Author's Note: Well, one more chapter of Crisis in this current updating cycle. Davis's trek through the various worlds will finally end. And I'll be introducing most, if not all, of the rest of the fan characters.

A quick little discussion though, from a review by the name of Grey Fanatic. Your observation is true, in a way; most of what's happening to Davis isn't altering him or affecting him (save for a few worlds that have been encountered over the last few chapters). Most of them are situations where Davis is simply dropped into a world and then plucked back out (his time there is also varying; oftentimes, he's only there for several paragraphs, other times a whole chapter). There really seems to be no rhyme or reason to why this is happening to Davis, or what the point is.

Well, from the point of the story's plot, it's kind of supposed to be pointless. Davis – and Veemon, for a while – is being subjected to forces beyond his control. He cannot control when he warps out or where he'll end up. His only constant is that, prior to a universe's destruction, the dimensional field around him will spring up and warp him away. There's not really much he can do about it.

But why am I, the author, doing this? What rhyme or reason is there for what I'm doing with this little universal trek?

Well…initially, the driving purpose behind this was solely for the ambitious project I mentioned last chapter; then the amount of foreshadowing and character development in the last chapter influenced me to bring in a canon ending. But even so, none of this explains why I WANTED to write this story to begin with.

To have fun.

It's been an absolute BLAST writing this story. Some parts crawled, but some of the scenes were just awesome to write. Davis in a world of Power Rangers? AWESOME. Davis reacting to Beavis and Butthead? Cue giggling. Davis meeting a god-like version of himself? EPIC. Some of those weird, outlandish scenarios that would have no place in regular Zero 2? I can bring them right here.

Plus, it enables me to use the characters of my readers, who have been sticking with these stories for years. It's one of my ways of contributing back. But I digress; things should become more sensible as we near the climax (heck, we don't really know who Antimon IS yet). And thanks for the advice on description; I've been dabbling in using those other senses, but nowhere near as consistent as I should be.

Anyhow…

Begin!

xxxx

Issue #9: The Last Stretch

xxxx

/Monitor Room, Arbitermon's Station, The Nexus/

Antimon was making Izzy's job a lot easier.

It was a very morbid thought, true…and a very grim realization. Be that as it may, Izzy's search was becoming a lot easier by the minute.

Judging by what he had learned while being connected to the station's systems, Arbitermon's extensive monitor apparatus was a network of nanoscopic probes that were sent out from the station; each probe – capable of traversing the dimensions – transmitted these images through interdimensional space and time, arriving back with nothing lost in translation. It was an extensive system…and Izzy wondered just how in the world it had been crafted. This whole station was a marvel of engineering.

But in any case…the sheer number of universes he had observed was mind-boggling in magnitude. Within the past few hours, he had given a passing glance to roughly twenty-three thousand, three hundred and fifty-one universes. That was at least two universes a second…but the information being sent directly into his brain via the digital wires enabled him to process all available information.

In that time frame, Antimon had destroyed fifty thousand, five hundred, and forty-two universes. A seeming impossibility, given the time it usually took for Antimon to unleash his attack and move on to the next target. However, the rate by which time travelled varied from universe to universe (time was relevant, after all); some cameras were transmitting minutes, hours, and days (sometimes even weeks…or longer) worth of information over the course of one second in the time local to the Nexus. The converse was true for some universes, but the worst it seemed to be was that one second here was worth a tenth of a second there. As for the endless void that existed between the realms…well, from Izzy's observations, time didn't exist within that realm at all. The moment Antimon left one universe, he was in another. For all he knew, Antimon had been travelling for years to get from one universe to the next. In any case, Antimon was working, and working fast.

Ultimately, compared to the total amount of universes that Antimon had destroyed, it wasn't much…but then again, there weren't a lot of universes left.

At the moment, only one million, twenty-nine thousand, fifty-four universes remained.

Izzy only hoped that Antimon didn't pick up the pace.

For the time being, he also took an occasional glance throughout the station via the internal monitor devices; although his fellow Digidestined had mostly kept to the Lobby and the Atrium (he had, unfortunately, missed the whole business with Darkheart), there were a slew of other characters waiting in the lower levels of the station. They were obviously keeping to themselves for the interim; it was understandable, seeing as how many of these folks were in unfamiliar surroundings. For all Izzy knew, they had been here for months.

In one room, he saw Shaun getting up off of his bed and walking out. The Shaun they had met earlier…and judging by the information in Arbitermon's database, he was from Universe-(1)(-1).

In another, larger suite fit for visitors the size of VenomMyotismon, there were ten Digimon of varied shapes, colors, and sizes. All of the milled about, talking and wondering when the conflict was going to occur. According to the database, they were the Ancient Warriors: a group of ten Digimon that were the legendary warriors of the Digital World in Universe-(D)(4).

In one smaller room stood three teenagers – all female, with two being twins – and three Digimon that he had honestly never heard of before. Taking a quick peek into the database, Arbitermon had logged these people as being from Universe-(K)(U): Emily and her partner Gargoylemon, Kiseki and Falcomon, and Hotaru and Tsukaimon.

Yet another room held what seemed to be…winged Numemon. They were PlatinumNumemon: Mega-level Digimon with platinum skin and golden wings. Truly odd; although Izzy knew they needed all the help they could get, the thought of fighting alongside winged piles of shining sludge just seemed too weird. And on a personal note, he found their home universe – Universe-(P)(U) – to have an oddly appropriate binary code.

The largest rooms – convention-sized – were on Sub-Level 6. In three of those rooms sat an army of Digimon, ranging from Champion to Mega. All were donning black helixes on their persons. It didn't take a genius to figure out who that army belonged to; he had been out and about throughout the station ever since Izzy had begun his observation. In any case, they were from Universe-(5)(1).

Deep down, on Sub-Level 8, one Digimon occupied the large circular conduit that wrapped around the central shaft of the station, as it was one of the only places large enough to hold him. As large as several city blocks, the purple, black-scaled Digimon with six insectoid legs slumbered silently, waiting for the upcoming conflict: according to the database, this was Armagemon: a Digimon born from a computer virus (or had been a computer virus? The file was unclear on this matter) that was capable of unleashing a firestorm worthy of the Armageddon (hence the name). Armagemon had been a resident of Universe-(A)(X).

