Hey everyone. You can probably tell that I've fallen behind a little bit, but this is due to the fact that I've been preparing for an important interview for one of the postgraduate courses I am trying for next Wednesday. Still, here is the latest chapter of the story, and I very much hope that you all enjoy it.

Quest of the Gods

Chapter 60:- An Unusual Request

Takato clenched his teeth in frustration as the smoke billowed upwards around them. For about the billionth time since they'd been separated, he wished Guilmon was there. All of his anxieties about their relationship aside, it would have felt great to pound Mephistomon into the ground as Gallantmon.

He sucked in his breath, trying to force himself to calm down before he did something stupid. He wasn't the type to get angry often, but in certain circumstances...like when he was faced with an enemy that he believed was dead, an enemy that caused so much hurt….

Not to mention that apparently the creep had a connection to GranDracmon. That just made Takato hate him even more.


Jeri was shivering as she wrapped her arms around herself to try and stay warm, her teeth feeling as though they were about to break from all the chattering she was doing.

Takato's eyes locked on her and he realized with alarm that the freeze mark that had appeared on her back seemed to be...growing.


"I'm okay." She said through clenched teeth, rubbing her arms in an attempt to warm herself up. "I told MarineAngemon to focus on healing Elecmon first."

"But you're hurt Jeri," Kenta protested. "And the chances of a Digimon healing just fine are a lot better than a hu-"

"Elecmon always comes first." Jeri cut Kenta off firmly, not leaving room for any argument. It wasn't really like anyone there could blame her. She was after all, the girl who had seen her partner be murdered in front of her and had thought that she'd never see him again.

Was it any wonder that she wanted to put her Digimon's wellbeing before her own?

"Oh my head." Kazu moaned, managing to actually wake up on his own as MarineAngemon finished healing Elecmon and then moved onto Jeri. "…Please tell me we're not still getting our butts kicked by the ugly mutant goat thing?"

"Correction." Ryo said deadpan. "We're getting our butts kicked by the ugly mutant goat thing, his brainwashed army of Meramon that we can't kill because they're innocent, and a brainwashed Royal Knight we can't kill because...that would doom this world and the one that the rest of our friends are currently in."

"Gee Ryo, where would we be without your shining optimism and cheerful peppiness?" Kazu asked sarcastically before looking around. "Wait where's…"


The missiles exploded outwards of Andromon's chest, slamming into the ground in front of a group of three more Meramon. One of them threw itself behind a rock as though trying to shield itself, but it was no use. His blue eyes widened in disbelief as the missile simply swerved around the rock and slammed a few feet away from him, the shockwave sending him flying and knocking him to the ground, unconscious.

Andromon smiled tightly. "It is no use knave. My missiles never miss."

"That's my Digimon right there!" Kazu yelled, his eyes lighting up from excitement as he practically hopped up and down with joy, watching as Andromon slammed an arm up to block a burning punch from another Meramon and seized the outstretched wrist with his other hand, heaving him around like a bat to clobber him against two others in a pyrotechnic display of flames.

Ryo rolled his eyes skywards at Kazu's behaviour, but he immediately paled and cried, "LOOK OUT!"

Takato and Kazu both glanced at him in alarm, following his gaze and yelling as a broiling mass of flashing claws and gnashing teeth crashing into the top of the bubble that was protecting them from the Meramon. Cyberdramon and Dinobeemon were at each other's throats and with MarineAngemon's attention occupied healing Jeri the bubble shattered under their weight and wildly thrashing limbs. Ryo and Kazu dived aside, the former grabbing Takato and Jeri and shoving them sideways as Kazu seized Calumon and Kenta, who grabbed Elecmon in turn, all of them dodging aside just as the two brawling Ultimates crashed into the ground behind them and went rolling away, before both flipped back onto their feet and dove at each other again.

"Dang." Kenta breathed as they watched the two Ultimate Digimon roar with fury, reminding him of two dinosaurs fighting over territory. "I knew Cyberdramon had anger issues, but I didn't think there'd be another that could match him."

Cyberdramon had almost gone completely into feral mode, his teeth and claws just biting and tearing into his opponent wherever he got the chance, not even bothering to use proper attacks anymore. The Dinobeemon wasn't much better. His claws were easily much larger than Cyberdramon's, and he seemed just as determined to rip Cyberdramon apart data speck by data speck. But equally Cyberdramon's claws were harder and Dinobeemon's armour was not as good as his own.

Which was something that Cyberdramon took advantage of as he snarled and lunged forwards, his teeth sinking into Dinobeemon's neck and causing the enemy Digimon to squeal painfully.

"Cyberdramon! Don't!" Ryo yelled as Cyberdramon's massive fangs sank deeper in and he bore his prey to the floor, shaking his head viciously. "We need him alive! You kill him and the Digital World won't stand a chance!"

For one heartrending moment Ryo was truly afraid that his partner wouldn't listen to him – that his desire for a kill would overpower his ability to think...well at all really.

But it appeared that something got through to him. His expression was invisible beneath his face-mask but he paused and growled, before he slowly loosened his grip, allowing Dinobeemon to breathe properly once more.

That turned out to be a mistake. And a costly one. Because the minute he didn't have Cyberdramon's fangs inside of him, Dinobeemon surged upwards at lightning speed again, his claws flashing so fast they practically left a gleaming trail behind them in the air. Cyberdramon screamed as his wing was slashed brutally, leaving gaping holes in the membrane, and Ryo let out a yell of horror before bolting towards his partner.

But he didn't get very far because the Meramon had noticed that the Tamers were now unprotected and had closed in, bringing Ryo up short and forcing him to back away.

"Not so fast, curs!" Andromon suddenly crashed through their ranks and pivoted around with a spectacular roundhouse kick that sent several of the Meramon crashing back onto their brethren. "Tamers, stay behind me!"

"But I have to get to Cyberdramon!" Ryo yelled desperately, watching as his partner fell back until Dinobeemon's brutal assault, the cybernetic dragon holding his arms up in self-defence as the insect-dragon rained blows down on top of him.

