Episode 49: Dust to Dust

Genesimon, before them, was absolutely still. It rose to its full height, the four tendrils on its back moving slow and smooth as though they were wings in slow motion; but it did not move.
That was the most disconcerting thing of all.

"You're not going to win, you know," Era said quietly. Slowly, cautiously, the group turned to look upon him; he was calmly adjusting his glasses, a nasty but understated smile on his face. "It's finally perfect. Everything is perfect, except for... you. There was a... blip in the plans. You're certainly good at that, though, aren't you?"
Fourteen pairs of eyes were glaring daggers at him. In return, he was looking not at them, but in their general direction; his eyes were focused beyond them.

He knew they would not attack him, because whether they knew why or not, the group just knew that if they tried anything, they would have a several-hundred-foot-tall abomination to answer to. If he wanted to talk, let him talk-- it gave them a chance to think.

"You've been thorns in my side ever since the idiot gods decided it would be a good idea to call you in. But I've been able to work around it. With it, in some cases," the man said, with a particular smug glance towards Luke; if looks could kill, Era would have dropped dead a hundred times over from the look he got in return
"But you've outlived your usefulness to me. It's a pity that I had to do this. Really and truly."
His voice dripped with insincerity; perhaps he felt bad about it at some point, but any part of him that cared was long dead.

"But you allied yourselves with filth. You forfeited your lives, for the sake of creatures that wanted only to use you as weapons and power sources-- and thus became tainted by them."


"But most importantly, you've gotten in my way. I overlooked something; it won't happen again. There's only one way to make sure of that."
Once again, Era spread his arms out, smiling. He said only two word, then, and took a single step backwards.

"Kill them."

Genesimon began to hiss; the world around them began to shake.

One last time, the kids' D-GEARs erupted into life, the warm light spreading over them and their partners.
As the pairs took on their most powerful forms, it felt just so slightly different than it had before. They felt a connection, not just between the partners themselves, but throughout all fourteen children and digimon. Though they didn't know this, exactly, the seven virtues -- granting power to the warriors and bonding them together -- were cut off from the tree, but were more in tune with each other than ever before.
It was wrong to say they felt entirely in tune, and they were far from synchronized, but if they cared to concentrate, they just barely could feel one another's consciousnesses-- just barely.

But even stronger than that, they could feel what was in front of them-- Genesimon's very existence felt wrong on a very primal level, and were they of weaker constitutions, it may have rooted them to the spot.

"You won't win," Era said, smiling just so faintly. To be truthful, it was hard for the warriors not to believe him-- the odds were not exactly slanted in their favor, here.
But had it been made abundantly clear yet that giving up was not an option?

"It doesn't have a mind of its own," WarTriassimon was quick to say, sidelong to his teammates. "Or if it does, it's not much of one."

He had seen the way Genesimon had acted when it had taken on the sovereign; it was acting on instinct, pure reaction. When it had turned its attention away from absorbing the final Sovereign's core, it had been a big flashing light in the minds of the two that comprised WarTriassimon.

This meant they could distract it. This meant, despite the massive disparity in size -- Genesimon's tremendous size dwarfed even the likes of Rocmon and Quetzacoatimon, let alone the smaller warriors -- that they could still... well, they could still stall.
Maybe that was all they could do right now, but it was better than nothing.

What happened next happened very quickly, in three primary parts, and so it would do best to start at the start:

"Double Blader!" Kisekimon yelled immediately, leaping forward at blinding speed. In the blink of an eye, he had drawn both of his swords from their paintbrush scabbards, and their blades glowed bright as he crossed them. He began to slice them down and out, but before his swords could connect with Genesimon's tail, he found himself thrown off-course.

Before the samurai had even finished calling his attack, Genesimon had rolled its head to focus its one eye on the ground-- and called an attack of its own. "Annihilator Beam!" the beast hissed -- for indeed, no longer was its voice a rumbled groan, but rather a smooth hiss (even though it sounded as though it were coming from behind a wall of static). Immediately, a powerful beam of red energy was shot from its eye, almost as though it were ripped from it. The beam knocked Kisekimon away, sending the mega-level tumbling to the side with a cry. For a second afterward, the beam continued to bore into the invisible plane of the ground, almost seeming to burn into it, before it quite suddenly dissipated.

Not seconds after the beam dissipated, the other six warriors were immediately on the case. Rocmon and Quetzacoatimon, with hard beats of their giant wings, rose into the air, Rocmon quite a bit higher than the serpent.

"Spectral Tail!" Quetzacoatimon yelled, the tip of her tail absorbing the little light around her; she writhed and spun her body, dragging her tailtip in a long arc. From the tip was released a similarly-arced blade of energy, shining brilliantly in all the hues of the rainbow.

"Rolling Fog!" Rocmon keened, and spread his wings wide. Instead of a shower of blade-like ice, or even striking with his huge talons, he summoned around him a massive cloud of freezing mist. One more beat of his wings spread the fog over Genesimon, beginning to coat the creature's extremities with a thin layer of ice.

Well, those on the ground weren't about to be left out. "Fossil Storm!" WarTriassimon yelled, driving his spear point-first into the ground. From the point of impact, bright white cracks spread like spider-webs, and the light quickly shot up to take the form of skeletal beasts, which took no time in rushing at Genesimon's curled tendrils of a tail-end.

"Shark Attack!" Galeomon roared, rearing down. With a crackle of electricity, white energy took the shape of innumerable sharks in the air around her. The ephemeral fish joined the spectral skeletons, surging at Genesimon and snapping their jaws in attempts to sink their teeth in.

ImperialBaghamon growled, embers gathering in his mouth; with a roar of his own -- in which was contained the words "Fire Wave!" -- he opened his mouth and let loose a veritable river of flames, aimed for Genesimon.

MagnaAriamon, for her part, once more traced a circle in the air around her with the tip of her staff. "Shining Break!" she called, but instead of the light expanding into a spherical shield -- as the attack's usual use was -- it instead was directed into a powerful shot of light, firing at Genesimon.

All six of these attacks were loosed at the tremendous abomination, but to simply say they had no effect was not enough.
Even though Genesimon's skin looked paper-thin, the attacks did no damage when they contacted it. The ice from Rocmon's fog cracked away and melted; Galeomon and WarTriassimon's summoned creatures all but dissolved; the attacks of Quetzacoatimon, ImperialBaghamon, and MagnaAriamon alike merely dispersed harmlessly.

