Finally finished with this chapter! It's a pain when you know exactly how things are supposed to go, but can't figure out how to write the details in. On the other hand, my schedule should be a bit more open with classes getting out of the way soon, so maybe it'll be a little easier to come up with the time to write and I'll be able to focus better on getting in those details.

As usual, enjoy!

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Chapter 55: Transition

Though sources of light were quite few and far between as the hallways converged towards the center of the castle, the fiery reptilian warrior faced no difficulty seeing; the heat from his body gave off more than enough light to allow him to see everything around him. Though he had no map or means of finding his way around, he felt something drawing him in a certain direction, and he had a feeling he knew what it was.

Soon he came to a large, open room with a massive set of doors at the far end, not dissimilar to the doors leading into the castle itself. The room was empty save for one figure standing in front of the doors - a large metallic beast that he had never seen before but instantly knew nonetheless. And he was apparently in conversation with someone unseen.

"No, don't bother attacking. A dispersion shield just wards off energy, you could attack all day and not do a thing against it. Just trail it and stay nearby - we can't track it, but we can track you. Keep an eye on them, let us know if they're going to do anything unexpected. If they try to attack, hang back and stay out of range...well, you can't tell if they have weapons hidden away somewhere, so keep an eye out anyway. Got it...yeah, we'll be ready to take them on soon. Weaponrexmon out."

"Weaponrexmon, is it? Better than bloody chunks, I suppose."

The cyborg was completely unfazed by that odd and morbid greeting. "You know my name now, so it's only polite to return the favor."

The reptile smirked. "Flarekomodomon. You knew I was here before I did, didn't you? And here I thought those sensors of yours were jammed."

"Cyberrexmon's were. What I have right now are powerful enough to cut through all the chaff." Weaponrexmon turned and looked Flarekomodomon up and down. "You...have a fantastically strong energy coming from you. Stronger than anything I've yet seen."

"'Zat so? Probably has to do with whatever Diablomon did to me. Talk about good fortune, huh?"

"I daresay the demons would disagree with you on that."

"Yeah, well, they can suck it."

"Whocansuckwhatnow?" A blue blur shot out of the hallway, coming to a dead stop just a couple feet from the other pair. "Whoo, man, your voices sound hilarious when I'm going that fast!"

Weaponrexmon gave an invisible eye roll. "Yes, moving at such high speeds does tend to cause perception of sound to decrease in octave-"

"I know why it happens, Watson! I was just making an observation, you'd kill to hear it!"

"I could simulate it if I felt such a thing was necessary. We don't even know what you call yourself, by the way."

"Oh, hey, that's right! I'm Tornadramon! Superpowered wind dragon extraordinaire!"

"Good lord, you're amped up," Flarekomodomon hissed with a prickle of irritation. "What'd you take?"

"Nothing! Just took out a damned demon king who -"

"Okay, okay, forget I friggin' asked! And here I'd hoped that you wouldn't be frickin' indecipherable anymore."

"Whaddayamean?"

"That's one of the advantages of mechanical sensory enhancement," Weaponrexmon said with a note of amusement. "I was able to catch every bit of that."

"Well, isn't that lovely for you. Does jack-all for me."

"Hey, hope we're not late to the party." They all turned to see Sandabadomon and Nyctogaroumon enter from another hallway. "Looks like the gang's all here. And in a brand new wardrobe, too."

Flarekomodomon's eyes widened at the sight of Sandabadomon. "Whoa. You are smokin'."

"Watch it, hothead," growled Nyctogaroumon.

"Easy there, Cujo. Just a statement of fact."

"I'll back him up on that!" Tornadramon chimed in eagerly.

Sandabadomon rolled her eyes. "Let's focus here, boys. I don't even know what you call yourselves yet."

A quick round of reintroductions later, Weaponrexmon briefed them on his transmission. "That airship Emperius escaped in has been located, but they can't attack it. They've got it equipped with a dispersion barrier, it'll take a special weapon to break that down. They're tracking it now, so we'll be able to see everything they do, but it's hard to know what their plans are at this point...they don't seem to be heading anywhere in particular."

"So we've got the edge there," said Flarekomodomon. "Now we just need the time to take care of it. So what's left to take care of here?"

"I believe only one more thing." Weaponrexmon motioned to the massive doors on the wall. "Beyond there lies the last and leader of the demon kings, Ogudomon. Doubtless he knows of our victories and is ready and waiting to take us on himself. We won't have the same element of surprise we had against the others with our evolutions."

"I don't know that we were any less surprised than they were, so not much element there," Sandabadomon remarked. "Good timing, huh?"

