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Michael sat under a tree as everyone else enjoyed their dinner. They’d left the canyon and made their way into the Dark Forest. There were no sounds, no babbling brooks or blooming flowers. There was only the cold touch of the wind. But that wasn’t what put Michael on edge. Two more Daybreaks had passed by, and he feared how complex they’d become.
“All ravens are black,” Michael remembered Terminus saying,” All ravens have wings. Therefore, everything that does not have wings and is not black is not a raven. True or false!?”
He remembered how everyone struggled, but by a miracle Michael used wordplay and said,” False! Digimon like Belphemon or Beelzemon are black and are not ravens! Furthermore numerous digimon have wings and furthermore are not ravens!”
The Raven Paradox, a puzzle Michael had never before truly figured out was presented to him. What made it a paradox was the first sentence. While it’s true most ravens are black, if one were to say,” All ravens are white” such in the case of a mutation, all ravens would be both black AND white. Such a paradox gave him nightmares for over a year. If it weren’t for his discovery of digimon, the riddle could’ve destroyed him. As he dreaded the next riddle Terminus would figure for them, everyone began laughing at some joke Michael didn’t hear.
“Ugh, I’m beat,” Beth said as she lay back on her sleeping bag,” Do I really have to clean up?”
“It’s your turn,” Koichi said as Lunamon added,” Better her than me.”
“It’s alright,” Emma said kindly,” I’ll help if you want.”
“Thanks,” she said, still staring at the sky as Gaomon asked,” Something wrong ma’am?”
Beth was really thinking about the illusion Barbamon created on the Ice Continent. Each scene of this black kingdom reminded her of the dreary day her father left. But it reminded her of how she overcame it and how she’d grown as a person. But she wouldn’t admit it, and instead replied leisurely,” Nah.”
As Emma and Beth went off to the creek, everyone gathered around as Takuya asked quietly,” Is it just me, or is there something weird about Emma?”
“I know,” Koji said,” How was she able to stop Lilithmon?”
“So many scratches,” Sarah wondered out loud,” All of us combined and we barely landed a dozen hits.”
“How does something like that happen?” Gaomon asked as Michael said,” Perhaps Emma is the Queen.”
“A Queen?” Renamon asked, hoping he’d elaborate as Mei said rudely,” You’ve lost it.”
“I mean chess,” Michael said casually,” In chess, the goal is to capture the opponent’s King. If we think about our battles as a game of Chess, I being the leader, am a King. Epsilon too is a King, because his capture means victory for us. But the Queen is the most powerful piece.”
“I see,” Zoe said as Michael continued,” But what’s strange is in this game, Epsilon is both the King and Queen.”
“But how did Emma become a Queen?” Koji asked as Michael replied,” We should try thinking short-term. We’ll let the issues with Emma play out, but we should be focusing on Terminus.’
“Oh!” Mei said angrily,” Just thinking about the riddle he’ll think up hurts my head.”
“Exactly,” Michael said,” It’ll be craftier, more discrete, and far more challenging that his last.”
“Then we’ll just have to be ready for him,” J.P. said energetically as Dorumon said,” Michael can figure out any riddle that Terminus thinks up. Can’t you?”
“I hope so,” he said with a scared and upset look on his face.
At the creek, Beth and Emma dried dishes with a clean rag. They’d poured boiled water over each plate and gotten rid of every stain. The whole time Beth had her earphones on high, Emma whistled a little tune as the brook joined in. Elizabeth shut off her mp3, turned to her and asked,” Hey Emma, you sure you don’t mind helping me?”
“Positive,” she said with a smile,” That’s what friends are for.”
“If you say so,” she said as Emma asked,” What do you mean?”
“I mean I always got through things with a song. That’s why I carry this around.”
As she showed her the mp3, Emma frowned and said,” That’s not right.”
Beth frowned and asked,” Huh?”
“You shouldn’t need something like a machine to shield you from bad things. You need your friends too.”
“Really?” she asked as Emma nodded and said,” Trust in your friends, will get you through the hardest times.”
“I suppose,” she said as Emma took the dishes and said,” Goodnight Beth.”
As she whistled her little tune, Beth turned her mp3 back on and followed the glowing flame back to their tents. But before the first song started playing, she turned it off, heeding Emma’s words as a friend.
The next morning they walked a good three hours before they met Terminus in an open grove. He stood in the same position as before, a hand in his pocket and the scythe over his shoulder. Behind him was Belphemon, glaring and snarling at the simple sight of them. The titanic creature towered over them, spreading fear as Terminus said,” I was starting to think you were ignoring me.”
“Let’s get this over with,” Michael said as the others were too scared to take more steps.
Terminus laughed as he said,“ I’ve got a treat for you today Michael. Take away the whole and some still remains. What is it?”
“I don’t know!” Beth cried as Gaomon said,” There has to be a definite answer. We’re over thinking it.”
“Or maybe he wants us to under think it!” Michael said as Terminus chuckled,” You knew we’d expect a simple riddle to have a simple answer, but I see through you. By watching through your eyes I know the answer is a Human!”