Good or evil, light and dark…it mattered not. As long as one had strength, that was enough. There were at least a dozen or so other rooms occupied, all with people who had volunteered to fight…or had been whisked away just before their homes had been destroyed.

Speaking of destruction…Izzy wondered why Antimon was doing all of this.

The 'how' was already known. It was the 'why' that was bugging him.

Why? Why is one Digimon seeking the destruction of all universes?

xxxx

/Desert Area, Universe-(V)(1)/

That aroma was downright heavenly.

It tickled his nostrils, forcing him to awaken.

Slightly meaty…rife with juice and broth. And did he detect a hint of fruit? Like grapes?

Davis Inoue grimaced as he sat up, rubbing his head slowly. His brain was pounding lightly against his skull; obviously, he had yet to fully recover from falling through a spire of rock earlier. Rrr…why can't I land anywhere soft or fuzzy? Or at least on my feet?

Stepping out of the small cave he had awoken in, he stepped out into the sunlight, feeling the tingling of the sun's heat on his skin. Speaking of skin…he was starting to smell a bit musky. He needed a shower. Curse you teenage body odor! Oh boy, now he was cursing his puberty. What would be next?

"Hey, you're awake!"

Well, introductions, apparently.

Davis took in the sights quietly. The place looked and felt like a desert; rough, hardy ground that was cracked and crumbling from a lack of precipitation. Tufts of wild grass that wavered in the wind. Huge bluffs stood in the distance, buffering the wind until it was nothing more than a gentle breeze wafting with the desert's heat. At least it wasn't too unbearable; as it was now, it felt soothingly pleasant after the empty, almost-soulless world of endless grass that he had last been on.

Eh, no thinking about that place. Or that particular 'Daisuke', for that matter.

Instead, he turned his attention to the four people before him.

His eyes were first caught by the AeroVeedramon…and Davis confirmed that this was far different from the last AeroVeedramon he had seen. The last AeroVeedramon had been seen in the home of the V-Clan atop Gate Mountain on the continent of Desktop…and that fellow had been as large as a MetalGreymon. By comparison, this AeroVeedramon – was he the one named Zero? – was downright puny; despite his far more toned musculature, this guy was smaller than a Kuwagamon. To put it in perspective…despite the Digimon's bulk, Davis would have come up to his chest if they stood side-by-side. That guy's smaller than Wargreymon. Thought, to be honest, if the Digimon stood fully on his hind legs, then he'd would only come up to the thigh.

The one Gabumon – named Gabo, if he remembered correctly – looked like…well, a Gabumon. Nothing special.

There was one girl sitting on her knees; clad in thick brown boots and black leggings, the girl somehow carried the look of a pioneer with her button-up denim jacket and jean skirt, both colored a rustic brown. It complimented her amber eyes and chocolate-orange hair, the latter fanning out in small spikes. There was a distinctly clean smell about her, despite the dusty environment. She was most likely the 'Rei' he had heard before lapsing into unconsciousness.

After all, the fourth person of this little group was easy to recognize. The clothing was exactly like what Tai used to wear…the blue shirt and tough brown shorts, bearing signs of wear and tear. Goggles and a jungle of hair. The only differences were the cloak he wore, colored tan with brown trimming to help blend in with the surrounding desert (heck, it probably helped with the heat too)…and the odd device strapped to his wrist. A 12-year-old Tai, in the flesh…or rather, he should say a 'Taichi' in the flesh.

Davis looked down at Taichi, who had been the one to speak. The jungle-headed boy pointed at a large hotpot sitting between the four, which was brimming with boiling, bubbling soup. "Hungry?"

"You have to ask?!" replied Davis with a sudden smile. Now that he wasn't in any immediate danger, his stomach was finally able to recognize that it hadn't eaten since before all this craziness had begun. Sitting down between Rei and Taichi, the Child of Miracles looked around. "First off…let me see if I have this right." He then began pointing fingers. "Gabo, Zero, Rei, and Taichi, right?"

"Yup! Taichi Yagami. How'd you know?"

"I heard you all talking before I blacked out." And it wouldn't have been hard to guess Taichi's name anyway. "The name's Davis. Davis Inoue."

"Pleased to meet ya!" Taichi smiled as he grabbed a bowl out of a backpack and poured a whole heaping helping of soup into the bowl. Handing Davis a spoon, Taichi said, "Bon appetit."

Davis practically tore into the meaty concoction, savoring the warm broth and the feel of thick beef mashing against his teeth and tongue. "Mmm…so good…" His stomach was warning him now: NEVER go without food when going on weird interdimensional travels!

"So…" Zero calmly downed a whole bowl with one gulp. "How come you fell out of the sky? That's what Rei saw."

Davis frowned. How much should he tell them? "…would 'came from another world' be any help?"

"Well, Taichi and Rei are," admitted Zero as he pointed at the two 12-year-olds. The AeroVeedramon whacked himself on the head for missing the obvious. Of course this Davis fellow would be coming from another world! "Okay, well…how about that armor stuff Rei said you had on?"

"I was wondering about that," remarked Gabo the Gabumon, his eyes scouring him with suspicion. Davis frowned at that look; why was he looking at him like that? He hadn't done anything wrong. "Are you sure you're not a servant of Demon in disguise? Or someone like Neo?"

Davis frowned. "Hey now, don't accuse me of serving a creep like Demon. Besides, I can't serve a guy who's been deleted."

Cue looks of absolute shock and awe. "DEMON'S DEAD?!" yelped Zero.

"You're lying!" accused Gabo. "You're trying to confuse us!"

"Am not." Davis sighed. "When I said I'm from another world…I really mean another world." He tried to emphasize his last words, trying to get his point across to Taichi.

Fortunately, Yagami was able to understand. "Ah…you're from a different Digital World then?"

"Yep. Complete with a different Earth too." Davis sipped the broth, cherishing the taste. "Can I have some more?"

