Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

A/N: Sorry about the long wait with this chapter! Just a couple more chapters before we'll be back in the human world, where more of the mystery of the past will be revealed! A little inspiration here from Final Fantasy with regards to the title, but it suits well and everybody loves a good quote! Enjoy!

Following the Footsteps of Destiny

"Compassion is the flag a righteous man, a righteous man will hold." -Cosmos and Chaos Lyrics (Dissidia: Final Fantasy)

Chapter 241: The Flag of Compassion

Daichi 'Dai' Motomiya

Server, Eastern Hemisphere, Digital World

"Dai, I don't think we can wait much longer," Takara said urgently, nudging him in the side to get his attention. "If any more of our digimon fall we're just going to have to go through the portal ourselves and see if we can find Sam. We can't afford to lose FireDragermon and have him revert back to his rookie form. He's our main source of transportation, and we're going to need him if we want to make a quick escape."

Dai knew his female friend was right, but he didn't want to give up on Sam so easily. Going through the portal would get them away from Vampiramon, but there was no telling what would be waiting for them on the other side. There was still a chance they could end up in a worse situation than the one they were currently in. Not to mention the fact that going through the portal wouldn't be much help to them if Vampiramon somehow managed to follow. They couldn't be sure that the portal would close behind them the way it had for Mickey's group.

No matter what decision they made there were so many things that could go wrong. As a result Dai wasn't sure what to do anymore, and his inability to make a decision was starting to frustrate him.

"Too bad we can't move the Spirit Chip and take it with us," Ryoko sighed, wrinkling his nose.

"Duck!" Mimi cried, dropping down immediately behind the pedestal.

Dai turned just in time to see two of Jestermon's wayward spheres spinning through the air towards him, and letting out a gasp he quickly dropped to the forest floor with Kara ad Ryoko. All three of them covered their heads as the spheres slammed into the pedestal behind them, but surprisingly they did very little damage. The pedestal remained neatly intact, and Dai couldn't help wondering if that was because it was currently being protected by the power of the crests.

"Our little game is coming to an end!" Jestermon cackled, dancing his way towards them. "I do believe the climax is at hand. Time to hand over your Spirit Chip, my goggle-headed nemesis."

Dai took a quick glance at the battle taking place behind Jestermon, and his heart sank at the sight of what he was seeing. There was pixie dust everywhere, and Vampiramon's lightning bolts were striking relentlessly without pause. The trees and surrounding area were covered in BlackWidowmon's sticky webs, and even Ivymon, the only ultimate, did not look the least bit tired. At the moment FireDragermon, MetalGarurumon, SaberLeomon, and MegaKabuterimon were simply doing their best to stay alive, so there was nobody to cut Jestermon off and keep him distracted.

Which meant they were really in some serious trouble.

"Stay back!" Kibomon warned, his body tensing up and his eyes narrowing with suspicion. "You touch the humans and we won't hesitate to fight back!"

"And what could a bunch of rookies possibly do to me?" Jestermon shot back, a dangerous glint in his red eyes.

"We'll do everything we can to stop you," Aiwemon replied, ruffling his feathers.

Velinemon quickly took a stance beside Kibomon, and pointing a paw at the fool, she said, "If you're trying to scare us you're wasting your breath. We've taken down Demon Lords and have lived to tell the tale. Don't underestimate us!"

"Have you now?" Jestermon countered, juggling idly as he watched them. "I've heard about the prophecy before, but I've never been one to take a prophecy very seriously. Do you think that somehow makes you untouchable? Even if you are partners of the original Digidestined, that doesn't make you any more tough than your average rookie. Now move aside if you don't want me to delete you!"

At first during the battle Jestermon and the other megas were surprised to learn that Kibomon and his friends were the partners of the original Digidestined, and Spritemon and Vampiramon had spent a good minute shouting at Ivymon for not telling them earlier. Ivymon had apologized profusely, insisting that she had not been aware of just who the new rookies were, as their origins had never come up when she had spotted Dragermon leaving Modem. Once they had gotten over the initial shock their surprise had quickly turned into contempt for Kibomon and his friends, and since then Jestermon had done nothing but taunt the rookies about their past and their partners.

