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Old June 9th, 2012 (02:51 PM).
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Chapter 4: A Conflict of Interest


The dark night was illuminated by only two moons: a full moon and a half moon, both resting in the starry sky above. Beneath them were two digimon, one bipedal and the other quadrupedal. They walked over the grasslands of the United Dramonic Coalition under the cover of darkness.

“How far is it?” the taller of the two asked. He looked down at his companion, BlackMetalGarurumon.

“Justa sec, bro...” BlackMetalGarurumon replied, glancing at Anubismon. He narrowed his eyes carefully and studied the dark grassy plains in front of him. In his vision, coordinates of distance and topography raced through his mind as he scanned the landscape. “Wait a second! Wait a second! My sensors are detecting a heat source thirty meters ahead of us. It’s a digimon!”

Anubismon’s ear twitched. “Just relax and let me do the talking,” he calmly told his brother.

“Soooo... no blowing him up?” BlackMetalGarurumon asked, looking over with a grin.

Anubismon narrowed his eyes at his brother. “No,” he responded. “Remember when I explained to you what stealth was?”

“Yeah, yeah. Jeez. You’re no fun at all, Anubismon,” the black cyborg wolf said, chuckling a little.

“We’re going to do this right, brother,” Anubismon said sternly. “I want more than the tiny castle and measly village around it that I inherited from Father.”

“Uh huh. I gotcha. But why the UDC and not one of the other towns in the Free Area?” BlackMetalGarurumon asked. “You remember what I said about Dramon being smelly, right?”

“Two reasons,” Anubismon explained, brushing a paw through his long, black hair. “One, the Free Area is under heavier scrutiny from the Royal Knights.”

“Oh, because the Royal Knights let everyone in the Free Area be free without countries or kings, and the Royal Knights defend everybody’s freedom and safety in the area in exchange for everybody abiding by their laws?” BlackMetalGarurumon asked.

Anubismon nodded. “That’s why we’ve had to act in secret.”

“But the Royal Knights help digimon all over the continent. They don’t just focus on the Free Area.”

“Yes, but the Free Area is their own backyard. There’s a greater chance they’ll notice action there than in the United Dramonic Coalition,” Anubismon explained, watching as the digimon ahead of them grew nearer. “Anyways, the second reason is simple. When we control the UDC, we will control the trade of blue diamante and green malachite. These are two very precious gems that are found in the Dragon Mountains inside the UDC’s territory. We’ll be rich, brother.”

“Oooh. Rich is good. Really good,” the BlackMetalGarurumon nodded, smiling. “And famous too. Hey, Anubismon. Once we’re famous, won’t digimon get you confused with the Anubismon from the Warrior Ten?”

“They can just call him AncientSphinxmon, even if he isn’t in that form all the time.”

BlackMetaGarurumon grinned. “Speaking of famous... What about the Royal Knights? They’ll find out eventually, won’t they?”

“Hopefully later rather than sooner. If we can avoid them finding out for a few weeks, we should be fine.”

“Why?”

“Because once we take control of the mining and selling of those two dragon crystals, we’ll be rich enough to be able to hire all sorts of strong digimon to fight the Royal Knights,” Anubismon said, starting to grin. “We may even be able to hire powerful enough digimon to capture the Royal Knights. Then we would be able to take over their headquarters and the entire Free Area that they protect. ...However, we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves.”

“Speaking of ahead of ourselves,” BlackMetalGarurumon said, looking forward and seeing the green variation of a Coredramon walking towards them.

The green dragon walked towards them, glancing at the two curiously. He wondered why there were two canine digimon in a predominantly dragon-based territory.

“Hello there, friend,” Anubismon said, smiling a little.

“Uh, salutations,” the Coredramon answered, stopping in front of them and arching his eyebrow.

“It is a nice night out, isn’t it?” he continued, looking at the dragon digimon.

“I guess. You two aren’t from around here, are you?”

Anubismon shook his head. “My brother and I were on our way to visit my good friend in Wyvern City, but we’re a bit lost. Can you tell us which direction it is?”

“Hmm...” the Coredramon hummed to himself, turning around to survey the land and get his bearings. “Well, I’m not exactly sure where it is from right here, but the nearest village is that way.” The green drake raised his arm and pointed behind him with one of his claws. “The digimon there should be able to give you some better directions.”

“Thank you,” Anubismon replied. He smiled and nodded at him. “Well, we won’t keep you.”

“Goodnight,” the Coredramon answered, walking past them.

After a few moments, BlackMetalGarurumon looked at his brother and made a disgusted face. “And you want to rule a place where more digimon smell like him?”

Anubismon rolled his eyes and started walking in the direction the dragon described. “Don’t be so dramatic. At least he doesn’t smell like gunpowder...”

BlackMetalGarurumon frowned and started trotting after him. “Who do you know who smells like gunpowder...?”

The winged jackal digimon glanced over his shoulder at his brother and gave him a bland look. “...Anyways, do you know the plan?”

“Blast ‘em to bits, right?” BlackMetalGarurumon asked with a smirk.

“Don’t delete anybody unless you absolutely have to, brother,” Anubismon ordered. “I want this takeover to be as peaceful as possible. For our sakes. Just neutralizing any resistance should be more than enough.”

“Understood, bro.”

“Good. The less digimon who hate us, the easier my plans will be,” Anubismon said, grinning slightly and walking forwards. “And so begins the first step towards our golden age.”

-

“Is this really necessary?”

Examon lay on one of several beds in a wide, clean room which had plenty of light from the nearby window. The room even smelled clean. He wasn’t too surprised since it was the medical bay and it needed to be sterilised from germs and viruses.

He suppressed a grunt of pain when he placed ice wrapped in a cloth (the ice supplied by Sleipmon) to his numb, throbbing snout. If it had been anybody other than a Royal Knight who did it, he would have been ashamed at how easily he had been defeated. Examon now knew of the calibre of fighters he was fighting alongside. If nothing else, it motivated him.

There were four others in the room as well. Waiting at the foot of the bed were Dukemon, Sleipmon, and Magnamon. Beside him was a doctor, a blonde-haired humanoid digimon in black and red armour, who was examining him professionally, checking for injuries and wounds. The most striking feature about this digimon was, in addition to the standard two on his face, the seven eyes in his armour: two on his shoulders, two on his knees, two on the toes of his boots, and one big one on the center of his chest. Examon tried not to appear uncomfortable when all nine eyes turned to look at him.

“Afraid so, Examon,” Dukemon said, folding his arms. “Alphamon says that we need to have a mandatory check up with Duskmon after every mission and training session.”

“And you’re notorious for skipping your check ups,” the Duskmon doctor said to the knight who Examon fought. Dukemon grinned and rolled his eyes.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry anyways,” Sleipmon said.

“And untreated injuries may hinder you in future battles,” Magnamon added, smiling a bit.

Examon nodded slightly. “I guess that’s a practical way of looking at it...” he submitted.

“Keep the pressure on your snout, Examon,” Duskmon told him, ushering him to press the ice harder to staunch the blood flow.

Examon did so and tilted his head back. As he did, he glanced at the three Royal Knights. Dukemon, Magnamon and Sleipmon seemed to be becoming his friends. They were all quite friendly and kind towards him, and they didn’t hold his species or personality against him. It reassured Examon a little bit. Perhaps he would be able to win over the others as well. Alphamon supported him as well, and Omegamon, Dynasmon and RhodoKnightmon all seemed at least neutral towards him joining. He wasn’t quite sure yet, as he hadn’t the chance to talk to them much. Only Duftmon, Craniamon, and UlforceVeedramon seemed opposed to him, as far as he could tell.

“Okay,” Duskmon finally said, backing up. “You should be fine, Examon. There’s no internal bleeding, fractures, or data disruption. You’ll just have a few bruises and maybe a black eye from that blow to your snout.”

Dukemon grinned a bit. “No hard feelings, right, Examon?”