Mephistomon's laugh echoed as he bared his flat teeth in a leer of triumph from the plateau where he'd been since the battle began. "I suppose this means that my beast is superior to yours, wouldn't you say, boy?"

Ryo's shoulders twitched with fury as he shot Mephistomon a glower that would melt steel. "Cyberdramon's not the beast here and neither's Dinobeemon. That word only applies to you!"

"Oh really?"

"You can't even be bothered to fight us yourself." Jeri said angrily, her brown eyes narrowing down to slits. "That doesn't just make you a sadistic beast; that makes you a coward."

"On the contrary, my dear," Mephistomon drawled. "I've always been the type to prefer letting my plans flow as they will. Once you set the pieces of the game in motion, there's not much need to play with amateurs."

Kazu told Mephistomon to go and do something to himself that Takato knew for a fact that he would never ever have said if his mother had been around.

"And now I'm almost glad that Ai and Mako are in another dimension." Jeri muttered. "Even if having Beelzemon here would be really good right about now!" Glancing down at Elecmon she asked, with a hint of reservation in her voice, "If that goat won't battle us, then let's bring the battle to him. You up for this?"

Elecmon chuckled grimly and extended his own claws. "Always Jeri. Always."

"All right then!" Pressing the D-Arc to her chest she called out, "BIOMERGE ACTIVATE!"


The massive striped lion lunged forwards with a snarl, front paws slamming into Mephistomon's chest and knocking him backwards a pace.

"You little wench!" Mephistomon raised his fist to strike back but bleated in an extremely undignified way and rolled to the side just as SaberLeomon's massive teeth carved lines into the ground where he'd been.

"Are we still amateurs?" SaberLeomon snarled as they thundered after him.

"Now's our chance to deal with the Meramon while Mephistomon's distracted!" Kenta exclaimed, his eyes lighting up behind his glasses.

"Well?!" Kazu demanded. "Don't just say that, do it!"


MarineAngemon's tiny face seemed to distort to twice its size as he lets out a high pitched cry of "BLASTING SPOUT!"

Except in extremely rare circumstances, fire can always be beaten by water. Unless it's a grease fire or some other wacky kind of fire so many Digimon seem able to spit out. Fortunately these Meramon obeyed the laws of physics, shrieking as the near typhoon of water crashed over them. The DemiMeramon didn't stand a chance and were practically extinguished, but MarineAngemon was careful to ensure that they were not deleted. The Meramon backed off, hissing like a bunch of cats who had just been forced into a bathtub, the flames trickling off their bodies much weaker than before and each one sending up a plume of steam into the air.

Had MarineAngemon not been holding back, that attack would probably have been far more damaging. But it was all the chance that Ryo needed to burst through the ranks and charge towards his partner, who was definitely not doing so well.

Besides the tears in his wings, Cyberdramon now had a large gash between two of the armour plates on his stomach and the mask covering his face had been fractured. It had been a long time since Cyberdramon had met a Digimon who could meet him head on when he got into one of his "kill at all costs" frenzies. At least one that was not a Mega.

But the simple fact of the matter was that apparently there was a Digimon who not only had his partner's bloodthirstiness, but was much faster as well. And it didn't help that this was also an opponent Cyberdramon didn't dare go full out against.

Ryo acted out of instinct – he'd only ever used this technique before on Cyberdramon himself when he started going into his own killing frenzies but this new threat was so much like his partner that it seemed like a good idea to try. He slashed his D-Arc through the air, the green energy whip forming from the tip and slicing forwards. It lashed around Dinobeemon's wrist right before he could bring his massive claws up to slash Cyberdramon through the face again.

Dinobeemon let out a yell of surprise and anger, his head snapping around to glare at the Tamer who dared to strike at him like this.

"Dinobeemon, you have to fight it!" Ryo yelled, over the snarling of the Ultimate Digimon. "You have to fight Mephistomon's control! You have to try to remem-!"

His face blanched slightly as Dinobeemon not only ignored him, but also grabbed the energy whip in his other hand and yanked it, pulling Ryo forwards onto his face. As the whip faded away, Dinobeemon surged forwards and fell right at Ryo with claws outstretched. But Cyberdramon shot forwards like a bullet, ignoring the stabbing pain in his torn wings as he slammed his full weight into the enemy to knock him off course, his skull crashing into Dinobeemon's with a terrific crunching sound.

The two of them writhed on the ground in a full out wrestling match as Dinobeemon snarled, his grotesque face distorting even farther. As Cyberdramon tried to force him into the ground, Dinobeemon suddenly kicked up with his feet to send Cyberdramon over his head and leapt into the air, before spitting out, "HELL MASQUERADE!"

Cyberdramon was already clambering to his feet but then roared in agonizing pain, his yowl echoing across the landscape as Dinobeemon slammed into him from all sides repeatedly, moving so fast that every time Cyberdramon managed to lock onto his opponent all he could see was the vague afterimages left behind that disappeared like smoke every time he tried to slash his claws through them. It ended with Dinobeemon crashing into Cyberdramon from the front and sending the dragon crashing onto his back with Dinobeemon standing on his chest.

Dinobeemon let out his own terrible snarl again – the sound something between Cyberdramon's draconic roars and the noise of a million angry wasps before his ugly, bulging compound eyes fixated on Ryo again. Apparently he wasn't very quick to forget when people had struck at him.

He lunged at the young tamer but Cyberdramon was not quite as down as he had thought because he lashed up and seized Dinobeemon by the ankles before he could get far and pushed himself back into the air, flipping over and dragging Dinobeemon with him to slam the enemy into the ground. Hard.

"Attaboy!" Ryo grinned as he brought out a Card and slashed it. "DIGIMODIFY! SPEED ACTIVATE!"

Cyberdramon's jaw twisted into a smirk and Dinobeemon let out a yelp of total alarm as Cyberdramon suddenly shot away across the desert, dragging Dinobeemon across the rocks and sand, away from Ryo and the others, slamming and bumping against the ground repeatedly as he did so.

