Hikari grimaced. Her head hurt, and her consciousness felt as if they were wading through sticky molasses as it made its way to the surface. As tempting as it was to give up and remain in the darkness, something urgent was pushing her onward. She didn't know what, but it was important, and that knowledge alone gave her the strength to keep moving forward.
With a wince, Hikari's eyes opened, and she was greeted at first by the sight of blinding light. Her eyes quickly adjusted, and within moments she could make out the shape of a face before the features finally became clear - Tailmon.
Tailmon sighed, relief evident on her face as she looked down at Hikari. "Thank goodness… you're okay."
Hikari furrowed her brow as her awareness returned, and she discovered that she was lying on her back on Koshiro's sofa, staring upwards at the ceiling. Tailmon stood by her head, hovering over her, as Jou changed the wet washcloth that had been resting on her forehead.
"What happened?" she asked weakly even as the memories began flooding back, much to her growing horror.
"Wormmon evolved," Tailmon said, her voice going soft as her ears drooped. "It's called… Armagemon. It's an Ultimate, and it's wreaking havoc across the Digital World."
"It… Armagemon ate the creature in the tube," Takeru said as he leaned over the back of the sofa to look at Hikari. When she looked up sharply to stare at him in horror, the Chosen of Hope grimaced. "It made him grow. He's… well, he's enormous now."
Hikari sat up like a shot. "Where's Ken? Is he o…" A wave of dizziness overtook her, as her aching head was quick to remind her of its presence. She didn't resist when Tailmon eased her back down again.
Daisuke sat in the corner of the room, his insides twisting and leaving him sour. The relief he felt at seeing Hikari awaken was tainted by the fact that her first concern was still for the boy who betrayed them all. "Tiny Tower is fine; it's his Digimon wreaking the Digital World, after all. It's what they've been doing all along."
Tailmon's cheek twitched, though she didn't turn to look at Daisuke. "...We don't know. Ken hadn't regained consciousness by the time FlaWizarmon and Witchmon took him away and neither of them are answering emails. Whatever that thing did, it messed him up very badly."
"We have to help Ken and Wormmon!" Hikari said urgently, resenting the weakness of her body.
"We're discussing that right now," Takeru said as he leaned back and glanced around the room. "Though it's… not going well, as you might expect."
"It's hard to know what to do, when you see something so terrifying," Sora said as she reached up to place her hand over her chest. "It's just like… Imperialdramon."
Koshiro tilted his laptop in the direction of the sofa so Hikari could catch a glimpse of the video recording of the massive monster smashing through the wall Digimon Kaiser's floating palace. "Whatever Ken was using to hide his fortress got messed up when that Chimeramon clone broke out." He grimaced as he looked back at the screen. "We found it just before Wormmon evolved into… that."
"Ken was afraid this would happen," Tailmon said, her ears drooping as she looked down at Hikari's hand as she held it in her own. "Ken was afraid to evolve Wormmon, kept worrying about what would happen… and it looks like his fears were completely justified."
"It was because of the Dark Ocean," Hikari said as she remembered the dread she felt from the creature in the tube and how hungry it seemed.
"It got exactly what it wanted," Tailmon said, her voice low and razor sharp.
Yamato frowned as he looked down at Tailmon, then turned to Taichi. "So what exactly are our options at this point? We can't just leave him alone, as he's destroying everything in his path."
Koshiro spun the laptop back towards him and switched back to the Digital Gate's live feed and his map of the Digital World. After a bit of work tracking his path and the various landmarks, a terrible suspicion dropped in his stomach like a lead weight. "He's heading straight for Baihumon's fortress."
"Baihumon is going to need our help," Miyako said as she reached up to adjust her glasses, and glanced at Iori out of the corner of her eyes. "Whether he wants it or not."
Iori didn't turn to meet Miyako's gaze, keeping his attention on Kyokyomon in his lap. "You can fight the same opponent without actually assisting each other. So long as it's phrased like that, he should have no complaints."
"So we're… going to fight him?" Mimi asked, her voice hitching. She looked as though she had been crying, if the puffy purple under her eyes was anything to go by. "Fight… Wormmon?"
Takeru hesitated at that before he looked down at his hands, as he laced his fingers together. "At the very least, we need to delay him and keep him from killing anyone until Ken has a chance to reach him… just like Daisuke reached V-mon."
The comparison between himself and the Digimon Kaiser made Daisuke feel even more sour. "Like that's gonna happen."
Tailmon felt her hackles raise on the back of her neck, but she still didn't turn to look at Daisuke. "Hopefully Ken's awake now, like Hikari… and he'll meet us there."
Koshiro looked at his laptop screen at the monster that was once Wormmon. "I wonder if it'll be that easy for Ken to talk him down in this state. It looks as if they're both tainted by the Dark Ocean now, and it was their Digivice being corrupted further that caused this. Ken might be in even worse condition than ever before, so we should probably come up with a secondary plan just in case."
"Not to mention that thing ate Ken's Digivice," Yamato said, with a grunt. "I don't know what that means, but it definitely can't be good."
Jou looked at the others before he focused on Taichi, anxiety clear on his face. "Can… can even Omegamon handle him like this?"
Taichi looked down at Agumon at his side, who gazed up at him with the utmost trust in his decision. He was reminded of the battle with Diablomon and what caused the birth of Omegamon in the first place. He grimaced, hand clenching at his side, before he smoothed his expression out into one of grim determination and raised his fist. "We've done the impossible before, and we'll do it again!"
"That's right," Agumon agreed, with a nod of his head. "We can do this, Taichi!"
"We'll do our best, Yamato," Gabumon said as he turned to his own partner. "No matter what, we'll save the Digital World."
Yamato looked down at his partner before he chuckled and reached down to ruffle the top of his partner's head. "That's right. If we give up before we even start, we'll never get anywhere."
Hikari tried once more to sit up, bracing herself against the sofa backing. "We need the Digimental of Darkness… It's the only thing that can remove the Dark Ocean's taint from Ken and Wormmon."
Tailmon closed her eyes before she nodded, then stood up. "It still has all of the energy it absorbed from the Battlefield Memorial. That should be enough."
Taichi nodded before he turned to Yamato. "You should take the Digimental of Darkness, Yamato. Your crest is connected to it, and we'll be the only ones who can get close enough with Omegamon."
"No," Hikari said abruptly, instinctively cringing at the idea of giving up the Digimental Keiko had entrusted to her. "I… I don't think that's a good idea. If I can just… get to Ken with Tailmon, then we can cure him and he can reach Wormmon."
Taichi shook his head at his little sister. "No way, not after whatever happened to him nearly did you in like that. You're staying here."
Hikari's mouth drew into a thin line. "No, I'm not. Ken won't trust anyone but me to get close now."
Taichi clenched his jaw."After what happened last time-"
"That's why none of you are coming too," Hikari said, her voice hard. She forced herself to look at her lap and not at Daisuke, though part of her bitterly wanted to pointedly direct her words at him. "Just Tailmon and me. Alone."
Daisuke's fingers twitched on his folded knee as he looked over at Hikari. "Maybe we need to use the Digimental on Hikari first, just in case. We're still not sure Ken did anything to her while he got her alone, or Tailmon when he caught her."
Tailmon's tail slammed down, hitting the coffee table with a loud thwack that made everyone jump. All the fur along her back was raised and she finally turned to glare at Daisuke, her expression anything but friendly. "Enough."
Daisuke jerked upright, snapping his gaze to Tailmon. "Huh?"
"You've said enough," Tailmon said, her voice as cold as ice. "You've done enough. I'm tired of hearing you." Her eyes narrowed as her ears canted back. "Just. Shut. Up."
"Wha…?" Daisuke stared at Tailmon. "Look, I'm just worried about you and Hikari. After all the crap that bastard's pulled on us-"
Tailmon's tail slammed down again much harder this time, and the coffee table snapped in half from the harsh blow. Her lips curled up to bare her fangs at the other boy, her fury now naked on her face. "The hell you are!"
The children collectively cried out and jerked back from the sudden display of violence. Daisuke scrambled to his feet, back against the wall, as Chibimon jumped in front of him protectively.
