The Fate of the World: The Cave of Destiny
by Creedogmon
edited by Godeerc VanDrey

Category: Digimon
Genre: Fantasy, Action/Adventure (or maybe the other way around)
Rating: PG-13 for violence and language (this is not something they would show on Digimon)
Language: English
Summery: The Cave Seekers enter the Cave at last. Meanwhile, Christopher worries about the lack of evil found at the foreseen spots.

A/N: We're right in the thick of my greatest ideas. If you're not enjoying it now, you never will. Wow, that was bad advertising. Anyway, keep reading anyway, 'cause if you're this far, you've wasted too much time not to know how it ends.

Chapter 17: The Cave of Destiny

A noise from outside grabs Diana's and my attention. I lay down my laptop and we slowly near the entrance of the cave. We look out; the grassland is as peaceful as it has always been. This is something I've never liked. Jessica said that this was one of the greatest areas of evil she'd seen, and so far, we've been alone, which has allowed us to have a fairly stable command center, but continually leaves us on-guard.

It turns out that something is happening out here. A recent message from Justine reveals that Diana's prophecy spoke of certain items that we had to find, which Justine has assured us is metaphorical. They are tasks we must complete or actions we must perform. It's a good thing, because I haven't been looking for keys. So far, four of us have completed our task, I suppose, since four dots from the Symbol of Symbols on my computer screen have magically changed color. Two of them are Justine and Anna, but I don't know the other two.

Time slows down. The DigiWorld has been giving us surprises right and left, and to tell you the truth, it's quite exhausting. My heart may never recover. My hyperactive brain allows me the time to think and process the series of events. Right as I see the golden-brown, eyes with slitted pupils, they disappear as the large cat-like creature jumped out of the grass. Right now, the maneless lion hangs in midair, slowly lowering toward our group as a whole. Gravity and movement are slow in my perception. I start to back away, heaving my lead-heavy legs around to run, seeing Katmondu and IceFelismon crouch to counter his leap.

Time returns to normal at my will, and I spin and fall to the ground to watch. Harpymon glides forward to help Katmondu and IceFelismon, who don't seem to need the help. Until they're thrown off the cat digimon by its strong legs. It crouches down and I see that it doesn't quite resemble a lion. It's much leaner and sleeker. It's also black all over, more like a… panther.

Katmondu's crest glows, identifying him from his twin. The panther is caught off-guard by this strange occurrence, but acts unfazed just the same. The light-blue light makes the images of both Katmondu and IceFelismon blurry, and when it subsides, only one of them is left. He's facing away from me, so I can't see if he has the ice-tusks that distinguish IceFelismon further from my pet. To my utter surprise, it sticks its head forward to growl, only its head remains in place as well. Both heads are ghost-like. One of the ghosts bows down as if to start running, allowing the other ghost-like body in place. It starts to run off, semi-transparent strings connecting the two, which stretch and then contract as the other ghost cat follows suit. The two run in unison, translucent legs separating and reuniting, as if two independent IceFelismon or Defenders were co-spatial.

The panther's eyes widen, and at this time I notice the down-pointing, blue-green crescent on its forehead. Tobalmon?!

Tobalmon runs away from the ghostly creature that Katmondu and IceFelismon have fused into. I run forward and I see Diana get up as if to do the same. I run forward, but I'm not even in the same league of speed as the cat creatures. Harpymon comes and swoops me up, Diana in her other arm, and we quickly catch up.

The panther is racing straight toward a small lake. He leaps in, reminding me vividly of the dream. As the tigers reach the shore, one slides to a stop and the other leaps ahead, only to stop midair as if connected to a bungee. A nearly invisible force pulls him back and he rolls through Katmondu and stop behind him. "Katmondu!" the transparent half that must be IceFelismon screams, "We have to catch him! He's getting away." The Defender does not move.

My vision then clouds, as I fear I'm being pulled into another of Jessica's visions. Suddenly, I'm standing beside a mountain. I see Jessica at the entrance of a cave with a golden-furred fox. She's petting it affectionately, and I assume it must be Aneramon. "Jessica!" I call.

She lifts her head up, but looks down. "Chris?" she says, but her mouth doesn't move. The sound originates from within my head. "Can't you see me?" I ask aloud.

