked around him at the flickering energy. "Damnit, I should have moved. I feel really in the way."

"Hey, Jack! Nice one!"

Perimon whistled as the red energy converged on Ventimon's small body, who bobbed a few metres above the ground, looking disorientated. "Where am I?"

"You made it! Nice work, mate!"

Velocimon frowned, scratching his chin. "You're still tilting a little to one side."

Ventimon quickly righted himself, and Perimon gave the dinosaur a shove. "You're such a nitpicker."

"Shush." Colchimon hovered a little closer. "The others haven't reformed yet."

The partners quietened down, watching as Aaron and Kai's featureless forms stood, still not fully transformed. Suddenly Aaron moved. Jerkily at first. Unsteady. Robotic. Then he leant forward, his body becoming material as his arms reached their full length. The final sparks of electricity leapt away as Brontesmon stood slightly awkwardly, his single red eye focused on the ground.

Ventimon dipped down a little closer. "Um…are you okay?"

The red eye snapped upwards, and Ventimon backed away, his shield plates instinctively joining up in front of him. Brontesmon shifted, letting out a spew of electronic gibberish and static. Paleomon scratched his head. "English, please?"

"Kssvssshcic….VVZXccIOD…"

The static trailed off, and Brontesmon shifted again. The onlookers watched as he leant backwards, raising an oversized arm. The six claws on the end snapped together, forming a blunt spike shape. Then, slowly, a single claw unfurled, pointing straight up.

A thumbs-up.

Everybody breathed a sigh of relief. There was a shuffling nearby and Dokkamon stepped forward, clapping his hands. "Good job, Aaron."

"Dokkamon?" Paleomon tilted his head. "Still couldn't Fury evolve, huh?"

"Guilty." Dokkamon shrugged, his mask rippling every time he spoke. "On the plus side, I'm much more comfortable as I am. Perhaps it's for the best to remain in this form."

Colchimon grinned. "I am so proud of you right now."

There was a thump as Brontesmon's arm descended quicker than he expected, sending him staggering and letting off static obscenities. Ventimon stifled a giggle, and Velocimon placed his hand in his claw, hiding a smile. "So close…"

"You should probably turn back soon." Trilomon stepped forward, pawing the road. "You don't want to use up too much energy."

Paleomon nodded. "Alright then. Everyone, on three. One, two…"

There was a burst of light, and four humans stood where four warriors had been moments before. Aaron stretched his jaw, twisting awkwardly as he groaned. "Ayooow…that is so uncomfortable you wouldn't believe."

Velocimon walked up to him, looking him up and down. "Seems to have gone better though. You're not injured this time."

"Yeah, but my mouth's killing me." He gnashed his teeth together twice, before frowning. "Never learn to speak electricity, guys. It's more trouble than it's worth."


Yasyamon watched from a nearby rooftop as the group of tamers laughed amongst themselves. The warrior smirked, resting one arm over his knee. "Heh, amateurs."

There was a shuffling beside him, as the two silent Monitamon looked amongst themselves, big question marks flashing on their screens. Yasyamon rolled his eyes. "Well they are. Getting all excited about evolving like that. It's just a natural part of growing up." He exhaled, his red eyes surveying the scene.

"I suppose they've done well. For humans, at least. Too bad the others aren't here to see."

There was a brief electronic chatter, and Yasyamon felt himself being poked rapidly by one of the electronic ninjas. He turned, spreading his hands. "What? Don't poke me!"

"Yasyamon, you should come with me."

The warrior looked up as Sistermon pointed towards the wall, her pale pink klobuk blowing in the wind. "There's somebody approaching from outside. It might be nothing, but I think it could be them."

Yasyamon leapt to his feet, and ran to the very edge of the wall, peering into the distance. After scanning the horizon, he saw it; a broad spot, growing larger and larger, heading straight towards the city. He squinted, before letting out an exasperated 'gah', and clicking his wooden fingers. "Hey, screen-heads. Make yourselves useful, willya?"

One of the Monitamon joined him, twisting the aerial on its head as it concentrated on the thing in the distance. The other stood nearby, completely still, and tense as if it was waiting for something.

All of a sudden, it jumped up and down, nodding wildly at Yasyamon. Its screen flickered, before showing a grainy picture of Chirinmon. Sistermon clasped her hands, her face lifting in a second. "It's them! They've made it back!"

Yasyamjon placed a hand on one of the Monitamon's heads. "Gather the troops and clear the way for them."

The Monitamon saluted, before leaping from the top of the wall. Yasyamon jumped back himself, returning to his vantage point and standing tall. He raised his hands to his mask and called down to the tamers below.

"Good news, tryhards! Your gallant lady friends have returned from their quest." He pointed towards the main city street. "You'd better get ready. Wouldn't want to miss them."

The tamers and partners looked amongst themselves with looks of relief, before running off towards the main square. Yasyamon placed his hands on his hips, before becoming aware of Sistermon standing to one side, staring at him with an irritated expression.

"Yeah?"

"You're so mean. You know that?"

"'Course I am. It's good for them." The wooden warrior swung his arms behind his head, whistling as he walked away from the edge.

"I do it out of love."


The four tamers and their partners joined the growing crowd in the main street as Chirinmon's vast body made it over the walls (followed by several angry fireballs from the soldiers outside, but no-one was paying attention to them).

With a great thump, the kirin landed, and promptly collapsed to his knees from sheer exhaustion. Lobomon was the first to leap off, and the crowd let out whops and cries as she raised a hand, smiling as she did so. The others were more reserved, getting off slowly and cautiously. Still, the other tamers rushed forward, great smiles over their faces.

Jack leapt into his sister's arms, sending her spinning around. "I've missed you Grace!"

"Woah, okay, calm down." Grace hesitated for a moment, before hugging her brother back. "Oh god, I've missed you too."

Eloise laughed as the two children spun on the spot, before turning, as Aaron, Kent and Kai walked up to her. Kai raised an eyebrow. "You look like you've been through hell and a half. How…how did it go?"

Eloise paused, looking at the ground. "It…could have gone better."

"I'm sure you can tell us all about it." Karatenmon wandered up, with Lobomon just beside him, her arm linked around his. The tengu smiled. "Get a little rest. We can catch up tomorrow. We still have time."

