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They sailed over the beautiful, orange sands as the sun began to fall over the horizon. Like a flower nearing winter, the bright sphere wilted to the cool darkness, waiting to blossom again. For brief moments, one thought the whistling wind was the voice of a singing ghost, strumming a stringed instrument in another life. But it was interrupted by the sound of Mei putting away the towel she'd lay on all day. Lost to the sound of Dorumon, gasping for air after being forced to work for her for the whole afternoon. Yet it echoed in Emma's ears. MachGaogamon's fur felt like blades of grass as she simply lay her head down and watched the sunset.
But Takuya was oblivious to it all. Lost in his own little world, clenching Sarah in his arms. In this world, this sanctuary lost to time, there was no Epsilon. No Terminus. No friends. Just Him, Sarah, and the engulfing sadness. Once they stopped for camp, he only left this world for an instant to get off, select a piece of drywood for a chair, and returned to solitude.
"Man..." J.P. said, watching his old friend. Zoe simply let her shoulders down and said," Poor thing. I wish we could help..."
J.P., probably in an effort to please or impress Zoe, walked over to Takuya. The instant he reached five feet of Takuya, the moment he breached his air bubble, Takuya shot him a cold glare across the floor. It hit J.P. like lightning, and practically sent him down into the sand. Shot down one might say.
"Hmm, rude." Lunamon said as she watched the ordeal. Micheal stared too, scratching a sleeping Dorumon on the muzzle. Before him Koichi set up the tent with help from his brother, while Elizabeth struggled to make fire. It was almost always Sarah's job to build the fire, and without her it could take upwards of an hour. So Mei, who was growing tired of watching Beth work and Takuya laze around (how strange the roles had switched) called to him and snapped," Hey, Mopey, how about you make yourself useful and get your lazy tail over her!"
He shot her a glare, but she shot one back. To the others, it was almot like they were trying to telepathically destroy eachother. Saying Emma didn't like it would be an understatement. But just as she was about to call for them to stop, Takuya let Sarah down and walked over to them.
Like a zombie, he loomed over them. The air reeked of fear from the kids, and stank of rage from Takuya. He snatched both rocks from Beth the same way a robber snatches a purse. The creature they once called Takuya merely threw one stone into the pile of wood. Then, raising the second above his head, let out a yell. For a second, they though he was going to kill Mei. Heck, even Mei thought he was going to kill her. But when his arm came down, there was no bloody sand, no open skulls. Insteak, the second rock colided with the first, cracking both rocks and creating an explosion of sparks. Then, the flame burst forth, like a phoenix from the ash. As everyone watched, silent sae for their piunding heartbeats, Takuya sat back down and resumed to hold his empty doll.
Meanwhile, Epsilon stood in a dark cave, admiring a blue light with Christine's eyes. Behind her, cold laughter. Lilithmon was laughing her heart out at Beelzemon, who still hadn't fully healed from his encounter with Mei. Terminus stood too, trying to think but no thought made it past the sound of cruel pleasure that entered his eardrums.
"Ahahah! So, how strong are you supposed to be, Beelzemon? Hmm? Apparently not strong enough to defeat a little girl."
"You shut up or I'll shut you up myself!"
"Heheheh, I'm soooo scared."
Terminus stopped leaning against the cool rock, and instead stood up as he said," He's right Lilith, and besides, you're unbearably annoying."
The moment she stopped, Epsilon turned to Terminus and said," This gift, it's so beautiful I don't think I can give it back."
She revealed a piece of ice, about the size of a baseball, with the glowing fragment of Sarah's code trapped inside. It flickered and vibrated, almost as though it were trying to escape the prison. Epsilon held it close, but knew she's have to give it up soon enough. So, she took Terminus' hand and placed the crystal in his palm.
"I could've beat her too if I fought at full strength..." Beelzemon though aloud as Terminus asked," Why can't we kill the kids? They're just getting in our way and making fools of us."
"Be patient Terminus," she said, taking out her whip as Lilithmon replied," We've been more than patient. We've been beaten, humiliated. The least we deserbve is an explination."