Jessica looks right and left, looking right through me. "No," she replies telepathically.

"Well, I'm in some sort of vision, and I can see you. Is that Aneramon? Or Jeamon?" I ask, unsure of the name.

"Yeah. She's the guard of the Cave of Destiny. One of them."

I look around, seeing the boys strewn on the ground, Delcomon tending to them. "Are they… okay?" I ask.

Jessica starts to speak aloud, informing Jeamon of her connection with me. "Fine… they were a nasty fight with the Outer Triad. We won, sort of. The other two are gone. Jeamon here dropped a level."

"Jeamon was part of the Outer Triad?"

"Aneramon was. It's complicated. Are you okay?"

"I was… chasing some panther digimon, maybe Tobalmon…"

"Tobalmon?" Jessica asks, alerting Jeamon.

"Tobalmon?" Jeamon breathes, "your… brother? He found Tobalmon? Can he hear me?" Jessica nods, and Jeamon, in her childish voice emotionally comments, looking around as if trying to speak to the invisible me, "Is he okay? What's going on?"

"Tobalmon was at our camp. My cat and his digimon are chasing him. Then I got pulled here, sort of." Jessica starts repeating what I said to Jeamon, who I realize can't hear me.

The scenery suddenly and quickly fades away and I'm again running. The Katmondu/IceFelismon hybrid has pinned Tobalmon. "Stop!" I cry, and the IceFelismon part of the fused creature ceases, causing the Defender half to resist. Tobalmon slides under and leaps into the water, swimming toward the other side again. I leap, too, and the time slow down occurs.

I race forward, around the pond. I can feel the individual zaps of the nerve ending in my muscles. The muscles around my heart and in my legs burn. Because of my speed, the pain seems to grow slowly, and I am able to resist it as well. Despite it, I'm definitely overtaking Tobalmon in length. Though I'm barely ahead, I will be able to catch him as he emerges from the pond.

I slide into his path, only then realizing I don't know what to do when I get there. He leaps out of the water; he would surely clear me if I hadn't reached up to grab him. He rolls so that I am on top of him, holding the wrists of his front paws. I feel he feet dig into my thighs. I, of course, am thrown forward, but time slows, and I twist to land in a prone position, able to chase him again.

He runs slower than before, and with slow time, I realize this because he's tired. I can clearly see the strained contractions of his breast, longing to breathe, but feeling the need to flee. I hold up my digivice, hoping he's weak enough for it to have any effect. Luckily enough, my digivice glows. His body is engulfed in light, and he shrinks down.

I grab the small Kiomon around the legs, much like I grab Katmondu. He struggles, but with my fingers entwined around his legs and neck, he claws and teeth are unable to reach my hands. "Jeamon says, 'Hi,'" I tell him. He immediately goes limp in my hand.

"What?" he responds in a purring tenor.

"Jeamon is at the Cave of Destiny."

"Doing what?"

I become quiet, cursing the poor timing of the vision's end.

The Cave

Jessica, Jeamon, Matt, James, Delcomon, and Daniel stare at the entrance of the Cave of Destiny.

"I say we go in," comment James.

Matt smiles, "We might as well. Jeamon, are you sure you wouldn't know how to renew the Cave?"

"No," she replies, "The Cave has stood for ages; faithful Unmon studying its secrets; powerful digimon protecting its sanctity."

Daniel muses, "No human has ever entered this cave?"

"Never," Jeamon says, "they have never felt need to. Nor were they ever in this vicinity."

James stares at two objects sitting at the portal, "What are those things? Eggs?"

Jeamon frowns, "DigiEggs. The DigiEggs of Rattlermon and Garlmon. I suppose you have not fully defeated them. Take them with you. Infantile digimon are harmless and helpless."

They group descends into the cave. At first, the cave become darker, but they are soon greeted by light in the form of torches on the wall. As they turn one last corner, they find an artificial wall with a door built into the side of the Cave. Daniel tries to pull it open, but Jeamon casually mentions, "It's locked."

"Jeamon," a voice over what sounds to be a loudspeaker asks, "you have dedigivolved. Who are these Unmon?"

"DigiDestined," she replies.

"Where are Rattlermon and Garlmon?"

"They were turned to Eggs."

