Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

Twists of Fate: Prelude to Revival

Chapter: 3/ The Next Step

Stepping out of her armor Norn breathed the crisp cool, evening air of the digital world. A part of her wondered why such a thing as oxygen even existed in the digital world, as it was not a world run by organic life or even necessary for the humans who visited it. She smiled softly at the rather silly thought, another part of her wondering if it was a result of her contact with the humans, Tsurugi Tatsuno and his friends, especially Shou Kahara, that had brought it about. The digital world was what it was because of the humans. Everything that existed was because of human conception, ironically both because they could perceive of new things, and because they couldn't. It was a strange dichotomy, but that was what made the digital world what it was, both good and bad; ugly and beautiful.

A soft, just barely detectable sound reached her ears, causing Norn to turn around in surprise. Her smile disappeared as quickly as a Firefly. Approaching her was a human, tall and languid with unkempt, loose brown hair blowing in the soft breeze that played across the digital desert. A dark smile spread across the humans face, and violet lines of light sprung around his face and hands.

"Hello again, Norn," he said, "I have a job for you."

The human's body blurred before vanishing, and all at once Norn felt a shock of alarm tear through her mind, causing her to leap into the air, metallic wings springing from her back. She quickly looked down, expecting the human to be launching an attack where she stood, only to be surprised when he stood calmly next to her armored, Yggdrasil shell, staring up at her smugly.

"You are so predictable," he said teasingly. Laying one hand on the Yggdrasil shell, lines of light separated themselves from his arm and merged with the armored form. Lights flickered on in its mechanical eyes as it came alive.

"How…?" began Norn, completely taken aback by this sudden change in events. The human, if he could even be called that, threw his head back and laughed.

"Do you even have to ask? You remember what Barbamon did, right? You left your body and he 'moved in'. Took you captive while you were vulnerable too, and started the whole chain of events that led to your dear Shou Kahara and the rest getting dragged to your world and having to fight Neos. Not your brightest move. Did that Data Squad member, Marcus, damage your core worse than you thought when he struck you? Or are you still suffering from what happened to you with Omnimon after he gained the X-Antibody?" The human thumbed his nose and looked up at Norn with an expression of disappointment. "Hell…if we really had to we could trace it all back to when that moronic Tamer unleashed the Digital Hazard on the digital world and sent everything haywire."

Norn gasped in surprise. All of those names…those events!

How can he know about them? They were all separate incidents, and with the changes that have swept over the digital world following the incident with Neos and Project X, any recorded data should have been wiped! The only ones who could know would be those that participated in them!

Norn pursed her lips together. The incident with Neos, following hotly on the heels of the trouble involving the Data Squad, the world where the human Marcus Damon hailed from, was a rather public event so she was hardly surprised by his knowledge of that, and the conflict with Marcus' world could hardly have been kept secret either. Precise events, such as Barbamon's possession of her Yggdrasil shell, were harder to know about than having the digital world nearly collide with that of humans.

"Who are you?" she asked, narrowing her eyes. The man smirked.

"You wound me, dear Norn. Well, maybe not so much. You were but a simple program when you came into this world. Human children oft don't remember much about their early years, and we all know just how much of an influence humans have on the digital world and the inhabitants in it. Well, it'd be pointless to give you the full story, but if you need an identity, then you may call me Prometheus. A fitting name I think…"

"What is this all about?!" she demanded, summoning her staff.

"Now, now…if I told you then what would happen to all the fun that would be had? Secrets," Prometheus emphasized, wagging a finger at Norn, "are meant to be uncovered by those worthy of it. You don't kiss and tell." Rocking back on his feet, Prometheus gave a dejected sigh. "Yggdrasil? Please capture your former mistress. I have a job that I would like her to take care of."

The machine of armor turned to face Norn. Plant-like tentacles with green thorns lashed out from its shoulder guards, seeking their former owner. Norn flapped her wings and wove around them with ease. Narrowing her eyes she looked into the hull, bright light flashing across her irises.

I see what he did now, she thought. He created a dummy algorithm that sits in my place, using the abilities of my armor. It would have limited access to its functions, but as long as I'm on the outside, that limitation is going to suffice. Norn gritted her teeth together, remembering Prometheus' words. I shouldn't have left my armor. Every time I do, something bad happens.

As though to confirm her thoughts, one of the tendrils whipped and struck the back of her head with a loud crack. White light exploded within her skull, and her wings faltered in their task, sending her plummeting towards the desert sands below. Vines lashed outwards from the Yggdrasil shell, wrapping themselves around her before she could hit the ground and bringing her to a halt. Norn shook her head, striving to clear it.

