Out of the Ashes: Chapter 9

Out of the Ashes: Chapter 9

** Disclaimers: I don't own digimon. Never will. This fic was produced for entertainment purposes only, and will not be sold. Leave me alone, you vultures!

The city of Tokyo lay burning silently in the darkness, a bloody wound on the face of the Earth. Light gray rain drizzled down from the bloody sky, catching the hellish glow of flames, and turning into crimson teardrops as they splattered quietly on the ground. Buildings and facilities lay smouldering and burning, the ruins of war. Here and there, patches of data indicating fallen bakemon littered the streets. Human and digimon blood alike flowed freely, forming dark crimson rivers that coursed through the mess of rubble.

David surveyed the tortured, silent city with a bittersweet heart. Behind him, the ragged remnants of his cell cheered. The dark-haired man smirked briefly at the patches of black data that had burned themselves into the concrete streets, all that was left of a squadron of bakemon. His three platoons combined had been fighting the digimon scarce minutes ago. Then his expression turned severe again. Looking around, the cell commander could no longer hear the screams of combat, the tremendous flashes of explosions. The battle was over, the virus had done its work, and Diaboromon's army deleted.

So why was he still so apprehensive?

Something in the wind told him this wasn't over yet. There was just…something wrong. A splinter in his mind, driving him nuts. Part of him wanted to celebrate, and cheer along with the rest of his platoon. But his gut instinct refused to let him relax, and let down his guard. And over the past five years, David had come to trust his gut instinct. Taking his communicator from his belt, he thumbed it on. There was no longer any point in maintaining radio silence.

"Shinta. You read me?"

Static crackled from his little handheld communicator, then Shinta's voice responded, cutting through the interference from the storm.

"I read."

"Did you notice what just happened?"

The brown-haired commander's responding snort was tinged with sarcasm, evident even over the radio. "No. I didn't notice that every single bakemon spontaneously combusted. I didn't notice that the battle is over. I'm daft and deaf and blind."

David smiled. The sarcasm was merely Shinta's way of letting off steam. "You reckon they got that virus installed?"

"Must have."

Then the grin disappeared from David's face. His voice turned grim. "Did Matt, TK or Tai contact you, or any of the others? Any word from the destined themselves? I can't reach them. Are you sure it's over?"

Silence.

David frowned. "Shinta? You still there?"

Shinta's voice was slow, hesitant. "I don't know…something just doesn't feel right. And wouldn't Tai have at least- "

Suddenly, a tremendous explosion of light erupted in the north, the direction of Diaboromon's central complex. Startled gasps sounded from David's cell, and the dark-haired commander had to shield his eyes from the blinding rays. Even from where he was, a good five kilometers from the base, he could feel the ground trembling beneath him, shockwaves from some monumental, building power. Six streaks of flame burst from the ground and engaged in titanic conflict in the bloody sky.

Shinta's voice over the radio had gone an octave higher. "What the hell is- "

David didn't let him finish. Pressing the transmission button, he screamed into the speaker. "Shinta! Disconnect! Maintain radio silence until further orders. This isn't over yet! And get the hell out of wherever you are! We may've been tracked!"

Without bothering to wait for an acknowledgement, he shut his own radio off, and clipped it hastily to his belt. Snatching up his automatic, he waved wildly at his stunned cell members. "Come on! We're getting out of here. This isn't over!"

Even as he began running full out, his cell falling into line behind him, another tremendous explosion flashed in the sky, rippling shockwaves of energy spreading across the dark backdrop. The flashing lightning gleamed off David's grim face as he looked up. He was a mere mortal in this battle between Gods. A helpless human caught between these titans of war. There was nothing for it but to watch, and pray.

**********

At the incredible speed MegaKabuterimon was going, even the light drizzle of bloody rain turned into a slashing, biting barrage of stinging needles. Izzy squinted into the darkness as he brushed his muddy hair from his forehead for the thousandth time that night. His dark eyes were cold and emotionless, concealing the raging emotions inside. The darkness was impenetrable.

Except for when the sky blazed with alien fire.

The battle had already begun. He could see the clashes and explosions rippling in the night, high in the sky. Looking down, he could see the smashed remains of Diaboromon's base, the central command core ripped wide open by some frightening force, and the dying crystal computer core within it.

"Down! Take us down MebaKabuterimon! Drop me in the core!" he shouted.

Even as he spoke, he could feel the massive digimon shifting vectors, pulling into a steep dive. Looking around him, Izzy could see Garudamon and Lilymon matching the maneuver, swooping down onto the base. Zudomon burst across the city as he charged towards the complex. Closer and closer, the smashed command core loomed, as MegaKabuterimon skimmed the ground at a recklessly fast speed.

Then, just as the giant beetle digimon roared above the gaping wound in the roof, Izzy braced himself against MegaKabuterimon's armoured carapace, and leapt off. Plummeting earthwards, the boy swung from an overhanging girder to slow his fall, and finally landed gracefully on bended knee. Any other human would have broken both legs, if not from the three-story fall, then from the incredible velocity from which he had jumped from.