In an instant, Epsilon, cracked the whip at Lilithmon. The sharp point, the dark arrowhead at the end of the chain, sent Lilithmon tumbling back. Although Lilith was fine, the whip cut off a small strand of hair. Epsilon wrapped the whip back around her arm as she said," Hmm, I suppose you're right...Tell me, you know those devices the children hold, right?"
Terminus simply nodded as she continued," I'm not sure if I told you this already, heh, what crappy memory, but those devices are crucial to my freedom. So powerful...those devices open portals without my blessing, hold Spirits, lead your way. And much, much more."
"So all you need are the Digivices?" Terminus asked. She nodded and said," Only the devices those new children carry. You see while I control the normal routes between Earth and Digitia, those "digivices" as you called them can open secondary portals that I can't control."
"So..." he began," you need to open some sort of portal...?"
"Exactly," Epilon replied with a smile," A mere piece of me is controling this body. My true form is wandering the Void between the worlds. I know I can't stop the children from building the barrier around this world, I'm still not powerful enough, but while they're busy protecting this world, Earth is completely defenseless."
"And then we-" Terminus blurted out before Epsilon interrupted," Yes, then our goal is complete..."
"And the original six...?" he asked, and she replied again," I could care less what happens to them. Just a few sacrifises for the greater good."
Back in the camp, Takuya was awake long after everyone went to bed. He listened to Beth, snoring as Gaomon slept with two pieces of cloth stuffed in his ears. Emma and Tommy slept next to each other as they did every night. They were in seperate sleeping bags, but their hands were so close you'd think they were one entity. Actually, there was one person still awake. Of course it was Micheal, huddled by the fire, taking a glance at Takuya every few moments or so.
Eventually, after much thought, Micheal realized he had to go check on Takuya. It was the job of leader, the job he willingly took upon himself. The sand made that strange crunch sound beneath his sneakers as he got up and walked over. Takuya didn't even bother glaring at him, instead he just took in a deep breath and released a pitiful sigh.
"So, what's up with you?" Michael asked, giving Takuya a kind smile as he replied," What do you think?"
He simply glanced down at Sarah, then returned his look to the fire as Micheal said," Takuya, it's hard, I know. But eventually you have to let go."
"What do you know?" he snapped back, holding Sarah tighter as he barked," You don't know what it's like, having someone so close to you just disappear. She was so...so....and now she's just gone. How do you know what it's like?!?"
"Oh, I don't know..." Micheal said, sighing as he said," Well, Sarah's only unconscious, but Christine might actually be dead by now..."
Takuya looked away, unable to counter an argument like that as his friend went on," But I realized I'd never get Christine back if I kept getting upset, and kept my head cloudy with revenge."
"My head's perfectly fine!" Takuya shouted, but not enough to wake everyone up. Micheal was mad, to say the least. It was like talking to his past sef, the self focused only on Christine and getting her back safely. He wasn't interested in a conversation with himself, so Micheal stood up and said rather bluntly," Takuya, I'm sorry but if you can't get your head straight you're nothing but deadweight carrying around another deadweight."
"What're you-!" he tried shouting out, but Micheal interrupted," You think I haven't noticed the snow in your D-tector yet...?"
He was right. As Micheal walked away, having made his point, Takuya took out the D-tector to see nothing but snow in the screen. He quickly tucked it back into his pocket, letting sadness put him to sleep by the fire.
In the dream, he and Sarah were sitting in a large tree, overlooking several mountains and feilds. The cool breeze blew through thousands of translucent leaves, dancing in the afternoon sun. Sarah sat with her back to the tee's trunk, drawing in that sketchbook that seemed to have infinite pages. Below her was Takuya, who was desperately trying to get back a riceball from a sticky fingered Kudamon.
Eventually one of the branches broke beneath him. As he fell, the leaves and tree shaving, still shimmering with sap, gave him a temporary image. In this mental picture, Sarah turned to him with her deep brown eyes, the debris from his fall fading, blurring in the afternoon light and leaving only twinkling stars. Her expression, a combination of surprise and joy, it all just blended together.
