Digimon re:CONNECT || Something wicked this way comes.

Episode 04: Hurricane Streets

It had been a few days since the Bakemon incident; since then, as far as any of them could tell, no digimon had shown up. That is, none of their digivices had lit up, no weird power surges had happened. None of the small subsect of Atlas Park citizens who were now obsessed with the idea of catching something on video had anything, and no news stories happened.

It was a bit past one PM the following Tuesday. It was only now that all three of them -- Natalie, Xander, and Peter -- were free to meet up in the first meeting of the Digimon Response Squad Task Force Go.
Name pending.

They were seated on the grass in the Atlas Park City Park, near the stream; the digimon, wanting to stay nearby and out of sight, had their methods. 'Their methods' meant 'hiding in the boughs of a tree about ten feet away'. Admittedly, it was a bit of a cloudy, grey day -- as was pretty common -- so there weren't too many people out and about, which was a boon.

It was good to have little conveniences, because trying to coordinate the three of them had been an adventure in and of itself. Natalie had texted Xander about what had happened only to get messages from Peter about the Bakemon; Natalie had to ask for Peter's number and brought him into the text conversation, but keeping up with things on their phones grew troublesome, and Xander had to give out his messenger handle and--
Well.
Natalie was swiftly coming to the conclusion that putting Xander and Peter in the same vicinity as each other was a captial-M Mistake.

"Just curious: do you have anything useful to say, or do you just like the sound of your own voice?" Peter said flatly; Xander's lip curled into a derisive, but subtle, sneer.

"Hey, I dunno, man. Don't you have a vinyl collection to wank over? Maybe a few more scarves to flip pretentiously over a latte?"

"Oh my god," Natalie said, burying her face in her hands.

Over in the tree, the digimon were watching their friends and getting along substantially better.
"Oh no," Banmon was saying on repeat like a broken record, covering her head with her hands. "Oh no, ohhh no."

"I think it's going well!" Desmon chirped at the exact moment that Xander gestured at his crotch with both hands in a 'suck it' motion.

"... it's certainly going," Raumon said, scratching nervously at his beak. He paused, watching as Natalie commandeered the conversation over top of the bickering, but he could make out the words.

"She's doing god's work tryin' to rein them in like that," Desmon said, obviously able to hear much better than either of her compatriots.

"They're certainly... clashing," Banmon said, curling her smoky tail around the branch she was laying on. "Maybe this wasn't a great idea?"

"Naw," Desmon reassured the little ghost. "Xander's not that bad. He's just starting an argument for the sake of an argument. He does that. Clearly it's 'cos I'm not there to tell him to lighten up."

"It worries me," Banmon said with a sigh.

"It'll be fine," Raumon said, and his voice was a bit more comforting than Desmon's. "They're just going to butt heads for a little bit, probably." Banmon didn't seem entirely convinced, though, so next option:
Distraction.
"This is pretty close to where I met Natalie, I think," he said, looking around; they were fairly close to the bridge. The reason they had come there so frequently wasn't just its tranquility; it had a special significance.

This picqued both of the other digimons' interest. "Do you remember anything before that?" Banmon ventured; when Raumon shook his head after a moment of thought, she nodded. "... me, neither."

"Same here," Desmon said with a nod, stretching her arms out; Xander had given her the rundown on his own conversation with Natalie from the Lotus. "That's a pretty big co-inky-dink, don't you think?"

"Not the phrase I'd use, maybe," Raumon said, but he nodded. "Though I certainly feel like. Hm." He paused to think. "Not like I know you? But I've seen you before, I think."

Desmon's ears twitched. "Ooh. Cryptic."

"I think I follow," Banmon said.

Back at the circle, with Natalie actually taking control, Xander and Peter were snipping at each other a little less-- admittedly, mostly by using Natalie as an intermediate instead of actually talking to each other, but you know, it was progress of a sort.
"... yours seemed to be more feral, then?" Natalie prompted Xander.

