“Agurimon and The Shocking Seadramon Showdown”
* * *
~~~ Tania’s P.O.V. ~~~
We were just chillin' for a few hours by the lake, and enjoying a nice luch break. Meanwhile "Queen Sonomi" was busy plotting a new way to get rid of us. She captured a perfectly peaceful Digimon named Meramon, and turned him into a firey death trap!
We came across Huntermon's little cottage, where we each took turns getting ourselves cleaned up. Then out of nowhere came Meramon! He tried to burn us up, but we got out of there in the nick of time. For a minute we thought everyone was okay, but Erica and Cheekomon were still inside. Alex decided it was his turn to be the hero, and went back in after them... Crazy kid! They almost didn’t make it, but Nerimon came through for us and Digivolved into the ever so awesome Nedikismon and fought fire with fire. He got Meramon back to his old self, and he wasn’t such a bad guy after all. Alex and Erica made it out of there safe and sound, too bad I can't say the same for the house. Poor Huntermon.
* * *
The group continued to traipse through the forest brush. It was a maddening walk. It was long and continuous. Monotonous and arduous. In fact, it was out right boring. But the kids seemed to handle it well - considering.
Jennifer sighed, “This is taking forever…” The short girl brushed some red locks from her eyes, “Are you sure this is the right way?” Jennifer eyed the part of the large group following her before looking to her fox companion.
The girl’s digital partner piped up, twitching her tail, “Well… we’re pretty sure…” Foximon admitted.
The red-haired girl heaved a larger sigh, “I know… I know, this was the best you and the other Digimon could figure out, right?”
The little Digimon nodded, “Yup.”
Lina clasped a comforting hand on Jenn’s shoulder as the redhead sighed again, “It’ll be okay, Jenn, this isn’t the worst thing that’s happened to us, right?”
Jenn smiled as the taller blonde girl reassured her, “I suppose you’re right…”
Ahead of the two girls, Emily bounded on ahead of the group on their chosen path. She was feeling obviously energetic, and had dragged not only her Digimon partner Huntermon, but also Alex, Erica, Kristina, and their respective Digimon companions with her.
“What can I say? It’s boring walking all by yourself, eh?” Emily smiled at her captive audience.
Kristina nodded, “Yeah, that’s true,” the green-eyed girl began, rubbing her partner, Jaymon’s feathery crest, “I like walking with others, especially when everyone’s so happy.” She pushed her bandanna up to move the brunette locks out of her eyes.
The brown-haired boy gave Emily a sidelong glance, “Yeah,” Alex started, “That’s something I’ve been wondering about - why are you so happy anyway?” The boy’s dinosaur partner, Nerimon, took up an indignant stance to match the boy’s own.
Emily looked hurt, “Wha…? Can’t a person just be happy?”
Erica pointed out helpfully, “We’re lost in a foreign world that’s trying to kill us…”
“Hmm…” The black-haired girl hummed, “Good point… oh well! I say: Enjoy the happiness you can get! For it may be gone tomorrow!”
Alex raised an eyebrow, “You avoided my question…”
The hyper girl smiled, “And wasn’t it well-dodged? Wah HA!!” Emily cried, her British accent showing through in her enthusiasm.
Kristina smiled, “Well, I’m glad that she’s happy… we could use some more smiling, you know?”
“Yeah!” chirped Jaymon, her pink-and-yellow feathers rustling.
Alex scowled, “How weird… Em, your hyperness is scaring me…”
Erica grinned, “You’re just sore that a girl beat your questions…”
The brown-haired boy sighed, “Yeah, that’s it…” he rattled off sarcastically.
“Hmph,” Erica crossed her arms, “Don’t just blow me off!”
Emily smiled happily, interrupting the two before swords began clashing, “As interesting as this is, I brought company along to talk to ME! Not to kill each other, eh?”
Huntermon sighed with relief as the fight was carefully avoided, she could see that this group was definitely on edge, who knew what was next?
“THAAAAAAAAAAAAT’S IT!” came an annoyed growl from the group behind Jenn and Lina. Tania, Skye, Dani, and Lexxy with their Digimon had been bringing up the rear.
“I can’t STAND IT ANYMORE!” a blue-haired girl, who could only be Skye, shouted at two of the other three girls.
Tania buried her face in her baseball cap and hugged Yazumon just a bit closer to herself to keep from being witness to Skye’s wrath. The little furry dragon Digimon tried to hide itself in a similar manner with its forelegs.
The other two girls were less successful when it came to hiding, or rather, they didn’t try.
Dani pointed a finger at Lexxy, “Hey! She’s the one who started it! She said… um… well…”
Skye scowled, “You two can’t even REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS YOU WERE ARGUING OVER!” The blue-haired teen looked murderous. She had been enduring Lexxy and Dani’s fighting for the past fifteen minutes, non-stop. It was understandable that she be just a teensy bit annoyed, “GGRRROOOWWWLL!!”
Lexxy cracked a nervous grin, “Eh heh… calm down Skye… we didn’t mean it… Right, Dani?” the dark-haired girl asked the blonde, the argument forgotten.
Dani nodded sheepishly, with Pandamon nodding in rhythm with her, wisely staying quiet under the circumstances.
“Come on, Skye, it’s no big deal, right?” Magimon cooed, trying to coerce her partner into cooling down.
At this point, the rest of the team had gathered on the scene. Cunomon spoke up, “Uh oh, Dani and Lexxy pissed her off… again…”
Lexxy gave the dragon Digimon a sharp glare and was tempted to follow it with a sharp kick for emphasis, but let it go.
The tallest blonde girl, Lina, boldly threw herself into the fray with a loud suggestion, “Hey, maybe it’s time we took a break, right Jenn? Weren’t you just saying this trip was too long anyway?”
Skye sighed, her anger dropping quickly, “Yeah, come on Jenn, let’s rest, I’m SOOO tired and frustrated from all that hiking…” She crossed her arms across her blue top.
Soon, a chorus of pleas to stop and take a break arose from the gathered children and Digimon. Jenn gave in quickly, “Sure, I was thinking we needed a break anyway,” the red-haired girl said, adjusting her goggles.
“YAY!” Emily cried above the cheer that came up, “But where are we going to stay? It’s getting dark.”
Lexxy scoured the area quickly with her miraculously unaided vision, something she still wasn’t entirely used to. The dark-haired girl spotted a cave a few yards to the west of where their group had been stomping through brush, “There’s a cave that I think we can stay in, over there,” she motioned to Jenn.
“Why is there *always* a cave?” Dani asked aloud to no one in particular, though it was probably meant to goad Lexxy.
“Because this is the digiworld…” Lexxy said matter-of-factly, “I’ll bet if we looked hard enough, we’d stumble across a trolley car or a haunted mansion…” the green-eyed girl paused, “But if they’re anything like how they are on the show, I’d rather take the chances with the cave.”
Dani opened her mouth to protest, then considered her words, “Good point…” Lexxy stared back at her in disbelief that Dani had agreed. Dani shrugged, “I’m hungry, and diabetic… I need food more than I need to argue anyway…”
Pandamon laughed, and Cunomon was sent into a fit of snickering.
Emily interrupted their revelry, bounding in front of the unmoving group, “Well?” the black-haired girl coaxed, “LET’S GO!” she tore off down the hillside of brush to where the cave was, noting that there were some bushes with possibly-edible berries nearby.
Jenn arrived shortly after the enthusiastic girl, followed by Kristina. The rest of the pack, including Foximon and Jaymon, were slow-going.
“Wow…,” Kristina cooed, “This place is pretty! I can’t believe we found such a clearing! Just look at the flowers! So gorgeous! I wanna draw! Jenn, tell me you have some paper!”
Jenn recoiled from the sudden outburst, “You know, we ARE on a mission here… Oh, I’ve got a pen, that’s all,” the redhead tugged a pen from her jeans pocket and readjusted her pink top before handing the pen to Kristina.
“Well, we get sidetracked easily, no big deal, really,” Kristina stated, snatching the pen and scouring her bag for a shred of paper.
Emily smiled, examining the cave with Jenn, “It’s about three meters across at the opening - enough for a person and a half,” Emily commented, running her hand along the dry rock walls.
Jenn nodded thoughtfully as some of the others began to arrive, “I’d better go in and make sure there’s no evil Beardramon or what have you inside this thing…”
Emily saluted Jenn mockingly, “You go, fearless leader!” The black-haired girl followed Jenn into the cave.
“You didn’t have to come,” Jenn told her, her voice echoing against the rock walls.
Emily smiled, though Jenn couldn’t see it in the dim lighting, “It’s no problem, Jenn.”
Jenn sighed, thinking ‘But what if there’s something dangerous in here?’
The cave was small, it didn’t go very deep into the rock face it was set into, about 20 yards deep. The crevice grew smaller the deeper they went, as well. Near the very end, even Jenn had to duck to keep going forward, and the walls were only about two yards apart. Not to mention it was completely black this far in.
“Still, if we light a fire near here, it should be light enough, and with our huge group, we’ll need the whole cave to get any sleep…” Jenn mused.
“I’ll even volunteer to sleep in the back here, so no one gets upset,” Emily offered.
Jenn nodded, “Okay, that should save some trouble. Everyone’s been really touchy lately. Thanks.”
“Nothing to it,” Emily said unabashed, feeling generous, “I’ll even take a watch this time around, right?”
Jenn smiled, “Thanks, it’s tough being leader sometimes, not everyone’s so easygoing about this kind of stuff.”
“HHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYY!!!!!~!” Tania’s voice echoed down the cave as the girls had begun to exit.
“HHEEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYY!!!~!” Emily called back.
“JUST MAKIN’ SURE YOU GUYS ARE ALIVE!” Tania echoed, “WE’RE ALL WAITING ON YA!”
Jenn nodded as she and Emily picked up their pace and emerged from the cave.
Dani was sitting on a fallen tree nearby, shoveling orange berries into her mouth. She swallowed and greeted them as they arrived, “Hiya, how’d it go?”
Tania was standing by the cave’s entrance with Yazumon, and Emily noted that Kristina had found some paper and was sketching out a flower next to Dani and Pandamon, “We’ve gathered some berries, it was all we could find around here…”
Jenn searched around quickly, looking to see if everyone was accounted for. Lexxy and the others who weren’t by fallen tree and cave entrance were picking berries and such from the brush down a few yards from where she was. The begoggled girl then noticed a small foxlike Digimon bounding towards her, “Foxi!”
Foximon leapt up onto Jenn’s shoulder and the girl had to tilt to keep herself from falling, “Hey Jenn! I’m glad we found this cave! It’s almost dark here! What’s the situation?” the Digimon asked.
“Well,” Jenn explained to the gathered group, “The cave seems big enough for all of us to sleep in, but we’ll need a fire to light the place. Emily’s volunteered to take the back since it’s a little small.”
Tania spoke up, “Who’s going to take the watches?”
Jenn brushed some stray auburn locks from her eyes, and counted off the names on her fingers, “Well, I’ll take the first watch, and Lexxy will follow me… And Emily will finish off the rest of the night.”
Tania nodded, “I’ll go tell Lexxy, okay?”
The kids finished up their preparation for the night as it grew steadily darker.
* * *
“I’ve got to do something… They’ve almost all digivolved… I don’t have enough champion Digimon to be squandering my resources like this…” The Digimon Queen’s voice echoed through her dark chambers, reverberating in silken tones. The single candle that lit the room flickered endlessly, playing shadows across the wall. Dark fingers, the traceries of those same shadows were etched there, reaching towards the yawning void of the ceiling.
Sunemon sat quietly next to her master’s side, a pale statue within the blackness, “What can I do to help, my Queen?” she asked hope coloring her voice in bare, scant measures.
Queen Sonomi peered into the black crystal that she cradled in her palm. It was what allowed her to watch the Digi-destined - very useful considering her objectives. The black-haired queen watched as Nerimon lit the fire at the Digi-destined’s campsite.