Though their attacks had no effect, clearly, they had registered; not a moment after the warriors realized how ineffectual their attacks had been, Genesimon once more rolled its head. Its one eye squeezed shut as though it were thinking very hard, before it snapped open, pupil constricted, as its entire body began to shake just slightly.

Once more, its voice sounded like it was coming from behind a wall of static as it called its next attack. "Static Reaper!" it hissed.

In a heartbeat, the four tentacles on its back split into eight, and began to crackle and shift like, yes, television static. The warriors could hardly notice this, as less than a second later, seven of the tentacles shot out, straight through the chests of all seven warriors. Though they impaled the digimon straight through, they did no apparent physical damage of the sort.

But that is not to say it did no harm.

The attack -- assault -- lasted only seconds, but it took with it any sense of time. It was as though it were corrupting them to the very cores, distorting the essence of their beings and threatening to rip them apart at the seams.

Just as suddenly as they had come, Genesimon's tendrils retracted and rejoined, until once more it had only four spreading from between its shoulder-blades once more.

The warriors hit the ground hard. Those in the air fell like stones; those on the ground collapsed as though they had no bones in their bodies to support them. The screams gave way to heavy breathing of the warriors--
And the heavy, grinding hiss of Genesimon's own breath. The beast loomed over, preparing to loose another attack on its enemies.
Era adjusted his glasses, but his serene, restrained smile remained on his face.

But none of them had fallen too far-- they began to scramble to their feet, trying to act fast, but their bodies groaned with protest, shaking with the aftershocks of the attack.

Shakily, and with many a pained hiss through gritted teeth, Kisekimon was the first to his feet. While his allies were not surprised, they could not say they expected what he did.

Once he was up, Kisekimon wasted no time, despite the protests of his body, he wasted no time; he drew one sword, and leapt.
Despite every fiber of his being groaning with pain, he moved blindingly fast up through the air, almost as though flying. His long red scarf trailing behind him like a comet's tail, to the point where the red streak was almost all they could see of him-- until his drawn sword began to glow, adding a stripe of white to the shape moving upwards. "Nova Blade!" he all but screamed, throwing his sword like a javelin at the peak of his jump.

The sword hit its target true before its owner hit the ground. It struck the red crystalline sphere that rested in Genesimon's abdomen, and the blade began to sink in, sending brilliant white cracks, like spiderwebs, out from the point of impact. Genesimon began to scream, a grinding noise that shook the air, and even sent physical tremors through the remains of Yggdrasil itself. The sword's hilt came flush with the sphere, and stopped. The white tassel attached to the pommel swayed just slightly.

Era's smile faltered.

"This isn't over yet," Kisekimon said as he landed on the ground, as graceful as possible. The odd thing was: it sounded like it was onEgakumon and Simon's voices speaking in tandem, instead of in Kisekimon's own deeper, more knightly voice.

"You can delay it as long as you want, you know," Era said quietly, hands clenched into fists. His voice was almost inaudible under the horrible sound Genesimon made. "But I have the power of a god in my hands. This world is mine."

"No, it isn't," ImperialBaghamon said immediately, and just like Kisekimon before him, his voice was not his own-- but of Rajamon and Andrea, speaking together. "God Fist!" Whether spoken in the voice of the four-armed lion or the young girl and tiger that comprised it, the attack worked just the same either way. ImperialBaghamon thrust out all four fists, and a powerful aura of flame was let loose, surging upwards at the orb that Kisekimon's sword rested in.
The flames impacted the sphere, and instead of rolling off harmlessly like they had against the beast's skin, the fire seemed to seep into the cracks that the sword had started; Genesimon roared, its entire body distorting for just a moment.

"It's a core, yeom," Galeomon said suddenly, her eyes narrowing. She snorted out through her nose, raising her arms. "Electro Break!" she roared in turn, summoning a crackling sphere of electricity between her hands. The shark lobbed it at the orb in Genesimon's abdomen; it arced smoothly through the air before impact. Just like the flames before it, it seeped in instead of dissipating, causing Genesimon's body to surge once more.

The instant the electricity hit, three of the warriors began to move; MagnaAriamon leapt into the air as her staff began to glow, and Quetzacoatimon and Rocmon pulled their bodies into the air with heavy beats of their wings.

"Radiant Lance!" MagnaAngemon cried, lobbing her staff like a javelin just as Kisekimon had thrown his sword.

"Brilliant Hunter!" Quetzacoatimon roared, spreading her wings wide and releasing a shower of blade-like energy.

"Heaven Strike!" Rocmon keened, rising up higher into the air before swooping down with talons glowing white. He struck hard before flapping backwards, clearing away as fast as he could.

All three attacks were focused on the sphere-- and hit true. The orb began to crack-- it just needed one more solid hit before it had a chance to respond.

"Fault Shift!" WarTriassimon cried without a second of hesitation, holding his spear above his head with both hands, and leaping. His powerful jump was just enough to get him on-level with what they assumed was Genesimon's core, and he slammed it point-first into the sphere.
Just like that, the core shattered-- Kisekimon's sword fell, and the rabbit was quick to leap forward to catch it before it clattered to the ground. WarTriassimon likewise was thrown backwards by the force; MagnaAriamon was on the scene in a heartbeat, swooping forward and grabbing him under the arms to prevent the dinosaur from tumbling down.

It flashed blinding-white for a split second, and Genesimon began to roar once more-- an unearthly noise, interspersed with heavy breathing and gurgling static. Where the orb had rested in its abdomen was now a pitch-black hole-- if they were to look, they would see data rushing to and fro under the surface of its skin.

Genesimon did not call an attack; instead, it merely groaned, and behind it, Yggdrasil began to visibly corrupt, streams of data shooting in every direction for just a moment.
As it moved, the warriors could feel something awful-- the same feeling they felt when they first laid eyes on Genesimon in its fetal form, multiplied a hundredfold. They reared down and hissed, pupils constricting and teeth bared, as once more their bodies contended with the feeling of hate and corruption and absolute wrongness rushing through them-- even if just for a couple seconds.

But that was all the delay Genesimon needed. The attacks dispelled and its prey temporarily disabled, it took its chance. It began to glow just faintly, staticky and glitched.

"Void of Abandon!"

Underneath all seven of the warriors -- even those in the air -- swirling black whirlpools opened up in the invisible plane of the ground; they would be invisible, if not for the fact that they seemed to eat up the light around them.
And, of course, the fact that those with their feet on the ground were being sucked into them. Those in the air were, too-- it was like a black hole was dragging them down with intense gravity. Any attempts they made to move away were futile at best, and actively counterproductive at worst.

