Digimon Destined
Niki "NeeP" Paradis
Chapter Five: The Temple of the Digi-Destined.

    The door to the sleeping quarters slammed open.
    "Wake up!" cried out Karimon as she hit the switch to turn on the lights.
    Everyone groaned as they sat up in their beds, protecting their sleep-accustomed eyes from the brightness.
    "What's going on?" asked Taimon, as he stretched.
    "You have to get out of here!" exclaimed Igorimon as she started to pull off the covers of the nearest bed to her.
    Tiikeimon rubbed his small hands against his fuzzy arms in an effort to stay warm.  "Why?  Is something wrong?" he asked.
    Jyoumon stepped into the room.  "Frankenmon knows that weíre here," he growled, giving a dark look to Igorimon.
    "I'm so sorry!"  Igorimon burst into tears.  "I had to tell him.  He's my master..."
    Something finally dawned on Matimon.
    "You mean to tell me that we've been staying in Frankenmon's house?!?"
    "That's right," said Karimon.  "And Frankenmon will be coming in the morning."
    "So, you have to leave!" wailed Igorimon.
    "Because you betrayed us?!?"
    "I had no choice!  I have to obey my master!"
    "Well?" demanded Taimon.  "Why are we all standing around?!?  We gotta get moving!"

    The former kids and their partners scrambled to get dressed and get their things together.
    Kosoramon sighed.  "I can't believe that Igorimon is working for Frankenmon," she said to her partner.
    "She seemed so nice," agreed Biyomon.
    Mikomon interrupted.  "She can't be all that bad," she said.
    "Why do you think that, Miko?" asked Palmon.
    "Yeah, why?" asked Kosoramon.
    "Well, if Igorimon really was evil, why would she wake us up and insist on us all leaving?"
    Taimon, who was overhearing the conversation nodded to himself.
    "You're right, Mikomon," he said.  "If she was so bad, why would she help us?"
    "Who's to understand the mind of the bad guys?" asked Jyoumon.  He was struggling with tugging the digivice and shoelace over his partner's neck with his teeth.
    "Well," mused the leader.  "I know of one way to find out."
    "Just be careful, Tai," commented Kosoramon as she tried to help Jyoumon pull the Digivice around Gomamon's neck.

    Karimon watched as her brother left the room in search of their betrayer.
    "What happened out there?" asked Gabumon.
    Quickly, Karimon and Jyoumon told the others about catching Igorimon in the act of reporting to Frankenmon.
    "She told him that we were here," muttered Jyoumon.
    "It's hard to believe that she's one of the bad guys," commented Palmon.
    "Taimon doesn't seem to think so," commented Tentomon.
    "Yeah, I noticed," said Karimon darkly.  "Why is he defending her?" she asked Gatomon.  "She betrayed us..."
    "This isn't like you, Kari," said Gatomon in a concern voice.
    "Yeah, I know," sighed Karimon.  "But you had to be there."
    "Maybe Tai knows something that we donít," suggested Kosoramon.  "But it's obvious that Igorimon isn't all bad."
    "That's true," agreed Karimon with a sigh.
    "What do you mean?" asked Izimon.  "She admitted that she told Frankenmon that we were here."
    "But she helped Gabumon," said Tiikeimon.  "An evil Digimon wouldn't do that."
    "That's true..." mused Matimon, glancing at his partner.
    "And she's protective of the hidden Digimon around here," said Jyoumon thoughtfully, remembering the conversation between Igorimon and Frankenmon on how she always released the Digimon that she was told to kill.
    "But why would she serve such a nasty Digimon like Frankenmon?" asked Biyomon.
    "Well," commented Tentomon, "obviously, she's hasn't any choice in the matter."
    "That's true..." mused Izimon.  "But the big question is why wouldn't she have any choice?"
    "It's obvious that she's scared of him, for one thing," said Matimon.
    "Who could blame her?" asked Mikomon.  "I'm scared of that creepy Digimon."
    "Well," said Gomamon philosophically, "he is a creep after all.  Look what he did to Jyou."
    Jyoumon nodded.  He definitely remembered waking up that one morning with four feet.  He remembered the nausea and discomfort of that night before when Frankenmon scratched him behind the ears after zapping him with his wand.  However, he was finding it hard to remember being the two-footed human being that he used to be a week ago.  He mentally shrugged.  That wasn't important at the moment.  What was important was getting out of the mansion and to Frankenmon's lab in one piece.
    "You know something?" he asked thoughtfully.  "Frankenmon mentioned that I was one of his successful experiments..."
    "Why do you bring that up?" asked Tentomon.
    Izimon thought about the battle from the day before.  He though about when Igorimon scolded Patchmon for fighting with the group.
    "Igorimon said that we were just like them," he told the others.  "Meaning just like Patchmon and herself..."
    Kosoramon nodded.  She remembered when she was human, and Frankenmon first approached them.
    "Do you remember what Frankenmon said when he first showed up?" she asked in her slightly squeaky voice.
    "He said that we were all to become his 'experiments'," replied Matimon.
    "And if you're like Patchmon and Igorimon..." began Biyomon.
    "And you guys are experiments..." continued Gomamon.
    "That must mean that Patchmon and Igorimon are experiments too!" concluded Tentomon.
    "Exactly," agreed Izimon.
    Understanding dawned on Karimon's face.
    "That means that Frankenmon is Igorimon's creator!" she exclaimed.
    "Which is probably why Igorimon feels obligated to obey him," sighed Izimon.
    "So, that fact that she told us to leave before her master came means that she is a very brave Digimon," concluded Mikomon.
    "I'll say," agreed Palmon.
    Karimon sighed.  "I'm sorry that I was so hard on her, now..."
    Gatomon patted her on the shoulder.  "It's all right, Kari..." she said.  "You just didn't know."
    "What a sticky situation," commented Palmon.
    "I'll say..." agreed Mikomon.

    But Taimon had to find out for himself.
    Taimon had to look for Igorimon.  He finally found her in the kitchen, packing lunches.  She was still crying.
    "Why are you helping us?" he demanded of her.  "You said that you have to obey your master!"
    "I know!" sniffled the tall Digimon.  "But to turn you over to Piedmon is WRONG!!!  I just can't do that --no matter what my Master says."
    Igorimon's tearful conviction took Taimon by surprise.  He instantly regretted his former tone of voice.
    "But what's gonna happen to you once Frankenmon realises that you have betrayed him?" he asked in a softer tone.
    "He will punish me."  Igorimon delivered the sentence with a quiet finality that frightened the lizard-boy Digimon.
    "Why don't you come with us?" he asked her.
    "Why?  The others don't want me, and they are correct to feel that way about me.  I am a bad Digimon."
    Taimon patted her arm.  "You're not a bad Digimon," he said.  "You're a good Digimon who just happens to serve an evil one."
    "But my master..."
    "What can he do to you if he can't find you?" commented Taimon slyly.
    "But what can I do?" she asked.
    "You know the way to Frankenmon's lab, right?"
    "Well, yes."
    "Then you can lead us there!"
    "Um..."  Igorimon looked uncertain and frightened.
    "I can't just leave you here.  You'd be in danger!"
    The tall Digimon didn't comment.
    "And if you help us become human again, then you know that you'll be doing something good.  You'll be helping the prophecy."
    Igorimon paused in her sandwich making.  She looked thoughtful and sad.  Then she nodded.
    "I will take you to my master's lab."
    Taimon grinned and gave her a hug.  "Thanks Igori!  I really appreciate it!  I know that the others will too!"
    The tall Digimon smiled at him through her tears.  "Let me finish packing lunch first," she said.

    Everyone was ready to go, when Taimon and Igorimon re-entered the room.  Dawn wasn't too far off.
    "Igorimon's agreed to take us to Frankenmon's lab," announced Taimon.  The others cheered.
    Karimon came up to them.  "I'm really sorry that I accused you of betraying us," she said.
    "It's all right, Karimon, dear," replied the tall Digimon.
    "No, it isn't!" exclaimed the small cat-girl Digimon.  "I shouldn't have thrown the blame around like I have, especially without knowing all of the facts."
    Tiikeimon and Kosoramon let out a breath of relief.  It was nice to know that even Karimon was capable of making mistakes.  And she was big enough to admit it too.
    "Well, you just didn't know, sweetie."  Igorimon gave her a wan smile.  Then the tall Digimon turned to the others.  "We better get going," she said.  "We haven't got much time."