The Queen smiled, a barely noticed curling at the corners of her lips, “Sunemon, there IS something you can do.”
The fox-like rookie’s hopefulness piqued, its ears perking, “Really?”
“Very soon now, very soon… It will all come together very soon.”
The room lapsed again into silence.
* * *
It was dark now. Jenn sat outside the cave’s entrance, seeing the flickering glows from the fire just behind her; she could feel its warmth. Most of the kids had gathered near the front of the cave for the air and heat. They were chatting idly at this point, talking in hushed tones, though some of the Digimon had fallen asleep. Jenn ignored their talk and stroked Foximon’s satin-soft back. This Digiworld had several moons… all of them pretty, Jenn thought as she dusted her jeans off and settled in a position to keep watch. Like many-colored gems suspended in the whorl of blue and black that composed the night sky, accented by the small, bright pinpoints of light that were the stars. She smiled a small, contemplative smile, chin leaning just faintly up to better view the brief scene, in the equally brief sense of content, tranquility.
In the back of the cave, Emily called Huntermon over to her, “Psst! Huntermon…” she whispered, leaning forward in an attempt to further hush her tones.
The three-tailed fox sauntered over to where Emily was sitting, “Yeah, Em, what is it?”
Emily smiled widely and even in the dim light, Huntermon could make it out, “I’ve still got it!” The black-haired girl told her partner excitedly as possible without going above a whisper.
“Got what?” Huntermon asked, curious.
Emily reached into her back pocket and revealed to the rookie two dual-colored cylinders that appeared to be made of metal, “Look! Isn’t this great? I thought it was useless, but I found these in my pocket!”
Huntermon pawed at the cylinders, and considered chewing them for a moment, “What are they? And what are you talking about Em?”
“Oh, sorry,” Emily hastily amended, adding sadly with a half-sigh, “You Digimon don’t know what batteries are, do you?”
Huntermon shook her head.
“Well, batteries are used to power electronic devices…” the girl began quietly, “Like my CD player!” she finished triumphantly, displaying to Huntermon the grayish-silver portable CD player, complete with foldable headphones.
“CD player?” Huntermon queried.
“Yeah,” Emily explained, “It plays music, which are on CDs, or Compact Discs, here, lemme put the batteries in… there! Okay, I’ll turn it on and let you listen to my only CD that I have with me: Bon Jovi!” Emily smiled, remembering how lucky she was to have had her CD player when she was transported to the digiworld.
Huntermon looked confused as she heard some soft tinny music playing from the odd device - the CD player, as Emily called it. Emily stretched the cord of it and held it up to Huntermon’s ear. Immediately, Huntermon could hear the blaring sound of a loud male voice singing with a collage of musical beats and flares accompanying him. “AAAAHHH!” The surprised Digimon cried out, calling attention from the other kids.
Erica was the first one to look up and take notice, “What’s up?” the blonde asked, sounding a bit worried, “Why did you scream?” She peered around nervously, having to duck from the low ceiling of this part of the cave.
Huntermon spoke up before Emily could stop her, “Emily’s got this ‘SeeDee Player’! And I was scared when it was so LOUD!”
Erica sat down, looking a bit relieved, “CD Player?” she eyed Emily as some of the others had migrated to the back of the cave, “Is this why you were so happy today, Em? Because you have a CD Player?”
“CD Player?” Alex asked, sitting down next to Erica, “Is that what’s going on?”
“Alex, what’s a CD Player?” Nerimon questioned, confused.
“Ooooh! A CD Player! Yes! What do you have?” Skye asked.
“Err… um… I only just found some batteries for it today in my pocket…” Emily explained, now that her secret was out of the bag, “I had it with me when I was transported to the Digiworld…” Emily noticed Skye was still staring at her expectantly, “Oh… and I’ve only got one Bon Jovi CD… It was the only one I had with me when I was transported…”
Skye seemed satisfied, but by now the entire group of kids had gathered around Emily’s small corner of cave.
“Wow,” Lina said, “we finally have an electronic device!”
“What do you mean?” Lexxy inquired.
Lina replied, “Well, in Digimon, the show, Izzy had a laptop that he was always using to help out the group… maybe…” the blonde trailed off.
And Lexxy jumped on it, “Maybe we could use the CD player to somehow be useful, right? I mean, if this world is anything like the Digiworld from the show, then we could use the laser or the headphones or hook it up to our Digivices or something… right?”
Jenn smirked, “Great idea!”
Emily looked downtrodden, “But I get to keep it right?”
Jenn seemed to understand now that Emily had been keeping it a secret for this very reason - that the others would take it from her… Seeing this, Jenn conceded, “Yeah, of course you can keep it, this isn’t a dictatorship, even if we ARE in a tough situation here, we won’t take something that’s yours from you…”
Lina chimed in, “Yeah… sorry, I didn’t mean for it to come out like that…”
Before anymore could be said, the gathered Digimon, who had been ignored, had banded together and chorused, “WHAT IS A CD PLAYER?!?!?!”
The humans all sweat-dropped in embarrassment and proceeded to explain what a CD player was before separating and returning to their beds to sleep. This left Emily alone to actually use her CD Player. The black-haired girl set the CD player in her lap and leaned against the cave walls with her headphones on her ears, and drifted into sleep listening to her favorite singer’s most soothing song…
* * *
"No, it’s just that. . . . This isn’t a TV show anymore Lexx. This is real and in case you haven’t noticed, we’re kinda stuck in the middle of it! I just don’t think I can deal with this kind of pressure. What will I do if somebody gets hurt . . . or worse, killed? Huh? I just don’t have what it takes."
Jenn’s voice echoed in the distance. ‘Where am I?’ thought Emily. She saw that she was floating, or maybe standing, in complete darkness, the only light she could see was emanating from herself. At first, there were voices reverberating, but slowly, Emily could see images floating past her and through her… like giant moving pictures…
"Are you sure we can get home?" Emily saw Dani’s worried face blink into existence and fade away with the echo of her words.
Turning again, Emily saw Jaymon’s colorful feathers, "Maybe this Digiworld isn’t exactly like the Digiworld you saw on your TV’s." Emily kept turning, more images following.
"You mean you haven’t heard of her?"
"The Digi Queen!"
Emily was beginning to feel cold… ‘What is all this?’ she thought.
“That would be pretty nifty. If we never had to draw the Digimon anymore to show what they looked like. I wish they were real.” Kristina’s voice echoed.
“Don’t worry Em! I’ll protect us from anything mean and nasty!” Kintermon’s disembodied voice reached Emily’s ears.
‘This is too much… What’s going ON!?’ Emily pondered, disturbed.
The next words that reached her were ones she recognized only too well.
“Kris said we would make a good couple…” came a boy’s voice, almost like it was over the telephone.
“Well then, Kris is wrong isn't he?” Emily heard her own voice echoing. She recognized instantly the conversation… it was between her and Peter, her boyfriend back in the real world.
“Is he?” Peter’s voice asked, his image fading in and out in thin air with the words.
“What?” came Emily’s confused voice.
“Is he wrong?” the boy’s voice clarified.
“Well, you think he is…” Emily’s voice accused, “You already said ‘no…’”
“Maybe I don't think so anymore...” his voice echoed, “Is the offer still open?”
“Eh?” Emily’s voice sounded panicked.
“Do you… still want to go out with me?” Peter’s voice was nervous.
“Of course I do, but -” Emily’s voice stopped suddenly.
“Well then, yes.”
“Well then, yes…” Emily repeated, remembering the conversation in which she and her boyfriend first came to be… “WHY AM I SEEING THIS?!” Emily called out.
* * *
“KYAA!” Emily cried, not as loudly as she could have, but enough to stir herself from the odd dreams. She breathed rapidly, short quick bursts of air coming forth as she gasped and choked for a few minutes. She had never had a dream like that before… it was too random… but at the same time… organized… like someone had tried to plan randomness. More importantly, it brought to light one thing: Emily missed him. She hadn’t really let herself worry too much about home since they arrived in the place they would’ve loved to go since they saw the show… but the excitement didn’t seem to keep away her thoughts of home now.
The Bon Jovi music still blared in her ears, a less-than-soothing song had come on, and Emily was restless. The short-haired girl tried to stand, but bumped her head on the low ceiling of the stone cave. She muttered a curse - but not too loud, the others were still sleeping. ‘So crowded…’ she thought, plunking back down where she was sitting before.
‘What’s wrong with me?’ Emily thought, ‘I’m feeling off… just not right…’ She tucked some strands of black hair behind her ears, ‘I miss Peter… I can’t help it…’ The girl reached down to stroke Huntermon for comfort, ‘How annoying… I’m surrounded by so many friendly people… but what I feel the most is alone…”
Huntermon was stirred by Emily’s gentle patting, “Erm… Em, what’s up? Why’re ya still awake?”
“Oh… can’t sleep I guess…” Emily conceded to her partner.
“It’s cause you have that SeeDee Player on…” Huntermon whispered condescendingly.
Emily chuckled, “You sound like my parents…”
It must have been well into Lexxy’s shift when Emily awoke, for the girl saw Lexxy stumbling into the cave, silhouetted by the firelight. She watched as Lexxy maneuvered her way over the sleeping forms to where Emily sat.
Lexxy seemed surprised the short-haired girl was awake, “Um… what’s up, Em?”
“Something bothering you?” Lexxy asked, sounding concerned.
“Nah…” Emily lied, shrugging off the question, “Is it my watch yet?”
“YUP!” Cunomon told her proudly, before settling down on the spot to go to sleep.
Lexxy grinned, embarrassed at Cunomon, “Eh heh… well, have a good night Em…” And then she sat down next to her dragon Digimon.
Emily waved a ‘good night’ to Lexxy before clambering out of the chamber and into the full blaze of the firelight, carrying Huntermon the whole way.
The black-haired girl took a seat in front of the fire; it warmed her a bit. But her mood didn’t improve much, she still felt lonely, and still felt lost in a sea of too many people. ‘This mood can only be fixed by Bon Jovi MUSIC!’ she thought, trying to be enthusiastic, but succeeded only in managing to switch on the CD player, before resting her solemnity on an elbow again.
The ‘80’s mullet rock’ blared for a bit as Emily and Huntermon stared off into the night, at the stars and woods, before it suddenly cut off with an unceremonious blast of static and high-pitched whirring, followed by silence.
Well, not exactly silence, because Emily shouted in surprise and tossed the headphones off of her ears, “Oh crap…” she muttered as she grabbed the player and headphones and tested to see if they still worked.
Huntermon peered over her shoulder, “What’s wrong?”
The short-haired girl scowled, “The batteries died…”
Huntermon’s eyes widened in terror, “It… died…?”
Emily sweatdropped, “Not exactly, I meant its power ran out… it’s a machine…”
Huntermon’s expression cooled, though it was obvious she didn’t completely understand the concept of machines, “Okay…”
“GAH!” Emily muttered, “I can’t believe the batteries died! I just put them in!” She paused, “It must’ve been from all the time the others were playing with it! Those ickle…” the girl trailed off.
“Em, it’s no big deal…” Huntermon began.
“WHAT DO YOU MEAN ‘IT’S NO BIG DEAL’!?” Emily shouted just above the roar of the fire, “I can’t listen to Bon Jovi… and it’s NO BIG DEAL?!?!” Emily stood up, the CD player and its accessories clenched in her fist…
“Uh oh…” Huntermon said to herself.
“Well,” Emily started, “We’re going to get NEW BATTERIES! Or at least RECHARGE THESE!” she announced her quest to Huntermon.
“Y’know, I don’t think…”
“COME ON!” She shouted, then scoured the opening of the cave behind her. She spotted a large pair of black sneakers attached to two legs clothed in black jeans. Emily marched over to where the boy was sleeping, and shook him violently, “Hey you!” she called, “Wake UP!”
Alex was shaken awake suddenly by a very determined Emily, “Errh…?” he mumbled, confused, “Wha? Ah!?”