Examon managed a small smirk and stood up. “Right... That was the best fight I have had in awhile.”

“Maybe you and I can spar next time, Examon,” Magnamon said with a friendly smile.

“Let the guy recover first, Magna,” Sleipmon chuckled, beginning to turn around.

Examon turned to Duskmon. “Thank you, uh...?”

“Duskmon,” he replied with a nod. “I’m the Royal Knights’ official physician, so if there’s anything wrong, come to me.”

Examon nodded and began following Dukemon, Magnamon and Sleipmon out of the medical bay and into the hallway. He found that this headquarters of theirs really did have everything that one would need. He could get used to staying here...

“So,” Sleipmon spoke up, looking over his shoulder and smiling at Examon. “How about that tour of the headquarters?”

“Sure,” Examon replied. He grinned. “It sounds as if you have everything in this castle except for a swimming pool.”

“Oh, we have that too,” Dukemon replied lightheartedly, closing his eyes and smiling. “Alphamon wanted one installed so we can practice swimming and underwater movement after that incident where a certain adorable, blue dragon almost drowned,” he teased, opening one eye to look at Magnamon.

Magnamon blushed and crossed his arms, looking away indignantly. “Hmph... We weren’t near water where I grew up; I never needed to know how to swim.” He then cast a slight glare at Dukemon. “And I told you before: I’m not cute! I’m a Royal Knight!”

“I didn’t say ‘cute’. I said ‘adorable’,” Dukemon replied with a laugh, patting Magnamon on the head.

Magnamon growled and blushed harder. He was very glad he was wearing his gold-digizoid mask so they wouldn’t be able to see his flushed face. “You weren’t saying that when I beat you in our sparring match last week. And then in the rematch, too, if I remember correctly...” he replied, starting to smile smugly.

The smirk behind Dukemon’s visor disappeared. “Yeah, well... You can be both cute and strong, Magna.”

Sleipmon chuckled a bit as the two bickered. “Well, AncientMermaimon of the Warrior Ten did say she wanted to cuddle you like a teddy bear, Magnamon, so I guess it must be true. You should take it as a compliment.”

Magnamon blushed and looked away with a slightly pouty expression. “Calling me cute undermines me as a Royal Knight. People won’t take me seriously! This is all because I’m shorter than the average Mega, isn’t it?”

Dukemon reached over and pinched one of Magnamon’s cheeks teasingly. “Don’t forget your adorable face!”

“Dukemon! Cut it out!” he complained, swatting Dukemon’s hand away.

“People not taking you seriously may not technically be a bad thing,” Examon pointed out. “It means your enemies will underestimate you. Being underestimated is a big advantage in combat.”

Magnamon and Dukemon blinked and looked at Examon. “Well, I guess you have a point, Examon,” Magnamon conceded, “but I’d rather keep my dignity, thanks...”

Sleipmon smiled. “Anyways. Dukemon, did you want to be the tour guide?” he asked.

“Okay,” Dukemon agreed with a nod. He led the other three down the hallway until they reached a corner where the corridor turned into a ninety degree right turn. At the end of that hall, on the corner, was a doorway heading into a dark room illuminated by what felt like an unnatural light. Examon followed them as they reached the door. Inside, he could see Alphamon, Omegamon, and a digimon he didn’t recognize all standing in front of a giant screen that mounted on the stone wall.

The digimon was seemed to be a skinny, humanoid bug digimon. The insect’s exoskeleton seemed to be made of something like gold metal, from the way the light from the screen reflected off of it. His body also had light blue gems adorning it. The bug digimon sat in front of the screen, typing away dexterously at the keyboard.

Alphamon and Omegamon both looked over at them when they noticed their presence at the door. “Dukemon?” Omegamon asked. “Were you all looking for one of us?”

Dukemon shook his head. “We were just showing Examon around the castle. What are you two doing?”

“We’re trying to get in contact with the Warrior Ten. We’re supposed to have a meeting with them,” Alphamon explained.

Examon raised an eyebrow. “A meeting?” he asked, looking around for signs of other digimon.

“This is the communications room, Examon,” Dukemon explained, walking in. “This is where we communicate with our allies and the like.”

“I see...” Examon replied, assuming that it had something to do with that giant computer.

Dukemon walked over to the sitting insect digimon and placed a hand on his shoulder. “And this is MetallifeKuwagamon. He’s our resident computer technician and is in charge of all of our computer-related stuff. He was also the one who created the training add-on for our weapons.”

“Nice to meet you,” MetallifeKuwagamon said, looking over at Examon.

“You too,” Examon answered. “I heard it took you the night to install that program on my Ambrosius. I hope it doesn’t take that long to remove it.”

MetallifeKuwagamon shook his head as he continued typing. “No, no. Once it’s installed, I can remove the chip in a matter of seconds. It would be too impractical otherwise.”

Examon nodded. After a moment, he frowned and looked at Alphamon. “The Warrior Ten...?” he asked.

“You haven’t heard of them?” Alphamon asked.

“Embarrassingly, no,” Examon admitted. “Until recently, I’ve only had to be concerned with the affairs of the United Dramonic Coalition.”

Alphamon nodded in understanding. “The Warrior Ten are one of our allies. They operate more towards the center of this continent while we Royal Knights operate more towards the south. However, it’s not uncommon for us or them to act outside of our general areas. We often share information and sometimes even physically help each other out, if necessary,” the Lord of the Empty Seat explained.

Omegamon nodded in agreement. ”They embody the ten elemental Spirits. Flame, Light, Steel, Earth, Wood, Thunder, Ice, Water, Wind, and Darkness. They’re good warriors... if not a bit eccentric. And they alone possess the Ancient forms, though many of them choose to stay in their primary forms for the sake of convenience, given the size of some of the Ancient forms.”

“I see...” Examon responded, slightly confused, but nonetheless curious.

“Alphamon, I’m opening the live video feed,” MetallifeKuwagamon suddenly explained, clicking a button that said ‘Spyke’.

The gigantic screen suddenly flickered and a giant face wearing an orange, draconic helmet and a pair of blue goggles on his forehead appeared and took up the entire screen. “Shurimon! Did you get this bloody thing working yet?” he asked, looking to the left, off-screen.

“I-I think so, KaiserGreymon,” a timid voice responded.

The dragon digimon known as KaiserGreymon frowned and looked back. He blinked. “Oh, I see them! Good job, mate,” he said to the digimon. “Hullo, Alphamon. Omegamon.”

“...Hello, KaiserGreymon,” Alphamon said in an almost exasperated tone, looking at the bipedal dragon man who was clad in red and gold plate armour.

A white, furry hand then appeared on the dragon man’s shoulder and pulled him back, away from the screen to reveal a white, armoured, bipedal wolf digimon standing beside him. He gave KaiserGreymon a flat look before looking back at the screen.

“I know how to use a computer, AncientGarurumon,” he said defensively.

“...This is the first time we have been able to use the computer since you spilled tea all over it and Shurimon had to repair it,” AncientGarurumon replied, folding his arms.

KaiserGreymon frowned. “Well, maybe—“

Alphamon cleared his throat, getting their attention. “...Anyways, I’m glad to see that we’re in contact once again,” he said.

KaiserGreymon rubbed the back of his neck. “Err, yeah. Right. How’s everything with the Royal Knights?” he asked.

“...Lively,” Alphamon said dryly. “We have a new member among us. The eleventh Royal Knight.”

“Hah!” KaiserGreymon laughed, folding his muscular, black-scaled arms across his chest. “It looks like you outnumber us now, eh? Come on, then, Alphamon, let’s see this new member of yours.”

