The kerfuffle in the centre of the village was beginning to attract onlookers. Residents were crowding around the wooden snare, hiding behind each other as they watched the seven bizarre creatures tumble around beneath the latticework. Behind the adults were Rookies, peering out behind the legs of their leaders. Two such Rookies had gotten quite close. One of them was a bipedal sheep, with purple tinged fur, simple copper armour and wielding a short dagger, and the other, a stocky emerald green dragon, with a bulky diamond tail and short, ragged wings sticking up from his elbows. The wyvern squinted, his bright eyes glinting. "What in the world are they, Arimon?"
"Beats me." Arimon's paw drifted down, and he fingered the hilt of his dagger. "Do you think they could be dangerous?"
"They don't look dangerous," remarked the dragon, as he pulled a face, "in fact, they look revolting."
"Wyvermon, that's not kind."
"Well, they do." The dragon huffed. "I can't help inferior beings looking like they do."
"Oh, so you think I'm inferior?"
Wyvermon gave a smug grin, and shook his head. "You're fine. Acceptable, at least." He furrowed his brow. "Whatever these creatures are, they don't seem to be much of a threat at least."
This viewpoint was beginning to permeate through the assembled crowds, and especially among the Digimon closest to the cage, who were reaching through the bars, poking and prodding the strange creatures. All the children were babbling at this point; staring into the distance, screaming, yelling, crying – frankly, nothing particularly productive or helpful. The tall lizard warrior, Dinohyumon, placed his hand in his face and sighed. "By Yggdrasil, you're noisy aren't you? I've heard Botamon less whiny than you." He stamped his foot. "Please...can we...can I say something-"
"OI, SCUM! SILENCE!"
There was a crackle and an immense bang as the big blue bug banged her electrified fist into the dusty ground, creating a big black burn mark and a nasty smell. This tactic seemed to work, as the seven kids were immediately stunned into silence, looking up in terror at the great monstrosity. She leered, pointing at her helmet with one of her free arms. "Look into my eyes and don't say anything."
At the back of the cage, George raised a hand. "Um...you don't have any-"
The bug cracked a fist. "WHAT DID I SAY?"
The boy swallowed, and looked down.
"I SAID WHAT DID I-"
"Thank you Kabuterimon, I think they get the point." Dinohyumon waited as the huge bug backed away, before he crouched down, looking through the wooden lattice and clicking his teeth. "Geez...we have ended up with a load here, haven't we...?"
He snapped his fingers before the nearest child, Lizzie, who shuffled back in response. "You can clearly talk. What region are you from? The Celestial Order? You look like their lot."
Lizzie gave an unintelligible meep. Dinohyumon sighed, and walked around to the other side, poking George instead.
"Celestial Order? Grassbridge? I know; you're emigrants from Silicon City. Nah...no, you'd never have made it through the border to the quadrant..." He sniffed. "Whatever you are, you definitely don't have the smell of Nightmare Soldiers so we're safe on that front."
He looked at the boy, who stared back blankly, his mouth flopped open. "Uuuuuuuh..."
"Oh for crying out loud..."
Kabuterimon stepped forwards. "Let's just chuck 'em, Dinohyumon. They're obviously trouble and they're stupid to boot."
"Back out there?" Dinohyumon said, incredulously. "You saw the blast in the sky, right? Just about when they arrived; we can't let them go now. And at any rate, we're civilised people. We don't litter."
Kabuterimon folded her four arms, and blew a puff of lightning. "Well, what then?"
The lizard man stared at the gathered crowd around. "This isn't a good place to do this. Maybe if we leave them alone for a bit they'll calm down." He scoured the crowds and pointed at a Gargoylemon and an ExVeemon. "You two, help Kabuterimon and empty the trap into storage." He ran a hand sadly down the woodwork, and glared at the children within. "You realise you lost us a perfectly good snare, right? We don't really take to timewasters."
Kabuterimon tapped him on the shoulder, and she bent in to whisper. "We only had one store free, and we've currently got...you know what in there."
"Well I don't care. They're all prisoners, they can share. There's nothing else I can do." Dinohyumon held a hand out. "There are seven of them; I'm pretty sure between them they could take him. And give us one less problem to worry about."
Kabuterimon shrugged. "If you say so, overseer."
"Oh, just get on with it!" Dinohyumon whacked the trap with his right arm, making a dull thud. He glared around him. "The rest of you, get out of here! Nothing to see, nothing to hear, you've all got things to do. And somebody get me a Searchmon; I need to send a message to Dallurmon."
He stomped off as the three heavyweights took the snare between them and marched off down to the end of the village, with the children clinging onto the inside of their wooden prison. Dinohyumon just snorted.
"Always me. Never Seasarmon or Unimon, always just me who has to deal with this nonsense."
Storage, as it turned out, was a rather roomy cave cut out from a wall next to a pond, about a quarter of a mile away from the village. The journey wasn't long but it was far from comfortable, with the three huge beasts bumping the snare up and down all the way down, causing a heck of a lot of bruising on the inhabitants within. Not that they dared say anything; partly due to the size and menacing aura of the three brutes themselves (who would occasionally glare inside or whisper something between themselves), and partly due to most of them being massively shaken up.
Thus nobody said a word until they reached the storage cave, which was full of large, wooden-framed cages full of stone, metal, wood and armaments. There was only one cage free, and while it was easily big enough for the seven of them, it wouldn't exactly be comfortable accommodation.
Kabuterimon didn't even ask how or when; she just simply tipped the snare up and dumped the seven children inside, hissing as she did so. "Stay here and think about what you've done!"
Yvonne blinked. "We haven't done anything-"
Alasdair grabbed her ear and pulled her back, shaking his head violently. No jokes. Definitely no jokes.