"You ruined everything," Tailmon voice, her voice like a hiss. "Everything Hikari worked so damn hard for. All because you were angry. You didn't care about her, or about me. All you wanted to do was hurt Ken, and to hell with everything else! You were angry, you were hurt, and everyone was going to pay for it!" Her expression darkened. "It looks like Ken isn't the only one that's 'just like Jun'."
Daisuke felt like Tailmon had just punched him in the stomach. He reeled for a second before anger came rushing back in. "I'm nothing like Jun!"
Tailmon let out a snort before she turned her back to Daisuke. "Don't think that just because Hikari's going to forgive you, that means I have to, too. And we both know she's going to forgive you, despite everything. Even if we end up having to kill Wormmon because of you, Hikari will forgive you."
Daisuke flinched, his gaze flickering to Hikari who was curled up against the back of the sofa, hiding her face from everyone and focusing instead on her Digivice. "I… I'm just… After Takeru got tainted and all that crap and you kept going to the Dark Ocean, it just figures that if the Kaiser got you alone-"
"If you were even remotely concerned about that, you wouldn't have shut Hikari out after she tried to talk to you," Tailmon said, her voice razor sharp. "You wouldn't have told her that you didn't want to talk to her."
Daisuke cringed, stammering a bit, but he couldn't think of a single response he could make.
"If you want to be angry, fine. Be angry," Tailmon said, her voice hard. "But don't act like there's something wrong with Hikari because she actually values Ken more than nursing her hurt feelings." She paused and her ear flicked. "And that goes for the rest of you, too."
Silence lingered over the room as the Chosen Children stood about, at a loss for what to say or do. Even when Koshiro's mother came in to find the source of the sound she had heard, all Koshiro could do was smile apologetically at her. Sensing the tense atmosphere, Yoshie glanced at the other Chosen before quietly excusing herself, disappearing once more into the kitchen.
Just when the tension became absolutely unbearable, a loud beep pierced the air. The sound sent a jolt through Hikari, who immediately recognized it as an email on a DT2 - and only one. She realized it must have been from Ken, which was the same conclusions the others had reached if their uneasy expressions were anything to go by. The Chosen of Light whipped about to look for her DT2.
Noticing the device on what remained of the shattered coffee table, Hikari lunged for the DT2 and snatched it before her brother could even finish reaching down to grab it. Although the sudden movements sent the world off kilter, sending her upper half toppling off the couch so that her head bonked against the floor, she never let go of the device. Her fingers scrabbled to open up the DT2, not daring to hope but still desperate for some sign that things weren't completely destroyed.
What she saw was an email that made her stomach drop, as if it had fallen into a pit.
gotto savw him
p;ease help me
Hikari stared at the message from her upside-down vantage point, not caring that her head was still on the floor, before her expression twisted up in anguish. Even when Ken was suffering, his first thoughts were still towards his partner. She could feel his pain, his desperation, and his panic through the simple email and it made her heart clench. "Ken…"
"Hikari, careful!" Taichi said as he bent down to help his sister back onto the sofa. He frowned at the DT2 and reached for it once he finished. "Let me see that."
Hikari twisted away from her brother, clamping her DT2 against her chest and out of his grasp while ignoring the dizziness still lingering as her eyes sought Tailmon. "We need to go. Now."
Tailmon nodded sharply as she moved to help Hikari sit up. "Let's go."
Taichi frowned and reached for his Digivice. "You should stay here. We'll-"
"No," Hikari said fiercely as she forced herself to stand, aided by Tailmon. "No. After… after what happened, Ken isn't going to trust anyone but me and Tailmon anymore. If anyone else goes, it'll make things worse and who knows how that might affect Wormmon?" She scanned her gaze over the room, making brief eye contact with each Chosen Child and Digimon. It was especially painful to meet Daisuke's eyes, but she refused to bend this time. "Tailmon and I will help Ken. The rest of you figure out how to contain Armagemon until I can use the Digimental of Darkness on Ken so we can help him reach Wormmon."
"We already know that none of you want to help Ken," Tailmon said as she turned to glare at Taichi. "But we do."
"That's… that's not true," Sora protested. "We all-"
"Then stop getting in our way!" Tailmon snarled.
Takeru stared at Tailmon. He had never seen her so angry before, but he understood it. She was angry for not only her sake, but Hikari's and Ken's as well. The Chosen of Hope paused before he turned to Patamon. "Patamon, are you ready? There aren't any Dark Towers in the area, so we can go straight to Perfect."
Patamon nodded as he braced himself for combat. "I'm ready, Takeru."
"You can't just go while you're still not recovered from whatever it was he did to you!" Taichi protested.
"He didn't do anything to her!" Tailmon snapped, her ears straight back.
Miyako kicked the floor to push herself away from the table and computer with an overly dramatic groan that caught the attention of the others. "Can we argue about this after we stop the personification of armageddon that's trying to eat the Digital World? If Hikari and Tailmon get kidnapped and brainwashed or whatever, we'll just save them later like we did with everyone else. We don't have time for all this drama now!"
"So quit wasting what time we do have!" Pafumon said, with a huff.
"I agree," Koshiro said as he watched the computer screen with barely restrained fear. "We don't have time to waste arguing about this anymore."
Yamato paused and looked at Miyako before he nodded. "Let's do this. Iori and Miyako, you should stay here and monitor everything from the laptop."
Iori looked about to protest before he hesitated, then looked down at Kyokyomon. As much as he hated to admit it, his bokken wouldn't be of any use - and his partner could nowhere reach the power Armagemon was displaying. "...I understand."
Miyako brought up the Digital Gate and gave the others a thumbs up as she slid back to make room for them. "Go kick ass, everybody."
Hikari didn't hesitate any longer and opened up the Digital Gate before anyone else could try to talk her or Tailmon out of going. Taichi's heart twisted seeing her go, more afraid for his sister than facing the giant monster before them, but he had to face the fact that this time he had to let her go.
Taichi pulled out his Digivice with a sickly feeling in his stomach that he squashed mercilessly with iron-clad determination. "Let's do this."
Baihumon stood at the forefront of the battlelines as his army of Digimon stood far behind him, struggling to maintain their courage in face of such a hulking monster heading their way. Only Andiramon stood beside the Holy Beast, her expression grim as she glared at death itself as it slowly made its way across the rocky plains towards them.
"Is this the work of the Digimon Kaiser?" Andiramon asked.
"Does it matter?" Baihumon asked. He didn't look at the rabbit Deva, his eyes locked on Armagemon as it seemed focused on him despite the still sizeable distance between them.
Andiramon paused before she shook her head. "I suppose not."
A flash of light appeared nearby, prompting Andiramon and the army of Digimon to stop and turn to stare. Only Baihumon kept his eyes on Armagemon, choosing not to watch as the Chosen Children appeared beside them with their partners. He did little more than flick his left ear as the Digimon partners evolved quickly, with War Greymon, Metal Garurumon, Rosemon, Garudamon, Holy Angemon, Zudomon, Altur Kabuterimon, and XV-mon taking the field.
"I believe I told you that there would be no alliance," Baihumon said.
"You also said that we're free to do what we like," Yamato said as he turned to grin up at the Holy Beast. "No different than anyone else in your army."
Baihumon paused at that before he let out a chuckle. "I suppose I did."
Rosemon stood before Mimi, her rainbow cape fluttering behind her as she stared at the behemoth as it continued onward towards them. "...I'm sure Wormmon is suffering right now, just like Kyoumon was. Being forced to do such awful things, unable to stop himself..."
"We need to stop him, so he doesn't suffer anymore," Holy Angemon said as he hovered above the others, his wings fanned.
"Stay back, Sora," Garudamon said. "You all need to stay as far away from him as you can."
"She's right," Altur Kabuterimon agreed. "We can't afford to take any chances."
"Especially if he's even half as strong as Imperialdramon was," Zudomon agreed as he clutched his hammer with both hands. "And given our luck, spitting vaporizing lasers is probably right up his alley."
XV-mon glanced at the other, much higher level Digimon before he turned his attention to Armagemon. He wasn't about to be discouraged by being the smallest one there. "I'll do my best!"
"Are you ready?" War Greymon asked grimly as he stood beside Metal Garurumon.
"I'm ready," Metal Garurumon said, with a nod.
Taichi and Yamato glanced at each other and shared a nod before they raised their Digivices high.
"War Greymon!" Taichi shouted out.
"Metal Garurumon!" Yamato similarly yelled.
