Between Life and Eternity

By CyberDracomon, King of Takari

Chapter 1 - The Enemy's Faces

(Author's Note: This is a very long overdue sequel to The Greatest Power, my very first Digimon fanfic. If you haven't read it don't worry, I wouldn't make a new story that made you go read my oldest one. You'll be able to read this one whether you've read Greatest Power or not, but I will be referencing the fic as I go, I'll try to make it easy on readers that missed the original. TK and Kari are both 16 in this fanfic, 4 years after The Greatest Power. Also since the ending to 02 stunk, we'll ignore it for the sake of this fanfic. So with all that said, please read, review, and most importantly enjoy!)

Odaiba, Japan. A relatively small city that has seen more bizarre occurrences than most cities in sci-fi movies. Everything from giant parrots and dinosaurs fighting, to a giant mutated vampire, to monsters of every shape and size that only certain people could see. For such strange events it's hard to believe all of these were contained by a group of children with monsters of their own.

Takeru Takaishi, otherwise known as TK to his friends and family, was, and still is, one of those children. Grown into a teenager now, the 16 year old child of hope has grown so much faster mentally than physically, matured through trials and tribulations in a world of monsters and data that exists within our own technology and parallel to our own reality. He has matured so much that he was as young as twelve when he first discovered true love, and though TK was young, destiny has a way of making such things unimportant. This love had remained for the past four years and proven itself more than just a grade school crush or common puppy love. It was this same love that now filled his mind as he stood in front of the door of the Kamiya apartment nervously. They had arranged a casual date, TK wasn't wearing anything fancier than one of his favorite green and yellow shirts and a pair of khaki pants to go with it. Despite countless dates and just general hanging out with Kari there was always a hint of nervousness at times like these. TK shrugged the feeling off and raised his hand to the doorbell, giving it his usual double ring, letting Kari know it was him.

A moment passed before the door opened, the familiar sight of Kari Kamiya smiling out at him greeting him behind. In the last four years she had grown into a beautiful young girl, intelligent and vibrant. Her fashion had changed as much as TK's, though, she still wore pink and white, in this case as a light pink shirt that came off the shoulders with a white tank top under, with a darker pink as the color of her skirt. Her hairstyle wasn't changed much, either, still letting her brown bangs hand down the sides of her head, though her hair was a bit longer now all the way around.

"About time, Patamon beat you here by a good twenty minutes." Kari said jokingly. TK chuckled slightly, now returning the smile the smile that Kari greeted him with.

"Right, so it's my fault that he's the only one with wings?" He replied, still smiling. Kari giggled herself, stepping a bit closer to wrap both arms around TK's neck in a loving embrace. TK returned it, embracing her around the waist. It was the typical greeting down to the letter, neither of them bored or it and deciding it was better than a simple hello. The two let go, both still smiling.

"Come on in, I'm almost ready." Kari said, turning back inside and giving TK room to follow. "Patamon and Gatomon are in the living room, they've been on my brother's old game machine since Patamon got here." TK followed after her as she stepped through the Kamiya apartment, same as it ever was, with the exception of Tai's missing belongings, long since moved out. He followed Kari until they reached the living room, letting her walk on and back to her room to finish getting ready.

TK's attention turned to the two Digimon sitting on the floor in front of a large TV, a white cat and an orange hamster with wings. They were playing a race game on a video game system, obviously not the newest, the graphics were too blocky. Watching them play TK noticed Gatomon's gloves were off, the only way she could hold the controller. Patamon, on the other hand, was having trouble using the controller with his much smaller hands, he had resorted to using his wings for the buttons on top of the controller.

"One more race for me!" Gatomon shouted in victory as her car crossed the finish line, a flashy "1st" appearing on her half of the screen. Patamon fell backwards, his wings flattening on the ground as he did, apparently tired from making up for his small fingers. His eyes were closed like he was exhausted from the effort, he had yet to see TK standing behind him.

"This still isn't fair..." He said half-heartedly. Gatomon turned from the television screen, putting the controller down as she did, glancing at the worn-out form of the orange Digimon beside her.

"Why not?" She asked, somewhat disheartened herself. "I had the worst car in the game." Patamon sat up, wings still sagging, and turned to Gatomon, raising his forepaws up for her to see.

"You had thumbs." He said with a joking smile. "You try playing with paws meant for standing on and see how well you do." Gatomon smiled at the joke, then the smile turned to a smirk as her tail came around, the end coming to a rest on his forehead. Gatomon gave him a playful push with it, just enough to knock him on his back again.

"Always an excuse..." She sighed playfully. "It's your turn to pick a game, anyway, just make sure it doesn't need so many buttons." Patamon let out a frustrated moan, they all needed a lot of buttons... Though it didn't really matter, in all honesty he was having as much fun as if he was winning. The orange Digimon shifted his eyes up, just now noticing TK standing behind them, watching their playful squabble.

"Oh, TK!" Patamon chirped, still on his back. "How long have you been there?" TK smiled down at his Digimon partner, trying not to laugh at the scene he just saw.

"Long enough to know I need to get you two a game that's a little more fair." He replied. Patamon rolled over onto his four legs, then up onto his back legs, standing with his wings just now lifted. He turned back to Gatomon, who had already taken the game disc out of the console to put in whatever Patamon picked.