Emily hissed, “Come on! Get up!”
Alex sat up, his eyes still glazed from the sudden awakening, “What’s going on?”
“Come on, I’m bored, we’re gonna go for an ickle walk, okay?” Emily winked at him cutely.
Alex, though, was a bit suspicious, and stared at her skeptically.
Rightfully so, as Emily proceeded to bodily pick him up off the ground anyway, “I /said/, ‘LET’S GO!’”
Alex nearly tripped when she dragged him to his feet, but caught himself, “Awright… alright! I’ll go! Geez…”
Emily squeaked happily, “Yay!”
“Oh brother…” Alex intoned.
Huntermon shrugged, “Well, she’s hell-bent on going, let’s just make sure she doesn’t get into any trouble, right?”
Alex nodded, “I suppose…” he turned and shook his partner awake.
Nerimon looked up at him, dazed, “Whuzza?”
“I’ll explain later, buddy… Right now, we have to ‘go for an ickle walk’…” Alex explained.
The sleepy Digimon dragged itself into an upright position and proceeded to grab his partner’s shirttail and sleepwalk after him.
Huntermon looked up at Alex inquisitively, “Does he always do that?”
Alex shrugged, “Pretty much… he’ll wake up eventually… probably when he smells food…”
Emily giggled, “Spiiiff!” she exclaimed, “Now, we must go and seek the holy grail!”
“Holy grail?” The three-tailed fox began, lifting her snout to better stare at Emily in confusion, “But I thought we were looking for batteries?”
“BATTERIES?!” Alex nearly screamed, “We’re getting up in the middle of the night to look for BATTERIES?!”
Emily sidled over to him, and popped up his jaw, which had been hanging slack from the shock, “What better to quest for? Besides, it’s not like I’m giving you a choice anyway…”
“No ‘buts’! Let’s go!” Emily told him matter-of-factly, snagging his wrist and tugging him into the brush, with Nerimon and Huntermon in tow.
* * *
“Queen SONOMI!” A nameless, sleek, dark Digimon rushed into the sanctum of Sonomi’s chambers, skidding to a stop next to Sunemon, “My Queen, we’ve just discovered that the Digi-destined are without a guard; we staked out the area, but there was no one to be seen who was even keeping watch…”
“So then…” Sonomi’s dark eyes reflected the wavering, frail light of the candle, intense and deep with thought. Her voice rang out in the thick silence, clear and slow, as if savoring each new, unique, delightful syllable and word, “They are defenseless…”
“Yes, my Queen, it would seem so…” the Digimon agreed subserviently, after a small period again of that strange, full quietness.
Sunemon bowed her head, her own voice only an accent to the dark, the silence and stillness, making it seem all the more fluid, tangible. Living. “Is this the time, then?”
“Gather them,” Sonomi snapped, her crisp voice snaking through the quiet room sharply, a viper’s strike to the quiet, which shattered like a broken mirror as the Digimon shuffled anxiously. She continued, lips pursed in further thought, the darkness gathering about her like a cloak. “Silence will end it…”
* * *
“OUCH! SH---PANTS!” Emily stifled a curse.
Huntermon rushed forward to see what had caused her human to cry out in almost-profanity, “What? What is it?” Huntermon paused, “Pants?”
Emily clutched her forearm in pain, she winced, “Yeah, I cut myself…”
Alex caught up to her, “Are you okay?”
“Fine,” Emily told him plainly, “It’s just a little cut…” Emily unveiled the bloodied area to reveal a half-inch long scrape that was coated over with red streaks of blood from where she had pressed her fingers over it.
Alex blanched, “We need to clean that up or something…”
Nerimon spoke up, “There’s some water to the east a bit… A small stream or something…” The dinosaur Digimon led the group a short ways before stumbling over a VERY shallow stream of water. It was just a step above a mud puddle, but at least it wasn’t stagnant.
Emily splashed some of the cool water onto her arm, washing away the red streaks, “At least it’s refreshing…”
Huntermon took Nerimon aside, “Come on, I think I know where to find something to bandage her arm… But I need your firepower, okay?”
“Sure thing,” Nerimon complied. The two Digimon explained this to Alex and trudged into the brush.
Alex turned and knelt down next to Emily, placing his own hand into the stream, letting its soothing coolness lap over his fingers, “Are you really so bored? I mean, where do you think we’re going to find batteries around here anyway?”
“Well…” Emily trailed off, “You see, Al, in the show, Izzy has his laptop… and he powers it somehow… so there must be a place to at least recharge batteries, right?”
“I suppose,” Alex agreed, “Like the places where random technology just appears in the Digiworld… I suppose an electronics store could be included in that…” the boy conceded.
Emily beamed, “Glad you agree! That’s why I brought you along, I /knew/ you’d see my point of view!”
Alex brushed his sandy brown bangs out of his eyes, “Oh brother…”
Emily laughed out loud and clapped him on the back, “You’re a good sport, pal!” She told him mirthfully.
Alex smiled weakly, “I’m sure…”
Nerimon and Huntermon returned then, bursting in from the brush, each holding what appeared to be a white cloth, “Emily! We got a bandage for you!”
Alex stared wide-eyed, “Where’d you get THAT?”
Huntermon rolled her eyes, “From the Digi-Laundromat… where else?” she said with sarcasm.
Nerimon explained, “There are some trees around here that grow these HUGE soft leaves, but their stems are tough, the only way to pry one of these loose is with a little firepower!” He snuffed some smoke rings to emphasize just WHO had done the firepower.
Huntermon dropped the leaf in front of Emily, and upon closer inspection, it was quite obvious to the girl that this was just a really big, soft white leaf, with veins running through it, though not very prominent, like it had been grown to be a dishrag or a bandage.
“Okay then,” Emily rolled one leaf up into a long strip, and began to try and wrap it around her forearm where she had cut herself… with little success, as the shorthaired girl only had one hand to use.
Alex sighed, “Here, let me do it,” he offered, taking the makeshift bandage and fastened around the arm Emily presented to him.
“Oh, Alex,” Emily feigned, “You’re such a tough, strong guy…” Her voice mocked him.
“Oh shut up…”
* * *
Emily walked along, ahead of the others a bit, musing to herself, ‘Now if I was a set of batteries… where would I be in the digiworld…?’ The girl’s cut had been bandaged nicely, and she used the arm to brush some large green leaves out of her path as she continued walking. She looked back over her shoulder and noticed that Alex and Nerimon were getting behind. ‘They keep slowing down…’ she thought. Emily turned her head forward again in the direction she was walking and called out nonchalantly, letting her voice echo back to the boys and Huntermon, “HEY! Make sure to keep up! We don’t wanna get lost now, do we?”
Huntermon stepped up a bit and caught up to Emily, but the boys were less quick to heed the shorthaired girl’s demands.
“Oooh… how aggravating…” Emily said aloud to no one, though Huntermon picked up on it.
“What’s aggravating, Em?” the fox Digimon asked, twitching her tails as they continued to stomp through the brush.
“Those two…” the black-haired Digi-destined began, “They are slowing us down… I mean, how would they feel if they got separated… it’s so stupid, really!”
Huntermon then saw Emily’s face alight with a big, wide smile, “Uh oh…”
“How about it, Hunter?” Emily began, “What’s say we teach ‘em a little lesson?”
The fox wasn’t quite into the idea, “Well…”
“Oh… it’ll be fun… come on… I’ve got an idea…”
Huntermon cringed, “Why do I always fear those words…?”
* * *
“I don’t see why we’re here, anyway, Nerimon…” Alex told his Digimon partner as they ambled along the path.
“What do you mean?” the red dinosaur asked, his warm breath visible in the chilly night air.
The brown-haired boy crossed his arms, “Well, I mean, it’s not like we’re doing anything to help her. What’s more, she doesn’t even seem to know what she’s looking for…”
“She already told us what she was looking for - batteries, right?” came the little digimon’s reply.
“But that’s not… oh nevermind…” Alex sighed, “She’s probably just dragged us along ‘cause she’s bored’…” he imitated Emily’s words.
Nerimon stopped suddenly, his head darting around, “Hey, Alex…”
Nerimon looked up at his human, “Did we make a wrong turn? I don’t see Em or Huntermon ANYWHERE…?”
Alex ceased walking, turning to look about him, “What? Don’t tell me we’re lost…?”
Nerimon sprinted forward a bit, turning his head this way and that, “There not HERE!” he yelled back, a worried lilt in the dinosaur’s gravelly voice.
“This is NOT good,” Alex said to himself, “We don’t know where she is… how are we supposed to go back? What would we tell the others if we DID go back…? Oh brother… This can NOT be happening…” the boy panicked quietly.
“EMILY! HUNTERMON!” Nerimon began to call out.
“EMILY! HEY EM!” Alex’s voice joined in, “Crap… we’re gonna die…”
“HUNTERMON!!!~!” Nerimon cried out, more desperately.
“We’re gonna starve to death or get eaten by some unfriendly AlexEatingmon…” the boy sat down on the cold ground in the desolate night and hugged his knees to his chest, “This isn’t fair…”
“GOTCHA!!!~!” came Emily’s happily amused taunting voice, and she sprang out of the wood and draped herself over Alex’s surprised shoulders and back, “Miss me?” she teased.
“KYAAA!!!!!~!” he cried out in alarm, causing Nerimon to rush over, only to be tackled by Huntermon.
The two Digimon ended up rolling a ways due to the inertia of Huntermon’s pounce.
Alex stood up immediately in dawning realization, “You TRICKED US!” he accused.
“Yup! It was too easy, too!” Emily teased, her voice proud of her accomplishment. She stood up herself and smiled at him innocently as she thumped him on the chest, “You need to pay more attention - especially when we’re in the digital world!”
Huntermon stood up, taking a condescending tone to Nerimon, “And you too! You’re supposed to be protecting your human, Nerimon! How can you do that if you can’t even keep him from getting lost?”
Alex was getting obviously angry and embarrassed, “That wasn’t funny!” he insisted.
“Yes, it was!” Emily fell into another fit of giggles, remembering the incident, “You’re so funny when you think you’re lost… ‘AlexEatingmon’? That itself was worth the whole thing!”
Alex flushed red, “Hey, I was seriously panicked!” he said defensively, his protests falling on deaf ears in the moonlit night.
Emily stifled some more laughing, and composed herself, “Okay, okay… I’m sorry for tricking you - but you just HAD to be taught a lesson: I warned you to keep up!”
Alex crossed his arms indignantly, but said nothing.
“Aww… don’t be like that, Al…” Emily cooed, sidling up next to him, “We still have to find those batteries,” she swung her arm around his head and proceeded to drag him forward in a headlock, “SO LET’S GO!!!”
“EM!” he shouted as best he could, considering he was being tugged forward by his neck, and was keenly off-balance.
“Ah… come on, it was no big deal, Al,” Emily insisted, “It was just a little trick, you can take it: you’re a guy, aren’t you?” she asked, as she pulled on his neck a bit harder, causing him to scurry his legs to keep up with where she was dragging his head.
“I don’t feel much like a guy right now,” he answered, humiliated, still attempting to loosen himself from Emily’s headlock.
Nerimon and Huntermon came running after them, “Em… where are we going to look now?”
“We’ll know when we get there,” Emily answered cryptically as the four of them continued traipsing through the night on their endless battery search.
* * *
“Another bust…” Emily sighed, sitting down beneath the lamppost that just-so-happened to exist in the middle of the digiworld forest.
“Well,” Alex offered, “It’s a step in the right direction, at least a street light is an electric thing… even if we can’t recharge batteries with it…”
“And it does provide light, which is a nice change from walking around in the dark, I’m gonna rest here for a bit,” Emily stated, leaning against the metal post that seemed to have just sprouted in the middle of the brush like the trees that converged around it.
