Episode 03: We Still Have the Radio
In a messy basement-level flat in the university district of Atlas Park, a young man turned on the television tuned to the news station.
"... but luckily," the familiar voice of co-anchor Rebecca Porter was reading over shaky, grainy camera cellphone footage of bright lights over a parking garage, "damage to public property seems to be minimal. No hard evidence has been found to support any particular explanations, but the official police statement is that it was likely a prank..."
In front of that television, another young man stopped walking.
He furrowed his brow and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He looked at the screen, and felt-- a mix of relief, confusion, and something else. Almost a week later, and finally, something he could work with-- maybe. If she thought it might be something, at any rate.
Insert-deity-of-choice bless the people who cared more about filming weird occurrences than petty things like getting out of the way, or he might have kept right on walking without paying an ounce of mind to the local news.
"Peter, if you don't move, I'm going to kill you," the first young man said sharply, but honestly, he was used to this.
"Hm?" Peter was knocked out of his reverie by his roommate's threat of violence. "Oh. Very persuasive," he said back coolly; he smiled a thin smile and sidestepped such that Ian could see the television. The channel switched almost immediately, but Peter had seen enough, and thanked his fortuitous timing.
He had just been heading back to his room with a sandwich in hand, but this gave him pause. "Don't suppose I could convince you to change back to the news?" he ventured. Ian looked back at him and raised his eyebrows.
"You can look it up on that there interwebs. I have faith in your abilities," he said, reaching out. If he could be bothered to stand up, he would have patted Peter on the shoulder; as it was, he patted him in more of the elbow region.
"Thank you for your boundless helpfulness," Peter said dryly, but Ian was right, and he continued walking back to his bedroom. As he crossed the threshold, a little digimon poked her head up over the other side of Peter's bed.
Or, rather, enter: Peter, because, you know, he was the one actually entering the room.
"You look like you know something I don't," she said, drifting up out of her bed of choice-- a laundry basket. (Not the laundry basket Peter actually used, mind you. It was specially sectioned off for her.)
This made more sense when you realized what she looked like-- her body looked like black smoke, long and curling like a snake's. Wide strips of gauze-like tan fabric were wound around her, loose ends tucked into the folds or left to dangle. Her head was covered by a large baggy hood with big black buttons on top that made her look kind of like a ragdoll. This hood shaded her face, leaving only her glowing white eyes visible on her face.
Though she might appear to have no limbs, two lengths of loose fabric coming out from under her hood had the rough appearance of hands, and instead of hanging limp, she was able to animate them and manipulate objects.
"Honestly, I'm not sure if I do," Peter said, taking a seat in his computer chair and setting his sandwich down on the table. Banmon tilted her head and blinked (that is, the lights that served as her eyes flickered out for a moment). She waited for him to say more; maybe, if she didn't know him as well as she did, she might be annoyed by his non-answer, but he was moving with purpose and she decided to drift over to watch what he was looking up.
Banmon had felt... uneasy, the past week or so. She couldn't quite place it, but it hadn't gone away. She couldn't say this made her feel any better, actually, but, you know.
Once his computer had come out of sleep mode, it only took a few clicks and keystrokes to get to the local news' site, and there, right on the front page, was the online version of the news story of the day. The pictures were low-resolution and blurry, and the auto-playing video was. Well. Any time it cut back to the video of the happenings, it was hectic and shaky, grainy and the audio cut in and out.
Banmon, looking over Peter's shoulder, let loose a little gasp. "Do you think--?" she said, even though she knew immediately what she was looking at.
"I was going to ask you," Peter admitted, eyes darting back and forth as he skimmed the page for any information that might prove useful. From the looks of it, most people were writing it off as a confusing publicity stunt or a prank. That worked fine for him.
Witnesses indicated that their phones began to malfunction, accounting for the quality...
"Don't read the comments..." Banmon warned as her friend reached the end of the article proper. He, of course, loved himself far too much to do such a stupid act, and stopped to scroll back up. He stopped on the video that was playing, intercut with commentators and anchors. Banmon squinted at the video, while Peter's eyes drifted off to the side.
Half-buried under a flurry of loose papers there was a little electronic device. The faceplate of his was white, and the little charm dangling off the edge was a little cartoony skull, but aside from that it was identical in almost every way to the others. He had attempted to make it work, but his attempts had proved as fruitful as any other so far-- that is to say, not really.
