Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

A/N: Another chapter complete finally! Almost getting to the end of this Spirit Chip arc!

Following the Footsteps of Destiny

Chapter 240: A Promise Fulfilled

Daichi 'Dai' Motomiya

Server, Eastern Hemisphere, Digital World

As a general rule Daichi Motomiya was not the type to scare so easily, nor was he the type to panic, but glancing around at the battle field in its current state he had to admit it was making him feel a tad bit uneasy.

Almost all the Vilemon had been defeated, but that wasn't exactly much of an achievement, since they weren't really a large threat. They weren't the main source of the problem. Not by a long shot.

They still had Vampiramon, Spritemon, Jestermon, BlackWidowmon, and Ivymon to deal with, four of whom were megas. And as far as Dai could tell none of their enemies were going easy on them. Kibomon, Aiwemon, Velinemon, and Gessmon were doing their best to help, but they had pretty much already depleted their energy while helping to get rid of the Vilemon. They were only rookies after all, without a current means to reach their higher stages of digivolution. They had done well to last as long as they had already.

Some of the others weren't doing much better.

Monochromon, Ibismon, Ankylomon, and Tirimon had already returned to their rookie forms, and much of their power had been depleted dodging attacks from the megas while trying to take out Ivymon. That left only FireDragermon, MegaKabuterimon, MetalGarurumon, Lilymon, and Leomon in full fighting form. Leomon had even digivolved to his mega form of SaberLeomon, but despite now having two megas on their side they were still in a lot of trouble. It was all they could do to simply avoid enemy attacks while trying to hit back with some of their own.

The battle field was a mess. Trees had fallen or been damaged in the crossfire, and there was debris everywhere. All of the digimon who were in their rookie forms had fallen back to protect the humans huddled around the pedestal, who were simply doing their best just to stay out of the way.

The situation wasn't exactly looking all that positive, and glancing up at the sky where only moments ago another hole had split the atmosphere, giving them a glimpse at the world beyond, Dai gave it a rather critical glance before turning to regard their expert at all things Digital World related. "What's the deal, Izzy?"

Keeping one eye on the battle, Izzy also gave the hole in the sky a brief glance as he clutched his laptop tightly to his chest. "Someone on the other side opened the portal between the worlds again."

"But who?" Mimi asked anxiously, wrapping her arms around herself to hold in her fear.

Matt hovered protectively next to his wife, and frowning, he said, "Friend or foe?"

"I can't be sure," Izzy replied. "There doesn't seem to be any activity or anybody attempting to come through yet, but it's obvious someone must have opened the portal."

"Do you think Sam is okay?" Rosa asked, tugging nervously on Izzy's arm.

"I hope so, but there's no way of knowing until they come back."

"They better hurry up because I don't think we're going to last much longer," Cody warned, turning his face away as a blast from Jestermon caused a spray of dirt to rain down upon their heads.

"Well, that portal or whatever it is better stay open this time," Ryoko snapped, glaring indignantly at the hole in the sky. "I almost had a heart attack when it closed earlier. What if Sam and the others couldn't find their way back to us? We would be even worse off than we are now."

Dai rolled his eyes, and cuffing the golden-haired Digidestined lightly on the shoulder, he said, "Relax, Ishida. I wouldn't have let them go off without us if I didn't think they'd be able to find a way back. I'm sure they're probably having better luck than we are."

"I don't know about that," Takara said quietly, unable to look at him.

Dai hesitated before moving to join her, and wrapping an arm around her, he said, "It'll be okay. We haven't lost yet."

Takara smiled at him, and leaning into his shoulder she turned her face away from the battle taking place. Dai could feel the warmth of her closeness, and resting his head against her hair he tightened his arm around her, reluctant to let go.

Our lives are in danger and I'm in the middle of a battle that could change the entire fate of the Digital World, but despite that being here with Kara feels so right. Being here next to her...I feel like I belong here. What is this feeling inside my heart? When did everything suddenly change? Why do I see her so differently now?

A sudden cry and a rain of sparkles broke his train of thought, and glancing up in dismay he watched as Lilymon reverted back to her rookie form, thanks to Spritemon's Pixie Dust attack. That now left them with only two ultimates and two megas.

They were most definitely in trouble now.