"Sure," replied Rei as she scooped some more soup into Davis's bowl. "So…how'd you end up here?"

Davis shrugged. "That's just it. No idea how or why I'm going to place after place." Slurp. "Some places are just downright weird." Munch munch. "Some places are creepy." Sip. "And sometimes I end up in places where the bad guys won." Slosh slurp. "All I know is that my partner and I got hit by a bolt of lightning." Sluuuurp. "And then we ended up going to world after world. I've gotten separated from my partner and have no idea where he is." SLUUUURP. "And as if things aren't bad enough, some Digimon is destroying these worlds. I have no idea why, but that's just what's happening." A sigh of pleasure. "Man, that stuff's good."

The four looked at him inquisitively, unsure of what to make of his story. Taichi suddenly made a realization. "Hey, you have a partner? Does that mean you're a Tamer too?!"

"…what's a Tamer?"

Taichi facefaulted. "You don't know what a Tamer is?"

"Nope. Ever heard of a Digidestined?"

"…wha?"

Davis sighed. More differences. Just go with the flow…complaining won't help anything. "Oh well…" Grumbling, the Child of Miracles leaned back against the ground, gazing into the sky above. "I suppose I'll just hang with you guys until I'm warped away again to wherever." Now that he put some thought to it…the idea of looping from world to world in a never-ending cycle felt like some strange version of what Shaun had went through. He was trapped in the past…and I'm trapped going from world to world, with no control over what's happening.

He really hoped he'd at least get back together with Veemon soon. Until then, he'd have to cope. Losing his cool like he had in the 'Noodle Cart Daisuke' world wouldn't work. It'd only make him angrier in the long run. "So…what's your deal? You guys fightin' Demon or something?"

Taichi nodded. Rei was silent as the gogglehead began retelling the tale of how Neo Saiba – a master Tamer and champion of the D-1 Tournament – was working for Demon, a virus-turned-Dark Digimon bent on taking over the Digital World. Taichi had been called to the Digital World by HolyAngemon, so that he could defeat Demon before he could use his secret weapon: a Super Ultimate. At the moment, they had recently faced off against a member of a group called Alias III, which worked for Neo.

"Super Ultimate…I take it it's more powerful than a Mega?" asked Davis.

"What's a Mega?" confusedly said Gabo.

Davis arched an eyebrow. "I mean, you know? Mega? Baby, In-Training, Rookie, Champion, Ultimate, Mega?"

"What?" muttered Taichi, befuddled by Davis's words. "It's Baby I, Baby II, Child, Adult, Perfect, and Ultimate. Hence, 'Super Ultimate'."

Davis sweatdropped. "…so, more powerful than a Mega. Got it." Glancing over at Zero, the Digidestined asked, "Your partner's only an Ulti…er, 'Perfect'. Think you'll be able to beat someone like Demon on your own?"

Zero snorted. "Hey now, I may only be a Perfect, but I've already beaten TWO Ultimates! Deathmon and Piemon!"

Davis blinked. Deathmon had been one of Demon's Black Generals during the Odaiba War. And he assumed Piemon was Piedmon…and Piedmon had been one of the Dark Masters. "Wow."

"After all, with our combination tactics," boasted Taichi as he got up, standing beside his partner. "Our win ratio is…"

Taichi and Zero flashed a 'V for Victory' sign. "100 PERCENT!"

Gabo sighed. "It's not like a perfect win ratio will help against Demon…" All the while, Taichi and Zero ran in circles, arm-in-arm, chanting 'La la la, 100 percent, la la la!'

Davis sweatdropped at Taichi and Zero's dance…and then he briefly thought about something. "HolyAngemon…I'd like to meet this guy." After all, he didn't know how long he'd be here. Might as well acquaint himself with the head honcho.

Gabo frowned. "Hm. I don't think we should-"

"Okay!"

Gabo facefaulted at Taichi's immediate response. "YOU IMPULSIVE MORON! WE DON'T KNOW JACK ABOUT THIS DAVIS GUY!"

"So? Wherever he came from, he beat Demon!"

Davis coughed. "Well, to be honest, I didn't-"

"And if he's offering to help, we should let him help!" Taichi looked favorably at his fellow gogglehead as he converted the materials to data and put them inside a data chip. "Besides, this guy's good. I can just tell!"

"How?" grumbled Gabo, rolling his eyes.

Taichi just smiled a knowing smile, staring straight into Davis's eyes. "Like I said…I can just tell." The look of courage and confidence, fully aware of all dangers and obstacles, looking ahead to ultimate victory…it was a look that Davis had seen many times in the eyes of Tai.

It was at that moment that Davis knew that Taichi Yagami was as strong as the Tai he knew. "Thanks for the vote of confidence," said the Child of Miracles with a grin. "Anyhow…I suppose we should be off then?"

"Not so fast!" interrupted Gabo. "Taichi, we're on a mission! We are on our way to Demon's Castle! Why? Because you have to beat Demon! We can't just go back to Holy Angel Castle!"

Taichi grumbled as he scratched at his hair. "Oh come on, it's not like it's the end of the world. Besides, I think HolyAngemon would like to meet this guy." Frowning, Taichi glanced over at Zero. "But it's too heavy for Zero to fly with just me, Rei, and Gabo…how are we gonna get there quickly with FOUR people…?"

"MEGA ARMOR ENERGIZE!"

A flash of gold tinged with red and blue. Moments passed as the air around grew hotter and quickly cooled down to the normal temperature. The wind rushed by, whipping past the golden armor that Davis Inoue now wore, his right arm clad with the Gauntlet of Courage and his left arm clad with the Gauntlet of Friendship. Slowly hovering three feet into the air, Davis cracked, "I can carry someone."

"Dibs!" exclaimed Gabo. Taichi and Zero both shot him an 'Oh, now you're okay with him?' look. The Gabumon retorted, "I've never seen a human fly before!" Taichi and Zero shrugged, conceding the point. Rei just giggled.