“What kind of answer is that?!” Belphemon cried as Michael continued,” If you take away a human soul, the whole, it still leaves the body, the some.”
Terminus clenched his forehead and stomach as he laughed and cried,” What a stupid answer! In fact, I think I’ll watch just to see how Belphemon punishes that awful a reply.”
“Oh yeah, then what was it!?” Dorumon yelled as Terminus sat on a rock and said,” Wholesome. They’re all yours Belphemon.”
Belphemon began radiating a green aura as Terminus watched. The girls watches as their guards took out the D-Tectors. They each turned into the Beast Spirits as Takuya said,” I’d say bring it on but I’m afraid you’ll listen.”
“Just do your best guys!” Emma shouted as Mei yelled,” Don’t forget what these scumbags did to Christine!”
“That’s right, try and stop me. I’ll crush you into dust before you land a single blow on me.”
Thousands of dark chains shot out from Belphemon’s arms as he shouted,” You’ll never win!”
They dodged the chains as Belphemon chose his first target. Koji was the first to come after him, so Belphemon shot dozens of chains at him like bullets. KendoGarurumon just used the blades on his back to slice through them like threads as he came closer. He even dodged one of them, using it to sprint to Belphemon. But Belphemon took Koji my his throat at the last minute and threw him into the forest.
Terminus clapped as Belphemon set his sights on Takuya. He didn’t hold back and sent hundreds of chains from every direction. Takuya shot each of them down and dodged them just like in the action movies. He even blew several of them away with his wings. To save his friends, Tommy chopped the chains like vegetables on a cutting board with his axes. But before Belphemon could react, Takuya came and punched him down.
“Thanks Tommy,” he said before he went to finish Belphemon. But he couldn’t finish Belphemon. Before Takuya knew it, Belphemon was already up and ready to come at him again. Takuya dodged and flew up before diving down. He shot several Pyro Darts at Belphemon, but it was as weak as throwing snowballs against a mountain. They just melted off Belphemon as Takuya tried to stop. It was too late however and he found himself bound by the chains. It felt like his limbs were being crushed as both arms and legs were bound. Belphemon kicked and punched Takuya into submission before slashing an X shape on BurningGreymon. They burned so much, even fore the Spirits of Fire, only because those claws were smoldering with the flames of Hell. Belphemon grinned and said,” Who’s next?”
Zephyrmon came with Gaogamon and Chirinmon. They acted as distractions as Zoe pulled off her true plan. Reppamon and Gaogamon kept coming at Belphemon like lions, but it was Zoe who went in for the kill. She ran up to Belphemon and kicked him high into the air as Terminus scoffed. She created a tornado of needle-like feathers, blowing around like a hurricane. But as these pierced into Belphemon’s fur, he just grinned. Before she could react, the beautiful winds were replaced by a tornado of chains. They seemed to be tearing her apart as she was endlessly pounded into the next chain. Belphemon then grabbed Gaogamon and Reppamon, beating them in the tornado as well.
But J.P. saved them with Dorugamon, Lekismon and Liamon. Once Dorugamon destroyed the tornado with Power Metal, J.P. started firing at Belphemon with shots of electricity. Belphemon just dodged these and countered with the chains. But every time they got close, one of the partner digimon would block it for J.P. They did so until each Champion was defeated, but this gave J.P. long enough to charge the Electron Cannon. But once it hit Belphemon, all it did was make him angrier. Terminus laughed as he watched chains emerge from the smoke left from the Electron Cannon. They grabbed J.P. and Belphemon hoisted him up. In one swift blow, he dropped J.P. with so much force it left a crater.
But from that crater, came Korikakumon. Belphemon and Tommy stood like the Yin and Yang. Both were the brawn and both were ready to fight. Like a mirror image, they both rushed and punched with the same hand. It released a shockwave that blew everyone that was left away. Their battle consisted mostly of one hitting while the other blocked. But in a cheap move, Belphemon tripped Tommy with his tail, slamming him into the ground. But when it looked like Tommy was out, he countered with Frozen Arrowheads. A burst of smoke came, and Belphemon wasn’t there. A panicked look fell on Tommy as Belphemon appeared behind him. The chains came once he turned around and hit him so he couldn’t get up.
Now all was left was Koichi. He gave it his all and once the chains came, he just countered with Dark Master. The beam coming from his mouth destroyed the chains as he made his way to Belphemon. Koichi hit Belphemon with his forehead, right in the chest. It was so strong it sent them both back as Koichi smiled. Belphemon yelled from the smoke and dozens of Chains combined into one. Koichi did his best this time, but it sent him back as Beth yelled,” Koichi!”
She too the first aid kit and ran over to Koichi as the others watched. Terminus let out a curious,” Hmm” and went on to ask himself,” I wonder how this’ll turn out?”
“Out of my way!” Belphemon yelled at Beth as she applied ointment to the wounds. He yelled at her and even punched the ground mere inches from where she sat, but Beth wouldn’t move. He finally couldn’t take it anymore and in his rage screamed,” What do you think you’re doing!?”
