At-las: Greek Mythology. A Titan condemned by Zeus to support the heavens upon his shoulders.

-Dictionary Definition

This is it: the finale of Atlas!

I really hope you enjoy it. If you haven't read Crescendo's Chapter 1, you really should go back now and do that, or a small part of it won't make much sense. If you have, you really might want to go read the second half again.

Anyways, thanks for everyone's support, this story was a lot of fun to write. This one is gonna have some spoilers for Crescendo's whatever-chapter-these-events'll-be, and will give you a pretty good idea how it'll end.

Remember to read the epilogue at the end! I'll try to add some notes in at the very end to clarify some things.

Review, if at all possible. Thanks!

--

Review Responses:

The-3-Amigos: I'm really glad you enjoyed that. I wanted to stick as much Jurato into that chapter as I could so that it could compensate for this one, which doesn't have any.

John on 'da John: I love cliffhangers. They're just so much fun.

Xenos tiger: Less than two weeks is so incredibly fast for me, if you were to average out my times updating stories (though please don't ;)

Bluesv20: Thanks! I'll let you know if I do anything new that you might be interested in reading.

--

Takato found the entrance to Valn's laboratory exactly where he had expected it to be. He knew the park was the location to look at, since the monster found them so quickly after they returned to the digital world. Valn may have even chosen his base of operations to be there since it was so close to the portal. As a base, it was both isolated and connected at the same time. The metal doors in the tunnel led to the city's sewer system, but Takato recognized one that wasn't there before.

He wasn't quite sure what his plan was. His priority was Ryo. Ryo still had half a week left before the virus would consume him. Unfortunately, the serum that Takato currently had in his pockets would kill Ryo if they were used on him. He would have to find Ryo, and with some luck, Ryo would be able to help Takato force Valn into telling them how to reverse the virus's effects and cure him. Until this point, Takato had thought the chances of his mission succeeding being a million-to-one. After considering all of this, he realized it would be closer to two-million-to-one, but his mind was made up, and he had to try.

Takato had made a stop by his house before coming. It wasn't even out of his way, and he wanted to see his parents one last time. He'd also packed his backpack with a few things that might help. A first-aid kit, a flashlight, a large knife from his mother's kitchen he'd wrapped in some cloth—anything he could think of in the few minutes he was at his house. He made the distinct effort not to bring his D-Arc—he didn't want any of the other Tamers following him.

He went to try the handle on the door, but soon realized it wasn't there, it had been torn through, and the door swung open at his push.

Good thing this doesn't look like a trap, he thought sarcastically. He peeked inside and saw that the lights were on, but saw nor heard no one. Nervous, he glanced back to the tunnels, looking down either side to make sure nobody was coming. He nearly jumped when he saw something dark red on the ground farther down the tunnel. Takato found a folded, dark green vest there. He took it and put it in his backpack, thinking he might be able to shred it to bandages if he needed to.

Out of reasons to use to convince himself not to enter, Takato pushed the door open again and crept inside. Just inside the door was a wide hallway that led down at an angle that wasn't too steep to move across, but would require attention to be sure. He noticed that the hallway actually had a door he had already walked through, it was a thick metal electric one that had already slid open. He headed down the hallway quickly, though not too quickly that he might make enough sound to alert Valn or Dr. Nonaka, either of whom might be anywhere. He realized that the door might have been open since Dr. Nonaka would be in no state to operate a doorknob.

The open electric doors stood out about a foot and a half on each side. Takato could press himself against the wall and hide behind one if he needed to, as long as he took the backpack off. The hall was very wide, likely so that Dr. Nonaka could move in and out of it as Valn directed him to.

Minutes later, at the bottom of the hallway was another door, this one also electrical. It led to a maze of other hallways. Valn had built an entire complex underneath the city. Takato had no idea how far exactly they went—but it was all entirely underground.

How could someone even build all this with no one knowing?

Takato pushed the thought aside, and looked around. There were more hallways, each the same width and height as the one he had just exited, only these ones did not descend any farther downward. One was to his left, one straight ahead, and one to the right. Each had several doors on either side.

Shit.