And so Davis – holding Gabo in his arms – took to the air as Zero, with Taichi and Rei on his back, ascended. "Holy Angel Castle is this-a-way!" exclaimed the AeroVeedramon as they took off. Davis quietly followed, wondering what kind of Digimon HolyAngemon was.

But as they took to the air, flying at high speed, a little ninja suddenly appeared at their old campsite. "Uh oh…HEY WAIT! I HAVE SOMETHING TO TELL YOU!!!" Igamon grimaced as they disappeared into the distance; he had a warning to give! Neo's Army…it's coming to Holy Angel Castle!

Igamon's warning was unknown…and so Davis and Zeromaru rocketed off towards Holy Angel Castle, with Gabo, Taichi, and Rei in tow.

…at least, until a thorny whip wrapped around Zero's leg. "What the-?!"

A jerk of the whip pulled him down, Taichi and Rei yelping all the way. Davis screamed, "GUYS!"

"Just keep going on to Holy Angel Castle! We'll be fine!" yelled Taichi as Zero righted himself, facing a blonde-haired female in scant clothing and some plant-like Digimon, like Lilymon…only taller and with a rose for a head.

Gabo grimaced as he said, "Well, keep going! Taichi will be fine; he and Zero have a knack for getting out of troublesome situations! Even when Zero was an Adult, he was beating Perfects! They'll be just fine!"

"…I hope so." Davis hadn't even known Taichi that long…but if he was anything like Tai, he'd be able to hold his own.

xxxx

/Atrium, Arbitermon's Station, The Nexus/

Ken's nostrils flared. "You!?"

Everyone else showed looks of shock at the sight before them.

Ken Ichijouji was looking straight at the Digimon Emperor.

The tyrant – a perfect carbon copy of Ken's former alter ego, dark blue clothes, cape, gauntlet, fuzzy hair, and all – turned towards them, his eyebrow arched in a quizzical fashion. It was apparent by his height that he was about Tai's age. By his side was Omnimon, his right arm sporting a black helix, its two strands coiling around his limb. "What's with the looks? I'm surely not that hideous to look at."

The Digidestined from Universe-(0)(1) said nothing. They just glared, quietly and angrily at the person who had just arrived in the Atrium…Ken most especially.

Sighing, the dark teen finished, "Oh well, I can only suppose I'm just a 'blast from the past.' Would it be too much to assume that my counterpart in your world lost?"

"You can bet the farm on that!" yelled Tai. His eyes settled on the titan standing next to him. A fresh peal of anger erupted in his eyes. "Let me guess…your 'bodyguard' once belonged to the Children of Courage and Friendship."

The tyrant smirked. "Indeed. Omegamon was once the partner of both Taichi and Yamato…but as you can see, my Dark Helix is capable of suppressing even his will." Smirking, he looked over at Ken. "You really should have kept going. You wouldn't believe how much was accomplished after Chimeramon fell…such a pity that you gave up so soon." The calm, confident tone…laced with intent to taint and allure. His way led to power…but it also led to darkness. If he thought he was going to corrupt Ken, he had another thing coming.

Gatomon hissed at the dictator, snarling, "You just get out of our sight, Emperor! Or we'll tear you to shreds!" The resolute gazes from the other Digidestined gathered told him to take a hike. Ken's glare…was the worst of all. If it could, it would have reduced the tyrant to atoms.

Shrugging, the dark Digidestined replied, "Well, I know when I'm not wanted. Come Omegamon, I'm famished." As he walked away with his bodyguard towards the food dispensers, he replied, "Oh, and by the way…I don't know about your particular version, but my title is the Digimon Kaiser. Learn it well."

The Digidestined stared at the back of the Kaiser, unsettled by his presence. Then again, Darkheart was here as well…and he was the worse one.

The total sum of Good on this station seemed to have a tough time at it compared to the total sum of Evil. Valmarmon, Darkheart…and now the Digimon Kaiser.

Who else on this station possessed mastery over the darkness?

PLOP!

A smoking body fell on the floor of the Atrium, dropped by Arbitermon. The impassive Digimon stared silently at the charred armor of the corrupted human. "I trust you'll behave now?"

"I'll behave," meekly muttered Darkheart.

Arbitermon immediately turned and left, his body phasing through the walls.

Growling, Darkheart slowly stood – his entire body feeling like it had just been fried, toasted, baked, and roasted at twenty-five gazillion degrees for an hour – and tried to shake off the pain, taking in his surroundings at a glance.

He first saw none other than Kari Kamiya and some of her compatriots from Universe-(0)(1). He opened his mouth to say something twisted…but immediately decided against it. As fun as it would have been, he didn't want to risk the chance of being pummeled by that freak Arbitermon. It was like the guy had eyes everywhere! Besides, that Tai was giving him the evil eye, and he wasn't in the mood for complaints, snarky attitudes, or stuck-up siblings roaring about 'vengeance and justice' or some claptrap like that.

So he just settled for going over to the central column and watching television. Maybe watching humans get killed in Predator would cure his doldrums…because, to be frank, Arbitermon had bashed the ever-loving tar out of him.

"It seems you've made the creator of this station quite cross."

Darkheart glanced quietly at the Digimon Kaiser, calmly cutting his way through a luscious sirloin that smelled wonderful. "Where'd you get the steak?"

"Ask, and ye shall receive," mocked the Kaiser as he pointed at one of the little microwave doors.

Darkheart frowned, staring at the bluish-turquoise hatches. "…hmm. Porterhouse. Medium rare. 32 ounces. Marinated Don Shula style."

Ding.

Darkheart blinked as the hatch opened up, revealing a Porterhouse cooked to perfection. "Wow." A quick whiff revealed that it even smelled nice. "Heh. Thought I'd never get another one of these after I conquered all of America." Grabbing the steak with his armored hands, the corrupted Digidestined began chewing voraciously into the steak, not even bothering to use utensils.

"Undignified neanderthal," muttered the Kaiser.

"Emo boy," retorted Darkheart.

"I've heard worse," remarked the tyrant as he chewed silently. "You know…it seems you aren't used to encountering others more powerful than yourself."

"And conquering the entire planet Earth and absorbing its life energy WOULDN'T be cause for a superiority complex?"

