"I will be death's master"

Chapter 1 – No news is good news?

Taichi Yagami slammed the front door behind him, dumped his schoolbag on the floor and flopped on the couch, switching on the TV. He'd done really well at soccer practice, and all the recent Digiworld problems were more or less solved. School had only just started back after the winter holidays - and the defeat of MaloMyotismon. Koushiro reported that the six younger Digidestined were going back to Digiworld after school to check up on things. The former goggle-boy had felt a slight pang at that - he would have liked to go too, but soccer had gotten in the way. That was why there were other Chosen Children, because the older ones were busy. Not because he wasn't needed and certainly not because he couldn't rise to the challenge.

At any rate Hikari should be home right now… Taichi opened his mouth to give her a yell, then changed his mind. He couldn't really be bothered. There were more important things to do. Food! He needed food. Right now, unless he was going to starve to death within five minutes.

Hmm, he thought, opening the fridge, Getting a bit low on the junk. No chocolate at all! But I could really use a full size super-sandwich.

Fifteen minutes, two tomatoes, half a loaf of bread, three lettuce leaves, some mayonnaise, a small salami, a jar of peanut butter, a hunk of cheese and a jelly bean later, Taichi looked around at the mess that used to be a kitchen. Ooh, Mum was really going to love cleaning this one up. Maybe he should grab a sponge and just wipe some of that salsa off the fruit cake… nah, that would mean he was actually doing something useful. And he had a reputation of untidiness to uphold.

Besides, the TV was waiting.


At about six thirty, long after Taichi had begun snoring, Mrs. Yagami shook him awake to force him to clean up the mess he'd made in the kitchen. She didn't seem to pleased about the fact that he'd smeared food on just about every bench top in the room. Taichi couldn't see what the fuss was all about. What did it matter if the kitchen was a little messed up? Mrs Yagami's food was barely edible anyway, and a bit of muck wasn't going to harm it - it might even do her cooking some good.

"By the way, Taichi," she asked, picking up his stinking shoes "Do you know where Hikari is? It'll be dinner time soon, and she hasn't come home yet."

Normally, Taichi would think his sister had done the smart thing and tried to avoid her mum's cooking, but today he felt a ripple of excitement that he barely noticed under the wave of shock. He nearly dropped the bowl of salad he was holding into the sink.

"She hasn't been here at all?" he nearly shouted.

"No, I haven't seen or heard from her since the two of you left for school this morning." his mother remarked, as she tossed his shoes into the black hole of junk that was his bedroom.

"Um, look, I gotta call Yamato. Urgently. Really!" Taichi stammered, rushing to the phone.

"But you haven't finished cleaning… oh, never mind." his mum finished, shaking her head at the remaining mess that was her kitchen. It would take ages to clean this up, and dinner would be late now. Such a pity, she had a new recipe she wanted to try: chilli and cabbage meatloaf!


Meanwhile, Yamato braced himself as he opened the fridge. Yep, same as usual. Looks like takeaway pizza for dinner again. It was either that or try to make something edible out of the mouldy, half eaten bits and pieces that were in the fridge. Was that a steak or was it Gabumon's old chew toy? It would take hours just to make that taste as good as Mrs Yagami's food. And Yamato decided he'd rather have another round with Myotismon than that.

The phone rang just as he was debating whether to get the Hawaiian or Mexican pizza. "Hello, Ishida residence. Oh, hey Taichi. What's up?"

"Remember how Koushiro said the six were going to Digiworld today? Just to check up on things?"

"Yeah, Takeru told me it'd only take half an hour. So what?"

"Well, it's been just a bit more that half an hour," Taichi replied, sharply, "And Hikari still hasn't come home,"

Yamato was suddenly a whole lot more interested.

"Yeah. Exactly. I'll bet if you ring your brother or Daisuke you'll find exactly that both of them are gone, too. It's not a great situation."

"What could have happened, though?" Yamato asked, really worried now.

"The only thing I can think of is that the Digiport has stuffed up and they can't get back. I'll have to tackle old Izumi about that one, though. You call the others and see whether they're gone too."

"There is another possibility. Stuck in the Digiworld and can't get back. What does this remind you of?"


"Leave your brain on the soccer field again, Yagami?" Yamato snorted. "It's like when we first went there, all those years ago. When we were sucked in and couldn't come back. Maybe that's all that happened, and they'll be back as soon as they've done what they have to do."

"Maybe so, but time passes at the same rate in both the two worlds now. So if our six little pals are gone for a month, then people in this world are going to notice. And search. And possibly figure out where they've gone. And that could get us in trouble, you know?"

