DISCLAIMER: Digimon Tamers is the property of Toei Animation, Bandai, and Akiyoshi Hongo.

-- --


Kenta raised an eyelid to Juri's voice. Finding her staring down at him, the other opened. "Yeah?"

He was still sprawled out on his back, not having yet found the strength to pull himself back to his feet. The two of them hadn't moved for over an hour. The same went for Alice and Dobermon, neither having yet woken.

"Takato-kun," she said, then paused, biting her lip. She averted her eyes and sat back out of his sight. "Do you think Takato-kun and Impmon will be okay?"

Kenta closed his eyes again. She'd said nothing since Takato left, leaving a dull silence over them. Beyond MarineAngemon's occasional chirps of boredom as he flitted all about them, there hadn't been much noise. Occasionally, he heard what sounded like people getting close to them. Luckily, they had thus avoided having to explain the ten-foot dog sleeping nearby.

The silence had kind of disturbed him. He was used to the sounds of his family's house, the constant good-natured bickering, joking, or just talking. Or the busy, crowded halls of school, the taunts from tormentors like the Kobayashi brothers. Even MarineAngemon's constant babbling in a language only he seemed to understand.

Juri's silence, though? Something about it was unnerving. He wasn't really much for socializing to begin with. With someone he barely knew, sitting there distressed over what had transpired, he felt himself kind of freezing up. It wasn't like there was anything he, of all people, could do about it. He couldn't find anything to say to comfort her, though. He couldn't possibly even begin to wrap his head around where he would start.

Now, of course, she wanted him to say something. He so earnestly wished for his strength to surge back to him, if only so he could run and not have to face such a question.

He opened his eyes again to find her, again, looking down at him. "Well. Uh..."

IceDevimon would probably kill all of them. Seeing what he had done to Dobermon and Alice, it'd be a miracle if they even kept Hirokazu alive long enough for Takato to get to them.

"I'm sure – uh, positive that they'll be fine."

It was a bad lie. He didn't even know Takato that well, nor did he have a single clue to how capable a Tamer he was, or what kind of strength his Digimon held.

Juri sat back. Kenta closed his eyes, praying in vain to shut everything out. If she took that lie as truth or not, he didn't know. He didn't really want to know. If she didn't, then the actual truth was horrible. If she did, then the giving of what was surely false hope just made him feel like crap.

-- --

Digimon Tamers: Inner Demons
Phase 01- Rising Shadow
Realization 20: "EVO"
Infinity Blade

-- --

Katoki Yosuke pressed a hand against his bandaged face. Beneath them, he was scarred, burned by Takato's wretched little demon. The pain couldn't be measured against anything else he had ever felt. Every movement, every flex of his charred skin made his nerves scream.

Yet, it was dulled. The power he wielded was better than any painkiller he had back in the hospital. They all destroyed his senses, making him either a drunk at best, a vegetable at worst. After hearing the voices – the ones that woke him in the night, that no one but he could hear - and hearing what they told him about his powers... Yes, everyone at the hospital thought he had gone mad. There was talk of therapy, both physical and mental, but he couldn't have any of that...

It was as if his pain had become his power. Where before he could barely move without screaming, it now spurred him on. He felt as if he was channeling it outward, as if the act of hurting others somehow relieved his own pain.

If that was true, he was determined to pour his pain out upon everyone who dared cross him.

"MATSUDA!" Yosuke roared. Matsuda Takato still stood behind his Draw Field, along with Hirokazu and Impmon. "You're only putting it off! I promise you, if we have to blast through your stupid little Field, it's only gonna hurt more!"

Takato didn't reply right away. His expression was shockingly – to Yosuke, anyway – stoic and unwavering. Yosuke clenched the side of his own face, sending new waves of pain pulsating from both head and hand. This boy, this useless little waste of space... that he stood so defiant, now... It made him want to scream.

This was the same person who used to just sit there, so oblivious to the world around him. He was worthless. No one cared about him, cared what Yosuke did to him. Matsuda Takato was just a little nobody that barely anyone spoke to, hardly anyone noticed.

After a number of seconds, Takato answered. "You've hurt and threatened my friends. You think, after all that, I'm just going to roll over and let you do whatever you want? I'm tired of that. I'm tired of doing that for you."