"Alright, put in a puzzle game, those can't possibly need that many buttons." He said, taking his place at his controller again. Gatomon shrugged and moved to the game rack to find the game, not bothering to mention he just challenged a girl with a cat's reflexes to a game of timing...

TK's attention turned back to the hallway's entrance as the sound of footsteps began to come from it. Kari reemerged, looking no different aside from a small purse now hanging from her left shoulder, and still smiling. She glanced over at Patamon and Gatomon, now settling in for the next game, before rejoining TK.

"It's still odd." Kari said, drawing a look of curiosity from TK. "A few years ago I wondered why my brother wanted to go out with Sora so often, and now I'm not doing much better than he did with it." TK chuckled a bit, remembering her mention that a few months back, as well.

"Hey, some of us don't have a problem about it." He joked back, now drawing a giggle from Kari. "We should get going, streets are crowded today, we might be late to the theater." TK had this planned well as usual, first was the movie theater, then dinner, then a walk through the park on the way home. It was a date they had been on probably a thousand times but they never got tired of it. They walked between points, it wasn't that neither had the option of driving, it just gave them an excuse to be together longer.

Before they got to the door, the couple was stopped by a sudden loud beeping coming from deeper in the apartment, specifically Kari's room. It was familiar to both of them, as well as their Digimon, who paused their game as they heard it. It was Kari's D-Terminal, giving off an alert of some kind, and seeing how they weren't in the Digital World, it could only be an e-mail, of some importance to come in through the personal device. TK glanced over to Kari, who was already looking at him for his reaction, his eyes showing his desire to leave the message be and start their date. Kari, on the other hand, wasn't the kind to do that.

"...Sorry, it'll only be a minute." She said regretfully, turning away from TK and heading back to her room. "It's probably just my brother, I'll reply when I get home." With that she vanished down the hallway a second time, leaving TK waiting again by the door to wonder when this date would even begin. Patamon and Gatomon stood from their spots on the carpet and moved to the sofa near TK, hopping up onto the cushions and then onto the top of the piece of furniture.

"Hey, TK...?" Patamon asked cautiously, drawing the teenager's attention. There was a slight nervous shake to Patamon's voice that TK picked up on. "With your permission, if we get hungry while you're out... can I digivolve so we can order out for pizza? We can play music and say it's a costume party when the delivery guy comes!" TK had heard this before, problem being last time it was after they had done it.

"Patamon, last time you did that, you forgot about your staff as Angemon." TK reminded him. "When we got home Kari had to explain to the family upstairs why a gold pole made a hole in their floor." Patamon smiled sheepishly, glancing away. He had hoped TK forgot that little incident, but he figured he hadn't, he did spend the better part of the next day helping to repair it. The orange Digimon flapped his wings, giving him enough lift to make it to TK's shoulder and put his face right up to TK's ear.

"Please, just this once." Patamon whispered, barely loud enough for TK to hear even with the Digimon right in his ear. "I promised Gatomon I'd try to eat things she liked, so we can share a meal sometime. Anchovy pizza's about the only thing we both go for so far." Well that explained it, the request and the whispering, he didn't want Gatomon to hear his intentions. The two Digimon were as much in love as TK and Kari were, and were actually a couple months before their human partners. It didn't come as a surprise to TK that his Digimon friend was still trying to impress Gatomon.

"...Just be careful when you digivolve this time." TK said with a smile, giving Patamon permission. Patamon smiled back and took to the air again, this time landing back onto the top of the sofa to rejoin Gatomon, who couldn't help but wonder what he said to get TK to change his mind.

TK turned his attention back to the hallway just in time to see Kari reemerge from it, her footsteps unheard this time passed Patamon's request. She was looking down at her D-Terminal as she approached them, her expression more confused now, but also some regret. TK could already tell whatever e-mail she had gotten just canceled their date.

"I'm not sure you guys are going to believe this." She said, glancing up at TK and their Digimon, now turning their attention to her. "The e-mail is from the Digital World, but it's not from anyone we know. The D-Terminal can't even tell how it got the message." That part confused TK as much as it did Kari. Nobody in the Digital World was supposed to have a way to contact them unless it was someone who knew them, like Gennai or Azulongmon.

"What did the e-mail say?" TK asked. Kari held out the open device to the teenage boy, who took it in his own hands, turning it around to read what was on the screen. "To the Digidestined. I wish to meet you to discuss matters of great importance. The safety of the Digital World may be at great risk. Coordinates included." TK skipped reading the digits that made the coordinates and looked back up at Kari, then to the two Digimon, now as confused as the two humans.

"Guess they're not picky about which Digidestined they get..." Gatomon commented, noticing no names were given in the message. TK glanced back at the message, now seeing she was right in that they didn't seem to know which Digidestined they were contacting.

"It's probably a trap, isn't it?" Patamon said. That had occurred to the others, but it did sound sincere and none of them could think of how any evil being, Digimon or otherwise, could find out how to contact them since only their friends knew how.

"But if it's not, we'll be ignoring something that could be serious." Kari reminded them. "Trap or not, I don't think we can ignore this." That was Kari, everyone before herself, and in this case her sentiment was shared.