"Quite true…but it's not wise to agitate a Digimon that has, apparently, god-like powers." Shifting his gaze towards the powerful warrior, the Kaiser finished, "At the moment, we are stranded here on this station…and so I suggest going along until this whole affair is over and done with." A smirk suddenly came to the Kaiser's face. And then I can get back to conquering the Digital World.

Darkheart simply smirked as he continued chewing at his slab of meat. I came here of my own free will you simpleton…but things are getting interesting now. He would stick around. For now.

The Digidestined of Universe-(0)(1) kept a wary eye on Darkheart as he sat side-by-side with the Digimon Kaiser. A meeting of the bad guys. Never a good thing.

"It doesn't really matter how you feel about those two."

Everyone turned around to see none other than Shaun Kamiya standing there, his green eyes staring straight at the backs of both Darkheart and the Kaiser. "Because until Antimon has been dealt with, you won't be able to return to your world…so you'll just have to deal with it." Sighing, the Child of Wisdom stared at the Digidestined of Universe-(0)(1), a melancholy smile on his face. "Sorry about earlier."

"It's no problem. You kind of had a valid reason," warily responded Tai, not exactly eager to experience the sequel of 'Fist to the Face'.

"It's just…" Sighing, the last Digidestined of Universe-(1)(-1) stared down at his Crest of Wisdom. "Your Shaun may have died, but he succeeded. It means that I didn't do enough…that I could've done something else to finish the job." But what? What could he have done? The answer eluded him. "I suppose it doesn't matter anyway…" Glancing quietly at the six humans and the three Digion from Universe-(0)(1), he continued, "My universe is already gone. For all we know, by the time this whole incident is over, so will yours."

That thought brought a chilling realization to the denizens of Universe-(0)(1). The atmosphere of the room about them suddenly felt denser, heavier…despite the general controlled state of pandemonium (if that made any sense…but hey, most places with karaoke machines are like that), the thought of their home being destroyed in an instant nearly floored them.

What if it was possible? What if their home was annihilated in a flash? They wouldn't be there to defend it…or, well, anything. The idea that such a thing could happen was unthinkable. But it was a distinct possibility; Shaun had lost his universe. So had many others on this station. They had probably thought the same thing…that their home would escape damnation, that their would somehow avoid detection, that their universe would remain safe.

Good or evil, fate wasn't picky. Neither was, apparently, Antimon.

Shaun was quiet as the looks of fear, unease, and anxiety washed over the looks of the denizens of Universe-(0)(1), with Joe sporting a mixture of all three. In the end, he couldn't tell the future. His world was gone now; everything that had once defined him was gone. His mission had ended in failure. His partner was dead, for good (BelialMyotismon had seen to that). A future he had been fighting for – a safer future, a future without the threat of Demon – was doomed to never occur. Even his past was dying, day by day; his memory had deteriorated severely over the course of years. Save for the most important of events, he had forgotten so many things. The books that held his autobiography had been lost, destroyed along with his universe. The very thought of how much he had lost had driven him mad with woe and fury.

But now was not the time to grieve.

In one universe, he had done better. The results of that success were here, right now…alive. But if worse came to worse, they would be alone and without a home. They would likely end up going to some other universe to try and forge a new life…and that would require adaptation. They would have to survive…and they would need all the help they could get.

Clutching the Crest of Wisdom in his fist, the Child of Wisdom from Universe-(1)(-1) swore to Shaun Kamiya-(0)(1) that he would do his best to watch over and protect the Digidestined of Universe-(0)(1).

Your hardships and pains…all of your sacrifices…I won't let them be in vain. Not like mine. You won't endure my fate. I promise.

xxxx

/Holy Angel Castle, Universe-(V)(1)/

This guy's just MagnaAngemon with a different name, thought Davis as he stared at HolyAngemon. Only one difference; the white robes that adorned his form. It seemed to fit with the motif of this castle: white, angelic, pure. This palace of sterling crystal, surrounded by a courtyard of green grass and walls of white stone…a very holy place indeed. One that actually felt…'earthy'. If that made it any sense. It felt REAL. It felt like a place where Digimon lived, where people devoted time to fixing and maintaining the place. It was not the soulless, empty monolith of Hikari Yagami…the light that pervaded this place was far more soulful, far more invigorating than Hikari's. And the smell…the rich soil, the exertion of Digimon that trained and prepared for wartime…the undeniable sounds and sensations of life…this place possessed more life than either the dead world of Darkheart or the fake world constructed by a god that once been human.

Davis inhaled the air, smelling it, RELISHING it. Despite the ordeals he had been going through, this place was actually quite nice. It let him focus on other things. More…present things. "So, there's an army headed this way?"

"Yes, according to Igamon." HolyAngemon frowned as he gazed at this mysterious teen. Igamon had arrived some time ago, informing them that Neo was leading an army of Dark Digimon to Holy Angel Castle. Likewise, he had said – alongside Gabo's testimony – that Taichi and Zero were held up fighting another member of Alias III. Ever since Igamon had arrived, the defenders and denizens of Holy Angel Castle had been preparing for the inevitable conflict. As for this new human…he had been quiet. Merely watching the sun slowly dip downward to the horizon, casting a bloody glow on the land. Even as Leo – a Panjyamon, a Perfect-level Digimon who was his second-in-command – continued to prep the soldiers for battle, HolyAngemon could not help but wonder what this boy was capable of. Perhaps he'd be able to stem the tide in this war…much like he hoped Taichi and Zero would.

"I just hope that this place doesn't meet that…thing."

HolyAngemon looked down, witnessing the melancholy look on the human's face. Whatever this boy must have endured…it had to have been horrific. Perhaps from a confrontation with his own Demon? From what little the boy had told concerning his own world, the fact that he and his allies – called 'Digidestined', which he found to be an oddly fitting term – had defeated Demon had been most interesting (If Davis had felt more truthful, he would've said that technically…Demon had been devoured by a more powerful enemy. But that enemy, namely BelialMyotismon, had been beaten anyway, so the point was moot). "A threat?"