Andromon was having a much easier time of things than Cyberdramon. It was the same pattern every time. One of Meramon would lunge at him, and he would easily dodge or sidestep each one of their flaming fists that they sent at him.

Compared to how bulky and awkward he could be in his Guardromon form, this was definitely a massive step up. He slammed his fist into the underside of one of the Meramon's jaws, sending him flying, before grabbing his ankle and bringing him crashing down onto the head of another.

Several more of the Meramon tried to form a circle around Andromon, boxing him in, but he just smirked as one of his metallic arms formed into a spear and began to spin rapidly. "LIGHTNING BLADE!"

The blade of light blue energy shot out from around his arm module and curved around the circle, striking every single one of the Meramon, as it slashed against all of them. No serious wounds were caused, but many of them fell to their knees or on their backs with some nasty gashes.

Andromon winced slightly as they shrieked out in pain, closing his eyes a little, because if there was one thing he didn't like watching, it was innocents getting hurt because of him. He knew that it was really all Mephistomon's fault but this still went against…well…everything he believed in.

Unfortunately it this distraction cost him, because that was when he felt something icy cold gripping his leg, his one leg that was not covered in protective armour, and the freezing touch seemed to sink right into his muscle, eliciting a yell of raw pain. He spun about, dragging the leg into the air and hauling the BlueMeramon who was clutching it upwards with it, his metallic fist snapping out like a piston and smacking the BlueMeramon square in the lower jaw, causing it to let go and stumble backwards.

"I know that you are being controlled by that fiend, but that is still no excuse for a warrior to behave so cowardly." Andromon growled, holding his fists ready as his sides as he tried to ignore the pain in his leg.

BlueMeramon leered at him, a somewhat unnerving effect as where most people had teeth, all of the Meramon family had the threads stitched in their mouths, somehow making the whole thing even more creepy. But Andromon remained calm and the both of them hurtled forwards at the same time. They slammed into each other grabbing one another's arms and pushing, their feet sliding against the ground as they struggled to find purchase and shove the other backwards, but to no avail. Andromon could feel his sensors screaming at him to stop before he overdid it, but he clenched his teeth and persevered.

BlueMeramon just laughed darkly, his eyes flashing a light icy blue colour as he shouted out his own attack, "ICE PHANTOM!"

Immediately the temperature around them seemed to have dropped at least a good fifty degrees, and Kazu let out a shriek that was definitely very little girly as he hopped from foot to foot, struggling to stay warm. "H-HOLY CRAP!"

Andromon groaned as he could feel the cold starting to reach his internal systems. Two things that no electronic handles very well are extreme cold and heat, and he could feel his energy starting to drain away as his movements became more and more sluggish.

BlueMeramon grinned as he stretched his hand out and placed it right on Andromon's chest, his smirk nothing but malevolent. "BLUE FIRE!"

The attack sent Andromon streaking backwards, leaving deep grooves in the ground as he struggled to remain upright in vain, as he fell head over heels and landed, face down in the dirt on his stomach, groaning.

"ANDROMON!" Kazu's voice echoed from what seemed like far away. "You've got to get up man! Come on I know you can do it!"

Andromon winced as he struggled to try and push himself back to his feet, frustration filling him as his body refused to obey him. He could see crystals from the ice spreading up his leg and to his lower thigh, and he winced.

Kazu's teeth were chattering like mad as he took a step towards his partner, but he forced himself not to think about how he felt as though he might keel over from hypothermia any second now. His fingers trembled as he pulled out his cards and he actually dropped a couple on the ground because he was shivering so hard.

"D-D-Digi M-Modify! FlareR-Rizamon's F-F-F-Fire Tower ACTIVATE!"

BlueMeramon laughed as he placed a triumphant foot on top of Andromon's back, leering down in triumph as his hands shone with cold flames once more.

He immediately regretted this decision as the huge burst of red flames shot up from Andromon, and he howled as he was propelled upwards like a cork streaming ridiculously fast out of a bottle, the fire scorching at his back.

Andromon shot upwards out of the flames, grabbing BlueMeramon by the shoulders as he did so and slamming BlueMeramon in the face with his head. BlueMeramon could only stagger as Andromon's metallic forehead caught him right between the eyes and after a few moments of standing dazed, he fell backwards almost comically and landed in unconsciousness.

"N-now that's what I call fighting fire with fire." Kazu managed to quip with a grin as the cold had receded the moment that BlueMeramon was knocked out.

"Oh boy." Kenta muttered, pushing his glasses up with his nose as MarineAngemon zoomed forwards, spitting out a pink bubble to encapsulate BlueMeramon in, as he has done with the rest of the Meramon. Not only should that hopefully keep the Meramon from causing any more problems, it made sure they wouldn't be injured on the battle scene. "Can we just make a rule against weak puns on the battlefield?"

"Oh look who's talking…."

Takato flinched as he watched SaberLeomon get backhanded hard by Mephistomon and go skidding across the battlefield, before lunging right back into the fight, their ridiculously large fangs gleaming as they made a very valid attempt to tear the creep's arm off for that.

It wasn't that he didn't think that Jeri could handle herself. Heck he knew Jeri could handle herself. Despite her gentle nature and kind soul Jeri was well...a lioness at heart. And if you messed with her "pride" than Fanglongmon himself could not help you.

But at the same time, that was still his girlfriend out there, battling to protect all of them, but...especially him. And Mephistomon, while being only an Ultimate level Digimon in comparison to Jeri's Mega form, was still turning out to be a powerful opponent. Takato wanted to get in there and help, but was the only one here without a partner, without any form of protection except for the others to work double duty and make sure he stayed safe.

It made his stomach clench up. He watched Mephistomon leap over SaberLeomon to land on their back and wrap his arms around their neck, in an attempt to choke them. Fortunately SaberLeomon's thick mane absorbed most of the attempt and the lion Mega began bucking like crazy in an attempt to shake him off. He should be out there, with Guilmon, as Gallantmon, fighting side by side with everyone else.

It had been a long time since Takato had felt so completely powerless. And he didn't like it. He was powerless to help his friends and he was powerless to help the poor Meramon, who hadn't done anything wrong. Mephistomon's viruses alone were what had spurred them to attack, after all.