It might not have even been in such a conspicuous place if not for the fact that on Saturday, two customers had come into the Lotus on Peter's shift. He sort-of kind-of recognized the girl, as she had come into the Lotus multiple times during the school year as well as occasionally seeing her around on campus, but the other dude was a total unknown.
He had, indeed, been the one on shift at that point in time, and how fortuitous it had been that he was. He had tuned them out, not intending to be a creeper; but after he had had to make the request that the guy keep his chair in its intended position, he noticed that they were certainly ending a lot of words in mon.
Now, he wasn't going to assume anything, but he had a hunch that they probably weren't speaking a bad Jamaican patois, so if he had maybe listened a little closer, then... well. Greater good, okay?
He made sure to take note of their faces before they left, just in case.
Was this kind of creepy? Probably, but around the time that strange electronic doohickeys start materializing from light and thin air, you're going to take notice of anyone who says, hey, so, this electronic doohickey appeared in a public place.
Peter reached over to the little gadget and turned it over in his hand. It was his day off, but he knew the chances of his actually finding anything out were... not great. But it was the first chance he had after a week of searching high and low for anything, right? So...
"You're thinking of doing something, aren't you?" Banmon's voice cut through his thoughts.
Peter didn't answer immediately, leaning back in his computer chair. Banmon hovered nearby, watching his face. He looked intently at the digivice, then at his computer, and then turned to look at Banmon. He picked up half of his sandwich and offered it to her.
Peter's computer screen flickered behind him while he was looking away; in the front room, the television went bizarrely staticky for a half a second.
"I'm thinking of going into town in a little bit. You want to come? S'okay if not."
Banmon had always had a bit of a preference for enclosed spaces-- in fact she had always kind of disliked being out in the open. Luckily enough, then, she fit into many small spaces; she was long, but the bulkiest parts of her were her hood and hands, which weren't exactly like trying to stuff something with actual bones and meaty parts into a space.
While she was a bit too big to comfortably fit in a traditional backpack like she had as Wispmon, a duffel bag was hardly any more conspicuous.
She had never been particularly sociable, either, so it's not like she really minded having that barrier between her and other people. Even Ian, who was perfectly well aware of his curious other roommate, only rarely saw her. She kept the last part of the zipper undone, though. She liked looking out and seeing what was around her while safely not having to deal with it or worry about being seen.
So anyway, Peter sat with his duffel bag across his knees on the back of a city bus headed for the downtown district.
(He had originally set the bag to the seat beside him, but a shrill 40-something woman had begun ranting about how young people these days were so disrespectful. Not wanting to cause a scene, he moved the bag onto his lap, not daring to ask why she couldn't just take the unoccupied seat another space away-- until she did, and then set down her own bulging handbag on the newly-freed seat.)
(Whatever. He had a car, yes, and probably could have driven, but his idea of fun was not trying to get where he was going and have to park and deal with all that shit, so he could live with the inconveniences.)
Ostensibly he was looking at his phone, but as he flicked through news articles and social media posts, his mind was entirely somewhere else.
Namely, it was in the duffel bag, on the little ghost tucked away in hiding. It was in the Lotus, where he had overheard that conversation. It was at the parking garage he was on his way to check out.
It was in the vast empty chasm of everything he didn't know.
He almost missed his stop for being so lost in thought, but Banmon shifting around in the bag to get his attention, indeed, got his attention.
Rubber soles touched down on the pavement of the sidewalk, and he looked around to take the surroundings in as he gently hefted the straps of his duffel bag up over his shoulder.
The grey skies had started to precipitate at last. Rain was pretty much an expected feature of the area, because that's what you got when you lived in the pacific northwest, so the people on the street were split fairly evenly between those who carried umbrellas at all times for just such an occasion, and those who were so used to the rain that they didn't mind getting wet.
Peter was among the latter group.
It also appeared that he wasn't the only person here to do a bit of rubbernecking. As he took off at a casual pace towards the parking garage, he overheard a couple conversations.
"Did you hear about what happened? Apparently some jokesters had some fun with some smoke and mirrors, got everyone all bothered..."
