Hiya everybody. Wow, this chapter was most fun to write indeed – definitely one of my favourites of the story so far, if not my most favourite. I hope that you guys similarly enjoy it because it's quite explosive. MWAHAHAHAHAHA! Geehee. Sorry about that. Anyway, I won't keep you with anything else. Please read on.

Quest of the Gods

Chapter 33:- Versus Zapdos

The atmosphere was electric. Literally. As in, the air was crackling with miniature bolts of lightning that practically peeled themselves off Zapdos' feathers with giant leaping sparks, sizzling over the nearby rocks and stones in jagged circles and other shapes that couldn't possibly be given a name.

The Thunderbird Legendary Pokémon stood with wings outstretched, the yellow and black points of the feathers stretched out to either side like spear and his eyes narrowed as he stared at his opponent, sizing her up with his stare and trying to get an estimate on her skill as a fighter and the power she wielded.

His opponent, Taomon, was doing much the same thing, except without the lightning. She floated in the air calmly in front of Zapdos, her black hat perched on top of her head and her calligraphy brush clutched in her paws beneath her long sleeves. She made no move as she analysed the giant bird still perched on the rocky column, though it was quite difficult to see him underneath all the volts of electrical power he was producing with seemingly no effort.

"Does anyone else get the feeling this is going to be… quite a tough match?" Lopmon asked. She too was eyeing Zapdos warily, and she could feel the power that the Legendary possessed practically through her skin. She was well-versed in the use of lightning as a weapon after all and it seemed as though her senses had attuned into detecting it.

"Taomon can do it," Terriermon clenched his fists, though in reality he was not sure which way this match would go. "She's got no small amount of power herself."

"We all know that," Aayla agreed, who could also sense the lightning charge quite clearly and the tips of her fingers were buzzing, as if she herself was about to fire an Electric Judgement burst from them. "But we've already established that these Legendary Pokémon are no pushovers."

"I wouldn't like to be in there right now," Charizard muttered, staring at the electrical grid that was practically forming itself around Zapdos.

"I wouldn't mind," Garchomp smirked.

"Shaddup! Just because you're a Ground type…"

"Ssh," Felkan hushed them, his eyes fixed on the battle. He could feel a bizarre thrill coursing through him at the prospect of the upcoming battle. It was a thrill he had not experienced for years… the thrill of a Pokémon battle. And though he was doing his best to ignore it, he found his whole attention taken up by it as the two of them sized each other up, neither moving a muscle and the atmosphere grew tenser and tenser, waiting for one of them to make the first move.

Eventually, Latias broke the tension by yelling, "WOULD ONE OF YOU JUST GET ON WITH IT!"

The electricity around Zapdos suddenly vanished, dissipating into nothingness as if someone had pulled the proverbial plug and leaving Zapdos exposed. "Very well," he said. "I'll go first." And without moving from his perch he flapped his wings and a cloud of golden Swift stars suddenly seemed to burst from his very wings and scythe through the air towards Taomon like shurikens.

"THOUSAND SPELLS!" Taomon cried, flicking one sleeve into the air and firing out dozens of talisman slips of paper out of them which lanced forwards like spears. The two swarms of projectiles collided head-on and detonated amongst each other in an explosion of smoke, paper seals and Swift stars alike going up alike and the attacks totally negating one another.

Taomon wasted no time and surged forwards even before the paper and stars had hit each other, pulsing through the smoke and whooshing out the other side with brush raised high, hoping to catch Zapdos off guard but expecting him to have already moved.

She was rather surprised to find him still standing on the rock pillar, but didn't question it and instead cried, "BRUSH STROKE!" swinging the calligraphy brush like a bat towards Zapdos' head. Zapdos' eyes narrowed and a moment later something sprang up right between the pair of them and Taomon's brush impacted against what appeared to be something like a transparent wall in front of Zapdos. The Reflect did not stop the attack but did slow it down. However, Zapdos took the initiative and hurled himself off the pillar, slamming the top of his head into Taomon and pushing her backwards as he swept up into the air with a pulse of his wings.

Taomon recovered quickly and rolled over to face him. "TALISMAN STAR!" she yelled, conjuring a red symbol in one hand and throwing it like a shuriken. It certainly acted like one and shot off after Zapdos, but as the Thunderbird whooshed around to avoid it it followed him around like it was on a homing signal and span on after him.

"Impressive," Zapdos noted. "But this is just getting started." And suddenly he used Agility, putting on a sudden spurt of speed and pulling away from the spinning symbol to shoot past Taomon almost before she could blink. She spun around, to find that Zapdos had already whirled around the rocky pillar and was coming towards her, body sparking with electricity and releasing an enormous electrical Thunderbolt straight towards her.

Taomon's eyes widened at the size of lightning strike and swiftly raised a "TALISMAN SPELL!" shield, the dome that came with the symbol surrounding her just in time to take the blast, but the sheer force of it still pushed her backwards, shield and all. The shield held, but Taomon had to grit her teeth to do it and the moment the lightning fizzled out she saw Zapdos was already within metres of it, his wing glowing bright white and taking on a metallic sheen before he slammed into the bottom of the shield with a Steel Wing.

Taomon yelled as the airborne dome went spinning over and over. It still held under the assault but it went rolling through the air to slam into another rocky wall at the other end of the small valley they had situated the battle in.

"He's strong," murmured Rika, greatly reminded of the time where Zhuqiaomon had sent them all spinning under Taomon's shield in a similar manner and thanking the fates that Zapdos was apparently not as strong as Zhuqiaomon.

"Don't count Taomon out yet," Impmon grinned as the Talisman Spell shield vanished to reveal Taomon stowing her brush into her sleeves and raising both arms, still almost unhurt and unleashed a furious storm of Thousand Spells straight towards the fast-flying Zapdos.

Still under the speed boost of Agility, Zapdos twisted through the air at incredible speed, swooping low to the ground and dodging paper talismans is a zig-zag pattern as random and wild and fast as a bolt of lightning itself. But the storm of paper that exploded on contact with whatever it hit was too large to be dodged in that in that manner and Zapdos promptly found himself swarmed by folds and folds of paper that came down upon him. Truly the attack Thousand Spells was well named.

But Zapdos' beak curved into a slight smirk as he activated the other type of defensive shield he possessed. His body was suddenly surrounded by a glowing yellow cube – Light Screen – and he veered up and swept straight into the storm of paper and towards Taomon, who's eyes widened in shock. Dozens of paper spells collided full on with Zapdos and while he still took damage, the Light Screen greatly lessened the damage and he remained largely unaffected, bulldozing through the attack in her direction.

She watched as Zapdos' beak suddenly glowed white and seemed to lengthen before Zapdos surged forwards, tucking his wings into his sides and whipping himself into a spinning barrel-roll so furious that it might him seem nothing more than a yellow blur and he almost literally became a giant spinning lance.

"Drill Peck," Felkan observed.

"Taomon!" Rika cried, but Taomon had already raised another Talisman Spell shield and braced for the attack, which slammed into it with tremendous force and threw the shield back against the valley wall again.

But Zapdos didn't stop. He kept spinning and pushing against the shield, his beak throwing up sparks like a blowtorch to a piece of metal as it drilled powerfully against the see-through dome. Taomon gasped as she practically felt herself thrown back against the back of the shield and pulsed her power into trying to maintain it, but Zapdos was adamant. He never slowed his spinning even for an instant and to Taomon's astonishment the shield splintered beneath his force.

Then it cracked.

Then it shattered totally and Zapdos ploughed through towards her.

Taomon furiously rolled to the side at the last second and Zapdos stormed past and slammed into the rock wall with a shower of boulders and a cloud of dust that momentarily screened him from view. Taomon looked on, slightly concerned that he might have injured himself.