"Timing has very little to do with it, actually. It has more to do with the chaos we absorbed from when the demons tried to take us over. Since they all happened to be using the same technique, it's only natural that-"

"Wait, chaos we absorbed?" Nyctocgaroumon interjected. "Hang on a sec, I thought chaos was supposed to be dangerous to almost anything except very specific types of digimon. And I've never heard of it triggering an evolution."

"Perhaps, but…" Weaponrexmon paused uncertainly. "We're not exactly specific types of anything."

"Yeah, we're a mix of human and digimon," Flarekomodomon said. "What's that got to do with anything?"

"It's not even that simple. At the most basic level, we're not even a clear hybrid of the two...after all such a union in itself would be quite unusual, given that they're two different types of matter and have no actual way of combining."

"But they have to have combined...what else could there be?" asked Tornadramon, confused.

Weaponrexmon sighed. "Despite what it might seem, our bodies...aren't really even static constructs. Our composition is in a state of dynamic fluctuation...never fully one form or another, never the same from one moment to the next, impossible to easily define. Qualities that chaos, by nature, is intrinsically drawn to...only once that's become clear does it make sense that chaos would affect us positively rather than negatively."

"The demons can't have known that when they lead us here."

"Not a chance. Had they known, they would never have tried to bring us into a place where chaos was so pervasive, or used it to try to bend us to their will. They would have gone about it a far different way, one that wouldn't have threatened their odds of success. But why would they know? There has never been a being like us in the history of either world...I only know myself because of reaching this form, and gaining access to knowledge, analysis, and understanding beyond anything I could have previously imagined. Even now, it's still somewhat intimidating to me...and it's really hit me just how close we came to actually losing it. That should have been our downfall...but it backfired on them because none of us knew how that would affect us."

"I can only imagine what this is going to mean for our separate bodies," Thundergarudamon said tightly. "Is this going to harm them, or have they gone through the same change?"

"I haven't been able to analyze, but I can guess what the answer is going to be. They had to have started that process long ago. As humans, we developed abilities beyond that of any ordinary human, abilities not even sustainable by ordinary human bodies. This has to be the underlying mechanism for that. The response to the catalysts...objectively, it wouldn't even make sense that they would work on the humans, and it certainly shouldn't have been the case that the digimon responded like it was their very first experience with them. The way our knowledges, our strengths, our personalities came to converge...the links between us, the telepathy, the energy transfers, the life-force bonding…to hazard a guess, I would predict that not only are our bodies in that same flux when we're separated, but they're in synchronous flux for each partner. On the macro level, they retain their normal shape and general characteristics, but on a basal level, they may very well be indistinguishable. About the only thing I can't determine out of all this is how this is even possible in the first place..."

"...Origin Resonance Theory." All eyes turned to Flarekomodomon. "Disparate matter linked on a fundamental level...separated by vast stretches of existence, yet completely attuned to each other. United for the first time since the origins of their level of existence, their synchronous resonance amplified by their proximity in space and time...not two becoming one, but one becoming one, on a level we can only begin to comprehend...our power rising from our equivalence made right."

"...Not like you to get all philosophical on us," Tornadramon said.

"Well, this is a special issue to me."

"In any event, it's difficult if not impossible to prove...but it's as sound an explanation as any I can come up with," Weaponrexmon finished. "It makes me wonder if there might be more coming in the future...but I guess that's not something I can say for certain, either."

"This is rather deeper than I can wrap my head around right now," Nyctogaroumon said suddenly. "I need a palate cleanser, and I can think of nothing better than wiping out the last of these damn demons. Heh, Ogudomon must think us dreadfully rude for keeping him waiting for so long."

"As if etiquette matters one whit to him," Sandabadomon said, sounding amused. "But you're right, it's time to take this guy out!"

"Right, no sense in putting it off," Flarekomodomon said, suddenly harsh and steely again. "The questions and answers aren't going anywhere, they'll still be around when the bad guys are gone!"

"Yeah! I can't wait to blast that big brute back to ancient times!" Tornadramon declared.

Weaponrexmon nodded. "I'll make that unanimous. Let's go."

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The inner sanctum was far more massive than any of them had expected even given the size of the doors. Much of it was taken up by the monstrous demon within; Ogudomon was a gigantic misshapen demon digimon, baring seven legs and seven eyes around its body, with an eighth eye on his head. His body was a sinister mix of black and purple and green and red, with red claws tipping each foot, and seven bright swords jabbed out the top of his body above each leg.

"Man, that is one ugly brute," Flarekomodomon remarked offhandedly. "We'll be doing the world a favor getting rid of him."

"I can hear every word your foul mouth speaks," the demon hissed menacingly.

