Chapter 25

Escape Plan

"YOU'RE NOT GETTING AWAY!" Wargreymon roared as he streaked across the night sky.

A couple hundred feet ahead of him a black blur hurried to put more distance between them or at the very least just stay out of reach.

"DARKNESS BLUSTER" A sphere of dark energy came rushing down on the dark figure from above. With a split second decision the target managed to spin to the side and dodge the attack, it taking a chunk of his robe as it skimmed by.

"CLEANSING LIGHT" As soon as the dark ball had passed a stream of light poured up from the ground below, missing its target but punching another hole in the figures clothes with how close it had come.

Sensing that the attacks were getting closer with each attempt the target decided to change its strategy by diving down beneath the tree line. It darted about in zigzagging patterns hoping that it's movements would be hidden within the shadows, obscured from their pursuers. They had to try something since they were outnumbered. They might be able to turn the tables on one of those hunting them, but in the time it would most likely take to confront one the other two would be on them as well. There was also no telling if those three were the only ones after them. There was also the others that they knew about, but they hadn't seen them yet.

Taking a quick turn around a corner of thick trees there was a glint of steel which drove them up, coming within a hairsbreadth of the speeding blade. They let out a mumbled curse as they sped by the cybernetic wolf, vowing that if the situation were ever reversed they would make sure to kill them. However, there wasn't time to dwell on it since they could already hear the metallic snap of the wolfs laser open and charge an attack.

"CLEANSING LIGHT" The dark forest instantly burst to life with intense light. Light the bundle of shadows and robes managed to barely avoid by making a quick right turn and diving further into the forest.

"TERRA FORCE" Just as they had escape the last attempt the mega digimon above had used the light of the last attack to lock onto their location to launch another. With a burst of speed they managed to escape a direct hit, but the force of the blast was enough to toss them sideways. They bounced hard off the thick trunk of a tree, scrapping a layer of bark and cloth off before they regained their bearings and took off flying through the forest again.

"RED CROSS" They were barely fast enough to avoid the brunt of the attack, but it did pierce his robes and put a two inch gash in their left cheek.

Rethinking their strategy they decided that the forest hadn't been the best decision. There were too many blind spots and choke points. While the idea hadn't been wrong, it had been flawed in the fact that they had seen them enter it and hence were able to track them. They needed more distance to try again, so they took off into the sky where they could fully utilize their speed.

"You're not going to escape us, Daemon!" One of them called after him. He hadn't bothered to learn their names or voices. In his mind there was no point in learning the names of the creatures he was going to kill the moment he got the chance. Speaking of chances, he also wasn't going to give them one to catch him again after such luck had allowed him to escape in the first place.

**Back before Daemon's escape**

"This isn't getting us anywhere..." Koichi sighed. They had been questioning the Demon Lord for a few minutes and it was already starting to wear thin on his and his brothers patience. "I don't know if he's that stubborn or just doesn't know anything. Or, if the digimon didn't knock his head around too hard when they took him down."

Despite all of their questioning Daemon had remained silent. He barely reacted to them except for the random sneer when they mocked him and his situation. They were doing some serious physiological damage to his ego. However, it didn't compare to the constant physical strain the barrier of light around him was causing. He was a Demon Lord, one of the most powerful dark digimon in the universe, and he was being beaten to his knees before the force of light. It was humiliating.

"I still have something I'd like to..." Whatever Koji was going to say was quickly cut short by the ring of his Runners Phone. He glanced down at the pocket it rested in and pondered on whether he should answer it or not. Since his brother was beside him it was obvious that it was probably Takuya on the other end; the only other being with his number was Lady Ophanimon but he didn't think it was her.

When the phone went past ten rings he finally decided to answer, but he would do it begrudgingly. "I swear, Takuya better have a damn good reason for calling me in the middle of this." If there was one thing that Koji hated it was being interrupted, especially when the interruption was going to throw off his interrogation.

"Hold on a sec." He told his brother, removing the phone from his pocket and walking a short distance away from the group before he answered. "This better be real important." Words dripping with venom greeted the person on the other end.