Alex nodded, sitting down on the opposite side of the streetlight and resting his back against it. He peered out at the encroaching forest, illuminated by the combined glows of the lamppost and the moons. The leaves on most of the low bushes were wet with dew, and the droplets sparkled every time Alex readjusted his position against the post, refracting what light there was. Nerimon interrupted the boy’s vision suddenly, filling his view with red leathery skin.
“Alex, I’m getting hungry, I’m gonna go get some berries or something, okay?” the dinosaur Digimon asked.
Alex nodded, “Sure, bring us back some, and be careful.”
With that, the red dinosaur smiled happily and trudged through the woods, scouring for berries. Alex listened until his partner’s rustlings could no longer be heard.
“So…” Alex heard Emily’s voice, a sly lilt to it, “What’s going on between you and Erica?”
Alex’s mind took a few seconds to process what the girl was asking. Then, with all the exaggeration energy of a confused boy, he leapt from his position and stood in front of Emily, his face flushed several shades of red, “WHAT!??!!”
Emily leaned back, toying with him, and nonchalantly replied, “You heard me, are you and Erica a couple?”
Alex was precisely 4 shades of red, one shade each for confusion, surprise, embarrassment, and most of all: anger. “WHERE IN THE DIGIWORLD DID YOU GET *THAT* IDEA?!?!” he practically screamed.
“Nowhere… but you two seemed pretty close…” Emily smiled, and looked him in the eye to emphasize her point, “The way you two argue to hide it is so cute.”
The brown-haired boy was genuinely shocked by this out-of-the-blue statement, and never even pondered the idea that she was probably baiting him, “We are NOT hiding anything: that’s genuine resentment you see there! How did you come up with that?”
“Oh, it’s just something I made up… to get you upset,” Emily smirked, laying it out to him that he was thoroughly baited, and she snickered a bit, “You’re just too easy to get riled up, Al!”
Alex sighed, conceding to the truth that he fell for it, “Do you just enjoy torturing me?” he asked.
“Don’t even have to think about it, eh?” Alex deadpanned, sitting down and leaning against the lamp post again. His brown eyes reflected the lamp post’s light as he stared stiffly at the night sky, “What about you? What’s your deal?” he asked.
Emily stroked Huntermon’s soft furry back as the faithful Digimon rested beside her, “My deal?” she inquired, “Are you asking if *I* like Erica?” Emily joked, giggling when Alex blanched, “Nah, older women is more your deal, isn’t that right Al?”
“So now I like older women, is that it?” Alex asked rhetorically.
“Well… you are one of the younger ones in our group, I think only Tania’s younger than you… and you don’t seem to show much interest in her…” Emily mused, “But then, I guess TRUTHFULLY you haven’t shown much interest in anyone… well, maybe one person…” she added slyly.
Alex rolled his eyes, “Only one? You made it sound like I’m trying to make you girls into a harem…” he said sarcastically.
Emily giggled, “Well, then I guess you’re just not interested in my theories, and I won’t tell you what I think anymore,” she teased.
Alex teased back, “You promise?”
The black-haired girl landed a smack on Alex’s shoulder, “I should just leave you here to rot…” Emily threatened without any intention of following through, “But then I’d be bored…”
The boy sighed, “Bored, eh? Isn’t that why you said we were taking this ‘ickle walk’?” he paused, “Well, I don’t believe it… what’s with you? Do you normally hike through the woods at night or something back home? Just felt like reliving a piece of home?” he inquired.
“No, I don’t normally hike through the woods at night - too empty,” Emily stated, a strained kind of cheerfulness in her voice.
“Empty?” Alex began, “You mean lonely? You don’t seem like the type who likes being alone…” he told her, a cool night breeze chilling him, even as they sat under the street light’s glow.
Emily’s voice seemed distracted, all pretense of cheerfulness gone, “No, I hate being lonely…” the girl mumbled. She thought, ‘why am I telling him this? It’s not like he can help me do anything about it…’
Alex was confused, “Well, if you were lonely, why did you want to leave the cave and bugger around the wilderness?”
“It’s not that there’s no one around…” Emily began, “But…” she paused, thinking ‘Peter’s not here… not like in my fics…’ she took a deep breath, speaking to Alex, “It’s too much… to be lonely and crowded all at once… so I just had to get out of there…”
“But then,” the brown-haired boy asked, “Why did you bring me alo-*”
Huntermon cut him off, “Alex, I don’t think you should ask anymore questions…” the three-tailed fox Digimon was very protective of her human, and she obviously didn’t like how Emily was responding to these questions.
“Erm… Uh, sorry Em, Huntermon,” the younger boy apologized.
“HEY! LOOKIE WHAT I GOT!!” came a gruff happy yell from the brush as a certain red dinosaur Digimon came bursting into the seen, lit by the street light. Nerimon had stockpiled a huge armful of berries and odd fruit that was indigenous to the digiworld. He was also chomping away heartily at some of them, and had berry stains all over his red face.
Alex smiled at his partner and got up to get some of the fruit, “Good job, buddy, this’ll do fine for another hike until we find our next potential battery spot!” Alex grinned.
Nerimon proceeded to offer some of the food to them, when he unceremoniously tripped and spilled his arms’ contents all over the ground and squished some berries under his fallen weight. “Ooof!” he moaned.
“Oh no…!” yipped Huntermon, who stared teary-eyed at the fallen food, “It’s still good! It’s still good!” she chanted like a mantra, scrambling to gather any food that wasn’t dirt encrusted.
Emily laughed at the scene, “Well, as long as I get at least one berry, then I won’t have to kill you all!”
“Oh, that’s comforting…” Alex said with a roll of his eyes.
* * *
Lina slept soundly next to Diratimon, her little winged partner hung upside down from the ceiling like a bat, snoozing away over her. The girl was taller than most of the others, and she had her blonde hair tied up in a topknot. She lay with her back against the cave wall, her head tilted just slightly to the side, breathing lightly; she had one arm locked to keep her balanced, and the other hung limply over lap, creating folds in her green turtleneck shirt. A menacing silhouette passed over her quickly.
She was just as completely unaware when the attack began.
* * *
Emily, Alex, and their respective Digimon partners trudged through the last bit of brush and into a small clearing that surrounded a little inlet of water. The trees were sparse, and the banks of the inlet were almost like a sandy beach. Emily looked around, observing the area, the smell of salt permeating her nostrils. She was certain that the inlet led to the sea.
“Hey, Alex, do you think this inlet leads to the ocean we’re looking for?” Emily asked.
Alex moved closer to the sands, and nodded sagely, “Seems like it, isn’t this great? When we get back, we can tell Jenn and the others the way to get here.”
Emily smiled, turning to look at him, “So, you’ve been keeping track of the way we’ve been going, right?”
A cold wave of dread breezed over Alex’s skin and down his spine at those words, and his panicked face turned to look into Emily’s smiling visage, “But I thought YOU KNEW WHERE WE WERE GOING!?!??!” He cried.
At once, Emily’s smile faded, and Huntermon and Nerimon began to look worried. Emily stood still for a moment, as if registering the information. Alex could hear his heartbeat in his ears pounding during these moments of torture before finally Emily broke the quiet and turned her back to him, a wail escaping her lips, “We’re lost!”
“LOST?! Oh no!” Nerimon called out, “Hasn’t someone been keeping track of where we were going?!”
Emily’s voiced was strained and wavered as she knelt down on the spot and wept, “No… apparently Alex hasn’t been doing his job!”
“MY job!?” the boy called out, startled, “Why is it - *”
The black-haired girl cut him off, “Aren’t you a guy?! You’re supposed to take responsibility for these sorts of things!” Emily sniffed, “I can’t believe we’re lost now! How could you do this!?”
Alex was in a panic, he wasn’t sure how to handle a crying girl, and his fumbled speech and actions gave him away. Huntermon saw this and spoke up, “Do something, Alex!” she commanded with all the air of a girl whose best friend was in a state of emotional depression.
“But I - you see it’s - and I didn’t…!” Alex stuttered for a few more seconds, his face distraught, and his movements jerky. Emily continued to cry and Nerimon remained strangely silent. Alex, lost in confusion, finally stopped himself and took a deep breath. The boy faced his situation as calmly as possible and reached out his hand to try and comfort the upset girl who was sobbing on the ground. “Emily…” he began in his calmest voice possible.
The weeping girl grabbed his hand suddenly and whirled around, tugging Alex to the ground with a dull thud, “GOTCHA!” she cried triumphantly as both of the Digimon burst out with snickering laughter.
“HEY!!” Alex protested, his brown eyes glittering with resentful anger, “THAT’S NOT FUNNY!”
Nerimon sniggered, “Y- yes it is!” he sputtered before roaring with laughter again.
Emily smiled at him slyly, the corners of her mouth curling impishly, noting his prone position, “Sorry, it was just TOO EASY! I’ve been keeping track of where we were going the whole time…. So don’t worry about it, okay?”
Alex heaved a sigh, “Well… at least THAT’S good news,” his eyes fell with ominous vengeance upon a certain red dinosaur Digimon. “BUT *YOU*!!!” he growled accusingly, picking himself up from the ground, “You’re supposed to be on MY side!”
Nerimon sobered a bit, “I’m sorry, Alex, it’s just that… from down here, Huntermon and I could see how Emily was faking it… and you were just so funny standing up completely confused!” the two Digimon burst out into new fits of giggles.
The short-haired girl smirked, pulling herself into a standing position. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed a twinkle a bit to her left, “Hey…” she muttered, turning towards this new light source, suspicious, brows furrowing together in baffled curiosity. She squinted and could make out a flickering illumination behind the walls of trees, “Wah HA!” she cried, her accent thick in her enthusiasm, “Another possible source of batteries!” Emily announced.
Huntermon was the first to regain her composure, “Oh really? Where?” The fox Digimon’s eyes flitted left and right.
Alex scowled, still a bit angry over the fact he’d been tricked so easily yet again… He sat down on the edge of the inlet, letting the water splash lightly over his fingers, idly noting the icy chill, an accenting sensation to the night’s tendrils of snaking coldness, “Great, ANOTHER potential source, I’m gonna stay here… have fun and don’t get lost…”
Emily looked indignant, but her good mood would not be ruined and discarded so easily, “Okay, you sit here and pout for a while and I’ll be right back!” she smiled in mock sweetness to add punch to her comment.
Nerimon jumped into the water, splashing Alex, “WHEE!!! I’M GONNA STAY HERE WITH ALEX, TOO!”
The black-haired girl acknowledged the red dinosaur happily, “Well, at least YOU know how to have fun,” she commended.
Huntermon interjected, “He also wasn’t the butt of the last joke.”
Emily laughed, “You have a point,” she shrugged off the issue lightly and turned to the glistening lights just beyond the row of trees to her left, interest piqued.
The girl’s Digimon padded forward to her side and sniffed the air as they encroached with an air of caution towards the unusual sparkling. Emily’s brown irises contracted in the unforgivably bright glow they were suddenly exposed to, not even allowed the time to shield their eyes.
Huntermon gasped in choking, stifling shock, whimpered uneasily “Aah! Why did it become so bright?”
“I don’t know,” Emily shouted quickly, surprised, and turned about, to see that the light came to a grounding halt behind the row of trees. Alex was only about 30 meters away by now, but he obviously was ignorant of the intense light pouring forth.
Drawn in further, by some inexplicable and intangible attraction, the black-haired girl and her partner were now standing in a field of glistening, pristine white. Flickering lights of blue and pink filled the area in no set pattern, weaving an intricate, encompassing knotwork around the duo who stood stiff with amazement at the sudden change of scenery. The trees took on an iridescent glow outlined in deep, cavernous shadows, and streams of liquid brilliance filtered in between the canopy of darkened leaves. Emily was taken aback when one pinpoint of blue light whipped around her once and landed in her palm, hovering over it as she lifted her hand up closer to her face.
“Em, it’s no big deal…” Huntermon began.
“Emmy, are you sure we should touch these?” the fox-digimon twitched her tails nervously, edgy.