Alphamon turned and raised an eyebrow at Examon. Examon noticed his look and nodded, walking over beside Alphamon and Omegamon, so that he was in view of the two members of the Warrior Ten. When he was in view, he nodded politely. “My name is Examon. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

KaiserGreymon grinned. “Well, I wasn’t expecting a full on dragon as a Royal Knight! Good choice, Alphamon,” he said. “Anyways, I’m KaiserGreymon, the leader, I guess, of the Warrior Ten.” AncientGarurumon rolled his eyes at this, but KaiserGreymon continued, placing a hand on his shoulder. “And this here is--”

“AncientGarurumon,” the wolf digimon said briefly, shrugging off KaiserGreymon’s hand.

Examon nodded. “I see.” He turned back to Dukemon, Magnamon, and Sleipmon. “I won’t keep you, Alphamon,” he said, walking over to the trio so that he didn’t interrupt whatever Alphamon wanted to discuss with the Warrior Ten.

“Nice to meet you!” KaiserGreymon called to him as he walked out into the hall.

Examon walked into the hallways with Dukemon, Magnamon and Sleipmon. “So... the Warrior Ten. Do we have other allies too?”

Sleipmon nodded. “As far as major groups, there’s the Olympus Twelve on the eastern continent. And the Deep Savers in Delta Ocean.”

“Good to know...” Examon said, looking thoughtful as he strode down the corridor.

Magnamon raised an eyebrow. “So, do you miss home yet, Examon?”

Examon blinked and looked at Magnamon. “Hm? No, not particularly. However... I am a bit worried, I guess. I was their first line of defence against invaders.”

“And you still are, Examon,” Dukemon explained reassuringly. “We all are. Remember what I told you. The UDC will have top priority if it’s under attack.”

Magnamon and Sleipmon looked at each other, giving the other an unsure look. Examon looked forward and nodded. “I suppose if that’s the case, I shouldn’t worry.”

Dukemon gave him a friendly smile. “Yeah. Don’t worry, Examon. Your home will be fine...”

-

“Metal Howling!”

Terrified Dramon cried out and watched as six missiles fell through the sky, hitting the grass and a couple of stone and wood buildings before exploding. Many of the dragon digimon began fleeing their town while others considered fighting back.

“What now!?” Flamedramon shouted, batting a flying piece of house away. “I thought Examon took care of all the bandits!”

“Maybe there were more of them!” the blue Coredramon responded, bracing himself as a blast threw him to the grass.

“But I can only see one of them!” Flamedramon responded, looking across the fields to where a black, metal wolf was dashing.

BlackMetalGarurumon smirked and continued his gallop. His wings were extended and he sprinted at what seemed like a leisurely pace for him. Trails of smoke streaked behind him as more missiles locked into place inside his shoulders. “Anubismon wants me to bring you all to your knees, so that’s what I’m gonna do,” he thought. “I’ll show ya just what I’m capable of.

“Okay, missiles,” he breathed, narrowing his eyes. A targeting screen popped up in his vision and his laser sights went into action. “Coordinates delta 325, gamma 42; delta 209, gamma 41; delta 298, gamma 42.”

“Metal Howling!” BlackMetalGarurumon shouted, launching six more missiles from his shoulder cannons and sending them sailing into the air.

Each pair of missiles arced in the sky before quickly plummeting in separate directions towards teh defending Dramon villagers.

“Blue Flare Breath!” Coredramon shouted, breathing azure flames towards the oncoming missiles to no avail. A missile landed at his feet and exploded, sending him crashing through the wall of a wooden house, which proceeded to collapse under the concussion of the blast and pin his lower body under the rubble.

“Coredramon!” Flamedramon shouted with worry. “AGH!” A missile landed beside him too, blasting him across the grass violently.

“Where the hell is Examon?!” the bipedal, military-suited form of a Sealsdramon demanded. The only that he was able to do was dodge an oncoming missile, the blast of which sent him tumbling into a somersault.

“With... R-Royal Knights...” Flamedramon weakly said, trying to prop himself up on his elbows. He growled a bit as he watched the BlackMetalGarurumon approach. They had never had to fight a Mega level digimon before. Champions and maybe a small amount of Ultimates they could deal with, but Examon always took on the hard opponents. They didn’t stand a chance against this new invader.

Coredramon groaned and tried to move the wood and stone pinning his legs. “He’ll... come. They said he and the Royal Knights would protect us...”

Sealsdramon grimaced as another missile exploded nearby. “The Royal Knights have a whole continent to protect! Not just a territory like Examon did!” he explained nervously. “They’re not gonna come here.”

“Don’t say that!” Coredramon protested, glaring. “Examon wouldn’t desert us!”

“He’s not just Examon anymore. He’s part of a group with ten other opinions! And there’s a chance he might just go along with them, too!” Sealsdramon responded. He turned and saw BlackMetalGarurumon closing in. He quickly raised his combat daggers, but BlackMetalGarurumon lunged and slammed his feet into Sealsdramon’s chest, sending him flying onto his back.

“Is there anybody else?” BlackMetalGarurumon asked with a grin, looking down at his prey, who he pinned to the ground with his paws.

Meanwhile, in the distance, a digimon flew through the air. With his arms folded, Anubismon watched as his brother overcame the dragon digimon with ease. He preferred to let his brother do the dirty work; BlackMetalGarurumon had more fun with it anyways.

This is going better than I hoped,” he thought. Anubismon grinned to himself and flew to meet them.

He swooped down and gracefully landed in the middle of the damaged village, touching down on the singed grass.

BlackMetalGarurumon stepped off of Sealsdramon and turned to face Anubismon. “How was that? Didn’t even have to kill one of them.”

Anubismon nodded. “Good work,” he said, folding his arms and looking at the dragon digimon.

“Great. Another Mega level,” Sealsdramon muttered. “Here I was hoping it was Anubismon from the Warrior Ten...”

Anubismon grinned and looked at them keenly. “I’m afraid not...” he told them. “Do you surrender?”

“Never!” Coredramon protested, despite being stuck under rubble.

“Yeah!” Flamedramon agreed, gritting his teeth.

“Don’t listen to them,” Sealsdramon insisted, dropping his daggers and raising his hands. “We surrender.”

“What?! Sealsdramon, you traitor!” Flamedramon growled, getting up, onto his knees.

“I don’t want to be deleted,” he retorted. “There’s no way we can stand against two Mega levels, and Examon’s not coming!”

“He is coming,” Coredramon insisted, managing to drag himself out.

“No. He’s a Royal Knight now. He’s forgotten about us...” Sealsdramon murmured. “He would have been here by now...”

Flamedramon grimaced. “We... don’t know that...”

Anubismon smirked. “Being a Royal Knight is a big job. It has plenty of responsibilities and is also incredibly prestigious. With a role like that, the common digimon are often forgotten,” he explained. “I’m not that kind of digimon. Sure, we may be invaders, but I promise a great future for all the digimon in this land. I may not be Examon, but I have other qualities... I could have had you all killed, but I decided to spare you, remember...”

The dramons frowned and glanced at each other. BlackMetalGarurumon circled them, stalking them carefully.

“So,” Anubismon said calmly. “I ask you again. Do you surrender...?”

-

Examon, Sleipmon, Magnamon and Dukemon walked into a large room similar to the communication room. It had a large, wall-mounted screen, but it was hooked up to a large, visible machine that rested against the wall. It was like a colossal version of the personal computer in Examon’s room. There seemed to be more than one as well.

“This is the computer room,” Magnamon explained.

“How is it different from the comm room?” Examon asked curiously, looking around at the screen and machines. The technology seemed almost out of place in a largely medieval-style castle.

“This is a database,” Dukemon explained, folding his arms. “We store information and data on these computers. We have things like records on us Royal Knights, our allies, past enemies we’ve fought, and we have records on past missions and operations. MetallifeKuwagamon created a firewall that made it basically impossible for someone to hack, which is good given how important a lot of the information is.”

“Sounds useful,” Examon said, nodding.

Sleipmon smiled and nodded in agreement. “It is. Why don’t we show you the library nex--”

All of a sudden, a blue blur streaked down the hall and into the computers room, startling them slightly. The blur suddenly came into focus when it skidded to a stop, followed by the flap of wings and a blast of air.