"Jeamon, you'll have to excuse our hesitance, but we cannot be sure that you have not been captured, and…"

The voice is drowned out as the sound of a loud clank is heard coming from the door. The door then starts to slowly open. Looking around in wonder, the guys see that Jessica is holding up her digivice.

"Chris mentioned to me that the digivices open all kinds of doors."

They enter what appears to be a very large laboratory. The tall ceiling, three stories above the ground is the rock ceiling of the cave. On either side of the long walkway are three-tiered platforms of laboratories built into the sides of the wall. Dozens of Unmon are each level, working on tables, standing in front of chalkboards, some in front of alien machinery. Many stop their work to stare at the intruders.

A dark-haired Unmon in robes comes up. "Jeamon, did these three Unmonoid creatures really use a digivice to open the doors?" he asks, hastily, anxiously eyeing the group.

"Yes," she replies, smiling and rubbing against Jessica, "this one, mine."

The Unmon's face shows disbelief, but replies, "Well, this is most extraordinary. We still study the prophecies in great detail, but never would we have expected their coming." He turns to the DigiDestined, "Pray tell me, how many of there are you?"

"Twelve." James replies. "We're four of them. But only I, and now Jessica, have digimon."

"Very curious. We are familiar with you."

Daniel stares in disbelief, "What?"

The Unmon sighs, "Come with me to the Archives."

The Archives in another room, built into the wall rather than into the cave's natural chambers.

"My name is Jikoji. I am a senior member of the Keepers of Destinies, highest access. The room we are about to enter is the Chamber of the Archives. Come in." He holds in hand in a small box built into the side of the chamber, where lasers scan his hand and the door opens, with an intake of air.

"These are the Archives," he states, allowing the group to look around a room, large, but cramped full of shelves and boxes. "Here is where all the prophecies of all forms can be found. Many are written on forms of parchment. Some in stone. We have fourteen written on glass spheres, pyramids, and other shapes. We have transcripts and testimonial descriptions of strange dreams. Here, in the Cave of Destiny, they are studied with the utmost care. Many are in different languages, others are written into puzzles, some on both; some are so metaphorical that we can barely begin to decipher their meanings."

"Why do you do this?" James asks.

"To avoid situations such as these. I have no idea how you were able to survive our world without contact with any Unmon or without digimon partners, minus you, sir," he states to James.

Matt replies, "We got… powers."

Jikoji is quiet, "The Powers of Crests, of course. Oh, it is coming together now. We have a prophecy which we call the Codex…"

"As in the apocalypse?" James interjects.

"As in the End of Days. The Codex speaks of the arrival of twelve DigiDestined who come to save the world. It will trigger the End of Days."

"You think our being here is gonna cause the end of the DigiWorld?" Daniel asks.

"Not the end of the world. It's rebirth. Worlds are not meant to last forever. Eventually a new world with rise from the ashes of an old world. Every microcosm to every macrocosm experiences this periodic transformation. And this will transform the entire DigiWorld."

Jessica states, rather flatly, "Wow."

"The Codex was vague about the story of the Twelve DigiDestined, but it clearly stated the signs. Many years ago, we saw these signs and sent a message to prepare Digimon to escort you from your world. There was sabotage and the mission was compromised. It went completely haywire. Those assigned to the project were never heard form again. We like to hope they did everything they could, but no DigiDestined came, and we assumed the Escorts died in their attempts. We received numerous reports of the presence of an evil, incorporeal being in the last few days. I believe this to be the evil that the Twelve will fight."

"Is Gennai an Unmon?" Jessica asks.

Surprised, Jikoji replies, full of excitement, "Gennai? Why, yes. Gennai is one of the most well-respected Unmon in the DigiWorld. He's a hero for being the liaison to the Magnificent Eight. We asked him to undertake the initiation of the Twelve project. The Eight project was also blotched, and he made it one of the greatest successes the DigiWorld has ever known. He accepted. We have not heard from him since. How do you know of him?"

"He contacted me through a vision, showing me about the failure to send some eggs somewhere, and how the eggs were dispersed, and how Jeamon here grew up." Jessica replies.

"That would be the Twelve project… you all, I suppose. It is wonderful to hear he is alive. How very strange that he has not tried to contact us."