The girl’s dark eyes reflected the shining blue glow from the sparkle in her palms, “They look so pretty, what are they, Hunter? Don’t you know?”
Huntermon shook her head emphatically, “No way, I’ve never even heard of something like this!”
*I have come to you, for you are the remaining child.*
Emily freaked, “WHAT?!?! Who?”
Huntermon was equally calm, “OH MY DIGI-GODS!! WHAT WAS THAT?!”
The endless voice reverberated in Emily’s skull, *You were the final one to be chosen, you must know this to win the battle.*
Emily calmed down quickly, taking this in stride, just as she had inevitably done when she accepted that she was in another world from a tv show, “Win a battle?!” she queried aloud to the millions of pinpoints of light that had begun to gather in a glittering mass before her.
*The final battle.* the light alto voice clarified, *But you have a commitment to fulfill before any of you can reach that point…*
“Commitment?!” Emily felt a wave of worry and queasiness slam into her, “But I don’t understand… Do you mean Peter?”
“Who’s Peter?” the girl’s partner asked.
Emily blushed, but didn’t respond. By now the light points had coalesced into an outline of a blurry form that looked vaguely like a woman. Emily felt that the voice was emanating from this form, *No, something much closer. But you must know that the Queen is the cause. She will not stop until she has secured her place as ruler of this realm. The Princess is powerful, and the Queen fears the power of the crests.*
“Crests?!” the black-haired girl’s eyes widened in surprise, the bright light shimmering around her accentuated the sheer shock in her gleaming pupils. “There are crests?!” she gasped.
The female voice continued in spite of Emily’s outburst, *You must help the girl reach the palace beneath the waves. You are very close to it now, please remember this place and save this world.*
“Just me? Why am I the one you told this to? Why not Jenn? Why not Skye? O-or Dani or Lexxy? Why not Alex, even…?” Emily rambled to the form.
The figure of light suddenly blurred and began to dissipate quickly, sparks of glowing colors whirling and spinning off into the air.
“WAIT!” Emily cried, seeing the form begin to dissolve.
*You were the final to be chosen, I knew you would understand the importance of what I could only tell you.*
The last words were barely a whisper of the powerful echoing voice that had shaken the partners before, but every syllable was perfectly clear, burned as if in fire into her mind, from the first to the final breath. Huntermon turned to her human, voice shaken, “Emmy, the light, it’s going away…”
The white field of sparkling faeries had begun to fade into the appearance of a normal, everyday, digital forest. No lights glittered from behind the trunks or between the treetops. Instead, Emily just stood stiffly beside her partner, dark eyes wide, questions running through her mind. Her hand fell to her Digivice, and the girl noted it felt warm.
Huntermon tried to break her from her trance as the last bit of white vanished their field of vision, “Well, Em, I guess we didn’t find any batteries for your CD player, eh?”
The black-haired girl blinked twice, as if registering this new sentence, and then she laughed merrily, “No, I guess we didn’t… come on, then. Let’s go back and find Alex, we have to tell him what we know. And then we’ll get back to the others. It’s no fair that we should have all the fun, right? The batteries can wait, right?”
“Sure,” Huntermon giggled mischievously, “For now…”
Emily heard a far-off splash, “Oh bother, we’d better get back before those boys skip every stone in the digital world!”
Huntermon adeptly loped on ahead of the girl, who sped up her pace as she cleared the row of trees into the meadow around the banks of the inlet.
Sitting on the banks was… no one. “Where’s Alex and Nerimon?” Emily asked aloud.
Huntermon answered, “How should I know? I was with you remember…?”
The girl sneered, “This isn’t good…” she took a breath, “ALEX!!!!!!” her voice echoed over the waters.
“ALEX!!!!????” the fox-digimon cried out, voice quavering already, “NERIMON!!!!!???? NEEEEEE-RRIIIIIII-MOOOOOOOOONNNN!!!???”
“THE WATER!” Emily suddenly shouted, a realization that came from her clouded mind reminded her of the splash she heard, dread worming a cold path into her stomach.
“Do you think something grabbed him?!” Huntermon cried out, her voice quivering with worry, “What if this has something to do with what the Light told us?!”
Emily normally would have been calm, but Huntermon’s panicking was causing the girl to lose some of her own nerve, “Don’t say that!” The black-haired girl raced to the waterside, moments behind her partner.
Sure enough, the preternaturally smooth lake emanated ripples from a point just beyond the bank of where the British girl stood, she shouted at the water uselessly, “ALEX!!!!!!!! AL!!! Are you okay?!?!”
"Ha! Gotcha!" was the last thing she heard before being tugged violently into the lake with large crash of water.
Emily caught her wits and stood up quickly in the shallow waters, "HEY! YOU ARSEHOLE!!" The soaked girl was just slightly upset, “THAT'S NOT FUNNY!!” she shouted, her black locks clinging to her face, framing it rather cutely even though her visage was alight with rage.
Alex chuckled, his brown locks dripping with lakewater, "What? Are you the only one allowed to play jokes?" he said with a shrug. Nerimon snickered from the nearby bushes.
"Yes," Emily stated, "And you two are SOOO dead!" She splashed at them in anger, though it became playful very quickly.
Huntermon sat as far from the water fight between the two humans as possible without being out of sight. “This is silly, we should get going.”
“Ah, bugger, Em! You got water in my eyes!” Alex protested, holding up his free hand in truce as his other rubbed at his squinted brown eyes.
“Uh huh,” Emily rolled her eyes, “Oh, come on, Al, be a man!” she teased, turning away from him in mock-frustration, her arms crossed at her chest on her wet overalls.
“Ah!” Alex called out, as if to reciprocate, but instead, the only thing the black-haired girl heard was a quick splash.
Emily shook her head, “Okay, the water fight is completed, Alex Day… You can come up now…” The girl waited for a moment, “Any time now… Al, I’m not falling for it again…”
Huntermon commented off-hand, “But it would be funny if you did…”
“Hush,” the raven-haired girl retorted, “AL!!! Get yourself up here, we’re LEAVING!” Emily repeated her sentence again, “AL!!! COME ON! ALEX!!! We’re LEAVING!!! Did you HEAR ME!?!?”
Nerimon whimpered, “Are you sure he’s okay?”
Hesitantly, the girl trudged to where Alex was the moment before, “He’s been under just a bit too long in my opinion… I’ll pull him up myself!” she stated confidently, plunging her hands in the water to grab at him, but only found bubbles and brine. “Ah sh-Pants!” Emily stifled a curse in her usual manner, “He’s not here, I’m going under!”
Nerimon nodded and watched as Emily took a deep breath, and shut her eyes before plunging beneath the surface, spraying droplets of moisture and leaving nothing but ripples on the inlet’s once-smooth face.
Although she knew the saltwater would sting her eyes, she had no other option if she was to find where Alex was. 'He'd better not be playing a joke on me,' Emily thought, 'I'm going through all this trouble for him…'
The dark-haired girl squinted her eyes, registering a very blurred image of the inlet. Emily kicked in a circle, realizing that the inlet became abruptly, and startlingly deep. There was a sudden, veering drop mere feet from where Alex had been. If he had fallen suddenly...something might have happened...he might have hurt himself...been knocked unconscious. Her mind twisted the possibilities into horrifying images. Suddenly VERY worried, the older girl kicked furiously out over the drop, making sure to keep from tripping in the shallows.
As she cleared the sharp slope, Emily was met with her frantically sought answer. Fortunately, Alex wasn't lying unconscious, bleeding and broken on the ocean floor.
Instead, he was struggling within the writhing coils of a hissing, serpentine mass, unable even to gather a scream as the coils that slowly pressed their massive weight into him tightened visibly, muscles rippling and contracting beneath their tight sheath of scales. A name laughed and sneered in her terrified mind, mocking her helplessness. Seadramon.
* * *
“MMph!” Lina’s sea-green eyes widened in shock as she felt a slimy hand press down over her lips, preventing her from screaming out as several more limbs held her down and jostled her body from its position and began to stealthily carry her out of the cave. She could barely move, and was vaguely aware that the fire that once roared was not much more than some hot embers now. Lina tried to scream again, but the slimy hands that bound her still pressed her lips closed, her voice nothing but a muffled whimper.
The blonde girl tugged once more and pulled her arm free. Balling it into a fist, she swung a blow at the Digimon which held her. As it scuttled to avoid the blow, she writhed free, getting to her knees. In the dim moonlight, she could see she was utterly surrounded by a horde of frog-like Digimon she recognized as Gizamon. They were yellow and brown, with sharp protruding fins and coated with a slime that clung to her clothes. Their bodies crouched low to the ground, their collective steps enticing bare whispers from the loam of the forest floor.
The swarm of them leapt on her all at once, the collective body converging on her like a loosed spring, their glittering eyes, reflecting the dim, hot light, filled with malicious intent. She lifted an arm to ward them off, all in futility as they tackled her to the ground, slimy digits pressing her down, muffling her sounds of horror and protest. The last thing she noticed before being completely overpowered was a glint of moonlight, too serene for the horror of the moment, chaste and perfect, almost caressing the pile of metal Digivices just outside the cave.
* * *
Emily’s dark eyes widened in horror. The saltwater stung her eyes, but she couldn’t bring herself to look away from the carnage. Alex’s arms were pinned to his side, and he kicked and struggled to free his ensnared body. Bubbles were being stirred up in droves, flocking towards the surface like fragile, pale birds. The whole scene had a feeling of surreal, soul-shaking calm about it. The chocolate-haired boy was bound tightly in nothing more than the great sea dragon’s red-finned tail. It constricted about him like a living palm leaf, pressing tighter and forcing the air out of him with agonizing slowness.
The black-haired girl panicked, and kicked off in the murky brine towards Alex without a plan or weapon, but with the raw intent to save him. Emily swam as fast as she could, breath shortening in her furious attempt to reach the writhing mass of predator and prey, choking back a splutter when she did - the boy was almost lost amid serpentine coils, flailing with what little strength he could muster. Alex gazed at her, panic clouding his eyes. Emily with a start, saw that his skin appeared a pale, sickly blue - as thunder rolled like some giant cat’s purr across the sky, she thought that, besides his lack of air, it could be the lightening…She herself paled. They were in water. She grabbed at the thickly muscled tail, trying to pry it from the boy’s writhing form. ‘It won’t budge!’ Emily thought, her eyes racing about her surroundings for something, anything, that could help her free him. But not a stick was in sight.
The Seadramon was still swimming out further from the inlet’s banks, and Emily had to hold onto him to be pulled with him. She beat pitifully against the tail with her fists, only with repetition of such fury causing the muscles to contract, twitch. Her own breath was running short now, ‘This is all my fault, Alex is here because of me… I dragged him into this, I *WILL* save him!’
The girl’s black hair whipped around her in the undersea currents and she twisted, and using the dragon’s own body as leverage, she kicked her sneakers hard into the thinnest point of the Digimon’s tail, and felt bone beneath the soles of her sneakers. With no small elation, she felt it give. Before anything else could happen, she pulled back and with renewed force, slammed her whole body weight upon the column of cartilage which made up the tail’s base. And the girl felt a sudden snap as the whole Digimon recoiled from the action, muscles clenching and unclenching before she was lost in a whirl of deadly motion.
Not losing her wits, she tugged at Alex’s arm, which she felt was horribly chilled. The boy’s body fell free, and she saw that his eyes were only half-open and how he floated all but lifeless in the saltwater. Emily grabbed him and plowed for the surface as fast as her weary body could muster. She knew it was only a matter of seconds before her own limbs would betray her.
The Seadramon still thrashed behind her, and the resulting disturbance made the water hard to maneuver through. ‘I’m not going to get there…’ Emily thought, her eyes stinging with red-hot pain from the salt that hailed into them. ‘So close to the surface…’ the girl’s dark eyes could see the rippling face of the water, refracting the jagged light of lightning like some fun house mirror. She pushed once more and broke the waves, her hand intertwined through a ripped portion of Alex’s shirt, and possibly the only reason she hadn’t dropped her friend.