"And here I haven't a damn to give. You won't be alive long enough to hold the grudge."

"You think so much of yourself, a quality which many live to regret. Still, I am impressed...defeating the other kings, dispelling their efforts at controlling you...you were quite unlike anything we ever expected. You would have made such excellent weapons if you had just submitted...it's a shame that now I have to destroy you."

"Well, there is a way for us to avoid that," Sandabadomon said coyly.

"Yeah, and it involves kicking your ass!" Tornadramon shouted eagerly.

"You believe you can overcome my power? Do not fool yourselves. You may have overcome the others, but they are but a pale shadow of myself, and what I am capable of is far above what they were. I am superior in every way-"

"Okay, enough. You know what, I'm getting a little bit tired of hearing the same thing over and over again," growled Weaponrexmon. "Seems like every time it's the same old refrain - you're the best there is, the most powerful, we don't stand a chance. You'd think someone would catch on to the pattern by now."

Now Ogudomon was showing signs of losing his cool. "You are a bunch of insolent little bastards, aren't you? You'll make my victory all the sweeter by finally shutting you up!"

Flarekomodomon smirked, enjoying Ogudomon's irritation. "Careful, many people 'live to regret thinking so much of themselves.' Wouldn't want to fall victim to that, would we?"

Ogudomon's response was non-verbal: he opened his mouth and launched a massive shockwave at the group. They scattered and went on the offensive, Tornadramon easily getting the first attack with his blinding speed. "Cyclone Beam!" He fired a whirling wind beam straight at the bulk of Ogudomon's body, the attack hammering hard against the surface; however, Ogudomon didn't even seem to take notice, and simply launched another shockwave at the dragon, forcing him to swoop away. "Oh, come on!"

"That wasn't a promising start," Nyctogaroumon huffed as he skidded just short of one of Ogudomon's legs. "Nightwolf Blade!" He slashed wildly with swords in both hands, sending slices of darkness hurtling towards the leg; they impacted with considerable speed, but once again the effect was null, and an instant later the leg kicked out and tried to stomp and slash Nyctogaroumon with those wicked claws. He jumped away and tried to repeat the attack, with no more success. Again the leg tried to come at him, but it was stopped when Flarekomodomon leapt onto it and bit down hard, clawing and scratching before a powerful kick flung him all the way up to the ceiling of the inner sanctum.

"Generator Missiles!" A swarm of electrical blasts fired out from Sandabadomon and impacted Ogudomon's head, and to her frustration it was no more effective than the earlier attacks. She once again had to swoop away as another shockwave was released into the air. "Okay, this is getting ridiculous. There's no way this guy is invulnerable."

"Well, he's clearly not going to make this easy for us," Tornadramon growled. "Guess he's as strong as he says, but I'm sure there's a way to get him! We just need to figure out how!"

"We've got someone who can do that...I'll bet that's why Weaponrexmon's hung back. Come on, let's make sure Ogudomon doesn't catch on to him!" They both swooped forward again, splitting up as Ogudomon's shockwave blast tried to nail both of them. Tornadramon had the opening first and fired a Cyclone Beam at the top of his body, again having no apparent effect until a blazing fireball crashed down onto the demon, Flarekomodomon hammering away until a shockwave blasted him back to the ground. It had been enough for Tornadramon to take notice, as Ogudomon had finally responded to one of their blows. Hm...I wonder...

He backed off momentarily, watching his comrades as they tried to get an opening. When Nyctogaroumon launched an Ebony Eruption at the creature's flailing leg, he targeted his wing-mounted guns and attacked at the same time. "Twister Cannons!" While the initial hit with the dark attack didn't elicit a response, the combination of the attacks did, and Ogudomon moved his leg out of the way of the barrage, trying to kick at them with another one and forcing them to cut it off. "Hah! I think we're getting somewhere!"

"You may be right!"

"What did you two do?" Sandabadomon asked as she and Flarekomodomon raced up.

"He seems to not like it when two of us hit him at the same time! Whoa!" The three scattered as one of the large clawed feet attempted to stomp him. "I'm not sure why it worked, but it's the first progress we've made! We'd best try to replicate it!"

"Sounds like a plan I can get behind. Follow me up!" Flarekomodomon charged at Ogudomon, letting loose a Plasma Crash aimed for Ogudomon's head. Sandabadomon followed up with a Saffron Wing aimed at the leg nearest to Flarekomodomon, trying to keep it away from him. The electric attack impacted the leg, and sent Ogudmon twisting around to get away. She quickly tried to change legs in order to prevent him from going after Flarekomodomon with that one, but a shockwave her direction forced her to break the attack, and soon after Flarekomodmon was forced to do the same.