Kabuterimon clicked, and leaned down to have a better look at the group. "You don't look like any Digimon I've ever seen. You don't even look that dangerous."
"Hey, what's this?"
Kabuterimon turned, to see ExVeemon pointing at something currently dangling from the wooden lattice by a series of wires. "Do you think this is theirs?"
"Well it's not mine. I didn't put it here."
"Lemme see," interjected Gargoylemon, reaching over and holding the D-Port in his oversized hand. He poked it, only to drop the whole thing as lights started flashing. He sucked his finger, whining, "Yeesh...it bit me."
"Oh, I can't be asked with this. It can go in storage with the other rubbish." Kabuterimon picked it up and chucked the device into the cage as well, nearly braining Rachel in the head along the way. She glowered, and slammed the door shut, before hoisting the great broken snare onto her back and beckoning towards the door. "Come on. We should get this to the artisans before they break for the night."
The three of them left, chatting amongst themselves as if the seven children weren't even there. A few minutes passed. Yvonne lay flat out on her back, staring up at the ceiling.
Rachel had already shuffled over to the D-Port, which had been shaken quite a bit through the journey. She tapped a button, but it refused to turn on. No lights, no sound, nor even any terrifying swirly energy. She began to cry.
"It's dead. It's my fault."
"It can't be!" yelled Lizzie, shuffling over herself and nearly fumbling over her own feet. She planted herself next to the younger girl, and immediately started looking around the device, holding wires in her hands. "Look, there's a plug there...it's got to fit...we just need to fix this and it'll be okay, right...we'll be back-"
"Give it a rest, Lizzie." Alasdair sat down, and reached out to give the wooden lattice a tug. No movement. As simple as it looked, it was hard as iron. He leant forward, banging his head against it.
Everyone was looking particularly sombre. All except for one of them.
Joel stood up and ran at the cage with an animal yell, only to fall on his backside. Alasdair rolled his eyes. "That's not going to work."
"Sure, why not keep trying?"
"Where the heck are we?"
The others looked up at the youngest boy, who was hopping up and down, utterly infuriated. "What is this? Why are we here? Are we dreaming? Did we dream those monsters? What the damned hell is happening?"
"I don't know!" Alasdair hissed through gritted teeth. "I don't know what's happened. None of us do."
"I can guess." Lizzie slumped in the corner. "We're dead. We're doomed forever; this is hell."
"Oh, pipe down." Yvonne glared up from her ceiling-staring position. "This isn't hell. Hell's much more painful than this."
Lizzie snapped a glare back. "Oh really? Have you ever been?"
"Then how do you know?"
"You!" Joel turned on Lizzie, and was now pointing at her, his finger quivering. "It's your fault! You broke the thingummy!"
"Me?" Lizzie stood up, eyes blazing, "Listen, you brat, it was an accident! And anyway, Rachel was the one who was fiddling with it!"
Rachel looked up, hurt. "Hey..."
Alasdair let out a grunt. "Don't start!"
"Well what about you then? You yanked the things out the back!"
Now Alasdair was on his feet, pointing fingers. "Oh, I'm sorry if you wanted to be caught in an explosion! And anyway, we wouldn't have been looking around there if we weren't looking for Lucy!"
Lucy blinked, snapping out of whatever daze she was in. "Whu..."
Nobody else paid any attention; Lizzie was currently in full-on hysterics. "We wouldn't have been there anyway if we hadn't all been following you!"
"Me? You were following Yvonne; you know, the girl I actually invited rather than you!"
"Get lost yourself!"
Both Lizzie and Alasdair turned on George, both in full fury mode. "WHAT!?"
The portly boy jumped briefly, but he pointed from his sitting position, towards the other end of the storage cell. "I don't think we're alone in here."
Everybody turned round, and squinted into the dark corner of the cell. Yvonne shook her head. "Nothing there. Just bones."
"Bones?" said Joel, instantly unnerved. "How long are we gonna be here?"
"They could be from anything."
George stood up. "No, that's not just bones..."
"Well, do you want to go and check?"
The boy swallowed, and looked over at Alasdair. "You're the leader..."
"I am not! And I'm not going anywhere after last time!" Alasdair sat down, and folded his arms petulantly. "We're not going anywhere or doing anything until we come up with a plan. I'm not going wandering around looking at some dumb bones!"
"Lucy's already looking."
"Oh, for god's sake..."
Indeed she was; edging slowly closer on her knees into the shadows. Rachel was close behind her, her hand holding tightly to the D-Port, as if she were protecting it. Lucy got closer, but stopped just a couple of metres away. She turned back. "It's not just bones."
"What is it then?"
She shrugged. "A demon?"
Lizzie gave a humourless laugh. "See? I told you. Hell. Eternal damnation."
Yvonne flicked her longtime friend in the nose. "Stop being a pessimist. It's not good for you."
Lizzie felt about to explode, but she bit her cheek and calmed down. "Alright then, genius pal of mine, what do you think it is?"
Yvonne turned up her nose. "Whatever it is, it's not moving. It's probably dead."
"No, but I wish I was with all that racket you're making."
There was a series of screams that echoed through the tiny cave, and immediately five of the seven children had pressed themselves up against the wooden lattice. Only Lucy and Rachel remained relatively close; Lucy seemed virtually unfazed, and Rachel had now thrown her whole body over the D-Port, as if sacrificing herself to protect the busted-up little device. Still, everybody's eyes were on the creature as it unfurled itself.
"Kindly shut up."