Wait a minute….his eyes drifted back over to the stretch of ground where their stuff was. There was...maybe something he could do to help after all…

It was dangerous and it was risky, but it was also the only thing he could think of doing in that moment. Taking a deep breath, he plunged right into the battlefield as he could hear shouts from Kenta calling him to come back.

A fireball from one of the few remaining Meramon nearly took his head off, and he ducked and rolled, wincing as his blue hoodie was badly singed.

Scrambling back to his feet, he made it to their bags just as he could hear the heavy thunk of Andromon's fist colliding with the offending Meramon's face, and the thud of its body as it hit the ground unconscious

"Whatcha looking for Takato?" Calumon suddenly appeared next to him. "Are we playing a game?" His eyes lit up for a second before another terrible roar escaped SaberLeomon as they flung themselves against a stone wall, only for Mephistomon to leap out of the way before he could be smeared against it, and Calumon shivered.

"On second thought, maybe now's not a good time to play, huh?"

"No Calumon, I need to find something of Ryo's…" Takato dug through their fallen possessions frantically, pleading silently. It had to be here, it had to…

"You mean this?"

Takato's eyes widened with relief as he spotted what Calumon was holding. "You are a genius, little guy." He breathed out before grabbing it tightly. When Fanglongmon had given this to Aayla, he'd had no idea how much it could come in handy.

When he pressed the button, at first nothing happened and he cursed, pleading for the transmission to go through. But moments later an image appeared above his palm – the four-legged and winged shape of Mihiramon the Tiger Deva. Mihiramon lifted his head to look up at Takato and opened his mouth for a greeting before another sound of an explosion echoed.

"What sort of mayhem have you Tamers managed to find yourselves in now?" The cat questioned, his fur standing on edge instinctively.

Takato managed a grim smile. "Nothing good unfortunately. We could really use some backup right about now."

Jeri's scream echoed from SaberLeomon and Takato's head shot up, his face paling. "NO!"

Mihiramon growled, his amber eyes narrowing down to slits. "Just hang on for a little while longer, Tamers. We shall be there as fast as we can."

Dinobeemon thrashed and writhed in Cyberdramon's grip as the dragon Digimon streaked away from the battlefield, before finally roaring and slashing with the claws on his second set of arms into Cyberdramon's gut.

Cyberdramon let out a grunt of pain but that was about it. The armour of a Cyberdramon was nearly impossible to destroy, so while his wings and face and claws had taken a major beating, he was far from out of the count.

He suddenly flapped his wings and streaked upwards against the midnight sky, before releasing Dinobeemon only to grab him by the horns jutting out from behind his mask and spin him around and around like an Olympian swinging a hammer.

Dinobeemon's enraged shrieks seemed to go for miles, and moments later, Cyberdramon powered downwards and slammed him into the ground, stunning him. Cyberdramon crashed down next to him, towering over his dazed opponent and growling darkly. Part of his instincts still screaming at him to go for the kill. The wounds in Cyberdramon's wings still ached more painfully than many wounds he had suffered before, and his blood boiled with the desire for vengeance, to make sure that anybody who was stupid enough to challenge him would pay the price.

And this idiot – this fool had dared to try attack his Tamer. That really pissed him off. His claws tightened subconsciously as he snarled in outrage.

If this had happened in the old days before Cyberdramon had met the other Tamers, he would have given in to this rage without a second thought. But he'd managed to gain enough restraint to keep at least some semblance of rational thought and, as his Tamers had said, if he killed Dinobeemon, than that would be the end of it, for all of them. And he was not going to be responsible for the deaths of millions of innocent Digimon, including his friends.

Struggling to push down the darker side of him definitely wasn't easy even then, but he managed to suppress the desire to just lock his jaws into Dinobeemon's skull and bite down as hard as possible and opted for trying to reason with him instead. "...Look…" He began, but evidently Dinobeemon didn't share his view and sprang back upwards, forcing Cyberdramon to duck beneath his massive claws.

Cyberdramon expertly dodged each of the punches that Dinobeemon sent his way, and he could see that the other Ultimate Digimon's rage was getting the better of him, and while his anger seemed to make him even more ferocious, it also made him sloppy.

A smirk appeared on Cyberdramon's face because he had to admit – being the one in control of their emotions was actually a pretty nice change for once. The hooks at the end of his elbows lit up as he let out a terrific roar of "CYBER NAIL!" sending the X-shaped ray of light blasting right towards Dinobeemon.

However his lips curled back in a snarl of alarm as Dinobeemon let out a shriek of maddened rage and charged...right through Cyberdramon's attack, ignoring the way the Cyber Nail left long gashes all along his body, ignoring the damage he was doing to himself, only caring about ripping Cyberdramon limb from limb.

Even Cyberdramon had to admit that this guy was nuts, before he quickly threw himself to the side, easily dodging Dinobeemon's senseless charge and swerving back around at max speed, his claws outstretched as he dove towards him like a set of daggers.

"HELL MASQUERADE!" Dinobeemon shrieked again, but this time Cyberdramon was having absolutely none of that.

"DESOLATION CLAW!" he countered, slashing the air with his glowing hands and pulsing out a titanic blast from them. However he didn't aim his attack right at Dinobeemon. At such close quarters, that attack could have probably killed the already badly injured brainwashed Royal Knight. Instead he aimed his attack at the cliff right behind the both of them.

Chunks of rock came crashing down from above, torn from the cliff by the attack. Dinobeemon, in his frenzied state, didn't even notice and ploughed right into the rockslide. He screamed as the rocks cascaded upon him and slammed him to the ground, one of them crashing on top of his leg and pinning him there, rendering him unable to move. Cyberdramon landed a few feet away from him, still tense and ready for more combat if Dinobeemon managed to tear himself loose.

For the first time however, he found himself actually hoping that the fighting could end here. For one he didn't think Dinobeemon could take much more of a beating, and for two, he wasn't sure how much longer he could trust himself...to hold back.