Dai could tell that Jestermon and the others obviously knew a little about GranDracmon and the past, but he still couldn't quite figure out just exactly how informed they were. He was pretty sure they didn't know as much as Kibomon and his friends, who had lived through the experience, but that didn't mean whatever they did know couldn't turn out to be useful information.

This sudden outburst about a prophecy was new, though, and Dai couldn't help being a bit curious as to what Jestermon was talking about.

But as much as I want to know, asking now probably wouldn't be a very good idea.

"Without your partners here you can't even digivolve," Jestermon taunted, a sneer on his face. "Taking down a Demon Lord or two doesn't mean anything if you can't even summon the strength to put up a decent fight."

"If you don't want to end up like Daemon you'd better keep your mouth shut," Matt said coldly, glaring at Jestermon.

"Is that a threat?" the fool cackled, the bells on his hat dancing. "Shadow Spheres!"

Screams split the air, and crying out Dai quickly hit the grass again, using his own body to protect Kara and Ryoko. He felt himself being jerked roughly and then something was forced out of his hand.

Lifting his head he did a quick check to make sure everyone was okay, and he was surprised to see that no one had been injured. Matt was using his body to protect Mimi at the back of the pedestal, and Izzy, Cody, and Rosa were huddled together at the base on the right. All of the rookie digimon also appeared to be unharmed, but at the same time they looked a bit confused as to what had happened.

"Looking for something?" Jestermon smirked.

Dai frowned, and with a start he realized that the Digivice he had been holding in his hand was missing. Jestermon had purposely aimed for the pedestal, which he knew would not be damaged, while using his attack because he had not actually been tying to hit them. He had simply used his attack as a distraction in order to steal the Spirit Chip.

"You give that back right now!" Ryoko snapped, leaping to his feet and nearly knocking Dai into the pedestal.

Jestermon shook his head, and juggling the D-Coder in his hands, he said, "Looks like I got myself a D-Coder and a Spirit Chip all at once! Today is my lucky day! Once angel boy brings the little Emperor back to us, we'll have twice as many. It's a two for one deal!"

"Get him!" Alopemon shouted.

Even the fearful Gessmon rose to the challenge, and as one the rookies proceeded to bombard the fool with their attacks. Instead of responding in turn, Jestermon just cackled and danced away, the bells on his hat singing a merry victory tune.

"This is bad!" Rosa groaned.

"Very bad," Izzy agreed. "We need to get that Spirit Chip back at all costs."

Dai, for his part, was furious with himself.

How could I have let myself get tricked like that?

"Not your fault," Ryoko said quietly, as if reading his mind. "Let's just concentrate on getting it back."

"But how?" Mimi wondered.

"We barely have enough energy left just to hold them off," Dovemon agreed, her tone full of anxious fear.

"Look what I have here, Vampy!" Jestermon sang out, dancing his way towards the vampire digimon and holding the Spirit Chip high in his hand for her to see.

Vampiramon ceased her attacks, and looking up an evil smile split her face, making her look even more scary than she normally did. She was about to respond when there was a burst of commotion in the sky, which caught Dai's attention as well.

Looking up he spotted JewelBeemon, Aquilamon, and a heavenly host of angels following behind them, and immediately his face split into a wide grin. He was about to pump his fist into the air when he spotted Sam in DarkAngelicmon's arms, and his mouth fell open in shock, effectively wiping the smile off his face.

DarkAngelicmon carrying Sam? Why would the fallen angel have consented to such a thing?

The sight almost made him forget his anger over the loss of his Spirit Chip, but Ken and JewelBeemon were quick to remind him. Out of nowhere JewelBeemon suddenly swooped down towards Jestermon, and Ken snatched the D-Coder right out of the fool's outstretched hand.

