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“It’s so cool,” Beth said with her arms outstretched, facing the sea.
“Yeah that’s great. Now get the tent set up,” Mei said.
They stopped in the forest, a lush forest with flowers and leaves and shade. Everything they missed when I the dark continent was back! Michael and Beth, mostly Michael, set up camp on a fresh spring that poured into the sea. He didn’t mind working. Everyone else was on the beach taking a well deserved break, but he wanted to distract himself. It was his way of making sure he didn’t think of Christine or this place and all the beauty that would be lost if Epsilon won. Plus, someone needed to guard the D-tectors.
“Camp’s done,” he said as Lunamon and Liollmon ran past him.
“Great,” Zoe said,” Now you can relax.”
He said kindly, putting a mallet down as he replied,” It’s alright. I don’t need a break.”
“C’mon,” Emma said, taking a handful of sand as she asked,” At least help Tommy and me with our castle.”
“Please?” she mouthed with her hands put together. Michael couldn’t resist Emma when she begged. She was like another baby sister. Like dad pampering his daughter, Michael couldn’t refuse. So he walked over and said,” I guess it isn’t exactly relaxing to shovel sand for a little girl.”
By the time Sarah finished floating on the water and Mei stopped chasing Takuya for splashing her, Michael had build a castle taller than he was and big enough for all the digimon to sleep in. But he watched with satisfaction as it melted beneath high tide.
“So what now?” Koichi asked.
“What’re you talking about?” Elizabeth asked,” We’re heading for the Fourth Station. You were listening to Michael, right?”
“I mean about the digimon.”
Sarah looked at him, confused, and asked,” I don’t understand.”
“None of the digimon were strong enough to stop the Demon lords on their own, and neither of our spirits could even touch Epsilon.”
“Oh,” Emma said.
“Don’t give up hope,” Renamon said,” The power of the crystal isn’t light or Digivolution, but mystery. No one ever knows how it’ll help us. It still has a few tricks hidden away.”
Emma held it happily and said,” The power…of mystery?”
“I guess we should go to bed,” Michael said,” We’re waking up pretty early tomorrow.”
“Why?” Beth complained as she pouted like a child. Michael just walked into his tent, zipping the door shut as he said,“ We don’t wanna fall too far behind Epsilon, do we?”
Late at night, while the fire was still burning, Mei lay awake. She noticed Koji, throwing rocks in the fire as sparks flew in the air and asked,” Koji, you awake?”
“What do you think?” he said as he threw another stone at the fire.
“I wanna ask you something.”
“Go ahead,” he said as he threw more stones.
“Would you teach me how to fight?”
He stared at her doubtfully and said,” I’m pretty sure you already know how.”
“No, I heard the others saying you know martial arts or something like that. I wanna learn, that way the Demon Lords can’t kidnap me that easily. I wanna fight back.”
He got up, taking a log from the forest as he said,” Alright. We’ll start now.”
“Sure,” he said then gave her a log too,” I’ll give you your first lesson after I beat you.”
“What am I supposed to do with this?” she asked, examining it in the firelight.
“Fight,” he said as he got ready,” Give it your best.”
She ran at him, flailing the stick at him. Koji easily broke it in two and tripped her so she fell on the moist grass. The dew sank into her shirt as Koji pressed the prickly log against her neck. He then smiled, taking it back as he joked,“ That’s lesson one: Don’t fight randomly or else you’re an easy target.’
“How do I fix that?” she asked like a real student.
“It’s all about reaction. I’ll start out with a simple overhead strike. You’ve gotta watch how I react and block. Again.”
She tried it again, but failed and ended up with her weapon being tossed into the forest. As Mei watched it fly into the brush, her hopes died down. But Koji handed her a new one and kept teaching.
“You wanna hint?” he asked, then she shook her head yes and he continued,” Look for a tell. Everyone has a tell.”
Mei tried one last time and surprisingly was able to block every attack. It was easy once she heard the last hint. Apparently Koji’s tell is that during a fake attack he doesn’t blink, but if it’s real he does. Also when he uses his left arm he blinks twice and fore his right, once.