    Just a bit later, the group was going out the front door.
    "Okay, sweethearts," announced Igorimon as she adjusted a large bag that she was carrying over her shoulder.  "We head east first."
    "Right!" chorused the others.
    "Igorimon?  Where are you going?" came a voice from the bushes.
    Everyone turned as Patchmon stepped out and confronted the group.
    "I'm off on a little secret mission, dear one," replied the tall Digimon.  "To help save the Digital World."
    The little doll-like Digimon looked thoughtful.  His black button eyes shone in concern.  "You will be careful, won't you?" he asked.
    "I'll do my best," she assured her small friend.  "But you have to understand...  There are things more important than being careful."
    "What do you mean?" asked Patchmon.  Being careful was the core of the life of the small Digimon.  Being careful to survive in the woods, being careful not to be caught by Frankenmon.  Being careful not to be seen by Frankenmon's hench-Digimon...
    "She means," said Kosoramon from beside her partner, "that sometimes, you have to take risks to do some good."
    The other Digimon nodded.
    "But, Igorimon," protested the small Digimon.  "You do realise what would happen if Frankenmon catches you, right?"
    "What do you mean?" demanded Matimon.  "What would happen if Frankenmon was to catch her?!?"
    The little Digimon bit his lip.  Igorimon shook her head and stroke the top of the wolf-boy's blond thatch.
    "Don't you worry about it none, sweetie," she said.  "Let's concentrate on getting you all to my master's lab."  Then she got down on her knees and hugged Patchmon.  "I need you to protect the others," she said in  a stern voice.  "Donít let yourself get caught, okay?"
    "Yes, Igori..."
    "There's a lad!" cheered Igorimon brightly.  "I know that you'll be just fine.  You take care of yourself."
    The group went on their way.
    Palmon looked behind her at the small Digimon that they were leaving behind.  "He looks so sad," she said to her partner.
    Mikomon followed Palmon's gaze.  "You're right, he does."
    "Kinda like he doesn't expect to see Igorimon again..." said Kosoramon softly.
    "I wonder why..." commented Biyomon.

    When dawn arrived the Digimon were well away from the mansion and out of the other side of the forest.  Despite the ominous feeling that was in the air when the journey first started, everyone had high spirits as they picked their way across terrain that was starting to get rocky.
    "How long until we get there, anyway?" asked Taimon.
    "It is about two and a half days' travel," replied Igorimon.  "Tonight we will have to camp outdoors, but I do know of a place where we can stay for tomorrow night after we cross the desert.  It's rather perfect, I think."
    "Oh?" asked Izimon.  "Where would that be?"
    "I would like it to be a surprise...  Okay, sweetie?"
    There was a river on the other side of the forest.  It was the same one that the former children and their partners were following when Jyoumon disappeared a few days back.  It was still extremely deep and very wide.
    "We have to cross the river to get to my Master's lab," said Igorimon.
    "That's no problem," said Tentomon as he just started to fly his way across.
    "Hey!" called out Matimon.  "What about the rest of us?!?"
    "Relax," chuckled Gomamon.  "Instant water transportation is on its way..."  The small Digimon jumped into the river and digivolved into Ikkakumon.  Joe's Digivice and shoelace was now secured around his horn.  "Hop aboard," he said.
    "All right, Ikkakumon!" cheered Jyoumon as he jumped into the water.
    The ground-bound Digimon clambered onto Ikkakumon's back.  Taimon and Matimon helped Igorimon settle on the Champion Digimon's head.
    "Thank you, Gentle-mon," she giggled as she sat down.  Gatomon and Karimon sat down beside her, on the highest (and thus, driest) location of their large friend.
    There was an argument between Biyomon and Kosoramon as the Rookie Digimon tried to explain to her In-Training partner why she had to ride on Ikkakumon instead of trying to fly across.
    "I can fly, Biyo!" exclaimed the little white winged pom-pom.  "You know that I can."
    "But you're just not strong enough," countered the pink bird Digimon.  "You're only an In-Training Digimon."
    "I can stay in the air for a while," insisted Kosoramon.
    "Maybe, but not long enough to cover the time it would take to cross the river."
    "I'm sure that I can do it.  All I need is incentive..."
    "No!  It's just too risky."  It was obvious that Biyomon was getting frustrated.
    "Look, Kosoramon.  I just don't want you to risk getting hurt.  I would be pretty sad if you were to fall into the river...  Just ride on Ikkakumon until we all get to the other side.  There will be plenty of time to fly after that."
    Kosoramon sighed as she realized that her partner was right, both about the chances of her falling into the river and about the time available to fly afterwards.
    "Okay, Biyo.  I'll ride."
    "I'm glad to hear it."
    Kosoramon settled on a spot behind the huge Digimon's head.  Mikomon sat beside her and Palmon sat behind the both of them.  Agumon and Gabumon sat with their partners.  It was rather crowded on the white fuzzy back, but everyone was on.  Ikkakumon started off.  Jyoumon swam beside him, struggling a bit to keep pace, but not doing too badly.
    "We'll meet you on the other side," said Patamon as he and the other flying Digimon started on their way.
    "Let's race," suggested Tiikeimon.
    "Why not?" asked Izimon.  "A competitive venture would be entertaining."
    "Not to mention fun," agreed Tentomon.
    "You're on, boys!" called out Biyomon as she started winging it for all she was worth.
    "Hey!" cried out Tiikeimon.  "Wait up!"  He and the other winged Digimon chased after her.

    On the other side, everyone got off and Ikkakumon devolved back into Gomamon.  The small white and purple Digimon clambered out of the water and shook himself off.  Then Jyoumon got out of the water and shook himself dry, re-soaking his partner in the process.  He also managed to get Gatomon and Karimon.
    "Hey!" shouted Karimon.
    "Knock it off!" demanded Gatomon.
    "Jyou!" exclaimed Gomamon.  "Watch what you're doing!"
    "Huh?" The white and blue Digimon looked around and saw what he just did.  His face went red in embarrassment as he saw his soaked companions.  "I'm really sorry, guys," he said finally.  "I wasn't paying attention..."
    The two cat-like Digimon just glared at him for a moment more, then they both sighed.
    Gatomon sat down on the grassy bank and started to groom herself with her tongue.  "And I had my fur just the way that I liked it," she grumbled.

    They continued on their way to the lab.
    The race participants were still arguing over who was the winner.  Apparently, due to the swerving, the dodging, and the tagging, everyone came the opposite shore all at the same time.
    The others listened to the argument for a few minutes.  Then for the next ten minutes, everyone decided to ignore the noise.  After that, Igorimon politely, but firmly suggested that they would call the race a draw, and that there were no losers.  The race participants agreed easily.  They have never seen Igorimon angry, and decided that they didn't want to.

    Soon they came to a huge empty field.
    "Another one?!?" asked Taimon incredulously.  "How many empty fields are there in the Digi-World anyway?!?"
    "It's not completely empty Tai," consoled Agumon.  "There's a tree over there."
    The Digimon looked towards the huge lone tree that was still quite a ways off.
    "I'm not looking forward to crossing that," moaned Mikomon.
    "It doesn't look that bad," consoled Palmon.  "It's full of flowers."
    "But we would be vulnerable to an attack," stated Izimon.
    "Stop being Mr. Gloom and Doom," chided Taimon.  "We'll be fine."
    "It looks like quite a ways to walk," said Soramon.
    "But we must cross this field to get to Frankenmon's laboratory," insisted Igorimon.
    "So, we'll cross it," said Karimon.  "We have to."
    Gabumon looked at the field wistfully.
    "What's up?" asked Matimon.
    "Well...  I was just thinking that this place would be excellent for running."
    "Oh?"  Matimon looked at his partner.  "No offence, but you donít look like the running type."
    The fur-coated Digimon chuckled.  "Not like this, Mati.  As Garurumon."
    Igorimon looked troubled.  "I donít know, sweetie.  I'm not sure that you're fully recovered."
    "How else do I find out if I have recovered or not?" he asked.
    "Um..."  Igorimon shook her head.  "Good point.  But I suspect that it has more to do with your desire to run rather than finding out whether or not you have fully recovered."
    The longing on Gabumon's face was evident.  "Please?" he asked.
    Igorimon laughed.  "Okay, okay.  Go ahead, have fun."
    Matimon joined in the laughing.  "Well?" he asked his partner.  "What are you waiting for?"

    "Gabumon Digivolve into...  Garurumon!"  The large blue wolf Digimon stood in Gabumon's place.

    "Maybe you should have a race," suggested Agumon.
    "But who would be able to race me?" asked the large wolf-Digimon.  "Who would actually have a chance of matching my speed?
    "I bet Jyou could," piped up Gomamon.
    "What?!?  Me?!?  You've got to be kidding me!" protested Jyoumon.
    The small Digimon jumped onto his partner's back.  "Come ON!" he insisted.  "You've got the best chance.  I mean it!"
    "Um..."  Jyoumon was uncertain.  "I don't know..."
    "Let's go!" cried out Garurumon as he started off down the field.  "Unless you think that you can't do it!"
    "That's it!  Fine!  Here I come!"  Jyoumon was right on the other Digimon's heels.  He was tired of refusing challenges.
    "Wait Jyou!  Let me get off...  Whoa!"  Gomamon hung tight to his partner's neck as they went racing down the field.

    Garurumon had a head start of ten strides.  But Jyoumon was starting to slowly gain on him.  His two front paws hit the ground then his back paws came down and would push him forward.  Soon he was right behind the larger Digimon.  The blue wolf looked at him and gave a wolfy grin.
    "You're not doing too bad, for a little guy," he said as he sped up.  The gap between the two widened.
    "Hey!" shouted Jyoumon as he tried to pick up the pace.  But it was obvious that the larger Digimon was winning.
    Then Garurumon slowed to a halt.  He watched as his opponent, with passenger, caught up.  Both were laughing.
    "I think I need to get into shape," exclaimed Jyoumon breathlessly.
    "You did pretty good," complimented the wolf Digimon.
    "Well," grinned Jyou.  "I might have done better.  But you can see, I had a tagalong."  With a toss of his head, he gestured to his partner who still hung onto his neck.
    "That was wild!" exclaimed Gomamon.
    "Yeah, it was, wasn't it?" asked Jyoumon.  "I can't believe that I've never done this before..."
    "That's because you couldn't," replied Gomamon.  "Remember?"
    The white and blue Digimon looked confused.  "What do you mean?" he asked.
    "Um, well..."  Gomamon was at a loss to what to say.  "What do you mean, 'what do you mean?'?"
    "Hey," interrupted Garurumon.  "Race you back!"  He turned on his heels and started to run back to the group.
    "You're on!" retorted Jyoumon as he twisted around.
    This time, Gomamon didn't have a firm grip around his partner's neck as he was thinking about his partner's question.  It bothered him somehow...  But as Jyoumon took off, Goma lost his grip, flew off and landed in a patch of still colourful flowers.
    By the time he righted himself, he had forgotten his train of thought.  "Wait for me!" he cried out as he chased after the other two.