Eloise's eyelids were heavy, and she nodded, smiling despite the chaotic events from the past couple of days.

If nothing else, it was good to be back with everyone else.


Martyaxmon stared down himself, his inherent feeling of pride tinged with disgust. Gently he raised a paw, running it up the gauntlet of his old armour. He hadn't worn it since all those years ago, when he'd first faced the resistance. The black metal, bordered with gold, reflected the flickering lights around him with every movement.

He stepped forward, curling one paw beneath the final piece as he sat down. Holding the helmet in both front paws, he pushed it over his mane, manoeuvring it over his horns. It fell neatly into place, as perfect a fit as it was all those years ago. Even so, it felt heavy. Uncomfortable. It didn't belong.

Martyaxmon heard the sound of somebody clapping, and his eyes snapped towards the door. Rinkhalmon leant against the frame, slowly applauding the manticore.

"Can I just say, Martyaxmon, that you look absolutely stunning?"

The Red Beast said nothing; instead he simply walked over to his colleague, his new gauntlets clanging against the floor of his quarters. Rinkhalmon stood up, hands rested inside his belt. "You'll be a wonderful figurehead on the battlefield."

Martyaxmon swung his paw, and grasped the serpent by the throat, dragging him backwards. Rinkhalmon choked, his body flailing and knocking over a plethora of books and memorabilia. Martyaxmon raised his paw and slammed the serpent to the ground, pressing down as his blank eyes stared into those of the serpent. Rinkhalmon kicked, and tugged weakly at the manticore's muscular forearm, laughing hysterically. "You…really shouldn't…if Surtremon sees you…"

"What does it matter? I'm already dead, no matter what I do. At least my last act will be revenge; it's all your fault, if you hadn't been working on those...that...thing..."

He pressed harder, his eyes narrowing. Holding his position for a second, he stared into the eyes of his colleague, who had now reverted to making indecipherable choking sounds.

Martyaxmon sighed, reverting to a tired smile. "I can't kill you. Even now, I can't kill you."

The Red Beast let go, standing aside as Rinkhalmon sat up, clutching his oversized neck. "I think I may have grown a couple of inches taller after that."

"Just get out, Rinkhalmon."

Martyaxmon stared at his desk, before reaching out and standing up a small ornament. It was a frame, containing an old, faded photo. Three old soldiers, grinning at the camera like nobody's business. Coremon, Mollumon and Serpemon; just a few hours before their graduation. The Red Beast ran a claw over the central figure; over his own once-slender, athletic figure.

He became aware of Rinkhalmon looking over his shoulder. The serpent frowned. "I was such a geek back then."

"You still are a geek."

"Yeah, but at least I look cool."

"That's debatable." Martyaxmon pulled the frame down and opened it, removing the faded picture. "It was all so simple back then. Heroes of justice; that's what we were. All three of us." The manticore looked up at his colleague. "Where did we go wrong?"

Rinkhalmon stood tall, and shrugged. "Things change, Marty. You've gotta make the best of them." He smiled warmly, and nodded down at the picture. "Think of it as those guys still watching over you. Over all of us."

"Maybe."

Rinkhalmon turned, and sauntered to the doorway. He paused, twisting his neck one-hundred and eighty degrees. "I just wanted to say…good luck. Alright?"

"Thanks."

"And…well, if you do need a little extra help…"

Rinkhalmon flicked his fingers, sending something small towards Martyaxmon. The Red Beast caught it in mid-air, before examining it. It was a small cartridge, no bigger than his claw. The outside was translucent, but Martyaxmon could still clearly see the leech writhing inside. He looked up at his colleague, who was leant against the doorframe, one hand tucked into his belt.

"I know you don't like them, but it might just give you the edge you need to win. It's a strong one. You only need to crush the canister."

Martyaxmon stared at it, before gently placed the cartridge on the desk beside him. "You really are a bastard, you know?"

"I do my best."

The tapping quietened as Rinkhalmon tiptoed back down the corridor, leaving Martyaxmon alone. The Red Beast stared at the cartridge for a couple of seconds, and the swirling creature within. Then, he became aware of the photograph still within his other paw. For a few moments he stared at thr ethee young figures, their naive faces telling him nothing.

He slipped the picture just behind his chestplate, bowing his head briefly as he did so.

"Coremon, huh? I could really use your help right now…"


One day to go…


Karatenmon clasped his hands, his face grave as he looked over at Vulpimon. "I'm sorry for your loss."

The fox looked down, but said nothing. Lobomon cleared her throat, leaning one elbow on the table. "It looks like we're on our own here. We're all that's left standing between the Digital World and total desolation."

The tengu sighed, standing up as he looked around at the tamers and partners. "I was prepared for this. Gargomon and I have been working on our plan of action. Gargomon?"

The gunbunny walked over, spreading out a large parchment over the centre of the table. The group stood up, trying to get a good view over the whole diagram. It showed a crude, aerial view of the Infernal Fortress, with various arrows, blocks and dots scrawled all over it.

Jack scratched his head. "This looks really hard."

Gargomon chuckled. "Let's start from the beginning. We have two priorities. The first is that we know the Fire Kingdom must have another stash of those leeches somewhere, and they'll likely be somewhere within the fortress itself."

Eloise frowned, tilting her head slightly. "How can you be so sure?"

"Marsmon was proof of that." Velocimon looked up, his face calculating. "His appearance means they're trying to make more Fire Tyrants. To do that, they'll need to have more of those things. Besides, Rinkhalmon's definitely around, and I somehow doubt he'd be one to abandon something so important."

Ladomon nodded. "So basically we go inside and do what we did in Silicon City. Mess them up."

"That's right. If we can cut off their supply of those things, they'll lose their power source. If we can cut that off, then they can't make any more Fire Tyrants or any more superpowered soldiers. We'll get the upper hand."

Aaron spoke up. "And what's the other thing we need to do?"

Karatenmon looked over at Gargomon, before adjusting his position, pointing at the fortress himself. "We need to face Surtremon himself. That's our main priority."