"Oh. Yeah. I suppose we better do something, huh."

"Yep. Look, you call the others and see what happened. We don't want a false alarm. I'll see what Koushiro knows."

"Sure. Later."

Yamato stared for a moment at the phone. Then he started to dial the Takaishis' number, thinking that maybe he wouldn't have to decide between the Hawaiian and the Mexican after all.


Sitting in the computer lab at school, Koushiro was completely lost in some computer code he'd found over the Internet. He'd barely moved since the five younger kids had zipped through the Digiport to meet Ken and roam about a bit. He looked around for a while, but he knew there were no more Control Spires to worry about, so why bother? The others should be fine. They were only checking around in case of trouble. Nothing he had to worry about. He didn't notice the time at all until the teacher in the lab told him they were closing up. Koushiro looked at the time. Nearly six o'clock! And no-one had come out of the Digiport at all. Something was definitely wrong.

"Come on, Izumi," Mr Fujiyama told him, "You've got computers at home, you go play there,"

"NO!" Koushiro burst out. "I mean, I have to finish this. Really badly. See, there's this, um, program on the school computers that I don't have at home, and I have to use it and finish this project tonight."

"Bad luck, it'll just have to wait, even if you do know more about computers than I do. You should have finished your project earlier." He had now closed down all the programs on the computer and was shutting it down.

"No please, can't I stay just a bit longer?" he begged, even as the last computer screen turned black and the last flickering light went out.

"I'm sorry, Mr Izumi, but you have to go now and that's final," his teacher said, steering Koushiro out the door and switching off the lights.

He knew when he was beaten. Without even saying goodbye, Koushiro rushed to grab his bag and raced home. Something was definitely wrong. It wasn't unusual for business in the Digiworld to take longer than expected, but he hadn't received a single massage warning him about it. There was no reason he could think of for the others not telling him they were staying late - they were in danger. He had to home so that he could begin to figure out what the heck was happening.


"Yes, Taichi, I know, I'm working on it right now." Koushiro balanced the phone on his shoulder, typing furiously on the computer. "I don't know what happened, but no-one has left the Digiworld at all since they first entered it this afternoon. I'm trying to figure out what happened to them, but I can't contact anyone at all."

"There's nothing? Absolutely no trace of them?" Taichi asked, desperately. "They'd tell you something, surely."

"Well, I did get another weird message from Gennai this morning, but nothing that makes any sense."

"You're sure there are no clues there?"

"Would you call a picture of Leomon and Ogremon tap-dancing a clue?"

"No, I suppose not. Well, if you find anything, give me a yell, okay?"

"Hey, no worries," Koushiro assured him, "I'm on it. I just hope there is something we can do. Later,"

He turned back to his computer. Yep, there were Leomon and Ogremon doing their dance again. How was that supposed to help? He watched the dancing carefully, though, and soon realised that there was a pattern to it. He began tapping at the keyboard. It took a few minutes to get his typing in time with the dance, but he finally got the hang of it. He figured out the different keys for each different step in the dance, and finally cracked the exhausting code.

The dancing digimon disappeared. (How's that for a tongue twister?) The window became blank, just plain white, with a few toolbars slowly appearing. It was starting to look almost like an internet chatroom or something. Well, I'll try anything once, he thought, and began to type.

Koushiro: Could someone please tell me what the heck is going on?

Miyako: KOUSHIRO?!

Koushiro: You were expecting Wizardmon?

Miyako: No, Diaboromon, actually. How did you get through to us?

Koushiro: I have no idea. But I do have a few questions. Why didn't you lot come home? Are the others even with you?

Miayko: Yep, everyone's here, reading over my shoulder. And Gatomon says don't insult Wizardmon.

Koushiro: I'll keep it in mind. Now where are you? And why didn't you come home?

Miyako: Well, we're kind of stuck. Trapped. In this dungeon sort of place. In a castle. You see, we somehow turned up at this mountain, and there was a really weird digimon, and - Daisuke says hurry up, we haven't got all day.

Koushiro: You certainly aren't going anywhere. but why don't the digimon just digivolve and bust out?

Miyako: Another weird thing. They took our digivices. And rookie digimon - sorry, Gatomon, rookie and champion digimon - aren't going to get us very far in this place.

Koushiro: Why would anyone want to capture you, anyway?