    "They look like they're having fun," commented Agumon as he watched the race.
    "They sure do," replied Matimon.  He felt a twinge of jealousy.  He wished that he could run with his partner like that.  But he instinctively knew that two feet could not keep up with four.
    "What a change in Jyou..." mused Kosoramon.
    "Yeah," agreed Tiikeimon.  "He's having more fun."
    "I don't blame him," agreed Patamon.  "I like to race too.  Maybe we should have another."
    "Yes!" Biyomon.  "Let's have another race."
    "But where should we race to?" asked Izimon.
    "How about that large tree over there?" asked Tentomon, gesturing with a talon.
    "You mean the one with the Digimon flying over it?" asked Tiikeimon.
    "Digimon?" asked Matimon as he looked towards the tree.
    A dark shadow hovered over the tree ahead.
    "Here we go again," sighed Taimon.  He ran to meet Garurumon and Jyoumon as they were coming towards them.
    The dark shadow winged over towards them and revealed herself to be Lady Devimon.
    "Hello, kiddies," she chortled.  "Did you miss me?"
    "About as much as I'd miss attending a funeral," growled Matimon.
    "That's too bad, then --as you're about to be attending YOURS!"  The flying Digimon chortled evilly as she flew over their heads.
    "Why don't you come down here and say that?!?" challenged Taimon.
    "Because it is so much fun to watch!" she replied.  "And here's your partner for today's match...  Meet Amphibimon."
    A pale blue tadpole like Digimon, half the size of Ikkakumon, was dropped down from the sky.
    "What kind of weird Digimon is that?" asked Taimon.
    "I have no idea," replied Tentomon.
    "That is 'Amphibimon'," replied Igorimon.  "He's another one of Frankenmon's experiments.  But unlike the rest of us, that one is evil.  But Amphibimon is a water Digimon.  He shouldn't be out here."
    The Digimon in question was pale blue in colour.  He had a round whale-like body with strong hind legs with webbing and claws.  He had shorter yet equally powerful front legs, also with webbing and claws.  His wide mouth was filled with sharp teeth and a long frog-like tongue casually ran over them as if in anticipation.  He also had a long tail that arched over his back and widened towards the end.  And at the end of the tail was another mouth filled with long dagger-like teeth.
    "Tell that to him," suggested Agumon.
    "I can be where ever I want to be, pipsqueak!"
    "This one seems smarter than the other evil Digimon that Lady Devimon has sent against us," mused Tentomon.
    "At least this one is smaller than the others," commented Jyoumon.
    "But probably nastier," suggested Palmon.
    "So, what can you tell us about him, Igorimon?" asked Izimon.
    "Um," the tall Digimon thought for a moment before replying.  "He's a champion Viral Digimon.  One of Frankenmon's original designs...  He has two attacks.  One is 'Knife Throw' and the other is 'Power Vac'.
    "'Power Vac'?" asked Agumon blankly.
    "Yes," replied Igorimon.  "Besides being to spit out huge blades from the opening on his tail, he can also suck any unsuspecting Digimon into it."
    "And by the looks of those blades in that opening," mused Matimon, "I doubt that will be a picnic."
    "To say the least," agreed Garurumon as he and Jyoumon joined the others.
    "Now you kids have fun and play nicely," tittered the evil Digimon, as she flew away.
    "Why do you think she keeps on leaving before the fight begins?" asked Mikomon.
    "You're right, Miko..." mused Palmon.
    "Yeah," muttered Matimon.  "If she wants to be certain that we've been 'dealt' with..."
    "ÖWouldn't it be in her best interests to remain..." continued Izimon.
    "...At least until the fight's finished?" finished Taimon.
    "Who can figure out the bad guys?" asked Tiikeimon philosophically.
    "Excuse me?" called out a strange voice from the other side of the field.
    "Um, yeah?" asked Taimon.  He turned to face the strange Digimon, the source of the interruption.
    "Aren't you supposed to be fighting me?"
    "Oh, yeah!" exclaimed Agumon.
    "Sorry about that," said Taimon.
    "So, why don't you fight me already?!?" challenged the viral Digimon.  He was taking his time crossing the field.  He seemed confident that the group posed no threat.
    "You're on!"
    The group of Digimon quickly got organized into an attack formation.  Igorimon quickly went to the rear, scooping up Kosoramon and Mikomon as she retreated behind a fair sized boulder.
    "Be careful, Palmon!" called out Mikomon.
    "You too, Biyo!" cried out Kosoramon.
    The remaining Digimon turned to face their opponent, who was now started to shuffle nearer.  He came at a leisurely pace and he appeared confident that the battle was his.
    "Wait!" said Jyoumon.  "Gomamon's still out there!!!"
    Sure enough, the little white and purple Digimon was bounding towards the others.  It wasn't his fault that he couldn't hang onto his partner's back.  But he was not overly worried about being caught by the larger Digimon, especially at the slow pace he was keeping.
    "He'll make it over here before Amphibimon does," said Biyomon.
    "Remember guys," encouraged the leader.  "Together we can easily beat this wimp."
    "Who are you calling a 'wimp', squirt?" growled Amphibimon.  "I'm gonna hafta teach ya some manners!"  The odd Digimon picked up his pace and was now coming after the group at a jog.
    "Here he comes..." said Garurumon.
    "Why is it that the bad guys always seem to have the biggest egos?" asked Izimon quietly to his partner.  "You'd think that they would concentrate on the fight at hand, rather than making useless banter..."
    "A bug in their program, perhaps?" countered Tentomon.
    "Could be..." mused the bug-boy Digimon.
    But the discussion of viral flaws had to wait as Amphibimon began his attack, concentrating on the little lone Digimon running from him.
    "How can any Digimon with such stumpy legs move so fast?!?" exclaimed Matimon is astonishment.
    "Knife Throw!" he shouted as the dagger like teeth shot out of the mouth of his tail.  The evil Digimon laughed as the sharp projectiles narrowly missed his moving target.  Gomamon yelped and kept on running.  He didn't bother to look and see just how near a miss he just experienced.  More and more blades went whizzing by him.
    "Spiral Twister!" shouted Biyomon from above.  She used her attack in an attempt to redirect the blades away from her friend.  It worked to some degree as the knives were no longer right on Gomamon's heels.
    "Good Job, Biyomon!" cheered Taimon.  But he knew that the real battle hadn't even begun yet.  "Get ready, everyone," he warned his companions.
    Amphibimon halted his Knife Throw attack and simply concentrated on catching up to his fleeing victim.  He slowly gained on the smaller Digimon.

    "JOE!!!"  cried Gomamon.  The small water-mammal Digimon was scrambling to reach the safety of his friends.  Unfortunately for the little guy, the larger, nastier Viral Digimon was just on his heals.
    Tentomon and Izimon were already up in the air, trying to buy their friend some more time to reach safety.
    "Electro Shocker!" cried the small bug-Digimon.
    "Shocker Spray!" shouted his formerly human partner.  The electric charge went towards Amphibimon.  The attack made contact and scorched their opponent, making him pause for a moment.
    That moment was all that was needed for Gomamon to make it to his friends' side.
    "Are you okay, Goma?" asked Jyoumon.
    "Yeah," replied his small partner, panting.  But both turned to face their opponent as he made an evil chuckle.
    "It's gonna take more than that, you punks.  So you better give it to me for what it's worth --not that it'll be much, that is..."
    "You heard him, guys!" shouted Taimon.  "Petite Fire!"  He spat out a ball of flame.
All of the others joined him.
    "Glowing Blaze!" shouted Matimon.
    "Blue Blaster!" shouted Garurumon.
    The battle cries continued as all of the Digimon attacked their opponent as one.  However, the huge amphibian shrugged off most of the blows.  But he did show some sign of feeling the electrical attacks of Izimon and Tentomon as well as the freezing attacks of Matimon and Garurumon.
    "Huhn," muttered Izimon.  "It appears that only electrical and ice attacks would affect him.
    "Then there is no real reason to wait, is there, Izzy?" asked Tentomon.
    "You're right, there isn't."  Izimon gave his partner a short encouraging nod.  "Go for it," he said.
    Tentomon buzzed off, heading straight towards his opponent.
    "Eh?" Amphibimon looked towards the small bug that was heading kamikaze towards him.  "What's this?  No one could possibly be that stupid..."
    "Maybe crazy," countered Tentomon...  "But not stupid."  The small bug began to glow.

