Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

A/N: I'm finally back with a new chapter! I know it's an extremely short one, but this is the last group of people/digimon who are involved in what's going on in the story and we need to get them caught up with the rest. After this we'll be getting into the actual heart of going for the newest Spirit Chip. Happy New Year everyone!

Following the Footsteps of Destiny

Chapter 233: Before the Light of Dawn


Sever, Eastern Hemisphere, Digital World

Vampiramon paced angrily across the forest floor, and glaring at Jestermon, who was sprawled out on his back juggling his orbs, she was unable to resist the edge in her tone as she questioned him. "Where did he go?"

Jestermon didn't even bother to look at her. Instead he merely continued to juggle and said in a bored voice, "For the fifty-seventh time, I don't know."

"He didn't say where he was going?"

"No," BlackWidowmon interrupted, sounding impatient. "He muttered something about the darkness, and then he just up and left while you went to check on Spritemon. Unnecessarily, I might add."

"I told you not to go," Jestermon pointed out, cheerfully backing up BlackWidowmon's admonishment. "Angel boy did say to wait until Spritemon came for us. She isn't going anywhere until the Digidestined leave Modem."

"Spritemon might whine a lot, but she's not the type to disobey orders, even from DarkAngelicmon," BlackWidowmon said smoothly, her husky voice strong and clear in the darkness. "I don't blame you for not trusting her to screw up, but you really shouldn't have left. It was the opportunity DarkAngelicmon was waiting for. That's why he didn't protest when you insisted someone should be checking on Spritemon."

Vampiramon glared at her fellow megas, a scowl on her face. "Why didn't you fools stop him?"

"And how exactly where we supposed to that?" Jestermon smirked, sitting up and giving her a look. "Angel boy just up and flew off without any kind of warning whatsoever. In case you've forgotten, neither the fool or BlackWidowmon have wings. It's not like we could have followed him even if we'd wanted to."

Curse you, DarkAngelicmon!

Vampiramon stamped her foot in frustration, and turning her back on the other two digimon she glared off into the trees, a look of murderous rage on her face. She should have known he would try something as soon as she was out of the picture, not that she would ever admit such a thing to Jestermon or BlackWidowmon. It was just like him to spite her at the first available opportunity, and needless to say she was not impressed.

This must be what he meant when he told us that we had to stick to the plan of following the Digidestined 'regardless of what happens between now and then.'

Why had she not understood his words sooner?

Angry with herself, Vampiramon crossed her arms over her chest and said shortly, "He's definitely planning something. If that idiot messes up our chance to steal the Spirit Chip I'm going to send him back to the Ruler of Darkness in pieces!"

BlackWidowmon, who was sitting elegantly on the forest floor next to Jestermon, exchanged a look with the fool before saying slowly, "I have no doubt this was DarkAngelicmon's plan all along. I see that now upon reflection of the little speech he gave us earlier."

"Angel boy has always been a bit secretive," Jestermon added.

A little too secretive if you ask me.

Vampiramon frowned at her own disturbing thoughts, and glaring at the other two she was unable to resist the sudden edge to her tone. "So he said nothing about where he was going?"

"We told you already," BlackWidowmon snapped in return, growing impatient. "He said nothing of where he was going or what he was intending to do once he got there. For the longest time all he did was stare off into the trees, and then all of a sudden he said something to himself about the darkness. After that he just up and left without so much as glancing at us. He gave us no warning whatsoever."

"Whatever he's up to your guess is as good as ours," Jestermon cackled.

The fool seemed to be enjoying her humiliation just a little too much for her liking, and giving him a swift kick to the kneecaps, she snapped, "What exactly did he say about the darkness?"

It was BlackWidowmon who decided to answer, and judging by the subdued tone of her voice she was hesitant to speak. "He said something about the darkness having arrived, and then he said something about all of us being at its mercy."

"What in the Digital World is that supposed to mean?"

"No idea," Jestermon sang out, gingerly rubbing both of his injured kneecaps. "Everything is a guessing game with angel boy."

Vampiramon glared at him, her crimson eyes blazing in the darkness. "You think this is funny?"

"What?" Jestermon smirked, the bells on his hat dancing in the night air. "You don't want to play the game?"

Vampiramon hit him again, this time in the head, and once more turning her back on the two megas she resumed her pacing across the forest floor, her black and crimson skirts fluttering around her ankles.

DarkAngelicmon. When I find out what you've done...

A sudden rustle in the trees caught her attention, and turning towards the sound she was startled to see Spritemon entering the clearing, Ivymon and the group of Vilemon following behind.

"Well, well, looks like things just got interesting," Jestermon cackled, leaping to his feet in anticipation of what was to come.

For a moment Vampiramon merely stared at Spritemon, and growing indignant, she snapped, "What are you doing here? You're supposed to be watching the town!"

