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“We got back here just in time,” Statuedramon said, glancing up at the dark orange sky. He looked in vain for the sun, which was out of sight, hidden by the trees. “It’s a shame Adrian wouldn’t come back with us,” he said. The three of us walked through the fort’s entrance. “I just hope Chrysania doesn’t cry…”
“She seems so happy all the time; I didn’t know she could,” Zelda said.
“Yeah, I don’t blame you,” I said. “She’s always smiling, infectiously so, in spite of all the terrible things that have happened to her. She does cry, but she only does it when she thinks she’s alone.” After that, we all remained silent as we walked through the long corridor, soon reaching the lounge room.
“I see Apollomon in there,” Statch said. “Good; that’ll save us the trouble of having to look for him or wait for him to get back from a job.” As we entered the room, Apollomon turned his head and smiled at us while waving for us to go over to him.
“Our honored guests have returned,” Apollomon said, motioning his hand at the three people who stood next to him.
“Oh, great…they’re back…” Statch moaned disappointedly when he noticed Saias and Lector. Standing behind them was a short old man with a hideously swollen face, as if he had been punched one too many times. When he saw us, he grinned widely, showing that he was missing a few teeth. As soon as he smiled, I noticed Zelda instantly hid behind me, which was when I noticed the old man had been staring at her. I felt the sudden urge to punch the old man, and knock out the rest of his teeth. However, I could not tell where this sudden feeling came from.
“We apologize for the inconvenience, Sir Statuedramon, but our visit is an urgent one,” Lector said.
“Aren’t you going to introduce us to your…friend there?” Statuedramon asked, giving the old man a strange, slightly repulsed look. The old man, however, continued to smile.
“Oh, yes, forgive my rudeness; this man here is named Braig,” Saias looked down at the old man. “He works with us at the military. I guess you could can say he’s…been hired by our superiors as a replacement for Ienzo.”
“Ienzo?! But he—” I quickly grabbed Statuedramon’s snout and held it tightly shut to keep him from talking. I glanced up at the still-smiling Braig, and Statch quit squirming.
If he’s doing Ienzo’s work…and he’s smiling like that…I shook my head. This man…cannot be trusted.
“May I ask what business it was that brought you here?” I asked, hoping my voice sounded calm.
“Do you perchance remember the Digimon we told you about the last time we were here?” Saias asked.
“The one that can kill Mega Digimon and make it look easy?” I asked. Saias nodded.
“His name is Flamedramon. We were told he was heading toward Nymphaea Province; at the time we told you about him, that was what we believed to be true. However, last night…one of our armories was destroyed. It appears to have been arson.”
“…And you think Flamedramon was behind this?” I asked.
“We have a few eyewitness reports of a Digimon matching Flamedramon’s description near the armory. All those in the building at the time of the arson were killed,” Lector said. “Naturally, our superiors and comrades thought it was you lot who burned the armory; either that, or they think Flamedramon is working for you at Lachesis, but the two of us know better than to think that.”
“We’re here because we want you to go find Ienzo for us,” Saias said. “Find him and bring him back with you. Knock him unconscious if you must, but do not leave without him. It seems a vast majority of the deaths caused by Flamedramon are related to the Valencian Military, so it is possible Flamedramon knows of Ienzo’s involvement with the Valencian military, and it is urgent that we place Ienzo under our protection as soon as possible.”
“We would’ve gone ourselves, but we had a feeling some of the other knights could’ve found this place; some of them think it was you who burned that armory, so there’s no telling what they would do if they found this place,” Lector said.
“So, you’re here to protect us?” Zelda asked.
“We shall do our utmost best, Milady,” Saias said.
“Since this is an emergency, I’ve told them they wouldn’t have to worry about payment,” Apollomon said. “And I would like for the three of you to do this job.”
“Is he insane?!” Statuedramon whispered through his clamped snout. “But I want money….”
“When you find Ienzo, go to Yew and find Irene and SlashAngemon,” Apollomon said. “I’ve told her the location of a hiding spot for us to hide Ienzo; these two will be going there when you come back,” Apollomon looked at Saias and Lector.
“We’ll see to it that he’s safe,” Saias said.
“You three had best leave before Flamedramon finds him,” Apollomon said. “Remember, if he burned an armory in Yew, then he’s very close by, and there’s no telling what will happen when you find him.”
“We’ll be careful, Sir,” I said as the three of us hastily left the fort once again.
“His house was around here somewhere, wasn’t it?” I asked, looking around the forest.