“HHAAAaaaaaH!!!” Emily gasped for air, freeing one hand from Alex to sweep the black hair from her face. She then immediately pulled his face to the surface, desperately treading water to keep him afloat, “AL!!! ALEX!! WAKE UP!! PLEASE, AL!!! Seadramon’s right UNDER US!!” She slapped his face twice, hoping for some reaction.
“ALEX!!!” Nerimon called form the banks. Emily quickly realized that they were still within sight of the shore, despite how far Seadramon had carried them.
Huntermon cried out, “EMILY!! ALEX!! Quickly!! There’s something surfacing!! Swim this way!” The fox-Digimon’s voice echoed hollowly over the inlet.
The black-haired Digi-destined readjusted her hold on Alex within a split second and kicked off for shore.
“ALEX!!” Nerimon cried out again, concern laced in his young-sounding voice, “ALEX!!! ANSWER ME!!!”
Emily almost cried, hearing the pitiful sound in the Digimon’s voice, “Come on, Alex,” she mouthed as she tore through the inlet for the banks where their Digimon stood.
The black-haired girl’s mind registered a silent moment of insane glee for the fact that her friend was still - somehow - alive. But she was far too caught up in swimming for her life to rejoice.
The chocolate-haired boy sputtered the salt from his lungs as best he could while being dragged through a torrent of splashing. “Nerimon…” he coughed out, his voice strained, and the red Digimon was too far away to hear him.
Emily kicked out another stroke towards the shore, droplets spraying and forming a foam on the disturbed pool. Huntermon let out a gasp from the shore.
The great sea dragon loomed up, form outlined against the impossible dark of the sky, the crackling electricity that seared against that same blackness only serving to highlight the thick menace that peeled off of his lithe length. It dove for them, and the cascade of brine that roiled up from it’s descent sent the two desperate children careening beneath the waves.
* * *
Jenn’s eyes bolted open and she was instantly conscious - and on edge - as a piercing scream echoed and rebounded through the cave. Jenn recognized it immediately as Lina and leapt to her feet, the other kids around her shakily getting to their own postures.
“What was that?!” Erica asked, panicked, “What’s going on?”
“That was Lina!” Tania shouted, followed by “Mmph!!” as a slimy Gizamon tackled her down.
“Oh God!” Kristina cried, her eyes widening in surprise, “We’re being attacked!”
“Jenn, do something!” Diratimon shouted above the clamor rising in the cramped cave, echoing off its stony walls. The dragon Digimon flitted above the others and could best make out the terrible scene of chaotic movement in the dark. He could see many small shapes darting underfoot of the Digi-destined, weaving dark, ill-intended patterns towards them. He saw that Tania had been tackled, and she bit and scraped at the slimy Gizamon that crushed against her. Lexxy and Cunomon were closest to the end of the cave, and could barely move. Jennifer and Erica were closest to the cave’s exit and they dashed out its yawning mouth and into the startlingly moonlit clearing.
“Foximon!” Jenn yelped out to her fox-like companion, “Foxi! Help the others get out here!”
“I’m all over it, Jenn!” Foximon called back to her human, then turned inward at the cave and leapt on the nearest Gizamon.
Diratimon took the opportunity to swoop out of the cave, into the open clearing - the moonlit night then seemed coldly ominous to the small Digimon, the pale light of the two moons harsh and unrelenting, the two orbs leering down at those gathered, obscenely gleeful, it seemed, at the mounting, climaxing chaos. He darted forward, trying to shake the terrifying thought away, and reaching Jennifer, cried, “Jenn! We’ve got problems, there’s a whole horde of those things in there!”
Jennifer’s face was creased with concern, “This is bad… what’s going on? How did they overtake us like this?!”
“AAAAAHhhh!” Erica screamed, her voice reaching Jenn’s ears, “JENN!! It’s LINA! THEY’RE HOLDING HER DOWN!” The blonde girl grasped the shorter girl’s arm, “We’re surrounded, Jenn… what’re we going to do?”
Cheekomon rushed the Gizamon swarming over Lina, “FIGHTING RAGE!” the humanoid cheetah Digimon lashed out a high kick that knocked one of the Gizamon flying across the clearing and into a tree, the Digimon followed up the attack with the whirl spin that ended in claws running down another Gizamon’s soft slimy underbelly. The thing loosed a wet gasp, eyes glazing over.
Erica cheered, “Way to go, Cheekomon!”
“Help!” came Dani’s troubled cry, “Pandamon! He’s out! Someone! Hey!”
Jenn was ragged; there was too much going on for her to deal with all at once, “Dani! I’m coming!” she finally yelped, running back into the cave, pummeling a slimy toad with sharp kick before adding her own pitiful efforts to the fray inside.
“Hurricane BLASTER!” came Foximon’s yell, along with an unseen rush of air that filled the cave, knocking both Gizamon and Digi-destined about with its might.
Outside, Diratimon was trying his hardest to release his human along with Erica and Cheekomon’s aid, “ELECTRIC WIND!” he shouted, a stream of pale lightning running through the Gizamon ranks behind Lina, the air crackling with kinetic energy. He couldn’t attack the ones on her directly, for fear of hitting her as well. Luckily, he thought wryly, his fighting techniques could get in close enough to help.
Lina struggled, adding her writhing to the cheetah Digimon’s efforts. Still, the slimy Gizamon continued coming in waves, despite all Diratimon’s efforts.
“This is too much!” Erica screamed, “CHEEKOMON! DIGIVOLVE!” she grabbed for her Digivice and clutched it tightly. Or she would have, but it was then she noticed it was missing.
“What’s wrong, Erica?” Cheekomon called back, still attacking the Gizamon swarm.
“MY DIGIVICE IS GONE!” the blonde explained in horror, “They must’ve taken them while we were asleep!”
Above them, resting on the rock precipice that their cave was cut into, an almost catlike fox Digimon smiled, lips curling in thin pleasure, observing the well-planned operation, and directing the Gizamon as needed, ‘Queen Sonomi will be pleased this time,’ she thought. Her eyes shimmered a deep, malicious red at the touch of the moonlight’s frail beams, which shattered as she whirled around with an elegantly effortless movement.
* * *
Emily lost consciousness for merely a second, but nearly panicked when she came to beneath the foreboding saltwater again. She kicked for the surface and broke the waves to breathe in a deep gush of air, and felt as if she were inhaling salt.
“EMILY!!!” Huntermon shrilled, still on the banks, “Watch out! That’s SEADRAMON!!! He’s a water dragon Digimon who likes to capture prey and constrict them until they can’t breathe! He’ll freeze you solid with his Ice Blast and Ice Winder attacks! Chilling!”
After Huntermon was done ruining my dramatic moment with her Digimon Analyzer stock phrases, Nerimon gasped in stark horror as the Seadramon neared Alex, who’s thrashing form had just broken the water’s distorted, rippling surface.
Alex spat saltwater from his mouth as he gasped for the breaths he hadn’t taken in so long. His chocolate brown hair clung to his face, bedraggled and sopping, as he struggled to keep afloat in the torrential maelstrom of waves.
Emily’s tired body floundered in the waves as she forced herself to kick, her legs filled with a dull ache that caused her to move clumsily through the water. The current was in her favor as the sloshing waves pushed her towards the banks where the Digimon screamed frantically.
“EMILY!!” Huntermon called out her partner’s name, “ALEX!!” she screamed as the brown-haired boy fell beneath the blue chaos once again, only to surface a second later.
"FIRE BALL!!!" the red dinosaur Digimon echoed; pinpoints of flame gathered in the black vortex of his throat, swelling with astonishing speed into chaotic spheres of plasma - which exploded from his mouth through the humid air, careening for the towering, twisted figure of the sea dragon that overlooked Nerimon's partner.
Huntermon growled plaintively, stiff with tension, and whined, balefully, "I can't DO anything...! I'd shock you all...!!"
Emily acknowledged her, still treading water to keep her afloat, “I understand, Hunter… it’s okay!” Another burst of water tumbled her downward, but she caught herself before the undertow grabbed her, and remained afloat.
Limbs deadening, she hardly had the strength to kick herself...even when the shore was so close she could taste the grit. Another surge of waves washed her up against the comforting solidity of land. If fear and adrenaline hadn't jolted a rude awakening to her heavy eyelids, she might have been tempted to let her mind drift...Not a good idea when you have an angry Digimon wanting to squeeze the life out of your half-drowned friend.
With that terrifying thought, she scrambled weakly to her knees, whirled around to scream for Alex - only for that scream to die in her throat as she watched, stricken, as the Seadramon ground forward, ripping through the water like a honed blade, searing towards Alex at a pace there was no hope he could beat...With a whimper, she slammed her fist into the ground. She should have helped him swim, helped him to shore, should have...
The monster whipped around Alex, cutting off his path to shore, Alex floundered, the creatures wake splashing over him unforgivingly. He spluttered, tried to make a sound, which ended in a helpless, waterlogged gurgle. Nerimon spouted another small nova of flame, which splattered and hissed uselessly against the liberal wall of scales. Huntermon trembled soundlessly near Emily, who was too terrified for even that. The Seadramon, with acute manipulation of it's twisted, coiled length, laced another circle around Alex's limp, vaguely struggling form, and another, lifting its captive above the water's roiling surface. Emily got the sickening feeling it was surveying its sopping trophy.
* * *
“SLIMY TADPOLE REJECTS!!!!!!!!!” Screamed Erica as she thrust her fist into the nearest Gizamon.
“Ow,” it squeaked, and toppled over, two more jumping in to take the place of their fallen comrade.
“Grr…Stupid….Arg….” She kicked high and brought her heel down on both of them at once, sending them crashing down. With another growl of frustration, she straightened.
A Gizamon leapt at her from behind, clinging at her shoulders. Erica hit the ground with a thud, narrowed her eyes and curled her arm over her back, grasping at the slimy critter. She dug her nails into its skin and pried it from its cloying perch. Scrabbling to her feet, she brought it to face level and glared, “Time to go SPLAT, froggie…”
Rearing back, Erica hurled the frog Digimon across the clearing and into the mountain face with a (rather nice) resounding splat.
“That was satisfying,” She mumbled to herself, before plowing into the next batch of Gizamon.
Meanwhile, Cheekomon was faring just as well.
“SLIMY TADPOLE REJECTS!!!!!!!!!”
Inside the cave, the Gizamon were swarming worse than outside. Lexxy was curled up into the back of the cave wall, trying to keep the invaders at bay. The area was so infested with the slimy creatures that Lexxy could barely see Cunomon, who was a bare few feet away.
‘I’m going to die here…’ The thought echoed through Lexxy’s mind, accompanied by a snaking chill that creeped up her spine. She battered hopelessly against the seething wall of Gizamon, who crowded in so closely she felt as if she could barely breathe. Her hands were slick with the slimy excretions that coated the digimon, mingled with her own sweat. Her hands shook, no matter what precautions she took with her inevitable nervousness.
“ROLLING SPINES!” Cried a wearying Cunomon as he bashed into another row of the endless mass of Digimon. The Gizamon were knocked aside, but their sheer numbers continued to overwhelm and assault the dragon digimon.
Lexxy called out, “Cuno…!” And was swatted across the face by a stray Gizamon. ‘This is it…’ she thought, ‘…it’s over…’
* * *
Emily looked around herself, at a loss, frantic...Her mind barraged her with blames she knew she deserved...SHE had been the one to drag them out here, for no real reason at all...SHE had left him out by himself, She had… She couldn't think anymore, the tears slowly burning at her eyes. With a dry sob she swiped at her eyes, helplessness crashing into again and again into her. Her eyes burned and she stared at the strickening sight with dull, aching horror.
There was another ripple in the lake's dark, now-murky surface. The Seadramon swiveled its massive head towards her, flinty eyes narrowing in speculation...a dark delight lurking within them that chilled her. The coils around Alex loosened fractionally, and it gave a low, soft hiss. Laughing at her tears. "Pitiful, youngling," It began, its voice a menacing, low purr. "Pitiful."
