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Keeper of Worlds)

What: The Dark Ocean | Where: The Beach | When: Not Valid

On the beach-side of the Dark Ocean, the rescue team emerged into an alien reality, made up of shades of grey and a downcast mood. However, to call the Dark Ocean a 'reality' was to be blissfully ignorant of its true nature and the properties of the dimension; an 'awake and living dream' was more accurate.

To the gathered humans and Digimon, the area resembled a beach and a mist-covered ocean. A foul stench, of rotting flesh and fresh blood, hung thick in the air, which was ignored only with a modicum of effort.

Truthfully, their surroundings were nothing of the sort; they were inherently incapable of perceiving the true appearance and shape of the chtonian otherworld they had entered, just as ants and mice and even the vast majority of humanity were all incapable of perceiving the true scale and scope of intergalactic space.

However, to say that they were but mice in a great temple scurrying about a small section in the presence of its priestess, were on the surface an accurate assessment, yet ceased almost instantly to be true if one prodded but a bit beneath the surface. Then it would become readily apparent that that particular description bestowed on the intruders an ill-deserved honor, Dagomon narrated the text to the reader.

Had they been able to consciously register Dagomon's presence, their minds and sanity would almost certainly have been snuffed like a scant ember faced with a deafening tidal wave.

Dagomon's priestess-avatar was seated in her throne as per usual, the sacred dragon kneeling at her feet and giving a guttural, reptilian growl-hiss at their audacity, the posthuman's lord's presence engulfing them both.

Through their mental connection, she and her lord deliberated about how to dispense of the thirteen before the next step of the plan was put in motion.

She considered the notion of physically reshaping the area around them to kill them and feed their unconscious bodies to Magnadramon, but decided against it; they might still be of use and reshaping the area back to a beach was a level of effort she didn't want to bother with.

"Maybe deceiving them with a psychic illusion into killing each-other could be fun?" She conveyed, and was met with a momentarily warmth that crept around the back of her hand, fading as quickly as Dagomon had bestowed it.

Her lord's message was clear; 'try again'. "What about my elemental powers? Might searing their skins and meats and bones pleasure you?" She conveyed, wishing only to carry out her lord's will.

She imagined it, her beloved brother knowing death for the first time of many with a well-placed pillar of ice, or perhaps it should be the power of fire that did away with the Bio-Merged Knight, or perhaps it should be both; that would be truly suitable, she thought with palpable relish. It would be suitably chastising for Omnimon to be brought down by the same elements that he wielded.

"How about turning their minds off for the duration?" She conveyed. Dagomon had no reservations with that plan of action, and tearfully informed her so. Kari's expression did not change in any way as she, without hesitation, unleashed blasts of mental energy, formed of only a meager scrap of her own power and carried a single overpowering message: Sleep.

To her displeasure, SlashAngemon and Cody were no more than unsteady on their feet by the assault, while the eleven Bio-Merged Digimon were entirely unfazed by it.

Kari smirked at the sight of this requiring actual effort, and let loose another psychic burst. This time, even the Bio-Mergers were affected while Cody's vision began to blur for reasons he did not understand, nor could he manage to figure it out under the stress of struggling to stay conscious, a struggle that the ZeedGarurumon of had already lost.

The fact that Thomas and Gaomon were no longer conscious escaped them, as the lupine cyborg remained perfectly upright, unlike the Bio-Merged Ravemon who was visibly struggling to their - or technically, 'her', as both of her halves were female - footing in the sand.

Of the thirteen of the group, none could find the bodily or mental strength to utter the simple sentence, or any sort of variation on, 'what's going on'.

Sensing that they had yet to be subjugated, Kari unleashed another and more forceful assault in this mental war - if something as one-sided and unfair to the thirteen beings could rightfully be called a 'war' - that pitted disorganized and inexperienced human minds against the supremely powerful and finely-honed telepathic abilities of Dagomon's consort.

Under the watchful gaze of all three of the beings at the stone throne, the last of the invading Digimon fell to her power. With that task accomplished, Kari rose from her conjured throne. As she rose from it, it began to revert into the inky substance she had created it from, the trails of liquid flowing through the air towards her body, towards a few holes that had opened up in the back of her dress and her skin.

She walked a few short steps on the beach, her arms hanging limply at her sides, her body flickering as it had when Dagomon first reached out for her, and the plan was set in motion. Momentarily, the psychedelic and nonsensical blur of colors and shapes flared around, then she stepped foot onto the roof of the DATS building, much to the alarm of the occupants of the Command Center.

Kari sighed in frustration, noting the absence of the Demon Lord of Despair on the rooftop. Even more wearying was the fact that pinpointing her among the millions of minds roaming Tokyo was no easy task. Though she had the means to do, namely a open and nation-wide psychic broadcast, it would alert far too many people to her existence.