Before long at all, all of them -- from the comparatively small Kisekimon and MagnaAriamon, to the monstrous forms of Rocmon and Quetzacoatimon, were dragged downwards into the darkness, engulfed and invisible to the naked observant eye from outside.
Data rushed around them, the distant dull roar that they had grown to know-- the same sound they had heard when they had been in the presence of the Sovereigns, when they digivolved to Mega.

But it was no comforting noise this time-- it sounded like a vicious storm was raging, crashing and ripping around them with no rhythm or rhyme.

Perhaps one or two opened their mouths to exclaim, but no sound came out; even within the cores, the non-physical humans found that their voices were robbed from them. They could say nothing; and moreover, they realized, they couldn't do much else, either. Despite their usual alertness, their being in-tune with their surroundings, they could feel nothing; it was as like their nerves were being smothered and suppressed by some unseen force. They could not see; they could not hear; they felt nothing at all.

Whether this silence lasted a second or a minute (it was hard to tell), it did not last forever.

With no warning, everything was-- well, to say it was on fire would be far too gentle a term.

Every inch of their bodies felt as though it were being torn apart and reassembled a thousand times a second; the pain was unfathomable. It was as though they were, digimon and human alike, mind and soul both, being torn apart by vicious metaphysical claws, poking into every corner and ripping at every nerve like a surgeon gone mad. It felt as though no corner went untouched.

The digimon cried out, roared, and keened with pain; but what they heard, far more than themselves, were the voices of the human children in their cores screaming in pain.
That sound was unbearable, far more than the pain itself was.

The only way the warriors could tell that they were slipping unconscious was the fact that the pain was starting to dull and their minds were growing fuzzy.


Simon opened his eyes and immediately threw his arms up to shade them. It was brilliant white all around; his entire body was numb, but he could look down and see his physical form well enough. That was just about all he could see; as best he could tell, he was simply floating in a white expanse.

"What's going on?" he said, more to himself than anything, but he heard no echo, and could barely hear himself; he had no sign that he had said anything, except for the memory of the words.

"Simon!" a very familiar voice called-- and though it was a voice in his head, not a sound he could pinpoint the location of, he felt the need to turn himself around with a wrench of his sensation-devoid body. He did, with a bit of difficulty; floating just behind him was Egakumon. The rabbit seemed much more alert and aware of himself than Simon was, gripping his paintbrush in one hand and looking at his partner. "What's going on?" Egakumon asked.

"I don't know," Simon answered; but this time, he felt a compulsion to try another route. He did not try to open his mouth, merely thought the words-- spoke with his heart, to use a cliche. It seemed to work. "I was asking the same thing."

"You don't think this is the end of the line, do you?" Egakumon said; his tone was inscrutable, neither hopeful nor defeated. He looked to his human partner, scanning his face. Simon noted that Egakumon was able to speak normally, but chose not to think too hard about it-- no, there were other things to concentrate on.

The very thought implied by Egakumon's words caused a pit to drop in Simon's stomach-- followed by a fire of indignation.
No. It wasn't the end. This was something that Genesimon's attack had done-- but he was still alive. He could still feel his heart beating. Couldn't he?

Even though his body felt heavy, he lifted a hand. For a moment, he was afraid that he would feel nothing-- but when his hand rested on his chest, and beating defiantly on was his heart, thumping steady as a war-drum. He felt angry; angry at Era, angry at Genesimon. It set his soul on fire-- it was not a vengeful anger; it was anger at something wrong, and a need to set it right.

"Of course it isn't," Simon said decisively; he could sense a warm feeling seeping out from his heart out through his body, re-gaining feeling as it spread.

"I was hoping you were gonna say that," Egakumon said, and he burst into a grin. Simon couldn't place why, exactly, but it felt like the rabbit knew something he wasn't saying-- but it was easy to get distracted from that thought.

Then, another familiar shape -- though admittedly, not one that either of them had ever seen from an outsider's perspective -- began to appear, forming a triangle with the boy and the rabbit.
Kisekimon's form began to appear. His head was bowed, his body slack; both of his swords were gripped loosely in his hands, his scarf trailing behind him like a long tail. It was not quite fully there-- it was an apparition, half-transparent and even more weightless than the pair. Faint but clear to see (especially against the stark background), Kisekimon was flanked on either side by two familiar rabbits, one black and one white-- StarShokunimon and Shokunimon floated alongside their higher form, eyes closed.
Simon and Egakumon looked around themselves, then to one another.

From the first day they had met, through every battle they won and every battle they lost-- from facing down with Gargoylemon, fighting to calm Narakamon, to standing against Javermon and Reapermon.
Even back to when Simon was a young boy, lost in fantasies-- pretending to be a hero.
They had tried, at every turn, to make themselves a hero worthy of their Virtue.

Simon... well, even if there was nothing at stake, even if his own world would be left unharmed, it didn't matter. He had been chosen to be a hero-- he had, intentionally or not, taken the lead of the team of rag-tag lonely kids. He may not have been the perfect hero, and he may not be the smartest or strongest, even on the team.
But he was a hero nonetheless. Now was no time to stop.

Simon and Egakumon reached out to each other, the boy's gloved hand grabbing a hold of the rabbit's big clawed one. A familiar light began to overtake them, tinged with red, but this time, it came not from the boy's digivice-- but from Egakumon, starting as a pinprick of reddish light in Egakumon's chest and moving out at blinding speed.

In a surge of red, all but one of the figures were gone-- and Kisekimon's head lifted, his body fully formed and corporeal.
The white abyss around him beginning to crack apart; Kisekimon gripped his swords tightly, raising his head.


Andrea found herself, at the same time, in the same white abyss; she floated, numb from head to toe. She closed her eyes, blocking out the searing white all around her. Unlike Simon, she did not have to look for her partner; Rajamon was curled around her legs, feeling much more substantial -- weighted -- than Andrea herself did.

Her head was foggy. There was just too much to handle; even here, she was too caught up in what was outside to allow herself to relax. They had a battle to complete; there was a war to be won yet. ... so why did she feel so apprehensive?

"Are you afraid?" Rajamon's voice asked as he looked up to his partner, craning his neck.

Andrea breathed out slowly; she paid special attention to the air as it left her lungs. She was taking stock of each breath she took, a reminder that she was indeed still breathing.