"If it had anything to say, it didn't speak up fast enough," he said, nodding and shrugging one shoulder.

"From the sounds of it, the ones we dealt with," Peter said, speaking to Natalie, "seemed to be a bit more directed. The Bakemon talked about following us."

Natalie frowned and nodded, folding her arms. "And I don't think it was a coincidence that Yasyamon decided to stop on my roof, but the-- what was it?"

"Saberdramon, but yeh," Xander cut in. "Unless there's someone secretly living in the parking garage, I don't think the chicken was looking for much. Wrong place at the wrong time or something like that. Might not've noticed it was there until the what's-it-called went off, or until it busted something."

Natalie nodded, thinking for a moment. "Where do you guys live?" Beat. "Like. Roughly. I don't need your addresses, that'd be creepy."

"Uni district," Peter answered first.

"Northside," Xander said; he meant that he lived on the north side of the Harper River.

"And I live over more this way," Natalie said, pointing in the direction that her apartment building lay. "That's... not a bad spread, if something happens," she said, rubbing her chin in thought. The only problem was that there was her and Peter on the south side, and only Xander to the north.

"Hey," Desmon said to the other two digimon, her ears perking up. "Do you guys hear something?"

It was a stupid question, but still, they were on high alert quite all of a sudden.

***

At this point, we need to backtrack a little bit-- not far, just about a half hour, to half-past noon.

On the north side of the river, a girl was walking up her family's home's front drive with a small backpack slung over her shoulder.
The house had gotten a bit crowded ever since the end of the school year, as her older brother was back in town for the summer, and she had gotten kind of used to the extra space over the past nine months. It would only get worse once her younger brother, still in his last year of middle school, let out for the summer next week.

On the other hand: she was coming back from a morning half-shift cashiering, so she'd take a bit of a cramped house over going back to dealing with customers, any day of the week.

She unlocked the door and poked her head inside, calling:
"Hey, I'm home! Anyone alive in here?"

"Hey Meg," a male voice said from over on the couch; her older brother, Brendan, was lounging there, with the TV going, but he muted it as he craned his neck to look at her over the back of said couch. "Mom's out. Store or something, I wasn't really paying attention."

"Figures," Meg said with a one-armed shrug, walking inside and taking off her shoes. So their mom was out, James was still in school--
(What a beautiful day not to be in K-12 anymore. Every day was a beautiful day not to be in K-12 anymore.)
"You seen Oremon around?" she asked, looking over at her brother even as she made for the stairway.

"He's been acting weird," Brendan said, propping up his head on his knuckles. "He's been even less talkative than he usually is."

Meghan blinked, stopping mid-step. "So... what, has he imploded? Seeing as that's literally the only way that's possible?"

Brendan made the universal inarticulate iunno noise, and Meghan sighed, continuing her trek up the stairs. The television began to chatter again, but by the time she was at the top of the stairs and gone down the hall to her room, it was barely a distant mumble. She shouldered open the door, and was met with--

You know, most people would consider the sight of a four-foot-tall upright goat a bit distressing to find in one's bedroom. This didn't seem to register at all to Meghan as she crossed into her bedroom.

Oremon was like nothing Meg had ever seen; he was black with a cream muzzle and underbelly, and with angular red markings on his hips, forearms, and forehead. His forearms were club-like and pale gold; his legs below the shin were fluffy and the same creamy colour as his belly. His hooves were big but the ones on his hands didn't seem to inhibit his dexterity; the ones on his feet made a clip-clop sound on the hardwood floors. His horns, which he had two pairs of (one pair was longer and higher on his head, and a smaller pair down low) had destroyed more pillows than he'd have ever admitted.
Oh, and he was a four-foot tall upright goat that talked. You know. Minor details.

"Hi. We need to go out," he said in short order, his voice gruff and clipped.

Meghan blinked for the billionth time.
"Can it wait for me to change out of my work pants?"

Oremon didn't respond for a moment, before:
"... yes."

