Chapter 24

The Cleansing Flames

Her thoughts should be focus on the situation at hand. She should be concentration on the forest burning all around her and the multiple dangers everything represented; or at the very least she should concentrate on the mission she was entrusted with. Kari told herself similar things to these ideas, but all she could think about was the uncertainty of what the digimon trudging along beside her represented.

They had only left Takuya and Tai a few minutes ago, but during that time a thousand questions, concerns, and enigmas, had arisen within the girls head. A few of the thoughts were related to the severe injury in the mega's side, the battle torn landscape burning around them, and how her boyfriend and the digimon had come together. However, most of the questions centered on a past that was choosing to repeat itself.

Kari, as well as the rest of the Digidestined, had never been too sure on where they stood with BlackWargreymon's passing years ago. He had been a sorrow filled enemy who caused just as much destruction as he had saved; but now she found herself before that digimon again, trying to sort out how she should act and feel. To finally answer that question that hung over her head for years.

"Umm…" For the third time Kari attempted to start up some kind of conversation, other than telling him which direction to go. She hoped that if she could talk to him, maybe she'd be able to sort out some of her issues and be able to think straight again. However, each time she tried words failed her and an awkward silence, which only she notice, ensued.

"You know, I've done a lot of dangerous things since I became a Digidestined, but one trip with you and I find myself in the middle of a forest fire trying to lift large hot stones off of… what I can only call your partner…" Tai took a second to catch his breath and wipe the sweat from his brow.

"Your point being…" Takuya groaned as he tossed another rock off to the side of the pile.

"I'm just saying how impressive the situations you manage to get yourself into are." This definitely rated among the top ten most dangerous things Tai had gotten involved in. "It takes real talent to find trouble at every turn that makes me miss the battle with Diaboramon where our city almost got nuked."

"You were almost nuked before!?" The surprise was evident of Takuya's voice and face.

"Yeah… It's a long story for another time." Tai returned to lifting stones, but when he found Takuya watching him with a perplexed look he stopped again.

"Nope…" The puzzled look disappeared from Takuya's face and he returned to the rocks.

"Nope?" Tai reflected his words with a questioning manner.

"I've been doing stuff like this for years and I had to think about it for a bit, but I've definitely never found myself in a situation where getting a nuke dropped on me was a possible outcome." Takuya answered as he sent another rock clattered down away from the pile.

"Oh… goody. We have one over on you." Tai chuckled before he took up another stone.

They had been moving at an intense pace of lifting the shattered rocks and tossing them off of the pile to work their way down to Flamemon trapped beneath it all. Their arms were already starting to hurt while the heat and thin oxygen content of the air wasn't allowing them any chance to regain their strength. If they didn't hurry they knew that their bodies would eventually give out before they could finish.

"I hope this is something you've already considered, but I have to ask for my own sake since it's been nagging at me for the last couple of minutes." Tai looked to Takuya but didn't stop working. "You have tried Digivolving Flamemon to a larger form in hopes of breaking him free, right?"

"Yeah…" Takuya sighed, the idea would have made things go a lot easier if it had worked. "I tried that when I first got close, but he didn't respond. My guess is that he's either too badly hurt or unconscious and can't digivolve."

"Are we sure he's still alive?" For a minute Tai had pondered the idea if he should be sensitive as to the subject of death, since in his mind his partners death was unthinkable, but considering the circumstances surrounding their unique partnership he felt it was an approachable topic.

"I'm assuming that the same rules apply to him as me, so if he died in whatever happened here the Spirits he's made of would have returned to my D-tector or Lady Ophanimon's castle." He pulled out and glanced at his D-tector, checking to see if anything had changed before he returned it to his pocket.

"How's that work?" Right now Tai was looking for anything to distract him from the pain in his arms, the unbearable heat, and his sisters safety.

"It's a program Lady Ophanimon installed in the code of our D-tectors and Spirits. The destruction of our D-tectors… or ourselves… sets off a kind of homing program that makes them return to our Zone using their reserve power." Some funny memory must have crossed his mind because he chuckled to himself and gave a warm smile. "We actually had to convince her to install them. She said it was bad luck to plan for such a disaster, but we didn't want a mistake on our part reducing our Zones combat strength."