"Right, if it's a trap we can deal with it when we get there." TK decided. The others quickly nodded their agreement. Their decision set, Patamon and Gatomon hopped off the couch and down to the floor, bounding off to Kari's room and her computer that held the gateway to the Digital World. TK began to follow the two, then stopped after only a few steps and looked back, realizing Kari hadn't followed after him.

"...Sorry, guess our date's off." Kari said regretfully. She wasn't sure why she was apologizing, she knew she wasn't at fault, never the less the words had to be said.

"You make it sound like it's your fault the Digital World's in trouble." TK joked. "Don't worry about it, with any luck this will be a quick job and we can get home in time to do something." Kari's smile returned as he said that, the same smile TK had seen a thousand times, but it made him feel fine about their plans falling out. He turned to follow after the Digimon again, this time Kari came quickly behind him.

The group arrived back in the all-too familiar surroundings of the Digital World's vast plains. Thought TK and Kari had spent enough time here to call it a second home, it always felt alien to them. The colors were a bit more vivid than their world, the sounds were smoother without any roughness, and somehow the air didn't smell real, as if it wasn't even there. It was just after noon in the real world, thus here it was the same time, the digital sun beaming brightly overhead, illuminating the vast greenery of the plains and revealing the various colors of flowers peeking through the foot-tall grass. TK glanced around for whomever contacted them and told them to come to this point, but it was just the four of them, standing in front of the monitor that had brought them there from the real world.

"I don't suppose the e-mail mentioned a time of some sort?" Patamon asked. TK shook his head in response, recalling the message in his head just in case it had. No, he was sure it just said where to come to meet this mysterious helper.

"All we can do is wait, I guess." Kari replied, still glancing around herself. "They should be here eventually." Should wasn't the most comforting word. Their concern was that this was a trap and the longer they waited the lower their defenses would be. Still Kari was right, it was their only option.

The wait didn't take as long as they had feared. It had barely been ten minutes when they realized they weren't alone any longer. A few yards away, amidst the tall blades of grass, a small round shadow appeared on the ground, expanding outward. It soon stopped growing, and a moment later a Digimon started to rise out of it. First came his head, mostly bald save for a black ponytail that sprouted from the back of his skull. It was covered with small purple scales, some cracked, showing their fragility, and featured no noticeable ears. He sported two horns at the top of his forehead, his right curved in the middle, then curved again the opposite way just before the point. His left looked cut off at the base and was partially covered by the strap of a thick studded leather eye patch that covered his right eye. The rest of him as it emerged was covered in a long black trench coat, high in the shoulders with two leather straps fastened around each bicep of the sleeves. Though it was closed tight it was hard to tell how it was kept that way. The last of him emerged where the bottom of his coat was flared around like tendrils, moving as if it was alive. They also noticed this Digimon had no feet on the ground, he must be floating. The shadow closed again as the Digimon finished his entrance, standing at least seven feet tall, lightly smiling down at them, a fang tooth hanging from the left side of his lips.

"I hadn't expected the most distinguished of the Digidestined to answer my request..." He said. His voice sounded haggard, somewhat weak, but rung with intelligence as well. The Digidestined and their Digimon watched on cautiously, all realizing they had had less wicked looking Digimon as enemies before.

"So... you were the one that sent the e-mail?" Patamon asked, confusion obvious in his voice. The tall Digimon glanced down at the orange hamster, as if wondering if he really asked about what he had just confirmed. Still, it wasn't an angered look, more or less one of puzzlement.

"I imagine I wasn't the type of Digimon you anticipated meeting..." He said, returning his gaze to the whole group. "Yes, it was I. Your friend Leomon informed me on how to use these monitor devices to contact you." It was hard to tell if he was honest or not, his gaze gave nothing away. The fact that he had only one eye wasn't helping the matter.

"So how are we supposed to know you're telling the truth?" Kari asked. "How do we know this isn't a trap?" TK jumped slightly, turning to look at Kari, surprised she would tip off their suspicions so readily. Still, this Digimon hadn't shown any signs that it was a trap, maybe Kari was trying to draw it out.

"My dear child, I assure you, I pose no threat to you." The Digimon said calmly. Though he sounded sincere, and his expression gave no signs of mistrust, the group of Digidestined failed to be convinced.

"Sorry, but we've seen a lot of nasty Digimon that shared your... 'features'." Gatomon said. "It's just not an appearance that inspires trust." The coated Digimon closed his good eye and sighed, appearing disheartened.

"Not every virus Digimon is so loathsome..." He breathed, now reaching up with his right arm, grabbing hold of the loose inside edge of his coat. "If I must be more descript, very well..." With that he tugged at the coat, breaking whatever devices held it closed. The coat pulled away from around his body, flapping with the motion of the hard pull, until it was free enough to toss to the side, letting it drift onto the ground.

The sight of the Digimon without the trench coat was disturbing to say the least, even worse for Patamon and Gatomon, both cringing quickly. It was all TK and Kari could do to not look away. The purple Digimon stood there with literally half a body. Aside from his head missing a horn, an eye, and a fang, his left arm was gone below the elbow, as well as his left leg below the knee, making him need to levitate to make up for the missing appendage. Another short limb that seemed to be on his lower back wavered around into view, apparently a missing tail. Behind his shoulders were also smaller appendages that looked like where wings would go. His body was covered in dry, brittle scales, cracking and breaking off around his major joints from the sudden motion used to remove the coat. What parts this Digimon did have were in odd proportion, his leg and torso were scrawny, barely muscular. His good arm was the same until the elbow where it gave way to a large forearm with blade-like fins and a four-fingered hand, thin and clawed. From all these removed appendages, besides his horn and fang, digital bits seemed to trickle like human blood would, in slow, endless streams that faded out as they went too far from his body.