The creature was not, as it turned out, a pile of bones, though the mistake was easy to make in the darkness. It had a thin, white spine running down its back, and a large, monstrous skull over its head, through which peered two large, pale, grey-blue eyes. The rest of its body was nigh-invisible, save for its wicked hooked claws and a series of seven spine-pairs sticking from its back and down its tail, which glowed an eerie blood red. It genuinely looked like a demonic spectre as it sat up on its knuckles and faced the children.
It took a step forward and the children all held their breath, with the exception of Lizzie who started babbling again, "Oh please for the love of god don't eat us!"
"I'll repent! I swear, I didn't do anything wrong..."
If the creature had had eyebrows, one of them would have raised. "What are you talking about? I don't eat...whatever you are...no, I don't eat full stop."
Yvonne patted Lizzie on the shoulder and took a step forwards. "How can we trust you when you look like that?"
In the very corner, Joel cracked his knuckles. "You try to eat me and I'll bust you up!"
"Child, you wouldn't get near me."
"Really." The creature sat down, and exhaled heavily. Its voice was deep and throaty, but came across as a lazy Latino drawl. It glanced over at Lucy, who was looking in curiosity. "You seem normal. Sort of."
Lucy blushed, and gingerly raised a hand. "Hello..."
The eyes in the darkness looked her up and down, before it raised a hand of its own. "My name is Chupamon. I'm very dangerous and you all probably don't want anything to do with me. I'm sorry if I disturbed you; if you'd like I'll go back to sleep in the corner. Just keep it down for crying out loud."
Despite his words, he didn't move, looking at each child in turn. "Well?"
Alasdair swallowed. "You're not going to...eat us..."
"Do I look like I'm going to eat you?"
"Well, that's normal."
Rachel loosened her grip on the D-Port, and turned to the others. "At least he's friendlier than the others. We might be able to find out where we are."
Lucy nodded. "He's good. I can tell."
"You can't tell where your shoes are half the time." Alasdair scratched behind his head. "Look...Chupamon...I'm sorry. We're sorry. You just scared us.
Chupamon rolled his eyes, and walked slightly further into the light, squatting down before them. In the bright his body was more visible; very dark purple and muscular, where he walked on his knuckles like an ape. His skin was covered in very fine hairs, or maybe scales - it was hard to tell. His red glow had also diminished somewhat, although his skull mask remained as stark white as ever.
He tilted his head. "You people...aren't from around here, are you?"
The great bug sighed, and shifted the great snare further up her back. "What? Leave me alone; I have a headache."
ExVeemon popped his lips, and continued regardless. "They really didn't look like any Digimon I've ever seen. Could they have been telling the truth?"
"I don't care. They're a bunch of whining children and they can sort out their own problems. I'm not a babysitter." She rolled her neck, clicking as she did so. "Besides, we've got bigger things to worry about than them, and they're the ones who've put us all at risk."
"They sort of fell into the snare. It's not really their fault."
"Well it's not mine!" Kabuterimon winced, and pulled the snare further up. "Hurry up, we need to get this fixed. I don't want to deal with anything else today."
"I can't go any faster than this."
"Oh for crying out loud...give it to Gargoylemon then!" Kabuterimon looked around, then stopped, her wings flickering slightly. "Where is he?"
ExVeemon looked behind him. "He was behind me. Maybe he got lost?"
"There's one path. I doubt it." The bug scoured the landscape, growling as she did so. "I swear, if he's off smelling flowers or something-"
"Maybe he fell in the pond?"
Kabuterimon glanced over the edge of the path, down the hill towards the lake. She felt uneasy, her lower set of arms tensing up. "We don't have time to look for him now. The longer we leave this-"
ExVeemon's usual blue shade went very pale all of a sudden. "You think something got him?"
"I didn't say that. It's probably nothing serious..."
ExVeemon wasn't really listening. He peered down himself, staring at a clump of bushes that were shivering in the wind. "Gargoylemon? Is that you?"
Kabuterimon swallowed, her wings fluttering slightly. "I don't think-"
There was a sudden explosion at ExVeemon's feet, the road beneath him crumbling away in a flash of black fire. He yelled, but was already falling, his wings flapping furiously but fruitlessly as he tumbled down into the greenery. Kabuterimon yelled herself, as the snare clattered down behind her, the beams breaking. She abandoned it, and ran to the side, calling out. "ExVeemon! What happened?"
There was no answer. She backed off, her hands clenching and unclenching as electricity ran along their length. The wind was light, but the bushed below were shaking violently, as something ran upwards.
"Run. Don't turn, don't fight, just run, and let..."
She didn't finish her sentence, since just as she turned to run back up the path, the creature shot out in front of her in a bright red blur. She turned, tracking its movement as she brought all four hands together in a panic. "Electro-"
It leapt again, jumping to the hill above with the speed of a cheetah. She turned, but it had already poised itself, its lips pulled back in a horrendous grin. Before she could raise her hands it had leapt a third time and it was on her, sending her tumbling back into the brush.
Arimon looked over his shoulder, back up the rugged path. "If anyone sees us, we're gonna be in trouble; you know that right?"
"Since when are you one to be worried?" Wyvermon shuffled forwards, taking the tiniest peek into the cave. "I can hear voices."
"So they can talk..." Arimon clutched his dagger; an act that gave him a bit of comfort when things weren't necessarily going well. He nudged the dragon. "I'm beginning to think the elders were a little...you know..."
"Hasty?" finished Wyvermon, nodding in agreement, "I know what you mean, but it's not like they listen to us." He squinted, his bright orange eyes lighting up in the darkness. "I can't see them. Not properly."
Behind him, the sheep fidgeted. "We could always go and say hello. You know. They might be scared. Don't we have a duty?"
"To creatures like them?" Wyvermon puffed his cheeks out, but stepped back, holding out a claw. "If you want to, be my guest."