Everyone looked at him in confusion. Perimon hopped up on the table. "Am I missing something? Are you really banking the entire battle on taking down a single guy? I mean he is the leader and all, but-"

Karatenmon raised a hand. "That's the point. I met him before the war all started. He may be a tyrant, but he's an honourable one at his core. That was the case for most of the great Fire Generals. If we can bring him down in single combat, I have a gut feeling that he'll surrender his forces."

Perimon looked doubtful. "And what if he doesn't?"

"Then we'll still have taken out the most powerful member in the Fire Forces. Without him, the rest should fall. You yourselves managed to stand up against Martyaxmon and Rinkhalmon, didn't you?"

Gargomon interjected. "We want to try and win this with as little bloodshed as possible. Hence going straight for him."

Aaron gritted his teeth. "It's not going to be easy. He's more powerful than anyone we've ever faced before. And we'll have to battle our way through his army, and his Commanders. And any other Fire Tyrants that Rinkhalmon's managed to make."

Karatenmon sat back. "That's why you twelve need to head straight for the fortress. You're the best equipped to deal with both the leeches and with the General. I've been watching you; you've made good progress with controlling your evolutions. Keep that up on the battlefield, and you'll be able to keep him on his toes."

The tamers still looked uncertain, but Gargomon pointed at the map again. "We'd suggest you split up and make your way through the battlefield along the left wall, right wall and centre. The rest of us can cover you and force the main army out of the way."

Kent scratched his chin. "I have a feeling it's not going to be that easy."

Gargomon raised her hands. "We have no idea what we're going to find in there. But at the same time, the Fire Kingdom don't know what we're planning. That's something, at least."

Karatenmon stood up again, looking among the tamers and their partners. "One more thing. We'll be facing monsters, and creatures out to kill us. While we want to avoid as much bloodshed as possible, your first priority must be your own protection. You are the most important assets we have. If it comes down to it, and you have to kill, you mustn't hesitate. You're no longer children here. You are warriors."

Grace and Jack looked up at the older kids in worry, but Kai simply nodded. "We understand."

"I know." Karatenmon reached forward and rolled up the parchment. "You should probably get some rest today. You'll need all the energy you can muster tomorrow. Don't stress yourselves."

He walked away, Lobomon and Gargomon following him. The gunbunny paused, before turning. "Oh, you tamers, can you stop by my quarters later? I have something for you."

The group nodded as she left, before they stood together in the darkened hall. Eloise looked over at Kai. "Are you sure we understand what we're getting into?"

The boy nodded, his face unreadable. "We have to. Although I certainly don't like it. But right now, we don't have a choice." He looked at the others, aware of their gazes upon him. Without a word, he walked away. One by one, the others followed.

None of them had much to say.


The morning sun beat down heavily upon the city, ensuring that most of the resistance were in the shade, trying to rest in whatever way they could.

Yasyamon remained sitting atop a roof near the wall, eyes closed as he listened over the great rock formation standing between them and the hell within the fortress. Amidst the faint battlecries, he could hear the brittle rock beginning to crack.

In her quarters near the city gates, Sistermon sighed as she packed up her equipment. She stared around, the room now looking empty and barren. Only a few things were left spread out on the bed; a golden lance, and a pair of cross-shaped revolvers. She picked one up, caressing the barrel gently. For a moment she felt conflicted. Then she shook her head, placing it back with the other.

In the corner of the ruined arena, Minotarumon held a hefty barbell in his right hand, hoisting it up and down in a regular rhythm. His mechanical left arm was pressed against the ground, causing the dust to vibrate as it trembled.

Hidden within the alleyways, the two Monitamon lay back to back, pointing up at the clouds. There was a shuffling nearby and one of them turned, watching as Dracmon approached, its hands clasped behind its back and its head lowered. The Monitamon shared a glance, before one of them beckoned the little imp over. Dracmon nodded, squatting beside them. Together, the three of them turned back towards the clouds.

Gargomon sat alone in her quarters, staring at the floor. She raised a hand, clicking the gun-barrel around merely by flexing her fingers. She flinched with each sound, before clenching her metal hand into a fist. Slowly, she laid back, staring at the ceiling.

Seahomon cast shadows over the road as she wandered beneath the ruined streets, looking left and right. She paused, tilting her head as she heard music nearby, before turning to see Gwappamon, leaning against a half-demolished factory, with her headphones in and her foot tapping. Gingerly, Seahomon hovered closer, her cape blowing in the wind. Gwappamon opened her eyes, noticing the regal creature's approach. She smiled, removing her headphones and giving a wave. Seahomon didn't answer; she simple hovered closer and rested her head over the kappa's shoulder. Gwappamon smiled, stroking the seahorse on the back of the head. Then – hand in fin – they headed off down the empty road.

Centarumon sat alone by the side of the road, head low and arms folded. He looked up as Seahomon and Gwappamon wandered past, chatting amongst themselves. Beneath his mask, he smiled. For a moment he turned his head, almost expecting to see a familiar face next to him; someone to laugh with, joke with and enjoy spending time with. But nobody was there.

At the very centre of the city, Chirinmon lay sleeping, still exhausted from the journey back. He lay, largely entirely still, his huge body practically silent. Only by getting very close could one notice the giant's deep breathing, or the crystal-clear tears that ran down his majestic muzzle.

Lobomon leapt back as she raised her cutlasses, bracing herself as Karatenmon's great longswords swooped down in a cross formation. She stepped forward, forcing her opponent to one side while bringing her weapons together in a scissor fashion. An advanced move that he himself had taught her.

Karatenmon was very nearly caught off guard, but at the last second he flapped his wings, forcing himself backwards as he brought the blades together. Lobomon rolled, keeping her own sword exposed throughout the manoeuvre. She felt the clanging resonance of hard light against golden metal, and stood up, holding out a hand.

"I thought we were supposed to be taking it easy?"

Karatenmon relaxed himself a little, flexing his shoulders. "I've been sitting at that bloody desk for nearly a week. Frankly, I need the practise." He stepped to one side, holding both swords out at an angle as he winked. "Not that you need to be here, m'lady. I wouldn't want to keep you from your beauty sleep. That is, if you are indeed tired."

Lobomon laughed. "Please. Someone's got to take care of you, you old coot."

"I'm not old!"