He had no idea where to begin. He couldn't exactly start calling out Ryo's name, and he had no idea who else was in this place besides Ryo and Valn. Throwing caution to the wind, he turned right and moved on. It was surprisingly cold, and Takato was only wearing a pair of jeans and a long-sleeved white t-shirt, so Takato slipped on the vest he'd found outside. It was padded and looked warm when he took it. He thanked himself for his apparently kleptomania. He stopped at the first door on the right and looked in the small square window. It was an office: desk, chair, computer, hell—even a potted plant. Still looking through the window, Takato reached for the handle and saw there was none. He continued down the hall, and saw the same in the dozens of windows of the dozens of doors. At the end of the hall were two buttons, one of which was pushed in. There was a hard plastic case on the floor, which Takato assumed was removed from this. He looked closely, and saw the words "LOCK" and "UNLOCK" printed in a small font on each. The "LOCK" button was pressed in. Takato pushed the UNLOCK one, which forced the "LOCK" button out, and causing a series of clicks throughout the hall.

Takato quickly headed into the closest office to him, but as soon as he stepped in, before he could grimace at the terrible smell of the room, he fell forward, hitting his head hard on the floor as he tripped over something. He shot a glance back, half of fear, half of frustration, and saw that he had tripped over an arm. He pulled away from it instinctively, and forced himself to look at the decaying human body that was on the floor, next to the now-open door.

The body was thin but tall, his face thankfully facing out into the hall, and not at Takato. Takato pulled his eyes away from him, trying to find something else in the office that might help him find Ryo, but he still glanced towards the body. He hadn't realized just how much he had been backing up from it until his back hit the chair at the desk. Takato forced himself to stand, and turned his attention away from the body, and to the materials on the desk. He noticed that there was no computer on the desk, that it had fallen off the back, the monitor severely cracked. He glanced at some of the papers on the desk. He picked up one of the ones on top. It was a piece of stationary, at the top of which read, "From the Desk of Carl Semp"

"It's been five days since Dr. Valn locked us in, something about a containment breach; that this was for our own safety. Bullshit. He got what he wanted—we used the DWPG to bring in what he needed. They built him this facility, then he killed them, and now he's killing us.

We probably deserve it for ever following him, but not like this. There's over three hundred scientists in this complex, and he's just going to let us all waste away. It's getting harder to think, harder to breathe. I've been rationing the bottles of water I had in my office but it's not going to be enough. He doesn't want survivors.

He cut off our communications—phone, internet—we can't get any word out. Even talking with others on the floor is difficult. I can hear Julie in the office to the right if we both scream as loud as we can, but nothing distinct. Adam across the hall I've been writing messages with and holding them against the window, but it doesn't work very well.

God damn Valn. I wish the generator would blow this entire place to Hell, where the sick bastard belongs.

If anyone gets this, tell Stacy I love her, and to make sure Jon grows up right.

Takato dropped the paper on the desk, feeling even sicker than he had before reading it. Valn had killed all of these people. There were more than three hundred dead bodies surrounding Takato at that time. He looked around the desk some more, and found a key card, with Carl's picture on it. Takato hoped that it might still work—if Valn knew all of these people were locked inside where they couldn't get out, he might have left their keys activated. Takato stuffed the card into his pocket.

Takato left the room and continued down the hall, stopping in the next office. Stacy too had left several notes, less descriptive in what happened to them than Carl's, speaking more about her family and herself. The next two offices had the same, and Takato knew that Valn had to pay for what he did to these people. He headed down the hall determinedly, never letting his eyes stray to either side. When he got back to the main intersection that was where he arrived, he turned right, this time moving down the hallway that was at first, the one that led straight ahead.

He still did not look in the offices at each side, but stopped when out of his peripheral vision he saw someone dressed in black, but moving. Takato had been moving quietly, and the person did not see him. Takato realized from the form and the hair that it was Rika. She'd tracked down Valn's lab, and was intently snooping as he was. Takato realized then that the torn off doorknob at the front door was probably the work of Renamon. But Renamon wasn't with Rika now. She probably had ordered her partner away, much as Takato would have done if Guilmon had helped him get inside.