From his prison cell of light Daemon watched the back of his interrogator as he talked on the phone. Ever since the hostile greeting he hadn't said anything and was instead just listening. The boy's body tensed for a split second, so fast he wasn't sure if it had actually happened, so when it didn't happen again he quickly forgot it and went back to scowling angrily. With a nod of the head the boy took the phone away from his ear and glanced back towards them. Daemon felt awkward as the boy looked him over and a bit scared when a flicker of some realization flashed across his eyes before returning to the call.

A minute later he hung up the phone, dropped it into his pocket, and turned back to the group. His twin was the first to address his return.

"What's up?" It was apparent from his quizzical look that he was in just as in the dark as Daemon was with what just happened.

"Nothing," Koji sighed, "But I've decided that we're going to deal with our friend here just like we did that Fangmon a few years ago. That got us what we wanted."

"Are you sure?" Koichi didn't sound so sure about his method.

"Yeah, seems like the best way to fill our order." Koji's lips curled into a smirk as he glared down at Daemon.

"Don't think you intimidate me, boy." Daemon snarled in response to the look.

"Still, has he really done something that bad. I mean, bad enough to invite that kind of method." Koichi looked towards the demon lord as well before he began smiling.

"He probably has... but it's not like I care either way. We need to get this done with." It seemed that he felt the timetable needed to be moved up.

"If you say so, but I still don't like it. Poor Fangmon... I still think about him from time to time..." Koichi let a small depressed chuckle, maybe a response to something the memory stirred.

The scowl hadn't left Daemons face but he had chosen to turn his vocalizations inward. He no longer felt like he needed to speak to the two. In his opinion he had easily seen through their little plan to scare him. It was a small victory in a day full of defeats, but it was enough to restore some of his confidence and peace of mind.

"Um... guys... What exactly is this plan?" Wargreymon was the only one in the dark on the plan. Whether Beowolfmon and Rhihimon knew what was going on or not they didn't let on, they just stood silently, awaiting their partners orders.

"We'll explain it to you three before we begin..." Koichi glanced towards Daemon, narrowing his gaze as a thought crossed his mind. "It's best not to talk about it in front of our guest. We'll need to have some surprise on our side so let's step away for a bit."

Daemon didn't like the smirk the twins and their partners gave him as they walked away. They came to a stop at the edge of the forest, at least a good hundred yards from him, putting them outside his range of hearing and any chance of reading their lips. All he could tell was that they were talking about something that kept pulling different reactions from them.

It only took a minute for his mind to turn to thoughts of the terrible forms of torture they were planning to inflict on him. The more he imagined it, the more his brave facade began to crack and the panic set in. He tried to think of some false information he could feed them to buy himself some time to avoid whatever they were going to do; time he could try and use to escape or maybe...

"What...!?" Daemon fought the urge to cry out in his surprise. He would have sworn that he had seen the light around him flicker. As if the glowing walls of his prison had dimmed for a moment. Forgetting about the group plotting his interrogation he leaned in closer to the walls and stared.

There it was again. The light dimmed and the walls flickered, he was sure of it that time. Looking up he stared into the strange portal above him and found what he believed to be the cause of what he was seeing. The once perfect circle was now frayed around the edges and slightly misshapen, like the rim was slowly warping or distorting. Something was happening and he knew it was close because the pace of the fluctuations of light were increasing.

"I knew it! I knew the powers of light couldn't hold me for long." He prepared himself for what he believed was coming. His conclusion was that the power holding him was breaking down and he'd soon be free, which meant he had two choices to make. The first being that once it failed he could flee as fast as he could before his captures could react and try and recapture him. And the second was that he could use the fact that they were unaware of what was happening and use that to get the drop on them with a surprise attack. It would definitely go a long way towards getting his revenge.

"I just need to bide my time a bit longer..." His moment of freedom was approaching, but still be couldn't get too confident... that was what ended him up in this situation. He kept his eyes trained on his capturers in the distance, looking for any sign that they had noticed what was happening. If they did it would be essential that he react quickly and accordingly; there was no getting captured again in his mind.

The flickering continued to increase in frequency and he was sure that in only a few more seconds he'd be free and the ones who had insulted and trapped him would pay. "ALMOST..." He could feel his blood boil in anticipation. "ALMO-!?" The thought grinded to a halt in his head when the boy in the white coat's head spun to the side and locked his eyes on him. Had he seen it!? Had he seen the cage flicker? Did he know what it meant? Of course he did! He was somehow involved in its creation so he had to know!