But then, Koushiro Izumi was not your normal teenage boy.

Beside him, Mimi and Sora landed as well, tucking and rolling to absorb the impact on the side of their bodies. Zudomon deposited Joe beside them, and lumbered off to battle. Looking up, Izzy saw Garudamon, MegaKabuterimon and Lilymon streak away with a tremendous roar from the command base, up into the black sky. Spiraling ever higher into the aerial battlefield, each ultimate began shimmering with their respective auras as they gathered and braced themselves for the oncoming battle against Diaboromon.

Izzy ignored the digimon battle for now, scanning the dark, flickering interior of the ruined command center. The core was a nightmarish field of destruction. In the explosions and chain lightning that flashed across the sky, all that could be seen was a collection of rapidly shifting shadows and sparking machinery.

"Tai?! Matt?! Where are you?!" he screamed to be heard above the incessant explosions. His digivice pinged, reacting to the proximity of the other's signals. "Willis?! TK?!"

"Izzy?!" a shout echoed. The auburn-haired boy turned to see a dark figure waving his arm. "Over here!" In the darkness, Izzy could see three ragged figures milling about the smashed master terminal. Without further ado, Izzy motioned to Sora and the others, and dashed across the rubble-filled ground to join Tai.

Skirting a mound of burning rubble, and sparking pieces of live electrical machinery, they arrived at the base of the crystal tower. Sora looked around with a concerned frown on her face. Tai, Matt and Willis were clustered together near the base of the ruined crystal core. They were streaked with dirt, blood and data, and Tai was nursing an injured shoulder, but they were alright. "Where's TK and Kari?!" she yelled over the storm. Rain washed down into her face, but she ignored the water, droplets dripping from her hair. "Don't tell me they- "

Matt wiped away the blood streaming from a gash on his head. Wordlessly, he pointed to a spot three levels, and at least a hundred meters away. Izzy strained his eyes in the indicated direction, and in the flashing shadows and explosions, saw two dark forms. The younger blond boy was kneeling on his knees, cradling Kari's limp form in his arms. "They're fine!" Tai yelled back. "Kari's injured, but TK's there with her. He can look after her until we can get to them."

The unending aerial explosions gleamed off Joe's glasses as he looked up. "How goes the battle?!"

The other's faces went hard. Willis lifted his head, shaking his ash-blond hair clean of rainwater. His emerald green eyes were grim as they reflected the tremendous, multicoloured explosions that flashed and rippled across the sky like sheets of lightning.

"See for yourself…"

Streaks of burning light dived and strafed like hungry hawks at the single, dark spider amongst them. Zudomon and Galgomon roared on the ground as they loosed shafts of energy into the sky. All of the destined's digimon gave it their all, unleashing their attacks again and again at the dark, demon king.

Yet none of them even came close to scoring a hit. Diaboromon was somehow avoiding all the blows effortlessly. Like a wraith, glowing with a sickly blue-black psionic aura, his limbs twisted and writhed in the air as he spun around. The mega digimon was unlike any other encountered before, artificially enhanced by human hands, and twisted and corrupted by the vicious virus. The spider was a demon God, terrible and unstoppable in all his dark glory and speed.

The battle was as a cosmic dogfight, lances of plasma fire exchanging between the dueling, twisting combatants. Desperately, the digimon tried to cover each other as they swooped in for strafing runs, but the sheer difference in power began to tell. And the digimon began to fall…

One by one, each digimon was targeted, attacked and defeated individually with machine-like precision. WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon were the first to go, targeted to be the greatest threats. Despite their incredible, blinding speed, the sheer persistence and precision of Diaboromon's attacks homed in on the two digimon. Roaring as they were blasted with web wreckers, they plummeted from the sky, defeated. Glowing feebly, the two megas devolved back to Agumon and Gabumon. Crashing into the rubble, they disappeared from sight as their auras faded.

MegaKabuterimon was hurled into the ground, unable to keep up with the incredible speed of the aerial dogfight. The big ultimate digimon blew a hole in the ground. Zudomon was blown back from an exploding web wrecker, and smashed against a building. Slumping forward, the sea-going digimon collapsed limply against the ground, devolving with a weak flash.

Eventually, only MagnaAngemon was left. The holy warrior spun and twisted through the air, keeping pace with the raging demon. The two remaining fighters rolled and twisted, clashed, retreated, and burned across the sky like blazing cascades of lightning. Streamers of tortured air and water droplets trailed from their leading edges as they smashed through the sound barrier. The sonic boom sounded like rumbling thunder to those on the ground.

TK cradled the injured Kari in his arms as he gazed in awe as the two titans waged their incredible battle in the dark sky. It would have been beautiful, a breathtaking display of speed, grace and power, had this been anything but a bitter battle to the end for the survival of countless worlds.