"Of course I am," she said without actually speaking, tilting her head back to look upwards as she opened her eyes-- not that it would have changed her view, of course. It was all just endless white.

"I'm afraid to mess this up. I'm afraid of what will happen if we don't succeed. And I'm not gonna lie-- Genesimon freaks me right the heck out." Though her mouth did not move, she seemed to smile, dry and sardonic. She looked down to Rajamon; his eyes were fixed on hers, his face unreadable.

Rajamon uncurled from around his partner, and drifted forward, until he stood -- floated -- facing Andrea. "But will you still fight?" the tiger said, flicking his tail, but he knew the answer before he even said a word.

At that moment, between them and to the side, a tall shape began to form-- but it was not the comfortable form of Kisekimon, as Simon had seen, nor the familiar shapes that her friends and allies were seeing simultaneously. No, it was a tall shape, with a skeletal face and a mane of purple fire. Yellow eyes glowed in empty sockets, as four viciously-clawed legs hung limp.

Narakamon's shape was only partially visible, half-transparent and barely there, but it was enough. They could almost feel its putrid, rattling breath. For a split second, Andrea felt a surge of fear-- but she shook it away and looked to Rajamon. She could feel the glowing, dead eyes on her-- but she powered through. It would take a lot more than that to scare her again.

"Of course I will," Andrea said decisively, and from her chest, she felt a warmth begin to spread out to her fingertips. As she said that, Narakamon's shape began to disintigrate, crumbling away into dust and ash and a burst of cold flame. In its place, rising like a particularly feline-like phoenix, was ImperialBaghamon. The lion's head was bowed, and all four of his muscled arms hung at his sides. His scimitars were nowhere to be seen, and his tail swayed as though blown by the wind. On either side of him, they could see the fainter shapes of Baghamon and BurningBaghamon, heads bowed and breathing soft.

Andrea had let her pride get the best of her; she had let her history grab a hold of her and be used against her. She had been afraid, more than she had let on-- from fighting the Woodmon in the forest in a strange new world, to allowing Rajamon to reach his Perfect form against Orochimon even when she feared Narakamon, to protecting her friends -- and allowing herself to call them her friends -- and fighting PileVolcamon in the Crater Valley. When her partner became Narakamon.
When her mother had died.
But she had always overcome it-- she had made a promise to be brave-- to her mother. To her partner. And she would be darned if she was going to break that.

She reached her hand out; Rajamon lifted one paw and placed it in her hand, a knowing smile on his furry face. Like an ember sparking into a fire, an orange light began to seep from the tiger's chest, covering both him and his partner in the blink of an eye.

A flash of light, and they, as well as the Adult and Perfect-level cats, were gone-- and ImperialBaghamon lifted his arms and let out a roar. As flames began to play at his hands, summoning his scimitars, the white abyss began to fade away.


Julian and Iguamon floated back to back in the vast white nothingness; they said nothing to one another, staring straight ahead into the abyss.
This was Genesimon's work; they were trapped in the voids of the beast's attack.

Or rather, Julian realized after a short stint, perhaps they weren't-- perhaps they were trapped in their own heads, abstract and apart, somewhere else entirely-- as close to nowhere as they could get. The calm in the eye of the storm.

He breathed out heavily, flexing his fingers-- he could not feel much, could not even hear his breath. It was not a comfortable feeling by any stretch of the imagination.

"Iguamon?" he said without moving his mouth.

"Yes?" the dinosaur replied, flicking his tail and flexing his legs as he floated. Julian, not able to see that the dinosaur was speaking normally -- just as his allies were, elsewhere.

"Is there a way out of this?" the boy said, looking off into the white distance. His voice was even, but he couldn't help but feel some sort of doubt in his head-- they were in over their heads this time, and rack his brain though he might, he was struggling to find a way to defeat an enemy they were so mismatched against.

"There always is." Iguamon spoke plainly, closing his eyes. "We just need to find it."

There always was a way. Those words rang in Julian's head.

There had always been a way. When they had been outmatched, they simply grew stronger-- they reached new forms, tried new strategies.
They had fought, despite being outmatched by Forbidramon and the Reapers both in turn.
They had fought even though the sovereigns fell one by one-- finding ways to fight back, prolong the battle, even in the face of a monster that could tear the worlds apart at the seams.
Changing. His time here certainly had changed him. He couldn't deny it. Fighting alongside his brother-- his new friends.

Always finding the bit of information they needed, growing stronger. Always finding a way out.

He had always kept on top of it (or, at least, he had tried); why should now be any different? There had always been a way out before.

"We're going to find it," Julian said after a moment. "I don't know how. But when has that ever made a difference?" And just like that, he felt a tingling sensation start-- starting in his chest, in his heart, and moving outwards, until his fingertips and toes and the crown of his head were engulfed by an odd warmth.
He turned his body with a bit of effort; Iguamon did the same, looking up at his partner as he flexed his claws. In the dinosaur's red eyes shone nothing but kindness and belief and understanding; a million words passed between them, unsaid. But really, all this time, it had always been the same words: we'll find a way.

To the side, then, WarTriassimon's shape began to form, incorporeal but clear as day. His eyes were closed underneath his skull mask; his spear lay slack in his hand, his head bowed, his body floating free and relaxed. Julian and Iguamon looked at the body of the warrior they formed together. Astride him, they saw the misted shapes of Triassimon and Velocimon, the more beastly dinosaurs flanking their humanoid Mega form.
Julian bowed his head. The Drimogemon from the caves; the SkullGreymon in the jungle; PicoDaemon, fighting before Zhuqiaomon, at the mouth of the volcano.
There was always a way to change, to overcome, be it in battle or in his childhood. He could adapt; he could change, and they could turn the tides of this battle yet.

Iguamon held out one hand. Julian did not hesitate to grab hold of it, gloved hand clasped in gloved hand; the dinosaur began to glow when they touched, a comfortable warm light.

A surge of green, and a warm feeling overcame WarTriassimon as his lower forms vanished like smoke. He gritted his teeth, opened his eyes, held his spear tight, as their white surroundings began to melt away-- as they emerged from the void.


When he came to, Faris felt like he had been hit by a truck-- or rather, that he had been hit by a truck and was subsequently hopped up on every kind of painkiller. He could feel no part of his body, and his body fell forward, slack and loose. Everything around him was white, searing and blank.
Delfinimon floated a short distance in front of him. While Faris himself felt numb and motionless, she was moving through the air slowly but gracefully, like she were playing in the waves instead of in the middle of the air.