Karatenmon lunged forward in a spinning motion, but Lobomon twisted in a perfect counterpart to the move, ending up the other side. "You're ancient compared to my moves, boss."

"Perhaps." Karatenmon grinned, raising his blades as his opponent brought the cutlasses in from each side. Another clang resonated over the old scrapyard.

"You know, I prefer the term 'experienced'. I could still teach you a thing or two."

"Well, you could always start now. That is, unless you're bluffing."

"Patience, Lobomon. You must find your own style."

Karatenmon turned, coming face to face with the wolf, their blades inches away from either of their faces. Lobomon stuck out her tongue. "Unless, of course, you wished to teach me after this whole mess is over."

The tengu started, and suddenly found himself on his back. Lobomon leaned over him, hands on her hips. "Really? I expected better."

Karatenmon shrugged. "If you insist, I suppose I could teach you." He smiled, and his rough, feathered face momentarily broke into a warm expression. "After all, you are the best warrior I've ever known."

Lobomon blinked. "You're serious?"

Her legs fell out from underneath her, and she rolled away, crouching a couple of metres away. Karatenmon was already standing. "Two can play at this game, my loyal student."

"Don't get cocky, arsehole." Lobomon leapt to her feet, before arcing round in a great swing as she moved in towards the tengu again. The swords clashed, and she leaned in close. "Honestly though, I'd like that."

Karatenmon nodded. "Me too."

He flapped his wings, but the wolf-warrior anticipated it this time, sliding under his feet and sending a spinning kick at his legs. The tengu stumbled, putting some distance between him and his opponent while he did so. Lobomon gave a small bow. "I'm the best warrior you've ever known? At least you have good taste."

Karatenmon laughed. "Just don't tell Yasyamon, alright?"

"Promise."

She ran off, and Karatenmon followed her with both swords held together, as one.

"No, seriously, don't tell him. He'd probably kill me."


Kai lay sprawled out on a bench with one arm draped over his face. The midday sun was beating down and he felt close to melting, even with the heavy overcoat removed and dumped next to him. Not that that was an uncommon feeling here.

A shadow passed over him, and he mumbled, shifting his arm to look upwards. Eloise's face loomed upside down in his field of vision. She smiled. "Comfortable?"

"Not really. But oh well."

Kai shifted himself into a sitting position, before shuffling along to give Eloise room to join him. She sat down, clasping her hands in her lap. "You seem more relaxed."

"I don't feel more relaxed."

"Yeah well, you know. Considering everything."

Kai scratched his left shoulder. "Sorry to hear what happened up north. That wasn't right."

Eloise shook her head. "Vulpimon lost a lot up there, and we nearly lost her. And Grace. It wasn't even a Fire soldier. That's almost the worst thing."

"Seems like we can't get away from all this death, whatever we try."

Eloise exhaled, pressing her thumbs together. "It sounds horrible, but I'm almost getting used to it."

"I know the feeling." Kai turned to the girl. "I heard Grace managed to evolve again?"

"Oh yeah. I mean…I didn't see it, but Ladomon did. Surely that's a good sign, isn't it?"

"Oh yeah. Definitely." Kai sighed, looking straight ahead. "I haven't even tried to Fury-evolve yet. I'm just about able to keep my regular Soul form under control, so that's something. But I don't want to go any further."

Eloise smiled, nudging him. "Baby steps. You'll get there."

"Hopefully I won't need to. What about you? You seem pretty confident with your Soul form."

Eloise started. "Not…really. I'm the same as you; I haven't evolved any further either."

She became aware of Kai's puzzled look, and raised her hands before she could answer. "I know, I know. I'd probably be fine. I just don't want to force it. Especially not something with that much…"

Kai blinked. "Power?"

"…potential to go wrong."

Kai smirked. "You'll probably be fine. You have the nice, friendly element."

Eloise gave a little laugh. "Maybe. Although I have to say, despite everything you've managed to bring out the nice, friendly side of darkness." She blushed. "You should be proud of yourself."

"Yeah, sure."

"No, I mean it." Eloise turned his head to face hers, her face serious. "You've grown so much; it's great that you've finally been able to face your feelings. I knew people who went their whole lives without ever facing up to themselves, and they drove us all apart. But you're not like that. You've been able to change, and it makes me so happy that you have."

Kai's normally pale face flushed a deep scarlet as he stared into Eloise's sea green eyes. "I…uh…thanks. Really, thank you. That means a lot."

Eloise sat back, grinning. "You're welcome."

The two sat, looking up at the shifting sky. The sun passed the midday point above them, as they continued chatting. For a brief moment they could forget of the impending war.

It was a brief moment, but still, it was one they were both immensely grateful for.


"Royal Flint!"

Martyaxmon lunged forward, the great bead chain following his move and slamming against the target in front of him. The metal cracked, buckling inwards from the sheer force of the hit. The manticore smiler, cracking his neck.

"Still feels good, I suppose."

He sat down, catching his breath for a moment. Briefly, he glanced up to the windows of the fortress, aware of Surtremon staring down at him from the window of the great hall. He grimaced inwardly. No more chance. One false move, and that would be it.

All of a sudden, he didn't feel like training anymore. Martyaxmon rolled his eyes, and turned to leave, only to find Fornaxmon standing just outside, seemingly waiting for him. The manticore tensed, walking forward gingerly as he gave a toothy smile. "You looking for me?"

"I didn't realise you were out of solitary yet."

"You wouldn't, would you." Martyaxmon walked forward, past the other Commander, who followed him, holding his missing arm just in case. The Red Beast looked up. "Is there anything Rinkhalmon can do about that arm? He seems to be awfully good at that kind of stuff."

Fornaxmon shook his head. "He said he can't do metalwork."

"Figures. Idiot." Martyaxmon sighed, and paused mid-step. "For what it's worth, I'm sorry. I should never attack one of my own comrades. No matter what my feelings are."

He carried on, raising a paw and pushing open the great doors into the fortress. Torches flickered inside, revealing the arched entrance and various split paths. Even on the inside, the place was fortified to the teeth.

Fornaxmon's free arm hung low, and he gently brushed the Commander. "What about those who aren't your comrades?"

Martyaxmon stopped, turning to face the golem. Fornaxmon looked left and right, before beckoning the Red Beast backwards, towards an alcove, just within the entrance.