"Reduce your Zone's combat strength?" Another question meant to divert more pressing thoughts.

"The ability of a Zone to protect itself from threats from within and outside the Zone. Our Zone doesn't have a partner system like yours does, we only have the spirits. If we lose one somewhere in the Multiverse that would weaken our Zone's defense measures, but if it was to return in that instance it could be given to a new Warrior and no power would be lost." Takuya seemed to be talking pretty calmly about a concept that implied his death or at the very least serve injury.

"Your Spirits can be given to someone else! Has that happened before?" Tai's tone sounded a bit more concerned.

"Yes, but luckily no, it hasn't happened before. We have prepared for it though. Seraphimon, one of the Watchers of our Digital World, actually keeps an eye out for possible candidates in case the unthinkable was to happen. But fingers crossed you know…" It would seem that even Takuya was looking for anything else to think about other than the heat and his sore hands.

"Doesn't only having ten spirits to protect your entire Zone seem a bit difficult? What would happen if you were overrun by multiple enemies?" Tai had always been comforted by the thought that while his group was the primary defense force there were hundreds of other Destineds around the world ready to jump in to help. Compared to that the six Warriors seemed unprepared for such threats.

"It can leave us somewhat lopsided in large scale battle, but the trade-off is that our spirits are more pow…" Takuya stopped short of finishing and looked away, quickly returning to work and silence.

"Takuya…?" Tai glared in his direction, making the boy in question flinch slightly. Apparently, he had picked up on whatever Takuya had abandoned. "Were you about to say that you might not have the numbers, but your spirits are more powerful than our partners?"

Takuya gave no response and instead picked up the pace of digging out the rocks while making sure to avoid eye contact with Tai.

The crackle of the flames and popping of the wood as it burned punctuated what had become the silence the girl and the mega walked in. Their progress was slow, allowing them to barely cover half the distance to the awaiting angel, and it was getting slower with each step. BlackWargreymon's movements had started strong, sturdy as a badly wounded digimon could manage, but as his digital blood drained away and strength faded he had to stop and rest with every step or two.

"ARGGG!" BlackWargreymon let out a pained groan as his left foot gave out on him and he fell to the side. With an outstretched arm he managed to catch a tree which creaked and moaned under his weight to stop himself from falling on his face.

"BlackWargeymon!" Kari yelped, running to the front so she could look up at him slumped against the truck of the tree. She could easily see it in his eyes. In the yellow spheres she found a distant and unfocused look; the only hint of consciousness being his stare locked onto something further ahead beyond the flames and smoke. She figured he must have been solely focused on the destination Takuya had told him to reach.

Watching the dark digimon Kari pondered on the idea that he had only made it as far as he had with the willpower Takuya's words had called forth. That those words could no longer carry him forward against the assault of heat and thinning air mixed with pain and blood lose. The frailty of the life before her was starting to come into focus and she had to face the fact that maybe he wouldn't make it.

"Stop thinking like that!" Kari suddenly slapped her hands over her cheeks and mentally yelled at herself. "That's the old you talking! You need to get him moving again or you're both going to die here."

She prepared herself by summoning up her strength and will, calling upon the lessons Takuya had taught her. "GET BACK ON YOUR FEET!" Sometimes when you can't find the right words, speaking less perfect words loudly enough could do the trick. "YOU AREN'T GOING TO LET YOURSELF GET BEATEN BY A SMALL FIRE, ARE YOU!?"

"Small fire…?" Looking at the raging inferno around them he pondered in what way did she consider them small.


She was right! He wasn't going to go down to a mindless and hollow enemy like a forest fire, especially one caused by the enemy that had so thoroughly beat him into the ground. All the strength he could muster was pushed into his arms and legs, getting him back on his feet once again.