Yosuke guffawed. "Oh, that's rich. Your friends? Please! How many of these people do you actually think are your friends?" He pointed at Hirokazu, who visibly flinched. That only made Yosuke grin madly. "What about this little traitor? HAH! He was hangin' with me 'fore he decided to play nicey-nice with you! Or are you really that stupid?"

Hirokazu made a move to shout back, but Takato beat him to it. "Hirokazu made a mistake! One that he's more than made up for."

"Oh, how sweet," Yosuke said. "And what about little Juri-chan? So happy and nice, always coming to poor Takato-kun's rescue." He sneered a bit, but the pure, joyous smile didn't leave his face. "I bet it gets you off at night just thinking that a hot piece of ass like that would want anything to do with you."

"Shut up," Takato said, though it came out more as a growl than anything else.

"What? That has to be it, 'cause you know there's no chance she'd ever do it for you herself," Yosuke said, and then gave a small chuckle. "Though, hey, y'never know, nice girls can turn out to be total whores sometimes..."

"SHUT YOUR MOUTH!" Takato screamed, looking ready to lunge out of the Draw Field himself.

"You're just a charity case for her, Matsuda, face it," Yosuke said. "Can you imagine how good she looks when she goes back to her friends and how nice she was to that poor loser? It must make her look like such a saint to her bitchy little friends."

Takato was grinding his teeth, but said nothing more.

"And your fellow Tamers? Do you honestly think any one of them would have anything to do with your shitass if you weren't just so lucky for fate to grant you your power?" the bandaged boy asked, then scoffed. "Man, fate's a really bad joker, ain't she?"

"You don't even know the others," Takato spat.

"Oh, really?" IceDevimon spoke up. "And I suppose you do, child? Do you truly know anything about the Seeing Tamer, for instance? About, perhaps, all the numerous acts that my dear Ruki perpetrated while in the Digital World? The reasons why, exactly, I would want her as my Tamer?"

"No, and I don't care!" Takato said. "Like I'd believe anything a devil like you would say, anyway!"

"A devil I may be," IceDevimon said, "but a legend doesn't necessarily equal an angel, either. Yet, it matters not. Not now. You dare to battle me, after seeing all I've done to your 'friends'... You thus obviously are quite stupid, and I shall be glad to help cleanse humanity's gene pool tonight."

"Yeah, well, here's the thing," Impmon said, stepping out of the Draw Field. Fireballs lit around his hand illuminated their side of the soccer field in a bright red. "You ain't fought me yet, horn-head!"

"Oh, yes, of course," IceDevimon said, his voice dry and emotionless. "What ever was I thinking?"

Yosuke, however, glared at the little demon stepping out. Though he laid his blame primarily on Takato himself, Impmon was the instrument of his pain. Impmon was the one, specifically, had set him ablaze in the first place.

Through that pain, he was going to destroy the both of them.

That's what the voice had told him to do.

First, send the message.

Make the contact.

And lastly, kill them. Mercilessly, without wavering.

He would be rewarded beyond his wildest imagination. He would be a king in the coming world, answering only to one.

That voice had allowed him to move again. It had given him his power, presented him his D-Ark, and introduced him to his partner. Everything was going as he was told it was.

Of course, Yosuke thought, I'd have gladly done all this for free, anyway...

-- --

Jenrya and Galgomon moved with – what Ruki found to be – shockingly ruthless efficiency as they approached the hospital. Jenrya had always fought when needed, but mostly held back. He would not kill if it could be avoided, and would try to find methods other than battle if he could. In their line of work, that was rarely an option, though.

Now, however, he and Galgomon were leading the charge, ripping through every single wave of Bakemon as they came flowing out of the darkness and shadows at them. There were hardly even any left for Kyuubimon to pick off after each wave came.

Kyuubimon and Ruki shared similarly concerned glances. The memory of fighting BlackGalgomon was still quite fresh. They both knew exactly what caused it. With Shuichon in such imminent danger again, they also knew the risk.

Yet, Ruki noticed, there was something determined. Galgomon's attacks were swift and ruthless, to be sure, but they held no malice. Not an ounce of hatred was exuded from either of them as Galgomon tore through enemy after enemy.

A single shell pierced the head of every oncoming ghost Digimon, enough to make each explode in data with rapid succession. One bullet per enemy. The efficiency and accuracy was almost frightening, to say the very least.