But she needn't have worried. She should have got out of there, but all she had time to see was Zapdos shooting out of the dust and one glowing foot shattering a falling boulder with a Rock Smash attack before said foot crashed straight into her chest and threw her down towards the ground with a yell of pain. She crashed into the ground on her back hard enough to crater it and lay there for a moment, gasping for breath.

And as she tried to lever herself out of the hole, her eyes widened with alarm when she saw Zapdos spreading his wings overhead, with his body glowing bright white as he formed a large, blazing white Ancientpower ball in front of him, which he sent flinging down towards her.

Taomon seized her brush and quickly used it as a lever, flipping herself out of the hole and tumbling to the side just in time to avoid the main attack but still getting flung back a little in the blast. Still, she managed to roll onto her feet and skid to a halt, holding her brush in front of her like a staff and looking up with a grim determination to where Zapdos was flapping and staring down at her, body writhing with electrical power.

Taomon responded to the challenge and shot upwards, spinning in a corkscrew of her own and releasing a cloud of Thousand Spells from her sleeve once again. Zapdos narrowed his eyes, thinking that she was using the same move as before and sought to repeat his own counter by powering down through it and readying another potent Drill Peck.

He did not, however, expect the paper seals to instead start writhing around amongst themselves and joining up end to end to form longer lengths, like giant paper streamers, which passed through the remnants of his Light Screen and lashed themselves around his body. Zapdos squawked in alarm as the paper lengths plastered themselves around his wings and legs, one of them managing to wrap around his beak. Losing his ability to fly, Zapdos spiralled to the side until he crashed into another rocky pillar, where the paper talismans immediately began to wrap around the pillar as well, keeping him there.

Taomon smirked, remembering how she had used this technique to subdue the Acklay on Felucia, one of which had also used lightning as a weapon. Zapdos thrashed and struggled, but the paper was much stronger than ordinary paper would be and it held him fast against the pillar. Taomon quickly sought to take advantage of the situation and lifted her brush, sweeping it to the side and painting a glowing symbol in the air.

"TALISMAN OF LIGHT!" she cried and the symbol shot through the air towards Zapdos' exposed stomach.

"Game over," Rika sighed in relief – she had been quite worried for several moments there.

But as Zapdos saw the incoming attack he growled beneath the paper sealing his beak and braced himself against the pillar, flexing his feathers out so wide that they practically grew in length as his wings took on a slightly red tinge and then a sudden wind rippling with streaks of flame burst out of his feathers, incinerating the paper holding him on the spot and washing past the symbol unaffected and blowing towards Taomon.

Taomon, startled, raised another shield to take the hit just in time, while Zapdos pushed himself off the pillar with his legs just as the symbol crashed into the rock where he had just been and exploded, knocking him for a loop slightly, but he quickly regained his flight as his attack enveloped Taomon's shield.

"What was that?" Lopmon asked, referring to the attack Zapdos had just used.

"Heat Wave," Felkan muttered. "It's a Fire type move but many Flying types are capable of learning it too. As Zapdos so clearly demonstrated."

"Yeah… okay…" Impmon faltered. "We… might have a slight problem."

Taomon threw out her arms the moment the Heat Wave died down, dispersing the shield enough for her to soar out rather unaffected and flinging a pair of Talisman Stars up at Zapdos as he wheeled around again. But this time he just blasted through them with another Thunderbolt that Taomon only just managed to roll aside from. She flung out another round of Thousand Spells but Zapdos raised a Protect around him and prevented them from doing any damage at all.

"You're not the only one with a shield," Zapdos pointed out as he soared around the nearest pillar. "Still, I am impressed so far. It's been a while since I've encountered an opponent that I felt inclined to use Protect to shield myself against. You should be commended."

"I will take that compliment," Taomon said fiercely. "But you're not going to get the better of me, Zapdos."

"Very well," Zapdos said, alighting on another pillar. "Let us see what else you have under those very large sleeves of yours… seriously why are they so long?"

"I don't know," Taomon admitted, but then shook her head and narrowed her gaze down on Zapdos. The truth was that she had actually used all of the attacks in her arsenal against him already, but it looked like Zapdos still have plenty of tricks to spare. That was the ace that most Pokémon had in a fight with a Digimon – most Pokémon were not as powerful as the more powerful Digimon but had enormous numbers of attacks and techniques to fall back on. But Zapdos was both versatile and powerful.

She was going to have to try and pull some new stunts to try and get the better of this Legendary Bird.

"TALISMAN SPELL!" she called again, but instead of summoning the shield dome around her, she brought it into existence around Zapdos instead. Zapdos blinked and looked at the shield that had suddenly formed around him, but he didn't have much time too because the shield, and him with it, was promptly thrown towards the ground. Taomon gripped her paintbrush and, even as the shield fell, she painted the largest Talisman Spell in the air that she had ever produced, one that was even larger than she was, and prepared to send the bright glowing letter down after Zapdos.

She hesitated momentarily when Zapdos lashed around with his wing feathers like blades, generating a massive Razor Wind that battered against the side of the shield. Not localised around Taomon's power as it was, the shield was not as strong and the attack easily sliced through it and shattered the shield. Zapdos shot out of it and swept upwards right at her, forming another Light Screen around him before he powered on upwards with a Double-Edge, his body surrounded with a blinding white aura.

Taomon hissed and pulsed the giant symbol downwards to meet him head on, bird and letter, both blazing white, racing towards each other at breakneck speed.

The watchers were on tenterhooks, waiting to see if Zapdos would succumb to the blast once it hit him as the collision course seemed certain.

But seemingly moments before collision Zapdos suddenly activated his Double Team and split into five identical copies. The Talisman of Light attack surged straight through one of the copies and continued on harmlessly towards the ground, and the four remaining Zapdos immediately joined back together and spurted back onwards towards Taomon.

Taomon's eyes widened as she saw her giant attack miss and immediately flung herself backwards and away from the fast approaching thunderbird. She summoned another shield directly in front of her to keep him occupied before she flung out a long string of talisman papers that wrapped around another pillar, and allowed her to swing around it, flinging herself to the side as Zapdos cannoned into the shield and sent it flying backwards and out of the way.

"You're a slippery devil alright," he observed as he alighted on the pillar that Taomon and swung from, while she caught her breath nearby.

"And I see that your… strength… was not exaggerated," she agreed as she held her calligraphy brush close and pointed it forwards like a spear, the brush part at the tip waving slightly in the wind. "But don't count me out of this fight just yet."

"I did not say that I had," Zapdos raised his wings and his body becoming surrounded with a bright red glow, as the clouds above him seemed to condense and darken still further, casting the valley into slightly deeper shade as the wisps of vapour roiled and pulsated around. "But I might have to do something about that slipperiness."

Taomon flinched slightly when she felt a plink of wetness suddenly hit her between the eyes, followed by another and another, until she was being peppered by the little droplets. To put it bluntly, it was raining, and the rain quickly increased until it was pouring down on top of them.

"Oh come on!" Impmon complained. "Of all the bad timing it had to start raining now."

"It's not bad timing," Felkan said as Lucario cast a shield of aura over the group to shield them from the rain. "It's Zapdos' doing. He's using Rain Dance."

"Rain Dance?" blinked Terriermon. "But he's not moving. Where's the dancing part?"

"I think a more appropriate question is, Pokémon can control the weather?" Aayla asked.

"For a brief time," Felkan nodded. "But for someone like Zapdos it should be pretty easy – he's a Legendary after all. But… uh-oh…"

"Uh-oh?" blinked Rika. "What do you mean 'uh-oh?' What does 'uh-oh' mean?"

"I think that Taomon might have a problem," Felkan muttered.

Taomon didn't see it that way though, and thought she was getting soaked to the skin and her robes sodden by the rain already it was just rain. There was no damaging or draining or hurtful nature to it whatsoever.