A voice cut into their heads as they regrouped. "I've figured out what trick Ogudomon's using to keep himself protected. He's got an elemental barrier over his body, and changes it in response to your attacks."

"How the bloody hell are you doing that?" shouted Nyctogaroumon.

"I hacked your brains. Now shut up and listen. If one of you attacks him, he'll change the alignment of his barrier to block it. But he can only block a single element at a time, so two of you attacking at once, or more than two of you if you can manage it, will make life difficult for him."

"All right, so we just have to keep up the team attacks! Let's go!"

They all converged, Weaponrexmon finally getting in on the action, and began taking advantage of the new knowledge they had of Ogudomon's defenses. But despite adapting to his protection, Ogudomon was effectively keeping them at bay, redoubling his efforts to prevent them from attacking in tandem. It seemed that whenever one of them found an opening, the others would be lashed out at, leaving Ogudomon unharmed and with time to stop the oncoming attack before the next one got through. The frustration was mounting for the symbiotes as they pushed the envelope more and more, risking taking major blows in order to attack the demon king and getting little to show for it.

"Dammit, this should have been finished already!" Nyctogaroumon snarled after a sixth failed attack. "This is crazy! How can he be keeping us back so easily?"

"We need to adjust differently. He's got eight eyes, and they can look in all directions at once," Weaponrexmon said through the same mind-message as before. "Unless we can blind him somehow, we're all going to be visible to him. We're better off not taking such severe risks. Maybe we can try to attack from farther away, or coordinate better."

"Wait, I've got it!" Tornadramon yelped suddenly, before quickly swooping over the Sandabadomon. "Sandabadomon, do you remember fighting Aquilamon? We had a lot of -"

"Stop stop stop stop STOP!"

"What? I was just-"

"Too fast! But I think I know where you were going from the part I caught...if we can do that, it might be enough to really take this guy down!"

"Right! Let's try it!" The two focused, and each one became surrounded by a soft glow, Sandabadomon's yellow and Tornadramon's blue. The auras swirled around them and then extended between them, merging together and sharing their respective energies. As one, they raised their powers, and formed a massive whirlwind with blazing electricity raging with. Ogudomon was caught within the storm and buffeted, roaring in pain and anger as he was unable to block the attack. Once again he let loose his Catedral, forcing the two to split up; however, the merged energy remained between them, and they separately renewed the assault as Ogudomon desperately tried to quell it.

"Hey, that's pretty awesome," Nyctogaroumon remarked. "Flarekomodomon, let's give that a shot!"

"I'm game." Flarekomodomon's red aura merged with Nyctogaroumon's black, and intrinsically they knew what their combination would create. Splitting apart, they flanked Ogudomon and let loose, the ground beneath two of Ogudomon's feet turning a dark red and then unleashing an infernal hellflame from below, scorching them and forcing him to dance away.

"Hey, that had an effect!"

"No kidding. This might be our ticket. Try another combo, I'll keep him distracted." He ran off and charged Ogudomon again, and as before was quickly driven back by the shockwaves and stomping from the demon. Nyctogaroumon waved to Tornadramon, who needed no further explanation. The two combined their energies and unleashed around Ogudomon a black tornado that whipped right through the demon's protective barrier, causing him to stumble and rage blindly, trying to attack the source of the damage but unable to see it clearly.

Seeing that, Weaponrexmon and Sandabadomon took the opportunity to get in another blow. Sandabadomon sent the charge to the cyborg, who felt it surge through him, quickly overflowing and driving him almost to unconscious action. He brought his hands forward, and almost instantly a streamlined, sustained burst of electricity fired out from them, shooting directly through the dusky cyclone and striking one of Ogudomon's legs. He trailed upwards, trying to hit the body, when another jolt burst into him, this one decidedly different; again, he acted on impulse, adding the new energy to the attack, which turned the bolts an angry red. The attack hammered Ogudomon's body all over as Weaponrexmon moved it around, trying to hit as much over the body as he could, hoping to deal more damage. As he started up towards the head, another shockwave was launched their direction, forcing him to cut off the attack and take evasive action. As soon as he was out of the range of attack, he shot a dirty look towards Flarekomodomon. "Hey, mind warning me next time that you're gonna pull a stunt like that?"

"I said something, you probably just didn't hear me. That last one did a number of him, nice job...but it's still not dealing him damage quickly enough. We need to really get through and nail him even harder."

"Yeah, and I think I know what we should do," Sandabadomon said. "Our combined attacks got even stronger with three rather than two. If all of our power got in on one blow, we might be able to do enough to wipe him out, or at least severely weaken him to the point where we can team up for a last blow!"