UlforceVeedramon, the fastest Royal Knight, stood in front of them. “Guys,” he greeted.

Dukemon grunted, his hair and cape blown back by the gust of air. “Ulforce, I thought you weren’t supposed to go that fast indoors unless it was important,” he said with a frown.

“It is important,” he explained, looking at the four. “Our patrols found something. Alphamon’s calling a meeting in the war room.”

“A mission?” Sleipmon asked.

“That would be my guess,” UlforceVeedramon said with a smile. “Unless Alphamon decided to have a surprise tea party in the room where we do all our tactics.

“Let’s not keep them waiting,” Dukemon said, leading the group out of the room.

The UlforceVeedramon smiled at Examon. “Don’t worry, Ex-sama. You should be fine as long as you’re not fighting Dukemon,” he teased.

Examon offered a smirk at him. “I’ll try to keep up, Ulforce...” he responded.

The blue dragon man grinned back and walked up beside Dukemon. Magnamon and Sleipmon flanked Examon, getting around his large wings.

“Are you nervous?” Sleipmon asked, looking over at him.

“Not particularly,” Examon replied.

“Good,” Sleipmon replied, smiling warmly. “I know I was a nervous wreck on my first mission.”

“Just follow Duftmon’s instructions,” Magnamon replied, gazing up at Examon. “I know he can be a jerk sometimes, but he knows tactics better than anybody.”

“I’ll do my best,” Examon replied with a nod.

Dukemon led the group of five down the left wing hallway on the main level. The five knights walked up to a room with opened double doors. Examon followed the four in as they entered. He looked around curiously.

This was the war room. It was a large room with a long, wide table sitting in the middle of the room. The table top was black and, oddly, there were a few flashing lights and buttons. Coming from out of the top of the table was a large, digital, three-dimensional, grid-like map of the entire continent with several indicators on it. On the wall was a board with several more maps pinned to it. The six other knights were standing around the table, watching as they came in.

“There you all are,” Dynasmon said.

“What’s going on?” Dukemon asked. “Alphamon?”

“Our scouts say there’s four separate attacks happening,” Alphamon explained, pointing to the map. “One to the north east on a coastal village, one to the north west here, one to the south, and one in the United Dramonic Coalition.”

Examon’s eyes widened ever-so-slightly. “What?!” he asked, taking a step forwards. Dukemon looked at Examon with concern.

“There are four missions before us,” Duftmon said, taking out his long, slender rapier, the Shoumetsu no Tsurugi, and tapping the 3D map in three places with its metal tip. “We only have enough knights for three. As the attack on the United Dramonic Coalition is low priority, we’ll have to ignore that one and focus on these three more pressing attacks.”

Examon blinked and turned to Duftmon incredulously. “Low priority?” he demanded in a low voice.

“Yes,” Duftmon replied calmly and succinctly, continuing to stare at the map and not gracing Examon with so much as a glance.

It took every ounce of Examon’s willpower not to clench his fists and snarl.

Dukemon watched Examon’s expression very closely, and the crimson knight could see his distress, however controlled it was. The crimson knight, too, was uncomfortable with leaving the UDC, especially after what he told Examon. “Duftmon,” Dukemon said.

The leopard knight looked up at him. “Yes, Dukemon?”

“Why is the UDC attack lower priority than the other ones?” Dukemon questioned, wanting to show Examon that he had somebody on his side before the dragon did anything he might regret.

“Numbers,” Duftmon answered. “The three higher priority missions have between five and six Mega level digimon each, as well as between zero to seven Ultimate level digimon. The attack on the UDC consists of only two Mega level digimon, according to our scouts. Any numbskull that can count should be able to see which missions are more pressing.”

Dukemon sneered behind his helmet, not liking Duftmon’s tone. “Why can’t we divide our forces to cover the fourth attack as well?” he asked.

“Moving even one Knight is too risky,” Duftmon explained, frowning. “It would ruin the strategy entirely. Every single one of you has a vital role to play in defeating these attackers.”

Examon’s scaly brows furrowed. “But...” He growled softly, allowing some of his frustration to emerge.

Alphamon took a step forwards from his place between Omegamon and OuRyuumon. “I’m sorry, Examon, but I agree with Duftmon. He, Omegamon and I were discussing the tactics beforehand, and deviating from the plan puts not only us, but also the digimon who we’re defending into danger,” he explained.

Duftmon folded his arms and nodded. Magnamon frowned. “If that’s the case, then I agree with Alphamon... What does everybody else think?” he asked, looking around. The majority of the Royal Knights all nodded.

“But Alphamon!” Dukemon protested. The crimson knight frowned and looked at Examon, who grimaced and looked down, seeming to grudgingly accept it

Alphamon sighed and walked around the table, over to Examon. He stood in front of him and looked in his eyes. “I know that the United Dramonic Coalition is your home, Examon. Rest assured that we’re not about to abandon it,” Alphamon explained, placing a hand on Examon’s spiked shoulder. He then turned to the Royal Knights, UlforceVeedramon in particular. “Ulforce, I want you to head straight to the UDC as soon as your team finishes.”

UlforceVeedramon nodded and smiled. “They won’t even see me coming,” he responded. The blue dragon man turned to Examon. “Hey, maybe once they see what I can do, they’ll dub me the Dragon Prince or something.”

“Or princess,” Dynasmon quipped, smirking.

Despite the ensuing chuckles, Examon sighed. Alphamon’s words sounded genuine to Examon, but they weren’t enough to put the dragon’s mind at ease. Alphamon seemed to notice this. “Is that okay with you, Examon?” Alphamon questioned. “Remember, your opinion is worth no less than anybody else’s here. We’re all equals.”

Examon looked at the black knight with some worry in his eyes. “It’s just... With every passing minute, they could be getting wounded or deleted. I’m supposed to be protecting them,” he explained.

“Well, then,” Duftmon spoke up. “The sooner we get these tactics down, the sooner we can get these missions done, which means the quicker we can go and halt the attack in the UDC. Disagreements will only waste time.”

Examon gritted his teeth a little and looked at Duftmon. “...Very well, then,” he spoke.

“Good,” Duftmon replied, looking back to the map.

“Hey, Alphamon,” OuRyuumon spoke up. “Mind if I join this mission too?”

Alphamon shook his head. “That would even the teams out to four each. That seems fine.”

OuRyuumon grinned and twirled his swords in his hands, chuckling a bit. “Heh, sounds good! Can’t wait to have some fun!”

“Be sure to follow my instructions,” Duftmon said, glancing at him with some annoyance. “Now... First and foremost, the team heading to the northwest will be Dynasmon, Craniamon, Examon, and myself.”

Examon frowned and walked over the table where the map was. Duftmon pressed a button on the table and the map suddenly zoomed in to a more specific location where there were four blue dots arranged very specifically, along with nine red dots that were spread out more chaotically.

“Those blue dots are us?” Examon asked.

“Good, you do have a brain,” Duftmon mumbled. “Yes, the blue dots are our positions and the red dots are the estimated enemy positions.”

Dynasmon folded his arms. “I think he gets it. So what’s the plan?”

Duftmon pointed to a blue dot farther back from the other three. Thanks to the 3D digital map, the blue dot could be seen hovering high above the ground. “Examon, this is your position. You’re to give us cover in the form of long range bombardment. Keep it up until we defeat the enemy.”

“Or until you see us get into trouble,” Dynasmon added, grinning a little.

“Please. That won’t happen with this plan,” Duftmon responded.

“Even if Duftmon’s plan did fail,” Craniamon said, at which Duftmon scoffed openly, “I would be able to handle it.”

“Arrogance and overconfidence doesn’t befit knights, you two,” Omegamon pointed out, folding his arms.

“Hmph,” Duftmon said. “Anyways, Examon will provide the long range fire while Craniamon, Dynasmon and I will approach from these three routes...”

Examon watched as Duftmon detailed the plan. He took the information in, but all he could think about were the Dramon of the UDC who were in danger right then, as they talked.