"One that can destroy whole worlds, as far as I know…and I have no idea what it is."

"A Digimon?"

"I guess." He had no clue. That gigantic behemoth that had passed him by in that endless void. Those thick, overwhelming hands that had torn the sky asunder. With the exception of the previous world (where Daisuke had actually proved that this monster could be harmed), most of his appearances had equaled a destroyed world. Not that he had seen him that much…but the sheer power was overwhelming. "I don't know why either."

HolyAngemon sighed. "A troublesome threat then." But the hidden and unknown could wait. The darkening blot in the sky, slowly morphing into a recognizable mass of Dark Digimon, held his attention now. His experienced eyes picked out the incoming horde. "They come…Devimon, Evilmon, Kuwagamon, Flymon comprise most of the attack force…but I see a Megadramon, a Gigadramon, a VenomVamdemon, a Boltmon, a Gryphomon…" HolyAngemon scowled. "A human boy and some other strange Digimon atop Megadramon…" Was that Digimon the super weapon of Demon? Had it already hatched?! "Many Adults, two Perfects, and three Ultimates…" Not very favorable odds. The aerial forces would have to take care of the bulk of the assault force …but the heavy hitters serving as the enemy vanguard would have to be taken care of by Leo, the two Knightmon…and this boy. I hope I don't have to step in. If so, then the power of Demon's army has gone beyond what I anticipated.

Davis Inoue frowned as explosions began to ring out in the sky. His eyes fell upon the white-haired boy who set down in front of Holy Angel Castle. …what's with him?

Without saying another word, Davis took to the air, setting down between the two factions.

Such an action caused Leo to growl. "FOOLISH BOY! STEP BACK! THE ENEMY HAS TWO ULTIMATES ON THEIR SIDE!"

Davis didn't bother to reply. Two Ultimates…two Megas. I've faced worse. With his friends, of course. Friends he really really REALLY wanted to see again. But…I guess I have to fight until then. He'd endure.

"Hmm…I've never seen a bug like you before," muttered Neo Saiba, his dark blue eyes narrowed out of curiosity. Another human…but with such gaudy armor? Something doesn't add up. "Mind telling me how you got here?"

Davis shrugged. "Don't really know myself. But I've already gotten a walkthrough on what's going on here." He shifted his feet, the golden armor scraping the rocky ground. "And I know you're bad news. So if you wanna attack, feel free to lead off."

Neo sneered. Just like Taichi. How pathetic. "I must say, I don't really feel inclined to squash a bug like you right now. I've got monsters to annihilate, and Arkadimon, the ultimate Digimon, is eager to partake."

"Chichichichichi!!!" chirped the pinkish creature, its lithe body twitching with each movement. Black horns, tentacles and spines the color of blood…an alien physique, exuding an aura of evil disturbingly similar to Demon's. Green eyes, blank as could be, glowered maliciously…teeming with a deep, burning hunger.

Davis had an unhealthy flashback to the Digimon Emperor and Chimeramon. Eesh. Just like my luck. "Whatever. I've been insulted and hit by worse."

Neo smirked. "So you say. Arkadimon, however, is beyond contemporary classification…he may be only a Child, but he is without compare. A shame you won't live to see him as a Super Ultimate." A snap of his gloved fingers.

Megadramon and Gigadramon charged.

Before Davis could attack, the two Knightmon leapt forward.

SCHWING!

The two dragons were split in twain, the two Perfect Digimon having swung with all their might. "You'll have to do better than that! Who's next?!"

Davis blinked. Wow. They're quick.

"Hmph." A large humanoid grunted, his green muscles pulsing as he hefted a large battle axe with both hands. Given the black leather pants, open helmet of silver, raggedy orange hair, and a plethora of bolts and chains protruding from his body, one would be forgiven for wondering 'Did Frankenstein and the Hulk have a baby?'. "Showoffs…"

The two Knightmon charged.

Boltmon threw his weapon, spinning like a boomerang. "TOMAHAWK STEINER!!!"

"MAGNA KICK!"

PING!

Gold met steel.

Boltmon could only gape as Davis's high kick sent his tomahawk catapulting into the air. "HEY!" Before he could retaliate, the twin Knightmon were upon him. The mighty monster scowled as his hands clutched their blades, the finely-honed swords digging into his palms. "You weaklings…you think you can beat me? I'M AN ULTIMATE!"

"And now you're dead."

Those were Leo's last words before he landed, using his momentum to slice Boltmon in half. The Panjyamon's white muscles bristled as he swung the blood off of his sword; he sent a look of grudging praise towards Davis before turning his attention to Neo.

The Child of Miracles grinned at the look. And he grinned again as another thought came to mind.

Ultimates and Megas equaled Perfects and Ultimates…three Perfects had just beaten an Ultimate with relatively little effort. And just moments ago, in a clash of Perfects, the two Knightmon had destroyed Megadramon and Gigadramon with one blow! Level wasn't the deciding factor on this world, it seemed; personal drive, willpower, tactics, strategy…those were far more important. And given Gabo's words from earlier, it wasn't uncommon to see a Digimon's level rendered meaningless in a fight.

That actually made him feel a bit better, given the fact that VenomVamdemon was now attacking.

POW!

Giant fists crashed into the ground. VenomVamdemon chuckled as his body, covered with hardened red skin, twisted into another punch. The earth split, and the three sword-wielding defenders of Holy Angel Castle dodged.

Davis couldn't help but feel slightly underwhelmed, despite the beastly appearance of Myotismon's weaker digivolved form. He had actually seen this guy before, as VenomMyotismon…towering over Odaiba, fighting and falling to the Digidestined. THAT monster had been like a roving skyscraper. This guy was barely over a hundred feet tall! Still big, true…but this slobbering, chuckling brute garnered a similar reaction as MaloMyotismon had: weak at a primal level. Sure, he possessed great power…but he wielded it like a lumbering club. Leo and the twin Knightmon were quick to take advantage of this, leaping around and striking at the beast's furry legs with their blades.

Davis clinched his fists. Okay, my turn!

"CHIIII!"

A flash of pink and red.