Jestermon yelped in surprise and toppled over onto his bony bottom, but before he could recover JewelBeemon was already well clear of the fool and heading back towards the Spirit Chip.

Vampiramon's triumphant expression changed to one of rage, and stomping her foot she proceeded to scream at Jestermon and shout insults at him that were loud enough to hurt the ears. Jestermon must have thought so as well because he covered his own ears and proceeded to tell the vampire digimon to shut her large trap.

Laughing, Dai began to jump up and down with his arms in the air, Ryoko and Kara following his lead, and he grinned again as the angels settled around him, their wayward feathers raining down upon his head.

"Lose something?" Ken asked, smiling as he leaped from JewelBeemon's shoulder and handed him back his D-Coder.

Dai gratefully accepted the Digivice, and beaming at Ken, he said, "Thanks a lot. I owe you one!"

"Perfect timing!" Kibomon agreed.

"Welcome back!" Takara said happily, her hazel eyes sparkling.

"You guys look like you could use some help," Matty joked, winking at them. "Mind if we take over from here?"

"By all means go ahead!" Ryoko laughed, beaming at his cousin.

Yolei quickly jumped down to join Ken, and the twins were quick to gather around Ryoko, both of them talking at once to their cousin. Ryoko actually had to tell them to speak one at a time and more slowly so he could understand them, but despite his scolding he was positively radiant as he smiled proudly at the two Takaishi children.

Sam was the only one who had not been deposited on the ground, and his gaze was focused firmly on Vampiramon.

"So you managed to get your hands on the Emperor's son," the vampire digimon said coldly, sweeping past Jestermon and forgetting all about the fool for the moment. "At least you're useful for something. Now hand him over!"

"If I hand him over how do you expect him to get his Spirit Chip?" DarkAngelicmon said dryly, looking rather amused.

Vampiramon glared at him in response, but the fallen angel ignored her. Smiling, he turned his back on the vampire digimon, and setting Sam on his feet he pointed to the pedestal and said softly, "Go."

"What do you think, Izzy?" Mimi asked, glancing anxiously at Vampiramon.

The battle had come to a momentary standstill, but it was far from being over. Both sides were merely waiting to see what would happen next, and once Sam's fate was decided it would become even more fierce with both sides having something to lose.

"Let's go for it!" Izzy replied, waving his hand at the pedestal. "One way or another we need that Spirit Chip, and this may be our only opportunity to get it."

"Be well prepared then," Matt warned, keeping his voice low. "As soon as we free that Spirit Chip Vampiramon will be on us like a pack of wolves who've just caught the sent of blood."

"You better stay back," Armadillomon suggested, directing his words at the fallen angel.

DarkAngelicmon raised his eyebrows, and giving the rookie a slight bow he stepped back and purposely placed himself between Angelicmon and Gabrielmon, thus allowing the two angels an opportunity to easily stop him if he attempted to make a grab for the Spirit Chip once it was free.

FireDragermon and his crew were keeping close to Vampiramon's group, which left Sam to grab his Spirit Chip.

"Ready?" Mimi asked, smiling at Ken and Izzy as the three of them held out their crests.

There was a blast of light and colour as the three crests connected to one another, and then their light dissolved the orb of multicoloured mist that was protecting the Spirit Chip, leaving only a glowing purple barrier to deal with.

Sam stepped forward, but instead of going to the pedestal he stopped to look behind him, and Dai was surprised to find that the raven-haired Digidestined was staring at him. The change in Sam was immediately recognizable, and Dai didn't need an explanation to get the gist of what had happened.

Moving to join Sam and holding out his hand, he said, "I knew you could do it. I knew you guys were going to be fine. It's good to have you back."

Sam took his hand, but instead of shaking it the raven-haired Digidestined pulled him into a hug, causing Dai to stumble.

"It's good to be back," Sam said softly in his ear, the smile on the raven-haired Digidestined's face reaching his sapphire eyes.

Dai smiled in return, and pulling back he gave Sam a thumbs up. "Do your thing!"