Something clicked in Martyaxmon's mind. Eyes narrowed, he walked forward slowly, the mechanical man's furnace fire reflecting from his own dark eyes. "What do you mean, Fornaxmon?"

"I mean you're lying to yourself, Commander. You're chasing a dream you no longer believe in."

Martyaxmon snarled. "You…what's happened to you? You were turned into a vegetable by that thing. How are you back?"

"I don't know. I think I lost one of Rinkhalmon's little devils somewhere along the way."

The Red Beast tensed his paws, but refrained from moving. Instead he spoke with menace. "I should kill you right now, you traitor. We should never have let you live."

Fornaxmon's visor flashed, but his voice remained calm. "You kill me, and Surtremon will kill you without a second thought."

"He wouldn't…"

"You seriously think he'd believe your excuses? After what you've done to his army?"

"Silence."

"Or what?"

Martyaxmon opened his mouth, but had nothing to say. Fornaxmon sighed, venting off some steam. It was clear he was nervous. The manticore decided to try a different tactic. "How are you able to think clearly? I saw Rinkhalmon put four of those things inside you."

"Again, I don't know. All I know is I've had my own beliefs for a long time. Perhaps that's why I can think clearly. I've had too much time to find my purpose for it to be taken away by a mere parasite."

Martyaxmon looked at the ground. "Rinkhalmon offered me a way to succeed."

"Don't do it."

"But if you could survive-"

"Don't even think about it." Without warning, Fornaxmon reached for his chestplate and peeled it back, revealing his inner workings. Martyaxmon stared as the gears and pistons pumped repetitively, wearing away with each movement. An eerie blue haze was mixed in with the fiery red. Fornaxmon closed the plate just as quickly as he'd opened it.

"They destroy us, Commander. That's what they do. There's no way to control them. You can only suppress them until it's too late. Us Fire Digimon; we simply go faster than most."

The manticore flinched as Fornaxmon's body gave out a little spurt of screaming flame. "Does the General know? Maybe if you show him-"

"He won't listen. He's been blinded by his own vision, and everyone else has been blinded by bloodlust." Fornaxmon looked at his remaining hand, clenching it as his visor flashed again. "I don't have much time left. I have to make things right."

"But why are you telling me all this? I'm your enemy."

Fornaxmon paused, before looking down at the Red Beast. "You're right. I hate you for what you've done to me, and to my friends. You honestly deserve to die for the crimes you've committed against the Digital World."

"Then why don't you kill me right now? You don't have anything to lose."

"Because I know what you're going through. You're just like I was, way back then."

Fornaxmon leant down, looking Martyaxmon directly in his cold, red eyes.

"Run, Martyaxmon. Run away. You can still get out of this hell. It's too late for me, but if the last meaningful thing I can do is to save your life, I'll do it."

Martyaxmon smirked. "A soldier never runs. But then what would you know?"

"Then I was never a soldier to begin with. The question is, are you?" Fornaxmon stood up, walking away down the right-hand corridor, his remaining pistons chugging away.

"Are you still willing to risk your life for this madness?"


The emerald-green grass shimmered like water as the wind tickled it, sending the little girl's fiery plaits into a manic flutter. She giggled, holding one hand on her flying helmet to keep it in place, and the other on the large, purple device slung over her shoulder, which beeped, whirred and flashed in a chaotic fashion.

The girl turned and waited for her companion; a small, bipedal sheep, with simple armour, a short blade slung over his back, and a long purple cape fastened with an engraved broach. He stopped beside her, hands on his hips as he breathed in.

"Look at that view, Yvonne. Look at this land."

Yvonne grinned, swaying from foot to foot. "It's real pretty. You must love it here."

"I love being able to share it with someone. Seems like it won't be for that much longer though."

He sat down, his bright expression fading. Yvonne joined him, shuffling up next to him. "It'll be alright. We can win this. We will win."

Arimon looked up at the girl's smiling face, his eyes filled with uncertainty. "How can you be sure?"

Yvonne grinned, her face crinkling upwards like paper. "We have to, right? It's our job. Somebody needs to keep the peace. If nobody else will, then it's up to us. We have to make the sacrifice."

Arimon laughed, rocking backwards and forwards. "You sound so confident. You're only young."

"Don't patronise me. I'm still old enough to understand." Yvonne's hand went up to the strap of her flying helmet, gently picking at the buckle. "I have to believe it. My father believed that till the very end of the war. He believed peace would win against all odds. And he was right, even if he wasn't around to see it."

The sheep knight looked down at the grass, avoiding his partner's gaze. "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Yvonne leaned back, spreading her palms on the grass. "God gave us a right path. If we wholeheartedly believe in it and follow it to the very end, then there's no way he would fail us."

"Huh?"

The girl sat up again, grinning. "I'm saying to buck up, and stop worrying. There's no way we can lose. You and I, and everyone else in fact; we will bring peace to the Digital World. The peace it deserves."

"Digital paradise, once again." Arimon nodded, gripping his dagger. "What a marvellous world that would be."

"I know, right? And we're not gonna let this big meanie take it without a fight."

Arimon stood up, raising his sword high. "You're right! We will make peace again. We are the heroes of the Digital World. And one day, when this is all over, I'll look back over this land and remember us, here right now. And I'll remember that this is the world we fought for, you and I."

Yvonne nodded. "Amen to that."


Surtremon opened his eyes, and the emerald fields and lilac skies disappeared.

He stared out of the window at the barrier; the only flimsy protection between his forces, and the Resistance. He squinted, but there was no way he could see past it. Instead he looked slightly upwards, gazing out across the wastegrounds beyond. A patchwork of deep, burnt red, brown and grey, speckled with metallic blue and copper orange from the polluted sunlight.

There was a rattling behind him, and he breathed out as Rinkhalmon sauntered up next to him. "Preparations for the new Fire Tyrants are complete, General. They're ready to deploy at a moment's notice."

"And the troops?"

"Also prepared for battle, sir."

"Thank you." The General sighed, resting his hands on Logi as he dug the great sword into the floor. "I thought we'd won this before. But they still didn't give up. They wouldn't, would they? Especially not with humans on their side."