Silently, Ruki was somewhat thankful they hadn't fought the two of them while they were in control of themselves. Because, unquestioningly, they were now. But, in the heat of battle, the difference between light and darkness was a very steep slope – Ruki herself knew that far too well.

For his sister's sake, Ruki thought, if not his own, he'd better hope he can keep a lid on his emotions... In a situation like this, if they fall back to what they became before, there's going to be no choice but to kill them both...

-- --

"Looking back at sensors for the past hour," Reika spoke, pointing to one of the windows opened on the large screen above her and Megumi's adjoined station. It was a map of the area where the new Digital Field had appeared, like the one that took up the rest of the screen, only the one in the window was much smaller, encompassing only a few blocks surrounding the hospital. The time stamp on it showed it was from an hour ago. The larger map showed the Field had expanded much further since then and showed no signs of stopping. "It shows bursts of power inside the Field before we lost track of the signals... I'd say Terriermon and Renamon are certainly in their Adult stages at this point, but I couldn't possibly get anything more than that. About a block into the Field, all our signals get scrambled."

"And Takato-kun," Megumi eyed another small window in the corner. "Signals are indicating brief power surges from his general area, but we can't detect anything else. If he's fighting something, then we can't see it."

Yamaki stood behind them, silently observing everything. He was not a happy man. Not a single one of these Tamers had informed him of their actions. He expected them to go and tackle this, but it appeared from the point of Renamon's evolution that Ruki had been there since the Field's inception.

Trust me, do you? Yamaki thought. He pressed a hand against an object that rested against his chest, beneath his shirt, and closed his eyes.

"How do our attempts at contact stand?" Yamaki asked.

"We've tried reaching the cell phones of those in the Field, but that's just like our signal," Reika said. "Everything's scrambled. Takato-kun, on the other hand, just doesn't have one."

Yamaki gave a small shake of his head. "Wonderful. How fast is the Digital Field expanding now?"

"It seems to be moving at a slow, but steady, pace, with a massive expansion every thirty minutes," Megumi answered, "precisely. It's very exact, just like-"

"A computer," Yamaki said. "In the end, all Digimon, Digital Fields, and the world they come from itself are like a computer program. At the base level, they're nothing more."

"What do we do, then?" Reika asked.

Yamaki mused for a moment, before opening his eyes, turning to Megumi. "How 'slow' is slow at its current pace?"

"Only a few feet per minute," Megumi said. "Each major expansion seems to multiply itself three times the length of the previous one. Although there have only been a couple so far, that seems to be it's pattern."

"Then as a program, it'll likely stick to it, unless there's a bug introduced into the system. How long since the last expansion?"

Megumi blinked rapidly, and glanced over her readings. "Three minutes, sir."

"So, twenty-seven minutes until the next one," Yamaki said. "Prediction on the size of the next expansion?"

"Roughly a mile and a half," Reika said.

Yamaki narrowed his eyes, intently gazing at the map. Specifically, the indication of the Digital Field. "In fifteen minutes, if we've not heard anything from the Tamers, we'll take action."

Both operators turned to their superior, surprise apparent on both their faces. "Action?" Megumi asked. "What are we supposed to do?"

Yamaki's thumb flipped up the lid of the lighter in his hand. "Simple. It's a program, so," he clicked the lighter down, "we delete it."

-- --

Takato knew he was stupid to show his anger to Yosuke. He just couldn't help himself, hearing him talk about his friends – and especially Juri – in such a way. It was apparent that both of them knew how to push one another's buttons. Takato knew that if he was going to use that to his best advantage, he couldn't let it get to him, in turn.

IceDevimon stepped forward as Yosuke drew his own Draw Field up around himself. Takato frowned, looking at his own Field. It was true that he couldn't regulate his power well, and had no idea how to gague it, so he wondered how much energy he was wasting holding his protection up. He could feel himself exuding some type of energy, but the sensations were still strange and new.

Another thing he needed to learn if he ever made it out of this alive.

"You know he's full of shit, right?" Hirokazu asked, breaking Takato's thought process.

Takato smiled. "Of course I do. He always has been."

And of course, he couldn't drop the Draw Field now that he had to watch over Hirokazu anyway, so the point was moot.