Cyberdramon's spine stiffened with alarm when he saw his partner running up towards him-glancing back over at Dinobeemon he made sure to stand protectively in between Ryo and the mad Digimon, because apocalypse or no, if that thing tried to harm his Tamer again, the crap was going to hit the fan.

Ryo glanced over at the subdued but not dead Dinobeemon and a slight smile of relief appeared on his face. "...I knew I could count on you."

Cyberdramon let out a huff like he couldn't really care less and Ryo just snorted, shaking his head. But suddenly they both froze as Dinobeemon managed to shove the boulder off his leg and stagger back to his feet, breathing hard and still snarling, though much more weakly than before.

Tensing, Cyberdramon prepared himself to pounce once more for another scuffle, but Ryo held his arm out in front of him and shook his head warningly. "No, let me try something."

Cyberdramon growled, guessing what Ryo was going to try and do. "This is a stupid idea." He spat out through clenched teeth, fighting the desire to just grab Ryo by the back of the jacket and pull him away.

"Maybe." Ryo said firmly, his fists clenching as he takes a deep breath. "But I have to at least give this one more shot. What else can we do?"

Cyberdramon could think of a couple of different options. Most of them unfortunately involved repeatedly bashing Dinobeemon's head against something and literally beating Mephistomon's virus out of him. Sometimes it was a real shame that not everything could be solved with violence. Violence was so much simpler than negotiation.

"Dinobeemon...you have to try and remember who you are." Ryo pleaded, his eyes locking on Dinobeemon's bulging ones.

Dinobeemon just snarled, his chest heaving in and out. He was clearly exhausted but he was prepared to fight to the death. Whatever it took to send his enemy to Anubimon's realm.

"You're really letting Mephistomon control you? It was your own Royal Knights that beat him back when he was an Apocalymon. That's the reason why he's done this to you. He's scared of you and of what you could do if you reunited with your fellow Knights."

The monster's eyes were still filled with rage but Ryo could see...or rather he thought he could see a slight spark in there somewhere. Was it just grasping at hope or something more?

"You're a freaking hero. Heck, if you were in your true form, I guarantee you that Kazu, Kenta and Takato would practically be throwing themselves at your feet. You realize you have twelve of the most powerful Digimon in existence who would all lay down their lives for you? You're the one who made the Royal Knights in the first place. And right now they really need you. The Digital World really needs you."

"It's no good, Ryo!" Cyberdramon snarled. "Viruses like this would compromise his entire Digital structure. Nothing you say will get through to him."

And it seemed he might be right, because Dinobeemon was tensing, as if ready to spring again at any moment.

"You're the personal friend of Fanglongmon himself!" Ryo yelled desperately. "He trusted you and only you with the power to wake him from his slumber when the world is in danger! And that time is now! Please, you have to…!"

"Ryo!" Cyberdramon yelled suddenly.

Ryo's head shot around to see something coming at them out of nowhere – a pink column of ridiculously fast flowing data.

"What the heck?!"

Data streams were known for being fast, unpredictable, and often times, never appearing when you did want them, and often actually appearing at the worst possible times. Like when Guilmon and Dorumon went missing.

And apparently the Data Streams had decided now was another good time to mess with them, because this swept right towards Dinobeemon, who, thanks to his beatdown via Cyberdramon, was too weak to get out of the way in time. The pink stream sucked him up before they could get to him, and Ryo could only stare and swear as Dinobeemon was warped away, leaving only a pile of rocks lying in front of them.

"...So...we've now lost Guilmon, Dorumon, and Dinobeemon." Ryo said through clenched teeth, finally skidding to a halt when he realized that the data stream was gone and chasing after it would do no good. "Or in other words, a quarter of the Royal Knights we need and all of the Royal Knights we had."

Cyberdramon in his conversationalist way simply said, "...Yes."

"...Well crap."

SaberLeomon panted heavily as they were knocked backwards again, several bruises and gashes marring their beautiful coat. But thankfully Mephistomon looked even worse, as he had a massive gash down one arm, several lines across his stomach that had would probably have disembowelled him if they'd been any deeper and one of his horns had a slight crack in it from SaberLeomon's powerful paw.

Mephistomon gritted his teeth in frustration. Clearly he had made the mistake his brother had by underestimating the Tamers. He had assumed that, with two of the other Tamers who had beaten him gone, victory would have been easy. He had not factored in that they made be capable of going to the Mega level. If he had, then he might have been more thorough in stamping them out before he had the chance. And this girl and her partner were just as fierce as that other wench that had defied him before. This was getting seriously irritating.

Not to mention that all of his Meramon flunkies were down for the count and he had no idea where his little mutant had gotten. That was really no matter, because he could easily track Dinobeemon down, or his creation would willingly return to him.

SaberLeomon growled again, lowering themselves like a real lion before lunging once more, and Mephistomon literally had to grab their fangs to stop them ripping into his face. He gritted his teeth as SaberLeomon bore him backwards, the sabers being driven towards his shoulders. He knew he couldn't win in a straight fight against this Mega now.

So, he'd have to play dirty.

"Pathetic." He scoffed, refusing to show any weakness, as he rammed his knees upwards right into SaberLeomon's throat, throwing them backwards as they choked and stumbled. But then his eyes widened as he realized he was starting to lose feeling in his right arm, and he quickly glanced down to spot several fine hairs clinging to his skin like tiny barbs.

SaberLeomon smirked even as they tried to regain their breath. "No use. The paralysis my fur can cause is almost impossible to try and break free from. Feel like surrendering yet?"

"Big talk from a cat who can hardly breathe."

"She is not alone," Andromon suddenly stepped up beside her, readying a Lightning Blade to attack. Mephistomon snarled, but then looked up as a shadow shot across them and Cyberdramon descended down to land on SaberLeomon's other side, all of them facing off against the one lone Ultimate.

"We've got him on the ropes now!" Kazu grins. "Hey, goat-boy! Whose hiding under the bed covers now, huh?!"

"No one is Kazu."

"Argh….shut up Kenta I'm trying to make a point here!"

