All around was darkness. The world was pain and fear and rage. The sky above was scorched and burnt at the edges. Lightning cut ragged paths of flame through the pitch-black clouds. The earth below was razed. Torched and cratered by anger and a hate-filled power. Across the world's surface lay the ashen remains of all who opposed this apocalypse. They hadn't even broken down into data, most stood as they died, forever petrified as ash-colored stone or crystal. The world was emblazoned with the name of he who caused this horror. The name appeared in no words or symbols. The name was the destruction. It was the ruin, the wrath, the rage, the fear, and the agony of a world screaming out for salvation that would never come...not after heaven itself had fallen to earth in a twisted and heap as hellfire licked at its shining surface. And he claimed his victory, ravaging the world and blasting into it his own image. He burned his name across the world as death and power absolute.
They were names spoken only in defiance or in protected places. There were those who believed that the Black King could hear his name wherever spoken, and that speaking it would bring his wrath down upon you. Only those that did not fear his Black Legions dared to even whisper it.
Ajax was not one of the fearful. He roared the name, cursed its owner's every breath, He shouted the name into the heart of darkness and swore oaths upon his very soul that he would see Dracul Samhain dead at his feet.
Such bravado had secured him the eternal fury of the Black King. Samhain would stop at nothing to see the former Avenger broken before him. He sent his Black Legions after the knight, wave upon wave of twisting darkness, all fangs and claws and teeth. They were the monsters straight from Samhain's own twisted dreams, birthed by his will and his will alone. They existed only to serve, to kill, and to die.
Each of the terrible Digimon was astoundingly powerful. Alone, they posed a significant risk to any of the hidden communities. Two together could raze entire cities. But the hundreds upon hundreds that Dracul Samhain had sent throughout the Digital World were a blight, a digital plague. A holocaust.
And Ajax liked nothing more than to drive his weapons into their dark, leathery flesh.
The Diaboromon before Ajax was a massive specimen. Were it not for its hunched and crouched position, it would have stood at almost three times his height, as opposed to twice his height like most Diaboromon. The creature lashed out with its ever-extendable arms. Ajax leapt out of the way, but he was struck in the shoulder and spun through the air. The monster dove at him, but Ajax swung the mighty Dunas pole axe and it sliced across the Diaboromon's midsection. The beast let out a roar of anger and grabbed Ajax by his face. He smashed the knight into a wall and held him there. Power began to build within the dark creature's core.
But Theron sliced his Kiku-rin scimitars through the creature's arms, nearly cutting completely through them. The same two weapons then plunged deep into the Diaboromon's torso, and then with a roar, Theron drew them across the monster's neck and removed his head.
"You're better than this, Ajax," the Gaiomon muttered. Ajax suddenly sprang forward and pushed Theron to the side. He spun the Dunas and stabbed its spear end into its chest, into the power core there. Ajax pushed the creature back and pinned it to the ground, then he removed the axe-ended half of the Dunas and clove the weapon--glowing white hot--right through the Diaboromon's skull.
"You were saying?" Ajax said with a smirk.
"Let's go," said Theron. "Those were only the scouts. The rest will be coming soon, and they won't be such pushovers." On cue, a dozen more dark figures emerged from the shadows. Ajax gripped his weapons tightly. "We can't beat them, Ajax," Theron said, urging him on.
"We can try."
"We can die," Theron pointed out. "There's nothing here worth fighting for."
"Here?" Ajax whispered. "Here is all that's left. There's nothing left for us to fight for but the charred ground we stand on."
"Then let us live to fight another day," Theron urged. "We cannot win." To prove his point, the dozen or so Diaboromon surged forward, a terrifying black tidal wave.
Ajax ignored Theron. He swung both halves of the Dunas and unleashed his Rage of Wyvern. The attack tore through the swarm, but it only the closest of the Diaboromon was even hurt by it. Half its face burned away, but it was still coming. Ajax relented. He turned and ran.
Together, the two raced down the twisted tunnels of the underground. They leaped over jutting spires of rock and twisted metal. They tumbled down steep embankments and vaulted over rivers of dirty water and molten rock.
And as they ran, more and more of the Diaboromon appeared. Now there were more than thirty blood-thirsty monsters hot on their tails, and they were gaining ground quickly. The Diaboromon suddenly surged forward and collided with Ajax and Theron. They fought hopelessly against the wave of darkness as the Diaboromon clawed and gouged at them. Ajax closed his eyes in agony and prepared for the silence of death.
But a roar filled his ears. The roar of a cannon.
Power flooded the cavern as several cannon blasts detonated. The mighty of the attacks washed over the Diaboromon, and in an instant most were completely atomized. The ones that still lived were cracked and broken. Ajax recognized that power. He spun around and glanced across to the far side of the cavern where a figure in white stood.
"Hyperion," he whispered angrily. "Hyperion, you son of a bit*h!" Ajax lunged forward only to be tackled down by one of the remaining Diaboromon. He struggled to throw the beast off his back, but Theron took care of it for him. The Gaiomon dragged Ajax forward and into the cavern's large opening.
"We need to keep going," Theron said.
"No," Ajax growled. "I'm tired of running. We make our stand here!" He spun around and readied his weapon as the remaining Diaboromon drew ever closer.
But they stopped. They stood at the edge of the cavern's opening, moving restlessly and angrily. Their only sounds were low growls of frustration. Then, they moved away, fading back into the shadows and the darkness.
"I don't understand," Theron whispered.
"I do," said Ajax solemnly. "This is where the Celestial Sphere fell to earth. That's what formed this cavern." Ajax closed his eyes as the images flashed before his mind. The shining city, plummeting through the clouds as hellfire blazed. It was a heap of twisted silver, molten gold, and broken glass.
"You were there?" Theron asked. Ajax rarely mentioned his past during the beginning of GranDracmon's reign, and he often wondered what the former Avenger had done to try and stop him.
"Yeah," Ajax whispered. "This was where hope died." Ajax's mind wandered to the fleeting image of Hyperion. Had the white knight truly been there, or had Ajax imagined the whole thing? Ajax had searched for Hyperion when Dracul Samhain first appeared, but the white knight was nowhere to be found, and no one had seen or heard from him since the Civil War. "Coward," Ajax whispered angrily. Though he wasn't sure if the comment was directed at Hyperion or himself.
Stones shifted behind them. Ajax and Theron spun around, weapons drawn in an instant. Something moved just beyond their sight...many somethings.
They were not alone...