Rinkhalmon folded his arms, leaning back against the wall. "Maybe we should have given up before."

"I couldn't do that." Surtremon looked down at the serpent, his eyes distant. "I made the decision to do this. If I gave up, even now, then all the deaths up until now would be pointless. I can't handle that."

Rinkhalmon nodded. "As long as a Digital World still remains, then life must go on. And as long as life goes on, the memory of those long since gone will remain."

The General nodded. "I will honour the memories of these brave soldiers. When this is over, I will commit the rest of my life to rebuilding this world. That shall be my new quest. And my penance for my many mistakes."

For a moment Rinkhalmon stared up at his General, his face betraying nothing. Then he smiled. "Whatever your decision, we will serve you to the end, sir."

Surtremon didn't reply. He simply dismissed Rinkhalmon with a wave of his hand, before resuming his gaze out the window.


Kent was forced to crouch as he joined the other tamers and partners in the cramped room. He folded his arms. "Is there really anything else we need?"

Gargomon grunted as she pulled up a massive trunk away from the wall, before wiping her brow. "Not so much your friends, but you humans should really get properly suited up."

The children looked amongst themselves. "Huh?"

"Us Digimon are fine. We can protect ourselves. But you guys are…kinda fragile? No offense. We just need to make sure you're as best protected as you can be."

Jack scratched his head. "But we can evolve, can't we? We'll be fine; we don't need extra protection."

Velocimon cleared his throat. "I'm afraid it's not that simple. If we're fury-evolved, we're going to be using the entire elemental link, which is going to leave you defenceless. Obviously we'll do our best to keep you safe, but it's going to be chaotic out there and you're going to need all the protection you can get."

Grace frowned. "And what if we're fury-evolved and you're stuck at this level?"

Velocimon rubbed his claws. "I can fire lightning bolts. You can't. My point still stands."

Grace folded her arms, muttering slightly as Aaron raised the lid of the trunk, flipping it over. "Makes sense. So what, is it a free for all?"

Gargomon shrugged. "I'm afraid that's all we have to offer. Past warriors. Hopefully they can be of some use to you."

She coughed, before shuffling out of the room, as the children gathered round the trunk, reaching inside and pulling out various items of armour and armament. Eloise looked grim. "Half of this is going to be useless. It's alright for you Digimon; you get this stuff custom-made."

Kai hummed, reaching forward and pulling out a grey-green wide-bottomed helmet, once wielded by a Commandramon. After dusting it off, he pulled it on, wincing only slightly. "I suppose we can make it work. We don't need anything too major; just enough to cover our vitals."

Jack leaned inwards, finding his own helmet (black, with a red dome and side wings, that once belonged to a Ryudamon) and pulling it over his head, where it rattled about loosely. "Hey, this is kinda cool!"

"This is horrible."

Aaron stepped back, turning as he saw Grace kneeling in front of the trunk, clutching what appeared to be an oversized combat knife. All of a sudden she threw it back as if throwing away a snake, and buried her head in her hands. "I can't take this...no more..."

Aaron leaned forward, placing a hand around her shoulders as she began to sob. "Hey, hey, it's alright. We're going to be alright."

"No! This isn't alright! Look what we're doing; a...a bunch of...kids getting ready for war. We'll...we'll be going in there tomorrow and we could...could never...never come back out...it's not alright...it's horrible..."

Aaron held onto her, gently rocking back and forth as she sobbed, doing his best to comfort her. The other children stepped away from the trunk, sharing uncertain looks. Jack knelt down next to his sister, and gave her a hug himself. "We can do it, sis. Really, we can."

"I don't want this any more...I want to go home...I never even wanted to come to this horrible place."

Vulpimon raised a paw, the necklace swinging on her neck. "Grace-"

She felt a claw on her shoulder as she made to walk forward, and she turned to see Velocimon shaking his head. "I think it's best if we leave them alone. They won't get another chance to speak to each other before tomorrow."

Perimon exhaled. "For once, I agree with you. This is a human matter."

He beckoned, and the six partners gingerly left the room, leaving just the six children standing in silence.

For a moment, the only sound was the sound of Grace's crying slowly diminishing. Then, the girl pushed Aaron's hand away, wiping her eyes. "I'm scared."

Eloise looked to one side, sitting on the edge of the trunk. "I think we're all scared. This is beyond anything we've ever done before."

There was the sound of someone clearing their throat. Kai stood up, awkwardly spinning the helmet in his hands as he bit his lower lip. "I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry I brought you all here. I never said it before. If I hadn't been so desperate to do something good for once, you wouldn't be in danger."

Eloise glanced sideways. "Neither would you. And hey, at least we're all in this together. You're not on your own any more."

"Yeah. You're right." Kai nodded faintly. "I can only apologise. Grace is right; this isn't right. I shouldn't have brought you all here. It's my fault."

"Don't blame yourself, Kai." Kent smiled weakly at the younger boy. "We all decided to stay. This is down to all of us."

"Yeah, and look how well we've done so far." Aaron looked around at the others. "Come on, guys, we can still win this. We're so close; we've come this far."

Eloise reached into the trunk, pulling out a curved wooden bow. "It's not gonna be easy, Aaron. Surtremon's the one who caused all this mess, way before we got here. We'll be walking into war."

"We've been walking through war since we got here."

Jack smiled, standing up. "And anyway, look how powerful we are now! We were able to take down Teslamon, weren't we?"

Kent looked up, his eyes scanning the ceiling. "Maybe we do have a chance. I guess…I guess all we can do is try."

There was a movement, and Grace stood up herself, nodding. "You're right. I won't just give up; not after coming this far."

Kai looked among the others, raising a hand. "Can I make a request?"

"Sure, what is it?"

Kai blushed a little. "When…when we get through this, and get back home…when we do…can we still meet up? I don't want to forget you all after all of this. You're the best people I know."

The others laughed, and Aaron nodded fervently. "Of course. We're all in the local area, aren't we? We'll make sure to keep in touch." He grinned. "After all this, I don't think I'll ever be the same. And that's not a bad thing."

Kent nodded. "You've all taught me so much. I never apologised, did I, for being such a prat before."

"We all had issues." Eloise shrugged, running a finger down the bowstring in her hand. "Maybe we still do. But that doesn't matter. What matters is that we're all here for each other."