The leer on Mephistomon's face slowly grew and the dark chuckle that began to emanate from his throat made everyone's spine stiffen. "Oh children…" He positively purred. "How very...very naive you all are."

Black mist seemed to pour off of his hands and both Digimon and Tamer tensed, ready for the inevitable attack. Only...it didn't happen as they expected it would.

SaberLeomon's eyes watched suspiciously as the mist travelled over the ground, all of their fur standing on end as they noticed the mist seemed to be...eating away at the data that surrounded it, dissolving it in a matter that was freakishly similar to the D-Reaper's.

"Don't let that stuff touch you!" SaberLeomon immediately backed away, Andromon and even Cyberdramon following her example, but Mephistomon laughed and spread his hands wide, the mist suddenly surging forwards and out to the sides to encircle them and reared up to curve overhead at the same time, boxing them in at all angles.

"Everybody inside!" Kenta yelled frantically, his eyes practically bugging out from behind his glasses as MarineAngemon formed another massive heart-shaped bubble around them around them, enclosing them all inside.

Mephistomon just chuckled, the laugh of someone who knows they've won. "It's no use Tamers. My Dark Cloud attack causes everything it touches to decay...in time. You can't hide in there forever."

Takato's fists were shaking as he watched more data peel away from the ground and the data left behind was an ugly green colour, as though it was a massive infected wound. To prove his point, the mist pressed up against the edge of the bubble and immediately started to make a fizzing noise as it started to eat through the barrier. MarineAngemon winced and tried to reinforce it, but it seemed to do little good as the red bubble began to turn black. They could still see the vague shape of Mephistomon through the mist, watching them smugly.

"So what was that you children were saying about surrendering?" Mephistomon asked lazily, but with a gleam in his eye. "I might be willing to show you mercy...if you give me what I want."

His eyes locked on Calumon again who whimpered and ducked behind one of SaberLeomon's massive paws.

"You are not touching Calumon." Jeri hissed from inside SaberLeomon, crouching protectively over the little In-Training.

"As you wish." Mephistomon shrugged. "I will simply wait for the effects of my Dark Cloud to pop that bubble and envelop you all. I may not get the little guy, but with you out of the way it will soon hardly matter. However I warn you – I understand that it's...quite a painful way to die. But I have all the time I…"

An ear-splitting roar suddenly blasted across the sand, loud enough to make the whole Digital World seem to shake. Mephistomon clapped his hands over his ears and yelled, "WHAT THE?!"

Takato's expression of anger faded into one of triumph as he grinned. "I knew they'd show up!"

"Who?" Kenta yelled.


"Oh, them…"

Mephistomon blanched and threw himself madly sideways as the enormous fire attack engulfed the area, roaring in pain as it practically blistered his entire back without even touching him. A quick glance over his shoulder confirmed his suspicions – the gigantic form of Zhuqiaomon was streaking towards him like a literal comet, and right behind him was the even larger body of Azulongmon, the sky filling with lightning as the entire atmosphere seemed to electrify.

"This is not over, Tamers!" Mephistomon snarled. "Don't think you've won anything!" And he raised his arms upwards and, to the surprise of everyone, a Data Stream popped into existence right over him, funnelling into the sky and taking him with it.

"CURSE IT!" Zhuqiaomon's ferocious roar seemed to rage like a thousand wildfires. "Another blasted vermin from the Dark Oceans escapes us. How could you humans have let this happen?"

"Oh sure let's play the blame game." Kazu mumbled. "And hey, a little help here!"

"Zhuqiaomon, quick. We must blow the mist away from them," Azulongmon instructed.

"Better yet, I shall destroy it!" Zhuqiaomon boomed. "SONIC ZEPHYR!" He flapped his wings and produced a massive shockwave that barrelled over the mist and tore it to shreds. It also popped MarineAngemon's bubble and sent the entire group sprawling, but thankfully the mist had dissipated enough not to cause them harm and they quickly pushed themselves back up.

"You couldn't have done that in a way that didn't knock us all over?" Kazu griped.

"Uh… Kazu… what had we talked about when it comes to not making Zhuqiaomon mad by being lippy with him?" Kenta asked.

"Uh… good point…"

"How did they know how to come here just in time?" SaberLeomon muttered wearily, before glancing over and seeing the slight smirk tugging at the corners of Takato's mouth and the little communication device that he tossed into the air and caught again deftly. SaberLeomon chuckled. Without Henry here it was good to know that Takato could think with his head. Not always. Not even usually. But sometimes. Then they de-digivolved and pushed themselves back to their feet.

"Tamers, are you alright?" Azulongmon hovered over them, casting them all in his shadow. "It appears that we got here just in time."

"We'll be fine." Elecmon said dryly. "We've been through a lot worse. But a good rest would be nice, I won't lie."

"What happened here?" Azulongmon looked across the battlefield to see the several-dozen bubbles containing weak or unconscious Meramon and their lower and higher forms.

"That's what I want to know." Zhuqiaomon said darkly, the flames along his feathers shooting upwards once more.

"Please do calm yourself my friend," Azulongmon chided his fellow Sovereign. "Losing your temper will do nothing but cause half a scorched level again."

"I have never been that careless and you know it, Azulongmon."

"Well, let us try to keep that record going, shall we?"

"Whatever. Now speak, Tamers. Who was that Digimon that clearly had you practically at his mercy? I sensed he was strong yet nowhere near as strong as opponents you have faced in the past."

"Oh he is as strong… because he already have faced him in the past," Takato growled. "You don't know him?"

"He is not a Digimon either of us have ever set eyes on before," replied Azulongmon. "And we are familiar with most Digimon in existence. This one did not feel natural. He felt like an abomination."

"Got that right. His name is Mephistomon," Takato said, clenching his fist angrily at his side as he trembled slightly. "That absolute...he was DEAD. He was supposed to be dead. His core should have been Ammitmon's midnight snack for crying out loud."

"Easy Takato." Kenta said softly.