"GOOD! NOW LET'S GET GOING!" Kari took the lead, encouraging the mega forward. "IT'S NOT MUCH FURTHER! YOU'LL BE FINE!"

"You…" BlackWargreymon hesitated to continue for a moment. "You don't need to keep yelling… I'm up already…"

"…" The embarrassed blush in her cheeks was impossible to differentiate from her skin reddened by the heat, but it was still there. She had gotten so caught up in the situation that she had completely forgotten that she was still yelling. "….sorry…" Blame it on the heat and all the craziness, she thought trying to brush the incident aside.

"Finally! I can see him." Takuya got up off of his hands and knees with a smile. He had lowered himself down to peer into the space between some of the rocks.

"How's he look?" Tai hoped for a positive response considering all of the time, effort, and sweat that they had been putting into the rescue.

"He's out cold and injured, but alive. Down about another few feet stuck under a large boulder. It's probably what kept him from being crushed to death beneath this pile." With renewed strength, the goal was now in sight, he returned to quickly tossing off the big rocks.

"Good, I'd hate to think we'd done all of this for nothing." Tai sadly chuckled at the idea. The gloves on his hands had done their job of protecting them from getting burned or rubbed raw, but the constant lifting had taken its toll on his arms and legs. Each creaked and strained, begging to be given some rest away from the heat, and from the looks of it Takuya couldn't take much more either. However, those thoughts vanished when he lifted another rock and could actually see the child size digimon at the bottom of the hole.

"Damn... Move..." Takuya groaned as he fought with a large rock about the size of a small car. It wasn't his ideal choice to tackle but the others separating him from his partner weren't any smaller. It seemed that in the upheaval of rock the ones on top had been broken up into manageable sizes when they were dashed against the one on the bottom of the pile, but reinforced by the ground the large ones hadn't even cracked.

"So close..." Tai wedged his shoulder in beside Takuya's and tried to help him push. They put all they had into a hard push and the boulder shook slightly on its foundation but remained in its place. "I really shouldn't have skipped those arm building days at soccer camp."

"I know the feeling..." Takuya slumped against the rock, his arms exhausted after the burst of strength. "Come on, it's just a stupid rock." He added, angry at both their failures to take down such an easy opponent when in the past they had defeated enemies capable of obliterating mountains of stone.

"This would be so much easier with my spirit. We'd have been done here in seconds and even taken Jet to Ophanimon and gotten him heal by now." He could only lament the limitations he had forgotten he had since becoming a Warrior and swear that he'd double his training regiment once the mission was over. "We just need a little more strength..."

"Haa..." Tai let out a small laugh, instantly drawing Takuya's attention. Seeing his eyes on him he smirked and answered, "The fact that you're new to this whole partner thing is still pretty obvious, you know that."

"Okay... and that means?" Takuya really hoped that he was going somewhere with that comment and hadn't just cracked under the heat and pressure.

"That when you've done this as long as I have you know how you can get a bit of extra power to get you through." It appeared Tai was enjoying the idea of having a bit of an edge over Takuya.

"Where?" There was surprise evident in his response.

"Get back up." Kari pleaded with BlackWargreymon to get himself up out of the dirt.

A few minutes ago he had suddenly collapsed. He hadn't even had the strength or awareness to put his arms out to soften the fall, which resulted in his head hitting the ground hard. She had quickly tried to get him back up like she had before, by shouting and challenging his ego, but this time it might have fallen on deaf ears. As he laid there face down in the dirt she couldn't find any sign of consciousness, so she had been reduced to yelling louder and trying to rock his body, which with his weight was impossible for her. After a few minutes her voice had died down to a whisper, choked quiet by the heat and smoke infiltrating her lungs.

"I have to do something. He won't last much longer..." Kari eyed the black digital blood pooling on the megas left side and traced it to the trail of splashes they had left behind them as they walked.

"Come on. Ophanimon's really close now." Back when he first fell Kari had considered leaving him to hurry ahead and get her partner but after witnessing a few trees, greatly weakened by the flames, come crashing down she knew that if her partner even got close the ones that surrounded them would come crashing down as well. No, she had to get him moving again and out from under the precarious trees herself.