Arimon glowered at him, but he plucked up the courage and stepped forward, edging into the darkness. The voices became clearer, and he edged around the opposite wall, trying to peer into the cage before one of the mysterious beings spotted him.
Inside the cage, Joel tilted his head, and pointed. "Hey look, it's another one."
Arimon jumped as seven faces came to the gate, all staring at him. He jumped even higher as Wyvermon brushed past him, sighing and patting him on the back. "You are not a stealthy guy. You know that, right?"
"I...I didn't...shut up!" Arimon flounced forwards, his arms folded, but his partner was no longer paying attention, instead gazing with wonder into the cage. "Woah...you're really from out of town, aren't you..."
Yvonne shrugged. "Further than you can imagine." She glanced over her shoulder. "Are they Digimon too?"
"Most of us are around here. We just look different, but we're all the same data. Not that they'd admit it."
Chupamon was still sat in the corner, having been drip-feeding information out to his new cellmates. George and Lucy were transfixed, along with Rachel, although right now she was doing her best to help Alasdair get the D-Port working again, with minimal success. The others were keeping to themselves by the sides of the cell, still trying to get their bearings on this miraculous and terrifying new world.
Wyvermon seemed to take offense at not being the complete centre of attention, and he pressed his eye up against the cell bars. "Who are you talking to? Who is that?"
The children parted, and Chupamon glanced up, instantly bristling and the spines on his back flexing. "Oh, it's you two," he muttered, his voice dripping with contempt.
"You!" Wyvermon's hackles went up, and Arimon drew his dagger, holding it out at arm's reach in front of him. "You...leave these poor people alone! Wretch!"
"Charming." The little devil looked among his current company. "Just so you're aware, I'm not best popular around here."
Joel looked at the two aggressors, and then back at Chupamon, who suddenly seemed bored. "Do you know each other?"
"Silence! You're in here for a reason! Your kind, coming in here, trying to slaughter us!"
Chupamon twitched, and marched forwards, pressing his hideous skull up against the bars. "Why on earth do you still insist on that pathetic lie?"he growled.
"Because it's true! You're a disgrace to Dallurmon!"
"Dallurmon couldn't give a damn about me."
"You're not worth giving a damn about!"
"What in Yggdrasil's name do you think I want from-"
Everybody jumped out of their skin as a huge explosion sounded, and the cave shook. George knocked his head against the side of the cell, letting out a moan. He turned towards the cave entrance. "What the heck?"
The dragon and the sheep looked at one another in horror. "That came from the village!"
Before anyone could stop them, they'd rushed out of the cave. Alasdair watched them go, his arm hanging out of the cell limply. "Great...such social graces we all have..."
"Chupamon? What's wrong?"
Alasdair turned to see Chupamon sitting bolt upright, his head pointed towards the sky. He sniffed; left, right and then back again. His pale eyes were wide, and he brought his muzzle down once again.
"Shit...he's found me."
The explosion was causing an awful lot more commotion up the path near the village, as the overseers Dinohyumon and Seasarmon rushed out, trying to make out what was happening amidst all the smoke. The villagers were panicking, trying to put out a house that was currently engulfed in black flames.
Seasarmon bristled, their haunches raised. "Something's here. Something bad."
Dinohyumon gave them a glare over his shoulder as he rushed forwards to point people in the right direction. "You think?"
"Oh, blast you." Seasarmon shivered suddenly, and looked around. "It's bad. Very bad. Very malicious; I can sense it. Did something hit the barrier?"
"The barrier's down..." Dinohyumon suddenly stood straight, gazing around. "The barrier's down and we didn't get round to fixing-"
A broad spear of black lightning shot out of nowhere, and immediately another building spontaneously combusted, this one sending both overseers to the ground. Seasarmon immediately leapt up yelping, and spinning around as they tried to remove the black flames from their own back. Now the villagers were panicking; running in every direction as the flames licked the sky.
Only Dinohyumon stayed still, watching beneath the heavy smoke as a Digimon walked forwards, licking his blackened lips. He was a large, crimson wolf, with straps of black leather wrapped around his legs and a long snout laden with more triangular teeth than was really suitable or dentally practical. He was a Fangmon, and even for his kind, he was big, standing over six feet at the shoulder. He glanced around with his slanted yellow eyes, and his gaze fell upon Dinohyumon.
"Whoops. You forgot to close the gate."
Dinohyumon had his sword drawn in an instant, holding it up against the great hellhound. "Get back to the shadows, you scum. You're not welcome here."
"Calm down, calm down; I'm just here to collect something of mine." Fangmon grinned, his lips pulling back to show all of his pearly whites. "I don't come round stealing your property, now do I? So don't steal mine. Where is my Chupamon?"
Dinohyumon didn't answer, instead holding his sword up further. Seasarmon rushed up behind him. "Dino, you know you can't-"
"You're not a fighter. None of us are. You won't stand a chance."
Dinohyumon glanced back, and saw that the third overseer Unimon had now appeared, gawping over the chaos like somebody who'd just woken up after a meteor strike. Dinohyumon shouted, "You two get as many out of here as you can. I've got the best chance out of all of us; I'll handle this."
Seasarmon nodded, before running off, Unimon on their tail. Dinohyumon turned back to Fangmon, who was swinging his tail lazily back and forth. "Always a stickler for bureaucracy, you people. But if I must, I must." He stepped aside, and kicked backwards at the smaller Digimon who was standing behind him. She rushed forwards, clutching her arm as she spoke through gritted teeth.
"Search the village, you pathetic wretch. Find the Chupamon and bring him back."
He kicked her again, sending her bounding off into the chaos, before turning his attention back on the warrior before him.
"So how good are you with that pointy stick of yours, reptile?"
Dinohyumon breathed out, and rushed forwards.