Then the pain.
He'd landing flat on his butt. The pain traveled through his pelvis, then to his chest and legs and arms, and he fell forward on his face onto a more sturdy tree limb. Sarah leaned toward him, her curly black hair pouring down as she let out a tiny giggle.
"It's not funny!" he yelled out as Kudamon ate the riceball on his head.
"You're right, it's hilarious," she replied, taking out her drawing pad. When Takuya got up, he turned to see her holding up a drawing of Agunimon, engulfed in flame in a fighting stance. She then smiled and asked," So...What do you think?"
He then stood up, analyzing each detail. A good ten seconds went by before he replied," Not bad, but you didn't capure my greatness."
"Well, aren't we picky?" she said, though she somewhat expected a response like that. For a moment, everything went silent. Was something wrong? Takuya kept watching, waiting for her to say something. The, with her head hung down, Sarah asked," Takuya...could I ask you something...?"
He turned to her and asked," Sure, what?"
"I've been thinking...." she said, playing with a pencil between her fingers," I was sure I was done for back in that village...and it made me realize I never even though about what might happen if I didn't..."
Takuya stared at her. He made that strange face, that mix of anger, confusion, determination, and spoke," What are you asking?"
The dream began to fade as the last words echoed over and over. "Promise me...". A promise? When everything turned from black to blue to white and then to the vibrant pink of the desert morning, Takuya realized he'd forgotten that promise, whatever it was.
The morning routine continued, same as always. Pack everything up, put it on one of the Digimon, fly as far as they could. This morning, though, Micheal spoke in a hollow voice. No emotion, and he didn't look Takuya in the eye once. Yet again, the journey consisted of sitting around, doing nothing of real interest.
But then, their next battle came from nowhere.
It happened so fast. A shot at DoruGreymon, well placed, and he crashed into the sand. Everyone was too busy trying to brace for the impact to Digivolve, and by the time it entered their minds a wall of darkness emerged from the sand like the teeth of a demon. By the time the kids processed the attack, Epsilon, Terminus, and Barbamon loomed over them, perfectly balanced on three of the sharp rocks.
"I was wondering when we'd get to fight again," Terminus echoed through the sand. He quickly turned his gaze to Sarah and said," Still sleeping in I see?"
Takuya, who was still on DoruGreymon, quickly slid down to save Sarah from the hot surface. He cradled her as Micheal asked," Epsilon. I though the point of sending your goons was so you didn't get your hands dirty."
She merely grinned, crossing her arms as she said," I've found it's more effective to observe in person. How else will I know how badly those beneath me fail?"
Turning her head to Takuya, she added," And I've found it's somewhat...fun...watching your human emotions."
Takuya glared right into her eyes, hers devoid of life and his filled with burning fury. A thousand words filled his head. Profanities, insults, questions, but the best he could muster was," You're disgusting."
"Don't get fresh with me," she said, halting Barbamon as he prepared to defend his master," I was about to show you some respect for defeating my demon lords, but perhaps we should take our present elsewhere..."
Terminus quickly look out the icy crystal with Sarah's fragment inside it. In an instant, Takuya realized what it was. The faint glow, the way it struggled to get free. That crystal could only hold the piece of Sarah's Code.
"No! Takuya!" Micheal tried to yell, but it was too late. Takuya let Sarah down and made a run for the crystal. When Micheal and everyone else's voices reached his ears, Terminus abandoned the crystal and ran for Sarah. Barbamon snatched Sarah's Code, and Takuya tried to backtrack. But it was already too late. Epsilon whiped the sand around his feet, tripping him so Terminus could hold her, his scythe to her heart.
"Now Takuya, what will you do?" Epsilon boasted, throwing her whip past the stones," I present to you a choice: You can go after Sceherazade's corpse, after which I shall escape with her Code again, or you can come after me, defenseless and weak from the long trek into this sea of sands."
"Master, what are you-?" Terminus asked, but Epsilon cut him off with a harsh," Silence!"