A briefly mental scanning of the building comfirmed that the Royal Knight was already heading up here, which gave her minutes to search the city; more than enough time, she decided, knowing that she could dismiss Kentaurosmon if needed.

She began to stride forward, walking uninterrupted until she walked off the the edge of the roof. Then she continued to walk, a telekinetic barrier created dismissively allowing her to defy gravity.

Mentally, she visualized a staircase to her left, and turned sharply to follow its descent. This, she decided, was a good spot to contact the newly-crowned Despair from.

She focused her mind and narrowed her eyes, and through-out all of Tokyo's prefectures, all soon felt at the edge of their mind some kind of presence, dangerous, unfamiliar and brief-lived, watching them, but no-one were able to explain that faint feeling in their hearts.

Over in the Nerima ward, Relena's meal came to an end when the despair-incarnation took over her mind and her body and her shadow, recognizing well the presence of the being it served.

The wraithlike Digimon manifested itself physically, riddling her shadow with crimson eyes. Umbral threads as thin as molecules crept towards the bedroom window and further out the wall and up to the roof of the building, given purpose and guidance by its own mind.

As she, unlike Lady Kari, couldn't sidestep the law of gravity if she cared to, the blonde child sunk into the umbral mass that had crept beneath her, and surfaced back outside on the roof of the mansion.

She was certain of having felt her Lady emerge into Earth's dimension; that restless feeling inside the air, as if space and time was struggling to process her existence and trembling at what else her presence might allow in.

Dagomon observed gratefully that the analogy wasn't too wrong, but just in the wrong tense; the barrier had already cracked minutely, and the chaos was seeping through. What was about to transpire, was merely to make it official and leave a second crack in that barrier.

The possessed girl remained oblivious to the eldritch deity's narration around her, and tried to alert its God to her exact location. "I am here, my almighty ruler..." She repeated mentally ad nauseam, knowing that the dark goddess would hear her cry and come to where it was.

Her persistence was rewarded by another voice breaking into her mind. "And I am atop the Digital Accident Tactics Squad building. Make your way toward Kristy Damon's school at once. I will do the same."

Within that same hour, Kristy's stroll home from the arcade was interrupted by the utter halting of time's movement around her, as were her surroundings, humans, animals, cars and BanchoLeomon alike.

Gumdramon himself was suspended in the air; the forces that had propelled him forward to the next rooftop had been rendered null and void in the stillness of time, as was the fundamental force of gravity.

The impressively-statured mini-dragon growled in frustration, and his body began to flare up with Digital energy. Within his body, the system-processes that all Digimon had began to execute, culminating in the compiler mapping Arresterdramon's physical form onto Analog space-time.

Down on the street, Kristy panicked from the eye-covered shadows that had leapt from the pavement and wrapped around her. Above her, Arresterdramon's eyes widened with anger, and the giant dragon charged to her side.

On the other side of the street, Lady Kari and the Demon Lord of Despair watched the Tamer and Digimon with disinterest. With a single thought, the purple dragon-man was rendered immobile, like a statue for Kristy to admire.

Behind Kari and Relena, Monodramon looked curiously around, wondering what was going on and why that Arresterdramon had suddenly stopped moving.

Kristy froze in shock, hearing what appeared to be footsteps even though time wasn't moving, which she knew to mean one thing and one thing only. The ten-year-old's viridian eyes darted frantically around, spotting Relena, Monodramon and somebody else in a dark dress walk toward her.

"Do not waste your breath," The lesser Demon Lord admonished the human for fighting back; Kristy just ignored her, struggling to get free from them. It was about then that Kari tired of the display, and Kristy felt her body cease to obey her.

She attempted to utter even a half-formed sound, but her vocal cords weren't cooperative in that regard, and she realized what had happened to Arresterdramon.

Psionically, the avatar of Dagomon swayed the two humans and two Digimon to take their correct place around in the holy Incarnation Ritual - Kristy as Ebonwumon's north and in front of Kari - Relena as Zhuqiaomon's south and behind Kari - Arresterdramon as Baihumon's west and to Kari's left side - Monodramon as Azulongmon's east and to Kari's right side - and commenced the ceremonial invocation.

The faint red of Kari's eyes became almost beacon-like in intensity, shining brightly enough that no-one present could avoid missing it. Kristy and Arresterdramon both struggled to make sense of what was going on, while they registered only dimly the second foul and alien presence that crept into their minds and souls, but unlike Millenniummon and Ryo, this invasive consciousness did not take root.

The red light infected Kristy's green eyes and Arresterdramon's green eyes and Relena's purple-and-gold eyes and Monodramon's citrine-gold eyes, and around the bodies of all four, the gold-azure flames of Millenniummon's aurora ignited spontaneously and coated them like mists.