The angel gritted his teeth. Rolling upside down to avoid a cable crusher, he drew back. His sword glowed a fierce violet as he drew a gleaming circle out of thin air.

"Gate of destiny…"

The shimmering, Golden Gate appeared, flashing with divine light. The doors opened, and a radiant river of coruscating white energy blazed forth. The attack homed in on Diaboromon like an arrow from a bow…

A tremendous explosion filled the sky as the attack struck Diaboromon. The destined shielded their eyes from the blinding blossom of plasma flame that erupted in midair.

MagnaAngemon stared hard into the smoke, his shoulders heaving with exhaustion. Did I do it? For a moment, all was still as everyone strained his or her eyes to peer past the thick cloud of smoke.

The light drizzle continued on its path down to the earth.

Nice try, angel… Diaboromon's sibilant voice suddenly whispered from the cloud. The low, deadly voice was no more than a murmur, yet sounded clearly over the battlefield. I commend you…

Dark cables lashed out from the gray dust, and wrapped around the angel's form. Startled, MagnaAngemon was helpless as Diaboromon swung the ultimate around like a rag doll, and hurled him savagely into the ground. The angel carved a crater into the city block as he cleaved a path through the ruined buildings. TK watched in horror as Diaboromon hurled volley after volley of "web wrecker's" into the crater. Fountains of plasma fire flashed into the cloud, pummeling the digimon within it.

"MagnaAngemon!" the boy screamed at the top of his lungs. "MagnaAngemon!!!!"

Suddenly, the incessant barrage stopped. Utter silence and a deceiving calm descended on the battlefield like a veil. Again, the splatter of raindrops on the ground, and the ominous rumbling of thunder in the sky as all that could be heard. TK's shoulders heaved with raw emotion as he stared hard into the dust cloud, his vision starting to blur with tears. Unconsciously, he clutched Kari's limp form closer to his chest, an instinctive desire to protect her overwhelming the boy. Even if MagnaAngemon hadn't been killed outright, he would most definitely have devolved back to Patamon by now. The ever-present darkness flooded back in again, without the blazing light of the digimon's auras to push it back…

Diaboromon swung around, satisfied with his work, and turned his gaze back towards the nine destined hiding in the shattered remnants of his base. Ignoring the others, his insane yellow eyes sought out TK's blue ones. The master of MagnaAngemon, the holder of the crest of Hope, and the greatest threat of all. His last obstacle in his quest to crush the spirit of this world.

A shiver of fear gripped the boy as he gazed into those hypnotic, yellow orbs. Those eyes pierced him to the core, ravaging his soul with the terrible, icy grip of fear.

And in that moment, the holder of Hope began to despair.

Diaboromon grinned, his hideously sharp fangs gleaming from the raging fires below him. A sibilant voice echoed across the landscape, no louder than a whisper, yet somehow penetrating clearly across the air. The words seemed to bore itself right into the boy's mind, engraving themselves onto his consciousness.

That's right boy…

Fear me…

I am chaos. I am despair. I can always build another army, but you…you, your friends and your pathetic little resistance will die right here, right now…

Diaboromon's heinous grin widened. His dark aura started shimmering again as he started gathering his strength for one final web wrecker.

Die in the knowledge that you have failed, my little holder of Hope. You've failed your destiny, failed your soldiers, failed your friends, and failed your lover. Come now…give yourself over to me. The war ended five years ago. It's hopeless.

And why would you fight a hopeless battle?

The spider's dark jaws snapped open wide, and a burning, orange ball of energy streaked across the sky, plummeting earthwards like a falling comet. Matt watched in horror as the attack homed in on his little brother like an arrow, intent on crushing the small, blond boy, and the injured girl he held in his arms.

Time slowed to a crawl.

Calmly, TK lifted his head to contemplate his own death approaching. Each second stretched out into years. Every sensation was crisp, clear, far too real…

He could feel each subtle nuance of movement around him, the flickering fires, the burning breeze, the light drizzle. He could feel the gravelly concrete debris on which he kneeled. He could…sense… Kari's heart, beating in unison with his own pulse. Even as the burning orange light filled his vision, blanking out everything else, he closed his blue eyes.

Why would you fight a hopeless battle?

He gazed upon the unconscious face of Kari. "Hope…" he whispered, even as the burning orb drew closer and closer.

Why would you fight a hopeless battle?

A small smile spread across his features. A simple, innocent grin, faithful in tomorrow to the last. Cradling the girl's form in his arms, he bowed, hugging her tightly to his chest as his aura began to burn slowly. The small golden radiance shimmered gently around the boy, flickering around his body…

Why would you fight a hopeless battle?

And the answers came.

