Sweat was now dripping freely from his face. Fatigue clung to every muscle, every tendon, every joint. He panted heavily, his shoulders hunched as the strength in his body dwindled down to practically nothing. He fought through the pain in his burning muscles as he landed punch after punch upon the force field surrounding Juri. Just seeing her in the state she was in forced him on.
He was running on adrenaline now…. No, not adrenaline. He was running on something entirely different.
He remembered the D-Reaper's words clearly, echoing mercilessly in the corridors of his exhausted mind. 'Beelzebumon,' the D-Reaper said, using Juri's voice, 'a digimon that tried to harm Juri Katou, and other human children, when they were in the Digital World.'
He knew that. He begrudgingly remembered it. His foolish, selfish quest for ultimate power drove him to accept the Sovereign's condition of destroying the Tamers, people who, time and time again, had tried to befriend him.
And for the sake of what?
Thinking about it between flashes of pain and the onset of utter exhaustion, he'd stolen the former, and did not deserve the latter in the least. In the end, all he'd earned was a sound, merciless beating from Gallantmon.
'Beelzebumon, the digimon that destroyed Juri Katou's partner Leomon, in order to load his data and become stronger.'
A chord struck in his heart which suddenly made him feel like disappearing. He remembered that day. He remembered that terrible scream Juri had uttered a few yards away from him as he laughed. He'd laughed. Watching Leomon fade away had no effect on him, nor did Juri's sobbing; at the time he'd been more interested in the enormous amount of data the Beast Digimon had stored within him.
'Beelzebumon, the digimon that destroyed Leomon… Destroyed Leomon… Destroyed Leomon….'
An understatement, to say the least.
More like annihilated. Erased. Murdered.
And even so, Beelzemon knew that he'd destroyed more than just Leomon that day. He'd destroyed a significant figure in Juri's life, taken from her one of the few people she'd ever been able to fully connect with. With Leomon gone, her entire world seemed to unravel like worn fabric, falling into heaps of jumbled confusion, pain, and emptiness at her feet.
Continuing his barrage upon the shield, he kept his eyes on Juri's listless form. She was just as he remembered though the memory itself wasn't comforting in the slightest; her skin was pale, her face set in a melancholy vision of sheer inner emptiness. And her eyes….. So dull, so lifeless…. The longer he looked at her, the more he began feeling like a true monster.
Here he was, this all powerful Mega, and his victim was this small, shy, quiet little girl who'd never done him any harm. Yeah, that's how this sick Virus Type got his kicks: picking on helpless little girls. At least all of the power he'd absorbed from everything weaker than him wasn't going to waste.
The deepening of his guilt only made his punches stronger. The shield absorbed each one, and yet he continued. A sickening crack reached his ears as pain shot through his hand; he didn't know how many knuckles were broken, but he didn't care.
He was going to save her.
He was going to get her out of there, away from this monstrosity.
But most importantly… He was going to make up for his past deeds against her.
If it took another hour, another day, another week of this, he wouldn't care. This girl had been through enough because of him, and he'd be damned if he did nothing about this. After all… It was his fault that she was like this in the first place. By thriving off of her depression and sadness, the D-Reaper was using her like a battery and getting stronger by the minute.
This was too much…
Far too much.
This nauseating cycle of depression, anger, and frustration was becoming too much for him to handle… Each punch, though heightening in intensity and power, proved pointless against the Kernel's tough outer shell. Juri sat motionless within, surrounded by the disgusting, pulsating mass of red tentacles as though she were nestled in the belly of some hideous beast. A growl of frustrated agony erupted from deep within his core, bursting from the bottom of his gut and up through his throat as strong as his vocal chords would allow. His body burned with fatigue, and yet, a warmth seemed to surge from all corners of his form and concentrate themselves into his fist.
With as much strength as he could muster, he aimed his fist at the Kernel and let this strange new power fly. A blazing fireball, in the shape of a roaring lion, seemed to pour from his very soul, blasting the Kernel's hide with abandon.
His head swam; he felt as though he'd siphoned his very essence into the attack and now felt faint.
But he couldn't faint.
Not as he looked up to finally see the result of all of this brute force…
His attack had destroyed its defenses, leaving a small hole in the Kernel… And he could see Jeri inside, standing, looking up at him with wavering eyes. He could hear the other Tamers battling the D-Reaper's drones behind him, but he was set on only one thing: the little girl waiting to be rescued, waiting to be taken away from this madness.
He remembered thrusting a hand toward her, pleading with her to take it…. But why… Why didn't she move? Their eyes were locked the entire time, each telling stories of fatigue, of strife, of fear and desperation.
That's what was most apparent in her eyes. Fear.
Tears arose in those innocent brown eyes of hers, as though she were struggling to believe what she was seeing. His fatigue-laced words pleaded with her to move, to speak, to take his hand so that he could whisk her away from this, to alleviate the level of guilt and shame which gnawed at the back of his mind… And yet she remained.
It was when her mouth opened finally that Beelzebumon felt his entire world collapse. Three words were all it took to all but destroy him.
"You're not Leomon…"
Everything went silent after he heard those words. He didn't want to believe what he'd just heard, didn't want to remember them…. But they were burned forever in his mind. They echoed in the depths of his mind, scarring him deeper than any wound he'd ever suffered. Even as the hole began closing, he couldn't find it in him to be angry. Those words had hurt him, badly. He ignored the pain in his knuckles as he once again began pounding mercilessly upon the rejuvenated shield.
He knew he'd deserved that.
He deserved any harsh words she had to say to him, he was ready for that.
He should have known that, despite all of his hard work, he wouldn't become her knight in shining armor so easily, not after all that he'd done to her.
Jolt after jolt of pain electrified his knuckles, but he only focused on what had to be done. No matter how much of a monster he was, this little girl needed to be rescued.
He'd die before he failed her, he'd die before he allowed her to suffer anymore…
But all too soon did he get what he asked for.
Pain erupted across his spine as dozens of metal shards lodged themselves into him. It seemed to hit him all at once, and before he knew it, his world was beginning to go black.
All he could think about on his descent was Juri…
And how he'd once again let her down.
At least this would be the last time.
He could feel himself fading away into nothing, dissolving into nothing more than shimmering specks of data. His consciousness now dwindling, he could only bring himself to think about the little girl he'd tried to save… The little girl he'd hurt in more ways than he dared to imagine… Blackness was creeping in, and as his eyes closed, he began to feel as though this was his fate, that this was what he deserved.
"Juri………. I'm sorry, Juri…… So…….. Sorry…………."
And then, nothing.