Arimon looked panicked, and shoved Wyvermon roughly on the shoulder. "We should go. I told you we weren't supposed-"
"Wait a minute!" The dragon pressed his eye up against the bars, glaring at Chupamon. "You! What did you do?"
There was no answer. Looking nervously between the two, Yvonne raised an arm. "Listen, I-"
"You, silence! And you, black-blooded scum! Jewel Rush!"
The attack came from nowhere, as Wyvermon's whole body glowed and he slammed into the bars, making the whole cavern shake. The children jumped a mile, and backed away from the door. Joel's eyes were wide. "What did you just do...?"
Only Chupamon was unshaken. He slowly unfurled himself, and walked to the door, glaring back at the dragon beyond. "You think this is my fault, lizard?"
Wyvermon reached out and grabbed the bars, leaning in and whispering dangerously. "Who did you call?"
"Nobody. But that's not going to make a difference. As I told you weeks ago when you picked me up and threw me in here." Beneath his mask, Chupamon smiled dryly. "My owner's simply come to pick me up."
In a flash, Wyvermon's claw shot out, grabbing Chupamon's neck beneath his skull mask. He rolled his lips back, bearing several dozen small triangular teeth. "As if I would ever let him-"
"Wyvermon! Behind you!"
The dragon turned towards the cave entrance, where a small Digimon stood, silhouetted against the sunlight. She was big for a Rookie; only just smaller than Wyvermon, and she looked very much like a small kangaroo. Not entirely though. Her tail was stubby and wrapped in lilac bandages, the same kinds that formed markings over her limbs and body. She had dark brown fur with a sandy belly, and conical, stubby claws on the ends of her fingers and oversized feet. Her eyes were a deep purple, and intersected with a scar on both sides, yet despite her thuggish appearance she was clearly in bad shape, with wrinkles beneath her eyes and nasty bruises over her body. Still, she cut an imposing figure. Arimon stood before her, his dagger drawn and held out. "Who are you? What do you want?"
Marsuamon spat, and marched forwards. "Get out the way, pricks."
"As if we'd-"
The wallaby jumped forwards, appearing behind Arimon. The sheep swiped round, his blade grazing her shoulder, but she was already well into her move, and her leg lashed out and struck him in the back. He went flying, crashing into the opposite wall as Marsuamon straightened up.
Wyvermon flung himself forwards, his body glowing as he wrestled the kangaroo to the ground. But, even with the advantage of the initial blow, she grabbed his wrists one at a time and rolled over onto him.
"I ain't here for you!"
With a boxer's precision she struck the dragon in the snout, once, twice – leaving him stunned and winded. She jumped to her feet (making sure to give him a boot in the stomach for good measure), before she turned to the door. Thankfully the children has already made it a priority to get as far away from the door as they could; not that Marsuamon noticed or cared, as she began running at it, her fists clenched.
Her feet lashed out and the door splintered into two, the pieces caving inwards. She didn't stop, marching past the children as she grabbed Chupamon by the skull-mask. "What the hell are you doing here?"
Chupamon looked at the ground. "You know full well."
"Well, you're an idiot." The kangaroo grabbed him and threw him out the door, rolling her neck as she did so. "Go! Get outta here! Before he comes looking for ya!"
Chupamon shook his head and body, glaring at the kangaroo. "And you?"
"Don't ask dumb questions, skull-boy. This is your chance!" Marsuamon scratched her shoulder. "I can take it."
"Now who's stupid? Fangmon will kill you. And me.
At the back of the cage, George raised a finger. "Um...did we miss something..."
Rachel dropped the D-Port on its back, staring in awe and fear at the scene before her. "Aren't you...the bad guy?"
For the first time Marsuamon seemed to notice the seven people cowering in the back of the cage, and she turned, her shoulders broad and her chin pushed out. "What the hell are you?"
"It's a long story. Best not to ask."
Lizzie bit her lip, and leaned forwards. "What are you talking about? Who's coming?"
The kangaroo gave a humph. "If y'know what's good for you you'll get outta here as well."
Marsuamon heard Arimon's footsteps and brought her hand up to block the attack, only to wince in pain as the glowing blade burned her hand. Arimon saw his chance, lunging out with his foot and then with his head, sending Marsuamon staggering back.
Arimon leapt forwards, his claws digging into the wallaby's shoulders as he drove her into the ground a second time. She resisted, but he held tighter this time, and the sheep's dagger was soon at her neck. "Whatever you're planning, it's over."
"Are you insane?!" Marsuamon squirmed, but the dagger pressed ever further in, drawing blood. Wyvermon glanced up at Arimon.
"What do we do?"
Beside them, Chupamon growled, and flexed his muscles. "You let her go, dragon. She's got nothing to do with you."
"And let you escape? And her?" Wyvermon ground his teeth in frustration. "You're both criminals."
"She was rescuing me."
"So you could get revenge?"
Marsuamon snapped, yelling, "So we could get AWAY! And so should you!"
Arimon pulled back slightly, and grabbed the dragon's arm. "Wyvermon, I think-"
"I don't CARE what you think!" Wyvermon loosened his grip and turned on his friend, allowing Marsuamon to bat his paws away and wriggle out. "You NEVER go all the way with this! People have DIED due to these monsters, and you're going to just let them get AWAY with it?"
The four Digimon jumped as something struck the nearest cage. They turned, and saw Alasdair, standing up and wielding a dangling wire in one hand. He glared at each of them in turn, his face red with fury. "WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?"