Shock overran her tears, and she sniffled, staring up at it in blank incomprehension, feeling slack jawed. She gave Huntermon a silent, rueful thanks as she spoke, and tried to gather her wits. "Don't you DARE and call Emily pitiful…!!"
The serpentine creature gave another hissing laugh, shook it's massive head, the coils in which that prone form lay quivering with mirth. "And you… you are any better…?!" Huntermon was startled into silence for a moment, then bristled. Emily glowered defensively, shakily rose to her feet. It… might have been her fault… but she wasn't going to let him trample her…! She owed more to Alex than that.
"Stop it!! What do you HAVE against us, anyway…!?!" Shaking with anger and fear, her voice was hoarse with recent crying, as quavering as her footing. She didn't notice Nerimon break his gaze for the first time from Alex's inert, motionless form.
“FIRE BALL!” The little Digimon thundered again, spraying bursts of flame at the sea dragon, “FIRE BALL! FIRE BALL!!!!!” Over and over again, the clearing had begun to fill with smoke as the rockets of heat were fired. “ALEX!! I’LL SAVE YOU!!! DIGI-VOLVE!!!!!!!!!!~!”
Nerimon’s body glowed with heat, and the red dinosaur’s muzzle was tightened with effort as he tried to change into his stronger Nedikismon form. He felt the energy and he felt the desperate need for this change, but he realized that the transformation was unable to initiate. “DIGIVOLVE!!” Nerimon cried again, his voice pleading uselessly.
Emily’s eye caught a glimpse of light in the sparse grass by the shore. She focused on it unconsciously and recognized it in an instant as dread washed over her in a wave more chilling than the salty inlet had been, “Alex’s Digivice…” she murmured.
The reality of the situation hit Huntermon immediately, “NO!! If Alex doesn’t have his Digivice… then… then there’s no way for Nerimon to digivolve to Nedikismon!”
The raven-haired girl stared at the lonely Digivice on the water’s edge. She reached for it and placed it gently in her conjoined palms as she held it close to her face, running the situation through her mind at a dull speed as she took in every detail that had destroyed her friend. He was practically dead in her mind, his anguished screams and desperate gasps for air the only sign he was still anything else. The girl cradled the Digivice to her body delicately as if it would shatter like its owner.
“FIRE BALL!!” Nerimon screamed again, pummeling the air with a hail of flames that would be useless against the larger water Digimon. “I WON’T LET YOU HURT HIM! I WON’T STOP UNTIL HE’S SAFE!!” The boy’s partner screamed, “WE’LL BEAT YOU! THE OTHERS WILL GET HERE AND SAVE US! We’re a team… Alex will be okay… you’ll see…” The red dinosaur’s fire was dying.
Huntermon stood protectively next to Emily. Her electric attack would be able to injure the sea dragon, but then Alex wouldn’t have even a chance of surviving the assault, especially in his weakened state. The fox-Digimon growled at the Seadramon from her position close to the bank.
Its eyes narrowed with self-satisfaction. Its head rising high above the water, it stared down at the three as if it would much rather be doing something else. Snorting, the creature gave its head another shake. "It's useless, now. Your friends are probably already dead," it growled lowly, a convulsive shudder of riddance rippling along its length, "…or have been so for a while… You see… the Queen sent me as a… diversion for you…" It gave that odd, chilling hiss of a laugh, pale eyes glittering with pleasure. "While a horde of the smaller ones were to attack your little knothole of Digi-destined rats."
Emily choked back a wail of disappointment, a hand flying to cover her mouth. She felt retched - not only did she ensure Alex's death… but she killed the others with him… The bile rose in the back of her throat, and her knees buckled. She buried her face in her hands, not even able to cry anymore, dry sobs scratching at her throat.
Another of Alex's screams tore at her ears, filling them with pain even as she tried to throw the gravity of the situation from her torn thoughts. "It's my fault, I've killed us all… everyone…"
Huntermon was panicked, and quailed, "Don't give up Emily, it's not over yet, we can still…"
The black-haired girl stopped her with a shout, wailing, "YES IT IS! It's all over! This adventure is over and it's all BECAUSE OF ME!!" Alex's screams were the background to her own frenzy.
Huntermon growled at her partner suddenly, "STOP THAT EM! You CAN'T give up!" The fox-Digimon's eyes burned into Emily's own, "You made a commitment to Alex and to the others, you WILL NOT GIVE UP UNTIL THIS IS OVER!!!"
Emily stared, her voice hushed, her dark eyes wide and stinging, "Huntermon…"
Nerimon fired another depleting blast of flame, "FIRE BALL!"
The girl's face, still wrought with shock, twisted in determination as she rose to her feet shakily, "SEADRAMON!!!!" Emily cried at the serpent, challenge tainting her voice.
Hissing, the sea dragon lowered its face to meet the girl, its golden faceplate glittering coldly in the brilliant moonlight, "Yesss…. Little girl?" its features curled cruelly, saltwater dripping over them, leaving languid trails.
The dark-haired girl smiled, mischief on her face, "I made a commitment when I brought Alex with me, and I will not break it now," her voice was calm and smooth, as she defiantly stared at the leviathan writhing and hissing before her.
Emily's Digivice erupted to life as bursts of light streamed forward through the oppressive night, the beams refracting and sparkling off the water's nearby surface. “HUNTERMON!!!!~!”
The fox-Digimon was enveloped in an iridescent glow that surged outward with a flow of sheer power within it. Huntermon felt the light of evolution emblazon across her body and release her own energy as her form began to change with a suddenness she was all but unprepared for. “HUNTERMON DIGIVOLVE TO………..”
The fox’s body whirled about, faster and faster until in one sudden pivot, the energy was released and in Huntermon’s place stood what could only be her champion form, “AGURIMON!!!!!!!~!”
A creature equipped with a lithe, canine form, deep red fur tipped by stars, four tails outspread in taut fury, brustling. Sharply pointed ears were dipped in black, pressed back against her skull - endless green eyes that could drown the world in their depth narrowed.
Nerimon’s eyes widened, “Wow! That’s Agurimon! She’s a Digimon with the power of the legendary kitsune-foxes! Her Electric tail spin is a powerful esoteric electric attack which will surely shock anyone on the wrong end of it! This fox is armed with teeth, claws, and crackling power, so you’d better look out!” Nerimon finished his aggravating Digimon Analyzer speech.
Emily remained calm, the new form her Digimon had taken was majestic in her eyes. But now wasn’t the time to be impressed, “AGURIMON! Dive in and take out that little sea-snake!”
The kitsune-Digimon nodded imperceptibly and leapt into the crashing saltwater, spraying a mist with the action. Emily and Nerimon watched as the champion-level Digimon careened through the waves to approach the writhing sea dragon.
The Seadramon hissed in anger, “So you’ve digivolved… It won’t help you… I’m the most powerful champion in the sea; your little puppy won’t be able to touch me, let alone defeat me!”
“We’ll see about that…” Emily breathed, “AGURIMON, FULL SPEED!”
With that, the champion took to the water like a fish, barely a splash was created, and the fox plowed through the inlet faster than Nerimon could follow with his eyes through the dusky night. Agurimon approached the sea dragon and lashed out at the Digimon’s tail, just below where it held Alex.
The Seadramon bellowed in annoyance and pain as its grip on the near-unconscious child was lost and the boy tumbled through the air and plunged into the torrents. The sea serpent swung its writhing mass outward and lanced across the kitsune-Digimon’s body, knocking her backwards.
“AGURIMON!” the raven-haired girl shouted, worry thick in her tone, “ALEX!!” The girl rubbed at her red and stinging eyes. She kicked off her shoes, dropped Alex’s Digivice, and jumped haphazardly into the surf, intent on reaching her friend. She had managed to turn the tide with Agurimon’s help; she would not lose her friend Alex to drowning while she could still do something about it. The tired girl plowed through the disturbed saltwater pool as her partner was embattled with the flailing sea dragon. Emily kicked out and swung her arms rapidly over the waves as she neared the spot where Alex had submerged. She took a deep breath, inhaling as much air as possible, before she shifted her weight suddenly and lost herself beneath the torrid surface.
* * *
Lina squirmed beneath the grasp of the Gizamon. She loosed herself a bit from their slippery hold, a scream that lashed like whip barbs across the ears of all who heard tearing past her lips, disregarding any will she might have had to choke it back.
The froglike digimon hurried to stifle her wails, their slimy feet pressing over her mouth. Her airflow almost instantly reduced to nothing, and as they pressed in, became even less. Wildly now, she bucked beneath them, her throat closing and tightening with lack of oxygen. Their eyes narrowed at her, and they only seemed more intent to crush the breath out of her, webbed claws pressing into her face almost painfully.
She screamed into their slimy digits anyway, even as her breath faded. She was blinking constantly now, trying to fight off the blackness that ate and impeded her scant vision of the battlefield beyond her tormentors. Her killers. The thought dragged at her weary soul. All this way, just to die…? A few more milliseconds of slow contemplation and she felt almost relieved. At least, in death, she’d be rid of the too-close press of those squirming, slimy bodies…Blinking again through the haze, Lina remembered to scream again.
Nothing resulted - her lungs were empty. In the last throes of her futility, Lina gave another hopeless struggle - barely a shifting against their combined weight, but still…trying even to no avail was better than giving up. Her eyes dragged closed.
“DAARK CLAW!!!!” a low voice insistently penetrated her almost comfortable stillness. With a delightful, almost painful shock, Lina found the weight that had stopped her lungs removed as if by divine will, and she could breathe. With an intake of air, she choked for a moment, coughing.
“LINA!!!!!” the blonde felt hands grasp at her shoulders, and though hurried, infinitely more gentle than those slimy, webbed claws. “Lina..are..are you ok…?!” A voice stammered through the din, and Lina blinked up at the voice.
A blue-haired face greeted her newly-returned vision. As Skye heaved a visible sigh of relief, “Well, you’re breathing, which is a good sign…” Magimon’s attacks upon the horde could be heard behind her.
Lina snapped back to reality. “Diratimon!! Where..?!?”
“No time - we’re still in a battle! We’ve got to move!” Skye tugged her forward.
“LINA!!!!!!!!” Erica’s distinct voice rose up through the clamor, “I’m coming!!!!” The blonde girl kicked a Gizamon and plowed her way through the thinning mass.
The three girls gathered just on the opposite side of the rock where Lina had been tied. Skye quickly observed that the pile of Digivices was still the most heavily-guarded area on the clearing. She also noted that Jenn was visible fighting at the cave entrance from where they were.
“ELECTRIC WIND!!!” Her Digimon’s attack alerted Lina to his location. The blond bolted after the sound, heart thrumming in her ears.
“Diratimon!!!!! I’m coming!!!!!!!!” She cried out, shoving past the lessened amount of Gizamon towards her partner.
Diratimon noticed her approach, and tucked in his wings, swerving in to meet his partner.
“Ring of Fire.” Came the cool, smooth voice. And with that chilling vocalization, tendrils of flame snaked up from bare, dew-covered earth, snaking a tight circle around Lina. She slammed and skid to a halt as the walls of plasma leapt up about her, cringed as sparks danced and wafted upwards, glittering maliciously down at her.
With a swift, violent motion, her legs were swept out from under her, and with a loud thwack she hit the ground, giving a yelp of pain. Before she could draw another breath, a leanly furred form sidled up to her, eyes narrowed.
“You’re not going anywhere.”
And with that, a paw pressed to her throat, claws extended. Lina gulped and winced, trying not to shiver at the soulless void that seemed to comprise this Digimon’s eyes. Stiffened as it looked up, it’s single-feather crest fluttering.
“Digidestined, I have taken this girl from you, stop fighting now, and I won’t end her breath!” The Digimon’s voice was low, but her words echoed through each of the children’s ears who were within earshot.