"You think a little water is enough to best me?" she asked. "My brush doesn't use paint. It won't be hindered by this."

"Maybe," Zapdos nodded, as his feathers began to cackle again. "But rain is often accompanied by something else."

There was a deep rumble from the clouds up ahead as Zapdos flared his wings out wide, electricity lancing off his body in dozens of miniature bolts that crackled upwards into the sky, disappearing amongst the roiling cover in the sky. Taomon looked up to follow its progress, eyes widened as she saw the inside of the clouds lighting up with flashes of yellow that betrayed the presence of the mass electrical activity within.

She tensed and backpedalled swiftly, ready for the enormous bolt of lightning that crashed downwards towards her, light blue in colour and with dozens of smaller bolts crackling around it along its entire length. Taomon shot across to the other side of the valley at high speed, thinking she was in the clear…

…But she wasn't.

The Thunder attack practically seemed to jump from raindrop to raindrop as it tore down from the sky and followed her progress exactly across the valley.

"That… is uh-oh…" remarked Felkan.

Taomon tried to raise a shield but it was no use. She was not fast enough and had barely the time to cry, "TALIS…" before the huge blast of electricity struck her dead on and practically lit up her entire body, the volts surging and lashing through and around her, charring her robes and her fur simultaneously and ripping a veritable roar from her throat as she was fried from the inside out. The force of the attack flung her backwards like she'd been fired from a catapult.

The spectators watched in shock as she crashed into the wall above them with a plume of dust and rolled down to land in a smoking heap a short distance away. Taomon groaned and glowed briefly yellow, shrinking back down until she took on the shape of her Rookie form once again.

"RENAMON!" Rika cried as she sprinted over to her partner, Terriermon leaping into the air and whooshing over to her side as well.

"What just happened?" Impmon blustered.

"Thunder never misses in the rain unless you block it," Latias, who was capable of using the attack but not that powerfully, replied. "Not unless you block it. But there's no way to dodge that attack as long as it's raining. And Zapdos made it rain to make sure that it wouldn't miss."

"A good cause for an 'uh-oh' then," Impmon muttered.

By this point half the group had already gathered around the battered Renamon. Zapdos alighted on a perch nearby and looked down at them as the rain began to clear up. "Ah," he muttered. "Perhaps I put too much power into that last attack. I think the heat of battle might have… carried me away a bit…"

"A bit…?!" Rika turned to glare up at him. "A bit?!"

"Oh don't blame him," Felkan shook his head. "That's the way that a Pokémon battle works and that was the rule which we decided – a winner would be chosen when one or the other was rendered unable to fight. You must have known that would mean that if Zapdos was to win he would have to have to put some force behind his punches. She'll be fine."

"Yes," Renamon grunted, pushing herself up onto one arm. "I… I'm okay… I'm not too injured. And Felkan's right, those were the rules that we agreed to. But that… really… hurt."

"Yeah… sorry about that," Zapdos shrugged his wings. "I very much doubt that it escaped your notice, but I am not very good at holding back in a battle situation."

"Yeah… I did notice," Renamon chuckled, coughing slightly.

"I suppose that you could call it a bad pun but… as Legendary Pokémon go Zapdos always did have a… short fuse," Suicune stepped over towards them as Renamon pushed herself back up onto her knees. "You'll have to excuse him. He acts before he thinks of the consequences a lot of the time. Still, that was not a shot to kill. If it had been then there would have been even more power behind it."

"More power than that?" Lopmon blinked. "That was incredibly powerful as it was. Possibly even on level with one of the Lightning Spears that I can use in my Mega form."

"You are strong, Zapdos," Renamon observed. "The Legendary Pokémon are truly remarkable. I do not believe that my Ultimate form stood much of a chance against you."

"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Zapdos replied. "You were certainly a worthy adversary. I can't remember the last time that I had to pull some of the techniques that I ended up using there. But, unfortunately, you have failed the test that I set you. I have to wonder if you really are…"

"Whoa," Renamon pushed herself to her feet and placed one fist in the palm of her other paw. "I did not say that I was out yet. The rules of the match clearly state that in order for a victory to be assured, one of the sides has to be unable to continue battling any further. And I am still ready to fight now."

"Oh?" Zapdos asked, with a brow raised. "Forgive me if I got this wrong but is that form of yours not… weaker… than the one I was facing."

"Maybe," Renamon smirked. "But I was no talking about fighting you in this form either. Rika… are you up for it?"

"Renamon, are you sure about this?" the orange-haired Tamer placed a calming hand on the arm of her partner. "You were badly injured in that last attack. Some of your fur is charred. Maybe it would be better to…"

"Rika," Renamon turned around and gave her a warm, fox smile, her pale blue eyes reassuring. "We have overcome everything that was ever thrown against us before together and this… this is not even a full-scale real battle. This is still a test and I do not believe that we have failed yet. The Legendary Pokémon are more powerful than I thought and we have not yet shown them all we are capable of yet? How can we forfeit a test like this without doing that?"

Rika hesitated for a moment, taking in Renamon's slightly battered and frazzled appearance worriedly, before Renamon's paw settled on her shoulder.

"We can do this," she said. "Let's fight together once again and prove once and for all that we are capable of taking this world to safety."

Terriermon flashed her a peace sign and a wink, as several of the others around her nodded. Rika delved into their mental bond and felt all of their reassurances, as well as confirmed that Renamon was actually not in much pain, most of the damage having been taken away with her de-digivolution into the smaller form.

So she sighed and nodded, a smile spreading over her face as she stood beside the fox. "Honestly Renamon, you guys never give up do you?"

"Give up?" Terriermon asked. "What is the meaning of this phrase? I know the two words that make it up but when you put them together… IT MAKES NO SENSE!"

Rika snorted and pressed her Digivice to her chest. "Alright then Zapdos," she called up to him. "You want a challenge. We'll definitely give you a challenge." Renamon seized her by the shoulders and sprang into the air, carrying Rika up with her and wrapping her arms around the Tamer to keep them together and Rika thudded her Digivice into her chest and cried, "BIOMERGE ACTIVATE!"

The eyes of Felkan and the surrounding Pokémon that were currently out of their Pokéballs widened at the spectacle. A couple of them had seen a biomerge before, but only from a distance and during a serious situation where awe had been replaced with fighting the enemy on that cruise ship. Now they could stare with all the amazement required as the shapes of Rika and Renamon merged into one in a flare of bright light.


The glowing shape shot upwards into the sky above Zapdos and then plummeted down towards him. Zapdos flung himself off his perch and spiralled to the side, body re-surging with electricity as the glowing form thudded into the top of the pillar, the light dying down to reveal a single, tall figure, twice as tall as an average human, which spun around to face him and called out her new name.


Zapdos and everyone else who had not seen this before, including Suicune and the Lati twins, were suitably impressed and several pairs of eyes widened at what they saw. The gleaming golden staff and breastplate and belt buckle and the fox-like helmet the covered the entire top half of her face glinted in what light was currently piercing the clouds above, the staff standing tall with the butt planted on the top of the rock pillar. She maintained all the grace of Renamon, and some of the similar appearance traits such as the purple gloves, but Zapdos could practically feel the power brimming inside her.

"Well now," he remarked. "This is more like it. You Digimon certainly are full of surprises aren't you? Capable of shrinking back into your smaller forms and changing into others moments later and merging with humans no less. I don't believe there has ever been a Pokémon that has ever done such a thing."

"And don't you forget it," Sakuyamon said calmly in both Rika and Renamon's voices. Any trace of injury that Renamon had previously had was not visible on this new form, as if the power surging through them had eliminated it entirely. "This is the strength of the bond that we share that allows us to do this. But you are indeed a strong opponent for us to resort to using this form – our Mega form. I assure you that this is more powerful than my Ultimate form of Taomon."