Over the next minute Kari jumped from one desperate plan to the next. She tried screaming, running into him hoping that the momentum mixed with her light weight would be enough to jostle him, kicking him, pulling open his eyes, she would have even thrown water on him if she could find some in the inferno. However, despite her best efforts he didn't even stir.

"What would Takuya or my brother do...?" Kari fell to her knees at the mega's side, panting heavily, exhausted and close to dehydration at that point. There was also the fact that she felt like she was letting Takuya down sapping her will and strength. "I'm sure they'd have thought of something by now... That's probably what made them leaders... and me a..."

Before she could finish her though her eyes stopped on BlackWargreymons wound. Black blood continued to leak from its surface, which at least meant he was still alive, but it had slowed considerably. However, that's not what had captured her attention, no, what had caught her so firmly was an idea. It was a thought she didn't like, actually she detested it, but it was all she had left so she got to her feet.

Despite the heat and arid conditions all around her the pool of blood she stepped through still sloshed under her feet, filling her shoes and socks with the warm substance, as she stepped next the wound. She then drew in a big breath, yelled "I'M SORRY," then plunged both her hands into the gash. Pushing and twisting her hands about as they sank further in.

A sudden feeling of rigidness around the walls of the wound as the mega's muscles contracted, sending urgent pain signals to BlackWargreymon's mind. The shock of the pain finally did the trick as his golden eyes shot open with a cry of pain and his body contorted and thrashed, knocking Kari back a feet few and down on the ground on her side. Both impacts hurt, getting smack by BlackWargreymon's body and then hitting the ground, but she wasn't injured and the mega was awake again so she counted it as a success.

Having no time to stay down and recover from the hits Kari quickly scrambled to her feet and run towards the mega's head. There wasn't even time to brush off the black blood that stained her arms up to her elbows. His jaw and eyes were clenched in pain, it seemed she had done a great deal more than she had expected to do, but again, he was awake so it was a good thing even if she didn't feel completely right about it.

"Calm down." She quickly tried to gain control of the situation and bring him back to the problem at hand, which she couldn't do if he was writhing in the dirt. When he didn't take notice of her she leapt forward, wrapped her arms around his head and pleaded with him some more.

"CALM DOWN! Calm down! Calm down. Calm down... Calm... down..." Her voiced started out firm and demanding, but with each iteration it became quieter and softer, responding to the slowing movements of the mega's body as he regained his senses. When he became still she began to gently stroke his neck and whisper, "Calm," into his ear; or where she assumed his ear was.

"What happened?" It had been five minutes since he had collapsed and gone silent, so finally hearing him speak made Kari smile. It meant that there was still a chance to escape, but now that she had opened his wound even wider the time they had left was diminishing rapidly. They had to act now before he passed out from the blood lose or the fire swallowed them.

"There isn't time." She was quick to dismiss his question and focus on the main point. "You have a deep gash in your side and your bleeding out. You... we, don't have any time left," there wasn't any point in sugar coating the truth anymore, "so it's time to take a play out of Takuya's book and put everything on one crazy plan."

"..." Considering he had just been told he was minutes from death he was remaining pretty calm. Maybe he felt that he couldn't fight it, that somehow it was his destiny to pass from the world, or that he had gone as far as he could... or maybe, just maybe, he was taking hold of what he had found when all his strength failed him... hope. "Right..."

"Okay!" She smiled brightly. "Do you think you could fly? Even for a little bit?"

"Maybe..." A groan escaped his lips as his side burned at the idea of even trying. "I won't be able to get any height... and I can't think straight enough to do it for long..."

"That's okay. We only need one big burst of power and speed." She reassured him. "Now get up into a take off position."

Painfully BlackWargreymon complied. He couldn't feel his legs as he bent them or his arms as he dug them into the ground, preparing them to get the max speed out of kick off.