To honour the lost…

Mark. His mother. The countless friends he had lost to this accursed war. The countless thousands that had died in the initial invasion, and the countless millions that had perished in the years that followed. Dear comrades who had sacrificed their lives for their friends, for their beliefs…

To preserve hope…

The unshakable belief that tomorrow would be better, the faith that had pulled him through many a dark, despairing night. Tim's face flashed in his mind. The hope of the children, the new generation. The hope for a new world, a world free of darkness and fear, a world of joy and laughter, a world of love and peace. Hope…the most precious thing…

And to protect those that I love…

The digidestined. His brother, Matt. Tai, Sora, Mimi, Joe, Izzy and Willis. He loved them all fiercely. They were his brothers and sisters, his family in the time of war. Tim, Shinta, David, his father…countless others names and images whirled in a kaleidoscope around the boy. But one image remained foremost among them all…

Kari…

As he looked upon the girl in his arms, his heart surged with burning emotion. And in that moment, he knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would gladly lay down his life, lay down his very soul to ensure her safety, her happiness. Sparkling tears blended with the rainwater rolling down his cheeks as he gazed upon the girl's angelic face, illuminated by the blinding light of the approaching web wrecker. There was still so much left to do…so much they had yet to discover together…

"We'll be there for each other when this is all over. I promise I'll be right there beside you, forever and ever…"

Time abruptly snapped back to its normal pace. Suddenly, everything was moving as it should. A wordless scream ripped from the boy's throat, a defiant battlecry against overwhelming odds. Standing up bravely in the face of the oncoming web wrecker, he spread his arms out wide…

And his aura roared to life like a raging wildfire…

The web wrecker smashed home with tremendous force. Tai and the other destined were blown clear off their feet as burning shrapnel whistled and arced outwards, humming viciously through the air like savage hornets. The ground trembling from the concussion. Matt clawed back up to a standing position desperately, and stared in horror at the flames where his little brother used to be. "TK…" he whispered. Then, he screamed into the bloody night. "TK!!" Desperately, he tried to dash to his brother's side, regardless of the raging inferno of flames, but Tai wrapped his arms around the blond boy firmly. Matt thrashed wildly against the grip, desperate to get to his brother's side. "Tai, let me GO!!"

Tai struggled grimly to restrain the berserk boy. "Matt!" he yelled. "It's too dangerous, calm down! We can't afford to lose you too- "

Matt however, was beyond reason. Tai flinched as his friend's nails raked across his face. "Take your hands off me! TK- "

A blinding explosion of golden light erupted from the spot where TK had stood. The dark crimson flames of the web wrecker were blown outwards as an inhuman scream shattered the night air. Sheets of golden flames danced around the complex. Matt watched dumbfounded as the ground heaved from the concussion, and cracked apart. The brilliant golden light burned at his eyes, but he refused to look away, desperately scanning the site of the explosion as his heart surged with new hope.

A slim form of shimmering liquid gold slowly emerged from the flames, the boy's flashing psionic shield pushing the dark fires away. In his arms, TK carried the unconscious form of Kari. His eyes glowed an intense, piercing white, as his blond hair whipped around violently in the gale-forced wind of his aura. The boy's normally gentle face was pulled into a terrifying snarl, his white teeth bared in righteous rage.

And slowly, he strode out of the flames…

…out of the ashes…

Matt watched in awe as his brother's aura flared ever-brighter. It was as if the greatness of the boy's spirit had finally burst forth, manifesting as the writhing golden glow that now lit up the complex. A stream of light streaked from the boy, burning across the lead-gray sky, seeking out a certain digimon…

And as the light washed into the concrete crater like a raging river, the gates of heaven shattered…

"Patamon…warp-digivolve to…"

Out of the deep crater that Diaboromon had carved in the city block, a tremendous concussion sundered the ground like glass. A burning pillar of light shot up into the sky, piercing the very heavens themselves, and lighting up the city of Tokyo as light as day. The bloody clouds swirled around the burning pyre, as if heaven and earth itself trembled in fear at the terrifying, divine power being unleashed. Raging flames danced across the heaving ground as the little rookie flashed through his forms, then began the final transformation to his mega stage…

The digimon glowed an incredible platinum gold as his body reformed itself. He grew larger, taller, and more humanoid. Royal blue armour appeared on his shifting form, protecting his chest, legs, and arms. The digimon resembled a samurai, the deadly warrior sect of ancient Japan. A flowing white sash adorned his belt. Intricate symbols and writing flashed into existence on his armour, denoting the holy warrior to be an angel of the highest rank. A war helmet, gleaming steel blue, encircled the mega's head. And from his back, eight wings of liquid golden fire flexed as the archangel unfurled them, the flashing platinum tips stretching to the sky above as if to touch the stars. The mega's armoured fists clenched tightly as he crouched, shimmering wildfire dancing across his powerful form.

"Seraphimon…"

**********

Diaboromon watched incredulously as the burning warrior emerged from the divine light. A shudder of fear passed through his body as the panic returned. The demon God's confident, heinous grin disappeared from his face, replaced with a horrible snarl of anger as his worst fear came to pass…

an angel that has reached the mega stage…

**********

At the edge of the battlefield, David lifted his head slowly, watching the flickering lightning that played across the sky in amazement. He trembled as he realized just how insignificant he was, a mere mortal struggling on the battlefield of Gods. All over Tokyo, the army of Zion, raised their eyes to the heavens in awe, to observe the single most pivotal moment in history.