Takuya's judgement was clouded. Everyone of his friends was shouting something different. "Get her!" Zoey yelled, but he couldn't tell if she meant Epsilon or Sarah. "Save Sarah! She means so much to you!" was what Beth yelled. Koichi added," Beat Epsilon! You could save so many people right now!". But then a shock came. From nowhere, yet everywhere, he heard Sarah finish his dream.
"Promise me...if I'm lost....don't let our work go to waste. Don't let me slow you down...I want you to go on Takuya..."
He shed a single tear as her voice went on," You're strong Takuya. If I die, continue my work. I died trying to stop Epsilon, don't let me die in vain..."
The D-Tector began to glow, brighter than ever. Another tear came from Takuya's other eye as he said," Epsilon...Sarah is dead because of you. Sarah gave up everything to stop you....I swear, I'll keep her memory with me...when I destroy you!"
Like A cannonball, the light shot from his Digi-vice. First it bounced off the ice, bringing Sarah back her Code. When the fragment returned, Sarah let off a light that burned Terminus' flesh. He fell back as she floated, her feet only an inch off the sand and her hair flowing to the sky. As she opened her deep brown eyes. Takuya walked over to her, smiling as they gazed into each other's eyes. He put her in his arms, and she wrapped her around his neck as she said," You're a terrible listener."
He simply laughed as he replied," Well, it's hard to just forget about someone as spoiled as you."
Epsilon looked as blank as ever as she destroyed the moment, ordering," Enough of this. Destroy him, and retrieve the girl."
"Gimme your power?" Takuya asked as Terminus prepared himself. Sarah just jumped down, pulled out her D-tector and said," Always."
With the new power, Takuya felt his whole body become like fire. "Execute Ancient Evolution!" Sarah gave him her light, Takuya's whole being warped, and her emerged," AncientGreymon!"
Barbamon and Terminus were thrown back by the flames. Shining armour, piercing blue eyes, and collossal orange wings created an imposing sight. Sarah sat on his back, holding onto razor sharp horns as their friends stared in awe. Sarah took her place on his helmet, and whispered to him," It'll be alright."
"I think it's best we leave" Renamon said as the feathers on Takuya's wings started to glow like ember. Everone started to run as they realized Takuya was charging a massive attack. Micheal and the others waved their digi-vices, and flew to safety. Scheherazade's hair started to flow and sway once she waved her D-tector. The black swirls curled like waves as Epsilon cried," Are your soles made of lead? Stop them!"
Terminus and Barbamon instantly shot for AncientGreymon, but Chirinmon blocked each attack in a flurry of lightning. A ball of fire formed in Takuya's mouth, but Sarah stood where she was. Somehow her presence, her touch made Takuya stronger. So she stayed as AncientGreymon started to fly higher and higher. But Epsilon wouldn't stand for it. She took her whip, hoping to stop Chirinmon. In a flash, Chirinmon blocked in a way that the whip hit Barbamon instead. By doing this, he took a hit from Terminus and reverted to Kudamon. Sarah grabbed the little creature as he fell, and dodged a quick, hasty blow from Terminus.
"I will not be defeated again girl!" he shouted. His eyes were bloodshot, his pupils small. Sweat poured from his brow, and his voice sounded like a madman. The next attack came much quicker, and all Sarah could do was shield herself with her arms. But Kudamon, with the fast reflexes all Digimon seem to have, blocked with the golden collar on his neck. Sarah opened her eyes, and an idea struck her like an arrow. Terminus fell back, and she quickly slipped off her bangles. Like frisbees, she threw them at him in every direction, hitting his eyes and bruising his skin. One hit his hand and forced him to let go of the scythe he treasured so much. Kudamon climbed onto Epsilon's minion, scratching his face while Sarah too his weapon.