"Good." Before he could even ask her what was next she climbed up onto his back and gripped his armor tight. "Now I want you to fly at full speed straight in that direction for as long as you can. Forget about the trees or the fire, even me, and just fly with everything you've got until you pass out."

For a moment he thought to question her sanity, but when realized it was their only chance at that point he had no other choice to try... and hope. But before that he had to do something. He reach up and plucked the girl off of his back and pulled her to his chest. He cradled her in his Digi-chromo gauntlets making sure that no matter what he hit, she'd be shielded from the impact. He'd make sure of that.

Kari prepared to fight his decision, with one arm preoccupied with holding and protecting her he'd have a difficult time flying and maneuvering, but when he stated his reason she gave in. "I promised him nothing would happen to you."

It was probably the stupidest plan Kari had even come up with and she knew full well that it was. Even as the mega digimon prepared to take off she was constantly yelling it within her head, berating herself for not being able to come up with a better idea. However, just a little louder than the sensible voice in her head was the one telling her that she had nothing else and no more time to think, so she swallowed hard and closed her eyes tight before giving the go ahead.

"NOW!" An instant later BlackWargreymon shot forward at a high rate of speed, tearing up earth and rock beneath his feet with the push off. From the very first second he felt like passing out but he fought it off, knowing that stopping was as good as giving up to die. It hurt when his shoulder slammed into a tree for the first time, lucky it has been so badly eaten away by fire that it cracked and splintered without slowing him. He was glad when a next couple he hit were met with the blades of his gauntlet held out before him, slicing and cracking them easily and causing him little trouble. The eighth tree however proved tougher with its thicker trunk, causing him to ricochet off of it, but through sheer will he managed to keep himself up and correct his heading.

"So heavy..." The darkness was washing over him after ten seconds and he knew he had nothing left so he pulled the arm down from in front of him and placed it over Kari as well as he twisted over and onto his back and gave in.

The momentum of his flight was enough to carry him forward more, through another tree and along the ground, each impact tearing away at his consciousness, which was solely focus on protecting the girl in his arms. However, one more tree sprung up behind him and he hit it dead center, cracking it with his weight and stripping what awareness he had left.

"AHHH!" Kari yelped in shock as the impact sent the digimon spinning wildly side over side, knocking the wind out of her each time he bounced off the ground. The only pleasant thought she could come up with through the whole thing was that BlackWargreymon was out cold and couldn't feel what had to be one painful impact after another.

Finally the bouncing came to a stop with another impact with a tree, untouched enough by the fire to allow it to keep it's strength. The sudden collision was enough to cause the megas arms to finally release, throwing Kari free. She hit the ground rolling and counting her blessing that they had slowed enough that she wasn't seriously hurt, but that's not to say she hadn't gotten a few bruises and cuts along the way.

She came to a sliding stop on her back, staring up into the burning canopy and waiting for her lungs to fill back up and the world to stop spinning. However, she didn't have time for either. Those last couple of hits had to have made BlackWargreymons condition even worse so she needed to find him help quick, so with a pained grunt she rolled onto her stomach and pushed herself up onto her feet.

Once on her feet it took a few seconds for her vision to clear the haze that had come with her tumble enough to get her bearings again. She was even more thankful for Takuya's goggles now for protecting her eyes from any damage during the reckless flight and keeping the smoke out, allowing her sight to return much quicker. Finally she found a landmark she remembered and a smile fought through the tired and pain to grace her face.

"We made it." The rock formation fifty feet from her was the same one the siblings had run past as they pursued Takuya into the flames, a mere few seconds after parting with Ophanimon. "Just a bit more..." She encourage her body and mind to stay strong before making a final sprint forward towards her goal.

"The flames are getting worse." Ophanimon let out a labored sigh. The fires might not have been able to pierce her armor, but that didn't stop the oppressive heat from wearing away at her stamina, but what was eating away at her the most was the worry. Twenty minutes ago she had let her partner dive into the raging inferno without her and since then she hadn't seen any sign of them.

