Dearest Friend,

I hope this letter finds you well. I apologize. I can already guess your first remark: "Hida Iori, what is going on? We have not heard from any of you in years!" Well, if you care to hear excuses, I have many.

First among them, as to why our mutual friend Takeru was not able to continue sending his letters: he is, sadly, no longer with us, and I do not know if or when we will see him again. With his passing, his diary and many notes eventually passed to me. For a brief time I entertained fantasies of continuing his letters from where he had left off at his 17th, but after many years and false starts, I must at last admit defeat. I have forgotten much, and what is remembered is remembered wrong. From his notes, it seems that Takeru had planned to send another 35 letters, perhaps even more, but I can only send one. And so, with apologies, I will attempt to explain briefly, in summaries and fragments, with many errors and omissions, some of the events that occurred after Takeru's 17th letter.

As you may recall from Takeru's previous letter, he with Terriermon and Patamon confronted Ichijouji Ken and Wormmon outside the former headquarters of the Kaiser, and there they battled, but were interrupted by third parties before either could defeat the other.

As we later found, and as both Takeru and Ken later admitted to have already suspected, we had become the playthings for a whole new host of other factions, some of which had even set in motion the events leading to the Kaiser's rise, and now sought to achieve their designs after the Kaiser's fall. The first was that odd duo, Arachnemon and Mummymon, two perfect levels who played the part of secret puppet masters very well. They appeared before us, hinting at all sorts of dark knowledge of the technologies behind the Kaiser's Empire, and even wielding modified versions of the same rings and spirals and whips that the Kaiser had used, but for such functions that even Ken had not known had existed. They of course had been behind the conversion of Dark Towers into mindless puppet soldiers, which they used to sow discord and chaos, seemingly for no reason. Though in retrospect, claiming such flimsy motives should have made it obvious that they were acting as agents of another, at that time they had played their parts sufficiently well that none of us, not even Takeru, could guess that their faction should have another, hidden master.

After a series of battles with their mindless constructs, we all reluctantly agreed to an alliance with Ichijouji Ken, and a most surprisingly development happened. I know it must seem difficult to believe, but you must take my word for it: slowly but surely, Daisuke's earnestness began to win Ken over to our side, and even began to win us over to Daisuke's side in accepting Ken. It was a long process of growth for everyone, and to tell of all the little slices of life that brought us together would surely have filled the pages of at least another 10 letters, but unbelievable as it was, it happened, and in a moment of emergency Daisuke and Ken achieved the seemingly impossible: a Joint Progress Evolution between two separate human partners. Takeru later confided in me how difficult Joint Progress evolution was even between two Digimon of the same partner. The achievement was a testament to the strength of Daisuke's will, as well as another vulnerable, lonely side of Ichijouji Ken that even he had not known existed.

With the powers of Stingmon and Vdramon combined into Paildramon, for a time we had the upper hand over the Arachne-Mummy duo, but they countered with an alliance of their own. Though we did not know of them at the time, another faction entered the field to broker a strange deal. SkullSatamon, representative of this faction, arranged a three-way exchange between himself, the Arachne-Mummy duo, and someone we should not have forgotten: BlackAgumon. In exchange for giving the Digimentals of Darkness and Destiny to SkullSatamon and serving as an agent of chaos for the Arachne-Mummy, BlackAgumon was granted a false Armor Evolution crafted from Dark Towers by the Arachne-Mummy duo, becoming BlackWarGreymon. The Arachne-Mummy duo thus obtained an unpredictable but useful agent to perpetuate chaos and destruction, while BlackWarGreymon obtained the power he had always wanted. As for SkullSatamon, he obtained the Digimentals of Darkness and Destiny, which he intentionally left for Hikari and Takeru to find and transform into Crests during our travels, and we did not learn of this until it was too late.

And so began our long campaign of a fighting retreat as BlackWarGreymon chased us. We could not face his unimaginable power directly, but not quite realizing his former identity yet, we naively believed we could stop him by defeating the Arachne-Mummy duo, and so pursued them even as BlackWarGreymon pursued us.

What were all those changes we underwent during those stressful times? Where to even begin?