"... probably just a bunch of pranksters making some fake videos and trying to sell it to the news. I remember when those kids found bigfoot in the park last summer, I ain't buyin' it."
Peter could practically hear Banmon sigh with resignation from her hiding place. "Do you see anything?" her voice was quiet such that he had to strain to hear her, but there was no chance of it being overheard.
"We're gonna be here a while," Peter replied in a mutter, deliberately sounding like he was talking to himself. Nonetheless, a passing man still shot him a strange, not-quite-trusting look.
Peter continued on, shuffling past groups of people on the street, both people who were here to nose into places they didn't belong and people just going about their Friday, being careful not to jostle Banmon too much. In light of events, he became acutely aware how odd it was for him to be carrying around his best friend in a duffel bag.
(Look-- spend fifteen years and you'll get used to anything, even a ghost being your best friend.)
He had known, or at least figured, that if there was one of Banmon, there had to be more. Maybe not other Banmons, per se -- she was unique, most definitely-- but other things. He had accepted that as inevitable a long time ago-- but the idea of actually coming face to face with it was a bit disquieting.
And why now?
Peter's wandering feet had led him right up to the parking garage, and he peered up at it over the top of his glasses. Then he looked at it through his glasses, not sure why he bothered looking over them, because his eyesight was absolutely awful.
"You feeling anything?"
It was his turn to ask Banmon.
"Go inside?" she said quietly, peering out of the bag to see what she could see. Inside the parking garage, it was darker, with plenty of places to hide-- she might be able to actually come out of the duffel bag to look around herself, if she was careful.
Luckily for her, Peter was already on the move to do just that.
He waved casually to the man running the booth and began walking up the gently-ramping path; once he was around the first bend, he looked around before sidestepping behind a car. There was nobody here, and nobody coming, so he set his bag down and unzipped it. Banmon peeked her head out and looked around cautiously before she floated up and out of the bag.
This wasn't the first time they had done something like this. If she needed to hide, Banmon... well. She couldn't turn invisible, but she could briefly make herself incorporeal, allowing her to slip, say, through a wall or a floor and out of sight. As they scaled the parking garage, she made sure to keep to the shadows, and ducked behind cars and pillars when she heard a car coming or going. That said, it was midday on a Friday, and many of the people parked here were at work.
"I feel something," Banmon said quietly as they rounded a corner. Though she didn't have a visible mouth, she seemed to be frowning when Peter looked over at her.
"The kind of something that we should avoid or not?"
"I don't know... I feel kind of weird."
"Hold on. Do you hear something?"
Banmon looked around frantically, then pricked up her ears. (Did she even have ears? Not the point.) It was the sound of someone talking-- a female voice, but the words were indistinct. Peter gestured at Banmon to stay hidden, not that she really needed to be told.
"I don't think so, either," Natalie was saying to Raumon, leaning against the passenger door of her car, parked just past the curve in the parking garage's last indoor floor. The window was open so she could talk to Raumon, who was standing on the seat with his arms folded on the door. "We can probably head up soon. Wait. Hold on. Someone's coming."
Raumon ducked down; Natalie looked down the way to where she had heard voices from, and saw a blonde young man in glasses just about to come around the bend. He looked kind of familiar, but she wouldn't have been able to pick him out of a crowd if you had asked her. How many hipster-y looking guys were there in a college town, after all?
She furrowed her brow in thought, but figured he was probably just someone coming to get his car, so she nodded politely as he passed. He was tight-lipped but nodded in return, hands stuffed in his pockets.
"Natalie," Raumon whispered frantically, but something else caught Natalie's eye as the boy drew closer.
Behind the young man as he came around the turn was... something, not quite all there. She squinted, and saw... what looked like a flickering white shape, almost like a child in a ghost costume for Halloween.
It is important to note that Banmon, who -- drifting behind the pillars, ducking in and out of the ceiling when she had to pass between gaps -- was still neatly out of sight. She was not what Natalie was seeing.
This was something else-- and this was what Raumon was trying to get Natalie's attention for, because her digivice, sitting on the center console of her car, had lit up. The white shape was growing ever closer to the stranger, and it reared back a hand like it was preparing to attack, and the lights began to flicker--
"Look out!" Natalie cried, but as soon as she spoke, Raumon had already decided that this risk was worth the taking. The little bird vaulted out of the open window and leapt forward, his claws beginning to glow purple.