Foximon stopped in her tracks, and allowed herself to be pummeled by the Gizamon as Jenn seized up at Sunemon’s words.
“L-Lina!!~!” the girl’s red hair fell into her face as she gaped at the scene that had unfolded behind her. Fear clutched at her heart and clogged her throat, and her hands trembled at her sides. She hadn’t been paying attention…and because of that, she’d failed to protect them. All of them. She’d been so careless…
It was then that the Digimon’s voice raised again, sly and confident, all too assured. “I’ll make you an offer to make this easier on everyone. Accept it, won’t you?” she sneered.
Jenn scowled but said nothing, the firelight reflecting off of her goggles. Her eyes were drawn to that flame, and she was for a moment resentful that something so deadly could be so beautiful, so free of boundary and hardship. Fire...it just existed to burn, and it couldn’t fail at doing so. It was a flawless concept, visible in all it’s perfection just before her, slicing through the halted night like some mythic blade.
Erica interjected perfectly for the silent redhead, “AS IF WE COULD EVER TRUST ANYTHING YOU OFFER!!~!”
“Ah,” the evil digimon sighed contentedly, “But you don’t have a choice… and you know it.” Sunemon smiled, her claws still pressed threateningly close to Lina’s tender throat. Lina tried not to whimper at the devastating cold of those razors, sharpened to a glittering perfection, so dangerously, fatally near.
“My offer is simple: I’ll return your precious teammate… _if_ you hand over the DigiPrincess!”
The words hung still in the air, threading the silence like invisible ribbon, twining and tangling everyone’s thoughts for mere moments, before chilling their bodies with the inevitable concept of the statement. The firelight glittered off of Lina’s wide, frightened eyes, drowning out all color except for that fierce, intense red. Skye shivered and nearly collapsed to the ground, but for the nearby boulder which she instead surrendered herself to, leaning into its welcome support.
Jenn clenched her fists, ‘Oh hell…’ she thought, ‘how can I solve this? There’s no way…’ she began to worry her lip, ‘I can’t just SURRENDER Skye to this servant of the Digimon QUEEN!’ Blood began to trickle down the corner of her mouth, tasting salty and bitter, but Jenn ignored it. ‘And I can’t leave Lina to DIE! What can…?’
Foximon paused and looked up at her friend, ears swiveling back in worry “What will you DO Jenn?”
“I… I..” Jennifer stuttered, “I-I don’t know!” she shook her head, tears forming, “I DON’T KNOW! I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO! THERE’S *NOTHING* I CAN DO! THERE’S JUST…” the girl turned to her partner, “Foxi…” she whispered, barely audible, “Foxi… I can’t… there’s no answer… There’s nothing… I…” sobs choked the last of her words into incoherency.
* * *
The salt stung Emily’s eyes, which were already crimson with irritation. Heedless, she raven-haired girl scoured between the sloshing waves for her missing friend. Less weighed down than before since she had remembered to kick off her shoes, the girl managed to gain on the quickly sinking boy as Emily spied his near-unconscious body. He was badly battered, looking almost serene in the churning waters. Emily grasped his upper arm and kicked for the surface, hoping against hope that she could pull him up before it was too late.
Without a flotation device of any kind, it was a struggle to climb to the surface dragging Alex’s extra weight, ‘I won’t break my commitment to him,’ Emily resolved, resurging a wash of strength that allowed her to meet the night sky with a deep breath of salty air. The girl sputtered once and pulled Alex surfaceside, where he inhaled deeply, and nearly sank again.
Agurimon growled and clung by her teeth to the nape of Seadramon’s neck, just behind his faceplate, as he thrashed and snarled, tail lashing into the already disturbed waters. Water clung to both their soaked forms, glittering off flint-hard scales and sheening sopping fur, the two enclosed in a vicious and dangerous tangle.
Seadramon howled a awordless monument to his fury, crashing back and into the waves. With a yelp, Agurimon’s hold was rattled loose, and she bristled, slicing through the water back at her opponent, who clacked his teeth in her direction, surging forth in a rapid motion, intent on snaring her in his coils.
With a lash of her tails, she skimmed to the surface, then doubled back on his approaching mass, slamming a shoulder into his faceplate. There was a deafening squeal of metal, and he howled a clarion call of pain and frustration, a jagged crack marring the golden mask.
She curled her lips in a silent snarl, kicked Seadramon’s neck and darted for the surface again, ears flattening against her lean skull. She crested the waves, and he did also only moments behind, snapping at her shoulder blades. Darting to avoid him, one of his massive coils snaked around her, flexing tight. She thrashed, hackles rising, until another ripple of those muscles forced a faint whimper of sharp pain. Balking, she snarled again, snapping at his side, and wriggled free.
Diving down, Agurimon clawed at his near flipper, giving a sharp, hard nip in retribution for her pain, and darted around quicker than the sea dragon could follow, kicking at his spine and swimming to torment him more, snapping at brief intervals at his softer underside, always abandoning her attacks just before he caught up to her. He was slowing now, wearied with this endless underwater chase, and again the foxlike digimon broke to the surface.
Seadramon met her there, eyes glittering with cold fury, roared and dove at her. She waited, staring up at his oncoming maw, and flicked to the side just as he threatened to engulf her, slashing a claw at his eye. His roar of anger turned into one of pain, and he writhed, coiling around himself protectively for a brief moment.
The three-tailed fox waited a second for him to turn on her again, but to her surprise, he uncoiled swiftly, straightening and diving into deeper waters, their blackness quickly engulfing his form - She blinked and swiveled an ear, cautious for a moment, before taking note of his direction - the serpent was heading further out to sea. She snorted and lashed her tails at such cowardice, and swam with a slow relief back to the open air, huffing a quick breath before looking about for her partner.
Emily was still struggling with Alex’s weight, their heads bobbing tenuously just above the water’s surface.
* * *
Jenn remained still as she helplessly watched her friend, squirm under Sunemon's claws.
"Lina.... I... I.... I can't...." The goggle girl stuttered.
"Jenn!" Skye called out to her from her precariously safe position against a large boulder decorating the clearing. Then, in her bravest and calmest voice, she declared, "Whatever you decide, I'm cool with it!"
Jenn looked deep into the icy blue eyes of the Digi Princess and it practically tore her apart. That was Skye, always putting her friends before herself. As the thought repeated itself in Jenn's mind, a single tear fell down her cheek. Her mind grappled with itself, twisting and turning the possibilities. Then a few moments of dead silence echoed in her mind. Outwardly, she seemed dead to the world, her eyes shifting between cold, wild, and determined. She came to a decision. Jenn contorted her face into a visage of stern dignity, her lips parted, but before her words could be delivered... "Electric tail spin!" a beam of electricity, flew over their heads, and straight towards Sunemon.
The sight almost knocked Jenn over as the large graceful champion-digimon leapt through the air with a familiar raven-haired girl riding triumphantly on its back, along with Alex and Nerimon, hanging on for dear life. The beam hit the smaller fox, sending it forcefully backward, allowing Lina her freedom. Then Agurimon snarled at the smaller fox, her eyes burning with vengeance.
"Tell your queen that were not taking anymore of her crap." Emily spoke in a low and threatening tone as she looked deep into Sunemon's cowering expression. The fox’s eyes locked into Emily’s, a mixture of hatred, fear, and vile disgust.
The Gizamon tried to fight Agurimon off, fortunately there wasn't enough of them to hold off both a champion Digimon and Nine rookies and Erica’s new-found love of kicking froggy butt.
"Retreat!" Sunemon ordered, leaping over her ring of fire that was now being contained by Foximon and Jaymon.
"Tanoblo!" The cold gusts of wind killed off the dancing flames within moments. As the smoke began to clear, there was no sign of Sunemon, or her army of Gizamon.
Emily hurriedly jumped down off Agurimon to help Lina to her feet.
"Thanks." The blonde smiled, a bit shaken, but seemingly okay.
"Don't mention it," Emily tried to sound nonchalant, yet turned away sheepishly only to receive an acusing look from Dani. The blonde smoothed her Digimon’s, Pandamon’s, fur, which was slightly scored. Dani looked away from Emily quickly, concentrating her attention on her partner’s well-being.
Emily’s heart sank and the tears forming in her dark eyes made their way like streams, flowing down each cheek. A hole of self-loathing was forming deep in the pit of her stomach.
The girl quickly turned the other way, to face Alex and Lina. She strode over to the two of them and thrust the CD player in their collective hands "Take this... I don't have anything else of value... it's all I can do to make up for this... I've put both of your lives in extreme danger... you both could have died today... and it's my fault... I... want you to at least have this..."
The two had a matching visage of surprise as Emily wrenched back her hands from the CD player as if it were scalding. Before either could protest, the dark-haired girl lowered her head, refusing to meet their eyes.
Emily turned away from them walking back to Agurimon. Suddenly stopping beside Jenn, she looked to the older girl, her lips barely parting as they muttered closely to the redhead’s ear. "I know why you can't accept being the leader so easily now... "
Jenn extended a hand towards Emily's shoulder, gripping it supportively, about to say a few words of comfort. However, Lina was already on it, grasping Emily’s other shoulder, "Don't talk like that! I know you must feel bad... but DON'T be like this... this kind of thinking only leads to angst... you don't want to end up like Matt do you?" the blonde quipped.
Emily cracked a tiny grin in response to the joke.
A deeper voice from behind her chimed in. “You may have almost killed me... but you made the commitment to take my life in your hands... and I still have my life, right? No hard feelings...” Alex smiled, sidling up to his friend between the other two girls, “Guys are supposed to be tough.” Alex ended his speech with a tight hug. Nerimon and Huntermon, who had just returned to her rookie form, joined in.
The others, even Dani, offered their sincere forgiveness to Emily with a big hug each in turn.
“I don’t feel I deserve your forgiveness everyone…” Emily began, fingering the returned CD player in her hands.
Tania smiled, “Of course you do,” the girl adjusted her baseball cap, “Just don’t screw up like that again!” she nursed a bruise on her shoulder, laughing.
The others headed back to the cave’s entrance to salvage the remainder of the night for sleep. Lina snuggled particularly close to Diratimon.
As Jenn went in for the final hug of the night, she noticed the dampness of Emily's clothes. “Okay, Em, level with me. What exactly happened out there?” she questioned.
Emily nervously bit her lip. Was it really necessary to tell Jenn about Seadramon, *I can't lie to her,* She thought. *I've done enough damage as it is.*
She took in a deep sigh and led Jenn over to a less crowded area. “Emily?” Jenn's voice was stern and leaderly. Emily briefly wondered if Jenn really was destined for leading a team.
“Let’s just say, there's a very peeved Seadramon out there looking for us.”
“What?!” Jenn cried.
Emily clamped a hand over the other girl’s wide-open mouth. “Shhh, keep it down. If the others hear us, it'll just cause more worry.” Emily removed her hand from Jenn's mouth.
The redhead nodded in understanding. “I agree. Thanks for letting me know. We’ll deal with it when the time comes,” she smiled at Em, giving her an assuring wink.
“One more thing, I think during our little adventure, we were getting awfully close the Ocean, where the Palace should be.” Emily added.
Jenn looked impressed, “Well, aren’t you a wealth of information, can you get back there?”
Emily smiled proudly, “I made a special note to myself to keep track of the way.”
“Yeah, we'll get 'em this time! Right, Em?” Huntermon looked up at her partner with a confident twinkle in her eye.
"You got it!" she reached down to pick her up and followed Jenn to the cave’s entrance to keep guard.
~~~ Emily’s P.O.V. ~~~
So I digivolved Agurimon... and now I guess we have to FINALLY find the Digi-palace... etc. etc. I suppose I’ve also really learned my lesson… But that doesn't mean I'll EVER stop playing tricks... or my Bon Jovi CDs!
Ucchan would really like to know what you thought about his work. Be sure to visit his site, "Digital Scratch".