As if in response to their words, and their feelings, the elder boys' Digivices began to glow brilliantly. Their partners were engulfed in light, orange and blue, that mingled together before becoming one. Just as clearly as the light had come, it was gone, and both Digimon had been replaced with a single entity - Omegamon.
Omegamon swung his massive sword about before pointing it directly at Armagemon. "You will not devour this world!"
Armagemon's eyes moved to focus on Omegamon as he came to a stop. The massive scorpion-like Digimon lifted his tail upwards as he let out a bellow, signalling his readiness to face them - and destroy them.
"Well, then," Baihumon said as he lowered his head, narrowing his eyes. "Do your best not to get in my way!" The tiger Digimon reared back to let out a roar that vibrated through the plains before he lunged forward, rushing towards his opponent with powerful strides.
A cheer came from the Digimon army behind the Chosen, emboldened not only by Baihumon but the display of power from the Chosen Children. The numerous Digimon rushed after their 'leader', reluctant as he was to identify himself as such, with Andiramon leading the charge. She followed closely behind Baihumon, her face a mask of determination even as she and her comrades charged into almost certain death.
The Chosen Digimon looked at each other and nodded before pursuing the Holy Beast. With so many allies, it was hard to imagine that the fight was anything but fair. But even from a distance, it was clear that the army were nothing more than ants attacking a mountain.
But even ants had a chance of victory against a larger opponent, if they all banded together. The upcoming battle would either be a hard-earned victory or a complete massacre, and it was impossible to tell which it would be until it was too late.
All they could do was hope.
Hikari found herself on the rocky plain near Baihumon's fortress, though in an area to the east of the fighting on a small hill. It gave her enough of a view to see what was happening. For a long moment, all she could do was stare at the monstrous Digimon as it bellowed its rage, greeting the attackers that dared to defy it. She couldn't help but grimace, knowing that within the primal fury was Wormmon - a sweet and kind Digimon.
"We've got to hurry," Tailmon said as she watched Armagemon, flicking her ears.
Hikari nodded before she glanced about, seeking the entire reason she had arrived in the first place. "Where's Ken?"
The answer to her question came in the form of Ken's voice as he called out from high above."H-Hikari!"
Hikari looked up to see Witchmon on her broom, flying downwards with Ken straddling her broom as he held it with a deathgrip. As soon as the ground was close enough to allow it, Ken jumped down. His legs nearly caved beneath him on the rocky soil, but he managed to catch himself and wobbily stood up.
After composing himself, the Chosen of Kindness hurried over towards Hikari. His movements were stiff and awkward, as if his entire body were sore and each step was excruciatingly painful, but he didn't let it stop him.
"Y-you came…!" Ken said, desperate relief clear in his voice.
Hikari was about to respond when she stopped and stared, her eyes widening. Instead of gray, she was greeted instead by Ken's completely black eyes, with golden glowing irises. "Ken…"
Ken paused as he came to a stop in front of her. He grimaced, as he immediately knew what she was staring at. He looked away, as if he could hide what the Chosen of Light had already seen. "It's… fine. It… I'm fine… it's nothing."
Hikari swept Ken up into a tight hug, her body fairly quaking from the sight of how badly corrupted he and Wormmon had become. "It's not fine. That's why we're here to help."
Ken hesitated before he closed his eyes, shakily returning the hug. His eyes began to water as his trembling intensified. "...I… I'm sorry… I don't deserve your help, I know… I just..." He faltered for words, as nothing could truly make up for all the horrible things he had done, and he knew it.
Ken was so caught up in his self-loathing and heartache that he didn't notice Hikari raise her Digivice behind him until it touched the back of his neck.
And in that instant, pain was all he knew.
Armagemon's tail lashed forward, attempting to skewer Zudomon. The beast Digimon brought his hammer about to strike at the bladed tip. It did no visible damage, barely managing to knock the sharp edge aside so that it stabbed the ground instead of Digimon flesh.
The monstrous Digimon jerked his tail back with a growl as he stomped backwards, preparing for another blow despite the myriad of Digimon attacking him from all sides and angles. As he moved, he lifted his middle leg on the left side and lashed out, striking at a cluster of Digimon and sending them scurrying in all directions - at least, those that avoided being crushed in a puff of data.
Rosemon jumped onto the attacking leg and raced up it, moving fast as her rainbow cape lashed about behind her. As she neared Armagemon's kneecap, she jumped back and struck out with a vine in each hand in a dual whip attack. The strike made Armagemon jerk his leg back, but outwardly did little else.
"It's like attacking a wall!" Zudomon grunted as he gripped his hammer tightly before striking at the nearest leg with a resounding clang.
"Don't give up! Even a wall will crack and fall if you hit it enough!" Garudamon said as she soared high above Armagemon. She fanned her wings before she sent a burst of fire in the shape of a bird surging at the enormous Digimon's back. "Shadow Wing!"
The fire struck the armor that guarded Armagemon's back, before disappearing like a puff of smoke. Armagemon himself didn't even seem to notice the attack as he instead focused on trying to bite down on Baihumon, only to receive a claw for his efforts. The Holy Beast's blow struck hard against Armagemon's face, sending his head backwards.
It delayed Armagemon enough for Andiramon to race up the giant's face, rushing towards his back. "Focus on his joints and any exposed flesh you can find!"
"Understood!" Altur Kabuterimon said before he rushed forward to catch one of Armagemon's legs right before it could crush a cluster of smaller Digimon. The massive beetle Digimon grunted under the strain as he struggled to keep it from crushing not only them but him as well.
XV-mon rushed over to help the beetle, jumping on his back to leverage himself between his comrade and the enormous foot. He gave a mighty shout as he planted both of his hands against the sole of Armagemon's foot before shoving with all his might. "Hah!"
Armagemon wobbled, drawing back his foot as the others skittered about to rebalance himself.
"If we can take out his tail, that'll be one less thing to worry about!" Holy Angemon said as he flew towards the appendage in question.
"Let's go for it," Omegamon agreed as he followed after Angemon along the ground, before he leapt upwards to swing his mighty blade at the scorpion tail's blade. "Grey Sword!"
For Omegamon's efforts, he was rewarded with a howl and a splash of black blood. However, whatever sense of accomplishment he might have had was quickly smothered by the sight of the black blood congealing together to seal - and heal - the very injury he had just made.
"Tch," Omegamon scowled at the tail as his efforts came to nothing. "It must be because of that creature he absorbed!"
"It must be the influence of the Dark Ocean," Holy Angemon grunted. "It's like a parasite."
"This is… pretty bad, isn't it," Yamato said as he grit his teeth. "I know Hikari wanted us to delay him but at this point, we're just trying to stay alive…"
"Why the hell did he need Omegamon when he had something like this up his sleeve?" Taichi asked, gesturing towards Armagemon with his hand as if no one could see what he was talking about.
Sora nodded as she watched anxiously as Garudamon made another attempt to attack Armagemon, sending her flaming bird blades at whatever exposed flesh she could find. "It's so awful… why would Ken want to make such a thing?"
"Wormmon's in there somewhere," Takeru said as he glanced at the elder Chosen. "But it's very unlikely he has much control over himself at this point."
"What do we do?" Mimi asked, her eyes darting between her friends and Rosemon. She tensed up every time her partner got close to the monster that had been Wormmon and cringed whenever Armagemon killed another wave of Digimon.
"We've got to get rid of what's influencing him somehow," Koshiro said as he focused on typing on the laptop he held. Maybe he could access the Digital World's code and do something more substantial than turn lights on and off, but there was just too much of it to sift through quickly, and to his discomfort a lot of it looked fragmented and full of errors. "Maybe if we use the Digimental of Darkness it'll do something… or we could call Narakumon for help to take care of the creature inside Wormmon like he did with the one in Factory Town."
"I'm on it," Daisuke said grimly as he pulled out his DT2 and began to type.
Before Daisuke could even finish typing the third word in his email a brilliant aura of color burst forth not too far away, coloring the battlefield. Gold and black writhed violently against one another in a haunting recreation of when the golden light consumed the gentle glow of pink. But unlike before, when Kindness was snuffed out like a candle in a breath, Darkness was not so helpless. Within seconds of a nearly blinding battle, blackness consumed the gold and snuffed the brilliant light completely. In the dimness of the area where Darkness now reigned supreme, bits of broken data trailed upward to the sky like wisps of smoke from the cooling embers of a once devastating fire.