The young man whipped around in surprise, his scarf trailing as he turned.
As both Raumon and the glowing hands impacted the phantom, it became much more solid-- and was, indeed, a white sheet ghost, with tattered edges, black eyes, and a mouth full of far too many teeth; five to one it was a Digimon. Luckily, it seemed about as able to take a punch as its shroud would imply-- both sets of glowing hands sent it tumbling like a sheet in a stiff breeze, rolling backwards down the incline. Raumon had leapt back, intending to get out of sight as quickly as possible, but--
Natalie did a double take. The young man was remarkably cool-headed about all of this, as he looked from the crumpled white shroud to Raumon to-- he looked to the side, and Natalie followed his gaze. Out from behind a pillar and looking quite apologetic was a little bandage-wearing ghost.
(Little, like, the size of a small child. Shh.)
Raumon, however, was not so easily distracted. His eyes were fixed firmly on the little creature, who was rising back up to-- well. Not its feet.
It glared and gritted its many teeth, looking between Banmon and Raumon.
"This was going to be easy for me, you know," it said, sounding rather put out. "But no, you had to have backup.
It was gone.
It straight up vanished right into thin air, and everything went quiet for a few seconds.
The awkward silence between the two pairs was downright palpable.
"So," Natalie said -- ventured, really, after a few moments, "you too?" She was judging by how Banmon was ducking behind Peter for security to figure that maybe, just maybe, they knew each other. She was, of course, correct.
Peter looked from Banmon to Natalie. "Yep," he said with a nod, putting his hands in his pockets. He seemed to be just doing a casual stance, but one hand came back out, gripping the little black-and-white device.
"It's just a regular party, isn't it?" Raumon said, looking at it as he walked over to Natalie's side.
"I'm Peter. This is Banmon." He gestured at her; she half-ducked behind his back.
"Natalie, and Raumon," Natalie said, pointing to herself and the bird in turn.
There was a brief pause before Peter nodded. "I kind of knew that. At least the latter part, didn't really know your name." When Natalie looked understandably disquieted, he sighed and pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. He thought of how to phrase this, and then just said, in a very familiar, deeply bored tone of voice:
"Four on the floor, if you don't mind."
Natalie squinted at him like he had lobsters growing out of his ears, because, What? But she thought for a moment, and put two and two together, and then, bam, the proverbial lightbulb over her head. "You work at the Lotus!" Beat. "... you overheard us at the Lotus?" Another beat, wherein her expression grew disconcerted. "I'm kind of creeped out."
"You were talking about Digimon," Peter said, casting a glance at Raumon. "It's not the most common word. I didn't expect to find you here, if that helps."
Natalie shrugged one shoulder. It only kind of made things better. Still, kinda creepy, don't you think?
"We thought that maybe, after what he heard you talking about, and then we saw on the news..." Banmon said, and trailed off, looking to Peter to back her up.
"That there might be some kind of a lead, here. Which there was," Peter said, lifting a hand and pointing to indicate where Casper The Far Less Friendly Ghost had been. "Which I assume is why you're here?"
Natalie nodded slowly, putting her hands on her hips. "Yeah. I wanted to see if there was anything I could work together, like some kind of common element. It was kind of a pipe dream that, well..."
"That maybe another digimon would show up. We kind of got a two-for-one," Raumon said, pointing at Banmon, who again ducked behind Peter.
"Sorry about that," Peter said, shrugging his shoulders.
"They took care of it, though," Natalie said, looking between the bird and the ghost. She had never thought of Raumon as the type who'd be prepared to throw down in a fight, but he was full of surprises.
(Peter was even more surprised, as Banmon often flinched when the television was up too loud, let alone prepared to... well.)
"More or less," Raumon said with a shrug, nodding. He felt vaguely uneasy still, but he couldn't tell why. Maybe it was just the nerves from interacting with another digimon? After all, he had spent fifteen years without seeing one, and now, a week later...
(That feeling he got about Desmon, he felt again here with Banmon. Maybe familiarity was the wrong word, but maybe like... a powerful sense of deja vu? It wasn't a particularly comfortable feeling.)
