Melody: Here we go again; hopefully this chapter doesn't take as long as the last

Thanks to the anonymous reviewer who's a Ryuki fan, and to anyone who's still reading this. Hopefully I haven't lost all of you already.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my computer (and the virus that causes Windows to hate me) and my college loans. Anyone want the last two?


Digital World Y: Digiphirma: Near Tornado Valley: Digi-Coliseum: 9:19 a.m.

From Kenta's vantage point, MegaGargomon clearly looked tense. He hoped that it meant Henry didn't want to fight, but he couldn't tell for sure. As for Kazu and Guardromon, the second looked foolishly hopeful and the first looked like he wanted to wet his pants. Kenta crossed his fingers, whispering soft encouragements, wishing Kazu could hear them. Doing so only reminded him of all the card games they used to play on that playground back in Shinjuku. Right now it seemed so far away, and that thought only made Kenta more homesick. The crowd's roar increased in volume and vehemence, and Kenta's fists shook so much they vibrated.

"Ladies and gentlemon, I present to you today's matchup." The speakers in the room announced just as enthusiastically.

On both ends of the stadium, screens taller than most buildings flashed rapidly. Kenta sort of covered his eyes, the bright lights hurting his eyes, and his glasses only made it worse. Every member of the crowd rose to their feet, and his heart forgot to beat for a second. How could anyone look forward to this? Even thinking about it made Kenta sweat more, scared out of his wits. He found his eyes drifting back to the robotic guards behind him. At least, he thought they were robots. Something about them hinted at artificial intelligence. If only Takato could be here now to rave about them; he always liked that sort of thing.

The crowd drummed their feet, like a slow-fast clap shaking the stadium like a rattlesnake's tail. Finally, the drumming had sped up so much that it sounded like one long drum-roll, and a horn blew. At first, nothing changed. Both friends-turned-opponents stared at each other, too tense to fight. Moments passed slower than a dying heart beat. Then the crowd booed, holding their thumbs down.

From the speakers, the announcer sounded stunned. "Shouldn't we give them a chance, folks?"

The crowd only booed louder, and half-eaten concessions flew through the air.

"As you wish."

A large groan emanated from beneath the stadium, and both Kenta and Jeri flinched. They would've fled from the room if given the chance, but since they had no escape, they leaned forward toward the windows, swallowing air as they watched the happenings below. One hole formed in the center of the stadium, and the sand on the floor poured into it like grains in an hourglass. MegaGargomon and Guardromon backed away slowly at first, then ran when they saw the vacuum increase in size. Once it grew large enough, Kenta could see glittering, swirling, fragments of light within the hole, and it reminded him of one thing: data. His eyes widened with the gaping hole, and his mouth dropped open as his friends dropped down into the vacuum, their bodies blurring into a million points of light, deleted.

The voice returned to the intercom, sounding disappointed. "Well, it looks like a draw, folks."

Clearly, the crowd didn't like the sound of this, and booing ensued from around the stadium. The robotic guards flinched slightly. Kenta glanced over at Jeri, wondering if anything he had just seen was real. If anything, the look on her face told him it was.


Digital World Y: Digiphirma: Near Tornado Valley: Digi-Coliseum: Executive Dining Room: 10:55 a.m.

The windowless room had no light save the candles on the table. They gave illumination to countless fruits and vegetables, including ones he had never seen before. His nose caught the aroma of the broiled meat sizzling in the center of the table, surrounded by steaming baked breads and freshly-frosted cakes. As his mouth watered, Ryo realized he hadn't eaten since he left the Real World. Without thinking, Ryo reached for one of the fruits, and then hesitated.

"They're not poisoned, if that's what you're thinking." A voice stated factually, out of the blue.

Ryo swallowed, and quelled the shaking in his hands. His eyes drifted back up to the woman sitting calmly across the table from him. Her hands plucked the fruit and primly prodded the meat before she sliced it. The knife in her hand flashed, and the light passed briefly across her eyes. Then in that moment Ryo realized that he had never had a good look at her. Now, in a way he wished he hadn't. She had eyes like a stormy sea, and skin as pale as a corpse, and yet both had an eerie glow.

His head jerked back against the back of his chair. Now he realized what seemed so wrong about her. It wasn't her necessarily…just that she seemed out of place. "You're not human, are you." Ryo's rattling fingers finally managed to grasp his glass.

She smiled as she watched him nearly spill the cider all over himself. "You should really try to relax." The lady took a delicate sip from her own chalice, never taking her eyes off of him. After a moment, she added. "You're not on the menu."

He studied the meal in front of him, still wary. "If I'm not, then what is?" Ryo glanced up at her curious and skeptical.

"We have a better use for you." Her face didn't move, but her eyes flashed. When Ryo didn't reply, the announcer continued. "The arena." A hint of a smile tried to exist on her face, and it fell off.

He shifted in his seat, feeling the cushion like a vice. "What about it?" Part of him never wanted to look at her ever again, and still Ryo did, not able to help it.