"I should have de-digivolved and gone with them." When another wave of apprehension washed over her again for the eighth or ninth time she considered the idea of going after them, but her partners request to stay at the ready and secure the clearing kept her in place. A reminder of that last part was quickly approaching.

"AGAIN!" She suddenly grunted and swung her lance around behind her in an arching motion, slamming it into the trunk of a tree dislodged by the fire and spent spilling into the clearing. Using a controlled amount of strength, not enough to break the falling tree but still enough to divert it's course, she sent it crashing down back into the forest, preserving the clearing around her.

After smashing the first tree that fell into her path, splintering it and raining burning debris down on the clearing and setting it on fire for a few minutes until she managed to clear out the chucks of blazing wood, she learned to control her hits. Too much and the children's extraction point would catch fire again and not enough and she'd take a hard hit from the falling tree and the clearing would burst into flames all the same. So after two more troubled confrontations she managed to get down the right amount of pressure. She even got good enough to quickly size up the different dimensions of each tree and quickly pick the right amount of force to use.

"Okay, I get it." She growled at the flames, wondering if they had somehow purposely chosen that perfect moment to remind her of her duty. "I just wish they'd hurry..."

"OPHANIMON!" Her partners cry suddenly roared up in her ears and instantly she whipped her head around in the direction of the voice.

Ophanimon found her off to her right, out of breath, dirty, and soaked through with sweat. "KARI!" Not wasting a second she rushed to her partner, now hunched over trying to catch her breath. Upon getting closer she noticed a few small cuts and bruises that littered the girl's body. Whatever had happened in the last twenty minutes must have been pretty hard on her.

"You're hurt! Let me heal you!" The instinct to relieve her partners pain was fast and powerful as her hands, palms flat, rose to point themselves at the girl.

"WAIT! STOP!" Kari shot up straight and put a hand up to halt her partner. "You need to heal him first."

Since Gatomon her achieved her mega evolution to Ophanimon there hadn't been any real opportunities to test out her healing powers, a side-effect of the peaceful state of their Zone. The only time she had actually used her Edens Air to heal anyone was Takuya in the Dark Ocean, just one person with injuries that were already in the process of healing. If it turned out her partners power was limited in its scope of healing she wanted to make sure the full amount of its capability went to BlackWargreymon, who was already on the verge of death and might need all she could provide.

Ophanimon managed to fight off the powerful urge to mend her partner despite her order and get a response out. "Who...?" Her worst fear was that Kari meant one of the boys, which would explain why she had returned alone.

For a moment Kari thought about answering her question, but realizing that it would take time to explain, time the mega digimon might not have left. "This way..." Was all she said before turning and charging back into the fire, but before she could take more than five steps Ophanimon grabbed her around the waist and hoisted her up into her arms.

The angel digimon smiled down at her partner, "Let's go." Kari might not want her to fix her up yet, but that didn't mean she had to let her wear herself out even more by running anymore.

Navigating the burning forest with her large size proved as difficult as Takuya had suspected. Despite her best efforts she constantly bumped her shoulder and brushed her wings against the burning trunks of trees. She was never so glad for the fact that her new mega evolution covered her body and wings in thick armor, protecting her from the flames direct touch. Although, the armor plating did nothing to protect her from the impact of the shock she got when they arrived at the, who, Kari had been referring to.

"BlackWargreymon!" Ophanimon yelped, drawing her partner closer to her chest and backing away from the injured digimon. She didn't know why they were running into him there and now, it even took her a bit to figure out why he was even there, the whole same Zone but four years in the past was a tough thing to keep straight.

"Ophanimon, wait!" After a brief struggle Kari managed to free herself from her partners grasp and jump to the forest floor, quickly making her way to the downed mega. She dropped to her knees before his head and put her ear close to his mouth, listening for any sign of life, which she got with the sound of shallow wheezing. "You need to heal him." Her eyes turned to her partner, who was at that moment giving her a perplexed look.