“Thomas, I think I see it!” Statuedramon pointed into the trees. “Right over between those two thick trees, covered in flames…wait, flames?! I don’t think those were there last time…”
“That must’ve been Flamedramon,” I said. “I’m going in; you two, wait here!” I ran up to the house, noticing the door had been forcibly removed from its hinges. I looked into the house’s one room, and through the smoke and fire, I could see Ienzo sitting calmly at his table, casually taking a sip from a cup of coffee. “Ienzo, what the hell are you doing?! Get out of here!”
“Oh…hey, Thomas…So, you came back…” Ienzo smiled when he saw me. “I’m fine; you don’t have to worry about me. This is…what I wanted, remember? A way to end my suffering…” I ran into the house and grabbed Ienzo’s arm just as he fell out of his chair.
“Sorry, but you aren’t dying that easily!” I yanked him out the front door of his house. All of his limbs were completely limp, and he had a half-awake gaze in his eyes. He walked with me, and didn’t try to fight against me, but it was almost as though I had to drag him out of his burning house.
“Are you two okay?!” Statuedramon yelled. He began to cough violently as he ran up to the burning house, receiving a faceful of thick, black smoke in the process.
“Yeah…we’ll be fine…” I continued to drag Ienzo farther and farther away from his house, tightly gripping his arm in case he decided to run back in. “Can you believe this guy?! His house is on fire, and he just sits at his table drinking a cup of fucking coffee!”
“You know, they say you aren’t supposed to be in a house when there’s a blazing inferno inside, but it wasn’t actually that bad,” Ienzo sighed.
“Come on, we’re taking you back to Yew,” I said.
“WHAT?! No! No, I’m NOT going back there!” Ienzo struggled against my grip, but when he couldn’t break free, he stopped.
“And when we get you to Yew, our comrade is going to take you far away from both the military and Flamedramon,” Statuedramon said.
“So, where am I going, if not Yew?” Ienzo’s voice sounded calmer.
“We haven’t been told; it was Saias’s and Lector’s idea, so you can relax; nobody’s going to make you go back,” Zelda said, giving the worried man a reassuring smile.
“Ienzo, you coward! You told me you wanted to die, and yet here I find you, running away!” the three of us looked around, trying to find who had just spoken.
“Sorry, this wasn’t my idea,” Ienzo said. “If these guys hadn’t come, I really would have stayed in that fire! Honest!”
“So you say…instead of burning down your house, hoping you’ll die, how about I actually kill you this time?!”
“No, please! I…I don’t want to die anymore!” Ienzo shouted. The man cringed and cowered behind me.
“…You sicken me, Ienzo. Doing what you did…And now, after all of your indulgence in self-pity, you dare beg for mercy?!”
“Who’s there?!” Statuedramon yelled. “Show yourself!!!”
“We’ve been ordered to keep this man safe and alive; we won’t allow harm to come to him!” I drew my sword from its scabbard.
“You mean to face me? I’d like to see how long you last!” A Digimon leapt from the trees of Lotisea’s jungle and landed in front of us.
“By Goddess Arcadia…It’s him!” Statuedramon said quietly. “Flamedramon!”
“So, you’ve heard of me,” Flamedramon said. “I’m so FLATTERED!” Flamedramon raised his claws and released streams of flames from the palms of his claws, surrounding us in a ring of fire. “For you, there is no escape; there will only be death.”
“Why?! What have we done to you to deserve death?!” Statuedramon asked. “We’ve never even met before!”
“…I’ve been long rejected by this world, and even killed for it once. Even so, someone or something was gracious enough to allow me to live on in this form,” Flamedramon said. “If I am going to be rejected by others, then I shall reject them; by destroying every living being on Arcadia!”
“That doesn’t give you the right to murder every living thing that you meet!” I yelled. “You’re just lashing it out against total strangers because something didn’t go your way!”
“Shut up! You don’t know anything! Flame Fist!”
“Dimensional Shield!” As Flamedramon shot a large fireball from his hands, Statuedramon leapt in front of me, sending Flamedramon’s attack into the mouth of his shield. “Sword of Dragon’s Soul!” Statch swung his sword, releasing a fiery projection from it at Flamedramon. However, the Dragon Man Digimon leapt up and out of the way of the attack and landed behind Statuedramon. “Damn it, stay still!” As Statch prepared to turn around and swing his sword, Flamedramon kicked him in the back, knocking him over.
“You will be the first to go!” Flamedramon formed another fireball in his hands, aiming it at Statuedramon. I ran over to Flamedramon, my sword brandished, but before I could make it, Flamedramon leaped away as a large axe flew past, landing blade-first on the ground.
“Sorry, but I ain’t about to let ya’ kill anyone here,” Garret walked over to and picked up his axe, pointing it at Flamedramon.
“Garret, you jackass, you nearly hit me!” Statuedramon yelled.
“Sorry ‘bout that, but at least I got this bastard away from you.” Garret glared at Flamedramon.