She dropped her fork, clearly losing her patience. In the back of his mind, Ryo realized he finally saw her make a mistake. Clearly, she didn't seem human, but finally, Ryo found a human weakness in her. He had won. "Games, Legendary Tamer. I've heard you're quite good at them." Picking up her fork again, she continued her explanation. "You've beaten her before, and we're convinced you could do it again."

Rika.

"What makes you think I want to?" Maybe, in his earlier days Ryo would have ran across the table, splattered the food across the room and shoved the "lady's" face into the fruit punch, but he had developed some restraint since then.

Her eyes glittered again, and Ryo began to think she did so out of contentment, or something else. "Because you can."

Ryo narrowed his eyes, gripping his fingers into his fist beneath the table so she couldn't see it. "You're underestimating her." He meant it. Rika could do things to him, and to her enemies that no one else could, and Ryo had seen it happen live.

Digital World Y: Digiphirma: Near Tornado Valley: Digi-Coliseum: Executive Lounge: 10:55 a.m.

"But wouldn't it be fun!" The lights hanging in the ceiling flashed in his eyes, and then Rika realized how hollow they were.

She groaned, kind of wishing they hadn't chained her hand to the counter. Otherwise she'd already be out of this stupid place. Her eyes roamed the room, looking for an escape somewhere amidst the glasses hanging from the ceiling. The place had an uncanny feel to it, like a kids playpen turned into a seedy bar. Rika groaned. "I already told you, I don't want to." Her finger tapped the glass impatiently as she sent him a heavy glare.

He leaned closer, his blonde hair hanging in her eyes. "Please? For me?"

Rika narrowed her eyes, reeling her fist back to punch him if he got any closer. "I don't even like you."

He seemed genuinely hurt, for a bit. Then he resumed his task, undaunted. "What if…we gave you a prize!" His face lit up with a smile at the last bit, clearly proud of his creativity.

"A prize?" Her eyes rolled to the ceiling, and then dropped to the wall on the far side of the room. "What is this, grade school?" She dropped her fist as she slumped in exasperation.

Drumming his fingers on the counter impatiently, he added, "What do you want? Hm?" He leaned forward, whispering in her ear. "Your friend Ryo to stay alive?"

The change in his voice caught her off-guard. "What?" Her voice rose barely above a whisper.

Dangit, he knew. The imp of a…well, maybe he wasn't human. Adults, as immature as they could be, just didn't mix well with the Digital World. He continued, and Rika couldn't seem to move away. "You fight him, and we'll let him live. If you don't…" Pressing a button, he pointed at a Digimon chained up in the corner. It writhed as electric current spilled across its body, screaming as it shattered into a billion pieces of data. "Understand?"


Digital World Y: Digiphirma: Near Tornado Valley: Digi-Coliseum: 6:14 a.m.

The sun rose over the amphitheatre hearing nothing but a steady , for the organizers had filled it to the brim with spectators. To the flying Digimon above the stadium, the crowd within seemed like a bunch of swarming bugs. They knew better, though. Circling above, they gradually lowered their flight paths to catch a free view of the games, but not so low as to get caught. As a couple of them dared to perch on the towering stadium lights, the hum ceased to silence as music blared from the speakers below. Cheers erupted, pushing aside the silence in favor of mania.

"WELCOME ONE AND ALL!"

As one face appeared on each screen, one serious and coy, the other playful, the crowd only seemed to cheer louder. Two sets of eyes glanced at each other as if the cameras filmed them in the same room, and they did. The pairs of eyes focused forward, welcoming the crowd. One mouth opened, prim and sleek, as always. "We have a special treat for you today."

The other mouth opened, unable to hide its grin. "An unprecedented match between two arch rivals."

"We know you've waited long enough."

"And so we present…"

They shouted together. "The Legendary Tamer Ryo Akiyama and Digimon Queen herself, Rika Nonaka, in a fight to their finish!"

Real World Y: Shinjuku, Japan: Hypnos HQ: 9:17 p.m.

"What's wrong?" Yamaki asked, searching the screens from behind his sunglasses. He had been drinking a delightful cup of coffee on a much needed break when his headset vibrated with a call. So much for a break.

"We've lost their signal." Riley glanced at him, concern lighting her purple eyes. The others couldn't see it though, because of her visors.

"All of theirs?" He flipped the lid on his lighter, trying to filter out the anxiety before it ignited in his mind.

"Yes sir."

"Then find it." He had to fight to keep from raising his voice. It rose anyway. "And don't call me back before you do."


Melody: Whew. I thought the end of this chapter would never come! I read my comments at the beginning of the chapter and thought I hadn't updated for nearly a year. Whew. Six months is a lot better, no? I definitely have the ending worked out in my head; it's just getting there that's a bit rocky. Any ideas for after the coliseum scene? Your input is appreciated.

Oh, and the virus is long gone. A word of advice, never rely on free anti-virus software, unless you have Linux or Ubuntu, (because by that point you're probably a hacker anyway.)