"I like that idea," Flarekomodomon said with a nod. "Getting close enough to deal that blow won't be easy, though; he's going to know we're up to something, and he's going to target whoever is trying to take him down."

"Yeah. Taking him from afar may be the best option."

"But he's done everything possible to avoid physical blows," Weaponrexmon cut in. "I think he's doing that because he doesn't have as much physical resistance. A solid strike of that nature could do much more damage, it might take him down right out rather than just weakening him."

Sandabadomon looked over at Flarekomodomon. "Well, you're the one who likes getting up close and personal...Do you think you can manage it?"

"Hm...it could prove tough...he can see me from a ways away, and he'll know I'm coming...it'll give him a lot of time to prepare. He's got all those arms, that shockwave attack, he can hit from almost anywhere...except..." Flarekomodomon went silent as his eyes trailed upwards above the demon. Ogudomon has a wide reach on the ground, but his legs can only go up to about lateral with his body...its joint locked up when trying to go higher to hit Tornadramon earlier. They can get higher only if his body bends upwards, but he has to be on at least four legs or else his body won't be able to support his weight, so he probably can't get more than a little bit above lateral even then...if he falls over, he's a sitting duck, so he won't dare try it. And his head and neck are structured for lateral movement, so his head can't go much above parallel with the ground, either...if I can get above his head, I might be able to get through for a blow...

"Weaponrexmon...tell me. You ever heard of a 'Fastball Special?'"

It took a moment for the recognition to click in Weaponrexmon's head; when it did, he broke into a hidden grin. "I read ya loud and clear."

"Good. So, I need everyone's power, but we can't all just come in at once, otherwise we're a prime target for Ogudomon. Let's bring them in one at a time, while the others play distraction."

Sandabadomon nodded. "Right. I'll start." She sent a beam of her energy towards Flarekomodomon, who absorbed it and focused on keeping it active. "All right, good luck!"

She quickly returned to the fray, and Weaponrexmon called to both Tornadramon and Nyctogaroumon to come in and add their own contributions to the energy pool. They each came on their own, the others attacking Ogudomon relentlessly. The demon king definitely had an eye on the reptile, but everything was ready too quickly for him to do much about it.

Once Weaponrexmon had added the final element, Flarekomodomon was breathing heavily as the energy radiated throughout him. "Hoo, man...this is something. Wish we'd thought of this before, it mighta helped us against some tougher enemies."

"You all set?" Weaponrexmon asked. "How do you wanna do this?"

"Your call. Whatever'll give you the best trajectory and speed."

"All right...here goes!" Weaponrexmon suddenly reached out and grabbed Flarekomodomon's tail, pulling him by the appendage up onto a platform of debris nearby. He started swinging at high speed, keeping the reptile out of danger of being slammed into the platform by hanging just on the end. His brain was working at top speed, calculating the necessary moment of release to get the best speed and angle at Ogudomon.

Tornadramon saw Ogudomon eyeing the launch, clearly aware that something was up, and his mind began to race. If Flarekomodomon's in his field of vision, he could time the shockwave to knock him away...I won't let that happen! "Nyctogaroumon! Quick, your energy!"

The canid wasted no time, sending a jet of blackness towards the dragon; Tornadramon took it in and felt the charge running through him, amping him up even more than usual. Raising a hand, he aimed a cyclone up at the top of Ogudomon's body, right around his head as Weaponrexmon let go of Flarekomodomon. Suddenly blinded, the demon was lost in confusion, unable to watch the flame lizard's flight as he rocketed up into the air.

Flarekomodomon, now at the mercy of momentum, put all his concentration on getting as much out of his attack as possible. Every muscle was tensed up as the downward part of his arc began, readying to unleash the energy gathered up within him. He was only dimly aware of Tornadramon's assistance, his focus entirely limited to the top of Ogudomon's large body and not at his head. Just a few seconds from impact, he sprang, spinning in midair and slamming his fist down with all the downward force he could possibly muster.

His hand smashed into the top of Ogudomon's body, and immediately a bubble of raw bright energy expanded out from the impact site, expanding and surging around and through Ogudomon. The force of the energy was intense, threatening to drive Flarekomodomon apart from the demon; it took all he had to sustain the attack and not be thrown away. After nearly half a minute of the treatment, the bubble fully consumed Ogudomon, and the demon's shocked and pained roar of death finally rang out as his body was erased by the sheer power.

Released from the blow, Flarekomodomon started to fall to the ground; despite the long drop, he landed on his feet without any trouble. "Phew...Man, that was intense. Sandabadomon, that was a great idea," he panted as the avian swooped down to check on him.

"And you were amazing! You really took it to him!"