(It's hard to say if it'd be a comfort if he knew that Banmon felt the same way-- without the having the same feeling about the bat digimon she had never met, of course.)
"Do you want to relocate?" Peter said, pushing his glasses up his nose. "I don't feel like this is the most conducive place to hold a conversa--"
As if on cue, the sound of a car approaching echoed throughout the structure. Raumon ducked back towards Natalie's car, while Banmon dove underneath it to hide there-- or rather, she dove through it, and re-solidified once she was hidden underneath it in the shadows.
A red mini-van stopped just shy of coming around the curve, just before the group; they waited for the middle-aged woman to get out of her car and go into the stairwell before they picked back up.
"...tion," Peter finished dryly.
"We could go up to the roof," Natalie suggested almost immediately, looking up to the ceiling and putting her hands on her hips. "People shouldn't be parking up there for a few hours so we shouldn't have to deal with too much." When Natalie looked back down, Peter was looking blankly at her. He didn't say anything or look terribly confused, but the how are you sure didn't need to be said aloud. "I read the sign on the way in. It doesn't open to the public until 5 pm." She and Raumon had been planning on going up themselves before they got a double helping of ghosts, hence her quick decision.
Peter looked to Banmon; she looked around nervously, from Peter to Raumon to Natalie and considering-- and realizing that her friend was going to make his decision based on hers.
"... alright," she said after a short pause, and Peter nodded, first at her, and then at Natalie.
Natalie picked Raumon up by looping her arms under his armpits. "Like we talked about: if anyone asks," she said, "you're a stuffed animal and I got you at the fair."
"How undignified," Raumon lamented, but maybe not-so-secretly, he wasn't too opposed to being carried.
By the time they finished this exchange, Peter was already beginning to walk; Banmon was close on his heels. In his head, a million synapses were firing and he was sorting out all of the minutae of what had just happened. He was quite actively formulating what questions to ask and what to look for.
What of this showed, though? Not a lot, aside from him shoving his hands in his pockets.
"You tell me, Raumon," Natalie said quietly to the bird she was holding, shaking her head. "Is the total lack of surprise at all of this a male thing?"
Up to the roof of the parking garage they went. The marks on the concrete were still there and didn't seem to be terribly willing to be cleaned up. They realized this not because they tried to clean it up, but because cleaning crew were on the scene when they got up to the top level.
Banmon hid in her duffel bag and Raumon went limp, but as they and the maintenence were the only people there and the latter seemed much more invested in their jobs, nobody really looked twice if they continued to talk to the digimon and each other.
Natalie took note that Peter was at least less abrasive than Xander was, but far less direct. They talked a bit, much the same questions that Natalie had answered for Xander in the Lotus, but restated so that Peter could hear without, you know, eavesdropping. Natalie asked if Peter had encountered anything on his own-- any digimon, if his little doohickey had activated, any information at all.
The biggest bit of new information that Natalie had to share was that, if Xander was to be trusted (and though Natalie found him deeply frustrating she didn't have reason to think he'd lie) Saberdramon had only paid attention to them when they went after it-- a distinct contrast from how Yasyamon had seemed to be actively seeking her and Raumon out.
Banmon stayed mostly quiet except to answer questions directed at her; Raumon similarly remained fairly quiet, preferring to take in as much of the conversation as he could. Natalie sent a few texts to Xander, but she got no reply; as he had said, he was Very Busy today, so she expected no less, or perhaps no more.
Before they could really dig into the nitty gritty, though, Raumon grew heavy and Banmon grew slightly antsy. Deciding that was as good a sign as any to part ways, they did what all civilized people do: exchanged messenger handles so they could communicate like real people instead of face to face.
They both tossed a final look at the frustrated maintenance workers as they made to go back down. If not for the black marks and the handful of people who caught it on camera, it was almost like it had never happened.
Of course, there's something missing from this.
It's important to note that no matter how much they discussed, all of them had missed a vital fact-- what Natalie and Raumon had failed to notice, as they had only fought one Digimon before, and what Peter and Banmon simply couldn't know:
That hostile ghost digimon hadn't exploded into light; it had vanished without a trace.
It was later in the day, around three-thirty, when Peter returned home. The moment they were in the door, Banmon phased and drifted out of her duffel bag without even waiting for it to be unzipped.