Oremon excused himself so Meg could change. She watched him as he strode out of the bedroom, arms akimbo. See, while clipped and gruff was basically his M.O., he usually at least paced himself a little bit, so this was kind of weird.
"'Go out'," Meghan repeated, speaking loudly enough that Oremon could hear her through the door as she changed out of her work clothes. "You do realize that's a total pain, right? I don't think I can pass you off as James in a fursuit again."
Look. Desperate times, desperate measures.

"It's important," Oremon said, leaning against the door, folding his arms.

"Dare I ask what it is?" Meg said as she straightened her shirts. She opened up the window to let some of the late-spring air in before she crossed back over to open the door. Oremon stumbled noticably as his balance was thrown off by the door opening behind him. She stifled a laugh; he righted himself quickly. He turned to face her and acted as though nothing had happened.

"There's a digimon nearby."

Oremon held out one hand with his palm upturned. He was holding the little plastic-like device; the faceplate of hers was orange, and the little silver charm dangling off the end looked kind of like an anvil or a hammer of some sort. Oremon had been fascinated with it and had spent more time poking at it than she had, but his hooves were not particularly conducive to operating the small buttons, so he hadn't been able to really futz with it too much.
Meghan's eyebrows shot up so high they practically vanished under her bangs. Oremon had been on high alert recently-- ever since that news report on Thursday he had been obstinantly sure that there something was happening, but he had yet to actually make such a clear declaration.

And, indeed, the screen was lit up of its own accord, and it was open to the radar screen; Meghan took it in hand and looked at the screen, and if it were possible for her eyesbrows to go further up, they would have.
At the center, there was a faintly orange shape that looked like the silhouette of Oremon's head, but that wasn't what was important. What was important was that there was a little white dot on the screen -- and it was moving in a way that could only be described as erratic if it slowed down significantly. It was zigging and zagging, but it was staying within range of the radar-- mostly. It dipped out here and there, then zipped right back in.

She furrowed her brow, though, as a thought hit her, and she looked up from the digivice.

"Brendan said you'd been acting weird all morning, though?"

"I don't see how it's any of his business," Oremon said bluntly, folding his arms yet again. Meghan responded to this by bumping him gently on the forehead with her knuckles.

"Can't you cut the tough guy act for two minutes?"

Oremon snorted and shook his head to shake Meghan's hand away. The tough guy act was practically integral to his personality, but that didn't meant Meghan didn't give him gentle hell about it on the regular.
Needless to say, he did not cut it.

"I've had a feeling all day. This is probably why," he said after a moment, his ears flicking. He frowned, and looked towards the window. "We're going," he said; it wasn't a question, but he still looked to her for confirmation.

She sighed through her nose and looked at the digivice. The radar dot was still going this way and that, and it was at least concerning if not worrying. Sure, it didn't say it was a digimon, but Oremon usually didn't make declarations unless he was willing to stand by them.
"Alright."
This would have been so much easier if he had just stayed Billymon, but they'd have to make do. She cast another look down at the radar on the digivice and was shocked to see the dot approaching their location.

Oremon's eyes had also fallen to the digivice, apparently, because the next thing Meghan saw was Oremon practically leaping towards the window.
"Wait--!" she yelped as Oremon grounded his hands on the sill. She half expected him to start trying to get the screen off, or worse, just straight up go through it, but he managed to control himself. Meg, of course, followed him to the window.

Meg looked at Oremon; his brow was furrowed, and his eyes narrowed. She followed the line of his gaze to the top of a power line past their neighbor's back yard.

Sitting there was a white... thing. It had a tail nearly as big as its body, and ears almost as big as its head. It had eyes as big as tea saucers -- big enough to see from this distance -- and she could swear that it made eye contact with her.

It tilted its head and flicked its tail, perked up its ears, then crouched down and took off running down a power line--
Right towards their backyard.