"Heh, wouldn't have happened without everyone else. Speaking of which, guys, you don't have to rush, I'm fine," he said as the rest of the group clamored around him.

"It worked! Hot damn!" cried out Tornadramon. "I am awesome!"

"You?" Wepaonrexmon grunted. "Flarekomodomon and I did all the work!"

"Hey, I helped make sure it worked! He mighta been blasted outta the air if I hadn't-"

"Don't you two start fighting again now," snapped Flarekomodomon, and instantly both of them stopped talking. "I don't see any more reason to stick around here, so let's beat it. We've still got a bunch of nutcases to take on."

"If we can handle Ogudomon, we probably will have a lot easier time against the rest of those Emperius idiots," Nyctogaroudmon said. "I'm ready to go after them right now!"

"Sounds good to me...uh-oh," Weaponrexmon said. "We may want to make it a quick exit...I'm getting the feeling that something's not right in here."

"Nothing's ever that easy, huh? C'mon, guys, let's split."

(==========)

By the time they emerged from the castle, it was quite clear from the loud rumblings and shakings that something big was starting to go down. The clouds of gray swirling around the castle were no longer even and clean, instead having become a chaotic twister with some jets moving faster and some slower. The five symbiotes took this as a clear sign not to waste any time getting away. Flarekomodomon and Nyctogaroumon took their places on Tornadramon and Sandabadomon practically mid-stride, while Weaponrexmon used the four massive cannons on his back to create a makeshift jetpack to slow his descent as he leapt off of the edge of the landmass.

As they soared out to a safe distance away from the unstable construct, they found a small welcoming committee, including Reaverdramon and Gallantmon, waiting at the cliff where they'd first observed the castle. "Goodness! You've changed!" was Gallantmon's first observation when they landed.

"Yeah, and it couldn't have come at a better time to take down those lunatics," Flarekomodomon responded. "But now it's going nuts out there, what's the deal?"

"If I had to guess, defeating the demons has left the castle's chaotic energy without any regulation," Reaverdramon said hurriedly. "It's likely to explode at some point, but it's hard to know when, or how powerful it's going to be. Chaotic energy is hard to predict…"

"Should we consider evacuating everyone from the nearby areas?"

"Unless the energy can be neutralized. But that would probably mean destroying the entire castle and landmass, so there's nothing that can feed the reaction. That would take a hell of a blast..."

"I think I could pull it off." All eyes turned towards Tornadramon. "There won't be any danger in taking it down, right? No one's gonna miss the castle or land or anything?"

"No...do you really think you can do that?" asked Reaverdramon, sounding unconvinced.

"Hah, leave it to me!" He turned towards the castle and closed his eyes, focusing intensely as he began to glow brightly. "All right...time to put the final word into this! Sundering Sky!"

A bright blue beam fired up form his body towards the sky, and he fell to a knee, panting heavily. Gallantmon started over to check on him, but was staved off with a wave of the dragon's hand. After a few moments, the sky suddenly darkened around them, and the air took on a noticeable intensity that sent a thrill through everyone on the cliff. Tornadramon finally stood and raised an arm, and as he did, from way up in the sky, a massive ray of wind energy burst forth and rocketed down, slamming into the top of the demonic castle. Another beam raged from the heavens at an angle, intersecting again at the castle...then another, from a different angle, and another, finally growing to seven different beams. Finally, with a wave of his arms downward, the full force of the beams ripped from the sky and blasted the castle, tearing it apart and sending shrapnel all over the ground below. As the sky brightened, the chaotic clouds that once surrounded the castle began to dissipate harmlessly into the air.

Tornadramon turned to the others, panting hard but with a wide grin on his face. "Whoo...that's how ya do it!"

"Holy...that was..." Gallantmon was nearly struck dumb by the sight. "I've...I've never seen such an attack in my life...this is the power of the symbiosis? I sure am glad you're on our side..."

"That was absolutely amazing!" Sandabadomon exclaimed. "Something that powerful might be enough to get through that dispersion shield Emperius has around its ship!"

"Might be kinda difficult if it's moving around a lot, though," Weaponrexmon pointed out. "Still, we could knock out its engines. Finishing them all off in one blow would be a great way to end this quickly."

"Yeah, don't go popping the champagne yet, guys," Tornadramon cut in. "There's no way I'm gonna be able to pull that off again without some time to recharge. That takes a LOT of juice to pull off."

"Heh, sounds like someone needs to build up his stamina," Nyctogaroumon chuckled.

"Yeah, well, at least I leave 'em breathless."

Sandabadomon shook her head. "We're back to cheap jokes, I think that means it's time to head back and figure out our next course of action. Hopefully we won't have to do too much more of this before we've finished this thing."