"Palmon!" Mimi cried, scooping up the little rookie and hugging her tightly. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine, but if we don't get some backup soon we're done for," Palmon said weakly, her petals drooping as she hugged Mimi back.

The little rookie had managed to extract herself from the battle without sustaining any more damage, but it was obvious she had very little energy left. Soon they were going to run out of ultimates and megas, and when that happened the Spirit Chip would be Vampiramon's to use as she pleased.

Which, of course, would definitely not be a good thing.

No, I can't think like that! Sam will come through for us! I know he will. Just a little bit longer...

"Now what?" Kibomon asked, his blue eyes narrowing in concentration. "Anyone got any bright ideas?"

"Sorry, I'm all out," Aiwemon replied, settling himself on Kara's shoulder.

Dai glanced down at Kibomon, who seemed determined to protect him while FireDragermon was indisposed, and shrugging, he said, "Let's do what we always do. Ask Izzy!"

"I'm afraid I'm almost out of ideas myself," Izzy replied, regretfully shaking his head. "There's not much else we can do without the others."

"So in other words we're doomed," Alopemon snorted.

"Be a little more pessimistic why don't you?" Velinemon replied, rolling her eyes.

"Oh! FireDragermon, look out!" Gessmon cried.

Dai jerked his head up to see his partner narrowly avoid Vampiramon's Scarlet Lightning attack, and doing his best not to let Kibomon see he let out a sigh of relief. FireDragermon was fine for the moment, but Dai could tell his partner was getting tired. How much longer would the dragon type digimon last before he too reverted back to his rookie form?

"Had enough?" Vampiramon taunted, her crimson eyes gleaming with excitement.

"We're just getting warmed up," MetalGarurumon growled, pacing warily to find an opening.

"The fool sees only two megas and two ultimates left!" Jestermon sang out, indulging in his sense of fun and doing a little impending victory dance. "This will be easier than doing a handstand and juggling with my feet. The smell of victory is ever so sweet."

"You might want to tell your leader to hand over his Spirit Chip now before the rest of you are forced to revert back to your rookie stages," BlackWidowmon sneered at the remaining digimon. "If you refuse we'll turn you all into data and take it by force!"

"You're all nothing but a nuisance!" Spritemon complained. "Don't tempt me to kill the humans right now!"

"We're not letting you go anywhere near the Spirit Chips or our partners," MegaKabuterimon shot back from his aerial position in the sky.

"Suit yourselves," Vampiramon snapped, her body beginning to glow a bright crimson. "If death is what you seek then I shall grant you your wishes!"

"Move now!" SaberLeomon shouted.

The group scattered as Vampiramon's lightning lit up the clearing, and Dai squinted through the bright flashes to see what was going on. Somehow their four remaining digimon had managed to avoid the bolts, but it wasn't looking good.

A few more attacks like that and we'll be done for. Come on, Sam! Get your act together! I know you can do it. We need you...

Ken Ichijouji

Server, Eastern Hemisphere, Digital World

Ken slowly pushed himself into a sitting position, and staring at his son he wasn't quite sure what to do. He had always known Sam was a strong child, with a gentle soul and a stubborn will never to give up, but the amount of power that had erupted from the raven-haired Digidestined was not something even he had anticipated. It had completely blown him away, and even now he still felt like he was in a state of shock.

His son. The Child of Compassion. There was no doubt about it in his mind.

Sam...Your strength is far greater than mine. If I had been like you there would have been no Digimon Emperor.

And knowing that Ken felt a sense of peace wash over him.

Sam was going to be fine. Ken could feel it in the very depths of his heart, and all the pain and remorse he had struggled with over the last little while seemed to slip away from him.

Watching his son, Ken did not attempt to move from his position. He simply waited, hoping in his heart that Sam would come to him.

This world seems brighter somehow, and the silence is peaceful.

"Sam?" Mickey called out quietly, moving hesitantly closer.

Ken remained silent as the others gathered around them, including DarkAngelicmon, but no one tried to intervene. They simply waited as well, their expressions a mixture of hope and uncertainty.

Sam was lying sprawled out on his back, and his sapphire eyes were gazing out at the ocean. His expression was calm and serene, and there was a lightness about him that seemed to brighten the air around him.