The four Digimon were momentarily silenced. Marsuamon folded her arms. "It's none of your-"
"It IS our business!" Alasdair punctuated each phrase by whacking the broken door with the wire, the sound reverberating in an odd manner. He pointed at Arimon and Wyvermon "YOU brought us here, YOU locked us up, and YOU," – here he changed his accusation to the offended looking wallaby - , "YOU came here and started picking a FIGHT! We have NOTHING to do with this world and you've given us NOTHING but CRAP! So tell me now, WHAT the HELL is going ON? WHO'S coming!? WHAT'S coming?"
Behind him, George coughed. "Alasdair...the D-Port's working..."
The boy turned around. It was true. Rachel was knelt beside it, and the thing was lit up. The dials were moving. Even the weird, staticky feeling was back; the children and Digimon alike could feel it on their skin. Alasdair looked at the wire in his hand, which he'd yanked out from the side, and he dropped it. "What the...I don't get this thing."
Lizzie leaned over. "Maybe we can...can we get home? Can we get out of here?"
"I...maybe..." Alasdair looked over his shoulder, to where the four Digimon were still staring. Yvonne looked as well, and whispered to him. "I think they're in big trouble."
Joel stood up, looking nervously around. "You asked them what's coming? They didn't say anything."
Lizzie shook her head. "I don't care! We can't do anything! Let's just get out of here!"
"I'm trying." Rachel pushed the buttons one after the other, shaking her head. "It's just flashing. There's nothing in there. No...red tornado thing...nothing!"
"Well try harder!"
Marsuamon blinked, and shook her head. "I'm sorry, what? What?" She turned and glared at Wyvermon. "What the heck were you people doing here?"
"Me? It's not my fault; they fell out of the sky apparently."
Chupamon growled, his spines glowing. "We don't have time for any of this. If Fangmon finds us like this we are all going to die."
The flames turned the cave black, then blue, then blasted the roof open with a bang, sending rock and rubble in every direction. Children and Digimon alike covered their heads as the world fell around them, the very ground shaking from the impact. Chupamon and Marsuamon were the first to recover, their eyes adjusting to the sunlight as they looked towards the path. Fangmon was stood there, next to the lake, with a large smile on his face. One paw was digging into the dirt. The other was curled around the smoking body of Dinohyumon; bloodied, bruised, and unconscious. Fangmon tilted his head, and looked at the ground before him.
"That's awfully pessimistic coming from you, Chupamon? I would have thought you'd be glad to see me." He raised his paw, showing the group Dinohyumon's wrecked face. "This fellow didn't last anywhere near as long as I wanted him to."
The wolf's ears twitched, and he looked aside to see the children, still huddled together within the ruined cell. The bars had held up the worst of the rubble, but they were coughing and spluttering, still disorientated.
Fangmon tilted his head, and let out a short whine.
"What the hell are they?"
Nobody answered, with the exception of a sigh from George. "I'm getting really tired of hearing that question."
Fangmon shrugged, and turned his attention back to Marsuamon and Chupamon. He raised a paw, and curled a claw, beckoning them. "You're coming with me."
Neither of them moved. The wolf's eyes flashed, and he slammed a foot down. "Whatever you were thinking, it won't work!"
He chuckled, his belt-buckles clanging against one another as his shoulders heaved. "Oh I get it...you really thought you could run away from me! Oh, that's just precious."
Chupamon hunched his shoulders. "Leave this village alone. I'll come."
"Will you? How kind of you; it's like you really think you have a CHOICE?" With a red blur he rushed forwards, his overly-long foreleg slamming the little devil across the rubble. The wolf turned upon him, all humour gone from his face.
"You dare to give me orders? I OWN YOU!" Another slash, causing Chupamon to roll over the sharp rocks. Fangmon stood atop the rubble, staring all around. His yellow eyes travelled down to Marsuamon, who was stood stock still.
"I own YOU as well! You are my PROPERTY! Everybody here! The village! The overseers! Those freakish things over there. If I decide so, then they are my property!" He looked up the path towards the burning village. "You know, I might even do that. I'd no longer need to travel. Think about it, me owning a village." He licked his lips and stared over at Chupamon, who was struggling to his feet. "I must admit, it's a good idea. You should be thankful. I might even be generous and let you have a pick of the people."
"We will NEVER BE YOUR SLAVES, YOU SCUM! BRAVE DAGGER!"
Arimon and Wyvermon shot forwards from two directions at once, catching Fangmon off guard. Their attacks sliced into his forelegs, but the leather bands meant the blows were shallow. And he wasn't about to give them a second chance.
In one second, the red wolf was gone, out of both their fields of vision. In another second, his claw struck the both of them square in the back, sending Arimon to his knees and making Wyvermon stagger. The wolf reappeared, arching his back atop the pile of rubble. "How wonderful. You still have some fight in you. You're far better than the pathetic attempt for a swordsman over there."
"Take that back!" Arimon pulled his dagger back, the blade glowing bright gold. "Bright Barrage!"
He swung forwards. Below the collapsed rock, the children gazed in awe as fireballs erupted from the attack, shooting forwards like a miniature meteor shower. Fangmon was less impressed though, as he merely stepped out of their way, before turning himself to face the sheep knight, his teeth white and glinting.
"Are you afraid, little lamb?"
His eyes shone brightly, the pupils focused directly on Arimon as the sheep brought the dagger back again.
"You should be."
With a roar he leapt, but there was a blur of brown and Arimon wasn't there, tackled to the ground by Marsuamon. The sheep struggled, but the wallaby helped him up, before turning on her captor. She was shaking now, fury burning through her veins and her muscles so tensed that they rippled through her flesh. Fangmon glanced back, and raised an eyebrow.
"So you do wish to make an enemy of me today."
Marsuamon spat and leapt forwards, lashing out with fists and feet. She was fast, and powerful, but Fangmon was more so, and he merely ducked and dodged in amusement, occasionally reaching out and slashing her across the thigh or belly. Not that she cared; she'd been fired up now, and she kept attacking, and talking at the same time.