“Okay,” he said, throwing the log away as Mei ,looked confused. She stopped attacking and asked,” Why’d you stop me?”
“Anyone could see no matter how much I attack, you’ll block. Maybe tomorrow I’ll teach you to attack.”
“Thanks,” she said, going back to her tent with a happy glow to her face.
Things were quiet that day. MachGaogamon flew over the forest while most of them watched the clouds go by. Beth was on the computer and Sarah was drawing. But Mei was bored and watched the trees go by. A gentle wind blew through the trees as Tommy and Emma played I Spy, though they kept spying trees. It was dull, uneventful, and there was really not much to do. But then, with a satisfactory look, Sarah put her pencils away and gazed at her work.
“Done,” Sarah said happily,” What do you think?”
It was a sketch of Lobomon with streaks of light coming from behind. It was perfect right down to the details on the armor, and in full color too. She’d also added tiny details like grass beneath his feet and flames from behind. It was perfect.
“That’s really good,” Mei said, analyzing each detail as they crowded around.
“How many more of these do you have?” Koji asked, fascinated by her level of skill, and slightly flattered she drew himself.
“A lot,” she said happily and proudly,” There’re drawings of you all.”
She flipped through the colorful pages, picking her favorites and pointed out,” Here’s Agunimon, and MachGaogamon, and-”
“Is that Belphemon?” Mei asked.
“No, it’s Lowemon. How’d you get those two confused?”
“No, I mean in the forest.”
She pointed to an open field, barely visible, a dark figure hiding in the shadows. Then it started firing at them. MachGaogamon and DoruGreymon had to dodge them as the kids held on. They got closer and closer and once close enough, they saw Epsilon standing next to him.
“Gift of Darkness!”
They all had trouble holding on, but Mei had it hardest. She was hanging from MachGaogamon’s side and every time he moved, she slipped a little more. Them one blast headed right for her. She was surprised and without thinking, let go and plummeted into the trees. As she screamed, Koji leaned over the edge, trying to catch her but only to come too late.
“Mei!” he yelled, watching her fall into the sea of green.
“Renamon, go after her,” Michael said, concentrating on Belphemon.
She jumped into the brush, not fifty feet from where Mei landed. It was much different from the forest they camped in. The trees were dark and twisted. Creeks flowed randomly past each corner and flowers sprouted on every root. The forest was also much darker due to thick trees. As she sprinted over giant, bumpy roots, Renamon saw Mei complaining beneath a smaller tree.
“Those idiots,” Mei said unhappily, grasping her head as she said,” Looks like I’m on my own.”
She wasn’t scared. Mei knew they’d be able to find her. Mei just worried how long it might take. As she walked through the brush, she felt and examined everything around her. The ground beneath her feet was grassy and wet. The shade was cool to the point of making her shudder. But overal, it was lonely and terrifying, even in the day. Each sound startled her as she walked on, trying to find her friends. Then Renamon showed up.
“Mei,” she asked, but she just screamed.
“Oh man Renamon,” she said out of breath and laughing half-heartedly,” You shouldn’t sneak up on people like that.”
“Don’t worry,” Renamon said as sternly as always,” I think Belphemon’s coming but I’ll protect you.”
“Thanks,’ Mei said appreciatively.
They were wandering aimlessly, just looking for a way out. Mei’s plan was to follow the creek, but then something strange happened. Everything was silent. No birds called, the attacks ended, and even the water seemed to hold it’s breath.
“Mei, stay here,” Renamon said, then ran off to check things out. She sat down on a giant root, waiting for her or someone, to come. At first she didn’t notice it, but a rustling sound came from the bushed near her. Then, like in the horror movies, Mei decided to stand up. But the moment her feet reached the ground, hundreds of chains imprisoned her, forcing her to the ground as three figures came from behind.
“No. Let me go!” she yelled as she saw Epsilon, Belphemon, and Terminus all standing over her.
“Good work Belphemon,” Epsilon said with another smile,” We’ll have no problem luring the children now.”
“Yes master,” he said obediently.
The others stopped quickly after the attack. Michael was confused about what had just happened. Why on earth would Epsilon just fire on them without defeating them? It made no sense, and Michael wanted to figure out why. As they landed in the green, he jumped off DoruGreymon and studied the foliage. As DoruGreymon reverted to Dorumon, he became leader of Mei’s search party.