"Hey," Ian said with a half-wave as soon as the door was closed. He was seated on one end of the godawful-ugly couch, his laptop perched on the arm thereof. Banmon nodded her acknowledgemen, but was quick to return to the relative safety of the bedroom.
Peter grunted by way of greeting and took a seat on the other end of the couch, setting the now-empty duffel bag down next to it with one hand and getting his phone out with the other.
"Don't you have work today?" Peter asked; Ian looked at the clock on his computer. Ian's job occasionally landed him with weird shifts, so it was kind of a crapshoot what times he'd be working on any given day.
"Not until like, six."
"So you won't be back until, what?"
"Two? Ish. Clear out the dancing girls before I get back."
"Right," Peter said, rolling his eyes. On his phone, his messenger app pinged with a push notification--the reception in the parking garage had been garbage (pronounce 'garbage' to rhyme with 'garage' for best effect) and it seemed that her contact request had only now gone through. "I'll be sure to make it child-friendly again before you get back."
Peter shook his head and didn't say anything for a moment as he thumbed over the accept option. "You happen to notice anything weird going on lately?"
"I work front desk at a hotel. I'm pretty sure I checked in two eloping couples and a meth addict yesterday. Weird is probably literally part of my job description."
So that was a no, then. Fair enough. He hadn't actually expected that much, but it couldn't hurt to ask.
They spent the next couple hours in the relative silence on the couch. 'Relative silence' meaning Peter on his phone because he couldn't be bothered to go get his computer, Ian on his laptop on the other side of the couch, and a binge-stream of old sitcoms providing background noise on the TV. Banmon had retreated to Peter's room and was staying there, having been quite peopled out for the next millennium.
Five-forty-five came around. Ian threw deuces as he walked out the door, and Peter finally migrated back into his room, leaving the television on.
After a couple hours of spending his day off in as productive a way as possible (watching videos and browsing social media), Peter couldn't help but get poking his nose back into things, but he had a limited number of options.
This is how he ended up doing exactly what Banmon had advised him against doing-- reading the comments on the news article. Banmon, who often would drift nearby to read over his shoulder-- well.
"Oh, no," she had said, half distressed and half exasperated, covering her face with her hands and shaking her head as she drifted over to the bed instead, where she remained to the present, curled up almost like a sleeping cat.
Peter couldn't help himself from looking at every angle, though; he wanted as full a picture as he could, wanted to see if there was any information he could glean from mispelled comments and spam advertisements.
yeah, one comment went, and my dog can talk and shoot laser beams. where's the news van in my driveway? it's obviously just some cg student trying to make use of their degree lol try harder
aliens was the full text of another. Peter was noticing a theme.
dudes calm down its just a publicity stunt for that shitty new michael bay movie
It was getting on ten o' clock. Peter was right in the middle of reading an impressively long diatribe about its thanks to these no good lazy entitled millennials and their participation trophies that-- when his screen distorted like someone was holding a magnet to a CRT monitor-- the problem, of course, being that his laptop was not a CRT montior.
And then, as soon as it had happened, it returned to normal in the blink of an eye.
Peter raised an eyebrow in vague concern, and waggled his mouse.
"Peter?" Banmon said, a bit nervous. Which... honestly, was pretty normal for her, but still. Paired with the oddness--
"Mm?" he said, turning to look her, and immediately noticed that her eyes were aimed somewhere about a foot to his right. He followed, and.
That little device? That he had returned to its place on his desk? (That he really needed a catchier name for?)
It was totally lighting up.
And what's-her-name had said...
... hm. Concerning.
He picked the digivice up and stood up, looking down at it like it might actually have an answer or two this time. And you know what? It did. There was a menu option that hadn't been available to him before-- and when he pressed that button, the screen sprung to life with the radar.
And there was certainly a little dot on the radar, drawing closer.
"... well, shit," Peter said in a perfect deadpan. He sat still, like a total putz, for about a second before snapping into action-- that is to say, leapt to his feet and got his shoes on.
You never realize how weird your life actually is until you're running out the front door at ten PM because a magical device from the sky says that a monster is coming, and you and your little monster friend may be the only ones nearby qualified to determine if it's hostile or not.