"You stole me! You wrecked my home and killed my companions, and you beat me again and again. Chupamon as well. I was ready to free him. I was ready to DIE than be your property any longer!"
She raised both fists, hopping back and forth. "How can I make an enemy of you? I was never your ally to begin with!"
She wasn't the only one.
Fangmon howled as his back left foot was suddenly pinned in place by several snare-like spines, sticking out of the ground. He writhed, and wrenched the foot out, dripping blood as he did so, only for Chupamon to stand up in front of him, the devil's tail whipping back and forth. Dripping saliva from his maw, Fangmon turned his attention forwards, where Chupamon was on his hind legs. His mask was glowing, and his eyes were bright red.
Momentarily, the sky darkened. Only the skull glowed brightly, growing bigger, more terrifying, twisting and lunging in the onlookers' minds.
But Fangmon was having none of it. He leapt forward, and swung his leg back, knocking Chupamon to one side and breaking the illusion. The wolf's eye was twitching, but he was otherwise unaffected. "You really think that'll work against me?" He laughed, his voice hoarse and brutal. "How can you possibly win?"
Arimon glared at him, as Chupamon and Marsuamon stood either side of him. Behind them, Wyvermon smirked. "Because there's more of us than there is of you. Devil."
The wolf smiled, black energy glowing behind his teeth. "We shall see."
The flames leapt outwards, and the four Rookies scattered, although Marsuamon wasn't fast enough as the black fire stuck to her back like napalm. She hissed in pain, and rolled in the dust, trying to extinguish it. The other three circled, with Wyvermon the first to attack back, his entire body glowing. "Jewel Rush!"
Fangmon was having none of it, twirling in mid-air and slapping the dragon away with a wiry tail. Chupamon raised his forearms and slashed, but the attack merely brushed his oppressor's fur, and he too was sent away. He grunted, and slammed his tail into the ground.
Fangmon leapt, and the spines followed him; seven pairs protruding from the ground, one after the other, and all missing. The wolf landed, right next to the purple devil. "You're all out..."
Fangmon swung his head down and clamped his jaws on Arimon's blade, the saliva steaming off the bright metal. Marsuamon's attack struck, but only just, and a lashing kick from the wolf sent her sprawling as well.
The red hellhound threw the blade away, and raised his mouth to the heavens in a phenomenal howl of pure sadistic pleasure, as flames bellowed up from his belly and flickered from his teeth.
The attack was brutal. Although Arimon had seen it coming, it caught him directly in the back as he tried to run out of its way. There was an explosion, and the sheep was sent flying, bounding off the rock and sliding down into submission.
This came from Yvonne, who had stood up, no longer caring about her safety beneath the rock. Alasdair saw her and grabbed her by the shoulder, yanking backwards. "Get out the way!"
She turned to him, her eyes wide. "Ali...they're going to be killed..."
Alasdair shook his head, but he couldn't think of any words. He looked behind. Rachel and George were striking the D-Port, trying desperately to get the faint glow brighter. Joel was outside, standing on the rubble and yelling and screaming, "Come on! Get that stupid wolf!"
Lucy said nothing, but her eyes were hooked, following every move. Lizzie was crouched beneath the rubble. Even now, Yvonne could hear her muffled sobbing. "I can't take this...I wanna go home...I just wanna go home..."
Another explosion, and the rubble shifted, sending rocks crashing down next to all of them. There was a flash, and a creeping static noise, and George sat back, stunned. "It's...it's working! Properly!"
But not many of them heard him. Even Rachel had turned towards the battle. Not that it was much of a battle. The four Rookies were admirable in their tenacity. Even Arimon had pulled himself to his feet once again, only to be struck down with a lethal claw. There was no contest. No bravado. No heroism. Just a constant, ruthless beatdown from a cruel, cruel being. It wasn't too long before Fangmon stood alone; surrounded by four unconscious bodies, dark flames, and his own wicked aura. He closed his eyes and inhaled the smoke, grinning as he did so.
And then he turned his attention on the children.
Lizzie screamed, and held onto George, who was frantically holding the D-Port still as it vibrated in his hands. "Hurry! He's going to kill us!"
Yvonne turned to Alasdair in desperation. "He's not going to stop!"
"What...what are we supposed to do?" Alasdair held her wrist in retaliation, his own face strained. "We're not supposed to be here? We...there's nothing we can do!"
Fangmon chuckled, and took a step forwards. "You are funny creatures. Surely you'll be more sensible than these things here." He smiled. "Won't you?"
Bright red, Joel stepped forwards, and held his arms out wide in an impressive show of bravado. "Come on you...you...I'll take you down!"
The wolf, understandably, didn't back down. Instead, Yvonne stepped up, and raised her arms beside Joel. So did Lucy, her gaze stony and seemingly angry for the first time.
Behind them all, George stood up, holding tightly onto Lizzie as he did so. She glanced down. "But...the D-Port..."
The boy shook his head. "I'm not leaving without them."
Rachel stayed on her knees, but she too held her arms wide, planting herself between the wolf and the machine.
Fangmon licked his lips. "I wonder how long you'll all last. Looking at the state of you-"
He frowned, and looked behind him. His leg was being held, tightly, by a small, beaten-up green wyvern. His claws were digging in, and his teeth were bared in a snarl.
"Leave them out of this..." His eyes glanced forwards, briefly meeting Alasdair's. "Whoever they are...this isn't their fight. Your fight's with us, coward."