A thousand thoughts rushed through Daemons head. Questions as to whether he should still try to attack or now that the element of surprise had been lost that it was best to just run. Could he take on the three? They had ambushed him earlier when they took him out, so did that mean they weren't strong enough to take him on in open combat... or had they just not thought him worth fighting. "How strong are they?" Anger filled his being at how little he knew about his enemies.

Before the boy could say anything there was a loud crack as the portal above him collapsed and the cage around him vanished in a dim flash. Instantly he shot up high into the air and aimed his palm at the group. His anger, his sin, was too much to let him just run away, even if it meant he was risking recapture he was going to try and kill them.

"EVIL INFERNO" Foul flames burst forth from his palm and washed over the valley floor, consuming everything they touched. Seeing everything burning, turning to ash in the intense heat, he felt a sick sense of pleasure course threw him as his anger, his rage, began to ebb away. With a smirk he hoped they had died slowly.

"Now all I have to do is find the last one and-!" He choked on his words as a beam of light rushed past his face, tearing apart and turning to ash the left side of his hood.

"IMPOSSIBLE!" The moment the shock of almost getting his head taken off an enraged scream burst forth from him. Down below, in a small circular clearing where the flames couldn't touch or spread stood his targets, alive and healthy without a scratch on him, even the silver digimon which had shot at him was smirking up at him.

"CAPTURE HIM!" He heard the boy in white order the three digimon and instantly the two that could fly, Wargreymon and Rhihimon, took off into the air. He assumed that the one who had shot at him was going to get the two humans out of the fire.

"Damn it!" Daemon growled, clenching his teeth and fist in anger. His plan had completely failed and now they were on him. Somehow they had deflected his best attack and without knowing how they had done it he had become even more unsure of himself. If they had dispersed the attack with power it meant they were as strong as he feared and if it was some kind of technique or ability it could be a real problem. All that was left was to run and get his revenge another day.

**Back to the pursuit of Daemon**

"You're not going to escape us, Daemon!" One of them called after him in the dark.

"I can't let the opportunity the Master provided me go to waste." After having a bit more time to think Daemon had come to a conclusion that the breakdown of the Destineds containment field had something to do with his boss. Maybe it was proof that he was more important to the Master than he had thought.

"TERRA FORCE" As Daemon attempted to fly higher into the sky but the ball of energy tore across his path, sending him diving back down to gliding above the tree tops.

"Damn..." He growled, his anger rising uselessly within him. How he hated them.

Fighting the three wasn't going to work, he knew that, it had been proven during his whole escape attempt that he wasn't going to take one of them down, let alone three of them. That only left him with one option, running away and hiding, but they weren't letting him do that either. Each time he tried to vanish into the shadows or lose them one of them would be on him with a sneak attack, barely missing him and driving him to running again. It didn't help that two of them could fly just as fast as him while the other had an unworldly speed to his feet. He needed to find somewhere safe to compose himself. Somewhere where they couldn't follow him.

"Somewhere they dare not follow..." That statement struck a chord within him and a smile crept across his face.

He was close already, so if he could just lose them for a bit he might be able to reach it before they were able to reacquire him. He could slip away without them being the wiser and then they'd spend the rest of the night looking for him to no avail. All he had to do was wait until he was a bit closer and then for them to get in the perfect position.

When Daemon though they were close enough to whatever he was planning he brought his flight for freedom to a stop. Stopping dead, just above the canopy of trees, he floated and watched as the three digimon pursuers closed in on him.

"You finally done running?" Wargreymon smirked, taking a position on Daemon's left, far enough to have a second to react if the demon lord went on the attack but close enough to strike if he tried to run again.

"You're going back now... With or without a fight." Rhihimon took the position on the right, making the demand for the dark creatures surrender.

In response, Daemon said nothing and instead just floated there... waiting... waiting for the perfect moment. It came after a few tense seconds into the standoff when the white digimon stepped out from behind a patch of trees to aim his laser at his head, making sure it was a clear shot that would take him down.