"This is for putting me to sleep!" she said, raising the scthe to him. But Terminus managed to grab a hold of Kudamon, and hurled him into AncientGreymon's armor. Terminus spit the blood out of his mouth, and ran to Sarah. He took hold of the scythe, and the two fought for it for awhile, both trying to pull it from the others' grasp. But Terminus pushed back, and Sarah tumbled back over AncientGreymon. She held on to the edge with all her strenth, and Terminus walked over to her. He laughed the most disturbing, nightmare sewing laugh, and planted his boot on her head. He rubbed it back and forth on her hair as he said," I don't play fair "milady". You honestly thought a pampered poodle like you could win? You're weak! Spoiled! Frail little princess and you will never match Epsilon!"
Sarah's grip started to weaken. All the blood was rushing away from her fingers. Kudamon was unconcious. It seemed so hopeless. Sarah tried to think of a way out of this, but then Terminus leaned forward and said," When the buzzards are picking at your blood tomorrow, be sure to say hello to your equally pathetic mother for me."
In her rage, Sarah let go. Her face turned red as one hand took Termius' boot, and the other clenched his hair. They were both spiralling down toward the sand in what Sarah knew was her last act as Digidestined. If she couldn't stop Epsilon, she would do the next best thing and make sure Terminus never bothered her friends again. So she let out a scream, planted her hands on Terminus' back, and made sure his face would be the first to hit the ground.
It looked like it was over, but soon a black figure was beneath them. Epsilon. She summoned a blue circle around her, and when the light reached them, Terminus and Sarah were floating safely. Takuya looked like he was a mile above them, and the ball of fire around him was like a second sun. Epsilon waved her hands in strange gestures, and yelled," Spirits of Darkness, grant me the way to hide from death!" Then, the circle bent around them in the form of a dome. Epsilon kept her hands outstretched and her hands together, keeping the sheild as Takuya's attack came down. There was a flash of light, like sunlight but from everywhere. Then the sand around them flew past like the water in a river. Epsilon's hands grew stiffer as the sand receded even further.
Soon, they saw a cloud of ash, flying above them. A mushroom cloud, and a crater around them. the sand had turned to glass, except for the perfect circle they were protected in. Epsilon collapsed onto her knees, panting as the sheild receeded. The heat struck Sarah like a wall. The wind blew her hair and dress, the same way it curled Epsilon and Terminus' hair. Scheherazade looked down, and as Epsilon looked up she asked," Why did you save me?"
"I...need you...all of you..." Epsilon let out. She turned her head to Terminus, and said," what a....useless fool...."
Terminus was face down in the sand. His scythe stuck up right next to him, and his eyes were closed. Sarah looked too, and asked," Is he dead...?"
"No...just unconcious...worthless..." Epsilon then summoned the Corridor to take the two away. Although weak, Epsilon carried Terminus into the portal, leaving Sarah with the words," Beyond this...we will keep fighting...my goals...will come forth...without fail..."
Sarah was then left alone in the glass dome, the ashy cloud hanging over her. She then climbed into the floor, which must have been a half foot thick, and went looking for Takuya. The dust was so thick, Sarah had to put her sari over her mouth as she searched. Her eyes soon started to burn, but she pressed onward the way Takuya pressed for her. After a while, she found Takuya and Kudamon unconscious at the bottom of the depression.
"Takuya!!!" she shouted as she ran. Sarah kneeled beside hi, shaking him to get him up. When she found it was pointless, she knelt down to his ear and whispered something the wind carrried away. As quick as lightning, Takuya woke up, blushing and analyzing Sarah intently.
"Wha...?" he asked, to which she replied," Sorry. I was just trying to get you up"
"Hey, don't mess with me like that!" he said, still blushing. Sarah then bopped him on the head and said," My face is up here Takuya."
She then took Kudamon, and wrapped him around her neck. Although Takuya tried to pick himself up, Sarah helped him too, and said," Actually...I think we should just be friends Takuya..."
"Huh?" he asked, and she replied," You get so emotional over me...I saw how you fought Epsilon for me...someday you'll come after me, and get hurt because you feel too emotional about me. I think...being just friends is the best."
"I can't do that," he said, turning her head to his. As their eyes connected, he said kindly," You're just saying that for the same reason I came after you despite the odds."
"And what reason is that?' she asked, leaning closer to him.