Faris had tried to speak up, but nothing he said worked-- all sound died as soon as it left his mouth. He merely looked at the dolphin in front of him. Her big violet eyes were fixed on him, scanning for... something.

"What's on your noggin, yeom?" the dolphin asked. Just like the others, she spoke aloud. She smiled, but her eyes were just a tiny bit more solemn than they usually were.

"Too much," Faris said honestly-- or, tried to. He couldn't tell what it was, but he realized again that his voice died, and repeated himself without speaking-- that seemed to work.

He wanted to fight back, but he didn't want to go home. He didn't want this to end, but he was afraid of what would happen if it stayed the way it was-- with Genesimon tearing apart this world that had come to matter so much.
But even with all that in mind, he had no idea what he could do. He wasn't sure where he was-- well. Aside from the obvious-- in a big white void. He could even extrapolate that he was inside Genesimon's attack, but it felt... like he wasn't quite real.
This might well have just been inside his head.

And that? That was a lot to think about.

"Are you afraid to face what's outside?" the dolphin said after a moment, her words cutting through Faris' reverie.

He blinked a couple times, and tried to laugh aloud. When that failed, he laughed within his head, and that time, the noise came across. It was in part a joyless laugh, a bit bitter, but part genuine. "You're good at figuring me out, aren't you, tuna fish?"

"We're partners, yeom," Delfinimon said, decisively.

"Do you think it'll be okay?" the dolphin said after a moment, looking over at Faris and once more scanning his face for something.

He searched himself and...
Yes. He did. He didn't know what was going to happen, but he could face it with a smile-- he could make the best of it. He would fight, he would manage to keep on after they won. Because they would win; he could feel that. That's what let him go on with a smile.

"Yeah," Faris said, and even though he felt apprehensive, he managed to mean what he said.

"I knew you'd say that," Delfinimon said. "Yeom."

"Knew you'd say that," Faris deadpanned back, and then his numb body began to grow warm-- starting in his core and seeping out gradually until there was no inch of him that didn't feel warm.

Out of the blinding-bright light, the enormous form of Galeomon began to take shape; though she was, as she always was, the size of a bus, she had no weight, was able to float just as lightly as boy and dolphin. Faris looked over to the tremendous shark; she, too, floated like Delfinimon had, though the shark looked more as though she were being carried along by the tide. She brought with her the even-less-solid shapes of Shayumon and MetalShayumon; for a moment, Faris couldn't help but think of Galeomon's -- their -- Shark Attack.

Faris thought back; he had faced every trouble with a smile, or at the least a quip that allowed him to pretend he knew what he was doing. The Dolphmon they had faced as they sunk into the ocean; scrapping with Datamon in the factory; Plesiomon, in the underground cave. He wasn't using the joking as an escape-- not anymore. Not since he came here. It was a way to keep his head up even when things were dark.

"Let's go light this thing up," Faris said, holding out his arms for Delfinimon; she writhed her tail and beamed, all but swimming through the air into her partner's arms. Pressed flush as they were, they couldn't see the light that began to engulf Delfinimon until it had all but overtaken them both-- nor could Faris see the expression on Delfinimon's face, a sly look, a look of knowing just a bit more than she was telling.

Everything went seafoam-green, just for a moment; Galeomon writhed her large body, flexing her claws and flaring her nostrils as her weaker forms vanished. The white began to wash away-- and just as well, as she would have found a way to tear it down herself if it hadn't.


Emily looked around herself, but everything was stark white and empty. She couldn't make a noise; she could hardly feel her own body, and -- most importantly -- she couldn't find Kamomon. She looked up, down, around-- but she wasn't able to tell if she was turning, with no point of reference. Everything was just endless white. She tried calling out; it didn't work.

"Emily!" Kamomon's voice cawed out as the girl looked around frantically; he came into view a minute later. While Emily felt weightless, he had to flap his wings, not as graceful as he might have been, to keep afloat. "I would never leave," he said before she even had the chance to speak.

"I know," Emily said back, more than a bit sheepish. In the heightened emotion, she had a moment of panic. She continued looking around; she tried to frown, but it seemed that her mouth did not want to move. "Where are we?"

"Your guess is as good as mine," the bird replied.

"How do we get out?" Emily said quickly, even though she didn't expect her partner to have an answer for her.

The bird shook his head with a shrug of his wings. "I don't know. I think this may be... some sort of illusion, inside the voids that that monster sucked us into. To try and make us--"

"Give up," Emily finished for him, casting her eyes downwards and falling silent. Though she did not realize that this assumption was incorrect, it seemed perfectly viable. She felt every inch of her body; she was floating, lighter than air. It would make sense that this wasn't real, but then why did Kamomon have a feeling of weight to him? She could still feel... some amount of power, some connection to her partner, but it was fuzzy, unclear.

"You don't think this is the end of the line, do you?" Kamomon asked, but he wasn't flustered in the slightest-- he didn't doubt her for a second. He just wanted to hear her say what he knew she felt.

Emily looked to Kamomon, looked into his big yellow eyes.

They had fought so hard, and come this far. So what if it looked bleak? That had never stopped her before. She had always stood by, even when she felt afraid-- and even when she wondered if what they were doing would work. Kamomon had always stood by her side, just as she had always stood at her friends'.

No way she could give up now. It was insulting even to think.

"No way," she said. As she said the words, she began to regain feeling in her body, slow and creeping but comfortable all the way. "The point of no return was ages ago."

Kamomon puffed out his chest-feathers. He could not hold the big smile off of his face, and every inch of him seemed to burst with pride and happiness, of certainty.

Next to them, the tremendous form of Rocmon began to appear-- he was like a ghost, light and delicate despite his massive size as he towered over the girl and bird. It was impressive to see how large their final form was, really, from the perspective of an outsider.
His head was bowed low; his wings hung limp at his sides, his feathers all out of order and ruffled. His eyes were closed, and his talons flexed, grabbing weakly at nothing. Even fainter was the shape of Ospreymon, floating to one side; and kneeling down in front of both huge birds was Kaizokumon.

Emily looked to her partner. Had they ever really had the choice to turn back? She wouldn't know-- if they were given it, she didn't see it. Every time they pressed forward and grew stronger -- when Kamomon digivolved first to Kaizokumon to fight Deputymon, or to Ospreymon to protect their new friends, or when they became Rocmon together to face down with Gryphonmon-- it just cemented them further. The point of no return was a distant memory.
There had been plenty of times where, maybe before, she would have given up-- gotten discouraged, or believed her friends didn't need her; but that Emily was no more.