Zapdos frowned. "Hold on," he said. "Doesn't Ultimate literally mean 'the best that you can be?' Why is this form not named the Ultimate form instead?"

Sakuyamon opened her mouth to answer, closed it and then opened it again… before she said, "Never mind that. But let's show you now the full power of a Mega level Digimon. And this time, I strike first. AMETHYST WIND!"

She spun around and leapt into the air, spinning her staff wildly in a circle and sending a veritable storm of purple diamond shards with viciously sharp edges blowing with the forceful wind straight towards Zapdos.

"Two can play at that game," Zapdos smirked and flung himself backwards by flapping his wings so forcefully forward that they actually clashed into one another, generating a purple Ominous Wind out of nowhere that burst forwards. It seemed similar to the opening of their last battle as Zapdos' attack collided with Sakuyamon's and blew the crystals aside, causing them to pepper the ground below as the winds cancelled each other out. And, as with last time, Sakuyamon was already moving, to shoot through the remnants of the collision.

This time though Zapdos had more sense to get out of the way and wheeled to the side, diving towards the ground and re-activating his Light Screen for good measure. Sakuyamon arced around to follow him and Zapdos flipped over onto his back and launched a multi-coloured Signal Beam from his beak, the rainbow-like colours bursting upwards towards the oncoming Digimon.

"TALISMAN SPHERE!" Sakuyamon cried and easily raised another type of shield, this one tinged with purple and entirely spherical and took the attack with ease, powering down through it before Sakuyamon clenched her fist and the sphere rapidly expanded outwards with a burst of energy that took Zapdos off guard. Though the Light Screen lessened the damage he was flung backwards beak over spiky tail-feathers.

"How do you like them apples?" Sakuyamon asked as she readied her staff, watching as Zapdos tumbled towards the cliff edge nearby.

But Zapdos twisted around, his body taking on a slightly greenish aura and with a twist that took Sakuyamon by surprise he had right himself and was suddenly coming back towards them, curving up and over inches before he hit the wall and streaking upwards with amazing speed. He had used U-turn to avoid a collision and was coming down again to attempt to strike with it, but Sakuyamon raised her staff and took the hit. The force of the blow pushed her backwards but she was able to whip out with her staff and snag Zapdos' foot with the ring around the end of her staff, promptly being jerked along behind him as he went.

"Bad move," Zapdos looked down at her, and his body suddenly flared with electrical power that lanced down the metal staff and caused Sakuyamon to let go with a cry and roll to the side, hands smoking slightly as her staff fell from Zapdos' foot and towards the ground below.

"Wow. I feel strangely naked without the staff," Renamon muttered. "It's like it's part of the image."

"Keep it together, Renamon, he's coming in," Rika muttered as Zapdos did indeed cruise around for another pass. Sakuyamon immediately shot upwards and span head over heel, implementing a new attack that they had only recently learned they possessed in this form called, "FLAMING FOX!" which involved her foot being enshrouded in bright red flames and powering down towards Zapdos.

Zapdos responded by his eyes glowing and twisting through the use of Detect at the last second to avoid the kick. But Sakuyamon did not mind the miss for she continued to plummet towards the ground, and the staff that was lying there. Zapdos saw his mistake and twisted around, blasting another Thunderbolt down towards them with a burst of at least three electrical bolts, but Sakuyamon seized the staff and then flipped off her hands in the same motion, catapulting herself out of the way of the attack.

"My turn again!" she said as the spun around and slammed the butt of the staff into the ground, before sweeping them out to either side and crying, "TWIN BLADES OF BEAUTY AND TRUTH!"

The huge, pink energy blades that peeled off the staff sliced upwards through the air and crashed into Zapdos head on in mid-dive before he had an opportunity to protect himself. He squawked in astonishment and it broke through his Light Screen and hit him with full force sending him spiralling backwards to crash into the valley wall and go skidding along its length a fair distance with a cloud of dust and bit of rock before he finally caught himself and pushed himself back to his feet, turning around to face the opponent with wings held wide.

"Wow," Zapdos grinned through his narrow beak. "Talk about a power boost. Been a while since someone hit me that hard."

"Does that make us worthy in your eyes yet?" Sakuyamon asked.

"Maybe," Zapdos laughed, as his body was promptly surrounded by electrical sparks that looked like they were being absorbed from the air into his feathers. "But regardless I want to see what else you've got."

"Oh boy," Felkan muttered from nearby. "He's using Charge. That means that the next electrical attack that he uses will be easily twice as powerful as normal."

"Sakuyamon better watch out then because if he uses that Thunder attack again…" Henry fretted.

"Relax," Terriermon grinned. "They got this now."

Sakuyamon got the information on what Zapdos was doing through Terriermon's mind and braced herself, preparing to dodge or raise a shield as necessary as Zapdos finished Charging, his body taking on a bright yellow glow that seemed alive with tiny sparks. Zapdos narrowed his sights down and folded his wings closer like a pair of arms and Sakuyamon watched with slight trepidation as a ball of crackling electrical power began to grow between his wings… and grow… and grow… and soon it was easily able to match the size of the Terra Force of a WarGreymon.

"Whoa!" Charizard's eyes widened. "If Luxray got a load of that Zap Cannon he'd die of envy."

The Zap Cannon exploded forwards like a gigantic ball fired from the world's largest cannon, the ground and rock beneath it buckling and cracking under the sheer force of the attack as it streaked on towards Sakuyamon.

But the Mega level Digimon was ready for it and quickly did three things in rapid motion. First, she formed a Talisman Sphere and rapidly expanded it outwards and away from her, then she yelled, "SPIRIT STRIKE!" and pulled the lids from the tubes on her belt to send the four brightly coloured fox spirits shooting forwards and then she shot upwards into the air right at the moment the Zap Cannon collided with the shield. Even with the distance between them it still struck with such a tremendous force that it exploded hard enough to create a crater the size of a small house in the valley below and blow Sakuyamon backwards.

The fox spirits, on the other hand, remained unaffected by the blast and whisked through it, undulating in Zapdos' direction with intent in their narrow eyes. Zapdos, panting a little from the force of the Zap Cannon, fired a bolt of electricity at them to get them out of the way, and was rather shocked when the yellow one suddenly lurched in front of the others and took the hit without effect before they all swept on.

"The heck…?" Zapdos cried and threw himself into the air and shot skywards, the fox spirits twisting around to follow him in a line. The red one curved in from the side and turned into a plume of fire that Zapdos had to flare to dodge, while the blue one spiralled up from below and became a jet of water that exploded up like a geyser.

"Oh, this is new!" Zapdos cried as he swung around to dodge the blast, activating Detect again to keep ahead of the kitsune spirits. And it had to be said he was very hard pressed to dodge them even with Detect enabled.

The fire spirit came back around, joined by the green Wind spirit that merged together to create a massive tornado of flame that tried to envelop Zapdos but he twisted back down towards the ground so it passed just over his tail-feathers. The lightning spirit then came in from the front and blasted forwards a bolt of electricity of its own, but Zapdos took the blow this time and threw himself into a Drill Peck at it, only to pass straight through the spirit as if it wasn't there.

And then he had to dodge madly to the left to avoid a surge of water from the blue spirit before he was suddenly hit from below by a powerful burst of wind from the green one and sent rocketing up into the air.

Detect would only work for so long as a dodging strategy after all.

As he struggled to regain his balance and the four fox spirits converged below him, spiralling upwards in an intricate weaving column and leaving trails of their respective colour behind them, Zapdos' head snapped around as he sensed Sakuyamon herself coming in from an attack from above.

"THUNDER KICK!" she yelled, another new move that she learned she had that didn't involve thunder really, but she was spinning her staff above her head and plunging towards him both feet first, intending on crashing straight into his head with them. Zapdos wrenched himself over in response and lashed out with his own feet, his talons latching around her high-heeled boots before she could make impact and continuing the wrench to swing her out of the way.