“Maybe we should split up?” Sarah suggested.
“It’s a big forest,” Koichi said,” Staying together is the best plan.”
“Exactly,” Michael said as he took out his D-Tector and said,” We’ll be able to find Mei with the digi-vice. It should show us all the D-tectors in the area, including hers.”
“Then let’s go,” Koji said, following Michael as they went over the roots and grass.
They’d been walking for almost an hour when the sound of a battle reached their ears. Michael, and everyone else, quickly realized the closer they got to Mei the louder the battle was. Soon the screams of breaking trees and crunching earth was audible as they heard yelling and attacks. ?Then they heard Belphemon, yelling attacks and started to run.
“Hurry,” Emma said as she ran ahead.
When they got there the place was ruined. Nothing but broken trees, craters, and burning branches. Renamon was defeated and lying on the beach of a now dammed up creek. As they ran up to her, Koji took his water and poured it on her face. As she started coughing, they watched to see what had happened.
“What happened?” Takuya asked.
“It was Belphemon,” she said hoarsely,” He took Mei and I couldn’t stop him.”
“It’s okay.,” Michael said,” I‘ll take a group to search for Mei. The rest of you guys stay and help Renamon. I guess we’ll camp here for the night.”
BurningGreymon, Lobomon, DoruGreymon and MachGaogamon were the volunteers. As they rushed through the woods, they watched carefully for Belphemon and Epsilon. Michael kept a close eye on Mei, only to realize she was in the field they passed a few hours ago. Everything suddenly opened up into sunlight.
“You guys!” Mei yelled from the tree she was tied to,” Get me down!”
“Epsilon knew you’d come,” Belphemon said,” This time you won’t be so lucky.”
“Not yet,” Michael said,” I’ve got a question. What was Epsilon’s promise to you? What lie did he say you’d get by conquering earth?”
“He told me that on earth, hundreds of towers, climbing to the sky lay undisturbed, all for me to destroy!”
“That’s so childish,” Beth said,” You’re in this for destruction?”
“Enough talking,” he said angrily,” Lampranthus!”
Belphemon’s chains collided with Takuya’s flares. The attacks clashed until Takuya fell back. Belphemon closed in, clawing as BurningGreymon struggled to dodge. But he too fell victim to Belphemon as Mei turned away.
“Quick, stop him MachGaogamon!”
“Yes ma’am! Howling Cannon.”
The waves of energy kept the chains away but not long enough. Belphemon fired more chains until MachGaogamon fell back too. As he got up, Belphemon came and clawed at him again until he reverted to Gaomon. But Epsilon wasn’t pleased. To her, they should’ve been defeated by now.
“Belphemon!” Epsilon shouted from behind, controlling him like he was her partner, or rather in her eyes her inferior,” Must I do everything? Finish them off!”
Hundreds of chains exploded from Belphemon, striking everyone until they couldn’t get up. It was like trying top dodge snowflakes in a blizzard. Of course, they fought back, but they weren’t able to keep it up for long. He soon turned each of them back to humans except for Koji. He kept going for Mei, no matter how much they beat him down.
“Gift of Darkness.”
The attacks collided, but Koji was able to keep up, even getting stronger than Belphemon. As the claws and white laser collided, everyone watched gladly. But Epsilon was shocked.
“What?” Epsilon thought to herself. What power could grant a champion digimon the power of a mega? Then she saw Mei, hanging from the tree with light emitting from her pocket. It was the D-Tector.
She flew up to Mei and demanded,” Wench! Give me the device and your life is spared.”
“I don’t take orders from you!”
She cut the chains before pounded Mei into the dirt, but this just made the light grow stronger. Epsilon shouted in desperation,” Get up or I’ll destroy you!’
“No,” Mei protested as the fight went on.
Epsilon picked her up, just like she grabbed Agunimon, and said,” How dare you defy me?”
“I know you won’t hurt me Christine.”
She threw Mei onto the ground and shouted to her,” I am the empress Epsilon! Never call me that again!”