Matt, who is looking thoughtfully at a glass sphere, asks, "We've been in the DigiWorld before, and we returned. The reason we survived were our powers."

"Yes, the Powers of Crests. There is another cave on the Continent of Server where a team of surveyors mines out pieces of stone that show unusual radiation. From there a mystic examines the stone until he realizes, in a vision, what quality it embodies. He returns it to the laboratory and it is carved by a calligrapher. At first, it's only potential seemed to be to give digimon the ability to digivolve into the higher levels. However, we have an account from a young Koromon, who dreamed about DigiDestined using their powers to fight evil. The child had never seen an Unmonoid, so we assumed there was no way he could have known of DigiDestined, but by his description, it was infallible. We have it on record, but could never make head or tails of the Powers prophecies. And we certainly never made the connection to the Twelve."

Daniel looks to Jikoji, "And we are the first to use the powers?"

"I believe you are. We keep tabs on the actions of the DigiDestined, though we have obviously failed in your case. Never have there been DigiDestined who had no digimon partners."

Matt comments, "You know, we talked to those older DigiDestined the first time we were here, and they had no recollection of it. But they gave themselves names, didn't they?"

Daniel's brow furrows, "Yeah, but I assumed they'd made them up."

The guys are startled by a plop to the ground; it's Jessica, holding her head. They rush to support her. James mutters, "Jessica?"

Breathing heavily and wincing, "It was a fury of images, but I saw children, using powers, like we do."

"Who were they?" Jikoji asks, kneeling to her.

"I don't know," she replies, "but I have visions, as you can plainly see. I think something is trying to tell me that there were other DigiDestined with powers. Is that possible?"

Jikoji sighs and answers, "The only way that could be…" He pauses, and continues, "Some of the astronomers have noted a strange phenomenon in the stars that might explain something."

James, curiosity piqued, inquires, "What?"

"They call it a temporal metaphysical shift. Its existence is far from proven, but they believe that the use of the crests in their full potential, as in providing Powers, would upset the fabric of the universe. When too much energy is expelled at one time, it builds up and would start to destroy the matter around it. It would create a kind of black hole, where time and space would collapse in on itself. However, it is the firm belief of all that not all that exists is material. Intangible things, like hope, dreams, fear, love, spirit; these things would remain. These astrologers say that these forces would try to solve this problem by reversing or otherwise changing time to preserve it. In my opinion, it's too handy; these spirits would have to create an entirely new reality. The material world would return, creating a new existence, a new history, but the old intangibles, they remain, like water without a basin, and they seek to try to return through pathways of the mind or of fate. The practical rationale these mystics cite is the radial frequency of the stars, which they claim changes linearly through time, have not been matching the correct reading for several years. They studied the phenomenon more thoroughly, and found out that certain stars began to show a rapid acceleration to the very point which would be expected by the original linear growth. They calculated the distance away versus when the star 'fixed' itself, and claimed it was the speed of light. Metaphysics appears to be bound by the speed of light." He adds the last part with sarcasm in his voice.

James laughs, "Well, then there's a problem. The universe, time and space, is expanding, everything away from everything else. Eventually the epicenter of the metaphysical shift would be so far away from the 'sonic boom' that is 'fixing' time, that the velocity at which those two points would be moving away from each other would be more than the speed of light. The universe would never be completely corrected. Isn't that hilarious?"

He is greeted by blank looks.

Daniel nods, "Anyway, in the Real World, we have stuff like that, too. I don't know about stellar radiation, but we have those who believe in metaphysics. Reincarnation, time travel, déjà vu, Einsteinian physics, corporeal transcendence, and so on."

"There are those who say our world mirrors yours. Others say the other way around. I guess we'll never know."

Matt pops in, "There's this great Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. Calvin is looking into a puddle, and wonders whether he is the reflection of the boy in the puddle. Hobbes tells him that if that were true, when he walked away, it was only because his reflection was and that he would therefore disappear. Calvin stands there all night. The only way to tell which world was the copy would be to destroy one and see if the other one remains. Unless these fixer-upping Power-That-Be warped time or whatever."

"Speaking of mirrors," James asks. James spins around, eyes wide with fear. "Who said that?" he asks.

Daniel gives him a look, "You did."

"No, I didn't. It was my voice, but it wasn't me."