"EVIL FLAPPING" Luckily for Daemon they hadn't seen this attack before. None had actually. He had never been forced to use it on anyone, so he guessed that he'd be able to surprise them with it. Instantly fire burst forth from Daemons body, erupting into a large tower of vile flames. The intense heat and ferociousness of the attack drove the three back outside of its range.

"This is an interesting one." Beowolfmon remarked as he watched the flames consume the forest floor before him and burn strangely darkly against the night sky.

"His intension must have been to catch us off guard with that one. Good thing we didn't get too close." Rhihimon added.

"What do we do now?" Wargreymon shouted a question to the two, wondering what their next move should be.

"He's at the center powering this attack, so we wait until he runs out of juice and attack the moment the flames go out." Beowolfmon answered, pointing his laser at the spot where he had last seen the demon lord hovering.

"Right!" The two responded summing up their own attacks in anticipation of the attack coming to an end.

The massive blazing tower twisted and roared with heat for what had to have been a little over thirty seconds before its rotation began to slow and the flames started to die down. In a final moan of burning air meeting cold night air the inferno collapsed inwards, growing thinner and thinner by the second until it died out in a rush of pressurized wind.

"HE'S GONE!" Wargreymon roared when all that was left at the center of the attack was heat and the night sky.

"Fools..." From the distance Daemon was at he was able to see the tower finally give out and vanish, leaving a dark forest perfect for him to hide in and making it impossible, in his opinion, for them to spot him from how far away they were.

He couldn't be happier with how well his plan had work; well, if one of them had gotten caught in the blaze he definitely wouldn't have complained. He just kept imagining what the threes faces looked like when the pillar of flame dispersed and he was gone.

There was a low chuckle as he recalled diving down through his own attack, which was already digging and melting through the ground below. When he had reached the bottom he selected the direction he was looking for and charged through the walls of earth and stone. This act was the one humiliating part of his plan. So much of his energy had gone into the attack that he didn't have enough left to phase through the dirt so instead he had to crash through it, using force and strength to tunnel along, and dirtying his body and robes as he did. Eventually, he felt he was far enough away that he wouldn't notice him return to the surface and from there he took off flying again, trying to put as much distance between himself and the three before the attack died out and they discovered he had escaped.

Quickly and silently he glided over the tree tops, trying to use his natural camouflage and the night to move unseen. At the same time he remained aware of the sky behind him, wanting to know if any of the three had picked up on his trail again. Luckily for him, the sky stayed clear and soon he arrived at the location he had been seeking.

"Finally," Daemon drifted beneath the tree cover and landed at the edge of small clearing. Trees from around the clear had been bent inward, blocking out the sky, as if by some mysterious force. Giving them a better look it was apparent that they hadn't been bent, but had all grown towards the center as if something were drawing them towards it while also stopping anything from growing to close. That fact was evident by the complete absence of life in the clearing. It was almost a perfect circle of dull brown dirt which not even dead grass or weeds tried to grow in.

With a tired sigh Daemon stepped forward and into the clearing. The moment his foot hit the dirt a small gusts of wind sprang to life and rolled over the ground in a perfectly rhythmic pattern. Ignoring the phenomenon the demon lord continued forward until he was near the center where he stopped.

"Time to head back and recover... and plan..." Despite his narrow escape he couldn't let go of the idea of revenge on those he felt had wrong him. However, for now he would have to.

His clawed hand slipped into his robe and produced a small metallic key a second later. The key had the appearance of an old fashion house key that had been made by pressing together sharply cut pieces of silvery steel. At the joints where each piece met a pale gold light leaked out, maybe suggesting that it possessed a strange energy within.

Whatever the reason, Daemon lifted the key up before him and the gold light from the key began to grow. It continued until the light swallowed up the key and a pulse was released from it. The pulse rushed out to the edge of the clearing before quickly turning back and coming together in the center which created another golden flash.

Daemon remained perfectly calm as a ball of the same gold light formed in the center of the clearing a few feet from him. The sphere hovered there for a moment before it violently began to rotate and flatten out, creating a golden circle twice the size of him.

"You better prepare yourselves... because I'll be back... and you'll pay... You'll all pay!" Daemon directed his anger towards the empty sky beyond the cover of the tree tops. He didn't know where they were in the night or in the Digital World, but his blood boiled at the thought of them.