"But Kari...?" She had no idea what to say in response to Kari's request. The incidents with the powerful control spire digimon had been over four years ago now for the angelic digimon, but seeing him again stirred up the memories, making them as fresh as the day they were created. And the worst of it was that his heroic death had created an uneasiness to their feelings about him that persisted to this day. It was those same feelings that was keeping Ophanimon still, not attacking or pulling Kari away, but watching and trying to make sense of her chaotic thoughts.

"Ophanimon, he's dying. You need to heal him." Kari had given her partner a few seconds to respond, but when all she got was two words and no action she reiterated her claim with more urgency.

"I... Kari, I..." She still couldn't find the will to act.

"I know Ophanimon! I know..." Kari burst out, her own confusion, tiredness, and frustration, over what was happening having finally chipped away at her patience. It was a surprise, even if she was a kind and quiet girl, that she had lasted as long as she had considering she was being constantly assaulted physically and mentally. "I just need you to trust me like I'm trusting Takuya! Now, please!"

"I... I understand..." At times like this, when she couldn't make up her own mind, she had to put her faith in Kari. A long time ago she had come to the conclusion that the human partners of digimon had more purpose in the relationship than just being a power source and a cheering squad. They were the guiding compass of the partnership deciding the best course no matter how bad or confusing things got.

Uneasily, Ophanimon raised her hands up and pointed them towards the downed digimon as Kari began to back away. "Stay there. If I'm forced to heal him then I'm only going to do it if I also get to take care of you at the same time."

Kari thought to protest, wanting as much of the healing power to go to BlackWargreymon, but then it occurred to her that her partner had had the same thoughts. That she might not have the energy required for multiple healing sessions, and to her Kari's cuts and bruises were just as painful as they were to her. So she surrendered to her partners will. "Okay... but you have to save him. No matter what."

"Right." Ophanimon smiled as a soft light began to build in her hands and flow over her body. "EDENS AIR"

"I was really hoping your plan had more to it than get Flamemon to wake up and help us." Takuya sighed as he tried to keep the warm water pooled in the center of his black jacket from spilling as he and Tai carried it towards the rock pile. "I also wish splashing water on his face wasn't the best we could come up with."

They had been lucky that there had been a small pond nearby that hadn't completely evaporated in the heat. It was also fortuitous that Takuya's jacket was strongly weather treated, stopping the water from leaking through the fabric.

"Aren't you the one who once told us that the simpler the plan the better chance it has for success." Tai smirked at him while trying to keep his stride in line with Takuya's. One misstep or slip could spill the water and they'd be forced to head back for more, wasting more time and energy.

"While it hurts a little to have my own words thrown back at me..." He paused for a moment to contemplate it before continuing, " You have a good point."

Getting the water up the pile of rocks proved even more challenging than carrying it over level ground, an obvious problem, which they addressed by taking it carefully and slowly. A full minute to get it to the top and over the hole.

"Okay..." Tai locked his eyes with Takuya's, making sure they were on the same page before they continued. "One... Two... Three!"

With coordinated movements they swung the jacket over and down, ejecting the water and perfectly aiming it down the hole, right smack-dab onto Flamemon's face. And then they watched, waiting to see if their plan would pan out. For a few moments nothing happened, but in a sudden coughing fit the small Warrior of Flame shot up, spitting out a mouth full of water that had infiltrated his lungs and shocked him awake.

"About damn time!" Flamemon heard Takuya's voice come down, drawing his attention up to the hole where he and Tai were watching him.

"What happened...?" Flamemon tried to recall how he had ended up under a pile of rocks, his leg pinned under one of those rocks.

"We were really hoping that you'd be able to tell us." Takuya sighed. The dazed state of his partner made him wonder if he had any chance of getting any information out of him. He hoped his amnesia over what had happened would pass after the fog cleared from his mind. "Whatever. I'm going to digivolve you to BurningGreymon so we can get you out from under there... and hopefully start looking for some answers."

The flames of this fire will continue to burn until the forest is cleansed from the face of the Digital World and from its ashes something new will grow and things will change. This idea, this concept, is not unique to just nature, so what will arise anew and changed as the flames sparked during this adventure and coming days grows.

To be continued...