Davis Inoue frowned at the sudden dizziness that gripped him. What the…?

That's when he realized that Arkadimon's tentacle had pierced into his stomach.

xxxx

/Monitor Room, Arbitermon's Station, The Nexus/

"PRODIGIOUS! I FOUND HIM!"

Izzy Izumi suddenly blinked.

"Oh wait, he's BEING KILLED!"

The Child of Knowledge paled as he watched the scene of Davis's stomach being impaled by some strange Digimon, utterly silent. With only a transmitting image, it felt so otherworldly that it didn't seem real…then again, this whole SCENARIO didn't feel real. "Okay now, how to get him out of there...I need to get Arbitermon…"

"It's already under control."

"WAH!!!" yelped Izzy as he whirled around, staring straight at Arbitermon's impassive form. How the heck does he move so quietly?! Behind the seemingly omniscient being was Revemon, his hooves clattering on the floor. "Um…Davis-"

"I am synchronizing Revemon with that universe's binary code," interrupted Arbitermon, his form glowing slightly…

CHOOM.

Revemon vanished. Arbitermon turned his bright white eyes (galaxies? Did he even HAVE eyes?) towards the Child of Knowledge. "He will retrieve your friend."

xxxx

/Outside Holy Angel Castle, Universe-(V)(1)/

"Chichichiiii…" hissed Arkadimon with glee.

Neo Saiba chuckled at this development. VenomVamdemon was giving his all against the other three defenders of Holy Angel Castle, but the three Perfects were nicking away at him with fast, quick blows. At this rate though, it wouldn't matter. "Go ahead Arkadimon. Absorb this bug's power. He might actually give you enough to make it to Adult."

Absorbing my energy, huh? Davis scowled as he clutched at Arkadimon's tentacle, break in his armor leaking blood. "Fat…CHANCE!!!"

Seconds passed.

Then Arkadimon started shrieking.

"What?" Neo Saiba quickly gazed down at the digivice strapped to his wrist, analyzing the data on Arkadimon's energy levels. His energy levels are…fluctuating…no. His eyes widened as the wind whipped his blue scarf. They're decreasing! Unbelievable! There was no way! That bug…can also absorb energy like Arkadimon?! "Arkadimon, ABSORB MORE POWER!" Neo whirled towards Gryphomon. "YOU! Attack that human in the gold armor!"

Gryphomon snarled as he leapt forward, his claws flexing for a fatal blow against the golden human.

Neo grinned. THIS would do it. With this annoying bug gone, then Leo and the two Knightmon would be easy pickings for Arkadimon. Then…HolyAngemon would have no choice but to show himself. The smug human smirked as he stared up at the pinnacle of Holy Angel Castle. Just as planned.

"YOU'RE IN THE WAY!!!"

Neo blinked as VenomVamdemon's head went sailing over the castle. "…huh?"

BOOOOOM!!!

Gryphomon yelped as AeroVeedramon dive-bombed into his body feet first, landing right by Davis and Arkadimon. Taichi and Rei were both sitting atop Zero's back, the former one flashing a thumbs-up. "Hiya!"

Davis stared at the crushed Gryphomon and the beheaded VenomVamdemon. And Taichi was just…nonchalantly doing a thumbs-up??? You couldn't really blame him for what he said next. "…awesome…"

Then VenomVamdemon's waist sprouted furry arms and a fanged mouth. "YOU KNOCKED MY HEAD OFF!!!"

Davis screamed. "AAAHH!!! NOT AWESOME!!!"

Zero turned, rearing a fist. "How about you SHUT UP?!"

POW!!!

Everyone gaped at the massive hole that appeared in VenomVamdemon's torso, blown away as easily as the wind parts sand. Davis's jaw was practically hanging loose at the sight of VenomVamdemon dissipating into data. "…holy cow."

Then he remembered that Arkadimon was still attached to him. Why you little!!!

"GICHICHICHI!!!" shrieked Arkadimon, the Child Digimon getting fed up with this persistent foe.

Neo Saiba skidded to a halt behind Arkadimon, clearly intent on getting out. He hadn't anticipated the assault to go so badly; all three of his Ultimates were down for the count, and the bulk of the aerial squad would be easy pickings for Taichi, the human in golden armor, and Leo. So many bugs, trying to corrupt my program…you'll pay for this! Demon would not be pleased, but he would not dare harm him. Besides…his interest would be more than piqued by this strange human…

Thick fists wrapped around both Neo and Arkadimon. Zero grinned. "Hiya!"

Neo snarled as Arkadimon squealed. Davis stilled tried to get the little Child's tentacle out of his body ("GAH! LET GO YOU FREAKIN' BUG!"). However, his eyes settled on one particular figure. Not on Taichi's hard, angry brown irises…but on the sorrowed amber eyes of the girl. Rei…this was not supposed to happen. He didn't intend for this meeting to occur until later!

Footsteps. Leo and the twin Knightmon walked towards the group; the warrior lion grinned at Neo's incredulous glare. "So THIS is Neo Saiba and Demon's Super Ultimate Digimon…HolyAngemon's going to want to talk to you."

Taichi grinned at the thought of Neo getting his just desserts. However, his eyes were drawn by the tentacle attached to Davis. "Need a hand?"

"Yeah, kind of," dryly replied Davis.

Hooves clattered.

Taichi turned his head (briefly wondering why Rei suddenly looked so sad and sober) towards the sound, about to say hello to 'Centarumon'…only to see someone else entirely. "Hey there!"

"Greetings," jovially replied the centaur, who was feeling somewhat relieved he had exited over a mile away from the battlefield. "I'm actually here for this fellow." Placing his hands upon Davis's shoulders, the centaur said, "Name's Revemon. And I believe it's time to end this little trip."

Davis Inoue blinked, having no idea what in the world was happening now. And how come he seemed to know him? "Huh?"

Revemon smiled.

CHOOM.

Davis paled at that sound. Oh great, here we go again!

The space around Revemon condensed, coagulating into the portal that consumed him…and Davis.

However, he happened to be attached to Arkadimon at the moment. Who was attached to Zero…and to Neo, Taichi, and Rei by proxy.