Takeru stared at the phenomenon, confusion obvious on his face. "What… just happened?"
"No idea," Yamato muttered.
The Chosen Children weren't the only ones to notice the display. Armagemon had jerked to a stop and turned to stare. As soon as the gold had lost to the blackness, the massive insect Digimon let out a roar of anger. He threw his whole body about, not caring about the attackers any longer as he turned about to face the direction the light had come before he charged towards it with a single-minded focus.
"W-wait!" Jou stepped forward instinctively. "Where is it- is it running away?!"
"No," Yamato muttered as his eyes widened. "It's running to something."
"Wherever it's going can't be good," Taichi said before he raced to follow. "Come on, everybody! After him!"
By the time Ken's vision returned to him, he had long since run out of a voice to scream and tears to cry. His entire body had given out beneath him, his legs unable to support his body and sending him tumbling to the ground. Thankfully, Hikari had been there to keep him from hitting the ground, her arms wrapped around him as she supported his weight.
Ken gasped for air, his cheeks stained with tears as his bright blue eyes stared blankly up at the sky. He remained that way for several moments as his body recovered from the overwhelming pain that had consumed him not even several seconds prior. He could vaguely see FlaWizarmon, Witchmon, and Tailmon in his peripheral vision as the three Digimon hovered close, anxiously watching. He didn't have the energy to fully look at them, instead sagging heavily against the Chosen of Light.
Ken shakily reached his hands up to grasp at Hikari's arms, his muscles feeling like lead that resisted even the most basic of movements. "Hi… ka...ri…?" His voice was hoarse, each word sending jolts of pain through his abused vocal chords.
A small smile tugged at Hikari's lips. "Welcome back, Ken. I'm sorry you had to go through all that."
"What… happened?" Ken asked, his voice slowly growing in strength despite the crackle.
"You gave us a helluva scare, that's what," FlaWizarmon said with a chuckle as he reached up to pull down the rim on his hat.
"How are you feeling, dearie?" Witchmon asked gently.
Ken closed his eyes for a moment as he took several deep breaths. He then slowly opened them again and glanced over at the witch Digimon. "...Awful... but better... than I have in years."
"That's because Light Darling used the Digimental of Darkness on you," Witchmon said with a wry smile.
Ken blinked slowly before he let out a breathy chuckle. "So is that… why it hurt so damn much...?"
"Sorry I didn't warn you first," Hikari said with a sheepish hint to her tiny smile. "I had to surprise Takeru that way too."
Ken closed his eyes as he slowly sank to the ground, sitting on his knees. As the pain left his body, he found himself feeling weak - completely exhausted, even. He felt as if he had been carrying a huge weight that suddenly disappeared into thin air, leaving him feeling much lighter and noticeably missing said burden. But more than anything, the Chosen of Kindness noticed the complete and total silence - the whispered thoughts were completely gone. His thoughts went unchallenged, just lingering in his mind without commentary. "...It's so quiet…"
Witchmon sighed as tension melted from her body. "Best news I've heard in a long time, dearie."
FlaWizarmon couldn't help but smile with relief, though it was short-lived. It was impossible to miss Armagemon as he came thundering towards them with a single-minded focus, and the scarecrow's expression grew grim. "Ken-chan, he's coming!"
Ken snapped to attention and scrambled to his feet, whipping about to stare as the monstrous behemoth that was his partner. He felt his stomach churn at the thought before he shoved it away, clenching his fists. "W… Wormmon!" The Chosen of Kindness lifted his left hand to his chest as he moved forward away from Hikari and the others. "Wormmon, stop! Stop it!"
Armagemon's eyes were focused intently on Ken as he honed in on him specifically, ignoring everyone else as he moved far more quickly than a beast his size had any right to.
Witchmon met FlaWizarmon's gaze with a mouth set in a grim line. "This is bad."
Ken felt a chill run through his spine at the way Armagemon was looking at him. Still, he refused to back down, as he knew his partner needed him more than ever. "Wormmon! Listen-"
Armagemon's mouth suddenly opened wide as he lunged forward, jolting Ken out of his words. The Chosen of Kindness' eyes went wide and his face turned pale as Ken suddenly found himself staring down the pit of darkness that was Armagemon's gullet.
"Ken-chan!" FlaWizarmon and Witchmon cried out as one as they lunged for Ken.
Andiramon reached Ken first, landing from a powerful leap in front of him. Flicking her foot out, she kicked Ken backwards into the arms of Witchmon and FlaWizarmon, away from the snapping jaws just before they closed down upon her with a sickening crunch - followed by a scream and a burst of glitching data.
Ken barely had time to yelp before he found himself carried back. Witchmon tried to block the sight with her body, but it was too late, he had already seen Armagemon's teeth tear through Andiramon like tissue paper as she took his place to be consumed by his partner's hungry maw. "A… Ah…!"
"Get back!" FlaWizarmon barked as he handed Ken over to Witchmon. He whipped out both matchsticks from his holsters and unleashed a gale of red and blue fire on Armagemon.
The monster that was once Wormmon didn't even notice as he consumed Andiramon's data.
At seeing his partner attacked, Ken snapped out of his stupor. "N-no! Don't! Don't hurt Wormmon-!"
"Wormmon isn't there anymore," FlaWizarmon said, his voice sharp as shattered glass. "If he was, he wouldn't have tried to eat you."
Ken gaped at FlaWizarmon, stunned by his words, before panic flooded his features. He struggled to escape Witchmon's grasp, but she was already flying away quickly from the scene. "N-no! That's… it's the influence! Wormmon would never-!"
"We know, hon," Witchmon said grimly as she bundled Ken up in her dark cloak. She only spared a glance back when she heard Armagemon bellow out a roar that was more deafening than any thunder; the only relief she saw was FlaWizarmon racing after her alongside Tailmon carrying Hikari.
Hikari shuddered as she curled as close to Tailmon as she could. Despite the size difference, her partner carried her with ease. The jaws that nearly consumed Ken came dangerously close to them as well, but Tailmon had reacted in time to save her. "Th… this can't…"
"Andiramon!" XV-mon cried out, even though it was far too late, before he leapt on to the hill to strike at Armagemon's face with a snarl. "I'll never forgive you!"
"Stay away from Hikari!" Holy Angemon said as he slashed his sword along Armagemon's brow, without much success.
"Stop! Stop, stop, stop!" Ken screamed, instinctively reaching out towards his partner as he was forcibly carried away. "Wormmon!"
FlaWizarmon and Witchmon didn't stop until they put enough distance between them and the attacking Armagemon that they felt it safe enough to set Ken down. Tailmon followed suit with Hikari before she turned to stare at the monster insect.
"Now what?" Tailmon asked. "Does Ken try again?"
"No," FlaWizarmon said before he moved to stand beside the cat Digimon. "There was no hesitation."
"Which means Wormmon can't hear him," Witchmon agreed, hovering besides FlaWizarmon. "We don't have a choice."
Hikari shakily raised her Digivice. "I… I'll use the Digimental of Darkness…"
The words choked and died in Hikari's throat as she looked at her D-Terminal screen. The little icon on her screen that represented the Digimental was barely more than a shade of dark lines that blinked in and out. She knew what her Digivice was trying to indicate, but she refused to believe it. Turning her Digimental towards the tainted Wormmon, she willed the Darkness to purge the taint with all her might.
But nothing happened.
"It won't work," FlaWizarmon said, not looking at either Hikari or Ken as he kept his gaze on Armagemon, watching as the Digimon swung his head about to strike Omegamon out of the sky. "There was only ever enough for one."
"That… that can't…" Hikari fumbled over her words, but she remembered what she had been told when she had been given the Digimental - the way to purge Ken was to overcharge it because a normal charge wasn't enough. Even if she made it to the god temple for a recharge, she couldn't restore it to the level of power it had before, and the Battlefield Memorial was purified of Darkness now.
Hikari whipped her head around to Ken. "What about the Crest of Darkness? You have that, don't you?"
Ken hesitated as his hand instinctively went to his chest. "I… I do, but I've never… been able to do much with it." The admission made the Chosen of Kindness grimace, digging his fingers into the cloth. "I could only really use it to manipulate the Dark Ocean to make my Evil Rings and towers…"
"That's 'cuz crests were only ever supposed to be used by one person - their Chosen," FlaWizarmon said, gripping his matchsticks. "The fact that you ever got anythin' out of it is a miracle all its own."