Oremon took off right on out the bedroom door, and Meghan had a feeling that if she didn't follow, she would see him emerge into the yard mere moments later anyway.
She was hot on his heels; Oremon was, indeed, heading down the hall, not running but doing a focused fast-walk, and Meghan was able to catch up by the time he got to the top of the stairs.

"What's with the walking-with-purpose?" Brendan asked over his shoulder, having heard both Meghan's footsteps and Oremon's hooves on the hardwood.

"Long story?" Meghan tried, grabbing her sneakers as she turned the corner near the front door. (Tellingly, Oremon paused a half a moment so she could slip them on, which she did clumsily and hopping on one foot so as to not have to stop.)

Slight detour aside, they crossed through the living room, through the kitchen, and out the kitchen door into the back yard.

The little white thing was perched comfortably, if precariously, on a power line. Up close, the details were much easier to make out.

It was relatively small, only a little bit bigger than a particularly tubby cat. It was almost entirely white, with a black patch on its tummy and three acid-green triangles -- one on each shoulder, and one in the middle of that black patch. It had tiny, useless-looking wings; it had big blunt claws on its hands and feet, and short little horns on its forehead. What looked like a black collar sat around its neck, and on the front, a featureless-but-shiny hot-pink orb hung from a D-ring.
Its eyes were vividly bright, acid-green and hot pink, and shone brightly as it stared intently down at Oremon and Meghan.

Oremon, for his part, duh his hooves into the grass and took a defensive stance. Meghan hung back a few feet, clutching the digivice in her hand.

"Hi!" the thing said in a high-pitched, but at least vaguely masculine, voice.

Blink.

"Uh... hi?" Meghan ventured, not quite sure what the proper protocol was in these situations.

Oremon had no such problems-- or at least, he had a much more decisive plan of action. "Who and what are you?" he said, digging his feet into the grass more and making Meghan vaguely wonder if her mother would complain about him messing up the lawn. Again.

The little white beastie seemed to either not notice or not care that Oremon snorted and glared. "I'm Ratamon!" he said as though that explained everything. "And you are?"

Oremon and Meghan exchanged sidelong glances, and by the time they looked back up, Ratamon had moved.
Not far, mind, he had just skittered along the power line to be a bit closer to the pair, and they had to crane their necks to look up at him.

"Well, alright, I was just asking a question, but I guess you don't gotta answer right now," he said, nonchalant as anything, and perfectly conversational, as though Oremon wasn't wondering if he could jump high enough to dislodge him without tearing down the power lines.

"I'm-- Meg," Meghan said after a brief, slightly confused silence; she wasn't sure what to make of this thing, and it seemed Oremon wasn't either. "This is--"

"Oremon," the goat said, relaxing only slightly; he didn't want to let his guard down, but there wasn't much good to be done by preparing to throw down too pre-emptively. "You're a digimon."

"Sure am," Ratamon said, fixing his big glossy eyes on Oremon. "Why? Are you looking for other digimon, too?"

"Too?" Meghan said; Oremon's ears perked up in a way more reminiscent of a cat than a goat, kind of an involuntary expresson of interest. "Well-- not really? I don't think?"
See, the news story from last Friday? Hadn't really come into her bubble, or Oremon's by extension. Without it, the inexplicable little device and now this weird little creature were the only leads either of them had.

"Other digimon?" Oremon cut in, only once Meghan was done talking.

"Oh, yeah!" Ratamon said, pointing in a vaguely south direction with one blunt claw. "There are a bunch of digimon out in the big park on the other side of the water." Beat. "At least, there were a little while ago? I could lead you there, if you wanted!"

Meghan was about to ask how 'little' that while could possibly have been, right until she remembered Ratamon's little dot zipping around the radar's range; the little thing could book it.
She didn't immediately distrust Ratamon; Oremon, though, needed a few more moments to determine.

"It's just the park, it sounds like?" Meghan reasoned, in a hushed tone of voice. She figured that Ratamon, with those big feathery ears, could probably still hear her anyway, but habit was habit. "It's not like we're being asked to go down a dark alley or anything, and-- you've been feeling weird, right? So I mean..."