Sakuyamon regained herself quickly and flung another Twin Blades of Beauty and Truth at him even as she continued whirling. Zapdos motored backwards and spiralled just above the attack, rocketing upwards into the air, gaining height as the four spirits quickly returned to Sakuyamon's side as if to check that she was okay.

"You aren't the only one who can attack from above," Zapdos yelled as he spread his wings wider and took on a white aura before powering down towards her at colossal speed, the aura building and building around her until it took on the shape of a giant, fiery white bird around his body.

Sky Attack.

Sakuyamon fell back as Zapdos closed in, dropping towards the ground where she planted her feet against the steep rocky side and raised her staff above her head, thudding the butt into the ground and calling, "FOX DRIVE!"

A humungous blue flame whooshed out of the ring in the top of her staff and blasted up towards Zapdos to waylay him. Zapdos crashed into it head-on, straining against it as it waged war with the energy from his Sky Attack, gritting his beak as he pushed downwards against it. Maintaining the strength of his Sky Attack he blasted out to the side with his Thunderbolt, the electricity arcing around the fire and striking Sakuyamon in the sides, causing her to cry out and relinquish her attack with her concentration broken.

Zapdos immediately powered down and swept in from the side with his burning attack. Sakuyamon swiftly raised a shield and Zapdos crashed into it, throwing it backwards like a giant stone from a sling and sending Sakuyamon tumbling. Still, the impact hurt Zapdos' head and he was forced to land, staggering a little and shaking his head right as the shield hit a wall nearby and rebounded off it to go flying right back and strike Zapdos in the face, tossing him back into the air and rolling.

The thunderbird had to lash out and burying his talons in the dirt to slow himself down, leaving lone lines behind him as he finally drew to a halt, facing off against Sakuyamon like a pair of cowboys at either end of the street they were about to duel in. Both Pokémon and Digimon looked quite battered but neither of them were out of the count by a long shot.

"This is quite something," Zapdos remarked. "You're definitely much more powerful now than you were in that previous form of yours. And all from merging with a human child. Who'd have thunk it?"

"You can definitely tell we're full of surprises now, can you not?" Sakuyamon asked.

"I learned that one a long time ago," Zapdos chuckled, as lightning bolts crackled around him again. "But don't think the games over yet." And he blasted them forwards with such force he tore up the ground and forced Sakuyamon into a rolling dive before the two of them lanced up into the air again.

Besides the onlookers watching from the ledge together, marvelling at the skill and strength of both the combatants, there were several other eyes also watching the battle. And most of the were all on the same body, fixed on the action.

Duskmon, from where he had remained half merged with the shadows near the top, was astonished. Not that he would admit it, even to himself, but he was seeing a Pokémon going toe to toe with a Mega level Digimon and neither of them giving an inch. Granted it wasn't a regular Pokémon – there was no way a regular Pokémon could be doing that; no chance at all – but it was one of those guardian Legendaries. They really were on another level to everything that he had observed so far about the Pokémon World in the last six months.

Maybe… loathe to admit it as he was… maybe DarkKnightmon had been right to be cautious after all. According to the intel they had gleaned there were many of these Legendary Pokémon throughout this world – heck there were three others right there in that valley below watching the fight as he was. If all of them were as strong, or heck even stronger, than this Zapdos… perhaps the caution that DarkKnightmon had been exercising wasn't such a bad idea after all.

You feeling stupid yet? The female voice in his head asked. About those demands for a full-frontal assault earlier?

"Shut… up…" Duskmon growled as he watched Sakuyamon rolling aside from another electrical burst from Zapdos and retaliate by sending out her spirits again. His eyes briefly roamed around in search of the other sneaky spectator but he couldn't see her at all. She was totally hidden from him and had gone off somewhere to watch the battle from another angle. How he loathed her and her ability to hide without having to stay in the shadows.

Of course, the Demon Lords would have crushed this Zapdos long before this point by now. Any one of them, even Beelzemon who was standing in his smaller form right now. He could have dealt with Zapdos when he's been in his prime before he'd signed on with these weakling humans…

Weakling humans… yes, that must be part of the reason why this Mega… this cheap imitation of a Mega… fused with a human of all things, was having such trouble. It wasn't just that Zapdos was strong… it was that Sakuyamon was weak. Yes, that was it.

Although to be honest that sounded a little hollow even in his mind, for he'd seen the other human partnered Megas taking down the Nightmare Soldiers a year ago just as DarkKnightmon had. Including Beelzemon.

Duskmon growled as he stepped a little out of the shadows to glare down at the back of Impmon's head, the teeth of his skull hands clamping together as his multiple eyes narrowed. He itched to do something, to take down the little purple Rookie. One blast to the back of his head from here and the abomination would be out of the picture for good. The one that despoiled the name of the Demon Lords by remaining alive now while they were gone and fighting for the light instead of the darkness they stood for.

Oh, how he loathed Impmon now.

Then again, he'd loathed Impmon from the start hadn't he? The seventh Demon Lord, the last one to join, who had been brought in even after Duskmon had succeeded in becoming official assassin of the group. He'd been secretly hoping that they would consider him worthy of filling the seventh slot, for Lucemon had been adamant that Seven was the number they would need, and then in came the brat and dashed those hopes.

Of course, he had respected Beelzemon greatly after he became the ruthless, brutal, soulless Beelzemon, Lord of Gluttony.

But before then… before then…

Oh, you made me sick, Duskmon thought as he leaned further out of the shadows, venting his hatred on the unsuspecting Impmon from behind. You and your pathetic wailing and cowering and snuggling up with that… buddy of yours like a frightened Lunamon. But oh, I remember. Lucemon didn't take kindly to you getting close to his little pet at all, did he? Oh, I can remember the fear in your eyes that day… and the screaming… her screams of anger and despair… ah, the music…

As he ranted inside his head though, Aayla had tensed slightly, her eyes flicking to the side even if the rest of her remained rigid, as if attempting to peer through the side of the head and up the slope behind them. She had suddenly sensed something, and while most of her attention and the attention of her friends, was focused on the aerial brawl going on in front of her, it was as if the Force had suddenly poked at her and alerted her to a presence.

A presence that was positively dripping with darkness, and it was coming from behind them, up the slope.

Lucario, she sent, hoping that the jackal-like Pokémon would pick it up. Do you sense that?

Lucario was instantly on the alert, for he had in fact, not sensed anything. He went rigid and asked, Sense what?

A presence, Aayla replied. Approximately fifty metres to the left and another thirty up the slope, near the top. And a dark one too.

Lucario shut his eyes and opened his senses, focusing in the area that Aayla mentioned. For a moment he felt nothing, but as he fine-tuned his minds he began to sense something too.

Yes, he nodded quietly in his head. I sense it.

Digimon? Aayla asked.

Almost definitely, Lucario confirmed. It is Digimon that I have trouble detecting with my aura unless I know what a specific kind feels like or I already know there's one in the vicinity. It certainly isn't a Pokémon or a human.

How long has it been there? Aayla wondered. I sensed the presence just… emerge from nowhere. Like it teleported.

I don't know how plausible that is. When a Psychic type Pokémon teleports I can sense the psionic energy that it gives off like a beacon. I don't know if that same principle would apply to this Digimon or not so I suppose we shouldn't rule it out. But it either means that it appeared by another method…

or it was deliberately concealing itself from us, Aayla finished.

It certainly isn't moving, Lucario nodded. It's just watching. And I can sense the darkness seeping from it as well. I would suspect that the latter option is what happened. But whatever the case it has lowered its defences a little now. Perhaps it doesn't know that we're aware of it.

Aayla glanced at the others briefly. None of them seemed to be aware of anything out of the ordinary themselves, but they were all too engrossed in the ensuing conflict to have even noticed Aayla's suspicions through the mind-link.