Takato had trouble explaining why, but didn't want her knowing that he was there. If something were to happen to him, he didn't want her to come looking for him and get caught in a trap. He quickly headed down the hallway, careful not to make any sounds. He ducked into a nearby office, and grabbed a piece of paper, and a pen.

He reached into his backpack and pulled out one of the two cases containing a serum. On the paper, he wrote, "ANTIVIRUS" in large block letters so she wouldn't be able to identify the author of, and on the back wrote that it would kill someone fully infected and mutated. He slipped the paper into the bright green case with the serum, and headed back out into the hall. Rika was still fortunately not in the hall as well, and he left the case, the note, and the serum in the middle of the floor, and hurried down the hall and around the corner, taking care not to make any sounds, all the while praying that she finds it and understands it.

Around the corner was another intersection, another three halls, but this time one of them led downwards again. Takato ran down that one, eager to keep some distance between him and Rika.

Takato slowed down when he reached the next floor. Again, this hallway had several doors windows on either side. Takato let himself glance to the room on his left, and peered inside, finding that the room was not an office, as above, but almost like a cell. An office-sized cell, granted, but there was nothing in it except a small, unpadded, backless bench against the wall.

Takato nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard a pounding sound right behind him. He spun around—

—and saw Ryo hitting the window of the door he hadn't yet looked at, trying to get his attention.

I'm not too late.

Takato let out a smile of relief. He ran to the door, which wouldn't open from the outside, either. Takato noticed the doors on this floor weren't electronic, but required keys.

"Damn it," Takato muttered. He tried the handle again without even realizing it, shaking it as he desperately tried to think of a plan. He looked through the window again at Ryo, who was trying to say something, but Takato couldn't hear a word of it.

Takato indicated Ryo that he was going to look around but that he'd be back, which Ryo seemed to understand. Takato continued down the hall, looking in each room for something that he wasn't even sure where to look for. He looked in every room he came past, and even went down another level, but found nothing but empty rooms.

Eventually he came to a large, near-circular room lined with computers, screens, and desks. Working at one was a man who takato had no doubt was Dr. Alexander Valn. Takato ducked down and pulled the knife out of his bag.

Not gonna get more than one shot at this.

Takato moved low, as quietly as he possibly could as he snuck up behind the man. Takato waited until he was almost touching Valn's chair before he popped up and held the knife against the man's neck.

"Tell me how to cure the virus." Takato said, still pulling the blade firmly towards him, thus against Valn's neck.

"Which one?" Valn asked smugly. Takato rewarded this by pulling harder.

"You've got a friend of mine locked up upstairs. I want him cured, and I want him let out. Make it happen, or I'll spill more than you can spare." Takato'd never hurt a human being before, but he was prepared to if it meant he could protect a great many more who were far better than this one.

"I repeat; which one?" Valn sounded a little annoyed this time, but certainly not scared.

"Ryo Akiyama."

"Oh, so you must be Mr. Matsuda." Valn said in an interested tone. Takato could tell Valn was smiling, and he couldn't even see his face.

"Give me the cure."

"Mr. Akiyama has already been cured." Valn said very seriously. "I've moved on to better things."

What?

"What are you talking about?

"Human bodies can't contain the virus for long periods of time without expiring." Valn explained condescendingly. "At least not unless they were prepped beforehand for it. I'm sure you've met my colleague, Dr. Nonaka? I had to prepare him weeks before I infected him. Your friend's body didn't have this preparation, so I made a new vessel for the virus. Mr. Akiyama no longer infected."

Takato thought this was too good to be true, but was still allowing himself to believe it.

"What is this place?"

"I live here, you moron." Valn said coldly.

Takato pulled the knife tighter, feeling some blood trickle over his fingers.

"Those people upstairs. You killed them." Takato stated.

"No, most of them starved to death." Valn rebutted.

He's out of his mind.

"Because of you." Takato said, angrier.

"They were standing in the way."

"Of what?"

"A better world, Mr. Matsuda."

"I want some straight answers from you right now, and if I don't like what I hear, you're going to know it, fast."