Kari drew a sharp and pained breath as the universe itself was laid bare before her, both the eyes of her vessel and the eye of her mind. In that moment, all the knowledge of the world flowed through her from the Gate of Fullmetal Alchemist lore, almost threatening to consume her.

It was drowned out completely by the insensate outpouring of alien consciousness into her manifestation, implacably wresting absolute control of her own mind and soul and body from Kari.

It was not merely as simple as putting on her body as though it was an article of clothing, however. In order for the totality of Dagomon's consciousness to infuse the gateway and be physically tethered to reality, it would first have to completely rewrite the nature of its own existence; if that did not happen

Kari offered not even the smallest amount of resistance, more than willing to allow Dagomon to use her body as it pleased; whether the eldritch monstrosity transformed it or impregnated it or controlled it made no difference in her mind, but she was not fully suppressed. Instead, they shared the body, in what one

As if to mark the shared occupancy of the female body, the magenta-red mark that had adorned Dagomon's physical form as a Digimon now took shape on Kari's own face, while the sickly and malnourished pallor of her skin visibly changed hue, splotches of the azure of Dagomon's former shape forming on her sickly pallor.

Dagomon reflected that it was perfectly possible to enact the rite without the theatrics, but at the same time, they added flavor and spectacle to it all. It was merely for the sake of symbolism, and because it fit the theme so well, that George Ripley's Recapitulation of the Twelve Gates had been selected for the ritual.

"Consider first the latitude of this precious stone, beginning in the first side noted in the West, where the red man and the white woman be made one, espoused with the spirit of life to live in rest, earth and water equally proportioned, that is best, and one part of the earth is good, and of the spirit three, which twelve to four also of the earth may be," Dagomon recited the first of the four verses through his bride's mouth.

"Three of the wife and one of the man you take, and the less of the spirit in this dispousation, the better your calcination for certain you shall make, then forth into the North proceed by obscuration, called the eclipsing of the red man and his white wife, loosening them and altering them between winter and spring, turning earth into water, dark and nothing clear."

"From thence by many colours into the East ascend, then shall the moon be full appearing by day light, then is the purgatory passed, and her course at an end, there is the uprising of the sun appearing bright, there is summer after spring, and day after night: The earth and water which were black be turned to air, and clouds of darkness blown over, and all appears fair."

"And as the beginning of your practice was in the West, and in the North the perfect mean of profound alteration, so in the East after them is the beginning of speculation, but of this course the sun makes consummation up in the South, there the elements are turned into fire by circulation, then to win your desire you need not be in doubt, for the wheel of our philosophy you have turned about."

How very appropriate that all was, it contemplated, in light of the future events, Dagomon reflected, and imposes a tense-change on the narration, partly for the odd-ball fun of it and partly because it finds the present tense more intriguing and versatile for his purposes, while their impromptu 'Transmutation Circle' - he learns that it is termed from his newfound omniscience and omnipresence connecting it inextricably to all human fiction - drifts ashore beyond the sea of time and the void of space, into a higher dimension beyond their reality.

The four prerequisites for its impending manifestation perceives little of what is around them, boundless white, but something than their conscious minds understands that they're no longer in Earth's dimension.

Around the drifting group, trails of degenerate data hurtle around, forming rifts in spacetime at near-random, giving the amalgamated abominable entities a perfect view of the parallel realities, if they care to look.

Kari's arm lifts jerkily and slowly, animated not by the forces that flesh and blood and human genetics can muster but by Dagomon's might, and in the palm of her hand, the living lightning of an alchemical transmutation crackles, the purest shade of ebon imaginable.

What takes shape there are multiple cubes, black as the boundless void of space and flaws as if it is the Strong Arm Alchemist of the fifth universe that has manufactured them.

What these are, are nothing less than miniature replicas of the twenty-four universes, tethered and connected to their infinitely larger doubles by both of the boundless powers that forms the circle.

The stage is set for the transmutation ritual to be consummated, Dagomon knows, and surveys with its mind's eyes the four who would conduct the transmutation itself.

All that remains is for the entity to alter its own nature and power, making Dagomon a being capable of gleaning whatever knowledge it cares to have from the timelines it surveys. Dagomon being what it is, reforging itself so utterly takes but a single line of narration-text to do.

Immediately after it does, it attains understanding of the exact nature of the power these four young ones derive from being connected to Millenniummon and Ryo Akiyama and how they move around in frozen time where physics and their own biology cease to function, that they expend the energies within their own souls as fuel to animate their bodies when they shouldn't.

It understands then what the ramifications will be on them, but does not care for the deaths or wounding of a few, not when the 'Great Work' is so close to completion.