"As I said." He finally continued. "If my intentions were in any way malicious, I could hardly do much to defend any retaliation you may have. This is why I needed your assistance, I am in poor condition to do much myself." TK and Kari recovered from the initial shock of the Digimon's appearance, now glancing back at him, though the adjustment was much greater for Patamon and Gatomon to make.

"Okay, if you are serious..." TK began, finally breaking his silence. "Why so secretive? We don't even know your name." The Digimon's glance focused on TK now, shaking his head to dismiss the question.

"You mistake my intentions." He said. "It is not secretive, but urgency. My delay in coming here was caused by what I brought you here for. To the north is a settlement of Koromon and Agumon who are about to be invaded by a rather odd Digimon I could not identify. I tried to stop it but was only injured in my attempt." TK and Patamon remembered the Koromon village from their original trip, it was around here, at least that was true. It was also what they were afraid of, an immediate danger they couldn't ignore, trap or not.

"...If it's so urgent, we'll check it out." TK said sternly. "When we're done I want more out of you than an e-mail, though." The Digimon nodded and stepped back, giving them room to leave for the village. TK and Kari gave each other a quick glance, a check to see if they were on the same page. Confident they were, they did the same with Patamon and Gatomon, both looking ready. The two human teens removed their Digivices from the sides of their belts and brought them forward, pressing a button on the corner of them with their thumb. A stylized egg appeared on both Digivices, casting an ancient light that soon also appeared around Patamon and Gatomon.

"Patamon Armor-Digivolve to..." The familiar words echoed slightly as Patamon felt the influence of the Digiegg of Hope take over. His body grew, his limbs stretched and became muscular, and thick plates of armor formed around his lower legs, chest, and head.

"Gatomon Armor-Digivolve to..." Gatomon's own digivolution was much the same, except using the Digiegg of Light. Her body stretched out and she fell to all fours as her gloves and paws became heavy, now looking closer to gauntlets. The same armor formed around her chest and head, all Egyptian in design.

"Pegasusmon, flying hope!" Patamon's evolution ended with the emergence of two powerful feathered wings from his back and a change of voice, now sounding almost like he did as Angemon.

"Nefertimon, the wings of light!" Such wings also appeared for Gatomon, the same as Pegasusmon's, and she also sounded different, a deeper version of her voice as Angewomon. Despite having armor digivolved so often the forms never failed to seem alien to the two Digimon, their forms were just bigger versions of their main forms but with a lot of armor.

TK and Kari wasted little time and took hold of the armor on their partner's backs, pulling up to ride on them. Once they were sure TK and Kari had a good grip, Pegasusmon and Nefertimon turned to the north and charged ahead, getting up some speed before taking to the air, letting their wings take over as they caught the air.

"Keep safe, my friends!" The mysterious Digimon called after. He kept watching until their northward flight took them out of view, then exited himself, fading into a large wisp of smoke that faded away into the air. There was nothing left for him to do but wait and see what unfolded, to see if going to this trouble was worth it...

Ten minutes of flight had yet to bring them to the Koromon village. It had been a long time since TK had been there, but even then it seemed like it should have been closer than this. Maybe the big reformatting after Apocalymon had changed more than he thought. Regardless, the longer the flight went, the more all four of them started to doubt their new assistant.

"Pegasusmon, do you know how much farther it is?" TK asked, hoping his partner's memory was better than his own. Unfortunately it wasn't, though that was from the change in landmarks and the fact he never saw this area from the air before.

"No, I don't recognize the area from here..." Pegasusmon admitted. "It shouldn't be much farther if it took our informant this long to make it to us from there." TK had forgotten that part, he wasn't sure how fast their informer was but they should still be about in the same range.

"Look, to the west!" Nefertimon shouted, drawing the others to look that way. Off in the distance near a thick digital forest, a few small plumes of smoke could be seen rising into the air. With nothing but plains and forest in every other direction, it made their search simple.

"Seems he might have told the truth after all..." TK said under his breath. "Be careful, we don't know what's causing this." With that Pegasusmon and Nefertimon turned and flew toward the thickening smoke, their pace faster than before.

A few short minutes brought them to the edge of the small settlement where the two Digimon landed, literally hitting the ground running toward the center of the town where the smoke was coming from. The small town was made of stone, dome-shaped structures, each big enough for several Koromon, the homes divided by dirt paths suited for even large Digimon. Closer to the center of town the buildings were taller, just big enough to keep from seeing passed, though the dome shape gave way to more typical square structures. TK and Kari looked around as their Digimon galloped along through the dirt roads of the village, both noticing that this was the Koromon village, but not a Koromon was in sight. Perhaps they were hiding in the buildings, but at least a few should be in the streets trying to get away.