Two Mega level digimon...” he thought. “They can’t handle that. The capital, maybe, but not the towns... Will they be able to hold out until we finish...? Dukemon told me that the UDC would receive higher priority when it came to receiving help. Was that a lie...?

The Royal Knights are counting on me... but so are the dragon digimon who I promised to protect...” Examon grimaced very slightly. “...What should I do?

-

Twenty minutes later...

Dynasmon closed his eyes for a moment, enjoying the feeling of the wind beneath his wings before their attack on these brigands. During the mission briefing, Duftmon had explained that there were four Ultimate level and five Mega level digimon. Four on nine... Dynasmon was okay with those odds. It would be a tiresome battle, but a winnable one, especially with the plan Duftmon came up with.

Dynasmon opened his eyes and looked to his left. A ways away, he could see Duftmon, who also flew through the air. He grinned. Typical of Duftmon, he wasn’t straying from the attack path he came up with at all. Dynasmon then looked to his right to see Craniamon running along the base of the cliff, looking very determined.

That left himself flying up the middle of the valley to attack the bandits, who had taken a village for their own and taking whatever they could find. Since he was a close-range fighter, Dynasmon was to go in and attack fast and hard, distracting the digimon and allowing Duftmon and Craniamon to move in and surround them.

Examon was in his place behind them. It was his job to give them cover and support. However, Dynasmon noticed that Examon looked pretty distracted and introspective when they left him. He didn’t think Duftmon noticed, and Craniamon either didn’t notice or didn’t care. Dynasmon assumed it was the latter. Dynasmon made a mental note to talk to Examon after they were finished here.

But for now...

“Dragon’s Roar!”

The two gems on the palms of Dynasmon’s hands burned brightly and unleashed two thin beams: one red and one blue. The dual beams spiraled around the other until they finally met and crashed into the black side of a GranKuwagamon bandit, creating a large explosion in the core of the group of nine.

Shouts and hollers erupted from the brigands as they staggered around in the power and smoke, trying to figure out what and who had hit them.

“What the hell was that?!” a Gryphonmon demanded.

“My shell is cracked!” the GranKuwagamon he hit shouted, hissing in pain.

“I... I see something!” a Hisyarumon bandit exclaimed, squinting through the smoke. “...It’s Dynasmon!”

“The one and the only!” Dynasmon shouted, charging into the smoke and driving his large fist right into Hisyarumon’s snout. The skinny serpent was sent flying back and blood trickled from his nostrils. He then landed on the ground and outstretched his arms, one at the Gryphonmon and one at the GranKuwagamon. “Dragon’s Roar!” Two beams ripped from his palms and met the two bandits, creating two more powerful explosions.

“There’s nine of us and only one of him!” the slender form of a Diaboromon shouted to his comrades. “Get him!”

As Dynasmon turned, the lens on the Diaboromon’s chest began to glow. “Catastrophe Cannon!” the demon bandit yelled.

“Crud,” Dynasmon muttered, seeing the lens suddenly surge with green energy. Before he could even think about dodging, the beam pulsed from the Diaboromon’s chest, heading right for Dynasmon.

The draconic Royal Knight raised his arms and claws to try to block the attack the best he could, but he suddenly felt a presence behind him. A large shadow passed over him and a violet suit of armour landed in front of him, between himself and the emerald beam. Dynasmon looked up and saw Craniamon standing in front of him, a giant, black kite shield – the Avalon.

“God Breath!” Craniamon spoke, raising the Avalon shield and bracing himself. The Catastrophe Cannon attack slammed into the shield and split off into tendrils of green energy upon impact, looking about as effective as a jet of water. Dynasmon knew better; God Breath allowed Craniamon to protect himself or his comrades from all attacks from any direction for three seconds.

The attack dissipated and both Craniamon and Dynasmon were completely unscathed thanks to God Breath. Craniamon turned his head and glanced over his shoulder. “You should really be more careful, Dynasmon,” he said with a bit of a competitive tone to his voice.

Dynasmon was about to reply, but he saw something. “Watch it!” he said, dashing towards Craniamon, who didn’t notice the Diaboromon charging at him. “Dragon’s Roar!” Dynasmon raised a hand over Craniamon’s shoulder and sent a laser blasting into the bandit.

The Diaboromon flew back and stumbled, nearly tripping over his feet with his gangly legs. Dynasmon smirked and then raised his other hand, his palm flooding with destructive power. He unclenched his fist and power exploded from the lens on his palm in the form of a beam that flew and struck the Diaboromon in the face.

“Aussterben!” a voice called out from nearby.

The staggering Diaboromon bandit’s back suddenly arched and he let out a scream as an arc of blue energy cut through his chest from behind. His form split apart and burst into data.

Dynasmon watched as the cloud of data cleared and saw Duftmon walking towards them, holding his sword, the Shoumetsu no Tsurugi, in front of him elegantly. The dragon grinned and looked at Craniamon. “You were saying?” Dynasmon teased. He then turned around to face the other brigands.

Craniamon grunted and jumped away from Dynasmon, spinning his giant, double-bladed spear, the Claiomh Solais, in front of him. “That was my opponent...” he said, his annoyance very clear in his voice.

“Then you should keep your eyes on him,” Dynasmon replied, punching the GranKuwagamon away with a powerful swing of his fist. The GranKuwagamon slid across the grass until he hit a rock, knocking him into unconsciousness.

Duftmon dashed forwards and clashed swords with a Zanbamon. “Keep to the plan,” he told them, grunting with effort as he pushed against the larger digimon’s blade.

Divide their forces and overpower them,” Dynasmon thought, remembering what the plan was. He caught a Grademon’s blade in his hands, blocking it with the power coming from his palms. Dynasmon narrowed his eyes and snapped the sword into two. He proceeded to raise his leg and kick the Grademon hard in the chest, sending him crashing on top of the unconscious GranKuwagamon.

“End Waltz!” Craniamon shouted. Dynasmon turned and saw the violet knight spinning the Claiomh Solais over his head. Electricity ripped from the cyclone of his weapon and surrounded the Gryphonmon.

“That’s strange...” Dynasmon muttered to himself. “Duftmon! Craniamon!”

Duftmon sneered and dodged a vertical swing of the Zanbamon’s blade before turning and driving the tip of the Shoumetsu no Tsurugi into the Zanbamon’s leg. He took the moment to glance over at Dynasmon. “I’m quite busy right now!” he shouted over his opponent’s wail. “What do you want?”

“Same,” Craniamon said tersely, focusing on spinning his spear in front of him to generate more electricity. “You don’t need help, do you?”

“It’s not that,” Dynasmon replied, flying up above the ground a bit as four Ultimate level bandits surrounded him. “Shouldn’t Examon be giving us support fire by now?”

“Maybe...” Craniamon grunted and was interrupted as the Gryphonmon broke free of the electricity and charged the middle of the Claiomh Solais, where his hands were. The force of the griffon’s helmet on his hands caused him to let go of the spear, and the Gryphonmon then tackled him to the ground. He used the momentum to lean back, tuck his legs in and kick the Gryphonmon off him. He growled a bit at both himself and the Gryphonmon and got to a knee. “Damnit... Maybe we’re blocking his shots.”

Dynasmon nodded at the possibility and dove down, grabbing a MadLeomon by the face and throwing him far away from himself and the other knights. The lion digimon got into a roll and stood up. While Dynasmon expected him to be shot by one of Examon’s attacks, the MadLeomon bandit just kept charging.

The Royal Knight frowned and took a fighting stance, drawing energy from the ground below. “Breath of Wyvern!” he shouted, creating a gigantic, white dragon of sheer power and energy that cloaked his body. The dragon snarled and rushed forwards, engulfing two of the ultimate levels in its flames along with the MadLeomon.

Dynasmon exhaled and took the moment of repose to turn in the direction that they came from, down the valley. He looked up to where Examon should be.