One of us should check it out, Lucario said, who also appeared to have noticed the same thing.

I have the Force Cloak ability, Aayla noted. I'll do it.

But what if it sees you turning invisible? It might suspect something.

Aayla frowned, knowing full well that Lucario was right. She had no way of knowing if the creature was looking her way or not. But perhaps it too was watching the battle instead. Still, all she could do was clench her fist slightly, deliberating her next course of action.

But the battle between Sakuyamon and Zapdos was still going strong, and Sakuyamon catapulted herself around another stony pillar that was promptly destroyed by a furious blast of lightning that followed her, multiple beams lancing outwards and forcing her to zig-zag furiously to avoid them before she landed on the ground and raised another shield to block.

Zapdos came swooping down towards her, readying another Drill Peck to try and crack through the shield once more. But Sakuyamon clenched her teeth and raised her staff above her head, saying, "Alright, I guess it's time to pull out all the stops isn't it?" And she slammed the staff down on the floor and roared, "AMETHYST MANDALA!"

Zapdos suddenly screeched in alarm when the area around Sakuyamon burst into light and then, so did the area around him. He scrambled to an aerial halt as an bright barrier of pure holy energy form around him in a spectacular shining orb that blazed like a miniature sun and illuminated the mountains all around with its fierce glare.

Duskmon had to resist the urge to cry out as the pure light from Sakuyamon's attack almost seemed to burn at him, and it wasn't even near him. But in any case, all of his many eyes were suddenly blinded by the intense light and he stumbled backwards slightly, stepping almost totally out of the shadows in his daze.

It's faltered, Lucario cried. Go!

Aayla suddenly backflipped onto a higher ledge and tucked herself out of sight behind another boulder, trying to shut out the bright light from Sakuyamon's attack and focusing on her breathing, meditating and feeling the Force pooling through her as she began to fade from sight as the light passed around her instead of on her.

It has not moved. It doesn't appear to have noticed, Lucario reported, shielding his eyes along with everyone else from the glow of the Mega level's attack. Go for it.

Aayla nodded even though nobody saw it, and indeed none of the other spectators seemed to have noticed that she had suddenly gone. So, quietly and steadily as she could, ensuring to maintain the Force cloak at all times and therefore going slower than she could by some distance because of it, she stealthily jumped and crept her way towards the presence she felt.

Duskmon had retreated back beneath the ledge a little, the light still blinding him and leaving spots before his eyes, but he soon began to recover even though the light still blazed. He shook his head, his long hair waving around behind him as it did so and he pictured sneaking up behind that Sakuyamon and running her through with his sword.

He was totally unaware of the Twi'lek that was currently stepping towards him, invisible to all, and staring at him with narrowed eyes. She could see him clearly in the light from the Amethyst Mandala and had absolutely no doubt that this guy was not friendly even if she didn't have the ability to sense the darkness and evil he was practically riddled with.

Slowly and invisibly, Aayla unclipped both of her lightsabers from her belt and stepped forwards, before she sprang with a single mighty leap and dropped her Force cloak. Duskmon saw her instantly and reacted blindingly fast, whipping out both long red swords and spinning up to slash at her. But Aayla's lightsabers sheered through both of his blades instantly and sent them clattering to the ground.

Duskmon could only stare in shock for a split second before Aayla's foot caught him right in the chest-eye and he went crashing back against the wall under the ledge with Aayla's foot on his stomach and one lightsaber point inches from his face.

"And just who are you?" Aayla asked.

Duskmon tried to shadow-travel away but he realised there was no shadow. The light from the Amethyst Mandala had dispelled it. He growled and added, "DEADLY GAZE!" and fired several beams from the eyes on his feet and knees. And he was shocked again when Aayla reacted almost before he'd fired and her lightsabers twirled around her in blazing circles to deflect the lasers away, and one of them struck him right in the stomach, searing at his armour.

"That," Aayla said. "Was not the answer I was looking for."

Duskmon looked up at her and glared, wondering what course of action to take now.

Back with Sakuyamon, she was carefully controlling the Amethyst Mandala and making it shrink down to small enough to just be able to close Zapdos in but not smaller enough to start crushing him, as was the aim of the attack in general.

"Do you yield?" she called out to him.

The answer came to her when flashes of lightning began to punch through the Amethyst Mandala and a couple of seconds later there was a tremendous explosion of electrical energy as Zapdos released a radial Discharge attack that blasted into the sphere all around him, merged with it and kaboomed outwards with near-concussive force, killing the bright light and tossing both Zapdos and Sakuyamon backwards, as well as all of the spectators.

Including Aayla and Duskmon, who were both knocked off their feet. But Duskmon recovered quickly and lashed out, catching Aayla in the stomach with one foot and bowling her onto her back and rolling. He quickly lanced out with another Deadly Gaze from every eye on his body except those in his head, but Aayla was already flipping back onto her feet and deflected the attack again in mid-air with windmilling strokes of her blades.

Duskmon growled in irritation, but before he could think of another strategy Aayla was suddenly struck in the back by something invisible and with a yell she was flung to the side and tumbled over the edge of the valley. Duskmon's eyes narrowed, guessing who was behind what just happened, but then he noticed that the shadows had returned behind him now that the light was gone.

Aayla managed to twist and land on her feet on another ledge before she bounded back up to the top, just in time to see Duskmon stepping back into the shadows and merge with them, disappearing into the darkness. The Twi'lek ran to the ledge and peered under it, thrusting her lightsaber in to illuminate the space but now… it was totally empty.

The interloper had got away.

But who the heck was he?

And what had hit her in the back? She turned around, still alert, but could neither see nor sense any other presences. Her eyes narrowed, puzzled. But unless she was very much mistaken, she had just encountered whoever it was that had been spying on them and tracking their movements since Fuchsia.

Sakuyamon and Zapdos though, were still unaware of what had just transpired up on the top of the ledge. The both of them were now standing at opposite ends of the valley, both breathing relatively heavily now and both looking a little worse for wear, but neither of them ready to back down just yet.

"You've certainly got a stubborn streak about you, Zapdos," Sakuyamon remarked. "I think you may be the first person to ever have broken out of my Amethyst Mandala before. But then again, its holy light is designed to weaken forces of evil from within and I've never used it on someone who was not evil such as yourself so… there is a first time for everything."

"Indeed," Zapdos nodded. "And you're one of the most skilled fighters I've ever come across. I've used almost every attack I possess in this fight."

"But I haven't used all of mine yet," Sakuyamon twirled her staff in readiness.

"Neither have I," Zapdos smirked back. "I did say 'almost' did I not? And it seems to me that that staff of yours is one of the keys to your power." And he suddenly exploded with electrical power that momentarily dazzled Sakuyamon even under the mask as he barrelled forwards in a thunderous Wild Charge.

Sakuyamon sprang up and released the four spirits again to shoot towards Zapdos in their intricate spiral, but Zapdos opened his beak and let loose a terrible, guttural sound that made everyone clap their hands over their ears, including Sakuyamon as soundwaves seemed to spill from his beak. Sakuyamon, to her surprise, felt a sudden fear grip her and felt the urge to turn tail and flee, but she managed to stop herself from following through with it. The spirits, on the other hand, were hit with the full blast of the Roar and immediately turned tail and shot back into their containers on Sakuyamon's belt before she realised what had happened.

Zapdos shot in and Sakuyamon took to the air, slamming into a rock pillar feet first and springing off it and over Zapdos before he could crash into her, sweeping her staff around and slamming him full in the back with a powerful Amethyst Wind. Zapdos went tumbling, losing his focus on the Wild Charge, but was able to regain his balance and swing around for another pass. Sakuyamon gritted her teeth and fired another Fox Drive spurt of flames from her staff and Zapdos twisted around it and lanced out with another round of Thunderbolts.