Kamomon held out one wing, beaming proudly at his partner. She beamed back, grabbing hold of his feathered hand; even under the puffed-out feathers of Kamomon's chest, the light was plain to see, almost as if the avian's pride had turned into blue light and was forcing its way out.

With a loud keen, Rocmon spread his wings and lifted into the air, talons flexing. With one beat of his wings, his lower forms were dispersed like smoke; further beats spread snowflakes around him, but the endless white that surrounded him began to melt away.


Toby's eyes slid closed as he sunk his face into the hood gathered around his neck. The fabric had absorbed some of the perfumed scent of Lammon's smoke; the familiar, comfortable aroma granted him a bit of serenity.
This was a good thing, because, if he was being completely honest, he would much prefer being stuck alone in the dark to being wherever it was he was now.

Like all of his friends, he could not feel much of his body; he could move, yes, but he was floating, with no concept of up and down or where he was in relation to anything else.

And he couldn't deny that the disorientation sent a bolt of panic down his spine; even so, he was determined not to show it. Slowly, he opened his eyes, looked around into the blinding white. "Lammon?" he said, but he was taken aback-- he had actually not tried to speak aloud, but the word had come out regardless-- quite the opposite problem than his friends had encountered on the subject.

What followed was a few moments of tense silence, still and quiet to the point where Toby could hear his own heart beating.

He could not say what it was that compelled him to turn around, but he did with a bit of effort. Lammon floated there; her head was quirked to one side, her legs were tucked underneath her body, and her smoky ponytail swirled in on itself with no breeze or motion to disperse it.

"What's going on?" Toby asked, though he didn't expect an answer. Looking around made him more than a little dizzy, so he chose to focus his gaze on the sheep digimon before him.

"Genesimon's attack," Lammon supposed as she looked around, her nose twitching as she talked.

"We're still inside of it, you mean?" Toby said, furrowing his brow, but Lammon shook her head.

"I don't think so," she said slowly, looking back to her partner. She felt something within herself-- this was no illusion, and part of no attack.

"It's nice," Toby said, closing his eyes again. He felt the same way that Lammon had-- but he had fewer ways to articulate it, could not fully explain why the feeling in his heart was telling him this place was a positive thing.
This place, whatever it was, was protecting them -- give them a chance to come back fighting-- not hinder them. "But we still have to find a way out, don't we?" he said after a short pause, frowning. Lammon nodded her head, looking around again, but looking at Toby himself, her face kind but giving away nothing.

Was he afraid of whatever lay outside? Of course. It was far and away the scariest thing they had faced in this world-- and indeed, a lot of weird things had happened since they had gotten here. But every time, Toby knew as he thought back, their partners had been there for them.

Toby, on his own, was afraid of a lot of things, ranging from 'the dark' to 'giant abominations trying to destroy multiple worlds', but none of that mattered. Fighting with Lammon, as MagnaAriamon, he had no reason to be afraid of anything.

"Let's go," he said then, and a warm feeling began to spread from his chest. He began to re-gain feeling, starting to feel like he weighed something again.
When he spoke, a Digimon's form began to materialize out of the light; Toby, of course, turned to look.

MagnaAriamon, as insubstantial as smoke and light, floated there; her wings were flared out, barely visible at all. Her staff was gripped loose in one hand, and though her eyes were always closed, she didn't seem to be awake behind them as she usually did. As though she were a shepherd, they could see the shapes of Ariamon and Nimbimon floating lightly behind her.
Toby looked from the higher-leveled sheep to Lammon, and smiled faintly.

Every step of the way, she had always had his back-- and he, hers, whether they were fighting an Ankylomon, a SkullBaluchimon, or even the reaper Epidemon, she had stood strong, but he knew, now, she couldn't have done that by herself. Toby was not simply dragged along for the ride, a child who had to be protected at every turn; without him at her side, Lammon wouldn't have the strength to protect. Without Lammon, he wouldn't have believed he could give her strength.

Lammon came forward, and even though she was floating, she seemed to have trouble orienting herself on her hind legs. She placed both her hooves in Toby's hands; he couldn't stop himself from smiling as a purple light began to erupt from the sheep's chest, expanding and engulfing the pair.

A moment later, MagnaAriamon lifted herself into the air, wielding her staff expertly. Her eyes opened with a flash of white light, and the endless expanse of white began to dissolve around the warrior.


This wasn't the first time Luke felt out of touch with his body-- though the last time, it had been significantly less... calm. White and achingly quiet was, in fact a marked improvement; he relaxed his mind to follow his all-but-numb body. He did not try to speak aloud, instead quite immediately going for the less direct approach.

"So this is it, huh?"

"Of course it isn't," Sampamon's voice said, calm and serene, from behind Luke. He did not turn; he didn't need to, as she slithered her way around to her partner's front within moments. Contrasted against the sheer white, her body looked like a streak of ink, black and inter-cut with bursts of colour; she moved like a liquid, taking to this like a natural. (She seemed a bit pleased that she could move on more than a flat horozontal plane in this form, for once.)

"You don't think so?" Luke said; he was a bit taken aback, and he found some part of himself doubting the snake's words.

"No," Sampamon said, shaking her head. "This place is neither a prison nor an end," she continued, craning her neck to look around.

"You know, you have a real skill for speaking most cryptically when I'm most confused," Luke said dryly.

"You've told me. I would hate to disappoint," Sampamon replied, a faint smile playing on her face.
Sampamon knew -- as did all of the digimon -- where this was, and what, but she -- also like her allies -- could not place why, exactly, it had happened. She knew that something was protecting them. Or rather, that something was protecting their partners. She had a good hunch as to what it was protecting them, too, but...
She was unsure, and even were she more certain, she couldn't be sure she would explain quite right.

Luke tried to read Sampamon's face, but found nothing there. He could not find it in him to begrudge her; she had her reasons for what she did, he knew. He chose not to dwell on it. "So we need to get out of here, right?" he said, instead of prying.

Sampamon nodded. She did not say that it sounded as though Luke was almost hesitant-- he knew, had probably noticed the tone in his own voice just as readily as his partner had.

He couldn't deny that he was tired. It was hard, running on full-blast all this time-- physically and emotionally, he felt he hadn't truly rested since he got to this world. Everywhere he had looked, there was something demanding attention-- digimon in need, conflict within the group, and of course, Era at every turn.
Some part of him wanted to rest, even if just for a moment. They had done so much.