As they went further in, they started to see where the smoke came from as many of the buildings were slightly damaged, becoming more ruined as they went on. Pegasusmon and Nefertimon turned a corner around a group of taller structures and again to take them into the town's square. There, in the center of town, at least a dozen Koromon, as well as a few Agumon, were doing whatever they could to put up a defense on their attacker, a Digitamamon. This one, however, was strange, almost mutated in appearance. He looked normal enough, but his shell was covered in slightly-curved spikes of varied size, the biggest of which were giving off small charges of raw, black energy, almost like electricity. Though they were in a rush, TK and Kari couldn't help but be impressed by the Koromon and Agumon's courage against their attacker.

Without warning the charges suddenly grew into bolts of the dark energy, firing into the ground below Digitamamon and then outward, scorching the ground as it went in wild, unpredictable paths. The bolts connected with a couple of the Koromon and one of the Agumon, easily deleting them into fading digital particles, before crashing into the surrounding buildings. The bolts ceased, leaving large gashes in the stone buildings and spreading the fires in them that caused all the smoke that still rose from the town.

"Digitamamon, stop!" TK yelled, trying to draw the Digimon's attention to get it to stop. The egg-shaped Digimon spun around, startled, an angry glare in his eyes. Suddenly, though, the eyes inside the gap in Digitamamon's shell widened. It was like it was scared of something suddenly despite obviously being able to defend itself well.

"No... No, keep away!" He yelled, turning back around, now charging down the main street of the town away from them. The Digidestined glanced around, checking to see if the Digimon around them were alright, then darted after Digitamamon, who already had a good lead on them.

The frightened Digimon was erratic in his movements and kept darting down side roads and alleyways, giving Pegasusmon and Nefertimon a challenge just to keep up with him. With every turn he took too close to a building, his spikes would leave gashes in the stone walls of them, showing their strength, but also that he wasn't accustomed to them, but how a Digitamamon could suddenly grow spikes without digivolving eluded them. They came to the east side of the town, the side closest to the forest, when Digitamamon took a turn that stuck him in a dead end, blocked off by the taller dome structures. Nefertimon reached him first, with Pegasusmon close behind.

"We don't want to hurt you, just tell us what happened to you." The sphinx Digimon said in a gentle voice, trying her best to reassure Digitamamon. The calming words fell upon deaf ears as the angry glare returned to the Digimon's eyes.

"No, you're trying to trick me!" It shouted. "It won't work! I won't let you take me back, I won't return to Necromon!!" Before they could react the black charges returned to Digitamamon's spikes, quickly lashing out at the buildings surrounding him. At such close range the buildings crumbled under the immense attack, including the one between the town and the forest, which the egg-shaped Digimon took advantage of. He darted out over the demolished building and toward the trees leading into the woods, with the two Armor Digimon close behind, stopping briefly in the clearing between the town and woods.

"Necromon...?" Kari said, not recognizing that Digimon. She turned to look at TK and Pegasusmon, but both returned her look with the same she now had, confusion. "Let's catch up to him before he does anymore damage." The boys nodded, ignoring this Necromon mystery for now, then charged after Digitamamon, with Kari and Nefertimon right beside them. Whatever had happened to Digitamamon it was making him as fast as it had powerful, the two winged Digimon had to give everything they had just to fly fast enough to keep pace.

A good distance away, just close enough to watch, a teenage boy gazed on from the low branch of a tree just thick enough to hide his presence and shade his details, the only one visible was a Japanese sword dangling from his side. Beside him on the branch was a lizard Digimon with a sail-like flame from the top of his back to his tail, highest over his head, while a second was perched on the boy's right shoulder, this one a bird similar in proportions to a Biyomon, but slightly smaller and male with a long, slender tail.

"Why are we still watching?" The lizard asked, his rough voice dripping with impatience. "They'll screw it up if we let them handle it!" The boy didn't move or respond, still watching the group of Digidestined, just now running out of sight.

"I hate to agree with Chameleamon, but I do." The bird added, a youthful but wise tone to his voice. "They clearly don't know what they're dealing with." This time the boy shook his head, shooting down both of their pleas.

"No, we wait." He said, monotone. "I want to see if they figure it out on their own." With that the teenager knelt down, grabbing onto the branch he stood on to swing down to the ground. Still under the cover of the thick foliage, he began to give chase, the two Digimon giving chase, the lizard by ground, the bird by air.

The chase continued for quite some time as the sun was starting to go down, an hour away from turning orange and beginning the digital sunset. TK and Kari, still riding their Armor-Digivolved partners, were now amongst the numerous scattered trees and shrubs of one of the Digital World's many thin forests, struggling to keep pace with Digitamamon. Whatever had happened to the egg-shaped Digimon it was making him much faster than he should be with his stubbly legs. His spiky form was still ahead of them, just as fast as Pegasusmon and Nefertimon were at full speed.

They caught a break as the woods started to thicken into a forest, the extra dodging forcing Digitamamon to slow down a bit. Pegasusmon and Nefertimon moved up in their flight, over the trees where dodging them was no longer an issue, continuing the chase there. Above the trees the group of Digidestined could see where Digitamamon would end up soon, the trees thickened until they reached the side of a large cliff emerging from the ground, too high for Digitamamon to get over. There was a half-circle clearing against the large stone hill, right in the spot Digitamamon was running for and the chase became as easy as waiting for him to reach it. Kari pointed Nefertimon down into the forest behind Digitamamon, where she flew down to resume the chase on the ground. TK understood and kept Pegasusmon just above the trees near the gap, waiting for his cue.