"Ah yes… Mephistomon," Azulongmon said gravely. "Yes, the face may not ring any bells, but the name most certainly does. We were told by Omnimon of the re-formatting of the data of an Apocalymon many years ago into a Digimon who went by that name. Apparently he escaped into the Human World and started causing havoc there, but that is the extent of our knowledge, other than the fact that he seemingly lost to you."

"He did! We beat him! We destroyed him and now… even after everything that we lost in that fight…" Takato bit his lip at the memory of the summer vacation that had taken an unexpected and terrifying turn.

"Go on young tamer." Azulongmon peered down at him. "Tell us your story. Tell us more about this enemy that we now face."

It took Takato a bit to try and find the words-just because parts of these memories were so painful. "It was...while we were on vacation with my cousin when it happened. It started out so well. Kai had just learned that Digimon were real and we were having a blast with the swimming and the beach and…"

"Keep the story concise, human!" Zhuqiaomon rumbled. "We do not need to hear all of your flowery descriptions – all we need to know is the facts about the enemy."

"Right… sorry. Anyway the point is that was Mephistomon's first attempt at trying to take over, using the viruses he installed in these things called V-Pets, that were able to infiltrate and take over the computer systems. We couldn't stop them…" Takato clenches his fists again and slowly said, "But...a friend of ours…Labramon...he was created for our friend Minami by her father, to try and help her get over the loss of her dog. Labramon had the vaccine installed in him that allowed for the destruction of the V-Pets but he...he died saving us." Takato swallowed hard, because the look on Minami's face when Labramon had died right in front of her…

It had been way too similar to the look on Jeri's face when Leomon was killed.

Sometimes he had wondered what had happened to Minami after that. He hadn't really kept in touch with her but she had still had her loving father so she'd been in good hands.

"We thought we had defeated Mephistomon, but it turned out that he had digivolved to Gulfmon during the final battle. Even so, we eventually managed to take him out – me, Henry and Rika with our combined powers. And… we thought that was the end of it. But now… it turns out he wrote a program into himself that prevented his data from being located by Anubimon and he's reformed. After all that, he's still alive…"

"Oh he won't be alive for long." Zhuqiaomon growled sinisterly. "We will see to that."

"It is fortunate that you brought word of this to us, Tamers," Azulongmon stated. "Tell me… do you think that it is possible this Mephistomon could be the mass murderer that we have been searching for all this time. The one that has been destroying many villages across all the levels."

"I don't think so," Jeri shook her head. "We've seen what happens to villages that are attacked by whoever you're looking for and it doesn't really match Mephistomon's style. The huge claw-marks don't fit with his body shape."

"It might apply to Dinobeemon though," Ryo mused.

"Who?" Zhuqiaomon prompted.

"Mephistomon can install viruses into other Digimon and make them into his slaves," replied Ryo. "Which is what he did to all these Meramon, which was why we had to incapacitate them. But he's also managed to get to a Dinobeemon. A Dinobeemon that happens to be the lower form of the founder of the Royal Knights – Imperialdramon."

"WHAT!" bellowed Zhuqiaomon. "THIS MEPHISTOMON DARES TO STAIN THE HONOUR OF LORD FANGLONGMON'S PERSONAL FRIEND AND MAKE HIM ATTACK THE INNOCENT!? As soon as I find him again, I'll reduce him to a mere stain of ash on the floor of the Digital World!"

"You have performed valiantly, Tamers," Azulongmon assured them. "But you should not let Mephistomon's presence obstruct you from your goal. Leave him to us. Now that his presence has been alerted to us, we shall find him and root him out."

"No, you can't."

All eyes shot back to Ryo, who had been the one to speak.

"What was that Akiyama?!"

"You can't fight against Mephistomon. "That has to be our job."

"Young one…." Azulongmon cautioned as he quickly snaked his body between the Tamers and Zhuqiaomon lest the latter's temper get the better of him "I understand that you Tamers feel personally linked to the fight against Mephistomon. After all, it was your world that he attacked before and he managed to defy death at your hands. But I am led to believe that you have your own task to focus on."

"But Mephistomon is linked to our task. You have to stay out of this fight."

"Are you presuming to order us around, human!?" Zhuqiaomon growled warningly.

"Mighty Sovereigns…" Ryo said calmly, dropping down to one knee and proving once again why Ryo was generally the one who did the diplomatic talking. "I would never try to order you. But I plea with you to hear me now. As you know we need all of the Royal Knights in order to save the Digital World from destruction. However we cannot do that without all of them together, and right now, one of their most crucial members...Alphamon is stuck in his Rookie form with absolutely no memory of his past. I fear he is far from becoming the leader of the Knights at this point."

"But this war with Mephistomon gives us the opportunity we need. The opportunity Dorumon needs to grow in strength and become the Digimon he was meant to be. We could try training him against practice dummies all we like but I think that the quickest and most efficient way of teaching Dorumon what he needs to know would be from fighting against a real enemy. Mephistomon is that real enemy.

And not to mention, Mephistomon has another Royal Knight in his thrall. Our paths are bound to cross with him again if we are to get all of the Royal Knights together anyway. I plead with you. Let us be the ones to hunt Mephistomon down and we will make sure he faces justice in Anubimon's realm for all the pain he has caused."

"Are you listening to yourself?" Zhuqiaomon roared. "You would ask us, the Sovereigns and protectors of the Digital World, to go back to our homes and sit on our tails while a mad Digimon and his personal slaves tear our Digital World apart?"

"I am afraid I must agree with Zhuqiaomon on this matter," Azulongmon said gravely. "This is… most irregular. There have been times where we Sovereigns have been unable to fight against an enemy, like when the Demon Lords spread their terror across our world. And there have been times where we've fought back to seemingly little effect, as with the D-Reaper. But never before have we sat idle entirely and allowed others to do our duty for us."

"We wouldn't be asking you do nothing at all," Jeri joined in with Ryo's plea. "We would expect you to continue trying to protect the villages and the citizens. We'd just be asking you to leave the actual fighting to us."

"We only have a couple of months to train Alphamon up to his Mega level," Ryo pointed out. "There is no way that simple training can compare to a real fight in this regard. A real fight against Mephistomon and his slaves will also teach Dorumon the values that he needs to become a Royal Knight again. It has to be us."