Whatever the young raven-haired Digidestined had seen had brought a small smile to his face, and sitting up he shook his dark head as if waking from a dream.

Ken held his breath as Sam turned to face him, their gazes meeting. Sam's expression was calm and peaceful, and there was a soft sparkle in his sapphire eyes that Ken had not seen in what felt like forever. It made his heart flutter with hope, but he did not speak. Instead he continued to wait.

"I had a dream," Sam finally said, his words soft and his voice unhindered by nervous anxiety. "I was here in this place, but the darkness was thick all around me. There was a light shining way out on the horizon, but I couldn't seem to reach it."

"Sam," Matty said, a smile coming to his face.

"That light was all of you," Sam murmured, glancing around at the group. "Reaching out to me in the darkness."

"You're finally starting to see," Yolei said, smiling at her son.

Sam's next words were obviously a quote he had heard from someone else, and he spoke the lines with a smile. "There's always a choice, Sam, even when you can't always see where each road begins or where each road will end. Don't you see your path, just over the horizon?"

Ken wanted to speak, but he wasn't sure what to say. But in the end it didn't matter, as Sam didn't give him a chance to open his mouth.

The young raven-haired Digidestined came to him, and kneeling in front of him, Sam continued to quote words from an unknown source. "Kindness and compassion will show you the way."

The tone of those words...

Ken felt his chest tighten, and gazing directly into his eyes, Sam said in a voice barely above a whisper, "Uncle said he wants me to tell Miya and Nao that he wished he could have met them. He told me to tell you he misses you. I promised him I would. Now it's a promise fulfilled."

And then Sam was hugging him, and Ken could feel the tears in his eyes dripping into his son's hair.

For a long moment they merely clung to each other, and then finally Ken was able to find his voice. "I'm sorry, Sam. I'm so sorry."

"No," Sam countered, looking up at him with a serious expression. "I'm sorry. You have always guided me down the right path. It was my own fault that I was led astray. I was the one who ignored those who were only trying to help. I won't make that same mistake again."

Sam, my brother. Thank you.

It was almost as if his son had read his mind because the young raven-haired Digidestined whispered, "I'll tell you all about my dream. If you can call it a dream."

Ken nodded, and brushing a hand over his eyes he helped Sam to his feet, a smile of his own suddenly coming to his face.

Gazing at his son, the difference was instantly recognizable. This was Sam. This was the son that he loved more than he could put into words. This was the son that had finally been returned to him.

"I love you," Sam mumbled into his chest, hugging him tightly around the waist.

Ken returned the hug, reluctant to let go just yet, and ruffling his son's dark hair, he murmured, "I love you too."

"Oh, Sam!" Glowmon cried, leaping at his partner.

Sam managed to catch the little rookie, and hugging Glowmon tightly he turned to Matty and said quietly, "Thank you."

Matty shrugged his shoulders, looking rather embarrassed, and scratching the back of his head, he said, "Don't thank me, thank Taniko."

"What did she say to you?" Mickey asked curiously.

"Later. Right now we have more important things to worry about."

"Matty's right," Sam agreed, the sudden determination in his voice catching Ken off guard. "Dai and the others need our help. I'm not going to let anyone else suffer because of me."

"We should get going then," Kenji's Halomon butted in.

"I have...a lot to tell you guys, but it can wait," Sam agreed.

"Let's go then," Yolei replied, motioning for Aquilamon to join her.

Sam turned to look up at DarkAngelicmon, and smiling softly at the fallen angel, he said, "Will you take me?"

DarkAngelicmon didn't reply. Instead he picked Sam up easily off the ground, holding the raven-haired Digidestined securely in his arms. Glowmon, who was in Sam's arms, looked surprised by the fallen angel's reaction to his partner's request, but he chose to remain quiet as well. DarkAngelicmon, in turn, was watching Sam, and there was a curious glint in his emerald eyes that Ken found particularly interesting.

He also found it interesting that DarkAngelicmon would turn his face away whenever Sam would look up at him.

The strength of Sam's heart has him thinking. I wonder what kind of results it will bring...

"Ready to go, Ken?" JewelBeemon asked, interrupting his thoughts.

Ken nodded, and as JewelBeemon lifted him into the air, he gave the ocean one last glance before leaving the World of Darkness behind.