Takato looked down at his D-Ark. He needed to figure out what to do, now. There was no more time to sit and wait, to mull things over. He needed to take action.

There was a roar, and he jerked his head up to find IceDevimon flying across the soccer field at Impmon. The small demon began running, and it struck Takato that the Speed Booster had already left him. He also knew that he couldn't use it again right away, so that was already one important weapon that he didn't have in his hands anymore.


IceDevimon fired the beams from his eyes as he flew. Impmon rolled out of the way, narrowly avoiding a quick, cold death. Instead, they continued soaring, striking and freezing half of a small building a short distance from the field. Takato knew, somewhere in the back of his mind, that was where the gym equipment was kept.

IceDevimon flew on. He was getting close.

Ice Fusion is useless, Takato thought. Using Flame Fusion and the Aura Booster together seemed to have some effect on him before, but not enough...

"KID!" Impmon shouted, now standing still before the oncoming fallen angel. Obviously, he realized he had no chance of out-running him. "Any day now!"

He didn't have many cards at his disposal. He didn't have many, if any, strategies to ride on. All he could do was go with what he knew worked. Mostly, anyway.

Quickly drawing two cards out of thin air, Takato slid them both in rapid succession. "Psi Card Slash! Strength Booster! Darkness Fusion Level-One!"

Black power rushed up around Impmon's body, just as it had when he fought DarkLizamon. This time, however, it wasn't accompanied by a smirk – a rarity – and he merely pulled his fist back. Similarly, IceDevimon swept one claw to his side and screamed, "FROST CLAW!"

Impmon punched out at the same time, his small, energized fist meeting with a claw that was at least half his size. His fist hit the white devil's palm and brought him to a dead stop in the air, while the small demon wasn't pushed back even an inch.

There was no damage done. Neither Yosuke nor IceDevimon so much as flinched, but that he was stopped so abruptly and seemingly without effort was impressive.

Takato thought so, anyway.

Then, in that moment, he remembered Lopmon's words from the fight against DarkLizamon. Impmon had hit the flaming reptile with great force using the same card combination, but it resulted in him almost immediately using up all of his temporary power.

"Impmon!" Takato shouted. "Remember what Lopmon said-!"

"I ain't stupid kid!" Impmon shouted back, and that smirk of his finally returned. He looked up at IceDevimon, still floating in the air with his attack blocked. Impmon thrust out his free hand. "SUMMON FLAME!"

A portal ripped open just beneath IceDevimon, and a fireball launched out of it – right into IceDevimon's chest. He was knocked into the air by the impact, and screamed as the hot fires burned across his body. Yosuke gave an even worse cry, however, clutching his chest with a maddening look.

Obviously, the sensation he received was familiar.

Impmon kicked off of the ground. IceDevimon only shot up a few feet, and as he came back down, his face met with Impmon's foot. With the black energy still raging up around him, the force flipped IceDevimon around and he landed on his back. Impmon himself then came down, ramming a punch into IceDevimon's stomach.

While IceDevimon gave a shout of pain, Yosuke doubled over, glaring across the way at Takato. "Matsuda," he said, gasping. "Y'know... that works for both of us, right?" He held out a hand, and a card blinked into it. "Lemme show you how I beat the hell out of that little bitch's hairy ape..." He stood up straight, grinning as if the pain from Impmon's attacks had never been reflected onto him. "Psi Card Slash! SPEED BOOSTER!"

Both Takato and Impmon's eyes went wide as IceDevimon disappeared from where he was beneath the Child Digimon. Knowing what was coming, Takato quickly summoned two Psi Cards, fusing them together in his hands. "DOUBLE COMBO!"

He wasn't fast enough. A white blur appeared streaking past Impmon, and the small Digimon rocketed into the air. Takato's entire body was rocked with sudden pain as the blur appeared again, hitting Impmon back into the ground. Again and again the blur that was IceDevimon danced back and forth, striking Impmon several times per second, so much that he couldn't move except for where he was knocked to.

The same applied for Takato. His body was frozen with pain.

"Takato!" Hirokazu shouted.

Was this what Shuichon felt? Helpless as she watched, in horror, her Digimon being mercilessly beat within an inch of his life? Feeling that same pain bounced back to her, paralyzing her?

He wanted to fall, writhe in pain, scream... but he couldn't.