It eventually happened, the egg-shaped Digimon emerged from the thinnest part of the thick forest and into the clearing, with Nefertimon quickly behind him. He tried turning around and heading back, only to meet the sphinx Digimon face to face. Digitamamon turned and headed for another side of the three-sided clearing, trying to retreat to the forest. This was the cue, TK and Pegasusmon swooped down and quickly landed between the Digimon and the trees, preventing his escape. The egg Digimon turned and headed for the third side, the last unprotected one, only to have Nefertimon dart from her side to intercept his path again. Growing frustrated, Digitamamon headed for the path Nefertimon just left open, this time intercepted by a quicker Pegasusmon.

"Stop running, we're trying to help you!" TK finally shouted to the Digimon. He glared through the gap in his eggshell, slowly backing away from TK. He recognized the look from the first time they dealt with Digitamamon. By nature he tried deception and escape before anything else, but now he was cornered, he was going to attack.

"No! I won't go back, I refuse to go back!" He screamed, his acquired talons beginning to glow with a dark aura. Without warning they suddenly lashed out with the same dark bolts of wild energy that did so much damage to the Koromon village. The bolt ripped along the ground before lashing up toward Pegasusmon, barely giving him time to dodge the blast. It streaked passed him and into the dense trees, an explosion heard from somewhere deeper in from the inevitable impact.

"TK, Kari, get off, leave this to us." Nefertimon said quickly. TK and Kari did as instructed and dismounted, freeing both Digimon to take to the air to become more aggressive. The two Digidestined hated this part, they felt helpless standing aside for cover while their partners did the fighting.

Digitamamon's horns still crackled with the raw black energy, it almost looked eager to lash out and strike. The next bolt tore across the ground briefly before turning up and taking aim at Nefertimon.

"Rosetta Stone!" A column of pink light came from Nefertimon's back and quickly launched a tombstone-shaped rock forward. The stone projectile struck the black energy with a powerful blast, canceling both attacks out and leaving just a quickly fading dust cloud. Digitamamon turned his attention back to Pegasusmon, the black energy still crackling between his spikes.

"You don't get it, I don't want to go back, I can't go back!" He screamed again, sounding more desperate than before. Without warning a black mass lunged forth from the gap in his shell, complete with eyes, mouth, and claws. That was Nightmare Syndrome, his best attack, but it came without warning and now was lunging at Pegasusmon.

"Equus Beam!" The triangle-shaped crest on Pegasusmon's helmet suddenly shot forth a bright green beam into the blackness approaching him, barely in time before it would have reached him. The blackness dissolved away as the beam continued to fire, slowly tearing through the mass until it reached Digitamamon, knocking him backwards a few yards toward the stone wall behind him. What black mass remained slithered back into it's shell, his eye's reappearing, showing how dazed he was from the attack.

Nefertimon wasted little time and darted around to Digitamamon's front, lunging head-on into him, her massive front paws forward. The drop kick hit with enough force to throw Digitamamon backwards into the stone, his spikes piercing into the rock face. His eyes now dazed even further, Digitamamon kicked forward to pull away from the wall, only to find he couldn't. He regained his senses as a sense of dread sunk in, his kicking becoming more frantic, but ultimately not helping him.

"Pegasusmon!" TK shouted upwards. "Aim for his spikes, see if you can get rid of them with a Star Shower!" He didn't like ordering Patamon around in any of his forms but at this rate Digitamamon would get deleted before he got helped. Pegasusmon swooped down closer, taking careful aim.

"Star Shower!" With one strong flap Pegasusmon dropped a small rain of star-shaped energy blasts down onto Digitamamon, each connecting with one of the strange spikes sticking out of his shell, making them burst into black pixels. The success lasted a mere moment as the pixels stopped in midair, then slowly returned, all of them reforming the same spikes they made up before.

"...What was that?" Kari asked, not expecting an answer. She and TK stepped closer, feeling it was safe with Digitamamon trapped, just now getting a good look at the spikes that just reformed after getting destroyed. Up close, they didn't even look like spikes, more like the talons you'd see on a dinosaur. Nefertimon and Pegasusmon landed behind their human partners, Nefertimon now in front of Digitamamon.

"Cat's Eye Beam!" The ornament on Nefertimon's helmet began glowing red before two narrow beams fired forth from it's eyes. The sphinx Digimon was careful with the shot, tracking them over the spikes, destroying them one by one, only to have them regenerate the same way. Nefertimon kept it up for a good minute, destroying the same spikes three or four times with the same results.

"What kind of digital data can reform itself so easily?" TK asked, another question with no answer any of them could figure out. Nefertimon and Pegasusmon took on a gold glow as both of them reverted to Patamon and Gatomon, both exhausted from not only the fight, but such a long chase as well.

"Please, just let me go..." Digitamamon begged. "I'll do anything, just don't send me back to Necromon..." There was that name again, whoever Necromon was, Digitamamon was horrified of him. Maybe that's who did this to him? Then why would he be so paranoid of anyone coming to bring him back to him?