Through the difficult trials we faced, we came to understand each other better, especially Daisuke and Ken, Miyako and Hikari, Takeru and myself. And in doing so, we all came to understand ourselves a little bit better, and convert our former Digimentals into their Crest forms: Courage and Friendship for Daisuke, Love and Faith for myself, Knowledge and Purity for Miyako, and as we found the last Digimentals that SkullSatamon had secretly left for them, Light and Darkness for Hikari, Hope and Destiny for Takeru.

And what of Ichijouji Ken? Looking back, his growth was the hardest to describe, especially from my limited perspective. He held Miracles and Kindness, but they remained dull and lifeless in his hands. Though none of us could fully appreciate it at the time, not even Ken, I strongly believe that Ken already felt disgust and guilt over the things he had done, but in order to prevent those feelings from overwhelming him, he had embraced his own self-image as a villain. That was why he was so resistant to Daisuke's efforts to befriend him. He couldn't let himself believe he was worth befriending.

Even now one scene has always stuck with me. Shortly before our final confrontation with BlackWarGreymon, I happened to see Ken break down and cry, desperately asking Daisuke why he had to act as he did, so earnest and willing to be his friend.

As for Hikari and Miyako, I later learned that Takeru had asked Miyako to look after Hikari, and Miyako, who had grown up the youngest of her family, suddenly found herself acting as an older sister. Hikari resisted at first, but Tailmon and Lopmon and Hawkmon helped the two bridge their gap. In what had seemed to us a chance encounter with SkullSatamon (it was during that battle that Hikari found and unlocked the Crest of Darkness), Tailmon and Aquilamon joined forces as Silphymon to drive the enemy away.

And Takeru? Hope and Destiny lay as lifeless in his hands as Miracles and Kindness did for Ken. He seemed to grow more quiet and grim, though he would always smile and talk as usual whenever any of us spoke with him. Yet even I could see that a gap seemed to be growing between him and the rest of us.

Our long campaign to resist BlackWarGreymon's campaign of destruction began to draw to its climax. He destroyed and destroyed and destroyed, as if driven by an intense hatred of the entire Digital World itself, and from this hatred we at last began to realize who we really were dealing with.

BlackAgumon was bitter and angry at a world that he felt had betrayed him. He was in fact a partial reincarnation from the original data of that first Greymon whose chance transport between our two worlds had been used for the selection of eight original Chosen. But though made up partially from such a critical Digimon, he was denied what he instinctively had felt was his birthright, and left to suffer the cruel and difficult life of a common Digimon, facing the competitive fight to evolve instead of the relatively sheltered life of a Chosen Digimon, evolving from the bond with a Chosen partner.

And so he wanted total revenge on Ichijouji Ken, who had given him a taste of what he had always dreamed of only to cruelly take it away, and as some memories from his predecessor surfaced he developed an intense hatred toward Yagami Hikari as well.

In a brutal confrontation where he ranted about the unfairness of existence in the Digital World, he thrashed Paildramon and Silphymon, easily brushed aside Ankylomon, Galgomon, Angemon, and Andiramon (so evolved with the Crest of Darkness).

At last, in a culmination of a long and painful internal growth, Ken admitted his past wrongs and apologized to BlackWarGreymon, but it was too late. BlackWarGreymon destroyed and absorbed the data of Wormmon. Then he killed Ken. Hikari tried to retrieve the body, so BlackWarGreymon attacked and seemingly killed her too.

I will never forget the look on Takeru's face. The Crest of Hope burned with sudden life, blazing black and red before shattering into nothingness as Angemon Dark Evolved into NeoDevimon, and suddenly for a moment the tide was turned. NeoDevimon pounced upon BlackWarGreymon and began tearing his armor apart piece by piece, the whole while screeching horribly, drops of acid saliva falling from the bottom of NeoDevimon's mask as his long deathly claw drove itself into BlackWarGreymon's chest, trying to tear through the breastplate into whatever was underneath.

But in a sudden blast of dark energy erupting straight from BlackWarGreymon's heart, NeoDevimon staggered backwards, and BlackWarGreymon struck him down too.

At that moment, Andiramon gained a second wind and charged back to hold BlackWarGreymon off. This was confirmation that Hikari at least was actually alive, or else Andiramon would have lost its power, but Takeru seemed not to realize. He only knelt down in silence before the fallen body of NeoDevimon. I slowly approached him from behind.

He said: "So now you know who I really am."