Sakuyamon dropped towards the ground, dodging the blasts and luring Zapdos in closer and preparing to use another Twin Blades of Beauty and Truth at point-blank range. But even as she landed, Zapdos' eyes began to glow a bright blue and a sudden mass of small electrical sparks pulsed out of his entire body down towards her. Sakuyamon did not raise her shield in time and was hit full on by the sparks, which seemed to wrap themselves around her and cover her entire body with crackling volts.

She was rather surprised to find that the attack hadn't hurt at all, looking down at herself and her fizzing, sparking body in mild bemusement. But Zapdos was closing in and she prepared to launch her attack… only to find that her body wouldn't obey her. She gasped and tried to wrench her arms but they were seizing up, as were her legs. She struggled and managed to move painfully slowly but it was like she was… paralysed.

"Got you now," Zapdos squawked as he closed in, pleased that his Thunder Wave had done its work. Sakuyamon looked up with gritted teeth and saw his beak glow white and lengthen slightly. With painfully slow movements she brought her staff to bear and tried to raise a shield, but Zapdos slammed into her beak-first and drove her backwards, his lengthened beak closing around the staff in her hands.

Sakuyamon was startled again when the staff was wrenched from her fingers as if physically compelled… and indeed it had been. Zapdos had used Pluck, and now Sakuyamon's staff was out her reach.

But even as Zapdos spread his wings to try and soar away with the main source of a lot of her powers, she commanded her muscles into one last burst of energy, seizing a long, red card from her belt and flinging it at Zapdos' stomach with a cry of "FOX CARD!" where it plastered onto his chest and stuck there, glowing brightly. Zapdos' immediately staggered in the air, eyes widening as his body became tinged with a similar red glow and his power… it felt like his power was being… drained away.

At an alarming rate.

It was all Zapdos could do to fly to the other end of the valley with the staff in his beak and land with a heavy thump that almost made him lose his balance. The staff clattered to the floor and he put his foot on it, stumbling around to face the opponent, but as he tried to summon more lightning, he found, to his distress, that he couldn't. Forget drained… his power had been sealed.

The Legendary Pokémon and Mega Digimon stared across the canyon at one another and they both knew then that the match was over. Sakuyamon had been robbed of her staff and was struggling to move even one arm, while Zapdos was only able to stand and couldn't summon any of his attacks.

It was a total impasse and neither side could alter it.

But Sakuyamon was rather surprised to hear Zapdos chuckling. The Bird lifted his head wearily and offered her a beaky equivalent of a grin.

"Well done," he said. "Very well done indeed. There may not have been a decisive victory to this battle but you're the first person who's managed to get the better of me like this for an age."

"Does that mean… we passed the test?" Sakuyamon smiled, wincing slightly at the electricity still sparking around her. "Did we prove ourselves worthy?"

"Oh you proved yourself a long time ago," Zapdos chuckled. "I just wanted to see how the fight would turn out since we'd come so far. Though I certainly didn't expect this result. But yes, I believe that you are more than worthy of saving the world. And the good news is that if you have my word on it, none of the other Legendaries will challenge you in a similar manner. You only have to pass this test once."

"Well, thank goodness for that," Sakuyamon said in Rika's voice. "You Legendary Pokémon are strong indeed."

"As are you? Are all Digimon at this… Mega Level… as strong as you?"

"No. Some are weaker, some are much stronger than I. The rank of the level only means so much – individual power does come a lot into it. But I hope you don't consider it a brag when I say we probably are on the stronger side, thanks to the bond between partners that we share."

"Then the journey ahead looks interesting indeed. Alright then, boys and girls, I'll be more than happy to join you on your quest."

There was some cheering from the group up on the ridge – evidently they'd heard most of that. But then Zapdos winked and said, "But just so you know, if this was a fight to the death, I would have put a lot more force into things."

"Oh, as would we," Sakuyamon smirked. "As would we."

"Good," Zapdos laughed boisterously. "I suspected as much. I almost look forward to seeing it. Now I don't suppose you could take this paper thing off, could you?"

"Sure…" Sakuyamon grunted and, with effort, beckoned with two fingers. The paper seal peeled itself off and shot back into her hand. Zapdos immediately felt his strength surge back into him and he flexed his wings, lifted off from the ground and flapped back over towards Sakuyamon, twisting overhead and dropping the staff back into her open hand before seizing her gently by the upper arms and hoisting her into the air, carrying her back towards the ledge where the others were waiting.

"Would it be too much for you to ask to un-paralyse us?" Sakuyamon asked as she was set back down and almost fell over as she struggled to stay upright.

"No, I can't," Zapdos chuckled sheepishly. "Sorry."

"I'll take care of it," Felkan took off a Pokéball and summoned Gardevoir out of it. Gardevoir did not need to be told what to do and placed her fingertips together, shutting her eyes and her body glowing a slight blue-green colour, before waves of the same colour emanated from her body and washed over the group with a faint sound that sounded strangely like a bell. Immediately Sakuyamon felt her paralysis wearing off and she sighed as the feeling returned to her limbs, before she de-digivolved into both her component individuals and both Rika and Renamon dropped to their knees.

"Heal Bell," Zapdos noted. "Handy."

"Now that… was a tough match," chuckled Renamon.

"And I get the feeling it could have gone on a lot longer than that if we'd stuck to just blasting at each other," Rika looked up towards Zapdos flapping overhead.

"Probably," Zapdos laughed as he settled on another pillar. "Still… look what we did to the valley."

"Yeah…" Terriermon snorted as they took in the huge rifts and craters dotted around the place. "You really did a number on it. But still, that was awesome! If I do say so myself."

"And now we've got another Legendary in the group," Henry nodded. "You aren't too injured are you, Zapdos."

"Might need some rest but I'm still capable of travel," Zapdos folded his wings at his side. He then looked across the group and said, "Hey, where's your friend? The blue-skinned woman that was neither human, Pokémon nor Digimon? Ayala?"

"Aayla," Renamon corrected him again. "The Twi'lek. And yes, I was just about to ask that."

Most of the rest of the group noticed for the first time that she wasn't there anymore and looked around in bemusement, but Aayla's voice rang out, "I'm up here," from above. The group turned to see her vaulting nimbly down the ledges towards them until she landed with graceful flip back next to them.

"Where'd you disappear to?" Felkan asked. "And when?"

"About five minutes ago," Aayla replied. "And up there. Because I sensed that we were being watched. By something that was very much not a member of our party."

"What?" several voices instantly cried.

"Was it a human?" Latios asked. "Someone from the Power Plant? I'm sure I would have sensed something like that myself."

"No, not a human," Aayla shook her head. "Digimon. Not a friendly one either. Its small wonder you two didn't sense it. From what I have gleaned from your Psychic powers you are unable to sense Dark types. And while you can't really pin a label on a Digimon as a Dark type in the same way, their attributes can still affect Pokémon, just as a move that involves fire from a Digimon would still have a worse effect on a Grass type. And this Digimon… I could sense incredible amounts of darkness coming from within it."

"You mean evil?" Suzie asked.

"No, not evil," Aayla shook her head. "Though it undoubtedly was that too. I am referring to actual powers of darkness. Not all darkness is inherently evil – Houndoom and Absol are examples of that. Though it is true that more often than not, darkness and evil do go together. The Dark Side of the Force and the way it can twist the soul is a very good example of that. But regardless of terminology, I believe it may have been whatever's been following us for a while."

"Powers of darkness, huh?" Impmon shuddered, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable, and remembering the sheer amount of darkness all around during his brief time in the Dark Ocean as a prisoner, as well as IceDevimon's talk about how he had entered the Dark Ocean and somehow escaped. Could it be that his past was not yet done haunting him? He'd thought with the death of GranDracmon and the replacement Belphemon, both of which had been similarly steeped in the powers of darkness, that would have been it. But it seemed it was likely that he had been wrong.