"B-but… but I was able to use Miracles!" Ken protested, desperately.
"And you an' I both know why," FlaWizarmon said, his voice going soft. "Ken-chan."
Ken flinched before he stared at the scarecrow. After a moment, he tentatively reached his other hand behind his head to gingerly touch his neck. While finally gone, he could still feel the phantom pain of a barbed object that had long been buried in his neck.
"I reckon that if you try to use it now, you won't have any more luck than you did with Darkness," FlaWizarmon said. "Which is probably why he's so pissed."
"Isn't…" Hikari's voice quaked. "Isn't there anything we can do?"
"We really only have one choice now, hon," Witchmon said, softly. "And that's to let Narakumon's blessing take its course, and hope for the best."
Ken hesitated before he felt his blood run cold. He whirled to stare at Witchmon in disbelief, unwilling to accept that he heard what he thought he had. At seeing her stony expression, he quickly turned to FlaWizarmon. While he couldn't see the Digimon's face, he could see the tension in his muscles and knew FlaWizarmon must was wearing the exact same expression. "W-wait, you… you're not saying…"
"Light Darlin' made the right choice," FlaWizarmon said, his voice rough. "It's the same choice Keiko would've made… and Wormmon, too."
"D-don't… don't you dare," Ken whispered, hysteria entering his voice as it slowly filtered in that neither Digimon was joking about their intent. The very idea sent another chill down his spine before he rushed towards the flame scarecrow and grabbed the back of his coat as if to hold FlaWizarmon in place. "Don't you dare!"
"He's sufferin'," FlaWizarmon said. "He can't be left like this."
"S-shut up!" Ken screamed as he yanked on the scarecrow's coat. "Don't give me that! You… he's tainted! You know that, don't you!?"
"Yep," FlaWizarmon said. "I do."
"Then how can you talk about… how can you even suggest-!?" Ken demanded hotly as struggled to find the words, then shook his head and gave FlaWizarmon's coat another yank with both hands. "Don't you dare try to kill Wormmon!"
Hikari choked back a gasp and covered her mouth as a tremor ran through her body, too horrified to speak.
"It's not so bad, dearie," Witchmon said as gently as possible. "He won't go to the Dark World, so he shouldn't be at risk of going to the Dark Ocean."
"We gotta put our faith in Narakumon," FlaWizarmon said, his tone unyielding. "An' Keiko."
Ken stared at the back of the Digimon's head as a tremor ran up along his arms. He struggled for words for several moments before he finally managed to murmur. "I forbid it…" With the words finally out, it gave him the strength to raise his voice into a scream that tore from his throat. "I forbid it!"
"You can hate me if ya like, Ken-chan," FlaWizarmon said, still not looking back at the Chosen of Kindness. "If it'll make things easier for ya."
Witchmon placed her hands on Ken's shoulders and did her best to smile as her sad eyes met with his panicked ones. "Ken-chan, remember, Wormmon's life is your life. It'll be fine."
"You… you don't know that!" Ken protested. "You don't know that!"
"Narakumon and Tenraimon made sure they'd never, ever leave you kids for good," Witchmon said gently. "Wormmon will be back, I promise. Think of it like waiting for him to get back from a trip to the doctor."
Ken felt a shiver run up his spine as he clenched and recoiled from Witchmon's grasp. While not intended to be one, the Digimon's words felt like a blow to the stomach as it brought back visions he didn't want to remember.
The EMTs drove them away in separate ambulances despite how Ken tried to cling to Osamu, but his hands were too weak and they pried his fingers apart. They just told him to lie still and that his brother would be fine no matter how many times he asked.
Lying in the hospital room, Ken was alone. The doctors and nurses that would come in and out dodged his questions and mainly spoke to his parents whenever they came. Whenever he asked his mother or father if Osamu was okay, the answer was always the same.
"Osamu is in another room. He'll be fine. Just focus on getting better."
It was only when Ken was back home, on the day of the wake, that his parents were forced to tell him the truth.
"You're lying." Ken said, his voice faint. It was the only thing he could think of when the words left his father's mouth. "You said Osamu was fine."
"We wanted to wait until you were doing a little better," his mother said through tears. "We… we couldn't…"
His father wiped away the streaks of moisture on his cheeks, trying to remain stoic. "Come on, let's get ready to see him off."
"You said Osamu was fine." Ken repeated, his voice louder this time. "You said he was fine."
"Ken, please don't do this," his mother moaned. "This is hard enough on us as it is."
"Just… just get dressed in your suit," his father said as he pointed to the wretched black thing hanging in his hand.
"You - said - he - was - fine!" Ken screamed, clenching his fists. "You lied! You lied!"
"Stop it, Ken!" his mother practically shrieked. "Don't you think this is hard on us too? Do you think we want this to be true!? If you weren't playing in traffic that day, none of this would've ever happened!"
"Liar!" Ken screamed, tears streaming down his cheeks. "Liar liar liar liar liar!"
A sharp slap of his father's hand across his cheek rocked Ken to his very core. "Stop it! That's enough! I won't have you talking to us this way, not when today is the last day we'll ever see your brother." He shoved the suit roughly into his son's hands. "Get dressed right now, and I don't want to hear another word out of you. And no more tears either. You're a boy, aren't you?"
Ken went completely silent, but the tears continued to flow down his cheeks, stinging the red mark that hard formed where his father had struck him.
Unlike in the memory, when Ken had backed down and gone silent, the Chosen of Kindness of the present refused to do so. Tears flowed down his cheek as he yanked on FlaWizarmon's coat, a shriek tearing through his throat. "Liar!"
FlaWizarmon grinned wryly, not that the boy could see it. "Yeah. I s'ppose so."
Witchmon sighed as she turned her sad eyes to FlaWizarmon. "I'll join you soon." Looking back to Ken, she smiled again. "Come on, Ken-chan, you don't need to see this."
"I'm telling you no!" Ken screamed as he whirled to face Witchmon, fury in his teary eyes. "Listen to me-!" He didn't get to finish his protest as Witchmon's cloak suddenly wrapped around him and, within an instant, the Chosen of Kindness was gone.
"Ken!" Hikari cried out before she turned to Witchmon and FlaWizarmon. "Can't we… can't we just recharge the Digimental of Darkness and have Ken use it? Maybe evolving with it will cure Wormmon!"
Witchmon let out a weak chuckle as she looked back to the battle where the other Chosen Digimon were fighting for their lives against Armagemon. "It won't charge in time."
"Then we'll tell Narakumon!" Hikari shouted desperately. "He killed that monster in Factory Town, so he can purge Wormmon, right?"
Witchmon sighed and closed her eyes. "Sweetie… if Narakumon could do that, then it would've already happened by now, but the sun is still here."
Hikari remembered the eclipse that heralded the darkness that saved them. "What makes this different?"
Witchmon's smile grew as wide as her sadness. "Because of Light."
Hikari paused at that. "Light...?"
"No matter what he looks like right now, Wormmon is still Kindness," FlaWizarmon said, grimly. "An' Kindness is Light."
Hikari stared at the scarecrow Digimon before understanding began to dawn, and with it horror. "Wait, you mean…"
"It's why the Dark Ocean specifically wanted a Light Chosen," Witchmon said, softly. "Miracles is strong to Light, Light is strong to Darkness."
"It's using Wormmon like a suit of armor," Tailmon murmured. "It's using his Light to keep Narakumon at bay."
"Yep," FlaWizarmon said with a nod. "Screwed up, ain't it?"
Tailmon stared at Armagemon, her ears canting back.
"But…," Hikari's voice wavered. "But it can't just… even if there's a disadvantage, there has to be a way! That's how… that's how we've always gotten by! Apocalymon, the Dark Masters, Vamdemon… even Devimon! Even though Angemon had just evolved, he was able to defeat Devimon, even when everyone else had been beaten!"
"Kamikaze," Witchmon said lightly. "He killed himself to kill Devimon."
"Releasin' all his power at once like that, there was no way in hell Devimon coulda survived," FlaWizarmon agreed, tugging down the brim of his hat. "It was like the Digital World itself was strikin' him down… and that's what it's gonna take to stop Armagemon."