    "Tentomon digivolve into...  Kabutarimon!"  The large horned beetle Digimon went barrelling into the large amphibian, knocking him down.  He sped past him then spun around and attacked from behind.
    "Electro-Shocker!" shouted Kabutarimon.
    Izimon used his attack again.  "Shocker Spray!" he shouted. Admittedly, it was a weaker attack, but it did have its effect.  Amphibimon grunted as the voltage ran through his nervous system.
    "Hah!" shouted the evil Digimon.  "You have managed to sting me, but now it is my turn to sting you...  Knife Throw!"  Sharp blades went straight towards the two airborne bug-Digimon.  The sharp projectiles bounced off of Kabutarimon's hard shell.
    Unfortunately, Izimon did not have that kind of protection.  But he was quick and he swerved and dodged every blade that came towards him --well, almost every blade.  As the barrage ended, he quickly checked himself for injury.  There was none on his person, but to his dismay, the makeshift strap of his computer bag had a knick that had almost completely severed it.
    "Are you okay, Izi?" asked his huge partner.
    "I'm not injured, but it might be a good idea to put my computer back down on the ground before the strap breaks completely."
    "I don't know if you're going to have time to do that," called out Kabutarimon.
    "A dilemma," mused the small bug-boy.
    "Izi!" shouted Matimon from the ground.  "Just drop the computer!  We'll catch it!"
    "Are you kidding me?!?" screamed Izimon.  "This is a very delicate piece of equipment!"
    "Watch yourself!" shouted Jyoumon.
    "Huh?" was Izimon's intelligent reply.
    "He's about to attack again!" shouted Agumon.
    Izimon spun around, holding his laptop under his arm.  He quickly found that it was difficult concentrating on both the battle at hand and not dropping his precious computer.

    "Well, I don't think we should be standing here as Kabutarimon has all of the fun," commented Taimon.
    "Yeah!" agreed Agumon.  "Besides, teamwork means that more than one Digimon does all of the work, right?"
    "You got it, pal!" Taimon enthused.
    "Let's go get him!" shouted Matimon.
    "Yeah!" cheered Tiikeimon.
    Matimon shook his head.  "No Tiikei...  Not you."
    "We need you and Karimon to help protect Igorimon and the In-Training Digimon.  Got it?"
    The small winged Digimon nodded glumly, knowing that it was not that Igorimon well being was what his big brother was concerned about.
    "You too, Karimon," ordered Taimon.
    "If I must..."  The small cat-girl Digimon went to the rear of the formation.
    "Do I have to go too?" asked Patamon.
    "You can't make me go," commented Gatomon.
    Both Matimon and Taimon decided not to even answer and instead concentrated on their opponent.

    "Taimon digivolve into...  Taichimon!"
    "Matimon digivolve into...  Yamatomon!"
    "Agumon digivolve into...  Greymon!"

    The newly digivolved champions attempted to enter the fray.  But the sharp blades Amphibimon kept throwing kept them back.
    "I'd love to take a bite out of that guy," commented Garurumon.  "But I can't get close enough to do it.  He has to be stunned first."
    "But your Blue Blazer seems to slow him down some," commented Yamatomon.
    "It's not enough," replied the huge wolf Digimon.

    "Super Shocker!" shouted Kabutarimon as he let loose with another charge of electricity.  The attack hit the evil Digimon dead on, but he seemed to be able to shake off the attack.
    "Huhn!" commented the blue amphibian Digimon.  "Is that all you got?!?  Let me show you something new..."

    Kabutarimon was about to let loose with another Electro-Shocker.  But he paused as he heard his opponent's challenge.
    "Power-Vac!" exclaimed Amphibimon as he aimed his saw-toothed tail at the large bug.  The huge Digimon suddenly had to fight to escape the incredible suction that came from the opening.
    "Izzy!" cried out Kabutarimon.
    Izimon was fighting gravity for his laptop when he noticed the predicament that his partner was in.  Then a thought occurred to him.
    Computers can be repaired or replaced...  But friends aren't quite as easy to come by.

    The decision came easily after that.

    "No!  Kabuterimon!" cried out Izimon as he leaped up into the air to reach his friend.  He felt the weak strap of his computer bag give way, but that didn't matter as he was busy concentrating of something much more important.
    "No!  Izimon!  Get away!  You'll be sucked in too!" growled Kabutarimon.
    "I won't let you go!  You're my best friend!"  Izimon dashed towards his partner and managed to grab his foot.  But as a rookie, Izimon was too small to drag his partner away from the saw-toothed opening.  "Leave him alone, you big bully!" shouted the rookie Digimon.
    "And what are you gonna do about it?" challenged Amphibimon.  Then he noticed the small bug-boy Digimon was starting to glow.

    "Izimon digivolve into...  Koushiromon!"

    A much larger flying Digimon now clung to Kabutarimon's leg with four arms.  With his larger and stronger wings, he managed to pull his partner out of range of the saw-toothed opening.
    "You saved me!" exclaimed the huge beetle Digimon.
    "Well, I had to.  You're my friend.  You are definitely more important than a stupid computer."
    "I am?" asked the huge beetle as the continued out of Amphibimon's reach.
    "Of course!" snorted Koushiromon.  "What a perfectly ridiculous question to ask."

    "Wow..." said Mikomon from her position in the rear.  "He looks cool."

    "Static Burst!" shouted Koushiromon as a huge ball of electricity formed around him.  He held it for a moment then let it loose at Amphibimon.
    "Electro Shocker!" shouted Kabutarimon as he let loose with his.
    The two balls of electricity bared down on the viral Digimon.  But he just barely managed to duck them.  He was paler but he still went on to taunt his opponents.
    "Is that the best that you can do?!?" he challenged.
    "Huhn!" muttered Koushiromon.  "I guess I'm gonna have to get close and personal."  He started to dive towards his enemy in a Kamikaze sort of fashion.  "Wild Charge!" he yelled as he charged.
    Amphibimon flattened himself against the ground.  He almost laughed as the winged Champion buzzed over him.  But the electrical charge that followed Koushiromon wake nailed him.
    "Electro Shocker!" Kabutarimon nailed him again with another jolt.  The voltage only stunned the evil Digimon for a moment, but that was all that was needed for Yamatomon and Garurumon to follow through with attacks of their own.
    "Howling Blaster!"
    "Frozen Slam!"
    The two kept on attacking until Amphibimon was barely moving.  The freezing blasts were more than enough to slow the cold-blooded Digimon down.  Koushiromon and Kabutarimon kept stunning their opponent with their attacks.
    "All right!" shouted Taichimon.  "Now everyone attack at once!  "Mega Flame!"
    "Nova Blast!"
    "Boom Bubble!" shouted Patamon.
    "Lightning Claw!" shouted Gatomon as she zipped in with her attack.
    "Spiral Twister!" Biyomon attacked from the sky.
    "Poison Ivy!" Palmon yelled as she whipped Amphibimon with her tendrils.
    "Thunder Clap!" shouted Tiikeimon as he attacked from the far back.
    Jyoumon held his partner back, preventing him from rushing in to do a close-up attack.  "We're not equipped for this," he said.
    "But I owe that blowhard one," grumbled Gomamon, remembering how he had to dodge the blades.
    Jyoumon shrugged.  "We've already won this one."
    "Static Charge!"
    "Electro Shocker!"
    The final attacks proved to be too much for the evil Digimon, and he exploded into a million dissolving pixels.
    "See what I mean?" Jyoumon grinned at his partner.
    "All right, guys!" shouted Taichimon.  "We've all done good."
    The Digimon cheered.  They were tired, but feeling rather good about themselves.
    The Champions shimmered as they returned to their Rookie forms.  All except one, that is.  Koushiromon looked down at his partner in mild amusement.
    "You too, Izzy!" cheered Taimon.  "That 'Wild Charge' of yours was great!  You kicked some serious butt!!!"  The rest of the gang gathered around him.
    "I most certainly did, didn't I?"  The Champion Digimon looked extremely pleased with himself.  He practically basked in the attention that his friends were piling on him.
     The Digimon cheered.  They were tired, but feeling rather good about themselves.  Igorimon and the In-Training Digimon came out hiding to congratulate the winners.
    "Hey!" exclaimed Mikomon.  "Why are you still big?"
    "Yeah!" exclaimed Tiikeimon.  "Aren't you supposed to be an In-Training Digimon now?"
    "Hey, that's right!" agreed Tentomon.
    "Huh?" asked Koushiromon.  "What do you mean?"
    "I'm almost positive that you're supposed to be smaller than me right at the moment," commented the smaller bug-like Digimon.
    "I do believe that youíre correct, Tento..." mused Koushiromon.  "I am curious as to why I didn't."
    Everyone took a moment to look at the Champion Digimon.
    Koushiromon was a fair sized adult humanoid Digimon --not very tall, but it was rather obvious that Izzy was going to be on the short side when he reached adulthood.  He had large green eyes, a rather flat nose and two stripes on each cheek.  His shell like armour was in shades of red, beige with black accents that seemed to be 'worn' over what resembled a black suede body stocking --but wasn't.  He still had the headband, but the red diamond shaped accent that he had as Izimon was now a spike.  His hair was still stuck out all over, but now also had a frizzy look to it --as if it was affected by his electrical attacks.  His upper pair of arms was almost identical to the single pair he had in his Rookie form --ending in the three-taloned hands, but his lower pair were more human, with stripes on flesh-toned skin and human hands  -wearing Izzy's yellow work gloves.  He had longer legs and longer feet, with similar boots as he did before, with two toes in the front and one in the back.
    "Maybe there is something that you want to do first like I did..." suggested Kosoramon.
    "Maybe you're right," agreed the large Digimon.  "But I am not certain that I know what I want to do as a Champion Digimon..."
    "It'll probably come to you later, sweetheart," soothed Igorimon.  "But you're a very handsome Digimon..."
    "Meanwhile, we better get moving," suggested Matimon.
    "Right!" chorused the others.
    Taimon went up to Koushiromon and handed him his computer.  "Here," he said casually.  "I think you dropped this."
    Koushiromon's huge green eyes widened even more.  "You caught it?!?" he asked incredulously.