He told me how he had given into his wrath once before, with similar destructive consequences. He told me how in his heart he always knew he was the evil one, more evil than the Kaiser or BlackWarGreymon or anyone else we had faced so far. He told me how much he hated the darkness, because he knew that deep down there was only darkness in his heart.

And I told him that I didn't believe him. "It doesn't matter if you don't believe that you're a good person. I believe you're a good person. Enough for the both of us."

And with a sudden newfound strength found deep within us, the broken body of NeoDevimon seemed to heal as it reverted to Angemon, and combining our wills Angemon and Ankylomon joined forces into the metal guardian Shakkoumon, who healed the injured but alive Hikari and bore us all away, with Ken's body in tow and BlackWarGreymon in pursuit.

We fought as we withdrew, Shakkoumon and Andiramon and Silphymon, and even Galgomon and Vdramon, all fighting desperately to hold off the inevitable end of BlackWarGreymon finally finishing us off, until a true Miracle appeared before us: Ichijouji Ken suddenly standing alive and well, with his two Crests of Kindness and Miracles shining around his neck.

Takeru tried to explain a little to us later, for as I later learned he had suffered through something similar. Though dead in the Digital World, the strength of Ken's will was such that his mind was able to remain intact as his body was healed and restored by the power channeled through his two Crests, and through the other ten Crests of Daisuke and the rest of us, because we had all refused to give up on Ken.

Then another Miracle happened; as the golden Crest of Miracles shined bright, BlackWarGreymon seemed to weaken and his armor crack, and in one last climactic battle the dark armor of BlackWarGreymon was broken. But Ken did not hurt his beaten opponent any further, and they even had a long and complex conversation that I could not really understand, for it delved into the long journey of redemption that the both of them would have to go seek. BlackAgumon quietly took his leave once again.

With BlackWarGreymon beaten, the Arachne-Mummy duo fled in terror and troubled the Digital World no more, at least for a while. Daisuke led a small celebration, though heavily muted due to the mourning for Wormmon. Off to the side I saw Ken and Takeru had a private conversation. Neither would tell of what they had said, but it seemed to me that they shared something then that none of us could yet understand.

But at the height of our celebration, we were interrupted by one last faction, led by a tall boy leaning heavily on a crutch, with an Agumon at his side. It was Yagami Taichi, Hikari's older brother and leader of the former generation of Chosen. He smiled and addressed Takeru: "You've done well, but now is no time to rest. There's still much more to be done."

And with that, Takeru left us at last.

During that intial confrontation, Hikari had been frozen in terror. But though it was hard for her, she braved her past traumas to explain to us what was going on.

Between that first Adventure of the former generation of Chosen and our own, there had been a battle, a terrible confrontation with an abomination that warped time and space, Milleniummon. Everyone was badly hurt, except for Takeru and Hikari and their partners, for Taichi had seen to it that they were sent safely away before the final clash. As a result, Hikari and the others did not fully know of what had happened, but in the aftermath Taichi and the other older Chosen all agreed that the connection between worlds was a dangerous thing that must be ended. They therefore set out to work on figuring out how to permanently separate the two worlds. Hikari opposed the idea, and the resulting arguments with Taichi damaged their relationship. This greatly scarred Hikari, who had always loved and depended on her older brother. Losing that bond with her brother was what she had always feared the most.

And so our next opponents were none other than four of the leading members of the former Chosen, Yagami Taichi and Agumon, Ishida Yamato and Gabumon, Izumi Koushiro and Tentomon, and none other than Takaishi Takeru with Patamon and Terriermon. Takeru declared to us that he had no choice but to side with these other brothers of his, even if it meant fighting us in order as they worked to break the dimensional anchors connecting the worlds.

During these battles, we began to use the powers of the Crests we had unlocked: AeroVdramon born from Courage and Friendship, Crowmon from Knowledge and Purity, Brachimon from Love and Faith. Though with Wormmon gone, Ken could not help us directly, he remained as an advisor and technical support aide. He insisted on continuing on in Wormmon's memory, despite the pain it caused him.

Amid our battles, which crossed between both worlds, the secret master of the Arachne-Mummy duo revealed himself to me. His name was Yukio Oikawa, and he had known my father. He told me that in his childhood he and my father had briefly gone to the Digital World, and afterward getting back became an obsession for him. In his research he learned enough to subtly interact with the world, and had in fact created the Arachne-Mummy duo, using them as his agents as he sought to manipulate the Kaiser into building the Dark Tower network. In the aftermath of the Kaiser's fall he pivoted to attempting to detonate converted Dark Towers in key destabilizing locations, all as part of a crazed plan to bind the two worlds even more closely together and allow himself to cross over personally. Therefore Yagami Taichi and the others were his direct opposition, and he sought a truce with us in our three-way conflict.