"Not to mention Devimon was Darkness in the first place," Witchmon said.
Tailmon's eyes widened, her pupils shrinking. She continued to stare at Armagemon for a long moment, watching as her friends attacked the massive Digimon without much success. Even Omegamon didn't seem to be doing much beyond scratching the surface, while the others were getting battered about like flies.
"K-killing isn't the same as purging!" Hikari shouted, her grip tightening on her Digivice. She stared at the Digimental faintly flickering on her screen. "Darkness purged Ken, it didn't kill him! Can't Narakumon just… just… send that Darkness from the Digimental to Wormmon? Can't he recharge the Digimental here?" She thrust her arms out to her sides, desperate tears streaming down her face. "Can't he-"
A glimpse of something dark out the corner of her eye caught Hikari's attention and froze her in her tracks. For just a second, standing beside her, was a familiar ghostly pale girl with black hair and red eyes brimming with tears much like her own. However, when she turned, the apparition wasn't there, only a cold, empty feeling of sadness wrapped around her quaking hand clutching her Digivice as the screen turned black.
Tailmon felt a chill along her spine, like a pair of eyes were boring in to her. She turned her head slightly and found herself staring into Nyamon's expectant eyes. While ephemeral, her image was still clear as day - as was the determination in her face. The two cats stared at each other for several moments before Tailmon slowly nodded her head, her expression grim.
"Witchmon," Tailmon said, her voice quiet yet firm. "Please."
Witchmon blinked before her expression grew solemn and she nodded, and her cape flowed like dark water to engulf Hikari. Panic filled Hikari in an instant, as the appearance reminded her of the Dark Ocean, and for a moment it felt like she was back there on the gray shore with the terrible tide coming in.
Only Keiko was standing clearly beside her before the world went black.
As Hikari disappeared, Tailmon turned her attention back to Armagemon and slowly began to walk towards him. As she did, she faintly heard the sound of footsteps and felt a presence following after her. She didn't even need to look to know who it was, as she felt the other's darkness all around her.
"I'm sorry it got to this point," Tailmon said, her eyes unwavering despite the moistness that began to form. "I should have done more to stop it."
"It's not your fault," Nyamon said as she followed alongside Tailmon, her eyes similarly struggling to hold back tears. "You did your best, and Wormmon knows it."
Tailmon simply nodded, her ears drooping as they canted back.
"Don't worry, Keiko's ready for him." Nyamon said, glancing at her Light counterpart as she flicked her tail. "Narakumon only has enough energy left for one shot, so we need to make this one count."
Tailmon nodded before she closed her eyes. "Ken, Hikari… I'm sorry." In that moment, she felt Nyamon's image slide into her body, disappearing from sight. Just as the tip of Nyamon's tail disappeared on to the cat Digimon, Tailmon was engulfed by the light of evolution.
A power flowed through Tailmon's body, one that she had never felt before. Instinctively, her body evolved to Angewomon in spite of herself, but then shifted beyond that, dissolving once more into the white evolutionary light. Suddenly blackness spread through the light, snaking its way along Angewomon's half-formed body before surging out around her. A shout came from Angewomon's mouth in spite of herself, as the light intensified.
With an explosion of black and white energy that swirled about her, Angewomon completely disappeared before being replaced by an entirely new being - a large woman covered in armor. Split directly down the middle, the right side of the armor was pure white with glowing blue on her feet, up her leg, and her glove. The left side was identical, save black with pink. Twelve massive wings burst out of her back, six white on her right and black to the left - just like her armor. Long blonde hair flew out the back of her full-face winged helmet, save for two braids that trailed over the front her shoulders.
The winged angel twirled about, a trail of pink and blue energy following her movements to create a spiral about her as a commanding voice burst forth. "Mastemon!"
FlaWizarmon stopped and turned to stare at Mastemon, his eyes widening. "N… Nyamon?"
"H-how…?" Witchmon stammered. "You're…"
Mastemon didn't look down at the two Digimon, instead focusing her hidden eyes upon the massive insect Digimon. "Take care of Ken and Hikari for me." Without waiting for a response, the angel Digimon fanned her wings before surging forward, charging at Armagemon.
FlaWizarmon and Witchmon shared a glance before they nodded. Witchmon threw up her cape, engulfing them both, and within seconds they were gone.
Armagemon snarled as he lifted his front right foot and slammed it down hard on Baihumon, pinning the powerful Holy Beast to the ground. As Baihumon struggled to push back against the gnarled appendage, the insect Digimon twisted his head about to try and take a bite out of his prey.
Before the insect Digimon's mouth could get close, Omegamon lunged into the way, thrusting his sword forward. As teeth met metal with a clang, Omegamon braced himself against the ground and pushed back against his opponent.
Armagemon gurgled, black drool dripping along the edge of Omegamon's sword, the fluid sizzling as it slowly dissolved into data. Omegamon grimaced as his arms wobbled, struggling to keep both Baihumon and himself out of Armagemon's gaping maw.
"Idiot, worry about yourself!" Baihumon growled, digging his claws into the ground as he tried to push himself upwards.
"He is," Zudomon said as he swung his hammer about, striking the insect's cheek with the flat edge only to be rewarded with an ineffective bang. "You just happen to be in the way!"
"Fools," Baihumon grumbled, gritting his teeth as the ground cracked beneath his feet. "The lot of you…!"
"If you have the energy to complain, you have the energy to fight!" Rosemon said as she twirled her whips before snapping them at Armagemon's foot, wrapping them around the leg before yanking backwards in an attempt to assist the tiger Digimon.
Armagemon growled as he tried to close his jaw around Omegamon's sword, ignoring the blasts of fire directly to his face from Garudamon, or the way Holy Angemon and XV-mon attacked the back of his neck. They were nothing more than irritants, and he wasn't about to be distracted from his prize.
Suddenly, twin blasts of fire slammed directly into Armagemon's eyes, one blue and the other red, while a third burst of fire pegged the insect Digimon in the nose. It was enough to make the insect Digimon jerk back, more startled than injured as he released his grip on Omegamon's sword.
Omegamon jerked before he glanced back to see FlaWizarmon and Witchmon rushing towards them. "You-!?"
"Get outta the way!" FlaWizarmon barked. "Unless you ain't got no problem takin' a trip with him!"
"You think we're just going to do what you say!?" XV-mon demanded, baring his teeth at the two Digimon.
"If you wanna die for no damn good reason, that's your business!" FlaWizarmon said as he came to a stop beside Baihumon and aimed both matchsticks upwards, sending another burst at Armagemon as the insect Digimon drew backwards, lifting his feet upwards as he did so - and off Baihumon. "Don't matter to me none!"
"Don't think this resolves anything between us," Witchmon said as she came to a stop beside Baihumon, not even glancing at the tiger Digimon as he slowly got to his feet.
"I would never be so foolish as to think that," Baihumon replied as he shakily stood back up on his feet. "You may come whenever you are ready."
Witchmon grinned, her razor sharp teeth glinting. "Good."
"Get your ass back, or that time's gonna be now," FlaWizarmon said, his voice hard. "Yer choice."
Baihumon glanced at FlaWizarmon and Witchmon before he closed his eyes. He then nodded, crouching before letting out a massive roar. The sound vibrated through the battlefield, and the bedraggled army of Baihumon immediately stopped and looked at each other in confusion before turning to the Holy Beast.
With all eyes upon him, Baihumon turned and rushed away from Armagemon. The other Digimon promptly followed suit, scattering backwards away from the insect Digimon as fast as their legs could carry them.
"What's happening?" Omegamon asked as he looked about, still holding his sword at the ready.
"You're… you're not giving up, are you!?" XV-mon demanded, clenching his fists. "Because of those two!?"
"It's called a tactical withdrawal," FlaWizarmon said, with a smirk. "In other words, gettin' outta the way."
"Out of the way of what-?" Rosemon asked before she paused as a bright light suddenly caught her eyes. The rose Digimon paused before she turned to stare as Mastemon finally closed the distance, having to fly herself rather than rely on Witchmon's warp.
"The stage is all yours, darlin'!" FlaWizarmon said before he turned sharply on his heels and darted away himself, leaving the gawking Chosen Digimon to stare at the new arrival.