"Okay, amateurs!" A voice called from the trees, drawing the attention away from Digitamamon. "You've played around enough, leave him to me." The owner of the voice emerged from the trees, and to the surprise of the Digidestined, it was a human. A male teenager, specifically, no older than TK, with blue eyes and short brown hair that was up in short, messy spikes. He was dressed in a red and black jacket, unzipped with a dark grey shirt underneath. Below the waist he wore plain blue jeans and black belt and sneakers, the only notable thing being the old-styled Digivice on his right side and the Japanese katana hanging from his left. The whole outfit looked slightly tattered, like it was all he had worn for years. On the ground to his sides were two Digimon. To his left was a red-scaled male lizard, with a sail of flames from his head to where his tail began, wearing a slightly mean expression on his face. On his right was a male bird Digimon, in the same proportions as a Biyomon or Hawkmon, with yellow feathers with red tips. Most notable, however, was what looked like a lion's tail where his tail feathers should be.

"And who are you?" Kari asked, the question being inevitable. "And since you sound like you know, what's happened to this Digitamamon?" He seemed to ignore the question for now and stepped closer, both Digimon to his sides following after. His stare was focused on Digitamamon, still stuck to the rock face by his own spikes, though none of them could tell what the stare was for.

"He's possessed, that's what happened to him." The boy answered, ignoring the first part of her question. "I'm just here to wipe out the infection." TK didn't like the tone of this newcomer's voice, something about it seemed off. Still, it sounded calm, whatever was wrong with Digitamamon he wasn't worried about it.

"Possessed?" Patamon asked, now looking back at Digitamamon. "So all this time it's been those spikes doing the talking?" The boy stopped to glance at the hamster Digimon briefly, then continued walking, stepping through the group unabated.

"I guess you could say that, yeah..." He responded. The boy's progress stopped when he was just a few feet from Digitamamon, who was now glaring back at him, the fear in his eyes growing again.

"No, get away!" Digitamamon screamed, now a frightened tone to his voice. "You're not taking me back to Necromon!!" The boy's stare became a glare. His right hand reached over to the handle of his sword, gripping it tightly.

"You're right, I'm not." He replied coldly. In one motion no slower than a blink his sword was drawn and pulled back. Before any of them could stop it the blade lunged forth and into the mass of black between Digitamamon's eyes, a sudden scream erupting from the gap in his shell. The Digimon's form started to distort, like the image on a buggy television screen, then burst into digital bits. These, however, fell downward and sunk into the ground, with the only particles rising into the air was a small group of black pixels that were the spikes that quickly faded from sight.

There was a chilling silence in the air as the last of the pixels that was Digitamamon sank downward and vanished. What had he just done? When a Digimon was destroyed their bits went upward, back to Primary Village to be reborn. The same thought passed all their minds but it was dismissed, a Digimon wasn't supposed to be able to die, nor was a Digidestined supposed to be able to kill.

"...Okay, cut the mystery man routine." TK finally said. "I want to know who you are and what you just did, now." There was a stern tone to TK's voice that Kari wasn't sure she ever heard from him before. A quiet moment passed, the boy not answering, TK not pushing for him to speak, both waiting to see who would give first.

"...The name is Alex Ryuujin." The boy finally said. He turned his head just enough to cast a glare at the two Digidestined as he replaced his sword into it's sheath, a quiet sound of the two pieces of metal gliding against each other penetrating the air as he did. "As for what I did... It's called deletion. Don't tell me you never heard of it..." Kari was still watching on speechless, more surprised by the cold tone to this boy's voice than the action.

"That wasn't any kind of deletion I know of..." TK said, anger now present in his voice along with the confusion. "A Digimon's bits are supposed to fly up and return to Primary Village, not fall and sink into the ground." Alex's glare sharpened slightly. He drew the sword again, but only part of the way, enough to show the two-tone piece of metal that made the blade.

"See that dark strip?" He asked sharply. "Ferrite-boron super-magnet. Anything digital cut by this doesn't come back. It's the only way to kill the infection." The group of Digidestined were left speechless. It was true, this supposed Digidestined had just killed a Digimon. While the act left TK and Kari shocked, their Digimon partners were as angry as they were horrified.

"...That's supposed to justify murder?!" Gatomon screamed, not as shy as the others to let her fury out. "Digitamamon was possessed, he was innocent!" Alex's glare turned to the feline Digimon. The hand holding his sword's handle tensed up, as if considering lashing out at Gatomon with it. Before he could finish thinking about it, the bird Digimon accompanying him flew around and in front of Alex, stopping him.

"Alex, that's enough!" It chirped in it's young voice. "They don't understand yet, let's just go..." Alex stared on at the Digimon, his glare fading somewhat. After a tense moment the sword returned completely to it's sheath with a metallic click.

"Fine, Aeromon..." He said, reaching out and taking Aeromon out of the air and into his arms. His attention returned to TK and Kari, his glare briefly returning. "Just stay out of my way, this is my battle... I won't be so friendly if we meet this way again." With that he turned away from them, Aeromon still in his arms, and walked off back into the thinned path through the thick forest. Chameleamon scampered after him, latching onto his moving leg and quickly up to his shoulder just before the three disappeared in the thick foliage, leaving the four remaining Digidestined in a shock of disbelief.