“So…another Human wishes to test his strength against me,” Flamedramon said. “Go on; bring on as many Humans and Digimon as you’d like; none of them will be sufficient enough to best me in combat!”
“Oh, you’re quite right; ordinary Humans and Digimon don’t stand a chance against you, Flamedramon,” Garret said. The man grinned. “Ordinary people don’t.”
“Why are you here, Garret? Did Apollomon send you?” I asked. And what does he mean by ordinary? Is it just his ego talking?
“Yeah, he wanted me to make sure this bastard didn’t interfere with anything,” Garret pointed at Flamedramon.
“Where…is MetalEtemon?” Statuedramon asked. Garret sighed happily.
“…You know that man that was with the two knights? Braig?” Nobody answered, so Garret turned around to face us, grinning sardonically at us. “That man…he can do some pretty amazing things; why, with just one tiny, insignificant sacrifice, he made me the most powerful being in existence!” Garret reached into the pocket of his coat and pulled something out. “Do you know what this is?” Again, nobody answered. “This is called…a Digivice. That man Braig invented them; there are a lot of different kinds of them, too, each with their own different and unique powers! This one in particular is called a Bio Link Digivice; it allows a Human to turn into a Digimon.”
“A Human…turning into a Digimon?” Flamedramon asked. “What kind of sorcery does that Human possess?!”
“Just watch and I’ll show you! Bio-Hybrid D.N.A. Charge!” Garret slammed the palm of his hand over the top of his Digivice, and instantly, he became enveloped in a bright light.
“That’s…the light of Digivolution!” I gasped.
“What the hell is going on?!” Statuedramon asked.
“Bio-Hybrid Digivolve to, BioMetalEtemon!” Just as if he had Digivolved, where Garret stood was now a Digimon. All of us, even Flamedramon, stared blankly at what had just happened. “Oh yeah, now this is power! That Braig is a miracle worker!”
“You can…turn into MetalEtemon?” I asked. “How? How did you do that?!”
“Oh, it was simple, really; all I had to do was kill MetalEtemon; after that, Braig took his data and injected it into my blood!” BioMetalEtemon began laughing maniacally; cracking his knuckles, he turned to face Flamedramon. “This Bio Link thingy allows me to use the data he injected into me to become MetalEtemon! Isn’t that neat?!”
“You…killed your own Digimon partner?!” Zelda yelled tearfully.
“How could you do that?! He was your friend! He was your only…friend!” Statuedramon yelled.
“So what? Friends are only stepping stones to true power,” BioMetalEtemon walked over to the still stunned Flamedramon. “Oh, I’m going to make you scream, you little bastard! Metal Punch!” Flamedramon ducked out of the way of BioMetalEtemon’s fist and jabbed his claw into the Digimon’s face, releasing a stream of flames through the back of his head. BioMetalEtemon fell backward, becoming once again enveloped in the light of Digivolution. BioMetalEtemon disappeared, leaving Garret’s still, lifeless body behind, with a gaping, bloody hole where his face should have been was seeping with blood being the only thing I could notice.
That’s the power…this is the kind of power Flamedramon possesses?!
“Fool; I see now that the man you speak of is no miracle worker,” Flamedramon walked through Garret’s blood and approached us. “He takes life and twists it into an unfathomable and demented creation of his. Is that a feat which you people see as something miraculous?!”
No…there’s no way…Garret can’t be dead! Flamedramon walked closer and closer to us, a small flame twisting around his left claw, which he raised slowly into the air.
“My flames consume all there is to consume; there is no hope for escape.” Flamedramon began enveloping himself in flames while running toward us. “And soon, the entire world shall go down in flames!”
“Double Backhand!” Out of nowhere, BlackGaomon jumped and punched the side of Flamedramon’s head, knocking him over.
“Ah you all okay?” Pheragas ran over to us, though stopped when he saw Garret’s body. “…Vut…Flamedramon…did you do dis to our comrade?!”
“And if I did?” Flamedramon stood back up.
“Thomas, go now!” Pheragas shouted, BlackGaomon standing beside him. “Take Ienzo and go to Yew; vind Irene as soon as you can!”
“But, Pheragas, what about you?!” Statch asked.
“You really think you two will distract me long enough for the others to escape?” Flamedramon asked.
“Do not underestimate me; I may be little more dan a Human to you, but I’m strong enough to hold my own against my guild’s leader, Apollomon,” Pheragas brandished his enormous axe and swung it through the air.
“Really? So, there really are Humans as strong as Digimon like that,” Flamedramon said, sounding almost interested.
“You’d better believe he’s that strong; I’ve seen him uproot a tree with nothing but his bare hands!” Statuedramon said.