"You've seen for yourself what the virus is capable of."

"It made Dr. Nonaka a monster."

"It saved your friend's life."

Takato knew it was true. If Ryo hadn't gotten infected, he might not have healed as he did.

If Valn hadn't had Ryo attacked, Ryo wouldn't have needed treatment in the first place.

"So you're having Dr. Nonaka kill people to make the world a better place?"

"Only the ones in my way. When I finish my work, the world will be a better place. There will be no wars, no sickness. I can make the world the way it should be." The tone that Valn had been using which bothered Takato so much had been replaced by a passion for something Takato considered to be totally insane.

"You'll never develop it that far." Takato said quietly.

"I will."

Takato had had enough.

"Shut this place down. Now."

"Make me."

When Takato pulled the knife again, he felt a sharp pain in his own leg—Valn had stabbed him. Takato's grip on the knife loosened, and he stumbled back, in pain and surprise. Before he could do anything, Valn was up, and pissed.

"You're just like Yamaki." Valn said, angrily. "Trying to cut up scientific development before it gets the chance to shine. I won't let you do that to me."

Takato brandished the knife and moved forward, but stopped when Valn pulled out a handgun and aimed it at Takato's head.

"How about you drop that before somebody gets hurt?" Valn said grimly, pressing his left hand against his neck, which was bleeding, but not much.

Shit.

Takato didn't really have any choices, so he did as the man asked, and the knife fell to the floor, as did most of Takato's hope.

He took this opportunity to inspect the wound in his leg. It was wide, but not very deep. It hurt like hell though, and blood was dripping down his right leg.

Takato and Valn stared at each other even as Valn pressed some keys on the computer he was operating, and Takato heard the whirring and hissing of the mechanical doors throughout the building closing and locking.

That's going to make getting out a bitch.

"Let's go visit your friend." Valn sneered, as he reached into his desk and grabbed a small black object which he stuffed into his pocket. He then picked up the knife Takato had dropped, which was still stained with Valn's own blood.

Takato said nothing as Valn escorted him back to Ryo's room. Takato said nothing, but continued to walk ahead, knowing full well that Valn had a gun pointed at the back of his head. His leg hurt, but not enough to actually slow him down.

When they arrived there, Valn ordered Ryo to the back of the room after threatening Takato in front of him, then he unlocked the door, grabbed the top of Takato's backpack, and kicked Takato in, while pulling the backpack outside. Takato then saw the black object roll in front of him, and a digital timer of 5 minutes appear on it.

"What the hell is that?" Ryo asked Valn angrily.

"It's going to release a gas when the timer runs out. And let me tell you, it won't be fun for you when it does. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some pets to check on." Valn tossed the knife inside before he closed the door and locked it. "You'll both want that."

Takato and Ryo shared a disturbed look and an awkward silence as they both wanted to think up plans.

Takato sat up, took off his belt, and wrapped it around his leg to slow the bleeding.

"Bad day?" Ryo asked casually.

"Little bit. You?"

"Not great." Ryo said, indicating the bruises on his neck.

"What did that?" Takato asked.

"Uh, me." Ryo mumbled, forcing Takato raised an eyebrow. "Valn made a double of me. Took it out of me, put it in the double. Then I went to swing at Valn and the other me freaked out and kicked the crap out of me. I really wouldn't recommend doing it."

Takato stood up and tried the handle, knowing full well it wouldn't open. He needed a key, and he sure as hell didn't have it.

"So what are you doing here?" Ryo asked suddenly.

Takato looked at the timer.

4:10.

"Came to rescue you. Didn't turn out so great, I'm afraid."

"My hero," Ryo said sarcastically. "Any ideas?"

"Well, maybe we'll freeze to death before that thing goes off?" Takato said hopefully.

"At least your girly coat'll keep you warm." Ryo snickered.

"Huh?" Takato took off the vest he'd found and looked at the back, and was surprised to see the red outline of a heart.

"Wow." Takato laughed. "That'll teach me to wear things I find in the tunnels.

Ryo joined in. "Yeah, Rika has one like it."

Rika.