    The sun was starting to get low in the sky when they decided to set up camp.  They have just reached a Digital jungle of sorts.  The air was warmer and more humid.
    There was no near-by cave to sleep in, so they set up camp in the shelter of the trees, near yet another river.  Everyone was tired as they had just walked for three hours.  And they all knew that they needed their rest as they would have to cross the desert the next afternoon.
    They foraged for dinner, and all had a huge meal.  When they started to discuss who would be standing which watch, Koushiromon offered to take the first.
    "But aren't you tired?" asked Taimon.  "I mean, you did a lot of fighting today.  You deserve to take the night off from watching."
    "It's not like he will be taking the watch alone..." Tentomon commented.
    Koushiromon chuckled as he looked discreetly at his partner.  The he returned his attention to the leader.
    "It's okay Taimon.  I'm really not tired.  I have plenty of energy to spare.  Probably because I'm a Champion Digimon.  I'll be fine.  You should get some rest.  Tentomon will be patrolling with me anyway."
    Taimon tried to protest, but before he could say anything, he broke into a huge yawn.
    "Maybe Koushiromon's right, Tai," said Agumon.  "You look like you need some sleep."
    "Yeah, I guess you're right, Agu." Taimon agreed.  "You and Tentomon can have the first watch, then Matimon and Gabumon, then me and Agu, then Jyoumon and Gomamon can finish up the night."
    "Providing that Gomamon can actually stay awake during his shift," murmured Matimon.
    "I heard that!" protested the small Digimon.
    "But he's right, you know..." commented Jyoumon.
    "Shut up."

    Koushiromon and Tentomon spoke to each other briefly after the others had went to bed.  It was agreed upon that they would split up at first and patrol the opposite sides of the camp, then they would spend the rest of their watch together.  Tentomon decided to patrol the side of the camp that faced the open meadow, while Koushiromon would patrol the riverbank.
    Koushiromon flew along the side of the river.  He didn't see anyone, and the only sounds that he heard were the various snores in the camp.  He took a moment to settle on the bank and look down at his reflection in the river.  He had to admit that he was a powerful Digimon.  But his new form creeped him out.  There was something definitely alien about his appearance, and that made him uneasy.  Large green eyes looked out of a face of a grownup, but the grownup wasn't human.  His face was sort of flat with a hardly discernable nose.  Then there were the four arms...  It bothered him that he hadn't changed back yet.  It would be upsetting to be stuck like this, even with the advantages.
    He sat on a stout branch in a fair-sized tree.  He un-slung his laptop, checking the knot in the makeshift strap of its carrier, took it out of the bag and opened it up.  Gripping it firmly with his upper talons, he used his lower hands to turn it on.  He spent the next fifteen minutes imputing his observations about being a Champion Digimon.
    "What are you doing, Koushiromon?" asked Tentomon as he settled on the branch beside his partner.
    "I thought that it would be a good idea to keep a record of my observations as a Champion Digimon."
    "Why kind of things did you observe?" asked Tentomon curiously.
    "Just things that I'm sure that you already know," said Koushiromon.
    "Maybe," shrugged Tentomon.  "But I think I'm interested in a new perspective.  It is new to you, so you might have noticed things that I haven't."
    "Well, okay."  The odd Digimon shifted uncomfortably, like he was embarrassed.   "One thing I have noticed was how I felt when I Digivolved.  It was a most curious experience."
    "In what way?" asked the small bug Digimon.
    "Well, it sort of... tickled.  I was enveloped in a warm energy that tickled as I changed.  I admit that I almost laughed.  But I felt that it was too serious an occasion to do so."
    "Well, it does help to maintain a bit of dignity," mused Tentomon.
    "I suppose."
    "I mean, how will your opponent take you seriously if you started to giggle?"
    "True."  Koushiromon fell silent.
    "Izzy?  Is there something wrong?"
    "I'm not certain...  It is just that this champion body of mine feels so strange.  It is far removed from my human one."
    "And that bothers you?"
    Koushiromon turned off his laptop.  There was no point in leaving it on.  He was too distracted to continue working on it.
    "Well," he said, "I have just been told by my mom and dad that I was adopted.  That I wasn't really their son."
    "I remember that," nodded Tentomon.  "I was there, remember?"
    "And you know that they both love you very much."
    Koushiromon sighed.  "I know," he said.  "It is just that this is too much for me at the moment.  I learn that I am not who I thought I was and now I am facing the possibility of no longer being what I used to be..."
    Tentomon couldn't reply to that.  "What ever happens, I will be here for you," he said simply.
    Koushiromon looked at his partner for a moment, then leaned over and placed an upper arm on his friend's shoulder.
    "Thanks pal."
    But the doubts didn't stop.  After Matimon and Gabumon came out to take their shift of guard duty, Koushiromon still felt uneasy.  It took him a while before he was able to fall asleep.

    He was seven years old again...

    Izzy padded down the hallway, on the way to the washroom for a drink of water.  On his way through the dim corridor, he heard the murmuring voices of his parents.  Knowing that he was supposed to be in bed, his curiosity got the better of him and he had to find out what they were talking about.  He tiptoed to the doorway and carefully peeked through into the family room.  His parents were sitting on the couch, talking in low voices.  But he was able to hear every word that they were saying.
    "Do you really think we should tell him?" asked his mother.
    "Yes, I do," replied his father.
    "But he's so young...  I don't want to hurt him."
    "But Izzy is a very smart child.  I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't figured it out on his own by now."
    "But I already know that I'm adopted," murmured the little Izzy to himself.
    "I don't think we should tell him about the other thing either," his mother said.
    What other thing? Izzy wondered.
    "I think that he has the right to know, dear," said his father.
    Know about what?
    "But how would YOU feel to be told that you were a Digimon?" asked his mother.
    Digimon?  Izzy looked down at himself and was surprised to see the red-and-black armoured feet of Izimon sticking out from the leg cuffs of his pyjamas.  "I'm not human?" he yelped as he heard his pyjamas top rip as his wings pushed through.
    His parents turned to face him.  "Oh, Izzy!  We didn't want you to know yet.  We wanted to keep you here with us for a while longer..."  His mother got up from the couch and went towards him, holding out her hand in an entreating manner.
    "What is going on?" yelped Izimon as he took a step back away from her.  His pyjamas were now in tatters on the floor, because the bug-boy Digimon was much larger than the seven-year-old child he was a moment before.  Then his mother's last statement registered  "What do you mean, keep me with you a while longer?"
    "Now they will take you away..." sighed his father.
    The apartment door opened and men in lab-coats, holding nasty looking equipment, came in.  They took position just inside the doorway.  They looked at Izimon with the look of scientific calculation.
    Izimon looked at his human parents.  They looked both sad and resigned.  They knew that he was going to be taken away.  Izimon wanted to prove them wrong.
    "Izimon digivolve into...  Koushiromon!"
    He was larger now, and more powerful than before.  There was no way that these people were going to take him from his family without a fight.
    "My, my..." came another voice from outside the apartment.  "We have a feisty one here."  There was an evil chuckle.  "Good thing that I know what to do about that."
    A sinister figure walked into the apartment.  Not quite as tall as the men guarding the doorway, the evil being was obviously twice as nasty.  His sickly green complexion and heavy goggles identifies him right away.
    The evil Digimon reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a familiar looking silver wand.  Koushiromon stepped back in apprehension, trying to turn his head away from the device.  But the henchmen came to him and held his head.  The champion Digimon could not fight them off.  They made him look at the wand.  Frankenmon chuckled.  The wand flashed.
    Koushiromon's world went white.
    Then it went black.

    Koushiromon sat up panting.  That was a nightmare and a half!  He trembled for a few moments as he waited for his feelings to recognise what his brain did.  That he was not at home and that he had just woken up from a bad dream.
    He looked about him.  It was still dark out and the only sounds he heard were the sound of the wind through the dark branches, assorted snoring and the sound of Gomamon and Jyoumon having an argument.
    "At least Gomamon is still awake," he murmured to himself, glad of the distraction from his dark thoughts.  He looked to his partner and was relieved to find him still asleep.  He really didn't want to disturb Tentomon with a nightmare.  He felt that he was old enough to deal with it on his own, at least until morning.
    He settled back down, but sleep eluded him for the rest of the night.