...And Examon wasn’t there.

Dynasmon blinked. “...He’s gone...”

“What?!” Craniamon demanded, hearing him. The knight turned towards Dynasmon, distracted from his duel with the Gryphonmon for that moment, and the half-lion, half-bird bandit took the opportunity to charge and tackle him down, causing an angry and annoyed cry from the knight.

Duftmon turned, staring at Dynasmon incredulously. “What do you mean he’s gone?!”

Dynasmon looked at him blandly. “How many definitions of ‘gone’ are there, Duftmon?” he asked sarcastically. He pointed a finger down the valley, showing him that there was no Examon in the air or on the ground. “Unless this is part of your plan...”

Duftmon’s green eyes turned to look for himself. One of his eyes twitched.

“WHERE IN THE HELL IS THAT OVERGROWN, FLYING NEWT?!”

-

Examon grimaced as he flew through the sky, his lance resting on his back. He looked over his shoulder, regret in his eyes.

I’m sorry, guys,” he thought to himself. “This is more important to me right now...”

Examon swung around the Ambrosius and cocked a round of ammunition into place. He held the weapon tightly in his claws. The dragon looked down and saw the fields of grass passing beneath him. The grass of the United Dramonic Coalition.

He closed his eyes and a sigh left his nostrils. He felt terrible for leaving the Royal Knights in the middle of a mission, even if he did feel like he had to.

I hope they’ll understand... I know the Royal Knights are depending on me... but the Dramon of my home are depending on me too... and they’re far weaker...” Examon thought, frowning. He tried to rationalize the situation to himself. “They can’t stand up against two Mega digimon like the Royal Knights can. I was just long range support anyways... They probably won’t even notice I left.”

Examon sighed. He would make it up to the Royal Knights somehow. He just didn’t feel like he could risk waiting for them to finish their other operations before going to help the United Dramonic Coalition. If any Dramon were killed, Examon felt like their blood would be on his claws since he left them to join the Royal Knights.

I’ll try to make this quick... Maybe I’ll even be able to make it back before Dynasmon, Craniamon and Duftmon are done...”

-

Anubismon grinned as he flew through the air above BlackMetalGarurumon. He looked down at his brother to see the black, four-legged lupine digimon look up at him.

“That went the way you wanted, right, bro?” BlackMetalGarurumon asked.

Anubismon nodded and looked at the significantly larger, riverside town several kilometers ahead of them. That was their next target. “Yes. Good work. I just hope the rest of them surrender that easily,” he said. “You did a good job at not killing anybody who stood in our way. Keep doing that, if you can.”

“Sure thing, but why?” BlackMetalGarurumon asked.

“The less they hate us, the better. I want the mines, remember? If they see us as benevolent leaders, they’ll be much more willing to work under us and we won’t have to worry as much about uprisings,” Anubismon explained, looking down at him. “Until we get richer, we only have so many cards we can play before the Royal Knights start becoming a problem.”

“That’s a smart way of looking at it,” BlackMetalGarurumon explained, looking up and sticking his tongue out. “I guess you got the brains in the family while I got the brawn and the good looks.”

Anubismon rolled his eyes.

BlackMetalGarurumon chuckled. After a moment, the black, cyborg wolf blinked and then his eyes slowly widened. “Anubismon! Look out!”

“Pendragon’s Glory!”

Anubismon turned his head upwards and could see a red gleam. He then felt blinding pain as a laser burned straight through his wing, sending blood and brown feathers flying out. Anubismon let out a cry of pain and plummeted to the ground.

BlackMetalGarurumon snarled and went to action. He skidded to a stop in the grass and caught Anubismon on his back.

“D-Damn it...” Anubismon growled, his voice wracked with pain as he gripped his brother’s back. “Who did that?!”

BlackMetalGarurumon looked up to see who their assailant was. His eyes widened again. “I-It’s Examon!”

“What?!” Anubismon demanded, snarling in pain as looked up as well. Indeed, Examon was flying high in the sky with the Ambrosius pointed at them. “He was supposed to be with the Royal Knights!”

“Get off, Anubismon!” BlackMetalGarurumon commanded. “I’ll take him down.”

Anubismon grunted and dismounted, landing on a knee so he could inspect the damage to his wing. With that, BlackMetalGarurumon took off in a gallop. He glared up at Examon and he heard the clicking sounds of his munitions locking into place. “You’ll pay for hurting my brother! I’m not holding back! Metal Howling!”

Examon tensed slightly with anticipation. “So these are the two attackers...”

The metal coverings on BlackMetalGarurumon’s forelegs suddenly opened up and revealed a multitude of red-tipped missiles inside them. Also, a massive missile emerged from a hidden port on his back. Examon watched as the black wolf’s wings extended and he started to fly. Smoke then erupted from BlackMetalGarurumon’s forelegs, shoulders, and back, as the missiles started to launch.

Examon’s eyes narrowed with concentration as he was amassed by a barrage of missiles from BlackMetalGarurumon’s legs. “Don’t fail me, wings,” Examon thought to the sentient Caledfwlch.

In the face of the intimidating missile salvo, Examon’s wings flapped hard in front of him as the missiles closed in. The Caledfwilch pumped the air and Examon flew backwards, putting space between himself and the missiles. With room to breathe, he raised the Ambrosius.

“Avalon’s Gate!” A cylindrical shell fired from the lance towards the hail of red missiles rising from the ground to engulf him. The shell impacted one of the missiles, causing it to explode. Examon’s shell then exploded from the missile’s detonation, bursting into a giant ball of flames. The fire swathed outwards and engulfed several other missiles, causing them to detonate prematurely and cause their neighbouring explosives to do the same in a big chain reaction of fire, ice, water and metal.

Examon grunted at the heat against his scales and the Caledfwlch instinctively folded in front of his body to protect him with their chrome digizoid armour. He felt himself be thrown back slightly by the blast, but soon he opened up his wings. When he did, he saw BlackMetalGarurumon flying under the explosion, rising at a steep angle.

“I’m not done with you yet, dragon!” BlackMetalGarurumon shouted. The six missiles on his shoulders let loose and sailed towards him at high speeds.

Examon tried to raise his lance to attack, but he was still too busy recovering to be able to do it quick enough. His wings folded in front of him once again and the six sharp missiles hit his armour, pounding against it before exploding. The Royal Knight let out a stifled growl as the six detonations rocked and charred his chrome digizoid armour and threw him back in the air.

He opened his wings slightly, hoping to counterattack, but when he did, he saw the massive missile of BlackMetalGarurumon’s back launching towards him. Before he could do anything else, the giant missile hit his wings and exploded, covering his wings with solid ice.

Examon grunted. He couldn’t move his wings at all. He began to fall.

BlackMetalGarurumon let out a triumphant laugh. “Hah! Got you, dragon!”

The dragon in question narrowed his eyes and started tilting himself in the air so that he was falling headfirst towards BlackMetalGarurumon. “That’s what you think,” he muttered. “Draconic Impact.”

Examon suddenly started falling faster, like a boulder. The metal of his armour began to heat up due to the friction of him falling. With the heated armour, the ice sealing his wings began to melt, and soon Examon’s body was glowing red.

BlackMetalGarurumon’s eyes widened as Examon plummeted towards him at a speed he couldn’t avoid. He tried his best to turn, but Examon slammed into the lupine cyborg hard and sent him hurdling towards the ground. He landed hard on his back and his body dug into the ground. Even with the successful hit, Examon continued to fall towards BlackMetalGarurumon, aiming to hit him with the full power of the attack.

“No!” Anubismon yelled from nearby. “Amemit!”

A nebulous form of a shadow creature suddenly emerged in thin air in front of Anubismon before shooting quickly towards Examon, slamming into him and throwing him off course, away from BlackMetalGarurumon. Examon grunted and opened his wings – continuing the attack wouldn’t have been worth it like that. Instead he swung the Ambrosius around and aimed it at BlackMetalGarurumon.