With a final hateful glare into the night he stepped into the circle and passed through it, vanishing from the clearing... and maybe the Digital World itself. After he disappeared the circle shrank and swirled inwards before reverting to the sphere it had been before it collapsed in on itself and vanished into a single twinkle of light. With the lights departure the clearing was left in darkness, empty and devoid of life or sound. Well... for a few seconds anyway...

"Now that was interesting..." From behind one of the trees Takuya stepped out, pausing just before the edge of the clearing.

"Was that a... Zone Portal?" Kari stepped out beside him, staring at the spot where the golden light had once been.

"I'm not sure... It didn't look like any I've seen before." He replied without looking at her. Instead his eyes were scanning the clearing, looking for any hints of traps, alarms, or enemies.

"I still can't believe that worked." Gatomon couldn't stand the silence and the mystery so she quickly attempted to break it when it tried to settle in. Mystery meant danger and the silence meant that the questions of the mystery weren't getting answered. "I don't mind telling you that when you told us Koji's plan was to let Daemon escape and have him lead you here, I thought you were all crazy. How'd you know he'd lead us to something like this? For that matter, how'd you know that this place even existed?"

"Actually... Neither of us knew this existed... or that he'd lead us here. It was pretty much a guess." Takuya answered with a laugh.

"A guess!?" She seemed almost horrified by the idea.

"Yeah... but not completely. There were certain things we could count on." Takuya smiled playfully her way. "Daemon's a coward, so as long as we put enough pressure on him, in this case getting captured again, he was bound to run to the place he felt safest, which was probably what we were looking for."

"Then why did they stop putting pressure on him by letting him get away." Gatomon was referring to the three partner digimon involved in the pursuit.

"Because he wouldn't have risked coming here and exposing this place if he didn't think he was somewhat safe." He responded.

"So they put on enough pressure to scare Daemon to resort to this but not enough to fear coming here?" BlackWargreymon noted stepping up behind the group along with Flamemon. "And by keeping his fear on those he left behind he didn't notice us following him from high above."

"Exactly, he was so afraid that they'd get him from behind that he didn't bother to check the rest of his surroundings. It also helped that you're dark black." Takuya smiled up at the mega, glad to see that he had followed his logic. "That was some good flying by the way."

"Thanks." BlackWargreymon responded with a nod and smile, before he began questioning why he had felt so grateful for the remark. "It was amazing that the plan worked so well though."

"A lot of the credit for that goes to our chasers in this little play. They did an great job of keeping him moving towards this place and putting the fear in him." Takuya chuckled before continuing. "And I'm betting their acting was great when he made his escape." He gave the last part some air quotes with his fingers, finding how they had tricked the demon lord into a false sense of security to be pretty funny.

"But how'd Koji know what direction to have the digimon push Daemon in?" Kari took the opportunity to ask a question that had been nagging at her.

Takuya again chuckled at the idea of the answer he was going to give. "He didn't. Koji's the master of getting inside others heads and physiologically destroying them. He does this thing where he gives people the illusion that they're being pushed in one direction, while they're actually picking the route themselves. He got Daemon thinking about this place and then used attacks to reinforce the idea and Daemon naturally drifted in this direction while he thought he was being chased."

"Koji's a pretty scary guy to have planned this whole thing out." Gatomon felt lucky that the boys was their ally and not their enemy.

"Yeah, being on the receiving end of his physiologically warfare is not somewhere anyone should ever want to be." He glanced at the feline digimon before he stepped forward and began fishing around in his pocket.

"Okay, enough time's passed so it should be safe to get moving." Despite the urgency of the situation he had entertained their questions while he waited for some time to pass. He didn't know what was going to be on the other side of the portal, but what didn't want was to come right out in front of a very angry demon lord, so he was giving him some time to move away from the exit.

"Right!" The group of four nodded in response as they stepped forward as well.

Takuya finally found what he had been looking for in his pocket and pulled it out. Gripped between his thumb and index finger was a small silver object glowing with a pale golden light. The same key Daemon had used to make the portal appear! He then raised the key up like the demon lord had and watched as the gold light began to intensify, his eyes narrowing as he envisioned what was to come.

"Don't worry Lilithmon, we're coming to rescue you."

To be continued...