Ai and Mako saw him cringing and knelt down to try and reassure him with their presence somehow, but weren't quite sure how to do it.

"What did it look like?" Henry asked.

"Humanoid, covered with viciously pointed black armour, long blond hair, most of its face obscured and a large number of red eyes on various parts of its body. And unfortunately it escaped. It phased back into the shadows and seemed to merge with them and vanish at its earliest convenience." She sent a picture through the mind-link to anyone who was connected to her mind. And since Gardevoir was out of her Pokéball she handily sent it to everyone else.

Henry's eyes widened. "I've seen that Digimon before."

"Me too, but never in the flesh," Rika agreed and began rootling in the card pack on her belt, before she pulled out one specific card and stared at it. "Bingo. Here he is. Duskmon. Champion level Digimon with signature attacks being Deadly Gaze and Lunar Plasma… yep, this guy does look like darkness personified to me. Thank goodness the Force can still pick him up."

"Yes," nodded Aayla. "But only if he's in a mostly corporeal state. When he melded with the shadows I was no longer able to sense him. And that worries me. If he's able to merge with shadows and neither Lucario nor I can sense him either when he's like that, then how many times has he been close enough to hear what we've been saying?"

The set the group aflutter slightly and they looked around a little nervously, as if expecting Duskmon to jump out of any shadow, even their own, and yell "BOO!"

He didn't, but they couldn't help it?

"So what do we do now?" Felkan asked.

"We still can't change our mission," Aayla shook her head. "Just because we've found our spy doesn't mean we can do anything more about it unless he shows himself again. But I believe we should remain watchful at all times and from now one we should communicate with minds only when discussing our mission or anything we plan to do. Latios, Latias… do you think you two can transmit everything said to those without Psychic powers or a mind-link?"

Leave it to us, captain, Latias winked and gave an encouraging thumbs-up with her tiny claw.

Very well then, Suicune thought, and the Eon twins immediately began their job and transmitted it to everyone else. Then we must make headway. It is possible the people in the Power Plant saw the lights from the battle and humans may be along to investigate soon. We must leave.

Good idea, Zapdos nodded. Hey Renamon, and your little human partner, Rika? Want a lift?

Why thank you, Renamon laughed. And again, great match.

Right back at ya, Zapdos smirked.

"This is not about the mission, you do not need us to talk about that," Latios pointed out, aloud.

"Right. Good point," Renamon chuckled.

And as the group geared up to go, while aware that they could be being watched right at this very moment, they were not aware of the female spy that had been accompanying Duskmon, currently standing on a ledge above in plain sight, but invisible to all through eyes and senses alike.

Well, she murmured to herself, flexing her red claws. Looks like I'll be following them the hard way for now.

Duskmon materialised back in the darkness of the base in the middle of the ocean and screamed in fury into the corridor, scaring a couple of nearby Devimon, who he promptly slammed in their faces and sent flying in his anger. The dark Digimon extended his two swords, or what was left of them, and glared at the stubs in irritation.

Those swords had been with him for years – the very ones that had been of service to the Demon Lords with him as their assassin. They had killed many an innocent Digimon in their time and they had just been sheared through with ease by that… that… THING! The being that was neither human nor Digimon, and was very probably not a Pokémon either, swinging those fancy laser swords of hers around to deflect even his Deadly Gaze like it was nothing. He'd heard of the laser swords of a Lobomon before, but even they shouldn't be able to do that to his own metal blades so… easily.

That… irked… him.

Replacing the swords would be no trouble. He could get some of the other minions who were skilled with metal to forge him a pair of new ones and attach them to the stumps of his old two. And this time he would have them forged in red Chrome-Digizoid. He'd like to see those light swords try and cut through them after that.

He stepped off into the rocky corridor and past the groaning Devimon to find a Digimon who could do the job when a giant foot descended in front of him and he looked up sharply to see DarkKnightmon filling the corridor.

"Duskmon," DarkKnightmon stated bluntly. "I thought that cry of outrage belonged to you. Might I ask why you are currently not at your post watching those Tamers and their companions as I instructed? It had not been three hours since you were last here and you have already abandoned your post. That… does not sit well with me."

Duskmon swallowed and coughed a little. "The… that… she is still watching them. I assumed that only one of us was required to watch them at a time so…"

"I would think carefully before you try and make excuses, Duskmon," DarkKnightmon replied. "Because I can see from the stumps of your swords there that you did not simply decide to… pop back. Now tell me… did the targets I requested you not to let see you… see you?"

Duskmon said nothing for a moment.

"Because you see, the only ways that I can fathom those swords being broken is if you either slammed them against something in anger or they were sliced off by something. And those look like very clean cuts to me."

Duskmon knew there was no point. "Yes, sir," he growled. "One of them saw me. But she came out of nowhere and I…"

Duskmon fell onto his back as DarkKnightmon thrust his spear down at him, the point stopping inches from his face.

"And you are supposed to be the incredibly skilled assassin of the Demon Lords?" DarkKnightmon raised his voice, which he hardly ever did. "I heard all the stories about the incredible stealthy jobs you pulled back when I was just a minion myself and this time you get yourself seen? That does not reflect well on your reputation, Duskmon."

"It wasn't one of the humans," protested Duskmon. "Or one of the Pokémon or Digimon. It was another one – a creature that belongs to none of those groups. I don't know anything about her or what she can do and she came out of nowhere."

DarkKnightmon pulled his spear back and stared down imperiously. "Tell me everything you do know then."

Duskmon felt physically ill talking about it but he managed to spit out a description of Aayla and his encounter with her, including what she could do with her blades although he did dial down how completely she had humiliated him back there. DarkKnightmon thought he was embellishing the truth a little but he merely tapped the floor with his spear.

"I have heard of this being," he said. "They call her Aayla Secura, I believe. There have been rumours of her going about the Digital World. Apparently she arrived with the Prophecy Trio from a completely alternate reality they were sent to initially by a Parallelmon, neither this one nor the Human World nor any Digital World."

"What are we supposed to do about her then?" Duskmon asked. "Can we at least eliminate her now that they know that we're onto them?"

"They still don't know everything about us," DarkKnightmon replied. "But, as always Duskmon, intelligence is key. We need to learn more about her and the abilities she possesses and perhaps find ways to counter them."

"But there won't be any information about her kind in this world," Duskmon pointed out. "Are we supposed to just… watch her?"

"No," DarkKnightmon chuckled. "Perhaps we can find some more information… and maybe even some more help… from another world. More precisely… her world."

Hope you enjoyed that battle. Zapdos, well… he's a Legendary. ALL of the Legendary Pokémon in my story will be on par with a Mega Digimon, because their very role is to be guardians of the world. They HAVE to be super strong. The other Pokémon in the group – the ones under Felkan's command, are about equivalent with an Ultimate, but that's because they've been done hardcore training for five years and most of them were training for five years before that anyway. Just to put some of the power ratios in context with one another.

Oh and in case you're wondering, I've made a list of the moves they know for each Legendary Pokémon and all of them know thirty. Four is too limiting. XD

And yep, there have been a couple of developments in this chapter sure enough. The ball is definitely beginning to get rolling. Hope you liked it as much as I did. But I'm afraid now that I've written and published this chapter I am going on a brief hiatus from all fanfiction work for two weeks at most in order to get all of my remaining uni work done and out of the way. I have quite a few deadlines coming up next month and if I get it all done quickly then I can get back to writing stress-free.

Until next time, whenever that may be.

Next time…

Return to Mortis. After the kidnapping of Ahsoka and Barriss by the Son, Anakin sets out for the tower where they are being held, while Obi-Wan heads off to the monastery of the father to seek the council of the Father. Neither of them are going to like what they find at the other end.

Coming up:- Chapter 34 : Bonds of the Light