Without hesitation, Sam said, "Glowmon, digivolve now!"

"Right!" Glowmon said happily, beaming at his partner.

There was a flash of light and then Dracomon was behind Sam, standing tall and proud, his long white hair blowing in the wind.

Sam stepped up to the pedestal, and there was absolutely no hesitation from the small trinket hiding behind the force field of violet light. The Spirit Chip responded instantly to Sam's D-Coder, and the inscription written on the pedestal began to change so it could be read easily by all those who crossed its path.

Dai read the inscription and his smile widened. It suited Sam perfectly, and there was no doubt anymore that the Spirit Chip of Compassion did indeed belong to Sam. The inscription said:

"Kindness is the gentle soul that heals the wounds of time. Compassion is the symbol of the one who leaves the past behind."

"Are you ready, Sam?" Dracomon asked, reaching out to place a hand upon his partner's shoulder.

Sam nodded, and pointing his D-Coder directly at the Spirit Chip, he said, "I'm ready."

There was a flash of light from Sam's D-Coder, and then the final seal of purple mist surrounding the Spirit Chip shattered like fragile glass. The Spirit Chip of Compassion stood proudly upon the pedestal, and its purple surface glinted in the sunlight. The symbol engraved onto its surface looked like a half moon, and it seemed to be calling to Sam, whispering to him that they belonged together,.

Ken stepped forward to stand by Sam's side, and holding out his crest he smiled at the young raven-haired Digidestined, who smiled back at him.

Moving on its own the Spirit Chip floated into the air, and Ken's crest quickly joined it. With a flash of purple light the crest and the Spirit Chip merged together, and the final product quickly inserted itself into the back of Sam's D-Coder. The Spirit Chip was a dark purple, and it still had the symbol of a half moon on it, but now there were thin, intricate lines of a lighter purple running over its shiny surface.

As Dai was still attempting to absorb what had happened, Sam didn't hesitate. He turned quickly to Dracomon, and holding out the D-Coder in his hand, he said, "Let's help our friends and go home. Dracomon, digivolve again!"

Dracomon bowed his head in agreement, and then the light from the D-Coder surrounded his body.

Deep within the circle of light his words could be heard, and speaking in a clear voice, he called out, "Dracomon digivolve to, Odonatamon!"

What?

As the light of Sam's D-Coder died away, Dai couldn't help staring in awe. Odonatamon was slightly larger and taller than Dracomon, but that wasn't the most interesting aspect of his appearance. He still had Dracomon's violet eyes and long snowy hair, but the armour covering his body and face was all gold, and it greatly resembled JewelBeemon's green armour. There were purple, blue, and green jewels adorning his armour at the joints, much like the gold jewels on JewelBeemon, and they were also on his chest. As an added touch there was a ring of jewels surrounding the top of his head where his hair flowed out of his armour and down his back, making it look as if he were wearing a circlet of jewels. He still had his large wings that resembled the wings of a dragonfly, and they were almost transparent, allowing the sunlight to seep through. Like Dracomon his wings were several shades of blue, green, and purple, and they matched the jewels on his armour.

There was no denying Odonatamon looked impressive, and as those violet eyes stared out of that gold armour adorning his muscular form, his human-shaped body standing erect, Dai could feel the intensity of the insect digimon's gaze, and it made him feel glad that they were on the same side.

"Two fully functional Spirit Chips are now ours for the taking," Vampiramon said coldly, not looking the least bit concerned by Dracomon's sudden digivolution. "Having one more ultimate digimon on your side isn't going to save you."

"You know nothing of the power that invokes the true strength of the heart," Odonatamon replied, his violet eyes boring into the vampire digimon's crimson ones. "You forced my partner to suffer and thus your actions have only made him stronger in the end."

"And?" Vampiramon snapped, look annoyed.

Odonatamon's violet eyes narrowed, and pointing at her with the golden spear in his hand, he said firmly, "And now you shall reap the rewards of what you have done!"