"This is a risky proposition." Azulongmon cautioned. "What if your plan fails? What if Mephistomon or some of his slaves manage to destroy Alphamon while he is still weak and in his Rookie form?"

"We won't let that happen. He beat Mephistomon before when the monster was an Apocalymon." Ryo said firmly. "He can do it again. I know he can. And he needs to because he must. Because if he can't….then the world is doomed anyway, regardless of whether Mephistomon actually wins or not."

"Tell me you are not listening to this." Zhuqiaomon growled over at his fellow Sovereign.

Azulongmon sighed. "I like the idea of letting a fiend such as Mephistomon running free as much as you do, but the Tamers raise some points that are hard to dispute."

"Are you insane? We cannot simply sideline ourselves at the whim of some humans, no matter how much they have done for us and for our world."

"Zhuqiaomon, we must consider this from all angles."

"Being the Sovereign of the Digital World means protecting it, not letting others do your job for you!?"

"In this case maybe letting the Tamers do their job would be the best thing that we can do to protect it. There is nothing that we can do to prevent the collapse of our world with the other. Our power may be great but it cannot stop that which we cannot simply attack. The Royal Knights have tasked the Tamers with bringing Alphamon back. You agree as much as I that we should adhere to their judgement on that matter. I do not like the idea of inaction… but perhaps it is for the best."

"NO!" Zhuqiaomon roared, letting flames burst off his wings once more as the Tamers scooted backwards from the heat. And the rage. "I will not allow this to happen. I will not allow another mad man to run around and persecute and torment my people. I will not accept that all we can do is watch yet again! I know that you remember as well as I do, Azulongmon!"

Zhuqiaomon clenched his teeth, his eyes themselves seeming to become embers. "You remember how Lucemon," he spat the name with so much hate it made his anger towards humans seem tepid, "and his foul army wiped out nearly three quarters of the Digital World and we never, ever made it there in time to protect our people without a direct intervention from the Heavens itself. We always arrived too late to see only the devastation that they laid in their wake. And yet despite the fact we were never present on the battlefield, we still heard the screams! Do you remember how that traitor to the heavens used to send us recordings of our people being slaughtered and tortured and raped in their own homes? How they would scream for our help and there was nothing we could do? Just fail innocent Digimon time after time while that monster cackled on his throne? CACKLED IN OUR FACES!"

"Zhuqiaomon!" Azulongmon bellowed as the Tamers cringed under the great Sovereign's wrath. "You are achieving nothing with your anger! Calm down and allow what rationality you possess to see clearly!"

Zhuqiaomon finally did calm down, but his eyes still burned with rage at something the Tamers couldn't see. For perhaps the first time, the Tamers actually felt pity for the giant phoenix. They had always held massive respect for him, and a great amount of fear in some cases, but he'd always been a strong and upstanding individual. Yet now they had heard real pain in his voice – anguish and bitterness beyond measure as he remembered everything that Lucemon had done to them.

Ryo actually thought he understood now what had pre-empted Zhuqiaomon's extreme hatred of the human race back when they had first met. A group of beings from another world that were performing experiments on their dimension and their people… to Zhuqiaomon it must have seemed like the everything the Demon Lords had done could happen all over again at the hands of humanity.

The fact that Zhuqiaomon had managed to put that aside and had come to at least respect humans, even if he still didn't like them that much, gave Ryo an even greater respect than ever for the Sovereign of the South.

"...I remember." Azulongmon said quietly, his eyes like thunderclouds, his own quiet anger somehow more terrifying than Zhuqiaomon's flames. "...Believe me. I shall never forget."

"...And after all that…" Zhuqiaomon's voice seemed to shake slightly. "You ask me to stand aside and not protect those who look to me?"

"We're not asking you to do that." Jeri pleaded. "We're asking you to trust us. Please my lord. We want to protect this world as much as you do. But we can't do that without Alphamon. If you really love your people...than don't let them be doomed by something we can possibly stop. There is no other way."

There was silence for a moment. Zhuqiaomon glared down at Jeri and then back at the other Tamers.

"You Tamers and your Digimon partners thought you had put a stop to Mephistomon before. You had not. Do you feel you are capable of truly destroying him this time?"

"We will give it our best shot," Ryo promised him. "And if we manage to get Alphamon to our side and rescue Dinobeemon, but Mephistomon is still a threat after that… well we'll no longer have any reason to keep you from toasting him then."

Zhuqiaomon said nothing for an entire minute. Then…

"...Fine." He growled out as though the word was poisonous. "But so help me Tamers if you fail me….fail us...fail them…."

"We will save this world." Takato responded with more steadiness than he thought he possessed. "We will beat Mephistomon. Or we will die trying."

Zhuqiaomon managed a grudging nod of his head.

"What about the Meramon?" Kenta asked, looking back at the groaning fiery Digimon, some of which were starting to regain consciousness.

Azulongmon replied. "I shall take them back with me and see if we cannot discover a cure to Mephistomon's foul virus. It seems that that is the least we can do at this stage. Even I am still unsettled by this idea of stepping aside for you, but you have proven yourselves to be versatile and upstanding guardians, just like us. We shall take the news back to Ebonwumon and Baihumon, and we shall entrust the Digital World to you. In the meantime...good luck Tamers."

The Meramon were all enveloped in a cloud which hovered up to Azulongmon's side, and the massive Sovereign wound his way around back the way he had come. Zhuqiaomon looked down upon the Tamers one last time as he rose into the air himself.

"Don't make me regret this, humans," he rumbled, before he turned and followed Azulongmon back into the sky.

Ryo muttered something under his breath that Takato could barely make out. "…I really hope we don't."

Well, there it is. Very, very much hope that you enjoyed that chapter and I look forward to writing more when I can. Hopefully I can get another chapter up by next weekend, but if I don't you know why – that interview takes priority I'm afraid. But fear not, I will eventually get back on track.

Coming up:- Chapter 61 : One-Way Tracks