But they were still needed. Even as they barreled towards the end, towards their parting-- an eventuality that Luke, quite frankly, did not want to face. How could he go back, after this? How could any of them go back? He wasn't afraid of what lay outside of this little bubble, this space outside of space; he was afraid of what came after it.
It was hard to blame him if, for just a little while, he wanted to stop time here-- alone, at peace, with his partner at his side.

But when he thought that, the rest of his mind reprimanded him. To think that way was hideously selfish of him. And more than that-- he wasn't the only one. The other kids felt the same, he knew; and even when it was all over, they had eachother, people who had been through the same, who knew the world they had to leave behind when they went back to their own.
It didn't dull the pain of what was to come, but it was a truth he couldn't let himself forget.

For the good of himself, the friends he had found, both worlds they now called home.

"Well. Shall we?" he said, as though he were asking his digimon partner for a dance instead of asking her to return to battle with an unnatural abomination.
Sampamon smiled and bowed her head, and Luke felt a pang of something warm and almost sad shoot through his veins.

If Sampamon had looked like a streak of ink in the white abyss, the form that began to take shape next to them was a sea of it. The tremendous shape of Quetzacoatimon, insubstantial as vapor, began to appear next to the pair. Her head was bowed as if it were too heavy for her to keep open, her wings tucked in at her sides, her eyes closed. Like trails of ink dripping away from the source, on either side of her were the faded shapes of Serpemon and HebiDramon, heads bowed just as their Mega's was.

Luke looked to his partner, and she at him.
They had been through a lot. Forbidramon and Reimon felt like distant memories. Every new level that Sampamon had reached, every battle they had endured, had pushed that time further away, kept them moving forward. Magoriamon, Forbidramon, Javermon-- it definitely seemed that they needed to face down with Era's minions to get stronger, make of that what you will. They couldn't get any stronger, now-- there were no higher forms to be reached, but that didn't mean they couldn't fight on.

Luke reached out with one hand; Sampamon, lacking hands of her own to grab on with, slithered forward through the air, and placed her head in his hand, pressing the gem on her forehead up and into his palm. A rich pink light started to glow from the area of Sampamon's heart, and spread out until it had overtaken both boy and snake.

Quetzacoatimon's eyes snapped open; a flap of her wings dispersed her smaller doppelgangers as she let loose a roar, lifting herself higher into the air as the white around them began to fade back to the darkness of Yggdrasil's hollow.


Genesimon's attack, were it aimed at any other digimon, would likely have made short work of them.

The problem, of course, being that it had been aimed at digimon unlike any others. Digimon fused with the seeds of Yggdrasil. Digimon fused with humans. Digimon that were able to use the power of Yggdrasil to protect themselves-- and their partners.
Digimon that were now rising once more from the black swirling abysses that Genesimon had created, coming back with a vengeance and ready to get some well-deserved payback.

It was just in time, too-- however long they had spent in their pockets of nowhere, Genesimon had done some damage in the meantime. The tree was corrupt beyond recognition-- all they could see were streams of data, unconnected to eachother, distorting and surging and shifting erratically. They were tinged with red, and all around them, they could see flashes of the digital world-- and to say it was in poor condition was a vast understatement.
Hidden under these streams of data, criss-crossing and shifting and surging, was a core-- a pure white pillar, like a tree root reaching forever both into the sky and forever below them. Though it seemed infinitely long, it wasn't terribly large in comparison to the tree itself-- only perhaps a thousand square feet at its thickest as best they could see.

And Genesimon was about to fuse with it.
Era stood at the beast's base, facing the core; he did not immediately notice the return of the warriors who had a bone to pick with his plans.

MagnaAriamon was first to act; her wings flared out, and she leapt into the air. "Pure Storm!" she cried, and immediately, dense dark clouds formed overhead. They began to pour a torrent of shining-white rain; Genesimon immediately hissed, but before it could act, two more warriors were on the case.

"Blast Burst!" Kisekimon yelled, leaping into the air and firing twin white-hot blasts of energy from his hands, aiming eagle-eyed at the orb embedded in Genesimon's left shoulder. Before he fell back to earth, Quetzacoatimon was quick to swoop in, catching the samurai in mid-air, where he took a place alongside ImperialBaghamon and WarTriassimon. The rain, though it stung and fizzled when it touched Genesimon, passed through the warriors like either they or the rain was incorporeal.

"Spectrail Tail!" Quetzacoatimon roared, swiping her tail-tip through the air to release a shimmering rainbow-hued blade of energy. Both Kisekimon's white energy and Quetzacoatimon's colourful attack hit the orb in Genesimon's shoulder in a one-two rhythm, sending the tiniest hairline cracks down its surface; either these cores took less to break than the one in its stomach had (unlikely), or the shattering of the first core had weakened the whole (much more likely).

By the time Genesimon was able to turn, Galeomon and Rocmon were quick to act. Rocmon had lifted Galeomon up by her shoulders, up above Genesimon's head. When the shark pulled forward, the bird dropped her right above the opposite shoulder's core.

"Wavebreak Crash!" Galeomon roared as she dropped, a swirling sphere of water immediately surrounding her body. She did a full body-check on Genesimon's right shoulder-core, the water cushioning her and allowing her to deflect-- and adding more oomph to her attack.

Rocmon was next, swooping in, talons glowing with icy energy."Roc Claw!" he keened, smashing his claws into the orb that Galeomon had just air-dropped onto and away from. His talons visibly cracked the sphere, sinking in and spreading large splinters through its surface. He immediately flapped away, using his huge wings to disorient -- and almost taunt -- Genesimon as he backed away.

Genesimon roared, a deep gurgling noise. Its single eye twitched visibly. "Annihilator Beam!" it hissed, acting without a target as the red beam ripped its way Instead, it writhed and snapped its head from side to side, attempting to get as wide an area as possible. It clearly suffered for the lack of focus-- Genesimon could not move terrifically fast, and the seven warriors were able to evade the beam.

From below, even among the ruckus, they could hear Era's voice in a tone they could honestly say they had never heard from him before-- it was a scream, ragged and sounding like it tore his throat bloody on the way out.


The instructions were not aimed at the warriors, but that didn't mean they had not to listen.

"After you," ImperialBahamon drawled to WarTriassimon beside him. The dinosaur shot him a sidelong look and rolled his eyes, before kicking off of Quetzacoatimon's back and throwing himself towards the core in Genesimon's right shoulder.