Fangmon's eyes blazed, and he kicked roughly. But it wasn't enough to dislodge Wyvermon, who opened his maw wide and bit the tendon. Hard. Blood streamed over his lower jaw and down the wolf's leg. Fangmon yelped, and kicked again, and again. It took him seven times to finally fling the dragon away, where he lay on his side, his mouth bloody and several teeth cracked.
That wasn't enough though; with a growl Fangmon leapt over and slammed his foreleg down on Wyvermon's body. Twice. Three times. Once on the tail, sounding an audible crack. And again on the dragon's chest, causing him to cough up blue bile.
"You impudent, foolish, stubborn WRETCH!"
The wolf curled his claws, and leant down, breathing heavily in Wyvermon's ear.
"I wasn't going to kill them. I really wasn't, but I am now, because you made me. How does it feel when all your courage isn't enough to save them? What is your heroism worth now?"
Wyvermon coughed, and glared up with one orange eye.
"More...than your miserable...life...will ever know..."
"You'd throw away your life for those people? You don't even know them. What they even are. What they'll do to this world. Or to you." Fangmon glared up, and the black flames began to flicker in his maw. "Why?"
"Why will I protect them...?"
Amidst the blue and black flames, there was a flickering red light, glinting off of the dragon's scales. Wyvermon smiled, and spat a globule of blood onto Fangmon's snout, as a faint whistle blew in the background.
"Because...I can. That's why."
Time stood still. All the children watched as the air around them grew heavy and electric. The sound was deafening, but nobody noticed. They just watched, as Fangmon removed his paw, and dripped liquid fire from his mouth.
"I've had enough from you."
The D-Port opened up. Like before, the red spiral spun lazily in the circular screen. The dials and meters were flickering back and forth, showing highly erratic readings. The spiral reached out, forming the terrifying red whirlwind from before; maybe slightly deeper in colour, or fiery in nature, but certainly as frightening. Only Alasdair saw it at first. Looking away from the dragon's imminent death, he saw the vortex hanging in the air. The others turned to watch as well. Rachel inexplicably backed away. So did George. Alasdair was closest. With a gentle hand, he reached out towards it. His other was still on Yvonne's shoulder. She bit her lip.
Fangmon hadn't noticed. He opened his mouth wide, the explosive blast building and building. Wyvermon closed his eyes.
Alasdair could feel his heart pumping as he paused, his hand centimetres away from the spinning energy. "Why would he protect us...?"
As the tips of Alasdair's fingers touched the vortex, he spun round at the last second, reaching out his hand towards the dragon.
He was gone before he could finish, torn up by the red tornado. Yvonne screamed. The others stared in horror. There was a flash, and a tear in space like the peel of thunder, causing even Fangmon to glance over.
Alasdair was gone, but the tornado wasn't. But it didn't expand. Or reach out to anybody else. With a leviathan's roar it shot forwards, striking the wolf across the face, spiralling around the fallen rubble, before impaling itself directly into Wyvermon's chest. For a moment it spread wide, and all the onlookers could see the face of Alasdair caught up in the swirling horror. Then there was a flash of red lightning, a scream, and it was gone.
Wyvermon floated in space, halfway between life and death. There had been a great rushing, and then...nothing. Nearly nothing. He could see the boy... what was his name? Then the dragon was next to him, and they both looked out over a sea of white and grey. There were people moving in the distance. Human children. A group, standing over a young girl. Another one crying. And the boy was there as well. Shouting. Hitting. Getting hit himself. There were words being said, but Wyvermon didn't understand any of them.
He looked up, and saw the boy staring, as if in a daze. The scene was fading away. The boy was running, both girls' hands in his.
The dragon sat down, watching as the people melted into nothing. "Who are you? Where did you come from?"
"Somewhere far away from here."
"And it's still the same?"
The boy looked down. "It was always up to me. I had to protect them, but I never had anyone to protect me." He glanced sideways, aware of the dragon, staring up at him. "Why did you?"
The dragon shrugged. "Because I can. My own conscience - and your own life - are at stake. Isn't that enough?"
The boy closed his eyes, and took in a breath. "It always should be."
All around them, the white clouds were giving way to flames of ruby red and emerald green, and the distant whistle was beginning to sound. The boy held out a hand.
"Wyvermon, Soul Interlock!"
The dragon jerked upright, and red light streamed from his eyes and mouth, shooting skywards. The lights were still present within his body, showing up in his veins, and below that, his mainframe, which began to shift and bulge, ripping the skin as it did so. He staggered, but his body was acting of its own accord. And it was growing fast.
His emerald green scales fell away, first from his arms as they lengthened, then his legs, then his torso as he stretched out, becoming more serpentine. His face was pulled apart, the smooth muzzle bursting open to reveal the far more gnarled face beneath. The mainframe stretched, forming wings and a long tail, and as it did so the red light began to fill in the grid, forming a solid shape, now tall enough to look Fangmon in the eye. Everybody in the area could only watch in mesmerised horror, as the red light finally faded, revealing a brand new creature
It was a dragon, although far different in appearance from the wide-eyed terrier-like look he had formerly sported. His body was long and serpentine, with a curling and twisting tail that ended in a curved arrowhead. A ragged fin arched down his neck and along his back; soft, yet stiff, and brick-red. His legs were slender, and from his forelegs sprouted thin, spiny struts from either arm, which held a rough membrane between them. His head was far more ornately adorned than before, with spiny, golden horns, a thick, pale mane of skin draped back over his neck, sharp tusks on his upper jaw and a curved horn on the end of his snout. He looked like the very visage of a Norse longboat, only flesh and blood. He held his head high and his wings spread, and his body was covered in scales of a deep green, which seemed to change shades and ripple in the sunlight. He was a dragon fit to be a king or a scourge in the oldest of legends, and he shook his head, shedding scales as he angled himself to face Fangmon.
TO BE CONTINUED...