Takato stopped laughing. "Rika's upstairs." Takato suddenly said as he remembered.

"What?" Ryo said, concerned.

"She must have come here looking for you. She doesn't know I'm here, though, I stayed hidden, I didn't want her to be, you know, waiting to be gassed.

"Appreciate it." Ryo said casually, looking at the clock. "3:20"

"Just our luck, huh?" Takato said, tossing the vest aside.

Ryo's eyes suddenly widened as he stared at the vest.

"Luck. Rika." Ryo whispered, before he dove at the jacket frantically, rummaging through it quickly.

"What are you doing?" Takato asked, concerned.

Ryo didn't answer, though, and began literally tearing the insides of the vest out. Takato guided his eyes from the piles of cotton on the floor to his apparently insane friend. This continued until Ryo burst into a fit of laughter and presented a small flat box.

"What is that?"

"Something Rika carried around for good luck." Ryo quickly explained, opening it and unrolling what Takato recognized as a set of lockpicks. His eyes widened.

Rika, I could kiss you right now.

"Do you know how to use them?" Takato asked hopefully.

"Let's find out."

Ryo hurried to the door, and slowly inserted two of the metal devices in the lock. Takato looked anxiously between Ryo and the grenade, the timer of which was at 2:40.

Come on, Ryo.

Ryo was taking his time; Takato wished he'd try to go a little faster, but also knew that this wasn't something he could rush. He looked back to the clock, the timer just over 2:05

Comeoncomeoncomeoncomeon—

Takato heard the happiest sound in his entire life—the click of the door unlocking. Ryo opened the door quickly, stuffing the picks into his pocket.

"Rika's upstairs, go find her." Takato said. "I'm gonna go find Valn."

Ryo smirked at this.

"Good luck, be careful." Ryo told him.

"Always am." Takato replied. The two took off in opposite directions—Ryo upstairs, and Takato back downstairs towards the room where he confronted Valn. There was still 1:40 left on the counter, but Takato didn't have to tread lightly anymore. He ran as fast as he could, hoping that—unlike in the park—it would be fast enough. The pain in his leg was dulled by the adrenaline surging through him.

He arrived at the control room with a minute left to spare, and soon found Valn in a room directly below it. Takato chose then to move quieter, so that Valn would not be alerted to his presence. Takato looked around the room and found a sturdy-looking chair. He threw the grenade as hard as he could at the back of Valn's head, slammed the door shut, and barred the door with the chair.

Takato waited for the minute to pass. There was only one exit from the room Valn was in, and Takato had it blocked. Still, he needed to be sure that Valn would be around when the gas went off.

Takato stared through the window, seeing the pure panic in Valn's eyes. Takato had no illusions about what he was doing, unlike Valn. Takato knew he was responsible for what would happen to Valn. The doctor had put people in a position that they'd die, and then convinced himself that it wasn't his fault. Takato wouldn't be like that. Not ever.

When the white gas started to come out, Valn began to cough, a lot. His skin started to turn red, and he screamed. Takato didn't want to watch, but needed to be sure that Valn wouldn't be able to hurt anyone ever again. He saw Valn use a computer nearby, but he didn't seem to be able to achieve anything. Takato heard a familiar thump, and turned around to see Dr. Nonaka, monstrous as ever. And Takato forgot to find his backpack.

But Takato noticed something different this time. It wasn't looking at him, it was looking at Valn. Takato slowly moved the chair which barred the door and stepped to the side and awaited Dr. Nonaka's next move fearfully.

Maybe there was some of the real Dr. Nonaka in there after all.

The door opened nearly instantly, and Valn stumbled out, disoriented but cogent enough to be furious. But Dr. Nonaka still never turned his attention to Takato, but stayed trained on Valn.

"Enjoy your better world." Takato said to Valn before he backed up and ran to find the others. The last he heard of Valn were the screams that Takato chose to ignore.

Takato found the others two floors up, on the same floor that he had found Rika before. He noticed that Rika's eyes were red, she had been crying shortly before.

"Takato!" Rika called. "Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine. Valn's dead." Takato explained. "The monster turned on him."