He wouldn't. He wasn't going to just stand there and die. Blocking out everything else, narrowing his thoughts down to why he was there, the people he wanted to protect...

He forced his hands toward each other, sliding the Psi Card down his D-Ark. "Psi Card Slash!" he yelled, his pain clearly evident in the cry. "FLAME AURA!"

Flames erupted from Impmon's body just as the blur hit him. It brought IceDevimon to an abrupt stop from striking the now-burning Child Digimon, flipping over and tumbling along the dirt-covered ground. Horror filled Yosuke's eyes, clutching his arm as IceDevimon did the same, gripping where his arm was now burned with a long, black mark.

Upon doing this, Takato slumped to his knees, breathing heavily.

"Takato!" Hirokazu said, reaching down and grabbing him by the shoulder. "Are you alright?"

Takato didn't want to answer him, both because he couldn't, and because he wasn't sure. The Flame Aura was still holding up, but Impmon could only stand there, trying to recover from IceDevimon's punishment. If he didn't have enough strength left to throw out another attack, Takato wouldn't be able to blame him.

The pain still wracked Takato's body. His vision had become blurry. He could see his Draw Field starting to fluctuate. And most of all, he saw the stark white figure of IceDevimon rising up with little effort, while both he and Impmon could now barely move.

"This is already gettin' old," Yosuke said, flicking another card lazily out of nowhere. "IceDevimon." He jerked his head up a bit, and IceDevimon gave a toothy, fanged smirk.

"Of course," he said, flapping his wings and rising into the air.

"Im- Impmon..." Takato stammered.

Impmon tried to move, but ended up falling down on all fours, breathing heavily. The flames still roared around him, but it didn't seem to mean anything.

"I'm... I'm sorry," Takato muttered, while mentally cursing himself. "I tried..."


IceDevimon flapped his wings down at Impmon. "ICE AVALANCHE!"

Twin blasts of spiraling snow and ice flew from beneath the fallen angel's tattered wings, merging together and becoming one lone, raging torrent.

Impmon, body burning bright, could only look up before it struck him. After that, all Takato saw was white as the most intense pain he had ever felt in his life hit him.

Next thing he knew, he was lying on his side. Every breath became pained. He could tell his Draw Field was gone, but it only must have just dropped, as Hirokazu stood next to him, unharmed. Shock was written on his friend's face.

Lying across from Takato was Impmon. He lay in a very similar position, and it looked like his body was almost in some sort of flux. It seemed like parts of him were fragmenting and then trying to reassert themselves, not always with complete success. Numbly, Takato figured somewhere that was why he kept feeling additional spikes of new pain.

Impmon was right at death's door, and if that happened, Takato would be right behind him.

Was this it? Was this how he was going to die?

He wondered what his mother would think. What would she do? First her husband, then her son? She had some family in Okinawa, but she would be all by herself, for all intents and purposes...

And she wouldn't even know why. Would she? Yamaki was so determined to keep the truth about the Digimon from the public. Would he make up some lie about her son's death, like he had about what happened to Yosuke? Would he even care? Would the other Tamers? Their Digimon? Jenrya didn't even know yet Yosuke was the one that hurt Shuichon. They still needed to find Evilmon...

What of Juri, Kenta, and Alice? And Hirokazu... he was right there... unprotected, with nothing to stop IceDevimon from killing him swiftly and getting it over with...

The whole fight had been to save him, hadn't it? So, it was all in vain, if they all just died...

No protection. No one appearing at the last moment to save him. IceDevimon was about to slaughter them, and there didn't seem to be a single thing Takato could do about it...

"Ta- Takato..."

Takato's eyes went back to his partner, whose body was fragmenting more rapidly. It was only the second time he could remember the Digimon using his name. He was smiling more genuinely than Takato had ever seen in their short time together.

"I'm- I'm sorry," Impmon said, "I- I tried..."

Takato stared at him with wide eyes, which were brimming with tears from both the pain and the knowledge of what was happening... Of everything that had happened.

"Y'know," Takato murmured, "when I was younger, after Dad died... I focused a lot on Digimon... the fiction, the fantasy of it... I wanted to have that loyal, best friend, who I could have adventures with... who would understand me... It was silly, but it was so much better than the world around me, the world where people I loved died. Then, I met you..."