Miyako: I don't know, and I don't think I want to find out. If you saw the sort of digimon that live in this place... Oh, no, I think I hear one of them coming now. Look, you and the rest of the group have to come and help us. There's nothing we can do.

The screen flickered, then turned black.

"Miyako? Damn!" Koushiro slammed a fist down on the desk. "This is trouble. They can't come back. They'll be in there for ages. Their parents will find out and get all worried and mad and even if we do get the kids back they'll probably be grounded for all eternity and never be able to go to the digiworld again!"

He gripped the edge of his desk and calmed down enough to start thinking again. Then he grabbed the phone and redialled Taichi's number.

"Yeah, I found them. But they're not coming back."


In the confusion created by the Chosen Children's absence, nobody would notice whether or not their older counterparts were at school, so an emergency meeting was held at Koushiro's the next morning. As the redhead was telling Taichi and Sora what he had found, Jyou and Mimi stumbled through the door.

"Ooh, I'm really getting to hate travelling by those Digiports!" Mimi complained. "I ended up coming through a computer back at the school! You must have done something wrong, Koushiro!"

"It's the quickest way for you to get from America to here. And we need you here."

Mimi sighed "I thought I was through with all this stuff. It's such a nuisance."

"Uh, maybe it's just me," Jyou said, "But aren't we missing someone?"

"Yamato hasn't turned up yet." Sora agreed. "You seen him lately, Taichi?"

"Well, I spoke to him on the phone last night, and Koushiro called him this morning, but nothing other than that."

They didn't have to worry, however, because just then a slightly concerned Mrs Izumi knocked on the door.

"There's another friend of yours at the door, Koushiro." she said, frowning, "But he seems kind of... well... a bit mad, to tell you the truth. Should I let him in?"

"Yes! Let me in, let me in, LET ME IN!" Yamato shouted from somewhere around the front door.

"I think you should let him come in, Mum." Koushiro told her, fighting to keep a straight face.

Seconds later, a bedraggled Yamato stumbled through Koushiro's bedroom door. "Sorry to barge in, Mrs Izumi," he panted, "But I couldn't wait any longer. She might find me." he finished, as if this explained everything.

"Never mind, Mum, never mind." her son smiled. "We'll be fine."

As soon as Mrs Izumi closed the door, everyone cracked up laughing. "It's not that funny" Yamato said, indignantly, "It's an awful nuisance."

"Aw, c'mon, Yama," Taichi grinned at him, "What happened this time?"

The blonde just sighed and flopped down in a chair. "Well, remember, Taichi, how you told me to check if all the younger kids were around? Well, I tried Takeru, but Mum said he wasn't in. I thought hey, no biggie, he's probably just gone off with Hikari someplace. At least, I wanted to think that. Although normally, that would worry me. I mean," He looked at Taichi, "My brother and your sister? Out alone? At 6:30 pm?!"

"Concerning." Taichi replied. "So what, exactly, did you do next?"

"Well, I thought I should call Daisuke, you know, see if there was really something wrong. Or if there wasn't, shock him by saying that Takeru and Hikari had both mysteriously disappeared. But then, when the phone rang, I sort of realised... but then it was too late... And Jun picked it up!" his voice rose to a wail on the last few words, but could barely be heard over the laughter from the rest of the gang.

"Let me guess," Tai said, at last, "Jun has now forgiven you for breaking her heart on Christmas Eve because the fact that you actually rang her house, and she got to the phone and spoke to you, is some sign that you really, truly do love her?"

"And she's been after me ever since." Yamato agreed, gloomily, amid gales of laughter.

"It really is pretty bad luck, Yama," Mimi said, through her giggles, "Jun has absolutely no sense of fashion."

"The price of fame, Ishida." Sora teased. "A celebrity's curse!"

"And speaking of curses, maybe we should figure out what happened to the kids." Koushiro reminded them all. "I'm assuming Daisuke wasn't home?"

"If he was home, he would have saved me."

"Yes, well, it would be the only humane thing to do, wouldn't it?"

"Look, what are we going to do about all this?" Jyou asked, fingering his Digivice nervously. "I mean, I saw it on the news and stuff. Takeru, Hikari, Daisuke, Miyako and Iori have just totally disappeared."

"And Ken," Sora interrupted. "It's even bigger news about him, since he went all weird before."

"This is worse than I thought," Yamato said, shaking his head. He had things other than Jun to think about. "Man, I had no idea."

"So what are we going to do?" Taichi asked, angrily "We can just leave all six of them, plus their digimon, wherever they – actually, what did happen to them, Koushiro?"