The raging pillar of golden light was like the sun, shattering the demon's night and allowing all the world to witness what was to come…

**********

"You've underestimated us…"

Seraphimon slowly straightened out of his crouch. Lifting slowly into the air, he clasped both hands together.

"You may destroy our homes, you may defile and pillage the lives of millions of innocents. But you will never crush our souls. Our purpose, our spirit is the one possession you can never take from us, unless we allow it to be taken…"

The royal blue armour around his arms started glowing an intense platinum. Dimly at first, but slowly gathering strength as the angel prepared to unleash his attack. Seven golden spheres of crackling psi ignited around the mega's armoured gauntlets, growing larger and larger as the digimon drew on his divine power.

"And we will not allow our spirit, our very being to be crushed…"

Slowly, the spheres of blazing liquid gold started spinning around the digimon, then faster and faster until seven burning streaks of light encircled his body in a deadly halo of fiery orbits…

"For hope springs eternal…"

Diaboromon snarled, sending a feral howl into the sky. He was the demon king. He would not be stopped. His order, his vision must reign supreme. The spider's own warped aura flared to life again, threatening to blank out Seraphimon's golden glow. The air, reality itself seemed to distort around the spider as he drew on every last reserve of strength for one final blow…

Web Wrecker…

A brilliant beam of white light streamed from the dark spider's mouth as he unleashed his strongest attack. The roaring torrent of light streaked across the sky like a striking dragon, its fangs bared, screaming out a deadly challenge to the sky as it flew towards its target, the holy warrior before it…

Seraphimon's eyes snapped open. His arms spread out wide, palms outstretched as he unleashed his own attack.

Seven heavens…

With a tremendous flash of light, all seven streaks racing around his body broke free from their orbits. The attack smashed through Diaboromon's web wrecker, the blazing white dragon giving a final, feeble sputter as it dissipated into the air. The raging golden spheres were as fiery comets as they burned across the sky, each carving their own brilliant path through the dark night as they sought out their common target…

The raging flames engulfed Diaboromon. The golden light laid the demon's soul, his very, twisted being bare to be judged. To be judged corrupt and unworthy of life. And thus, the seven, brilliant rivers of gold smashed and devoured at the spider wrathfully. The dark fiend screamed a terrible, soul-wrenching screech. He screamed and screamed with every last fiber of his twisted being until there was nothing left to scream with…

TK shielded his eyes with his arm as the sky blossomed with holy fire. The expanding ring of rippling flame and plasma ripped through the clouds themselves, pushing the storm back for an instant. It was as if the entire sky had been ignited as a burning, fiery ocean. A deafening crack of thunder rippled across the city of Tokyo, shaking the boy deeper into the mud with its concussion.

For a moment, even the incessant drizzle stopped.

Holding Kari tightly to his chest, TK directed his gaze skywards as the rumbling shock of the explosion faded away…

Where Diaboromon once was, now there was only a burning pyre of platinum gold, slowly burning away into nothingness. His final scream echoed across the city, slowly dying away, swallowed up in the light. In the end, there wasn't even enough left of the spider to turn into data. His twisted and vicious being, one that should never have existed in the first place, was gone, shredded to subatomic particles by Seraphimon's attack.

A peace blanketed the battlefield.

Slowly, the rain started again. TK closed his eyes as he allowed the clean water to wash the blood away from his battered body, to cleanse his soul.

Even the rain seemed gentler, warmer, slow as tears…

The history books reduced it all down to the cold facts. 01:13 AM, October 7th, 2010 AD. The moment the heinous demon known as Diaboromon was defeated, the darkness that had spread across the world was purged. The books did nothing to capture the raw sacrifice, the crimson blood spilled on the battlefield. They did nothing to illustrate the bitter tears that were shed on day of destiny, or the dear comrades that were lost.

Thus closed the bloodiest chapter in human history.

Nor did the records capture the incredible joy and hope that touched the hearts of every human being that day. The heartfelt laughter that touched the lips of men all over the globe as they realized that the war was over, the battle was won. The years of strife and fear had finally ended. Victory had, at long last, been attained. The righteous had triumphed.

And thus opened a new chapter in the book of time, a chapter of peace…

The boy finally allowed his aura to burn down. Once again, he was simply a blond, fourteen-year-old boy. He was no longer a digidestined warrior, a grim commander of soldiers, but an ordinary, gentle boy, rejoicing with the rest of his people. A small, tired smile crossed his features as he looked down again, at the sleeping girl in his arms. His lips moved slowly as he whispered silently…

"It's over…"

And with that, Takeru Takaishi passed out.