"This..." he said, and for a moment the two were one. Takuya held the back of her neck, and Scheherazade streaked his hair as the greatest light grew within them. Greater and greater, the sunlight streaked through the dust, as if the sun were smiling at their love. And slowly, the kiss ended, and they opened their eyes, completely different people.
"Aww..." Emma said, watching from behind a dune. A few of the group had gone back to make sure they were okay, and to their joy they were more than okay. Emma put her head on Tommy's shoulder, and he held her close. Mei actually smiled, but then turned to Koji and blushed. Micheal smiled, and for a moment allowed himself to imagine saving Christine.
"You guys!!!" Zoe shouted once they were finished. First Micheal, then Emma, and everyone went to help them. And in the distance, Grace stood in her school uniform. Once they were reunited, she walked away whistling "Here Comes the Bride".
"Epsilon!!!!" Terminus shouted in their lair. He struggled through the cavern, stumbling, tripping, as if he were drunk. Although he only just awoke from the short coma, he forced himself to Epsilon in the back of the cave. Behind him the other Lords were laughing, which only made him angrier.
"EPSILON!!!" he shouted to his master. Epsilon was in the middle of another magic circle, either meditating or healing herself. She got up immediately, but did not turn to Terminus as she said," You're awake."
"I'm done Epsilon! I need more power, and I know you can give it to me!!!"
Epsilon turned to him, and with a wave of her hand his mouth closed like a zipper. "Don't talk to your master like that! You were a lowly human when I found you, and I control whether you revert to one...or less. Speak with respect or I'll turn you into a miserable slug."
Terminus' mouth opened, and the first thing he did was take a deep breath," Master, I refuse to be humilated any further. I want to be a real Demon Lord. I want to be a Digimon like those children!"
"I gave you plenty of power with that scythe. What makes you think you need more?" and with that Terminus threw one of Sarah's bangles to her feet. It was charred, and scratched, and Epsilon twisted it in her fingers as Terminus said," With that she took my scythe, disabled my sight, and almost killed me. A weak little brat with a few pretty bracelets. I need more Epsilon. I won't kill the new Digidestined, but you have no use for the older ones, right?!"
"Correct..." she replied, and he continued" Then I can capture the new children, and kill the older ones. I just need more power!!!"
"Hmm..." she thought, then turned to him and said," Very well. By the flow of time, and by my being, I grant you the title Lord of Pride, Duke of the First Seat, and Demon Lord of Demon Lords."
"...Is that all...?" he asked, but she blatantly replied," No. That was meaningless banter. I give you these titles, but to become a Demon Lord for real, you must prove your worth."
Epsilon created a new circle, and the two appeared at the bottom of the crater from their earlier battle. By now it was sunset, and the children were long gone, and a cresent moon floated above Epsilon like a halo. Epsilon created a Gothic, horribly twisted circle of purple and red light and commanded," Kneal Terminus!"
He did as she asked, and she cried," Oh shadows of death, allow me to summon the Infernal Dragon who shall eat the remains of this world when the sun has vanquished all life! Let me take a fragment of his power, and give this lowly flesh the power he hungers for, and the blood he thirsts for!"
From the circle, a dark dragon, who looked like the shadows in trees, making hideous faces, or the cruel, mocking reflection in the water arose from the circle. It's wings stretched out, and with it Terminus saw it's wingspan was as long as a football field. Epsilon then smiled and said," Make for me a Spirit, for I deam this soul worthy of harboring you."
The dragon wrapped and shrank around Epsilon, becoming her shadow. A light came from her hand as she touched Terminus' head. He did not move or even flinch as the shadow passed through him. It stripped him of his armour, and made his skin pale. His eyes grew large, and his pupils small as his entire body started to burn. Then from every pore black acid crept around him. It burned the sand, but Epsilon simply said," It's okay Terminus. The pain means it's working. From this day, I decree you shall be named the Pandora Digimon, for you betrayed the trust of the humans you came from, and now shall umleash my evil on them. You are a betrayer, vile, a deadly force. Hmm...I suppose I shall nane you....yes, that's perfect. From here onward, you will go forth as...VoidGreymon!"