I foolishly urged the others to agree, both for the memory of my father and my shame at how harshly I had treated Ken. I soon learned how deeply I had misjudged how Oikawa had been twisted by the anger and resentment he had felt after my father's death. When my father died, he had felt betrayed and abandoned by his last remaining friend, and in a three-way battle he personally jumped into the fray, revealing that he had actually grafted Digimon Data into his own body in an attempt to allow himself to pass over between world.

As he revealed, there was a piece of Milleniummon embedded in Ken's body, which Oikawa now sought to extract in order to complete his plan, even at the potential cost of Ken's life. But this extraction proved to have unintended side effects, and the data that Oikawa had grafted into himself used the mere radiation of power of the piece to take form as BelialVamdemon, who destroyed and absorbed Oikawa's minions and then tormented Ken while trying to complete the extraction.

None other than BlackAgumon came to help us in this time of need, suddenly becoming BlackWarGreymon, with the symbol of Miracles blazing on his armored back, a second partner for the second Digivice in Ken's keeping. Our combined forces defeated BelialVamdemon and rescued Oikawa, but the extraction of the piece had brought the connection between worlds at its most unstable point, we turned to face one final confrontation with Taichi and the other elder Chosen. We were at a tipping point, balanced between Oikawa's dream of a united world and Taichi's goal of a divided world, and now fought to push it one way or the other.

Using the power of Warp Evolution and the Crest of Miracles, Ken and BlackWarGreymon dueled Taichi and WarGreymon. Daisuke and UlforceVdramon joined Ken's side, Yamato and MetalGarurumon joined Taichi's side, and then with Joint Progress Evolution the battle became ImperialDramon against Omegamon.

But before the battle could be decided, the decision between union or division was forced on us, for the final faction, led by Daemon, revealed itself to have prepared all of this in order to use the potential union of multiple dimensions to destroy them all in one move. Everything, even arranging for us to complete our crests by intentionally leaving Darkness and Destiny for us to find, had been leading up to this. Through their actions, the union of worlds threatened to not only unite ours and the Digital World, but countless other worlds, of which we saw glimpses and flashes. I saw flashes of so many worlds with so many people, a flash of the older Chosen joined by a dark haired girl with glasses, of a boy with yellow rimmed goggles and a red Digimon partner, so many worlds that would all perish if we did not choose division.

With no other choice, we fought to tip the balance toward division, but though we defeated Daemon, the Milleniummon piece still threatened to detonate and destroy everything if someone did not stay behind to hold it back while the dimensions finished separating. Ken fought to be the one left behind, claiming that it would be his redemption, but Takeru and Patamon pulled one final trick, merging and becoming Seraphimon, to defeat Ken and send him back. For as Takeru explained, death was not redemption; living was.

The worlds were pushed over the edge. As the connection severed and worlds broke apart, the last piece of Milleniummon was destroyed. As the gate closed, our Digimon partners were ripped from our arms as we wept and reached out after them, while in the separate dimension where the last piece of Millenium exploded, Seraphimon turned and removed his helmet, revealing Takeru's smile. "Don't cry," he said. "We will all see each other again."

Then he was gone.

It has been many years since then. Memories have faded and grown dim, leaving me unable to truly express all that had happened, and even unsure if I have been completely accurate in what I have just related. Perhaps I have gotten some of it wrong. If you were to ask one of the others, I am sure they would tell it very differently.

But I cannot ask them myself. Old friends have gone their separate ways, leaving only a few fragmentary relics and silence. I do not know what has become of Daisuke or Taichi or Ken or the rest, or of what has become of Armadimon or the Digital World. And though sometimes I wonder, and am filled with indescribable longing and loss, eventually the feelings pass, and life goes on.

The last time that I saw Yagami Hikari, she smiled and said that Seraphimon's ultimate attack Testament unleashed the power of the Big Bang, that it led to creation of whole new dimensions and worlds. Make of that what you will. I will not. This is my last letter. We will not see each other again.

Forever Yours,

Hida Iori.