Jack laughed, clenching his fist. "We can be superheroes."

Here Grace burst into fits of giggles, before reaching out and pulling Jack close to her. "You never change, you know?"

"What? It's true."

Kai chuckled, before standing up. "Well, in that case, we'd better suit up. Live up to the expectation."

The others all nodded, new looks of determination over their faces. Jack pumped the air with his fist.

"Who's ready to save the world?"


Ladomon peered back at the ramshackle quarters as the group of six shuffled away, their shadows long with the setting sun. "Do you think they're going to be okay?"

"I'm sure they'll be fine." Perimon smiled down at her, hovering just slightly lower. "They're a strong bunch."

"If they weren't we wouldn't even be here right now." Velocimon sighed, cracking his claws one by one. "It feels so long since we were last here, doing this. Preparing for battle. I'd forgotten what it was like."

Perimon cooed. "I'm afraid it's just me and you on that one, scales."

"That's right." Vulpimon increased her speed, joining the dinosaur at the front. "Remember, four of us weren't at that first big assault. Trilomon wasn't even born."

The insect gave a nervous trill at the sound of his name being mentioned, and backed off a little from the group. Velocimon simply frowned. "I guess you're right."

"We haven't even known one another for that long." Colchimon bit his lip, feeling the tension in the air. "What should we do, once this is all over?"

Perimon laughed. "Forward thinking, much? I'm sure we can figure it out when we get there. After all, everyone'll want to bask in the glory of their heroes."

Ladomon cooed. "You've been spending too much time around Jack."

"He's right though." Trilomon clicked thoughtfully. "Everyone's treating us as if we're something important."

"Isn't that bothering anyone else?"

The others turned to look at Vulpimon, who had posed the question. The fox shook her head. "I just don't get it. Why us? Why are we important? Why were we chosen to fight with the humans when most of us had never fought before?"

The group slowed to a stop, and mumbled amongst themselves. It was a slightly unnerving point.

"Lots of you have asked that. Haven't you been listening?"

Vulpimon yelped, and jumped back as she looked all around. "Who the hell was that?"

Slowly the six Digimon got into a circle, looking in all directions. Ladomon raised an eyebrow, briefly looking back at the fox. "Are we sure that was real?"

"Be on your guard." Velocimon growled, clenching his fists and causing sparks to pop out. "It would be just like the Fire Kingdom to try something dirty like this."

"Now now, don't be accusing the flame. You're all together. Apart, but together, but…I'm sorry, what was I saying? Together, then apart, then together again."

"That voice..." Trilomon looked down at the ground. "Together, then apart, then together..." He squeaked, looking round with a mix of excitement and fear. "I remember…you were at the shrine! When we first got the elements!"

There was a little puff of shadow nearby, and the six turned to watch as Phoukamon stepped out of the darkness, smiling warmly. They bowed. "It's an honour to see you all again."

Everyone stared, dumbfounded. Colchimon was the first to speak. "You…what is your deal?"

Phoukamon shrugged. "I've been keeping an eye on you." They smirked, and all of a sudden they were behind everyone, sitting cross-legged on the ground, with both eyes closed. "One at a time. Three, two, one. Three. It's very confusing."

Perimon made a face. "It's not the only thing."

"Enough of this." Velocimon marched forward, pointing a finger at the goat-monkey. "You've been popping up everywhere, constantly interfering but never talking. What the hell are you playing at?"

Ladomon flew forward. "Velocimon, don't threaten him. Whoever he is, he's saved our lives a few times. I think he's on our side." She paused, looking confused. "Sorry...him? Her? Them?" She peered over at Phoukamon. "Who are you?"

Phoukamon flipped onto their feet, pointing at their own chest. "Us."

"Yes, but who? What do you want with us?"

"I've been checking on the elements. Checking where they are."

Colchimon growled. "We have names, you know. And besides, nearly half the elements are dead. But then you already knew that, arsehole."

Phoukamon sighed, scratching the back of their head. "So much going on. Humans. Digimon. Elements burning up and burning low. Elements on the brink of survival." They pointed a furry finger at Vulpimon, their face almost serious. "You came the closest."

The fox glared back. "Thanks for the reminder."

"But you survive. And as you survive, you grow. And as you grow, you become strong. Strong enough to defend the world."

Perimon looked around at the others. "Does anyone understand what they're saying?"

Velocimon folded his arms. "Look, I don't know what you want with us, but there's no big plan here. We just want our world back. Nothing more."

Phoukamon bowed their head. "Then promise me one thing. No matter what happens, you must face this battle to the end. You are closing in. We are all closing in. And when it comes to it, you must all be there, and be ready to fight."

"Yeah, but what?" Trilomon shook his head. "We are here, and we are ready to fight. But the way you talk, it's like there's something else. You obviously chose us for a reason, but we don't know what it is."

Phoukamon frowned, pacing back and forth. When they looked up, their face was grave.

"We are watched. Sorry, we cannot say. To do so would doom all of you. All of us. All of them. The end. Nothing."

"Then what can you say?"

Phoukamon smiled. "You're already all so wonderful. So very wonderful. You know anyway-"

Perimon landed, stamping a foot. "Get to the point!"

Phoukamon looked shocked for a moment, before relaxing, closing their eyes. When they opened again, all three were different, and for a moment the spirit's words split into three distinct voices.

"Protect yourselves. You, and the humans. No matter what happens, make sure you're all of you there. You twelve are the most important beings in this world. When the time comes, it'll be down to you alone to save this world."

They turned, and began to walk away. Velocimon ran forward, holding out a hand. "Wait, that's it? Can't you help us?"

The furry demon turned to face the six, looking at each worried expression in turn. Phoukamon shook their head sadly. They bowed their head, and snapped their fingers. And just like that, they were gone.


The first rays of sunlight peered through the heavy clouds, illuminating the silent city. Almost the entire resistance were gathered up against the innermost wall, spread as far out as they could get. The flying Digimon hung on the buildings, trying to gain as much height as they could without poking their heads over the twisted rock, unsure of what lay beyond. The rest were gathered on the ground, staying close together behind the rock barrier.