“Garuru Tomahawk!” the wolf shouted before Examon could fire. The port on his underbelly opened up and fired another huge missile towards Examon.

The Royal Knight flapped his wings hard and avoided it. “Avalon’s Gate!” he countered, firing a shell that hit BlackMetalGarurumon’s leg and sent electricity coursing through his body. BlackMetalGarurumon howled in pain, his entire body conducting the electricity.

Examon swooped down and landed in front of BlackMetalGarurumon. He drove the Ambrosius back and prepared to impale the wolf.

He drove it forward.

“Pyramid Power!”

The Ambrosius’ tip ricocheted off something hard and deflected, instead digging into the ground. Examon let out a growl of surprise, suddenly immense pressure and tightness around him. He turned his head and saw that Anubismon had summoned a pyramid-shaped barrier of light around Examon, trapping him inside it and cutting him off from BlackMetalGarurumon.

Anubismon growled and held his wing, running over. “BlackMetalGarurumon! We’re retreating!” he demanded, hissing as he approached.

BlackMetalGarurumon groaned and rolled over onto his stomach so that he could stand up. He glanced at the Royal Knight enclosed within the transparent, golden barrier. “But bro! We have him!” he protested.

“It won’t hold him forever. We can’t defeat him like this!” Anubismon argued, jumping onto BlackMetalGarurumon’s back before he had a chance to argue further.

“...Fine,” the wolf agreed with some reluctance. He stuck his tongue out and made an immature face at Examon before running off, back in the direction they came.

Examon flushed and gave a long snarl of anger, trying to fight against the pyramidal barrier around him, which was especially tight due to the large wings on Examon’s back and arms, as well as the lengthy Ambrosius lance.

“Damn it,” he growled, pushing against the barrier with his wings. He couldn’t budge his wings or reposition his lance to strike out against the walls. “I can hardly move in this thing.”

Knowing it would be a long, awkward, and embarrassing struggle otherwise, Examon decided to try and think of an alternate solution. He sat down and took the metal magazine out of the Ambrosius and gently emptied out the shells. “Maybe I can modify one of these to neutralize the barrier,” he mumbled to himself.

Examon suddenly heard a tapping behind him. “Thinking outside the box, I see?” a familiar voice said.

Examon’s eyes widened and he felt his insides drop. “Oh, Fanglongmon, no,” he thought, feeling blood surging to his face. He reluctantly looked over his shoulder. UlforceVeedramon was standing outside the pyramid trap, smiling and waving. UlforceVeedramon’s smile could only be described as a ****-eating grin.

The dragon’s crimson face grew even redder as he blushed hard. UlforceVeedramon was the absolute last knight that he wanted seeing him like this.

“Quite the pickle you’ve gotten yourself into, Ex-sama,” UlforceVeedramon said, turning around and leaning with his back against the barrier, folding his arms. “And I’m guessing Dynasmon, Craniamon and Duftmon don’t know you’re here...”

In embarrassment, Examon put his hand on the top of his snout and rubbed his temples. “UlforceVeedramon... I know how this looks, and you probably think that I think I’m too good to follow orders, but I couldn’t just leave the digimon here to get attacked,” he explained, slowly and awkwardly turning around in the pyramid.

UlforceVeedramon looked over his shoulder at Examon. “I get what you were trying to do... but you forgot about Rule Three of the Royal Knights’ Code of Conduct. ‘A Royal Knight will not abandon another Royal Knight in his time of need.’ I’ll spare you the lecture, Ex-sama, because I know you’re going to get a load of them once we go back to headquarters.” He smiled a bit.

Examon sighed, turning his head in a hope that the cobalt knight couldn’t see him embarrassment. “...Can you help me out then?” he asked, glancing at UlforceVeedramon, embarrassed at himself for asking that.

UlforceVeedramon unfolded his arms, stood up straight and turned to face Examon. “If I hear a ‘please’...” he teased, smiling wider.

“...I thought you said a Royal Knight had to help another Royal Knight in their time of need,” Examon responded, giving him a bland, not amused stare.

“Yeah, but it never hurts to be polite, does it?” Ulforce said with a chuckle.

“...I’ll be okay,” Examon said, going back to fiddling with the shell in his hand. It was more because he didn’t want to hear UlforceVeedramon’s teasing and gloating than not wanting to be polite. Plus, a part of him wanted to show that he wasn’t as incompetent as the current situation made him seem.

UlforceVeedramon laughed and knocked on the barrier. “Oh, don’t be like that, Ex-sama. You won’t have to be trapped like a tin of sardines any longer.” The blue dragon man held out his left arm and the large bracer around his wrist began to glow. “Stand back and brace yourself okay? Tensegrity Shield!”

A geometric barrier of energy suddenly extended from Ulforce’s wrist and impacted the pyramidal barrier. Upon contact, Ulforce’s Tensegrity shield caused the barrier to be repelled, and with a swing of his arm, the shield smashed the barrier and caused it to disintegrate.

Examon let out a sigh and outstretched his wings. “I appreciate the assistance... though I’m sure it wouldn’t have taken me too long,” he said.

Ulforce grinned and folded his arms. “If that’s what you want to tell yourself...”

The red dragon grunted a bit. “Seriously, Ulforce... Thank you. Most of all, for coming here.”

“Please, you’ll make me blush,” UlforceVeedramon said with a laugh, flapping his wings and getting airborne. “It’s just a shame I had to help you instead of looking for the attackers.” Examon winced a bit. UlforceVeedramon glanced at him. “Come on, let’s head back to the headquarters. Alphamon’s not going to be happy about this.”

Examon’s wince became a grimace. “This isn’t going to be easy... Time to face my punishment.”

-

“You stupid, selfish, incompetent, unreliable, foolish IDIOT!”

Examon grimaced. He stood in the war room along with the Royal Knights and OuRyuumon. Before him was Duftmon, glaring at Examon with such intensity that Examon was sure he’d burst a blood vessel. He, Dynasmon, and Craniamon had more dirt on their armour than the rest of the knights did. Around Craniamon’s forearm, near the elbow, was a white cloth with a few spots of blood, covering a small cut under a tear in his violet suit. Craniamon looked almost as annoyed and frustrated as Duftmon did; he glared daggers at Examon.

“...I apologize,” Examon said humbly, glancing more at Alphamon than Duftmon. UlforceVeedramon had to tell the others what had happened. Examon didn’t blame him; he was planning to tell the truth anyways.

“And that makes what you did alright?” Duftmon asked, sneering. “We were depending on you for support fire! Your leaving on nothing but a whim screwed up my entire plan and compromised the mission! And Craniamon’s wound is proof of that!” The leopard knight couldn’t help but growl.

“I know...” Examon calmly replied. “I regret it, but I couldn’t just leave them.”

“Yet according to your report, UlforceVeedramon arrived only three minutes after you drove the two invaders off,” Duftmon said, narrowing his eyes. “If you hadn’t left your position, he would have been able to show up and take care of them. Instead, our team had more trouble, the Anubismon and BlackMetalGarurumon escaped, and you ended up confined in a box.”

Examon flushed. On the last comment, he heard OuRyuumon snickering in the background. “...I didn’t know that at the time,” he said.

“That’s not an excuse!” Duftmon growled. The brown knight turned towards Alphamon. “I told you, Alphamon. I said that he would be trouble, but you didn’t listen. Now we have an overgrown newt among our ranks who thinks that he can just ignore tactics and do whatever he pleases! You had better deal with this, Alphamon.”

Alphamon narrowed his red eyes at Duftmon a bit. Duftmon pushed Examon aside, seething, and stormed out of the room in a huff.

“Duftmon!” Dukemon protested, wincing slightly at the situation. The white and red knight looked over at Examon, who grimaced.

Alphamon sighed as Duftmon left. Omegamon looked at the Lord of the Empty Seat and then at Examon. He took a step forward, but found Alphamon’s hand blocking him.