    Morning came and the sun came streaming through the branches.
    "Rise and shine, Sleepy-heads!" called out Igorimon.
    There were grumbles and groans, and the Digimon began to stir.
    "Hey! I Digivolved!" cried out Soramon as she sat up to confirm her Rookie form.
    "Me too!" called out Meimimon.
    "That's great!" said Palmon cheerfully.
    "All you needed was some food and a good night's sleep," agreed Biyomon.
    Taimon got up and stretched.  "Okay, I'm ready for some grub."
    "All right, sweetie," said Igorimon in her pleasant voice.  "I'll cook, but I will need help with getting the ingredients."
    "And the firewood!" said Tiikeimon cheerfully.  "I'll go find some!  Let's go, Patamon!"
    "Coming, Tiikei!"  The small flying Digimon joined his partner as they started out.
    "Just be careful, Tiikeimon!" called Matimon after him.
    "I will!"
    "Jyou and I will go get some fish," said Gomamon as he turned to the river.
    "Wait up!" called Jyoumon as he loped after his partner.
    "Let's go hunting, Tai," suggested Agumon.
    "Sure," agreed Taimon.  "Coming, you two?" he offered to Matimon and Gabumon.
    "But of course," said Matimon amiably.
    "We actually want to make sure that breakfast doesn't get overdone again," chuckled Gabumon.
    "Ha, ha," said Taimon sarcastically.

     Breakfast was caught, gathered and cooked in due course.  Even though Igorimon was away from her kitchen of wonders, she was still more than capable of whipping up a great breakfast.  The unusual tropical fruit that were indigenous to the jungle as well as herbs and berries that she had gathered along their journey added flavours that the others would not believe possible outside a restaurant experience.
    As the refuse was being buried, Taimon asked Igorimon about their journey for the day.
    "So, what do we have to look forward to, Igorimon?"
    "In terms of the terrain?" asked the tall Digimon.
    Taimon nodded.
    "Well, dear heart, we have to cross the desert today.  It will be extremely hot and dry, so we have to take as much water as possible."
    Soramon came up to them, after over hearing the comment about water.
    "What will we carry the water in?" she asked.
    Matimon was rummaging through Joe's duffle bag.  "There's a water bottle in here," he said.  "And a folding cup."
    "Wow, Jyoumon," enthused Tiikeimon, peering into the duffle.  "You really got everything in that bag, don't you?"
    "Not quite, Tiikei," replied Jyoumon.  "Not everything that I wanted to take would fit."
    "But he did try," grinned Gomamon.
    "Here's something," called out Palmon as she brought over what seemed to be a gourd-like fruit.  The outside was tough, and there was the sound of liquid inside of it.
    "I see that you found  juice-fruit," commented Tentomon.
    "That's excellent!" exclaimed Igorimon.  "I wish that I have known about those earlier."
    "Where did you find those Palmon?" asked Meimimon.
    "There's a huge tree of them over that way."  The flower-Digimon pointed towards an unseen destination.
    "What kind of juice would be in a juice-fruit?" asked Tiikeimon.
    "Juice-fruit juice," replied Tentomon, matter-of-factly.  "What else would it be?"
    "So, the juice is drinkable then?" asked Jyoumon.
    "It is and it is highly nutritious."

    Igorimon then encourage the Digimon to find as many of the fruit as they could, reminding them that the ripest fruit would be the ones on the ground.  She also asked them to bring over any empty gourds that they could find.  When they returned with their bounty of juice-fruit, Igorimon placed as many as they could into the duffel bag that Matimon was carrying and into her own, and set the Digimon to cleaning and filling the empty gourds with water.  These were stoppered with pieces of bark from the surrounding trees to prevent leaking.  They were placed in the bags fashioned out of the stout leaves of the jungle, and with food saved from breakfast, were distributed among all of the Digimon.  They were all set.
    "Let's go everyone!" cried out Taimon as he pointed the way.
    "The desert is in the other direction, dear," commented Igorimon softly.

    They started on their way again.  Within an hour, the group noticed that the jungle just opened up to the desert.  There were no gradual changes.  First there was jungle, then desert.
    "This is bizarre," commented Jyoumon, as he took the first steps into the desert.
    "W hat's weird, Jyou?" asked Gomamon.
    "It's tough to explain...  It's just different."
    The Digimon took their time exiting the jungle.  They blinked against the sudden brightness of the desert after the shaded conditions of the jungle.
    Koushiromon stayed behind as the rest of the group went on.  The glare off the sand was hard on his eyes and the heat was absorbed into his black-skinned parts of his body.
    Tentomon saw this and went back to his partner.  Jyoumon followed just behind him.
    "Is some thing wrong, Koushi..." started the bug Digimon.
    "Please, Tento...  Just call me 'Izzy'."
    "All right, Izzy."  Tentomon looked up into the face of his partner.  "What's wrong?" he asked.
    "I've been having nightmares..."
    "Really?" asked Tentomon.  "What were they about?"
    Koushiromon related his nightmare from the night before.  "It's just another twist on the dreams that I had when I was younger..."
    "But you know that your mother and father love you, right?" asked the bug Digimon.
    "I know."  The insectoid Digimon sighed.  "I believe that I understand now what Jyoumon was going through before."
    Jyoumon interrupted.  "What do you mean; what I was going through before'?"
    "About being frightened about being a Digimon."  Koushiromon stated.
    "Now why would I be frightened about being a Digimon?" asked Jyoumon, confused.
    Koushiromon blinked, and decided not to question his friend about the change of attitude towards his situation.  He had something that he wanted to say.
    "What if we are stuck like this?" he asked his friends.  "What if we never become human again?"
    "Then the prophecy can't be filled," said Tentomon.
    "You won't be able to go home," mused Jyoumon.
    "And even if we did get home, we'd probably be taken away for testing."  Koushiromon shuddered.  "I wouldn't like to be separated from my parents."
    "I'd think that your parents would do anything to get you back..." said Jyou.
    "But I'm not really their son..."
    "They said that you are," insisted Tentomon.
    "It wouldn't matter if you were born to then or not, Izzy," said Jyoumon.
    "But..."  Koushiromon was having trouble working his way through this.  There was nothing logical about the way he was feeling.
    "Maybe you're having an identity crisis," said Jyoumon thoughtfully.
    "It's this Champion body of mine, I think," sighed the bug-soldier Digimon.  "It is very far removed to anything that I am familiar with."
    "But you're still you, Izzy," said Tentomon.
    Taimon interrupted them.
    "C'mon you guys!  You're holding us up!"

    It was very hot.  The group moved slowly, taking frequent breaks.  But it was obvious that the trek was harder on some Digimon more than others.
    Gabumon was very warm under his fur coat.  He considered taking it off --for a moment.  Then his shyness got the better of him and he thought no more of it.
    Gomamon and Jyoumon were suffering as well.  Both were water mammals and there was no river or lake anywhere close by to swim in to cool off.
    Tentomon was complaining about getting sand in his wings.  Even walking with his shell tightly closed, the sand was getting in and was chafing him.
    Both Meimimon and Palmon felt like they were wilting.  It was too hot and there didnít seem to be enough water.
    Karimon and Gatomon were walking in sulky silence.  Neither one of them wanted to complain, but it was obvious to the others that they were unhappy about getting sand in their fur.
    "How much further until we stop for the night?" panted Taimon.
    "Another two hours, I think," said Igorimon quietly.  She was also feeling the heat.  But we can stop again for a couple of minutes, but not much more...  I'm sure that my Master has discovered that we have gone by now."
    They halted and had a couple of sips from their water-gourds.  They sat on the hot sand, panting.
    "I don't think that I can take much more of this," moaned Jyoumon.
    Gomamon was too exhausted to reprimand his partner for his negativity.
    "It's just too hot," whimpered Tiikeimon.
    "I know, kiddo," sighed Matimon.
    "I'm getting a sinking feeling about this," said Tentomon.  He shifted uncomfortably on the sand.
    Palmon looked over to him.  Her large eyes became larger.  "You're sinking!" she exclaimed.
    "Quicksand!" cried out Taimon.  Everyone else scattered far enough to avoid sinking.
    Tentomon tried to spread his wings and fly out of danger, but it was already too late.  He was already too deep, and the sand surrounding him prevented him of opening his shell.
    Everyone desperately tried to think of a way to get their friend out of the quicksand.  Koushiromon flew over his friend, grabbed his arm and tried to pull him out.  But...
    "My foot is caught on something!" cried out Tentomon.
    "What?!?" Koushiromon was certain that he was strong enough to pull his partner out, but he knew that he would cause him serious harm if his foot wasn't freed first.  And the thing, whatever it was, was still sinking, taking Tentomon with it.  It was all that he could do to keep Tentomon's head above the sand.
    "Get me out of here, Izzy!" pleaded the bug-Digimon.
    "I'm trying!"  Koushiromon was trying to think.  He knew that as long that Tentomon's foot was caught, there was no way to pull him out.  So he had to figure out a way to free his partner's foot from whatever it was that it was caught on.
    The best way to free Tentomon's foot was to have someone to go down under the sand and ease it away from the object.  But no one could go down under the sand safely.  But there had to be a way...
    "Palmon!" he shouted.  "Use your tendrils to untangle his foot!  Meimimon!  Hang on to her!"
    The flower-Digimon sent her tendrils into the soft sand, seeking for her friend's foot.  Meimimon held onto her partner, making certain that her partner did not get pulled in.
    Palmon carefully probed the sand until she could feel a piece of old tree-root.  She felt along the wood until she found her friend's foot.  She used the tendrils of one hand to break off pieces of the root, the used the tendrils of the other hand to the foot away from the wreckage.
    "I think I got it!" she called to Koushiromon.
    "All right!" he called back.  He looked down at his partner.  "I'll have you out in a moment,
Tento."  He pulled on his friend's arm, beating his wings for all that they were worth.  Tentomon's body came slowly out of the sand.  Palmon withdrew her tendrils, feeling rather pleased with herself.  And Koushiromon flew to a stable piece of sand, and set his partner down.
    "Are you okay?" he asked.
    "Everything is here," replied Tentomon as he performed a quick examination of himself.  "You saved me again, Izzy!"
    "That was really quick thinking," said Matimon with approval.
    "That's for sure," agreed Taimon.  "You're definitely the smartest, Izzy.  No matter what form you are in."
    "But that is just the way he is," said Tentomon.
    "Yeah," Koushiromon said softly.  Digimon or human, he was the smartest of the group.  It didn't matter if he was Koushiromon or Izimon or a ten-year-old human child.  It didn't matter if it was his mother wasn't the one who gave birth to him, he was Izzy Izumi and he always will be.  It was what was inside of a person that counted, not their history or form.  "I am, arenít I?"  He smiled, and then he shimmered as he began to devolve.
    When the glow disappeared, what remained was a small green Digimon.    He sat on his belly looking up at his friends with his round black eyes.  He was as hairless as Motimon, but with long antennae arching over his head and his small paws rested on Izzy's laptop.  He then examined his legless body and waggled his thick tail.  Izzy's crest of Knowledge hung around his neck.
    "Huhn," he mused.  "One weird form for another...  At least I know that I'm still me..."
    "Are you okay, Izzy?" asked Tentomon.
    "I'm fine, Tento," replied the little green creature.  "I am now Koshimon."
    "So I can call you that then?"
    "If you like.  I know who I am, now."