"It was me." A robed figure, an Unmon, appears from behind the shelf.

"Reveal yourself!" orders Jikoji, "Do you have access to this Chamber?"

"Shut up!" the Unmon yells, his voice sounding very much like James's. He throws a small metal ball at Jikoji, who falls down on impact, clutching his chest.

The four are transformed within moments. Delcomon looks at the enclosed space, knowing it would be foolish for him to try to digivolve in closed quarters, so he retreats to the top of the shelf, ready to attack.

Jessica's digivice glows.

"Jeamon digivolve to… Aneramon!"

Aneramon leaps forward, grabbing the Unmon's robe and ripping it from him. Underneath is James's clone, who gives an unamused grin, holding his hands up, "Well, you've caught me. Olly-olly-oxen free." He puts his hand in pockets, and asks, nonchalantly, "So, who wants a piece of me?"

The inhabitants of the room fade from his sight. "Wow, good trick, Sister. Do you do birthday parties?" He closes his eyes and leaps over to the shelf and grabs at the air, but coming in contact with a body. Startled, Jessica drops the mirage, and finds herself very close to James's clone. "Hey, sexy," he whispers slyly, "why you hanging around those goodie-two-shoes?" With this, he squeezes her buttocks, "How 'bout a real man?"

Jessica slaps his hard across the face; the noise even echoes once in the cave.

"Bitch!" he cries, slapping her back, just as hard and shoving her into a shelf, which falls over. Glass objects slide off and shatter to the ground and the next shelf over rams hard into the wall, cracking; sheets of parchment fall to the ground. Jessica falls unconscious. The clone slips her tag necklace off her neck. Aneramon quickly knocks him over, away from Jessica.

"Execution of Steel," he cries, blasting Aneramon into the ceiling.

"Who's next?" he asks, getting up.

Daniel walks forward, "You just can't get enough, can you?"

The clone smiles, "Never. I am insatiable."

James lunges forward, punching his look-alike several times, ignoring the blood that comes from his lip as a result and slams his parody against the wall. James holds the frightened replica against the wall. "So, what do you call yourself?"

"I am the Hypocrite. Yes, watch your eyes get all white. Your friends didn't mention to you that your evil twin would be the worst part of you: the fact that you're a lying, self-righteous coward. You hold the Crest of Righteousness. I, in your place, hold the crest of Sin." James drops his twin and shoves him against the wall.

Two rock columns emerge from the ground and close on the Hypocrites' shoulders. A distinct snap is heard and James falls back, Delcomon catching and taking him to safety.

Daniel, his arms out, says gravely, "You know, Hypocrite, in the short time that I've seen you, you've lived up to your crest by breaking several cardinal sins. You've been proud and vain the entire time. Jessica can attest to both your lust and wrath. And greed," he adds, taking her crest of the Hypocrite's paralyzed hand and tossing it to her.

Matt puts his hand on Daniel's shoulder, "Well, it would be a shame to kill him without letting him finish up. Release him; I'll take it from here."

Two roots emerge from the cavern's ceiling and one wraps around the Hypocrite's neck and the other to the other vine. The vines retract, though the latter has slack. He walks up to the Hypocrite, talking with restrained fury, "Let's see, which are you missing? Gluttony? You said something about 'insatiable,' right? You're not even struggling… sloth. That only leaves envy…" The vines start to pull up. "How 'bout envying the fact that we'll all still be here in ten minutes."

"I doubt it."

"You still won't," Matt counters.

Daniel turns to Matt, "Hanging him? What about James? He'll suffocate."

The vine connected to the Hypocrite's neck breaks and he falls, but shop short as the other vine because taunt. Another distinct snap is heard. After a gasp, James immediately starts to heal. He wipes the blood off, showing a healed wound. He rolls his shoulder and neck wincing. "Sorry, man," Matt apologizes.

"It's okay. It doesn't hurt like real. It's more like when you sleep wrong you get muscle pain. Why didn't he disappear?"

The boys look back. The body, the head hanging askew, remains held by the noose. Matt lets the root slide out of the ceiling and the body lands on the ground, and a pool of blood appears around it, but is absorbed into the ground. The body begins to melt until only a skeleton remains, which falls apart, the bones becoming dust.

Matt swallows hard, "That was graphic."