Aaron, Kent, Velocimon, Trilomon and Karatenmon stood near the centre, surrounded by a gathering of nervous soldiers. Aaron reached out, brushing his hand down the rock barrier. Surtremon's holy fire flickered behind him, barely even hot now, but still flickering away. The boy shrugged, feeling the uncomfortable weight of the chestplate on his shoulders, and the old sword strapped to his side. In his right hand he held his D-Nexus, ready to activate it at any time.

He felt a presence beside him, and turned to see Kent, who was also armoured up. The older boy nodded. "You ready for this?"

Aaron said nothing, but shook his head. Kent looked back at the others, and ground his teeth. "Me neither."

Kent out the D-Nexus, letting the green energy flow ever so familiarly through him. Aaron stood back, gesturing to the two Monitamon, who stood, ready to run down the line either way. Once they could see exactly what they were up against, then they could make their move. They had mere seconds.

"Primal Control! Soul Control!"

There was a flash of light, and Cratomon and Seismon stood side by side in front of the great wall. They faced the wall; both placing one hand flat against it, while drawing the other back, gathering energy.

Seismon glanced sideways. "Once this is over, you owe me."

"I owe you what?"

The insect clicked. "I haven't decided yet."

"Deal."

"On three then. One…"

"Two…"

"Three!"

The two warriors of earth struck at the same time, causing a fracture in the wall that snaked upwards in three different directions. The rock tumbled down, spreading wide like a valley opening up, revealing the fortress within for those nearby.

Aaron silently signalled to the Monitamon, who began to run, as Karatenmon, Cratomon and Seismon stepped forward.

Before them stood the full force of the Fire Kingdom, and it was a good sight more impressive – and terrifying – than the one from a week ago. No longer was it a brutish, snarling mob of animals; now the soldiers were silent, with only a faint flicker or snarl from a couple to betray their feral instincts. They spread far and wide, forming a huge barrier defending the entrance to the fortress. Many of them Kent recognised; Tyrannomon and SkullMeramon, Volcamon and Lynxmon. Hordes of Mosquimon hovered above, and even higher were the Birdramon, along with other creatures that buzzed, spat and let off sparks. He even noticed the smaller soldiers hidden within the main ranks; Coronamon and Flamedramon, and the disappearing tales of more Salamandemon as they scurried away, obviously doing their own reconnaissance of the enemy.

Only one Commander stepped forward. Martyaxmon's tail swayed, and his body clinked with every step, laden as it was with beautiful engraved armour. His face was stoic, but Cratomon noticed the pain and humiliation within those eyes.

Karatenmon drew his swords, and Cratomon noticed something else. He pointed at the other swords strapped to the tengu's back "Aren't those your brother's?"

"We all need help from somewhere." Karatenmon stepped forward himself, holding out his own longswords. Martyaxmon stopped, leaving thirty metres between the two warriors.

The tengu didn't waver. "This is your last chance."

"As it is yours." Martyaxmon's eyes flickered to the wall, and at Aaron and Velocimon, who stood waiting. For a brief moment they flashed with hatred. But his voice remained the same.

"Surrender here, and submit yourselves to the Fire Kingdom. We can end this war and no more bloodshed need take place. You may live. All of you. Just surrender; right here, right now."

Karatenmon shook his head. "I appreciate your request. Unfortunately this has gone too far for us to turn back now. But thanks anyway."

Martyaxmon narrowed his eyes. "That wasn't my request; that was Surtremon's. But no matter. At the very least, I may reclaim my honour."

Karatenmon lowered his sword. "How sad, to see far you have fallen as a people."

"As one civilisation falls, another will rise." Martyaxmon growled, tensing his claws as he spread his legs. "I'm going to destroy you, one by one."

From behind the wall, Aaron became aware of the Fire Forces shuffling, moving into their own positions and ignoring the confrontation between the two front line leaders. Seismon glanced back at him, and the boy signed, holding his D-Nexus up to his mouth as he did so. Somebody had to be the first to move.

Behind the wall, everyone waited with baited breath. Eloise, Kai, Lobomon and the two dragons near one corner. Grace, Jack, Gargomon, Vulpimon and Perimon at the other. Everyone else in between; weapons drawn, and ready to run.

Martyaxmon curled his tail, taking in his breath.

Behind him, in front of the entrance to the fortress, Fornaxmon raised his bladed arm forwards, looking left and right as he did so.

Within the walls, in a chamber behind the vast protective doors, Rinkhalmon laid a hand on one of the great metal cocoons, awaiting the call from outside.

And overseeing it all, General Surtremon stood in the main chamber, between the outer walls and the lower levels, clutching Logi firmly in both hands. He closed his eyes.

Seismon tapped his foot, sending the signal. Aaron whispered something into the D-Nexus, projecting his thoughts out out to everyone he could think of. All along the wall, the entire resistance heard the same words.

"Good luck everyone."

Martyaxmon reared up and roared; a phenomenal, bestial sound that rang out across the battlefield. Like a great, burning wave, the Fire Forces moved as one; some firing from a distance, some spreading wide, and some charging forward, rushing past the Commander as they went for the barrier.

"NOW!"

"Galactic Flare!"

"Earthquake Drill!"

"Barrel Drive!"

"Solar Ray!"

"Gargo Pellets!"

"Shipputen-shou Ken!"

"Silurian Sabre!"

"Earth Cannon!"

The barrier disintegrated in seconds as it was struck in a dozen places at once, crashing down at the feet of the oncoming Fire Forces and sending some of them skittering back. With an almighty shouting the Resistance barrelled over the top of the rubble in a swarm of their own, converging and rushing forward in spikes in an attempt to break up the wave of enemies. Even more leapt over the walls from the sides, closing in and surrounding the hellish army, and the flying Digimon took to the sky, led by Chirinmon, forming a united front against the barrage from above.

Aaron and Velocimon were among the last to move as the wall that had protected them for so long finally gave way behind them, opening out the battleplain for the final siege. Velocimon ran quickly alongside the boy, arms spread wide and eyes more focused than ever before. Aaron's heart was in his mouth as he raised the D-Nexus once again, feeling the energy surging within as he witnessed the onslaught of flames approaching him.

"Primal Fury!"


TO BE CONTINUED…

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