**********

** six weeks later**

Tim stood waiting anxiously on the top rampart of Zion's defensive wall, as he had been everyday for the past month. The afternoon sun shone down warmly on the peaceful valley, and the lush forest shimmered silently in the midday heat. The leaves were starting to turn flaming red and pastel yellow with the autumn, creating a breathtaking collage of shifting colours, but all of nature's beauty was lost on the little boy. Scanning the distant mountain passes anxiously, he waited.

A small party of children ran up to the wall. A voice rang out. "Hey Tim?"

The wind whistled through Tim's dark hair as he turned. "Hey guys." He waved in greeting, and smiled at his friends.

"What're you doing up there?! You've been up there everyday for the past month! Come on! We're going for a game of soccer in the fields, you wanna come?"

The dark-haired boy turned anxiously back to watching the forest, resuming his vigil over the mountain passes. "Nah, you guys go ahead without me. I'm waiting for TK…"

A moment of silence passed. Several of the children, tiring of the pointless conversation, ran off to start the game of soccer. Only one little girl remained. Looking up at her friend, a worried frown crossed her face.

"Tim…it's been almost a month and a half since Commander Takaishi left…"

For a moment, Tim didn't respond. Then the reply came, tinged with unshakable conviction, "TK'll be back. I know he will."

The last child shook her head sadly. "Well, tell us if you find anything then." Running off to join her friends, she made a beeline for the green fields where the soccer game was already underway. Her cry of "Hey, wait for me" echoed faintly through the air.

Behind her, Tim fingered the glass pendant around his neck. The delicate crystal glistened in the sunlight, refracting a rainbow of colours. The little boy glanced at the symbol of hope inscribed on it, and turned his gaze back out towards the mountains. The birds sang quietly in the background, and the crickets chirped, enjoying the last days of summer before winter came in. Sitting alone in the silent, afternoon warmth, the boy kept a faithful watch for any sign of his friend.

Then, a breeze picked up. Tim sat up suddenly as his sharp ears heard something in the wind…

Do you hear the people sing?

Singing the song of angry men…

The small boy's bright blue eyes widened with joy as he saw the column returning warriors marching down the mountain pass. Their feet kicked up a rising dust cloud to the sky. Their voices were raised boldly in joyful harmony as they sang the time-honoured marching song…

It is the music of a people,

Who will not be slaves again…

Leaping to his feet, the small boy yelled at the top of his voice. "They're back! They're back! Sound the bells, open the gates! Open the gates!!" Dashing off, Tim ran through the suddenly buzzing Zion streets, calling at the top of his voice, approaching the main gate himself.

When the beating of your heart,

Echoes the beating of the drum…

Zion's bell suddenly started pealing, its warm brazen tones sounding out over the valley, tolling its message of joy. The gates opened, and the people flooded out to welcome the returning army back. The homecoming warriors laughed out loud as they greeted their loved ones, tearful reunions were evident everywhere as families were reunited.

There is a life about to start when tomorrow comes…

The destined were swamped by warm hugs from the people, family and friends together once again. Tai and Matt whooped as they were borne high above the shoulders of the crowd, and marched triumphantly into Zion, grinning recklessly. Beside them, Agumon and Gabumon were lifted up triumphantly as well, the digimon bouncing up and down on the people's shoulders enthusiastically.

Sora wept openly and unashamedly, as Biyomon tried to comfort her. Mimi was hugging a blushing Izzy hard, and squealing with excitement. Willis jumped on Joe's back and refused to let go, laughing and giving the "victory" sign with his fingers. The blond boy got away with it because he was slim for his age. Still, the two made a comical sight, as Joe staggered around under the unexpected weight of the whooping bundle on his back.

Tim threaded his way through the confusion. Being smaller, he slipped through the crowd until he found a certain, blond fourteen-year-old. Dashing up to the boy, he launched himself joyously into his arms. "TK! You're back! You're back!"

Laughing, TK swung the small child high into the air, whirling him round and round as Tim giggled giddily. Beside him, Kari, sporting a sling on her arm, embraced the small child happily. They were a family of brothers and sister, rejoicing in their newfound peace. Patamon flapped around them, and settled down on Tim's head, a wide grin on his face.

"Y'see? Told you I'd bring him home safely."

Beside her mistress, Gatomon smiled. "So you did. So you did." Then, leaping into the circle of laughing friends, she joined in the celebration wholeheartedly.

"There'll be a party tonight! I can smell it!"

For that day, they were commanders and soldiers no longer, but simple fourteen-year-old teenagers, enjoying life. Together, the three friends whirled round and round on the verdant green grass, their happy laughter rising to the clear blue sky above…

**********

The sun was breaking over the horizon, and a pre-dawn gray blanketed the forest. A young, blond boy sat at the top of the cliff, gazing down at the scene before him. Beside him, a small brown-haired girl took a deep breath of the morning air.

Physically, they were still children. They had celebrated their 14th birthday scarce months before. Their eyes however, were different. They had the eyes and the minds of someone much older. They had seen too much, done too much to ever be the same kids again.