The reunion was interrupted by the sound of an explosion in the distance.

"What was that?" Ryo asked.

Before Takato could answer, they walls around them shook again, as loud crashes were heard above and behind them.

"Looks like Valn didn't plan on making it through this himself." Takato murmered, looking around, realizing that Valn had achieved something on that terminal two floors down.

"Well then what are we waiting for, let's go!" Rika said over the noise.

You can't.

"I can't leave." Takato said firmly.

"What?" Rika asked, obviously confused. "Takato, this place is falling apart!" Rika said in the Are-You-Insane tone Takato hadn't heard directed at him in the recent past. As if on cue, the building shook again, sparks flying from the computers as the lights overhead flickered.

"I know that, but I'm not leaving yet." Takato said quietly.

"You're fucking kidding me." Ryo said, obviously not in the mood to equivocate.

Lie.

"But it's not done! Valn's virus is still existent. If it survives this, it'll infect, it'll spread, and it'll mutate. And this will start all over again." Takato had lost his objective manner, and spoke with the passion he had when leading the Tamers. "—And I'm not asking you to do this. I want you and Ryo to get clear of the tunnels, get back to Hypnos."

Make this fast.

"I know what I'm doing, Ryo." Takato wasn't exactly sure that he did. In fact, he felt horrible for lying to them about this. But he knew what he had to do, and there was no time to second-guess himself. "I'll meet you back at Hypnos. Hurry up, and be careful, okay? Trust me."

He hoped they would. He knew they would. They always had. Takato wasn't exactly sure if he was happy about that. The complex shook again. "Go."

Rika had started crying by the time that Takato had asked her to trust him. Takato knew that she knew he was making things up as he went along. But he knew that she also knew that there was no time, and that she had no choice but to trust him. She slowly backed up, still not taking her eyes off of him. He saw her blink as she turned and ran, causing a new set of tears to stream down her cheeks, which had more than their fair share of dirt, oil, grease—as they all did.

Ryo hadn't moved, and when Takato turned his eyes from Rika to Ryo, he knew that Ryo was reluctant to leave. Takato had known his best friend for a very long time, and knew him well. He recognized the look on Ryo's face as one of curiosity, anxiety, betrayal—most emotions except fear.

"Go with Rika."

Ryo turned to the direction in which she'd ran anxiously and after both boys discovered she was waiting for him at the doorway out of that room, Ryo turned back to Takato. He extended his arm.

Takato reached forward and accepted the gesture, shaking his hand.

"Thank you." Ryo said quietly, still not breaking eye-contact.

He knows.

"No problem." Takato said, finding he didn't have to force the smile that came.

The next time the complex shook, Takato saw that Rika nearly fell down, but she had steadied herself by grabbing onto the wall for dear life. Takato and Ryo's handshake—

Ryo's goodbye—

—was broken as they each stumbled away from each other, though they both quickly regained their footing.

"Now go!" Takato ordered loudly, which got him a nod from Ryo as he ran towards Rika.

Goodbye.

Takato watched with mixed emotions as he watched two of his good friends leave. Ryo looked back a few times before Takato saw the pair go around a corner. On one hand, his mission has been pretty successful—Ryo was safe, Valn was no longer a threat, Takato'd even managed to save Rika. But on the other hand, he was fairly convinced that he was never going to see Rika, Ryo, Jeri—or any of them, again.

Takato had been telling the truth about the virus—it still had enough potential to be a serious threat. But it wasn't going to be released as a gas. It wasn't going to be released at all. Any and all evidence of its existence would be destroyed with the facility. Takato's reason for staying was not because there were millions of lives at risk. It was because Valn had put the building on lockdown. The door out to the tunnels wouldn't open—they wouldn't be able to escape. At least if Takato had gone with them.

I hope to God this works.