"It can't come soon enough," Flarekomodomon agreed. "Let's get going. Reaverdramon, thank you for everything. I hope this has been of some help."

Reaverdramon nodded. "No question. Without the demon kings around, the demons have lost one of their sources of power, and one of their means of keeping dissidents under their control. It'll make life easier for those like myself, and may give us an opportunity to break away from the evil ones. I'm going to relay the news to some of us that are in hiding. Good luck, all of you, may you have success in overcoming Emperius."

"Thanks! Best of luck to you, too!" Nyctogaroumon replied. Reaverdramon gave them a lost nod, turned, and leapt off of the cliff, swooping down into the valley below.

"His battle seems to be just beginning...I hope we can do something to help him in the future," Gallantmon said.

"Well, one thing at a time, right?" Sandabadomon replied. "We've still got to finish off Emperius, and as much as we would hope not, I doubt they'll make it easy for us."

"When have they ever?" Tornadramon complained. "Why can't they be agreeable for once and let us kill them dead? At least we got stronger in that castle, we should be able to take any of them on without much trouble!"

"You shouldn't get overconfident, that's how accidents happen."

"Yeah, yeah, I know, but I'm allowed to be regular confident, aren't I?"

"Quiet, quiet, quiet!" Weaponrexmon ordered suddenly. He turned away and started shouting at what appeared to be no one in particular. "Say that again...you're sure? How soon will they be through? Damn, too fast! All right, we're gonna take action! Don't try to follow them, just head back!" He turned back around, speaking in a voice flooded with urgency. "I just got a report from the scouts monitoring the Dreadnaught! There's a huge distortion forming near them! They're going to turn over to our world!"

"Those rat bastards!" snarled Flarekomodomon. "Well, fine! If they want to have another go at our side we'll finish them off over there! We need to get back to headquarters and transfer immediately!"

"There's no time to waste! Tornadramon, if you had my line from my hookshot, do you think you could handle my extra weight?"

Tornadramon nodded eagerly. "Piece of cake! Just make sure whatever you're using is strong enough to handle me!"

"Good! Everyone else get going, we'll catch up no problem!"

(==========)

The newly-rescued forces of Libertius were almost having flashbacks from their takeover when the symbiotes and their commander cascaded through the hallways with abandon, no explanation offered for their sudden frenzy. For their part, they were far too absorbed in their emergency to take much notice of the sudden stares of confusion and fright. They charged as fast as they could reasonably move within the hallways, not letting up for a moment until they stood in front of the door holding access to the Transworld Transfer Matrix. Flarekomodomon slammed the door open, and then immediately let out an angered roar. "What the HELL is this?"

"Oh no! What happened in here?" Gallantmon cried out as he saw the chaos. Pieces and parts were strewn about everywhere, and the machine itself was scarcely recognizable for the damage it had sustained. "The Matrix...who could have done this?"

"I fear the responsibility is mine." All six turned to see Glademon approaching cautiously. "When we came to take your forces long ago...Emperius believed you were assisting the humans actively and commanded us to ensure that could no longer happen. I had told one of my men where your matrix was…"

"And he took care of it," Nyctogaroumon finished darkly, pounding a fist on Weaponrexmon's back. "Damnation! It'll take ages to get it working again!"

"You haven't got time for that. There's another possibility. Gargantua Weapon had several of the improved machines on board ready for use. At least one of them had to have been spared from the explosion that took it down. If power could be provided to it, it should get you where you need to go."

"I can try to work with that, but what if they were all damaged?" asked Sandabadomon.

"If they were, leave them to me, I'll fix them up in a hurry," Weaponrexmon said.

(==========)

The massive husk of the former fortress still stood out in the barren wasteland, though it was far from dead around it. Hordes of digimon were scurrying around, engrossed in the onerous task of breaking down the structure. "Dang, they have to take this all apart piece by piece?" remarked Tornadramon. "That's gonna take ages!"

"I dunno, there's a lot of digimon working here, it could go faster than you think," Weaponrexmon replied.

"Still, why not just get some big dude to blast it apart?"

"Mainly because we want whatever we find to be in good condition, not a smoldering wreck." The reply came from an Andromon who walked up to them and gave them a bow. "I've already gotten the rundown from Libertius headquarters. We know of at least two transfer machines that are in working condition, and only lack a power source. I've got some digimon working on setting that up right now."

"Do they need any help?" Sandabadomon asked.

"I'm sure they'd be grateful, but best that you don't get involved if you're going through. I don't know a ton about these things, but anything that moves living creatures around shouldn't be powered by a creature that's moving it, there's too much risk of an interruption."