The girl's chestnut-brown hair ruffled slightly in the gentle breeze, and she grinned. Even the wind seemed different than it did a day ago. Now, it was warmer…happier. The chirping of awaking birds in the air was nature's bells tinkling with laughter and joy at the great victory. Taking the boy's hand in her own, they exchanged a warm grin, at peace and content in each other's company. The blond boy put an arm around her shoulders, careful not to hurt her injured arm, and she sighed, snuggling deeper into his warm embrace. Leaning her head on his shoulder, they watched the sunrise together.

Before them, the city of Zion partied, its fires burning clear and bright like a sparkling jewel in the dawn gray. Kari smiled as she saw the people rejoicing, the happy faces of the old as they celebrated the end of the war, the children squealing with laughter as they played their games, too excited to sleep. The celebration had continued non-stop the entire night, and showed no signs of slacking off for another week. She looked up. The horizon was starting to glow with a warm, golden light, pushing back the gloom of the night. The faint, twinkling stars in the sky began to fade, making way for the new day to dawn.

"TK?" she whispered, her head still leaning on his shoulder.

"Hmm?"

"What'll we do now?" she asked quietly. "All these years, we've fought for freedom, for our world. And now it's all over. Now that we have our world, what're we going to do with it?"

A moment of silence passed between the two, then TK answered with a soft voice.

"It's not over, it's just begun…

"I can finally give up being a soldier. Trade in my heart of war, for a heart of peace. But the good fight is far from over…"

The morning light reflected in TK's blue eyes as he fell silent, gazing at the sunrise. Kari turned to him, her crimson-brown eyes questioning.

"Go on."

A small smile lingered on his lips as TK watched the dawn light brighten. Slowly, choosing his words carefully, he continued.

"I have a dream. When history looks back upon my deeds, I want to be known as 'Takaishi the healer – the man who rebuilt our world', not 'Takaishi the destroyer – the man that committed genocide'.

"I want to help build a new age that will rise out of the ashes. An age based on love and peace. To unite my people and rebuild my race. But most importantly, I want to be a preserver and builder of life, to bring hope to a world deep in despair…"

Kari sighed as she heard the quiet strength in his voice, the righteous devotion for the good of all. "It's going to be hard…

"It'll take months to establish any form of rudimentary local government. And it'll take years, probably decades to form any sort of recognized global government. We'll have to rebuild civilization from scratch, start all over again. A new form of government must be set up. It'll be a long uphill battle all the way, and the fight won't be nearly as exciting."

Then she grinned, a determined gleam in her eyes. "But then again, no one ever said it was going to be easy. We're destined. The impossible's our specialty."

TK rubbed her shoulders gently as he looked down at the girl in his arms. His crystal blue eyes locked with Kari's soft crimson ones as he spoke with unshakable conviction.

"With you at my side, I can do anything. Together, we can face everything the world has to throw at us. If I have to devote the rest of my life to this, then so be it. If we have to rebuild from scratch, then so be it. I don't know what the future will bring. All I know is that I'll be right here at your side the whole time, and we'll face it together, no matter what."

Kari closed her eyes as she heard the words. In his arms, she knew no fear. In his embrace, she knew no despair. A strange peace settled over the girl, her soul secure in the fact that TK would never leave her side. She smiled slowly. "And I'll never leave yours…" she whispered, the sacred promise sealed between the two lovers.

They fell silent again as they watched the sun finally climb over the horizon. Its warm, golden rays flooded the entire valley with brilliant light as the last, dark shadows were chased away…

In the spring of 2011, after the last stubborn winter ice had melted away, the people of Zion launched the most extensive recovery effort in history. An effort that lasted for more than fifty years. The rebuilding operation was slow but steady, as parties of men, led by the destined, scoured the land, bringing the good news to all, and constructing an alliance of nations.

Within three years, a formal, recognized government for Japan, China, Korea and India had been re-established. Within five years, diplomatic parties and scouting missions had spread to the Americas. For ten years, the destined remained the supreme commanders of the Zion army, and hence, the world.

On March 21st, 2022, the "Earth Alliance Treaty" was signed by each of the digital chosen, and by thirty-one of the most powerful men on Earth, representing every major faction and power on the globe. It marked the birth of the "Earth Sphere Alliance". Similar in form and function to the "United Nations" of the pre-war world, the "Earth Sphere Alliance" meant that each nation remained sovereign, but allied to each other in mutual support as they helped build each other up.

A week after the signing of the "Earth Alliance Treaty", the destined stepped down from their position as supreme leaders. Despite overwhelming support from the people, they refused to assume the mantle of command again. They were soldiers, chosen by destiny to be freedom fighters, and a peaceful world had no need for such warriors. The move dissolved the last remnants of military command structure within the Alliance, and a civil, democratic system was set up. The destined's time had passed, and now it was time to pass the torch to someone else.