Impmon smirked despite himself. "And... everything went to shit. Great, make me feel even better right now. 'Preciate that."

Takato forced his hand out from under him. The pain was enough to drive him insane, but he did it anyway. He pushed against the dirty ground and shoved himself up into a sitting position. Every nerve in his body told him to otherwise, but he grit his teeth and continued on. "N- no... I didn't have any place to know what to expect of you... but, I do know – grah – I do know that you came here with me tonight, knowing what we were facing... you've still, despite everything, stuck with me for this long... that's longer than a lot of other people... I won't – I refuse to let Katoki win like this. Not when my friends are in danger..."

He saw IceDevimon swooping down for him, Impmon, and Hirokazu.

"Not when I have friends dying!"

Impmon's green eyes were wide and round as Takato rose to his feet, and a strong purple glow started emanate from his right hand.

"For whatever reason, I have this power... I have the same power as all the other Tamers... and I won't stop until I've given everything I have to protect those I care about!"

The light became a sphere in his hand, and instinct overrode everything else. He slammed it into his D-Ark, which absorbed the power, and words came to his mouth. "PSI-LINK!" He thrust the device out, surging the light towards Impmon. "EVOLUTION!"

The light engulfed Impmon's body, making IceDevimon stop in mid-flight as he, Yosuke, and Hirokazu all stared back at the sight.

"Impmon, EVOLVE!" Impmon's form changed, growing taller, more humanoid... and taller still... Momentarily, Takato felt his jaw go slack at what emerged when the light faded. Everyone else gathered had similar reactions, with a great deal of disgust in the expressions of Yosuke and IceDevimon.

"No way..." Takato was barely able to whisper before the light faded completely.

"DEVIMON!" Impmon's Adult-form cried, emerging as a perfect double to Yosuke's Partner Digimon, all except his costume being black rather than white. And, one slight other difference – wrapped around Devimon's right arm was, unmistakably, Impmon's scarf.

For a moment, Devimon just stood there, cackling madly. It was obvious that Impmon – no, Devimon was no longer in a position of nearly dying. And indeed, Takato felt like the pain he was once feeling had evaporated. He could barely even remember what it felt like, aside from where Yosuke had kicked him in the face earlier. It was like the both of them had been reborn, like the previous battle had never happened.

"No," Yosuke gasped, scrambling to his feet. "No, no, no, no, no, NO!!! He told me – he told me that I was the one... that we were the ones... all I had to do was kill you!" He beat his fists against his head, crying out in misery. "It was supposed to be me! ME!"

IceDevimon, passing through his Tamer's Draw Field, landed next to him, snarling. "Get a hold of yourself, human!" He grabbed Yosuke by the shirt and hefted him up into the air. "Quit sniveling! This worthless piece of data is still newly evolved! I've slain countless Digimon, loaded all of their data! Do you really think something like that can surpass me so easily!?"

"He said – he said – said," Yosuke stammered. "It'd be a devil... a fallen angel! He might've... could've-!"

IceDevimon slapped Yosuke hard across the face. Hard enough that his head jerked a bit too. He pulled Yosuke close to his face and growled loudly. "Don't have another one of your little babbling fits now. I may not be able to kill you, but I'll send you back to the hospital and let Evilmon have his way with your head!"

Yosuke looked horrified, and he started thrashing in IceDevimon's grip. "No, no! I... I understand, just let me go!"

Takato's eyebrows perked up. Evilmon? The hospital...? But-

It hit him like a ton of bricks.


"Um, Takato?" Hirokazu asked, staring up at Devimon with a great deal of apprehension. "First, how'd you do that? And second... Devimon? Are you fucking serious?"

Takato looked at his evolved partner. He couldn't explain why, but he wasn't bothered in the slightest by his partner's form. In fact, he felt oddly at ease, more so than he had been in a long time. Somehow, he knew that Devimon felt the exact same way.

Feelings, instincts that he had never known were rushing through him, as if there were a store of knowledge deep in his brain that was now bursting through him like a broken dam. He held out his D-Ark, staring up at IceDevimon, and then back down at his shadow.