“I’m helping my friend,” she said as he demanded,” What kind of foolish answer is that!?”
“You don’t get it,” Beth said as she kept bandaging Koichi’s wounds,” I’m done hiding in songs and using music to mask my problems! From now on my friends are all I need to get through it all!”
“Then show me!” Belphemon said angrily as he took out the chains again,” Make your friends save you from this!”
He struck Beth probably four times all over as she put a bandage over JagerLowemon. But instead of falling, she just stood up and smiled. Beth turned to him with a swollen cheek and bruised body, smiling like nothing happened. Belphemon sent more chains, tossing her into the air as he beat her like a cheep rug. But she kept smiling through the pain. Beth stood proudly, grinding her teeth and gripping the bandages as she yelled,” Is that the best you can do?!”
He became so angry, angrier than ever witnessed. Belphemon brought about so many chains you couldn’t see Beth beyond the metal. He laughed manically as the girls turned away. But Gaomon just watched in horror as the laughter suddenly ended. Then Belphemon smiled wider than before as the chains receded, revealing Beth’s Fractal Code. For the first time, one of the new girl’s code was actually showing. So much pain and beatings had to be dealt to bring the very thing that allowed here to exist in this world to come out. But as they watched her empty silhouette, Beth still smiled wider than ever as Belphemon said in fury,” I don’t care what Epsilon says, I’m taking her code!”
“No!” Koichi yelled as Gaomon leaped in front of the chains. A luminous glow protected him from each of them as Beth mysteriously fell back. But she didn’t fall. Instead she leaped back up, healed and smiling as the streaks of code countered the chains. Sparks flew as true darkness fought the corrupted shadow of Belphemon. But where were these beautiful codes coming from? Beyond the light, they saw Beth’s D-Tector, glowing like a purple sun as she yelled,” We’ll show you the TRUE power of darkness!”
“Yes ma’am!” Gaomon shouted as Beth cried,” Execute Warp Digivolution! Gaomon Warp Digivolve to MachGaogamon!”
MachGaogamon towered behind Beth. He was about the same size as Belphemon and just as intimidating. He put Beth on his shoulder as he and Belphemon rose above the forest. Belphemon laughed as MachGaogamon took a fighting stance. He turned to Beth as he asked,” Orders ma’am?”
“Don’t hold back!” she yelled as the chains came for her again. But they all disappeared once he used Howling Cannon. The waves of blue aura shattered the chains as Beth smiled and said,” What’s wrong Belphemon? Am I just that awesome?”
“You’ll pay for that!” he yelled as he tried slashing at them. It failed too when MachGaogamon punched him before he could finish. Belphemon fell further back as Terminus said,” What a disappointment.”
MachGaogamon was too fast for Belphemon, and his hit-and-run style was perfect on a slow opponent like him. But Beth made a sort of pouting face as she said,” This won’t work. No not at all.”
“Ma’am?” MachGaogamon asked as she said,” We need Emma!”
“Me?” she asked herself as Beth said,” I may not know how you do it, but you’re the one that always beats these guys. Now’s the time to use that strength of friendship you told me about.”
“I’ll get you there,” BurningGreymon said as she climbed on his back. He gently flew up and put her on MachGaogamon’s other shoulder. Emma sat down and held on as she asked,” What did you have in mind?”
Belphemon stood angrily, sending out the biggest swarm of chains yet. But MachGaogamon used Winning Knuckle and grinded them into pieces. But there was something different. Inside his rotating fist was Emma, curled up as she gathered the power of her crystal. The light breached through MachGaogamon’s fist as Belphemon watched in shock. With that last punch, the burst of light came and he was defeated.
“You-You stupid humans!” Belphemon yelled,” I’ll-”
“You’ll do nothing,” Terminus said as he summoned the Corridor. Belphemon crawled through as Terminus said,” You played the game well Michael. At this rate you might just reach Christine.”
“Don’t toy with me,” Michael said as Terminus vanished and said,” See you later.”
Beth and MachGaogamon came down as she jumped from his shoulder, whooping and yelling hapilly as she said,” That was so awesome! You’re so awesome!”
“Ma’am,” MachGaogamon said embarrassingly. But Beth just smiled widely and said,” If your this cool now, I can’t wait to see how much cooler you get!”
MachGaogamon reverted to Gaomon as Emma emerged. Her head was down and her hair dangled as Tommy ran over with worry. He took her by the shoulders and asked,” Emma? Are you okay?”
She raised her head, only to show spirals in her eyes as she said exhaustedly,” I’m okay.”
“How do you feel?” Liollmon asked as she started loosing her balance and said,” Dizzy. Let’s not do that again.”
They all laughed as Emma fell to the ground. Even Michael smiled for the first time in days. But he hadn’t forgotten about Christine. As they went on, he kept reminding himself about her. Only this time, he remembered the good rather than the bad. Those happy memories gave him the strength to keep walking as Terminus readied his next challenge.