Instead, the destined formed a special department within the Alliance that protected the world from future, digital threats. Taichi Kamiya and Yamato Ishida were the department's liaison with the Alliance, and became highly-respected cabinet ministers at the relatively young age of thirty-two. David Hunter and Shinta Kazuo also became ministers. Koushiro Izumi and Willis Maxwell remained intimately involved with the Alliance, ever-vigilant for future threats. Jyou Kido, Sora Takenouchi, and Mimi Tachikawa became full-time members of the department. The department was officially named the "Digital Incursion Prevention Unit", or "DIPU" for short. But almost immediately, it was simply nicknamed "The Preventers", and the name stuck.

Takeru and Hikari Takaishi however, steadfastly refused to become full-time Preventers. The post was too far removed from the common people they wanted to help. They wanted to build and preserve life with their own hands, to watch and help the works of their people. Together with Timothy Sterling, they became leaders of the Alliance's relief unit, bringing supplies, and helping to get struggling cities re-established. There was no shortage of suffering people, their homes and cities devastated by the war, that needed guidance, support and aid. Their job took both of them all over the world.

But wherever they wandered, and whomever they touched, hope burned a little brighter in the hearts of men…

Countless generations to come read about those first steps towards our former glory. The human race emerged from the war more mature, wiser in its own way. A horrendously bloody lesson to be sure, but a lesson well-learned nonetheless. Humanity learned to set aside their petty differences, united in their common grief and mutual support as together, they rebuilt their shattered civilization.

And those bonds, forged through the fires of war, never faded as the decades went by. Ironically, the war was the world's first step to a true, global nation.

So in a way, Takeru Takaishi's dream came true.

"I want to help build a new age that will rise out of the ashes. An age based on peace and love. To unite my people and rebuild my race.

But most importantly, I want to be a preserver and builder of life, to bring hope to a world deep in despair…"

- Takeru Takaishi, digidestined of Hope

THE END

Credits (little things from which I was inspired / copied):

  • The whole thing from "Digimon: The Movie"
  • The title "Yesterday When the War Began", from the novel "Tomorrow When the War Began" by John Marsden
  • The title "The Long Winter", from the novel "The Long Winter" by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • "Zion" from the movie "The Matrix"
  • "Fremen" from the novel "Dune" by Frank Herbert
  • "Shinta" from the anime series "Rurouni Kenshin"
  • "kohlinahr" from the TV-series "Star Trek"
  • the song "Do you hear the people sing" from the musical "Les Miserables"
  • Random quotes from: "Gundam Wing", "Independence Day", "James Bond: Goldeneye", "The Charge of the Light Brigade" by Alfred Lord Tennyson, "Genesis" by logan, and Lord Winston Churchill
  • Random ideas / concepts from: Ghost in the Machine (notably, the pencil blur thingy in chap. 5), kale (among many others, the whole idea of TK fighting with a staff in the first place), and Julius Caesar by Shakespeare
  • And last but definitely not least…

    • Tiger Shark. My most wonderful editor. Guys, I cannot emphasize how incredible she's been this whole time, and she's stuck loyally with me ever since "The Long Winter", edited every single chapter. Every time she edits, she reads over my chapter at least four or five times, then goes through and picks out specific sentences, and sometimes even individual words, that need rewording. That's how incredibly thorough she is. "Tenkei" and "The Charge of the Light Brigade" came from her. Her ideas have helped shape the very plot of the story. Sadly, TS has decided to step down as editor after the end of this saga.

    ** speaking of which, if you're interested in the fanart TS drew for my fic, call her at "tigershrk@hotmail.com". She's got some talent, let me tell you that.


    So really, if you're going to review, write at least a couple (preferably more) words of encouragement for her. Tell her what an incredible job she's done. She deserves it ^_^

    Thank you for all my loyal reviewers. You've really supported me with your reviews, and if it wasn't for you, I'd probably have quit a long time ago. Let's see…kale, raine, Ghost in the Machine, alita, Turquoise Cow, slowqmon, colleen, Betsy, Time Lady, Caspian, Amiasha, sailormoonshadow, Lys, Visions, Silverlight, JediGarurumon, Jenglory, Crystal Cat, hypergirl, Jenna D., Destiny, Dreamwalker, Aardwulf, The Paladin, Nanaki Lioness, 600665, Sandrilene, Kari, and Tiger Shark ^_^. If I missed you, I'm sooooo sorry.

    If you haven't reviewed all this time, well, please review this chapter at least! It's the last one! And tell me why you liked it. Which parts? Action / adventure? Pick any one of the fight scenes. Romance? Pick any one of the Takari scenes (one-sided or not). Mystery? The scene where Tai and Izzy examine Galgomon's marks, Diaboromon tracking down Tai and his party in "Yesterday", etc. Drama? The Zion address. Which saga did you like best? Why? Which moments did you like best, or hate the most?

    Future projects? Absolutely no idea. I need to be inspired. It could be a week, it could be a month, it could be never. What I do know, is that whatever I write next is going to be short, if I write at all. I need a major break from writing, as you can probably imagine. *faints*

    Grr…after all this hard work, I'd better get some reviews…