You know, this was probably not the weirdest thing that had ever happened to him.
(It certainly wasn't the weirdest that was going to happen to him. This would soon seem downright quaint, but that's for another day.)
He also realized only as he was heading out the front door that he had no idea what he was doing, but screw it, he'd do it live.
Banmon, for her part, direly hoped that this wasn't his plan, but knew better than to expect that it wasn't.
Peter kept the digivice in his hand and referenced the radar as he moved; an inquisitive touch of the dot on the radar brought up a little window displaying Bakemon - Champion level. However, that wasn't a lot of help; when he and Banmon stepped into the empty lot, with its piles of sand and small tower of bricks and half-derelict concrete foundation overgrowing with grass, he couldn't see anything, even as the little blinking dot was presumably right on top of them.
This did not inspire a whole lot of confidence.
Peter frowned and looked around; Banmon was trying to make sure she could duck under some form of cover if she had to.
"What the hell," Peter said, squinting at the radar screen and at the empty lot around them. Unless dirt was really threatening, there was nothing here.
(Didn't that girl say that the other guy had said something about bringing up information...? Fucked if he could remember it right now.)
"Maybe it's broken...?" Banmon suggested quietly, looking around as well-- a bit more cautiously than Peter's vague annoyance.
And then, something happened that put both of them on their guard: the street lamps flickered.
A white shape phased out of nowhere and struck Banmon, slashing diagonally with a shrouded hand and sending her flying forward-- she almost collided with a small pile of bricks, but she had the foresight (panic) to phase through them.
Peter was quick to turn around, and right there in front of them, it was exactly the type of ghost they had seen earlier in the parking garage-- a white shroud and a too-large mouth curled into a snarl, with empty black eyes.
"Another one?" he muttered, squinting, but as soon as he said it, he knew -- or at least, supposed -- that he was was wrong. He stood his ground as Banmon flew up beside him in record time.
"No," Banmon said, and if she had a brow, she'd have furrowed it. "It's-- it's the same one, I think. Maybe we didn't--?"
Defeat it properly?
Regardless-- their hunch was right. This Bakemon and the ghost they had fought earlier? One and the same.
"You've been making my life real difficult, you know," Bakemon said, distain in its voice. "First I try to get you alone, then you have backup, and then you go running off to who knows where and make me look all over--"
Yep. This was definitely the same Bakemon.
Banmon gathered up her courage to interrupt.
Bakemon was prepared for it this time, and flickered out of sight just long enough to avoid the attack, then phased right back in.
"But fine! I could wait! I'd waited long enough, what was a few hours more," Bakemon said as it flickered back to full corporeal-ness (totally a word).
Peter frowned and furrowed his brow, looking between the two ghosts. His words were... there was something there, he was sure of it, and he wasn't entirely paying attention as he began to puzzle over the hostile ghost's words.
"What are you talking about?" Banmon said, not taking her eyes off of Bakemon. "If you wanted something, you could just ask--"
That certainly got Peter out of his own head-- as did what happened next.
"Banmon!" Peter yelled, emoting as much as he ever did. Before he knew what he was doing, he threw out his hand. Banmon reached out and grabbed a hold of the outstretched hand, but so did Bakemon, reaching out its other shadowy hand to intercept--
And in that moment, the empty lot was filled with the most unholy screeching as Peter's digivice began to swirl with pure white light. Peter internally apologized to the people who actually lived in the house next to this lot, while also thanking them for apparently not looking outside.
The noise died mercifully quickly as that same light surrounded Banmon, and Bakemon let go of her like she was a hot potato.
"Banmon, drive evolve to..."
Banmon grew in size until her smoky, snakelike body was well over fifteen feet long from the top of her head to the tip of her tail. The trailing ends of her scarf that made up her hands began to grow rapidly into large, club-like arms, black from the elbow down, and decorated with metallic golden accents. From the ends of these new paw-like limbs, three sharp white claws grew and glistened in the moonlight.
The buttons on her hood vanished, leaving holes in their wake; as small fabric wings sprouted from the back of the base of her hood, the bandages around her torso morphed into a white robe-like garment with golden accents. Her eyes, still pinpricks of white in her shadowed, smoky face, shone even brighter from within the dark as a skull-like mask covered her face. She slashed her arms through the air and let loose a cry that sounded melodic and sad.