“Mei!” Koji shouted as he saw her on the ground motionless.
“Koji,” Mei said with the last of her strength,” punch her once for you and twice for me?”
Her D-Tector shout out a beam to Koji. As Koji watched the light, he took his D-Tector in awe. It filled him with new power as Epsilon watched in horror. Koji turned back into his normal self, only to execute an evolution he’d never seen before. Fractal Code wrapped around him like a cocoon, giving him the strength he needed to save Mei.
“Execute Ancient Evolution!” he yelled with all his heart,” Digivolve to AncientGarurumon!”
"Impossible,” Epsilon shouted as Terminus corrected her,” Improbable.”
“He’s reached mega,” Michael exclaimed happily as they gazed at this new digimon, towering above the trees.
“That’s so cool!” Beth said too.
“No power can shield you from my Demon Lords,” Epsilon said angrily,” Destroy him Belphemon!”
“Yes master. Gift of Darkness!”
Belphemon slashed his claws as Koji, wrapping them in green flames as Koji remained unmoved. As the attack disappeared, Koji was shown blocking Belphemon’s claws with his swords. As he forced Belphemon back, he launched hundreds of chains aimed right for AncientGarurumon. But Koji countered with Absolute Zero. A ball of light appeared from his mouth, blue like a massive sun. It sped against the chains, melting the metal into a white hot liquid as the attacks created a massive discharge.
Their attacks created a haze too thick for anyone to see through. Belphemon rapidly shot his chains into the forest, but once the smoke cleared Koji was right behind him. AncientGarurumon lifted the Sharpness Claymores up and at the speed of light and crashed them down on Belphemon. His fractal code appeared, but just as Koji was about to scan it Epsilon intervened.
“How disappointing,” Epsilon said as Belphemon lay defeated. She sent him to wherever their base was now. He melted into the Corridors as Epsilon confronted him. Her cold stare clashed with AncientGarurumon’s determined look. That simple look and will to fight I insulted Epsilon to the point of taking things into his own hands.
“You dare to defy me?” she asked angrily as she pulled out the thorn whip,” I WILL become eternal! And I’m not going to let some overgrown mutt stop me.”
Epsilon took out her thorn whip as Koji charged at her. She immediately stopped him by striking the whip to keep him back. Then she started crushing the ground beneath him. He ran to her again, dodging the creases on upturned dirt around him. One last time she aimed right for him. The whip cracked but Koji back-flipped, crossed the swords, and blocked it in midair, upside down as sparks flew between them. He rushed past the sparks and stopped just short of her, the Claymores pointed right at her sinister face.
“You can’t kill me Koji,” she said proudly,” After all, how can you kill something that doesn‘t yet exist?”
He lifted the Claymores, but then Epsilon started writhing and gripping her hair in pain. They tried to help but bursts of lightning kept them away as she started screaming.
“I won’t let you use me like this!” Epsilon screamed in Christine’s kind voice
“Stupid girl, your soul is mine!” he said to himself, gripping his hair as they screamed in pain.
“Koji…get away…NOW!” Christine yelled, battling Epsilon from within.
“You shut up Christine. I swear I’ll destroy you!”
“What do you call this?” she said angrily, then begging to her friends,” Michael, you need to do something for me. Take Emma into every battle! Never split up. You need that Diamond!”
“SHUT UP YOU LITTLE WEAKLING!”
Everything calmed down, but Epsilon was out of breath and collapsed on the grove. Terminus then came to take her away. She wanted to punish him for helping, but it would be meaningless. His wings provided a sanctuary as she disappeared into the Corridors.
“It would seem you’ve unlocked the power of a mega Digimon. And not just any mega but one of the Ancient Warriors.”
He walked up to Koji and examined him. Terminus smiled and said,” Don’t worry, I’m not here to fight. Amazing though. The power of light, unlocked by the diamond. I‘ve got a bad feeling you‘ll all unlock this power soon.”
He walked away, fading into the Corridor as well with the parting words,” Epsilon hasn’t adjusted to his new body, which means Christine’s still alive. But don‘t let your guard down! Once we reach the city, he’ll be in control and you brats will be in trouble!”