Daniel cries, "Jessica!" The boys run to her side, where Jeamon is waiting. Matt touches her neck, "Her pulse is strong. Is she breathing?" Jeamon quickly nods in reply. "Then she'll be okay."

Daniel starts tapping her check, causing the bruised Jessica to moan, "Tell me you kicked his ass," she finally makes out.

Matt laughs, "You can ask James about it later. But, yeah, we definitely laid the smack down."

"How's Jikoji?"

Daniel runs over and finds Jikoji resting himself against a fallen shelf, his hood up, "Sir, are you alright?"

"The Hypocrite poisoned me." He pulls his hood down, revealing a callused, deeply wrinkled face. "That ball he threw at me, it releases a chemical that rapidly ages the body. This is a much more powerful version. The Gennai the Sister spoke of is also infected. But he has lived for many years. I am afraid I will not make it through the night."

"But, sir…"

"Leave me."

At this point, there is a crumbling sound, and the cave floor shakes a bit. A loud cracking noise erupts from above the Archives. "What was that?" Jessica asks, her voice soft and shaky.

Matt exhales, "It could be a cave-in. We'd better get out of here. It's probably my fault, bringing those roots through the rock."

Daniel nods, "Don't worry about it. It's probably not a big deal. But I suggest we evacuate. I'll get Jikoji. Alert the others." Daniel leans over as a section of the cave, the far corner collapses in.

"Damn," James says under his breath, "Run, don't walk to the nearest exit." At this, he assists Matt in taking Jessica under their arms and carrying her out.

"Okay, I gotcha," Daniel says to Jikoji.

"I said to leave me," the rapidly aging Unmon tells him.

"That was when the cave wasn't collapsing. Dying in your sleep is much more pleasant than being crushed."

"Champion, the Archives are being destroyed. It's an omen. The End of Days is upon us. If you believe in reincarnation, I will return in the next age."

Daniel's digivice bursts with light. He looks to the ceiling and sees thick black liquid seeping through the cracks. "Oh, no!"

"Champion, if you don't leave immediately, you may not ever leave." Daniel runs out with a single glance back, as the deathly elderly Jikoji nods reverently. He hears the room, with all the prophecies and the old man inside, collapse. He forces tears away from his eyes.

The hallway, with its level of rafters is deserted. He turns back and sees the blackness seeping out of the mangled metal doorway. The tunnel leading out seems too long, but the eventual sunlight is reassuring. Daniel emerges from the threshold, collapsing the entrance with his power as he is safely out of the way.

Matt gives him an incredulous look, "Dude, what are you doing?"

"The Chamber of the Archives didn't collapse because of your roots. The black thing was seeping in."

The others exchanged glances, and Jessica voices their thoughts, "Are you sure?"

"I mean, I'm not sure. But it's apparently not something I thought was worth risking. Where are the other Unmon scientists?" he asks, noticing only his friends and their digimon.

"They escaped through a secret entrance. We told them we were taking the front door because we needed you." James asks, masking his suspicion, "You left Jikoji?"

"He insisted. I needed to save the world, so I had to save myself."

James nods in reluctant agreement.

Jessica mentions meekly, "Uh, guys, when James's evil twin knocked me out, I had this weird dream. I'm thinking it was…"

Daniel finishes her thought, "…a vision?"

The Valley

Kiomon finally calmed down long enough for me to fill him in about everything: Jeamon, Jessica, us the DigiDestined, our Powers. He was fidgety, but I take it he was listening.

Not thirty seconds after I finish my spiel and wait for him to absorb it, I hear the telltale voice in my head: Jessica. Except… the reception's bad. I only get fragments, even emotions seem faint. I kneel over and close my eyes after informing the rest of the situation.

I am immediately knocked over by Kiomon. Eyes open, I follow the eyes of my compatriots. I have just been saved from a diving black glider, which is circling back.

A/N: Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha. Don't you just hate it when I do that? I'm just passing along the aggression Dan Brown gives me. Anyway, I hope you're wearing your seat belts, 'cause I'm in no mood to slow down.

(Sonriso) - Is it just me, or are these stories getting to violent? C'mon, Creedog! I needed the Chuck Bucket from Fear Factor during that last fight! Thank goodness this thing's rated PG-13.