“Statuedramon, dat vas a tweeg,” Pheragas said. “I vas picking it up off of de floor so Chrysania vould not trip over it.”
“Oh…well…he is strong enough to uproot a tree with his bare hands!” Statch said vehemently.
“I may not look like much, either, murderer,” BlackGaomon said spitefully. “But I’m the fastest Digimon you may ever encounter!”
“Come on, we should go, like he said,” I grabbed Zelda’s and Ienzo’s hands and ran in north, toward Yew.
“Pheragas!” Statuedramon shouted.
“Just go! I’ll be vine, little vun!” Pheragas shouted, and reluctantly, Statch began running after me.
“Very noble of you to send those four away,” Flamedramon said. “Rest assured, once I have finished with the two of you, I will track those four down, and I will slaughter all of them!”
“Only if you make it past the two of us; Rolling Upper!”
“Fire Rocket!” BlackGaomon and Flamedramon’s attacks collided; BlackGaomon was sent flying backwards from the force of Flamedramon’s attack, colliding into my torso, knocking me over. “Show me! Show me the true extent of your power, Human!”
“Trust me, that isn’t something you want to see!” BlackGaomon said as he climbed off of me. I got back up to my feet and picked up my enormous axe.
“If you believe yourselves to be truly capable of defeating me, then prove it!” Flamedramon shouted. “Otherwise, quit wasting my time! Fire Rocket!” Flamedramon, while covered in flames, launched himself at me, and when he was within striking range, I swung my axe. My strike eliminated the flames covering his body and sent the Digimon flying across the air before he hit the ground.
“Nicely done; you got him!” BlackGaomon cheered.
“No; not yet,” I said. “‘e lives still; in vact, I barely ‘it ‘im. Do you see any blood on de ground?” BlackGaomon looked at the ground, noticing that the only blood was leaking from Garret’s face.
“Not…bad…” Flamedramon stood up, his hand pressed against his right arm. “If you had hit…my head…or my body…I would have died…”
“See?! I told you there was nobody stronger than Pheragas!” BlackGaomon boasted.
“However…I cannot stop…until the entire world goes down in flames!”
“Vhy do you do dis, Flamedramon?” I asked. “Surely, you must have a reason for vanting to kill everybody.”
“My reasons…are no concern of yours! Flame Fist!” Flamedramon launched a fireball at BlackGaomon.
“Hah; you think that scares me?!” BlackGaomon boldly asked. “I’ve been hit by more powerful fire attacks from—”
“BlackGaomon, vatch out!” Just before my partner was hit, I jumped in front of him, getting hit by the fireball in the chest. The pain was intense, and the attack was much more powerful than any I had ever felt from any Digimon, even Apollomon.
“Pheragas, are you okay?!” BlackGaomon asked as I collapsed to my knees, clutching my burnt chest in pain.
“Be careful…BlackGaomon,” I gasped. “Dis vun is…almost as strong as Apollomon…maybe even stronger…”
“Now, perish, inferiors! Flame—”
“Arrow of Artemis!” As Flamedramon prepared to attack the two of us, a storm of arrows rained down around Flamedramon. Unfortunately, he was somehow able to dodge them all, but he halted his attack to look for who had attacked him. “Flamedramon…what you say is completely illogical,” Dianamon said as she walked up to the shorter Digimon. “Wishing to destroy every living being for a reason you refuse to disclose leads one to believe that you have no reason.”
“How dare you?! I have been rejected my entire life, so now I reject everyone else!” Flamedramon shouted.
“So you go around the continent murdering everyone?” Dianamon asked.
“Shut up! I was murdered a long time ago by them, but I have been graciously given another chance at life! I don’t know who would have done that for me, or why I was given another chance, but I understand that I must eradicate all life on Arcadia before mankind makes any more mistakes!”
“It is as I said,” Dianamon sighed. “You are a completely irrational being; allowing you to survive would be disastrous to everyone. Crescent Harken!” Dianamon swung her hook at Flamedramon, but before she hit him, he jumped away and into the trees, out of sight. “Damn it, he’s gone…”
“Do not despair…ve ‘ave not seen de last of ‘im,” I coughed.
“Pheragas, are you okay?!” Dianamon ran to my side.
“I shall be fine…just how many of us did Apollomon send after dose kids?” I asked.
“You know he doesn’t like taking chances,” Dianamon said. “Can you stand?”
“He was hit pretty hard by one of Flamedramon’s fireballs,” BlackGaomon said. Dianamon grabbed my arm and hoisted me off the ground.
“That burn looks pretty bad,” Dianamon said, looking at my burnt chest and shirt. “I don’t know if Luna will be able to do anything for you…”
“Do not vorry about dat,” I said. “Let us go back to de fort. Thomas and de oders are searching for Irene in Yew as ve speak.”