"No need to anymore," Spritemon replied, a scowl on her face. "The Digidestined have already left Modem. They're on the move, and it looks like they're heading straight towards the Spirit Chip even as we speak."

"This early in the morning?" BlackWidowmon asked, sounding confused.

"Trust me, I'm just as surprised as you are," Spritemon snorted, waving her hands for emphasis. "We were doing routine checks on the town every so often during the night to make sure things were still in order, and on her last round Ivymon spotted Leomon and the Digidestined leaving on Dragermon. They were heading east, which is in the direction of the Spirit Chip. At least, that's what I overheard when they were talking about it being a half day's walk from Modem, back on the first day after the Digidestined entered the swamp."

Vampiramon frowned at this, unsure of what to make of the situation. "If they were using Dragermon then that means they're not even trying to be secretive about where they're going or what they're doing. They're practically telling us their plans and intentions. Making use of Dragermon means they need to be somewhere quickly, and that somewhere is apparently the Spirit Chip."

"So the question remains...Why are they suddenly in such a hurry to reach the Spirit Chip?" Jestermon murmured to himself, a thoughtful look on his wrinkled green face.

Spritemon turned to Ivymon, and nudging the other female digimon, she said, "Tell them what else you observed."

"There's more?" BlackWidowmon demanded.

Ivymon nodded, her gaze expressionless. "As I watched them board Dragermon I noticed a discrepancy. All of the Digidestined and their digimon partners were accounted for, except for the Emperor's son."

"The little Emperor was missing?" Jestermon asked, looking surprised.

"Yes, my lord. He was the only one not accounted for. Even Leomon and the little Emperor's digimon partner were present, but not the little Emperor himself."

"Where in the Digiworld could he have gone?" BlackWidowmon wondered, also getting to her feet. "I can't see him remaining behind back at Jijimon's hut, especially since it's his Spirit Chip the Digidestined are after."

Where indeed? Could the Emperor's son's whereabouts have something to do with DarkAngelicmon's sudden disappearance? And if so, what does that entail?

"I do not understand," Vampiramon said coldly, trying to make sense of Ivymon's words. "Everything was in order when I stopped by to check up on you."

"This happened after you left to come back here," Spritemon explained.

"So in the time it took me to come back here everything has gone amiss."

"Looks that way," Spritemon agreed, making a face. "And you didn't need to check up on us! I know what I'm doing!"

"That's debatable."

Spritemon was about to make a retort, but before she could open her mouth Ivymon stepped forward, her forehead wrinkling into a frown. "Lady Vampiramon...If you don't mind me asking, what has become of Lord Angelicmon?"

"Gone," Jestermon interrupted, a smirk on his face. "He left well over two hours ago. Haven't seen him since."

"I knew it!" Spritemon said triumphantly, bouncing on her feet. "I knew that stupid angel was up to something! Do you think he might have something to do with the little Emperor's disappearance?"

Vampiramon narrowed her crimson eyes, her hands coming up to rest on her hips. "Only one way to find out."

"What are you planning?" BlackWidowmon asked suspiciously.

"You heard what DarkAngelicmon said. He told us to move out as soon as we spotted the Digidestined leaving Modem. We don't want to disappoint him, now do we?"

"There's only one problem," Jestermon countered, hopping up and down in place. "The Digidestined are using Dragermon. There's no way we're going to be able to catch up to them on foot before they reach the Spirit Chip."

Vampiramon nodded in agreement, a smirk on her face. "Without the Emperor's son with them they can't do anything with the Spirit Chip, even if they do get there before us. It will make our current situation more of a minor inconvenience than anything else, but just in case he shows up we need to be prepared."

"So...what's the plan?" Spritemon asked.

"You and I will fly on ahead. Being both small and agile, and then being megas on top of it, we should be able to catch up with Dragermon fairly easily. If luck is with us we may even be able to surpass him and get to the Spirit Chip just ahead of the Digidestined. The rest of you will follow behind on foot. We may be able to surround them and prevent them from escaping if they try to leave with the Spirit Chip."

"This plan might actually work out for the better then," Jestermon cackled, doing a little dance.

"What about DarkAngelicmon?" BlackWidowmon asked.

Vampiramon felt her blood boil at the mere mention of the fallen angel's name, and scowling, she said, "There's nothing we can do about that fool angel now since we don't even know where he is. We'll just have to wait until he decides to grace us with his presence again."

"I don't know if I like that idea," Spritemon complained.

"I don't like it any more than you do, but we don't exactly have a choice at the moment. Now come. We're wasting time and allowing the Digidestined to get even further ahead of us."

"Right, let's go."

Spritemon quickly fluttered into the air, and turning into her bat form Vampiramon quickly followed behind, leaving Jestermon and the others to follow on foot.

Whatever DarkAngelicmon was doing, Vampiramon would make sure it didn't hinder their plans.

Because if it did, this time she was going to make sure the Ruler of Darkness held him accountable for his actions.