The newly-christened Banshemon looked as surprised as Bakemon did for a split second, before she realized she had no time to waste. Not only were they making a lot of noise, it would be harder to hide and deny it if anyone spotted them-- and far, far more importantly?
Bakemon had tried to attack Peter.
It was hard to get a good look at them, though, because they began to fly at Bakemon.
Bakemon itself was frozen to the spot with something between fear and confusion-- and so didn't get out of the way when the little white spirits rushed him, making a quiet wailing noise as they shot through the air, and they exploded on impact with Bakemon, each one nudging it backwards and clearly causing it pain.
Peter didn't gape but he could feel the surprise showing on his face. Not just at the attack itself, which was almost mesmerizing to watch-- but at the fact that Banmon (Banshemon?) had acted so swiftly, decisively.
"No fair!" Bakemon said indignantly, raising its arms up. "
Once more, the shadowy hands extended out to grab a hold of Banshemon; they grabbed her, as she couldn't phase out in time, but instead of rendering her helpless, she lifted her own arms to grapple with them. Bakemon snarled and bared its teeth, clearly straining to keep its shadowy hands manifested as Banshemon held her own and held her ground.
"It can't take a hit!" Peter said, thinking back to the parking garage. Raumon and Banmon had been able to scare it off-- its attack was far better than its own constitution.
"No comments from the peanut gallery!" Bakemon snapped, but in that moment, Bakemon was distracted, and that was all she needed. With a surge of effort, she wrestled the shadowy hands off of herself. They dissipated harmlessly, and now that her hands were free, she had other plans.
Bakemon abandoned its attack, and instead elected to try to phase out just as it had done for her Shadow Shot-- but this time, it wasn't successful. Banshemon's claws passed right through the space where Bakemon was, yes, but when they did--
Bakemon returned to full visibility the moment the claws passed through its space, and it snarled, opening its mouth wide.
"No-- fair! No fair! I was going to be the one to--"
And just like that, Bakemon began to glow white. It began to distort, and pixellate, and in a flash of white light, pixellated-looking motes of light scattered, and the lot was empty except for a young man and his much, much friendlier ghost.
Banshemon's claws returned to their normal size and luminosity, and her arms hung limp at her sides like they were simple fabric yet again. She slumped down like she was sighing, and she hung in the air where she 'stood', her long tail swirling like smoke.
"... well," Peter said, after a few moments, which immediately made Banshemon lift her head and turn around.
"Sorry!" Banshemon said immediately, growing suddenly self-conscious. Peter raised an eyebrow at her; though she had been uncharacteristically assertive mere moments before, it was clear that she was still... well. Banmon, even by a different name. His expression softened and he gave her a look that communicated the it's fine without saying it.
"I don't know what--" she said, looking down at herself. "Happened?" Her voice turned up at the end, in vague confusion hence the question mark.
"It's fine," Peter said, ending up saying it out loud anyway. He looked at where Bakemon had floated, frowning. "Do you have any idea what it was talking about?"
Banshemon shook her head with a shrug of what was going to pass for her shoulders. "No, I--"
Coming around the turn, the headlights of a car shone bright; Banshemon squeaked and looked around for cover. There was nothing that could cover her in her new size, and like a child who thinks if she couldn't see you you couldn't see her, she lifted her hands to cover her face.
The weird thing was? In that moment, Banshemon flickered almost entirely out of sight. The car passed; at best, they were giving Peter a weird look for standing out here at night, but they saw no giant ghost floating mere feet away from him.
Banshemon spread her claws out to peek through them, but she realized that she didn't need to, as she could see through them just fine. Seeing the car retreating away, she looked around, and she returned to her full visibility.
"You okay?" Peter asked.
"... yeah, I think," Banshemon said after a moment, nodding her head.
It was in that moment that she was consumed by white light for the second time, and just like that, she had returned to the much smaller, travel-sized Banmon.
"Why is it always ghosts with me?" Peter sighed, massaging his temples even as he was grateful to see his friend back to normal. He pocketed the digivice, and signalled for Banmon to follow him home.
He'd explain this to Natalie in the morning. Now, though? He was a little bit sick of ghosts. You know. Other than the one he lived with.