"That's what I wanted to talk to you about," their youngest member announced. "I managed to get through to Miyako last night and talk to her. I think something's wrong now, because I can't re-establish the connection. I can, however, use the information she gave me, little as it is. It seems that the digidestined are being held captive in the dungeon of a castle. They were tricked by some strange digimon, or something like that. This digimon has also taken away their digivices, so nobody can digivolve, and our good digimon's current forms aren't going to be able to fight very well."

"So what does this have to do with all of us?" Mimi asked, "I mean, they're supposed to be the fighters now, what are we supposed to do?"

"How can you say that, Mimi?" Taichi cried, angrily.

"Yeah, we've got to do something! I'm not going to sit around here if Takeru's in danger!" Yamato

"Look, stop shouting. My parents won't like it." Koushiro told them. "You're right though. We do have to take action. That's why I've called you here. We're going to go back to Digiworld."

"You say this digimon has captured the other Digidestined," Sora asked, "Won't it try to do the same to us?"

"No, I don't think so, or it would have taken some action by now. Somehow, it would be able to draw us in, create a rift between our worlds. We don't seem to be part of this creature's plan. It obviously doesn't think we're going to be any trouble, either. So we will have some advantage in that we won't be expected."

"Um… that's a good thing, right?" Jyou asked.

"Well, yes. Our digimon can be a lot more powerful than they appear, and two of our digimon can go all the way to Mega. There are some downsides to all this though,"

"Like what?" everyone was suddenly listening attentively.

"Well, for one thing, we'll have to stay in the Digiworld constantly. No jumping back and forth like we have been. We just have to jump right in there and stay there until we've freed the other digidestined. With no-one to look after the Digiport while we're in there, there's no way of us going through it without the danger of being seen."

"But then that must mean…" Sora's voice trailed off as she realised what this meant.

"It means," Koushiro said, solemnly, "That even if we do defeat this digimon, there may be no way for us to get back to the real world."

Everyone was silent for a minute, and stared at Koushiro. You could just read the thoughts on their faces. Can we risk this? What will we do if we don't come back? People will miss us. Is it worth it?

"When we first went to the Digiworld, over four years ago, we had no idea whether we'd ever get home again." Taichi said, slowly. "We just had to go along with it, do what we could, even if we didn't know what would happen. But that didn't stop us then, and we shouldn't let it worry us now. We have to do whatever we can. Right?"

He looked around at all his friends. All of them nodded, one by one. Even Mimi and Jyou had no complaints this time.

"Well, in that case, we'll take the rest of the day to get things in order." Taichi switched into leader mode. "If we're going in, we may as well go in prepared, since we have the option. Sleeping bags, torches, matches, food - especially food. Meet back here at three this afternoon to leave. Oh, and it might be a good idea to leave a note or something so people know where we've gone."

The discussion turned to who would bring what and what was really necessary - and making sure Mimi knew what wasn't. She quickly departed via Koushiro's computer and the others left to pack soon after.

"Remember, we'll be back at three." Taichi said to Koushiro on the way out.

"I don't need your reminders." was the redhead's blunt reply. "There are some things I can manage without your help." And he shut the door behind his bushy-haired leader before the latter had a chance to respond.

Taichi barely noticed the sting of his friend's words. He was too excited about the upcoming trip to let anything bother him at all. He never thought to be ashamed of his happiness at his young counterparts' misfortune - all he thought about was the joy of going back, finding Agumon and leading his friends into battle once more. In the three-and-a-half years since his effective retirement, he had missed the 'old days' incredibly, especially when he wasn't chosen for the recent six-month campaign against MaloMyotismon and his minions. Koushiro's acidic comment didn't bother him at all; soon they'd be roughing it in the Digital World and things would be just the way they used to be.

It never occurred to Taichi that just as the six individuals had changed over the last three years, the team may have changed too.


Well, are you interested? Do you want to know what happens next? Yes? No? Well, whatever you think, please, review. Even flames accepted! Flames welcomed, actually, as I can't seem to light this barbeque. *kicks BBQ* Suggestions (on the fic or the barbie, either will do) are always appreciated. And if you really like it, read the next chapter!

Disclaimer: I would like to say that I own Digimon, as it was a fantastic idea and a great story, but I don't. That belongs to Toei. And Fox. And a whole bunch of other people that I don't know about. I do own this fanfic, the original digimon in this fanfic, and Taichi's super sandwich.

The quote at the beginning was from Dragon Wing, the first book in the seven-part fantasy series, The Death Gate Cycle.