    They resumed their trek, only pausing once more for a quick dinner.  Igorimon suggested that everyone would be too tired to go through the trouble of dinner by the time they stopped for the evening.  Because of the long and eventful stop, the sun was starting to set as the ground that they traveled changed from sandy to rocky.
    "I guess this means that we're officially out of the desert," said Taimon as brittle shale crunched under his feet.  He was carrying Izzy's computer, vowing that he will not drop and prove to the little Digimon that he can be responsible with a computer.
    "Finally!" panted Jyoumon.  "Does this mean that I can die now?"
    "Cheer up, Jyou," said Soramon.  "At least it's not so hot."
    "How much further is it, Igorimon?" asked Tiikeimon.
    "Not much further, dear heart," said Igorimon.  "Just another twenty minutes, then we can stop for the night."
    Koshimon was sitting on top of his partner's head.  "You have said that you had a place in mind to stay for the night.  Is that correct?"
    "Yes."  Igorimon nodded.  I think you all will like it, but you won't be able to see much of it until morning..."
    "I hope it is indoors," said Meimimon.  "This night air is bad for my complexion."
    "It doesn't hurt you at all, Meimi," contradicted Palmon.  "Most plants do very well outside at night."
    "Well, I don't think that I am one of them."

    After a while, after they trudged up a large hill, they came to large stone building.  It seemed rather cozy and inviting for a building so large and dark.  They ascended the steps to the dark doorway.  Taimon took a torch off of a wall sconce and lit it with his Petit Fire attack.
    "Let's go in," he said, leading the way.  The rest of the Digimon followed.
    Everyone crammed into the first room, just inside the entrance.  It was difficult to see what was within with just the little bit of illumination that Taimon was carrying.
    "We better light some more torches," suggested Matimon.
    Taimon nodded.  He walked around the room, lighting the other torches with the one he held.  Slowly, the room brightened, and the others were able to see where they were standing.
    "It's beautiful," commented Biyomon.
    No one disagreed with her.
    They were standing in the foyer of the building.  The floor was covered in glazed tile in shades of blue and beige, depicting a simple elegant design.  In the centre of the room was a small pool, also laid with the same kind of tile, but the inside appeared to have more colours.  It also had a design within, but no one could make it out with the dimness of the chamber and the ripples in the pool.  There were also planters with flowers and tapestries hung on the walls.  Cushioned benches were situated around the pool and along the walls, which looked very appealing to the exhausted Digimon.  A small nook held wool blankets, and pillows.
    Overall, it was a very warm, comforting, welcoming place.
    "Okay, guys," called out Taimon as everyone was heading towards the blankets.  "I know that everybody's tired.  But we have to set up the watch shifts for the night."
    There was a lot of groaning.
    "I will take the first watch," said Igorimon.
    "Are you certain?" asked Koshimon.  "I would be happy to take the next shift."
    "Nuh-uh," countered Matimon.  "You're getting your rest."
    "You can't Digivolve unless you get your sleep," agreed Agumon.
    The green In-Training Digimon looked towards the leader.
    Taimon shook his head.  "Sorry, Izzy.  For once, I agree with Matimon.  Get some rest."
    "Yes," agreed Tentomon.  "You have earned the night off."
    Koshimon sighed.  "If you insist," he said.
    Igorimon nodded.  "Then it is decided.  I will take the first watch.  Then Soramon and Biyomon can take the second, then Meimimon and Palmon.   Tiikeimon can take the watch after that, with Patamon, and Karimon and Gatomon can finish up the night."
    Taimon and Matimon went wide-eyed.  It had never occurred to them to have the girls and their partners to have turns at taking the watch.  And both of them were bothered by the idea of their little siblings staying up at all --partner or no partner.
    Soramon snorted.  "Well, it's about time," she said.
    "Yeah," agreed Biyomon.  "We girls are more than capable of standing watch!"
    "Well...," Meimimon hesitated.  "I don't know..."
    "Well, I'm tired of being coddled," said Palmon.
    "But what about Kari..?" asked Taimon.
    "And Tiikei..?" continued Matimon.
    The youngest of the new Digimon looked indignant.  But their partners stepped in to pick up the argument.
    "We have already talked about this, Mati!" Patamon almost shouted.  "He's old enough!"
    "Yeah, Matt!" agreed Tiikeimon.  "I'm not a baby anymore.  Stop treating me like one!"
    "Kari is more than capable of taking care of herself," said Gatomon coldly to Taimon.  "You have to allow her the chance to prove it."
    "Yes, Tai," said Karimon softly.  "I can do this..."
    "Let them, Tai, Matt," groaned Jyoumon from a bench.  "No more arguing and let's get some sleep, okay?"
    Matimon and Taimon agreed, simply because they were too tired to argue.  Igorimon made certain that all of the other Digimon were comfortable, and then she extinguished all of the torches, except one.  She walked over to a shallow fireplace; where there was a fire already laid out, and lit it.  The slow movements of the tall Digimon, as she performed familiar tasks comforted all of the Rookies and the one In-Training Digimon.  They fell asleep to the crackling of the fire, feeling the safest that they have ever been for a long time.

    Izimon woke up after he fell off the bench he was sleeping on.  Apparently, he digivolved while he was sleeping, and a sudden rollover dumped him off of the bench.  He sat up and carefully rubbed at his eyes with the back of one of his two arms.
    "Good morning, Izimon," greeted Karimon from her spot nearby the fire.
    "It's about time you woke up," said Gatomon.
    "Good morning, Karimon, Gatomon," replied Izimon.  He looked himself over.  "Hmmm...  I Digivolved.  I must have had a good night's sleep."  He reached over to his laptop, turned it on and quickly started to type into his Digimon journal.
    The soft tapping woke up his partner.
    "Hmm?" asked Tentomon in a sleep-heavy voice.  "Is it morning already?"
    "Oh.  Sorry, Tento...  I didn't mean to wake you.  I'll take this outside."  Izimon went to get up.
    "It's okay, Izi," replied the bug-like Digimon.  "In fact, I think I will come with you."  He got up and stretched.  "Maybe we can see the sunrise..."
    Izimon nodded.  "I think the view will be good just outside.  We are on a hill after all."  The two of them went outside.
    "This is a very nice place," commented Gatomon to her partner.
    "It is," agreed Karimon as she stirred the fire.  "It is almost as if it was meant for us to rest in."
    Gatomon stretched.  "I know what you mean," she said.  "Did you get a chance to study the tapestries?"
    "Not really," admitted the cat-girl Digimon.  "I wanted to impress Taimon and show that I could handle the responsibility of standing watch."
    "You did a good job, Kari," said Taimon softly as he slipped in silently beside his sister and warmed his hands by the fire.  "I should have realised that you would do a great job.  Gatomon was right."
    "Thanks Tai."