Taichi blanched. "WHAT THE HEY?!?!"

Then they were gone.

Leo stared, his mind actually ignoring the winding down of the battle in the sky. …where did they go? WHAT HAPPENED?!

xxxx

/Atrium, Arbitermon's Station, The Nexus/

CHOOM.

Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned towards the source of the sound.

Out of the portal stepped Revemon…leading a number of hangers-on.

One was Davis Inoue, who finally ripped the tentacle out of his gut. A hiss of pain rushed past his teeth. Argh…stupid Arkadimon!

"Davis?"

The Child of Miracles turned, briefly gaping at his surroundings. However, his attention – briefly split between the gathering of so many Digimon and humans of all shapes and sizes – quickly fell upon the wide eyes of 'his' girl. "…Kari?"

The Digidestined at the table impulsively stood, eyes wide.

Davis's chest nearly exploded with sheer happiness, the terror of Hikari Yagami, the god-like Daisuke, and Darkheart evaporating in moments. His friends! They were here (wherever 'here' was, he didn't care, they were HERE with HIM)!!! So many things experienced, so much darkness, horror, and downright weirdness…all gone in an instant. The euphoria was overwhelming. "Guys…"

"HEY! It's you again!" exclaimed Darkheart as he waved a hand. "Fancy meeting you!"

Davis Inoue stared, his euphoria dissipating to leave a state of utter blankness. …huh…?

"DAVISH!!!"

POW!!!

Davis didn't even have the opportunity to groan as Veemon barreled into him headfirst. "Davish, you're okay! I was wondering when you'd show up!"

No answer.

"Davish?"

Veemon started shaking Davis's head. "Come on Davish, wake up. Tell me what stuff you saw! Did you bring any nachos with you?"

Davis was too unconscious to say anything.

Revemon stared at the odd scene…and then he finally realized the others that had come with him. "Oh…my apologies. It seems you were brought here by mistake."

Taichi, Rei, Zero, and Neo only stared, blankly. Arkadimon was too busy struggling to escape from Zero's fist to care.

"It matters not."

Revemon turned his head to Arbitermon, who calmly watched as the unconscious Child of Miracles was mobbed by his friends. With a flick of the hand, the dimensional field around Davis was shattered, coagulating into a tangible field of energy that rotated about his form. The leftover traces of data and particles…he could see it all, understand it all…and he knew where the boy had been, what universes he had been to. Potential allies awaited. "When he awakens, have someone explain the situation. And I'll leave it to you to explain matters to your…passengers." Arbitermon gazed once, his eyes narrowing.

Taichi, Rei, and Zero blinked. Neo felt an unfamiliar twinge of fear. Even Arkadimon had the sense to stop struggling.

Arbitermon sighed. So many volatile personalities…a deadly concoction, on the verge of exploding. "I will return as soon as possible."

CHOOM.

And then he was gone.

xxxx

The first place Arbitermon was emerged was completely and utterly blanketed with blackness.

Well…not really. There was a fine sea of particles, a plasma stretching outward for infinity, expanding at speeds beyond a human's ability to calculate. Radiation and particles passed through Arbitermon, his body phasing through the shower of matter that expanded throughout the endless expanse. He couldn't help but frown. This is a very young universe…how did that boy survive in this vacuum?

A SECOND VISITOR? MY MY, I MUST BE QUITE POPULAR TODAY.

Arbitermon frowned at the sound of that teenage voice, echoing from everywhere and nowhere. "…"

THEN AGAIN, AT THIS POINT OF TIME, 'TODAY' HAS LITTLE TO NO MEANING. NO SENSE OF TIME DOES, NOT UNTIL THE FIRST CIVILIZED RACE EMERGES FROM THIS ENDLESS EXPANSE. I MUST SAY, THAT IS A VERY INTERESTING TRICK YOU'VE PULLED…A MINIATURIZED UNIVERSE. FASCINATING.

Arbitermon's eyes narrowed ever so slightly. He deduced that just by looking at me. He was clearly speaking to someone on an echelon of power equal to his own…or Antimon's.

GIVE ME ONE MOMENT, SO TO SPEAK.

Arbitermon only stared as everything around him began to warp and condense, twisting and shrinking…whiteness now shrouded everything as an entire universe condensed into a single black point. A singularity? No…is it possible…?

The point suddenly bulged, sprouting arms. Legs. A head. Hair.

Arbitermon stared as the black color morphed into the color of human flesh; chestnut hair tinged with maroon drew his attention as lucid brown eyes stared. With but a thought, the image of a white shirt and gray shorts materialized before him. "…I am surprised to see you accomplish such a thing in so short a period of time."

The boy shrugged. "The idea came to me as I analyzed you. Bounding portions of the universe into a set of connected pocket dimensions, and then sealing that set of dimensions into another, bounded pocket dimension…then manipulating the boundary into an image more suitable for one's purpose." A smile was flashed at Arbitermon. "Similar to what you did with the universe within you, yes?"

"Yes." This was no ordinary being…not even a person, or a thing…this was a force of nature, capable of a power beyond imagination. This was something…colossal. He could turn the tide.

"In any case, the only thing I have approaching a 'name' would be Daisuke Motomiya." Daisuke smiled, staring with intent interest at Arbitermon. "Perhaps you'd like to indulge me…I'm quite a curious fellow, if you didn't know."

xxxx

To be continued…

Next time…

Issue #10: Gathering the Players

xxxx

Author's Note: I'm back, baby. Hopefully I can finish Crisis by the end of the semester! Call this an early Valentine's Day gift. :-D

Anyhow…we went through a bit of V-Tamer, plus a Digimon Kaiser…Arbitermon meets our lovely little 'Deity Davis'. Won't THAT make for a meeting. In case you can't tell, Arbitermon's going to be going back to the universes Davis went to, to gain some allies. Also, next chapter, I'll introduce most of the remaining fan characters.

Writing for this story is kind of hard, due to the interesting demands placed on it…but it's fun all the same. Should make for quite a climactic ending(s)!

See you soon, and please review!