Elsewhere, the black particles from Necromon's destroyed pieces floated through the air, like a small swarm of gnats drawn to the same spot. Now quite some distance away from where it's host was destroyed, it's goal was a plateau where a humanoid Digimon hovered, watching the progress of the particles as they approached. Once only a few yards away, the particles started to remerge, forming a black mass of digital data that landed just in front of the Digimon. The blob of energy flattened out and slid across the rock, disappearing under the outfit of the Digimon. After a moment he smiled slightly as he ceased his floating, setting his right foot back onto the ground, followed by his left, flexing it's toes a bit, the talons on each toe scratching into the stone beneath them.

There was a shocked silence still in the air as the Digidestined returned toward the monitor to return home. The sun was setting in the Digital World, casting an orange light across the plains that set an eerie mood to end this day on. The group was just coming to terms with what they just encountered, a Digidestined willing to kill with little or no remorse, it wasn't supposed to be possible. If his actions weren't mystery enough, they also didn't know how he could have two different Digimon partners, nothing about him made sense as a Digidestined.

"So not only do we have something putting these evil parts into Digimon, we have a Digidestined acting like the next Digimon Emperor." Patamon said, his quick analysis finally breaking the silence. That was the impression the others had gotten at first, their original look at an evil Digidestined gave them Ken.

"No, he's different..." Kari replied. "He doesn't think what he's doing is evil, that's just how we look at it... His version of doing good is just... twisted." She had to fight the urge to use anything better descriptive than that, something the others picked up on. It wasn't in Kari to think of someone, a Digidestined especially, as sadistic or bloodthirsty. It crossed her mind, though, as much as it had crossed everyone else's.

"Evil or not, what he's doing is too cruel to ignore..." TK said, again saying what everyone thought. "Maybe we can look him up in the real world, we might be able to find out about him there." The first unshared thought was a good one, they couldn't track him down or risk waiting for him to appear again, but maybe in the real world he would be a little easier to manage. How hard could it be to find someone who owned a magnetic sword?

The group found themselves back at the small monitor that had dropped them off in the Digital World earlier that day. With their plan set, they wanted to return to their world quickly, TK and Kari already pulling their D-3s free to activate the monitor. Just a few yards away, concealed by the foot-high grass of the plains, a black mass of energy watched on, as if some instinctive curiosity wanted it to watch the group... TK and Kari held their Digivices out to the monitor, the screen casting light on them as it activated. The energy mass lurched a little closer, watching as the light engulfed them, then absorbed them into the monitor. It's opportunity becoming lost, the energy suddenly darted out with an amazing amount of speed, landing on the ground in front of the monitor and ricocheting into the gateway of the monitor's screen an instant before it closed.

For this energy mass, crossing the void between real and Digital Worlds was horrifying, all it could see were streams of data passing faster than it could keep up with and, as pure energy data, it could feel itself losing strength the closer it came to the other side. Ahead of it, in the limited vision it had, all it could see in the tunnel with it was four masses of data, being reconfigured into some other form... It had to pick now to survive the transfer... The cat should do. It choose it's target and sprung forward, colliding with one of the masses of data.

TK reemerged in Kari's room, a bit dazed from the transfer. It had been a while since he took one of those trips, he wasn't used to them anymore. He had a few calls to make now, maybe Izzy or Ken would be able to research this Alex character faster than-

Something broke his train of thought. From the corner of his eye he suddenly saw Kari drop to her knees, doubling over with her arms around her midsection, a groaning sound coming from her throat like she was resisting a scream. TK immediately dropped to his knees to her side, checking her. From the outside nothing looked wrong, he wasn't sure what was wrong with her... She let out a scream finally, short but pained, snapping TK out of his fear-induced daze.

"Gatomon, call an ambulance!" TK shouted, not even knowing if Gatomon had come through the gate yet. It was all he could think of, he couldn't leave Kari and Patamon couldn't use the phone as easily. From behind him Gatomon darted around them, heading into the kitchen at full pace to get to the phone there.

"Wait." Kari suddenly said, the pain in her voice noticeable but subsiding. Gatomon stopped just inside the door of Kari's room, turning back to look. "It's okay, it's going away..." Patamon stepped around TK now, glancing at Kari as he moved over to her other side to see better.

"Are you sure?" TK asked, now allowing himself to relax until he was sure. Kari nodded, opening her eyes and looking down to her midsection. No injury, and the pain was already faded, she didn't know what happened...

"Yes, I'm fine..." She said, her eyes still pointed to the floor. "It was so painful, like I was stabbed... then suddenly it stopped and it all passed... Now I feel like nothing happened." Her head turned slightly, her eyes meeting Patamon. The orange Digimon suddenly gasped, now confusing Kari.

"...Kari, I'm not so sure you're fine..." Patamon said, still looking at her oddly. Puzzled, Kari sat up, first glancing at Gatomon, and then to TK, both of which had the same reaction. She was starting to get scared, what was wrong with on, what is it?" Kari pleaded. None of them were sure of what to say, how do they explain it believably? Gatomon reacted first, bounding up to Kari's vanity mirror and retrieving a small hand mirror sitting on it's tabletop. She hopped down and stepped toward Kari, somewhat hesitantly, holding out the handle end of the mirror, face down. Still confused, and growing increasingly worried, Kari took hold of the handle and turned the mirror over as she brought it to her face, glancing at her reflection. There, staring back at her, were her eyes... Her deep, vivid, purple eyes...

End Chapter 1

Next: Chapter 2 - Everliving