He ran in the direction opposite of Rika and Ryo. Takato knew they wouldn't be at the locked door for another several minutes, given the size of the complex as well as the fact that it was shaking so much. He had an uncomfortably small amount of time to work with. Takato could run fast, and he never felt like he'd run any faster than he had right then, but not because he expected to unlock the doors and get out. He quickly found himself in the room that Valn had first initiated the lockdown; and at the same computer with the small camera on top of it that Valn himself had used. Praying that it was still functioning, he tapped a key. It hummed to life. Thankful, Takato ran the program labeled "DOOR CONTROL", and when prompted for identification, he held Semp's card over the scanner. This led to a satisfying notification that all doors had been unlocked and opened.

Time to go.

Takato stood, instinctively stuffing the card into his pocket, and ran to the door out of the room, his work done. He was going through it when the shaking became noticeably more intense. What made it so noticeable was that giant pieces of the ceiling had caved in, completely blocking the way his way out of the complex.

He didn't even force a sigh. Takato knew what he was signing on for when he decided to go to that place to begin with. And he'd done most of what he wanted to. The mission had been a success. Takato even let himself feel some pride: he felt he earned it. However scared he was, he found solace in knowing that he'd done what he wanted to: he'd done what was right. He was able to show the people in his life who he loved, just what they meant to him.

That's more than most people ever get to.

Takato smiled that day. Sixteen year-old Takato Matsuda, who'd carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. It was many days later when the reports of his death flooded the news. The complex was too far underground and there was no way he could have survived the collapse of it. The investigators found no body – it was reported to have been incinerated when the generator exploded after the ceiling caved in on it. The world mourned the loss of a hero, though a select few took it much harder than others.

--

EPILOGUE:

After seeing his only escape taken away from right in front of him, Takato simply walked into the room he had come from, as he had no place else to go. He sat at the computer, noticing it was still functioning, as he awaited the inevitable.

One more loose end.

Takato ran the program labeled "COMMUNICATIONS", and was still a little surprised when a program opened up displaying live footage of himself. He glanced towards the small webcam on top of it, smiling weakly. Taking the same steps that Carl Semp had, hoping to get a message out, Takato clicked the "RECORD" icon next, and looked to the camera.

"Okay. I guess this is it." He said into the webcam over the noise in the background. "Incase this survives, or incase I can get this out to anyone—I'm not really sure how to send this to specific people—I just wanted—my name is Takato Matsuda. I'm sixteen years old. I probably shouldn't be here, but I'm glad I was. If—if you could please get a message to Jeri Kato, I'd really be grateful. Tell her that—tell her I did my best, and I'm sorry. But I'll see her again someday. And, uh, ask her and Guilmon to take care of each other, too, okay? She'll know what I mean. Thanks."

Not particularly satisfied, but feeling rushed nonetheless, Takato clicked the "SEND ALL" icon, entirely unsure of who he just sent his last words to. He could hear the crashes coming down from above and from both sides of the hallway outside, he tried to take his mind off of his immanent fate by trying to find something to occupy his time with on the computer. He looked around at the programs on the computer—"COMMUNICATIONS, STATUS, DOOR CONTROL, LIGHTS, JOURNALS, DWPG, LOGS". He thought twice when he saw the "DWPG" program, remembering Carl Semp's last message. Before Takato died, he wanted to know how exactly Valn got the power to build such a complex so quickly. He wanted to know where the workers who built it came from. Takato clicked on it to bring up the files.

Valn, you son of a bitch.

His heart stopped when he recognized from the files it opened that "DWPG" stood for Digital World Portal Generator.

Takato smirked, and ran the program, realizing he might not wind up in the same position as Carl Semp after all.

--

Okay, that's it! What did you think? You'll see why Rika was crying in the Crescendo chapter that corresponds to this one, probably one or two ahead. I'm brainstorming some ideas for a sequel, if anyone's interested, so send me an email or something and I'll let you know when it's up. I'm thinking it'll be around Christmas, as I'll be on break.

There were a lot of different things I wanted to do in this chapter, but didn't really get to put in. Like Ryo2 (From Crescendo Chapter 10). I was going to have Jeri's perspective for the end, but left her comatose, so she'll sure get some great news when she wakes up. I was thinking about having some more extensive dialogue at the end, but I was really proud of the last paragraph right before the epilogue. Oh well!

Thanks for everyone who's read this far, I appreciate it.

Over and out,

-N