"Good luck, hon," Witchmon said as she sat on her broom, then flew after FlaWizarmon.
"Tailmon?" Holy Angemon asked, incredulous.
"And someone else," Zudomon said, instinctively bringing his hammer up.
"The power is incredible," Altur Kabuterimon said as he hovered alongside Garudamon, staring at the angel as she flew past.
"Is that… Darkness?" Garudamon asked, more rhetorical than anything else as the rest of her comrades were just as confused as she was.
"Everyone get back!" Omegamon ordered, whipping his sword about to emphasize his words. "Something's about to happen!"
With the instructions coming from a more trusted source, the Chosen Digimon were far more willing to comply. Scattering away, all the Digimon put distance between themselves and the rampaging insect Digimon. Soon, only Armagemon and Mastemon remained on the field, with the angel hovering over the mighty insect as Armagemon let out a low growl and turned to glare at her with pure hatred in his golden eyes.
"What's… what's happening?" Sora asked, anxiously holding clutching her hands to her chest as she and the other children stood several dozens of meters away. "Who is that?"
"It looks like an angel, and a girl at that, so it might be an evolution of Tailmon," Yamato said, furrowing his brow. "Did she finally go to Ultimate?"
"It's… possible? It does look like a form Angewomon could take," Takeru said as he stared at the angel, at a loss. He was very much aware of how hard Tailmon and Hikari had been training to unlock their potential to evolve to Ultimate. And while he wanted to feel proud that the two might have achieved it, he could only feel bewildered at the sight. There was something frightening about the evolution, though he couldn't quite put his finger on why; he only got the sense that he was looking at something far more powerful than he had ever seen before. It reminded him of Omegamon in that regard.
"B-but… but what's with the black!?" Jou asked, his glasses sliding down his nose. "Black wings… black armor…!"
"Mastemon," Koshiro said as he read off his laptop, eyes pouring over the data as quickly as it appeared. "An Angel Digimon who manipulates both light and darkness, and has the power to cross through space-time."
"Light… and Darkness?" Yamato repeated before his eyes widened. "Wait, does this mean she used the Digimental of Darkness to evolve Tailmon!?"
"But we needed that to cure Ken!" Mimi cried. "Otherwise, everything we worked so hard for… everything Kyoumon died for…!"
"Ken better not have talked Hikari out of fixing him…," Daisuke muttered under his breath.
Taichi frowned and focused on Koshiro. "What does cross through space-time mean?"
"I don't know," Koshiro said with a shake of his head. "But I can tell you this - she's powerful… even more than Omegamon." He looked up from the screen of his laptop with twist to his lip. "Maybe… even strong enough to stop Armagemon."
Mastemon hovered in the air, her wings fanned as she seemingly floated without effort. She met Armagemon's murderous stare with a tranquil one of her own.
"If it is any consolation to you," Mastemon said, her melodious voice carrying through the air. "This is a path we will walk together."
Armagemon crouched, his long tail whipping about in an obvious threat, before he opened his mouth to let out a mighty bellow at the new Digimon.
It had been the moment Mastemon was waiting for. As quickly as a lightning strike, the angel Digimon rushed forward towards the gaping maw Armagemon opened before her. Before the Chosen's very eyes, the Digimon born of Darkness and Light flew directly into Armagemon's mouth, disappearing within it.
Mimi shrieked, voice shrill, as Armagemon's razor sharp teeth closed with a terrible snap, much like they did on Andriamon and countless other Digimon.
"What… what the hell… what-!?" Yamato sputtered, struggling to articulate his horror and confusion at what he had just witnessed.
Armagemon rumbled deep in his throat before he turned his head to look for more targets to attack. He immediately noticed the other Digimon and Chosen Children as they stood off to the side of the battlefield, watching in horror at what he had just done. The insect Digimon flared his nose before he turned his massive body about, then opened his mouth to let out a roar.
However, instead of the intimidating sound of death, the roar was interrupted with a gag as Armagemon's entire body shuddered. The monstrous Digimon wobbled on his feet, his head swaying side to side, before he gagged again, black liquid spewing outward. Oddly, the liquid never touched the ground, instead dissolving in the air into bits of data.
Armagemon made a gurgling noise deep in his throat before he began to cough violently, more liquid spraying forth - and with it, bits of pink and blue energy.
Takeru stared at Armagemon, his eyes wide. "Is he… is he choking…?"
Armagemon stumbled, his legs continuing to wobble as violent coughs wracked his body. More bits of blue and pink spilled forth from his mouth, before it soon began leaking from his nose and his eyes like tears. The insect Digimon's long tongue sagged out as he made a retching sound, only to have more brightly colored energy spilling outwards.
"M-Miyako!" Koshiro shouted out as he typed at the laptop, attempting to analyze the huge Digimon's data and not wanting to interrupt it, not even to type an email to the others watching back in the real world. "Can you see what's happening?"
Armagemon spread out his legs as he crouched, bobbing his head from side to side as he continued to make vomiting sounds. It was then that the Chosen noticed his main body, which began to swell up. Much like a balloon, the insect Digimon's stomach was puffing up larger and larger as blue and pink continued to pour out of every open orifice.
A bright flash of light signalled the return of Hikari and Ken to the battlefield, both gating back in to where they had been prior to Witchmon unceremoniously sending them away. The two stumbled back onto the grassy hill, Hikari holding her Digivice outward as the source of the gate as she stumbled forward before falling to her knees as Ken toppled sideways.
"Idiots!" Ken snapped, his fury not even allowing the him to fully regain his balance before he unleashed the outburst. "If you had wanted me to stay away, then you shouldn't have sent Hikari to the same place-!" He paused as he noticed that neither Witchmon nor FlaWizarmon were in the immediate area, and panic quickly overtook his anger. He looked around quickly, trying to spot the two guardian Digimon before noticing them a sizeable distance away - along with the other Chosen's Digimon. "D-damn…"
Hikari looked around before focusing on the battle. "Tailmon and the others must be…" Her words trailed off as she saw light spill out from every orifice of Armademon.
"T-they're trying to kill Wormmon," Ken said, his voice shaking. While there apparently was a lull in the battle, it wasn't reason enough for him to relax just yet. Reaching under his shirt, he quickly yanked out the three crests hidden underneath - Darkness, Miracles, and Kindness - before extending his hand towards Hikari. "I can't… I can't use them, but maybe you can! You can see if Tailmon can evolve-!"
The words died on Ken's lips as he noticed Hikari staring off at the distance and his own eyes instinctively sought out the source of her shock and horror. His gaze settled on Armagemon just before the insect Digimon burst like a balloon, dissolving flesh and data splattering everywhere as blue and pink energy erupted from within him like an explosion.
Ken's eyes widened as his pupils shrank into mere dots, his hand going limp as he dropped the crests uselessly to the ground.
The pink and blue energy swirled like a vortex of fire, incinerating Armagemon's remaining bits and pieces as the insect Digimon screamed in agony and rage. Within moments, there was nothing left except Armagemon's head, golden eyes blazing before fizzling out as the last bit of his body dissolved into data.
All that remained was a small black object that dropped down to the ground.
"Worm… mon?" Ken asked, his voice soft.
"Are… are you... okay… K-Ken?" Osamu asked, struggling to speak as he was sprawled across the street in a pool of his own blood, which similarly smeared across his face and his shattered glasses.
An agonized scream pierced the battlefield, as the ultimate form of Nyamon - Nyxmon - screamed Keiko's name. Her body twisted and writhed as her data flashed violently, digital code visible through the fluctuating display. Her black wings were dissolving right off her back, as did her long black hair and even the white cloth wrapped around her body like a Greek goddess. And yet, even as she was slowly dying in front of the gaping army, there was only one person on her mind. "Keiko-! Keikooooooooooo-!"
The body was unrecognizable. Pink and blackened, Keiko could no longer be identified as a human. Like a mass of ruined flesh, even her clothes had been consumed as the sick scent of charred meat filled the air. A hand twitched, clutching a black and silver upgraded Digivice as its screen flickered and sparked before going completely black.
Ryo's scream carried with it all the anger, all the hatred, and all the grief for everyone who had just witnessed the end of both Keiko and Nyamon - and the others taken by Zeed Millennium in his final assault. It was a scream that even warped the Digimon around Ryo, forcing them to evolve as a golden light overtook them.