Its attention and her gaze becomes fixed on the second of the universe-copies, and immediately the relevant informations are poured into their mind by the cosmic awareness but it doesn't take him long to determine which of the four manifested timelines they wish to leave stable. The thought is relayed quickly and the action is carried out and alone among the six, Dagomon and Kari perceives the collapse of multiple timelines.

Within, he registers the exultant pouring from her mind, that orgasmic enrapture beyond carnal pleasure, when they both see it, the screeching halt of the eternal dance of fundamental forces and subatomic particles in multiple potential universes, a single terrible trembling in reality itself before cosmic sunset.

The sight is absolutely exhilarating for him to behold, and it now seeks only to give her further such visions. Dagomon conveys another thought to the foursome, intent on finishing what has been just set in motion. Backed by the Dagomon Force, multiple timelines becomes a physical and metaphysical and conceptual impossibility for the world of Digimon Data Squad.

Dagomon sends another thought its way and the second cube changes form, becoming a jet-black ball the size of an orange. Almost playfully, the female vessel let the 'voodoo doll' orb drop like a feather, swaying in motion into their hand.

Absently, they go over the remaining cuboid realities and it finds only five it deems currently worthy of preserving - if she should wish to explore those dimensions, they can be recreated at the drop of a hat - but the rest it erases, knowing that this is the act that will send the Digital World's God after them.

The thought of incurring the wraths of Norn and the ENIAC and Homeostasis arouses Kari, and she speculates about what sort of forces they will unleash upon them in the impending war before she focuses herself back onto the matter at hand.

It takes them less than a second's to label the faux-universes and still less than that to adorn the geometric shapes with simple numerals formatted in the DigiCode language, because though it is no longer a Digimon and she is no longer a human, that language is the one they know best and neither are fluent in Lovecraftian gargling - or R'lyehian, whichever - nor do they care to be.

Positioning themselves in the simple and elegant shape of a hexagon, the six worlds await only the touch of the six godly beings, and for a moment, Dagomon almost thinks that it senses something like dread coming from them, like they know what is about to occur.

Once again, the amalgamation gleans information from one of the materialized universes and the knowledge rushes, crashes, uncontrollably into their fused consciousness - Timeline Zero: The eight Digidestined defeat the five Dark Masters and Apocalymon and go back to the camp, rewarded for their efforts with a new adventure three years later - Timeline One: Tai stays and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and WarGreymon becomes his general and the Flamedramon-species becomes his army - Timeline Two: Matt stays behind and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and MetalGarurumon becomes his general and the Raidramon-species becomes his army - Timeline Three: Sora stays and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and Phoenixmon becomes her general and and the Horusmon-species becomes her army - Timeline Four: Izzy stays and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and HerculesKabuterimon becomes his general and the Digmon-species becomes his army - Timeline Five: Mimi stays and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and Rosemon becomes her general and the Shurimon-species becomes her army - Timeline Six: Joe stays and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and Plesiomon becomes his general and the Submarimon-species becomes his army - Timeline Seven: Matt and TK stays and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and Seraphimon becomes his general and the Pegasusmon-species becomes his army - Timeline Eight: Tai and Kari stays and becomes ruler of the East Quadrant and Ophanimon becomes her general and the Nefertimon-species becomes her army - but it is brushed aside because there's simply too much to take in all-at-once.

After looking over the presented informations separately, they note that it's mostly simply variations-on-a-theme; one of the eight Digidestined staying in Digi-World and keeping their Crest and becoming a figure of royalty and assembling an army of Armor-level Digimon that corresponds to their Crest.

There are too few distinctions between them that they should be allowed the privilege of existing - the only real point of interest is the presence of a fifth Dark Master -, Dagomon knows and Kari knows it too, the pair of their own implacable sense of reason, the same reason that drives their every act. The entertainment value of the nine timelines are not proportional to any one timeline, so indisputably, the excess must be weeded out.

The whole thing goes off without a hitch, Dagomon muses, until Ryo and Moon=Millenniummon are, for all intents and purposes, brought back to life from the psychic messing about in the minds of their four prisons. Then it verges south just a tad.

Absently, ZeedMillenniummon surveys the various worlds and the state of things in them, fragments of its consciousness infecting the dimensions, and it is displeased with what it finds.

The multiverse is mutilated beyond all recognition, and a rotting carcass that is barely clinging to life is left in its wake. Elsewhere, it finds entire dimensions that simply should not exist and creatures that defy all logic.

Worst of all is the binary presence that skulks in the background of all dimensions and universes, just out of sight, transcending matter and thought and definition, taking on all three as it pleases and casts them aside when they no longer serve it a purpose.

"Oh well," He thinks and dismisses its observations. "It is simply time for another experiment to commence..."

Well, this is an unexpected ending... well, that's all, folks.

No, really, this is the end. Don't bother to await another update.