“No. I’ll do it,” Alphamon said. Omegamon nodded and leaned against the table next to him. Alphamon walked forwards.

Examon turned back towards Alphamon and saw a black gauntlet heading towards his face. Before he could react, Alphamon’s fist collided with his snout. Examon let out a growl of surprise and was sent flying through the air from the force, and crashing to the floor, on his back.

“A-Alphamon!” Dukemon said with shock, going over to where Examon landed.

Examon grunted with pain and felt blood trickle out of his nostrils for the second time that day. He felt stinging in his eyes and throbbing in his nose from the violent blow to his snout.

Alphamon ignored the pain in his fist and walked calmly over to Examon. With an unreadable expression, Alphamon bent down and grabbed hold of the sharp tips of Examon’s wings. He then pulled, gently heaving Examon onto his feet before letting go. He looked into Examon’s eyes.

“Examon...” Alphamon began, his voice calm yet disappointed. “As much as I hate to say it, Duftmon’s right. You’re an idiot.”

Dukemon grimaced a bit, “Alphamon, wait a second.”

Alphamon raised his hand at Dukemon, urging him not to speak. Even when doing that, he didn’t take his eyes off of Examon. “Let me say this, Dukemon...”

Dukemon sighed, but nodded.

The black armoured leader of the Royal Knights continued staring at Examon. “I know your heart was in the right place, but you going off on your own did screw up Duftmon’s plan. I know better than anybody how insufferable he can be, but his tactics are very good; they ensure the safety of us knight as well as the digimon who we protect,” Alphamon explained. “These aren’t all going to be easy missions like this last one, Examon. You can’t go off and jeopardize the plans; lives hang in the balance. I know you don’t want to be the cause of an innocent digimon or a fellow knight’s death.”

Examon grimaced and looked away. “I don’t... I’m sorry, Alphamon.”

Alphamon sighed. “It’s not just that...” he said. “Examon... I know that you’re used to doing your own thing. You have always worked alone in protecting the UDC. However... you’re a Royal Knight now. You can’t just go off and work alone. You have to be a team player. You have to have the other Knights’ backs as much as they have to have your back. We’re a team, Examon.” Alphamon turned and looked at Craniamon, who folded his arms, wincing slightly. “Even Craniamon puts the lone wolf thing aside for the good of the team and the missions.”

Examon looked down, shame in his eyes.

Alphamon placed his hand on Examon’s spiked shoulder. “I know that you care for the UDC, but there have been times where each of us have had to put more important missions over ones involving our homes. It wasn’t easy, but it was our duty to the world. Do you understand that, Examon?”

The reply was a nod. “I... apologize,” he spoke.

The black knight squeezed his shoulder and then let go. “I know you won’t do something like this again...” He smiled slightly. “Go get some rest, Examon. Oh... and I’m also taking you off the next three missions so you have some time to get used to things.”

Examon nodded, accepting the punishment. He turned to the others. “It... won’t happen again,” he said to them, nodding before walking out.

Dukemon watched Examon leave and frowned. He approached Alphamon and looked at him. “Alphamon... it wasn’t his fault, you know. Well, not entirely...” Dukemon explained. “When I gave him your invitation, I told him that the United Dramonic Coalition would have top priority. I wanted to make sure that he joined...”

Alphamon sighed and rubbed his temples. “I see... Still, that doesn’t excuse his actions. I’m reprimanding him the same way that I would you or anybody else,” he explained.

Dukemon nodded. “Yeah, I know...” he looked at Alphamon. “Mind if I go talk to him?”

“Not at all,” Alphamon replied. “You can all get some rest.”

“Great!” RhodoKnightmon said. “I’ll get started on dinner.”

-

Within a small yet long room, there were rows of benches. There were two rows of five benches going down the length of the room. At the end of the room there was an altar, with a large painted glass window of a white, polygon-shaped figure in a vaguely humanoid – almost angel-like - shape. Its head had a large, red eye. This was a chapel dedicated to the god Yggdrasil.

In one of these pews sat Examon. Examon closed his eyes and bowed his head slightly. Behind him, the door creaked open and the sound of heavy footsteps along with the rattling of armour echoed through the hallowed room of worship.

Examon opened his eyes and saw Dukemon walk in.

“Mind if I join you?” he asked, slipping in and sitting down beside him, leaning back against Examon’s wing before he could respond.

“By all means...” Examon replied, looking over with a heavy expression.

Dukemon frowned and put his hand on Examon’s shoulder. “I’m sorry about all that, Examon. I didn’t think a situation like that would happen...”

The dragon knight shook his horned head reassuringly. “No, I deserved everything I got... I shouldn’t have broken off from the group,” Examon explained. “I have a lot to get used to now that I’m a Royal Knight... Alphamon was right. I can’t just do everything solo... and I have to realize that I’m protecting the world, not just the UDC...” Examon closed his eyes. “I just hope I can do that.”

Dukemon smiled a bit. “I’ll help you,” he told him. “...So what are you doing here? Praying to Yggdrasil?”

Examon returned the tiny smile. “I guess so... To be honest, I was raised believing in Fanglongmon. Don’t tell anybody, though. I am already different enough,” Examon said with a barely noticeable trace of humour in his voice.

However, Dukemon seemed to pick up on it enough to laugh. “Yeah? Well, that’s something you and Ulforce have in common.”

Examon nodded but sighed. “I guess I didn’t make any friends earlier...”

“Yeah...” Dukemon agreed. “Duftmon’s probably isolating himself in the library, and Craniamon’s probably on a training binge, but just give things time. Make sure you’re extra impressive and cooperative on your next mission.”

With a nod, the dragon leaned back and cracked his stiff neck. “I suppose...”

-

Meanwhile, Alphamon stood in front of the bright, glowing screen of the monitor in the communications room. He stood alone in the dark room, lit only by the screen, staring at the person on the other end of the video feed.

“...Did anyone ever tell you that you kind of look like a rabbit?” said an excited voice.

Alphamon glared at the figure on the screen, which happened to be KaiserGreymon of the Warrior Ten. “...You did. Several times, KaiserGreymon...” Alphamon responded with an exasperated sigh.

“Oh. Right,” the black dragon man responded, folding his arms across his chest. “Bad day?”

“Just exhausting...” Alphamon said. “You’re lucky to have such an open-minded group of digimon.”

“Why do you say that?” KaiserGreymon asked, looking slightly uneasy.

“You don’t have Duftmon questioning your every move,” Alphamon replied with a small grin.

KaiserGreymon grinned as well. “No, I just have AncientGarurumon questioning my every move...” he responded. “Right. Anyways. Let’s get down to business, shall we?”

Alphamon nodded. “Yes, let’s. I was wondering why you wanted to talk with me in private...” he said to the Warrior of Flame, folding his arms.

“I’ve heard rumours...” KaiserGreymon spoke.

“About the recent raids?” Alphamon asked.

KaiserGreymon shook his head. “No. Nothing to do with that. Something bigger...” he said gravely. “Bigger than my group of the Warrior Ten and your order of the Royal Knights, even.”

Alphamon’s expression turned graver. “...Like what?”

“I don’t exactly know...” KaiserGreymon said with a shrug. “But apparently a Baronmon made a big stir in the nearby town.”

“Baronmon...” Alphamon mused, rubbing his chin. “They can supposedly see the future, can’t they?”

KaiserGreymon shrugged. “If you believe that nonsense. I sure don’t,” he replied.

“But you wouldn’t have wanted to talk to me if you weren’t concerned,” Alphamon said.

“...It’s just a feeling I’m getting in my gut,” KaiserGreymon explained, frowning.

Alphamon nodded. He felt the same feeling of unease himself from time to time. Maybe it was innate. “Well... What did the Baronmon say?” he questioned.

KaiserGreymon folded his arms and looked at Alphamon. “Apparently he kept on repeating the same thing...”

Alphamon raised an eyebrow. “...What?”

“Beware the black night...”
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