"Triple Threat!" he snarled, rearing his hands back. He did not use his spear; he merely slammed his claws, now surging with energy, into the sphere, spreading cracks from the points of impact. His claws scraped the surface of the core with a horrendous screeching sound, tracing deep grooves in the crystalline orb. In a heartbeat, one of Genesimon's tentacles shot forward to grab the dinosaur; he immediately let go and thrashed out with his tail, both to land one last blow, and also to give himself a bit of a push away from Genesimon. He narrowly avoided the tentacle; as he fell to the ground, Galeomon leapt towards him, deftly catching and cupping him in her claws before he hit the ground.

Not a second later, ImperialBaghamon too leapt from Quetzacoatimon's back, aiming for the left shoulder core. In mid-air, plumes of fire surrounded all four of his hands and, by extension, all four of his curved blades.
"Imperial Saber!" the lion roared, slamming all four of his sabers forward as though they were climbing hooks and not weapons. Huge fractures shot out from where the points had forced their ways in, glowing white as though back-lit. Again, a tentacle shot out from Genesimon's back, to attempt to strangle the lion. Just like his comrade, he was quick to leap away-- he wrenched his blades out of the rock-like core, falling to earth. Galeomon couldn't run fast enough to catch the cat, but MagnaAriamon had the feline's back.

Despite their difference in statures, MagnaAriamon was able to catch ImperialBaghamon in mid-air-- though she had to drift to the ground, as he did outmatch her in size and was more than a little cumbersome.

"Appreciated," ImperialBaghamon grunted; the sheep priestess merely nodded, smiling faintly.

From above, on Quetzacoatimon's back, all seven warriors could hear Kisekimon's voice yelling a simple command:

"Give it all you got!"

Well, who were they to disagree? The air was filled with the cries of attacks in the blink of an eye.

"Electro Break!" Galeomon snarled, lobbing a huge sphere of electricity. Right shoulder.


"God Fist!" ImperialBaghamon roared, punching forward in the air to release a fiery aura. Left shoulder.


"Shining Break!" MagnaAriamon cried, loud and clear, tracing a circle in the air with her staff to release a golden beam of energy. Left shoulder.


"Bitter Hailstorm!" Rocmon keened, spreading his wings wide to fire a rain of razor-sharp icicles. Right shoulder.


"Armor Breaker!" WarTriassimon yelled, lobbing his spear cleanly through the air. Right shoulder.


"Nova Blade!" Kisekimon cried, leaping from Quetzacoatimon's back to smash his sword blade-first into a core, then leap away with sword in hand. Left shoulder.


"Brilliant Hunter!" Quetzacoatimon roared, loud enough to shake the earth, as she spread her wings. A wave of coloured energy, sharp as knives, was released, in a wide enough spread to hit...

Both shoulders.


Simultaneously, both of the red cores embedded in Genesimon's shoulders shattered, like broken glass, into a thousand pieces, leaving empty holes behind.

Genesimon did not make a sound. Though one core remained embedded in its chest, it was throbbing rapidly and prominently, sending cracks throughout its very chest. It was very visibly deteriorating before their very eyes; data was ripping in and out of its body, all focused on the one core that remained.
It threw its head back and began to seize; the warriors could feel the world around them around them starting to distort in kind, could see what remained of Yggdrasil promptly flip out. Those warriors still in the air landed, not feeling safe in the air. (Not that it felt much safer on the ground, but that was beside the point.)

And speaking of flipping out!

Era began to scream, a steady torrent of obscenities. He shook violently, powered entirely by pure rage and hate; if they looked close, they might even see the thin trickle of blood that was starting to seep out of his mouth-- perhaps the screaming really was ripping his throat raw.

Genesimon continued to seize and shift in total silence. Corrupted data flashed around it. The warriors could only stand by and watch-- not for fear, but because they felt themselves all but root to the spot as one more time -- one last time, Genesimon began to change shape. This time, it was not engulfed by light-- instead, all of a sudden, it seemed to collapse, almost like a dying star. For a split second, Genesimon seemed to be gone, vanished into nothingness.
Only once that had happened did it suddenly grow very bright.

Era went entirely silent, breathing heavily; a smile like a hungry wolf's grin slowly found its way onto his face, his eyes wild.

The light did not last, but floating where the final core in Genesimon's chest had been was a form.

A disturbingly human-like form. For indeed, it was very human in appearance-- more or less, and much more so than its previous forms, as it was in fact slightly shorter than Era himself. It was pure white and ethereal, glowing faintly in the dark, to the point where its edges seemed to be blurred. It became clearer as it began to sink down to ground level, very slowly.
Bandages were wrapped around the lower half of its head. A solid golden mask covered its face; in the middle of the mask's forehead was a delicate carving of an eye, very akin to the one eye of Genesimon's previous form. Further down, there were two shallow pits where proper eyes might have been on its face, but underneath the mask was nothing but black-- in fact, these seemingly-hollow eye pits in the mask were the one part of its body that did not give off an eerie glow.

Its arms were crossed over his chest, hands resting on its shoulders; embedded in the backs of its hands, and apparently fastening them to the shoulders, were a pair of black orbs; unlike the red ones, however, they seemed to lack all sheen, and if the warriors could not see them from angles, they would almost assume they were simply holes in its flesh. Two identical orbs sat in its chest and abdomen, in roughly the same locations as the red cores in the giant's. Only the one in its chest was different from the others; it throbbed slowly like a beating heart, expanding to the point where it seemed it might break, before relaxing once more. Small cracks in its flesh surrounded all four of the orbs.

Six tentacles sprouted from between its shoulderblades, arcing gracefully downwards, to the point where they almost looked like wings; each was tipped in a delicate gold. More bandages were wrapped around its waist; its thighs were pressed flush together, almost fused. Below that, it did not have proper legs; instead, it had two long tendrils that, much like the tail of its previous form, curled together in a double-helix, each appendage ending in a point rather than a foot.

If it weren't for the situation at hand, it would be beautiful.

Era said nothing. He merely began to laugh, ragged and tired. Slowly, he straightened up. He took a single step back, deliberate and calculated, and came into contact with the root-like core of Yggdrasil. In an instant, he was gone-- he had fled, headed for the real world partnered to this Digital World.
He had left them alone with something he had not planned, or designed.

Even Era had no idea what was about to happen. He didn't care to be around to find out.

[Chapter 49: End]