If…if I can just reorganize the right algorithms…

"Give it up, Norn," crowed Prometheus as he hovered in the air above the mass of vines. "I've suppressed the majority of your programs. Don't expect your Arbitrators, VictoryGreymon and Z'dGarurumon to help you this time. This isn't like when Barbamon imprisoned you and took your armor."

Norn pursed her lips together and closed her eyes. A second later, she began mumbling beneath her breath and lines of data began to materialize around her. Seeing this, Prometheus sighed and shook his head.

"I should have known. You're as stubborn as all of those human children you keep meeting up with. I wonder if you get it from them."

Glancing over at the Yggdrasil armor, Prometheus snapped his fingers. Lightning crackled around its shoulder guards and prisms appeared around it. Light rapidly filled them and they surged towards Norn like a shower of meteors. Dust and sand flew through the air as prisms impacted against their target, drowning out Norn's screams of pain. The prisms continued to strike regardless, one after another slamming into her until finally her shrieks quieted down. Slowly, ever so slowly, the sand that hung in the air began to settle back down to earth, and Prometheus flew down next to the fallen goddess. A sorrowful look crossed his features as he reached out and brushed aside her hair.

"My apologies, but this is how things must be done. Your personal evolution was not a part of the plan, and as such, a few things must be…corrected before events can be allowed to continue." Prometheus tilted his head to one side. "Rest assured, that even though your evolution wasn't part of the original plan, it has been accounted for. The Proteus look forward to the kind of data that you'll be giving us. You are quite special. I only hope that you have the strength to bear what you're going to be made to do."

"…Won't…" Norn whispered, the word just barely escaping her lips. "…Not again… I…promised Shou…"

"I know. But this is for the future of the digital world."

"…The future…" Norn's mind, clouded as it was from the pain of battle, went back to an earlier time when she had been imprisoned by her tormenter, the Demon Lord Barbamon when he had been preparing to resurrect the digital entity, Neos in order to rebuild the digital world. In Prometheus' place she saw the demonic, long-nosed features of Barbamon leering down at her, confident in his victory. Now, as she did then, she spoke defiantly to him, unwilling to believe that his vision of the digital world would emerge victorious over the hearts of the chosen heroes who were then coming to rescue her.

"…Those, who showed me…the future of the…digital world…were not wrong…" she croaked. Prometheus looked at her, as though taken aback by her words before nodding in agreement.

"No. They weren't," he replied. "But that's not for us to decide anymore. Only the gauntlet will choose. Are the human worlds ready…for the next step in evolution? Their actions will determine it." Violet lines crossed Prometheus' skin as he pressed his hand against Norn's cheek. He looked regretful as the lines fed themselves into Norn.

"It is time," he said. "The gauntlet is thrown down. Time to play. The choice of destiny is here."

Prometheus walked through the desert alone, his mind distant and thoughtful.

There will be no help from the Royal Knights, he thought to himself. They've all gone down their own paths since the events of both the Data Squad world and that of Project X. I may be able to push them into the right directions but… Prometheus shook his head. It's unlikely, and I shouldn't count on them. Besides, there are other powers out there, and with Yggdrasil back in the picture, events will get rolling soon enough. This is the crucial point. Anything can happen. All that's left is just one thing, and one thing only…

"Maelstrom," he said aloud. In response, his shadow shifted and rose into the air before expanding, taking on a solid form of razor sharp metal. Cold air burst from the steel dragon's mouth as it took a breath of the night air.

"You summoned?" the creature known as Maelstrom asked. Prometheus nodded. "Then it's time?"

"Not quite yet. Don't worry, you'll get to your project soon enough. We just need to make one more wave here. What we do is going to affect everything, and everything doesn't count if we don't include your birth world."

Maelstrom raised an invisible eyebrow at that. "You mean…?"

"You know the paths to the Dark Ocean, don't you? I think it's time we shook things up a bit. This game isn't complete without the Seven Sins and their masters, am I right?"

Maelstrom's eyes glowed blood red in response. Prometheus chuckled inwardly.

All a part of our calculations…

A/N: And that's it for Twists of Fate: Prelude to Revival. Yeah, very short. It's more or less meant to set the stage for the series 'Tamers Revival' (if I'm ever able to get around to working on it), which returns to the Tamers Requiem world about three to four years after the conclusion of Less than Human. In the meantime, I'll be planning this out, working to finish Four Seasons, The Dreamer, and my original fiction. Hope to see you then. 'Till next update. :)