    Slowly, everyone got up.  They stretched and actually took the time to look around at their surroundings.  Igorimon decided that breakfast could wait until a bit later, after the others had a chance to look around.
    "Hey?" began Jyoumon as he came out of the shallow pool.  "Did any of you get a good look at the mural on the bottom of this thing?"
    The others came closer and took a look inside of the pool.
    "Hey!" exclaimed Agumon.
    "Those are out crests!" said Soramon in awe.
    The eight crests of the Digi-Destined sparkled at the bottom of the pool in their eight respective colours.
    "Did you noticed that our crests are carved on the lintel of the doorway, just outside?" inquired Izimon as he and Tentomon came back inside.
    "They're on the bottom of this pool too," chirped Tiikeimon.
    "And on the floor," commented Patamon from near the ceiling.  The same pattern in the pool was repeated on the floor, in blue and beige tiles.
    "I really think you should look at the tapestries," said Gatomon.
    The tapestries in question depicted all of the previous battles that they have fought --before they were all Digimon.
    "This is really weird," commented Taimon as he studied the tapestry of the Battle with Devimon.
    "I wonder what's in the other room," said Tiikeimon to his partner.
    "Maybe we should take a look," suggested Patamon.
    "Yeah!"  So, while the others were studying the tapestries and the Crest mosaics, Tiikeimon and Patamon stole into the larger room.
    "What do you think?" asked Igorimon in a cheerful, yet mischievous voice.
    "What is this place?" asked Matimon as he and the others stared around them.
    "This is a shrine to the Digi-Destined," replied Igorimon.
    "Why would there be a shrine to us?" asked Soramon.  "We're nobody important."
    "But you are, dear heart.  Remember that the Digi-Destined will save the Digital World from darkness.  So, it's only natural that a temple will be built to pay homage to our saviours."
    "If this place is a shrine," began Izimon, "why are there blankets and pillows?"
    "Not to mention the comfortable benches..?" interjected Tentomon.
    "Well," said Igorimon smiling, "this shrine's other purpose was to provide shelter to the ones who would need it, like the Digital-World's saviours."
    The entire group went still as the tall Digimon's words sunk in.
    "Whoa..." the former human children all said softly as one.
    "Wow, Meimi," said Palmon.  "It looks like you're important."
    The once human girl sighed.  "Maybe," she said.  "But I feel uncomfortable knowing that people expect so much out of us.  I'd really hate to let them down."
    "Does that bother you?" asked the small plant Digimon.
    "Yes," replied Meimimon.  "That and the fact that I know that there is no way for me to look my best during that final battle.  I really don't have a thing to wear."
    "It's nice to know that you keep in mind the important things," commented Izimon.
    "Well, someone has to."
    "Hey!" cried out Tiikeimon from the other room.
    "Come and check out the statues!" called out Patamon.
    "Statues?" asked Taimon as the group moved to catch up.
    They walked into another huge domed room.  There were statues of human kids with Digimon standing on top of large pedestals.  The statues were twice the size of the Digimon who had entered the room.  They were illuminated by the sunlight coming in through the tall windows.  The group stared at the statues in awe of their size before they realised something.
    "Hey," commented Karimon.  "These are statues of us!"
    Realisation hit home as the others acknowledged that the little cat-girl Digimon was right.
    Taimon went to the first statue.  "Hey!" he said.  "There's a plaque on here."
    "What does it say?" asked Agumon.
    "Um, Taichi Kamiya: The Digi-Destined of Courage..." read Taimon out loud.  Then he looked up at the statue.  A brave looking boy with a giant poof of hair grinned fearlessly at the spectators.  At his side was a dinosaur-like Digimon.  "Hey!  That's me!" he cried out.
    "And me too," said Agumon in wonder.
    Matimon walked up to another one of the statues and looked up.  An amiable looking boy looked at the viewers with a good-natured smile on his face.  He was kneeling and his hand rested on the shoulder of his buddy, a shy looking Gabumon.
    "Yamato Ishida: The Digi-Destined of Friendship," read Matimon out loud.  "Huhn.  That guy looks more friendly than I ever was."
    "I like it though," said his partner.
    "It is kinda nice, isn't it?"
    The next statue was of a caring girl holding a small bird-like Digimon tenderly in her arms.  She regarded her viewers with an endearing expression.
    "This one's yours, Sora," said Biyomon to her partner.
    "You're right, Biyo," replied Soramon as she bent over to read the plaque.  "Sora Takenouchi :The Digi-Destined of Love," she said.
    Everyone looked at the statue and secretly thought that as nice as the statue was, it didn't do justice to the lovely girl that it was supposed to represent.
    "This one is mine," said Izimon as he went over to his particular statue.  Koushiro Izumi: The Digi-Destined of Knowledge was what it said on its plaque.
    It was of an intelligent looking young boy with a laptop slung onto his back.  He stood smartly as he smiled knowingly at his audience.  His hand rested appreciatively on the shell of bug-like Digimon that stood beside him.
    "I look good, don't you think?" asked Tentomon.
    "Is this one mine?" asked Meimimon as she looked up at a statue of a slightly naïve looking girl wearing a large hat.  She had an honest expression on her face as she gazed at the on-lookers with open frankness.  In her arms, the girl held an unsophisticated, but cheerful looking Palmon.
    Meimimon read the writing on the base of the statue.  "Mimi Tachikawa: The Digi-Destined of  Sincerity... " The flower-girl Digimon squinted up at the statue.
    "What's wrong, Meimi?" asked Palmon.
    "Nothing really...  It's just that those gloves look practically tacky with that dress..."
    "I should have known better, but I only had two days to prepare my wardrobe for camp..."
    Igorimon laughed delightedly.
    "Wow..." said Tiikeimon in awe in another part of the room.  "Do you think that's us, Patamon?"
    "Sure looks that way, Tiikei..."
    The youngest of the new Digimon read the legend on the plaque.  "Takeru Takaishi: The Digi-Destined of Hope.  Sounds kinda neat!"
    The statue that Tiikeimon and his partner were facing was that of an eager-looking young boy with an enthusiastic grin on his face.  On the boy's head was his faithful Patamon partner.  Both regarded the crowd with confidence.
    "We look cool!" said Tiikeimon.
    "You bet!" agreed Patamon.
    Karimon was looking at the statue of the human girl that she used to be,  Hikari Kamiya: The Digi-Destined of Light.  It featured a serene looking young girl with a benevolent smile on her face.  Clarity beyond her young years shone in her eyes.  Beside her, a Gatomon stood in a manner that indicated that she would protect her partner with every ounce of her being.
    Karimon tilted her head.
    "What is it?" asked her partner.
    "I look so serious," was the cat-girl's reply.
    Taimon walked over to her and placed his huge hands on her shoulders.  "You look good," he said to her.  "But that statue is only a representation of you.  Of the 'Child of Light', actually.  It isn't you."
    "You sound more serious than usual, Tai..."
    Taimon grinned at his little sister.  "I live with you, remember?  I KNOW that you're not that serious.  You're actually more of a bug most of the time..."  He gave her a big hug from behind.
    The others chuckled at the scene.
    "So, whoís the tall, geeky kid?"
    Taimon spun around and looked at Jyoumon who was gazing at the statue of a rather tall dependable-looking boy with glasses.  The boy in the statue was holding his trustworthy partner Gomamon in one arm and a practical duffel bag in the other.  The plaque on the base of the pedestal read: Joe Kido: The Digi-Destined of Reliability.
    "You better be joking, Jyou."
    "Joking about what?" asked the large Digimon in a confused voice.
    "You know who that is."
    "No, I don't.  Who is he?"  Jyoumon glared at the leader.  "Why is he holding Gomamon?!?"
    "This ain't funny, Joe!  Quit fooling around!"
    "I'm not!"
    "That's YOU, Joe!  The geeky looking kid is YOU!"
    "Come on now, Taimon!  Get serious!"

    Gomamon watched the interchange between the two.  He smiled as he thought that Jyou picked a ridiculous time to develop a sense of humour.  The he saw how serious his partner's face was.  He then felt sick to his stomach as he realised what was happening.
    "Taimon," he said in a choked voice.  "He's not joking.  Joe doesn't know how to joke.  He doesn't remember who he was..."
    Everyone's head snapped around at that statement.
    "Is this true?" asked Soramon.
    "Is what true?"
    "You have to remember, Jyou..." said Gomamon.
    "Remember what?!?"
    "You were once human," replied Taimon.  "That tall kid is you!"
    "Get serious!" snorted Jyoumon.  "Look at me!  How can I be a two legged furless human?!?"
    Taimon just stared at him.
    "What is the problem?" asked Igorimon as she walked over to them.
    "Jyou's forgotten who he was," said Gomamon in a very worried voice.
    "Oh, no!" exclaimed the tall Digimon as she knelt beside the four-legged Digimon.  She took hold of his head and looked into his eyes, as if she was looking for Jyoumon's lost humanity.
    The others stopped examining the statues as they crowded around their friend in concern.
    "This is what I was afraid of," said Karimon softly from beside her brother.
    Taimon remembered about what Karimon said about getting to the lab quickly for Joe's sake.  "Is this what you meant?" he asked her in a low whisper.
    "All I knew was that it would be bad," she replied.  "I didn't know that it would be this bad..."
    "What seems to be the problem?" interjected a new voice from behind the crowd.  The group all turned towards the shimmering, transparent image of Gennai.
    "Gennai!" exclaimed Taimon.  "You gotta help us!  There's something wrong with Jyou!"
    "Oh, really?" asked the elder.  Then he saw for the first time the four-footed Digimon that used to be the Digi-Destined of Reliability.  "Oh, my..." he said.  "It looks like Frankenmon's studies were even more extensive than I thought.
    "But he doesn't remember being human," said Gomamon.
    "Really?" Now, even Gennai looked concerned.
    Jyoumon pulled his head away from Igorimon's grasp.  "You are all nuts!" he exclaimed in disgust.  "Gennai, tell them!"  He took a few steps towards the shimmering hologram as if it would protect him from what his friends were saying.
    But the old man appeared to be lost in thought.  "Now, how could he completely lose his sense of self, even if he..." Gennai then noticed what Jyoumon was wearing.  The buckle of Jyoumon's simple collar flashed in the sunlight.
    "Oh, Igorimon," he said in a sad voice.  "What have you done?"

    I'd like to thank Silver12065 for Amphibimon, a Digimon of his own creation, and the idea of Koushiromon having four arms.  I'd also like to thank my friend, MoonSheen for being a sounding board for this entire story and for ideas while I was struggling with writer's block.

On to Chapter 6
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