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"Master, don't do this!"

Wormmon could feel the darkness, pulsating like a live thing from within the whirlpool. It was big, it was intelligent, and it was evil. And it was his duty to keep Ken as far away from it as possible.

He tugged on his partner's shoe again. "Master, please!"

"Get off me, Wormmon," he muttered, distracted. His entire focus was on the vortex in front of them. Wormmon was starting to panic.

"Master, I know you rarely ever listen to me—" Who was he kidding? Ken listened to him. "—but I'm begging you, heed my words just this once! Stay away from that thing!"

Ken rounded on him. "Listen, you pathetic excuse for a digimon!" he spat. It was happening again. "I am going to harness this power in order to create a real digimon partner, one worthy of my greatness! You are merely a pawn in my master plan, with no voice or say in the matter, and don't you forget it!"

It was definately happening again. And he was getting worse.

Wormmon hesitated only a moment, then threw caution into the winds. "Ken, listen to me!" he yelled, surprising even himself. He didn't know his tiny voice could get that loud. "Ken, you are in danger! If you get too close to that vortex, you could die! You saw what happened to the Mechanorimon you sent out there — every last one of them got vaporized! You can't go out there! I... I won't let you!"

Ken turned, and Wormmon suddenly found himself the recipient of one of Ken's most dangerous glares as his partner loomed over him. "You won't let me?" he whispered.

Wormmon was suddenly very afraid. But not of Ken, never of Ken...

...until he kicked him.

There was silence.

Ken never hit him. Ever. He might nudge him away a little too roughly. He might crack his whip threateningly — sometimes dangerously close, so that Wormmon's sensitive feelers picked up the change in wind-speed, and the sound waves in the air. Once he even pushed him off a shallow ledge — accidentally of course, though he never apologized. Ken would be abusive verbally, but never physically, not really.

Until now. Until Wormmon found himself kicked halfway across the control room, completely winded and curling around the pain of what was sure to become a bruise almost as big as he was.

The Digimon Emperor gave Wormmon a withering glance before stalking away, muttering to himself. It was then that Wormmon made his decision.

Ken never hit him, but this was no longer Ken.

Ken was gone.

And there was only one way to bring him back.