He remembered the fight with Evilmon. The first one, when his Psi-energy was completely spent fighting simple Bakemon, of all things. He remembered the darkness around him shifting, flowing into his D-Ark... As he remembered, he saw IceDevimon's shadow move on its own, despite him remaining still. It was slight, not enough for anyone but him to notice, but he saw it... and saw IceDevimon grimace for reasons that were beyond his own knowledge.

Darkness seemed to be drawing itself into Takato's D-Ark, and he held out a hand. "Draw Field," he commanded, calmly. His energy had returned to him –all of it. After the Draw Field bubbled out around him, he waved a hand, willing his available Psi Cards – now also fully recharged, it seemed - to appear floating in front of him. "KATOKI!"

IceDevimon dropped Yosuke, and the bandaged teen looked back at his enemy, growling. "Yeah, you think you're the shit now, don't you?" He spat on the ground, holding out his hands. He too summoned all his cards before him, their number far greater than Takato's.

However, as Takato eyed what was available to him, he smiled. There was a new one now. His gaze shifted back to Yosuke. At the start of the fight, he thought he'd be able to read Yosuke, to get under his skin... but the fight was over before it even started. He never had a chance. Now, though, things were different...

"It seems you've truly forgotten who you're dealing with, boy," IceDevimon hissed.

"No, I know exactly what it is we're dealing with," Takato said. "Looking at everything now... we've been scared of you for no good reason."

The white devil threw back his head, a raw, uncontrollable laugh escaping his mouth. "Oh," he said as he calmed down a tad, "is that so? Perhaps you forget what I did to your 'friends,' Shadow Tamer?"

"I remember it very well," Takato replied. "I also remember all the power you had then that you don't have now. Before, you wouldn't have needed a crutch like Katoki to fight someone like me!"

"Crutch?" Yosuke said.

Takato threw out a hand, pointing at IceDevimon. "I barely even know what I'm doing here! Before, you were able to keep five Tamers occupied, capturing one, splitting another from the group. Beating Renamon and Galgomon, and fighting Dobermon, Impmon, and Lopmon all without breaking a sweat."

All humor had left IceDevimon's face. All that was left was a growing look of contempt.

"Before, you – by all your own doing – sent the entire city into panic. Before, you were a Field Controller!" Takato dropped his hand, clenching it into a fist. "But not now. If I had to take a guess, I'd say you're only even with Katoki because you have to be. He's not the one you want, is he? He's not the Tamer you came to this world for. But you know with the way you are now, you wouldn't stand a chance against a bunch of Tamers without one for yourself. You were able to beat Shuichon, I imagine, because you made her afraid, making her remember what you did to Jen... I know, because I just felt that same thing."

IceDevimon scoffed. "So, you have it all figured out, do you, boy? And I suppose you believe with your newfound revelations of the matter that you can actually defeat me?"

Takato didn't reply to him. He merely shifted his gaze briefly to Devimon. The edges of the black-clad fallen angel's mouth turned up sharply, and he gave a suddenly lunge across the soccer field.

IceDevimon made a small snarl, leaping out from the protection of Yosuke's Draw Field towards his double. The two of them met halfway between both protective barriers.




-To Be Continued

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NOTES: Originally, my plans had been to finish Phase-01 before posting anymore chapters, but though it's going well, other projects have been keeping me busy, as well. So, now that I've finally gotten this chapter to a point where I like it, I'm going to go ahead and release this chapter in the meantime. Hope everyone enjoys it... especially now that Impmon has FINALLY evolved.

I'd have thought his Adult form would be obvious by this point, though, given who they're fighting, and Yosuke's role versus Takato. There was never a moment where I was EVER going to use something like, say... Boogeymon. Since ID's creation, Impmon's Adult form has always been planned as Devimon, and has been intended to appear against Yosuke & IceDevimon. That's been the plan since the first chapter, so that's why it's taken so long to happen.

Plus, Tamers is the one series where we don't always see them evolving straight to their most powerful forms every episode. I wanted to reflect that here by having the appearances of the evolved forms be gradual and always geared towards the plot. This is why Jen's been able to reach Perfect level before Takato even got Impmon to Adult – because that's how the plot ended up working.

Believe me, Takato's finally finished with taking people's crap.

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As Devimon and IceDevimon clash, Ruki, Jen, and their partners reach their destination. And with it, the truth behind Evilmon...

Inner Demons Phase 01: Rising Shadow

NEXT: Realization 21- "Rebirth"