"Fair enough," Flarekomodomon said. "Let's see it."

With a nod of assent, Andromon guided them through the corridors, moving surprisingly quickly for someone of his size and shape. As they pursued him, they passed by quite a few digimon of many shapes and sizes, most carrying scraps from the body of the weapon or supplies from the rooms within. "I guess I can see why they didn't want to blow it up right off," Tornadramon admitted as he watched a Gotsumon carry by a large box filled with food. "There's a lot of stuff inside that could be really useful."

"A mobile fortress that had to carry thousands of digimon, they must have had supplies to last a long time," Nyctogarouomon mused. "They didn't even get a chance to use most of it, so there's probably a lot that can be salvaged. I can only imagine how much good it can be put to."

"No kidding. You could probably build an army of robots with all the metal and electronics and everything in here…"

"Don't give Weaponrexmon any ideas."

"He didn't have to give them to me," the cyborg cut in amusedly. "Fortunately, we don't have time for that."

It wasn't much longer before they arrived at a large room with a machine embedded in the floor on the front end. It looked quite a bit different from the TTM in the Libertius compound before it had been trashed; it was smaller, sleeker, and looked more modern and more functional. "Huh...they did a remarkably good job improving on the original design," commented Weaponrexmon. "Wonder what else it can do?"

"Well, we know it lets them also go back," Flarekomodomon said. "Right now, I'm not concerned with anything more. As long as it gets us over there, that's what matters. And right now it doesn't seem to be doing that."

"Well, it needs energy for that."

"And how long will that take?" The impatience in the fire lizard's voice was almost tangible, and made everyone in the room the slightest bit uneasy.

"It shouldn't be long now," Andromon assured them. "They're just working on getting the power source hooked up. It shouldn't be more than a few minutes."

"Well, tell them to speed it up. We're talking about basically a large-scale invasion of the human world here, they're not going to waste time and they don't have enough defenses to hold them off for long."

"And if they do it wrong, we're looking at an even longer setback, if not serious injury or catastrophe," Sandabadomon said. "Cool your jets for a moment and let them do their job right the first time."

"Rgh...yeah, yeah…" Flarekomodomon conceded, but didn't wait very peacefully, spending most of the time grumbling under his breath and pacing around. As the minutes ticked away, his agitation was clearly growing, but fortunately for everyone, before he hit the boiling point, Andromon gave them the thumbs-up.

"They're flipping the switch in just a few seconds. Next question, do any of you know how to work this thing? Because I sure don't."

"Give me a little bit with it and we'll be golden," Weaponrexmon said, walking over to the machine. Almost as he arrived at the console, the machine began to emit a gradually-crescendoing whir, signaling that the power hook-up had succeeded. The console flickered to life, but Weaponrexmon paid it no mind, instead sending out a cable from his arm that connected to a port on the machine. The others waited anxiously, the potential for another unforeseen complication weighing on their minds. But it went as smoothly as anything, and within just a minute, a wide, almost invisible beam fired from the front of the machine, stopping at a point in space on the other side of the room and expanding into a spherical void.

"Looks like we're good to go, as long as the energy keeps up," Weaponrexmon said. "I guess we'd better make haste then."

"Yeah...we're probably gonna be in the middle of a firefight right when we get over there," Flarekomodomon said. "So everyone, you know the drill: come out swinging and don't stop until we've brought an end to this once and for all!"

"Right!" came the simultaneous reply.

"Then let's go!" Without further hesitation, Flarekomodmon raced towards the rift in space, closely followed by the rest of the symbiotes, as they crossed through once more, ready to return to where the battle had begun and to see to it that that would be where it ended.

(==========)

(==========)

So glad to have finally gotten past that! It's taken longer than I had hoped, but I'm finally getting back to Braun, and finally getting to the last stage of this story! Right now I've got it in my head that there will be six more chapters, not counting the epilogue which will probably go up at the same time as the last chapter. The first one will probably be the toughest due to me still trying to figure out exactly what it's going to include, but the others I've got a pretty solid outline for already and even some content within them.

I know I kind of left the combining powers out until right near the end, but I really just could not figure out a good way to introduce them as a common mechanic. Part of the problem is that I simply don't have a lot of team battles here, owing to my finding them more difficult to write, so opportunities are a little scarce. I almost didn't even put it in here, but I decided that I wanted there to be something more to this battle, because after the other demon kings it didn't feel like it made sense for them to struggle with a five-on-one situation. So it becomes basically a brief sidebar that will get a little mention but probably not much through the rest of the story. Not the ideal situation, but hopefully not too much of an issue.

Anyway, I think that's about enough yakking from me. See you when I get done with the next chapter!