"I'll kill you!" Ryo snarled. "Do you hear me, Millenniumon? You're dead!"
They were the last words Ryo ever spoke. His expression had been frozen in its mask of pure anguished fury, even as his head drifted away from his body, no longer connected to his neck. There was never a chance to react, never a chance to even realize what had happened, as the Chosen of Miracles was decapitated where he stood by the traitor at his back.
Neemon stood behind Ryo, his eyes open and his arm in mid-swing, having just been used to neatly slice Ryo's head from the rest of his body. It was as if the eternally closed eyelids had been hiding the murderous malice within the his eyes, which now burned so brightly with sadistic glee. A toothy smirk appeared on Neemon's face, twisting what had once been so innocent and foolish in to something entirely horrifying.
The image of Neemon's face froze in place before it began to glitch, like a television screen that was losing its signal. In that moment, the scene abruptly switched to that of a black room with only a single light, a spotlight shining down on Wormmon as he stood alone.
"Ken-chan," Wormmon said, his voice weak and expression resigned. "I'm sorry. I couldn't stop myself. I couldn't stop you."
The sound of hundreds of voices seemingly came from the darkness, some laughing and others sobbing but all of them screaming at once in a disjointed symphony of misery.
"It's your fault…"
"Help me… help me!"
"You just screw everything up, don't you?"
"You sacrificed Wormmon, after everything he's done for you!"
"Your fault, your fault, your fault…"
"What did I do to deserve this!?"
"You should have died."
"He'll never be as good as Osamu."
"I want to live!"
"The wrong one died!"
"It hurts… why does it hurt…"
"She chose you over Wormmon… that was a mistake."
"Die, die, die die..."
"They went through the trouble of purging you, and yet what good did it do?"
"It was all pointless! You are pointless!"
The voices began to meld together, until the sound of waves hitting the shore consumed them completely. The sound was deafening, and yet there was something reassuring about the rhythmic, oppressive sound. It drowned out the screams, it drowned out Ken's thoughts, and it drowned out the world around him. For a moment, he heard the rattling of chains, but soon even that was consumed by the waves.
And then, there was nothing but darkness.
Takeru gaped in horror as he watched Armagemon be destroyed from the inside out, vaporized by the energy that had come from Tailmon's strange fusion. He could only stare in stupefied silence with the other Chosen, his jaw hanging.
It wasn't until a sharp, disruptive chime pierced his stupor before the Chosen of Hope snapped back to attention. He glanced about quickly to the others, glancing at his brother and Taichi as they stared with similarly slackjaw expressions before turning to see Mimi and Sora in tears as their hands covered their mouths. Furrowing his brow, he then checked his DT2, and found the source of the sound - a message in jagged black text from an unknown sender.
I got him.
"I… got him?" Takeru repeated, though he didn't have much more of a chance to react before the words began to dissolve before his very eyes, followed by his DT2 crashing. The Chosen of Hope's eyebrows shot straight up as he was immediately reminded of when it had happened once before - so long ago. "Keiko?"
"What's happening now!?" Jou's panicked voice drew Takeru's attention back to the scene before them, and the Chosen of Hope looked up just in time to see the swirling light suddenly begin to collapse.
Like a black hole, all the pink and blue energy began swirling in to itself before it suddenly turned white. It was then that the energy took another form - a light pink egg with a dark pink ring pattern.
Takeru gave a start as he stared at the egg, and a strong sense of deja vu mingled with horror as realization dawned upon him. His thoughts were confirmed when he heard Hikari's scream, quickly drawing his attention to the Chosen of Light as she raced across the field towards the egg as it drifted downwards from the sky.
"Tailmon!" Hikari yelled to her partner, tears streaming down her cheeks. "Tailmon!"
Takeru felt his heart lurch before he began to move forward, hurrying towards Hikari and the scene of Armagemon's death. His movements seemed to snap the other Chosen out of their trances as well, and soon all the children were rushing across the battlefield to Hikari as their partners did the same.
By the time the others had arrived, Hikari had reached her egg just as it drifted the ground. The Chosen of Light grabbed her partner's egg before clutching it to her chest as he dropped to her knees with a sob. She didn't even need to see what had happened to know - deep in her heart, she recognized her partner's egg.
"Hikari-chan, are you okay!?" Daisuke asked as he moved to the Chosen of Light's side and knelt beside her.
Hikari shook her head as she sobbed, holding her egg tightly to her chest as she curled forward. "Tail… mon…!"
Sora dropped to her knees behind Hikari and reached around to hug the younger Chosen, bowing her head as her own tears began to flow. "Hikari…"
Mimi similarly dropped to her knees by Hikari, wrapping her arms around both Hikari and Sora as sobs shook her whole body. Rosemon turned back into Palmon, who tearfully reached over to hug her own human partner from behind.
Taichi was at a loss, watching Hikari cling to her Digimon's egg, as the weight of what transpired sank in to crush them all. He knew he should say something, give his little sister some reassurance, but all he could say was her name.
Takeru moved to sit in front of Hikari, even as Patamon de-evolved to land beside him. He reached out to gently touch Hikari's hand as it was pressed against the shell of her egg. "Hikari… it'll be fine. Believe me. I know better than anyone… Tailmon will be back to normal soon enough."
"It's not as bad as you think," Patamon said, managing a small smile. "When I did it, it didn't hurt at all. I'm sure it was the same for Tailmon."
Hikari let out a hiccup as she lifted her head, staring at Takeru through a curtain of tears. After a moment, she nodded her head slowly as she sniffled. "T-that's right… just like… Patamon…" She reached up to wipe her eyes with the back of her right hand, her left still firmly clutching her partner's egg. She tried to smile, but the only thing she could manage was a miserable upturn of the corners of her mouth. "And… and Wormmon…!"
Takeru's expression softened, the boy filled with sympathy and a shared pain. "That's right… and Wormmon too."
"Um," Jou adjusted his glasses as he looked up skyward with a frown. "If… if Wormmon's egg is going to form, he's really… taking his time, isn't he?"
Takeru paused and looked up at that. "Huh?"
"Only one egg formed," Yamato said as he moved to stand behind his brother, arms crossed as he looked skyward for any sign of a second Digimon egg only to find clear blue sky. "Tailmon's."
"It must've appeared near Ken," Koshiro said, frowning.
Agumon let out a thoughtful hum as he touched his chin with his left claw. "Where is Ken? I don't see him..."
Palmon looked up from comforting Mimi, frowning. "Wasn't he with Hikari…?"
Daisuke walked over to a small black object on the ground - Ken's digivice. He paused before he reached down to pick it up, noting that it was completely unharmed with neither a scratch or a crack despite being at ground zero when Mastemon had detonated inside Armagemon. The only thing that hinted something was off about the device was the screen, which displayed only static. "Here's his Digivice."
V-mon frowned as he stared at the Digivice, then glanced about. "I don't see those two, either. They just showed up and got in everyone's way, then took off. I bet they took Ken with them!"
"Hey, hey, is it over now?" Neemon's voice suddenly came from behind the Chosen, causing them to pause and turn to stare as the wobbly Digimon approached them almost casually. "I just saw K-chan leave, and the big monster is gone too… does that mean you saved the world again?"
"Tch," Daisuke snorted as he gripped Ken's Digivice tightly in his hands. "Of course… he goes and runs off…"
"Typical," V-mon agreed, sulkily.
Takeru glanced over at Daisuke before returning his attention to Hikari. "...Hey, let's go home. We're done here, so let's just… go home now. It's over."
"I agree," Baihumon said as he slowly approached the Chosen, looking far more bedraggled and tired than they ever expected the Holy Beast to be. "You have saved our world from a terrible threat. And while there will always be other enemies to face, you should rest when you have the opportunity."
Hikari gave a small sniffle as he continued to wipe out her eyes before she lowered her arm to wrap it around Tailmon's egg once more. After a moment of silence, she gave a small nod before she feebly got to her feet. Both Sora and Mimi were quick to help the younger girl up as they stood as well, with Taichi moving to offer his sister support.
Hikari gave a small, weak smile to the elder Chosen before she lowered her eyes to the egg of her partner. She could feel the warmth against her chest, as if even the egg was trying to comfort her despite the Digimon inside being the one that had suffered the most.
"Okay, Tailmon," Hikari said, softly. "Let's go home."