"Hmph." Oremon frowned but thought hard, and slowly nodded. "Fine."

Ratamon beamed and almost took off running right then and there.
"Wait!" Meghan called, not quite in a panic but definitely concerned. "We, uh-- it might be a bit hard for us to follow on foot?"

Ratamon tilted his head.

***

A few minutes later, and the pair were following Ratamon by car instead of trying to keep up with the hyperactive little thing on foot.

Oremon kept the radar up on the digivice to make sure they didn't lose Ratamon. The little dot was moving fairly straightforwardly; occasionally they saw him, jittering along power lines and railings, ducking out of sight before anyone could get a good look at him. Thankfully, he did a pretty good job of staying within range.
Just like he had said -- or at least, what Meghan had assumed he had been referring to -- he was leading them en route to the Atlas Park City Park.

"What do you think about this?" Meghan asked Oremon over her shoulder, looking at the goat sprawled in her back seat in the rear view mirror; the goat grunted before responding.

"He's annoying. But if there are digimon, I want to be the first to know." Too late. "And if he's lying, well, we can't just let him run off on his own. We have to follow him."

Meghan raised an eyebrow that Oremon could see in the mirror. She smiled. "You're as curious as I am."

Oremon grunted and folded his arms. That was a yes.

As they pulled into the park's parking lot, Meg was halfway between excitement and nervousness. Oremon nodded at her, holding up the digivice so she could see its screen; in addition to the little silhouette of his own head in the center and the dot of Ratamon in a tree nearby (waiting patiently -- but not too patiently), there was a small cluster of two or three little dots bunched up a little ways down from the bridge, and both that excitement and that nervousness doubled in an instant.

"You take the path. I'll be nearby."

See, here's the thing. Oremon, for his size, was surprisingly light-footed. If he had strong enough branches to land on, he could make his way pretty easily through trees, so Meghan wasn't too concerned when Oremon, climbing out of the car, made for a tree near the one that Ratamon was currently sitting in, and just like that, if you weren't looking closely enough, you might not even notice him.

Ratamon watched the goat and flicked his tail. "This way!" he said, looking back to Meg--
But by the time he looked, she was already taking off down the path.

***

Raumon and Banmon obviously did not have as good of hearing as Desmon did, but they regardless perked up their ears and listened hard for anything that might have caught Desmon's attention. Aside from the rustling of the branches in the other trees and the discussion happening between their human partners, it was hard to make out anything in particular.

Desmon had been the first to hear, but Banmon was the first to see anything-- it was just a young woman, with red-violet hair and a white v-neck layered over a dark red long-sleeved 3/4ths sleeve shirt. She was moving briskly, but it wasn't that weird to see someone running through the park. After all, that was why they were tucked up here in tree, safe from prying eyes.

"Do you think it's--?" Banmon said. She was watching the girl carefully, and the little ghost's eyes went wide when -- as the girl was drawing closer-- she pulled out and looked down at a little orange device that looked very familiar. Maybe if they were anyone else, they would be forgiven for mistaking it for a cell phone, but... She looked from it, and then right at the tree that the digimon were hiding in.

It was at that moment that Oremon landed in the tree, mere feet away from the branch that the three other digimon were perched on.
It was at the very next moment that, not expecting to see three digimon in the tree he was jumping into, Oremon lost his footing and fell out of the tree, landing squarely on his ass.

It's raining goats, hallelujah.

Banmon, Raumon, and Desmon stared down at the ground; Xander, Peter, and Natalie were practically shocked into standing up with a start as a large, strange black shape suddenly dropped out of the tree their friends were hiding in. Ratamon, much more stealthily concealed in a different tree, was watching intently.

"The fuck?" Xander said, digging into his pocket. He wasn't the only one -- both Natalie and Peter were also reaching for their digivices, just in case. You only need to fight one giant monster before you're like, oh, hm, maybe I should be prepared.
Natalie cast a look over at the girl who was walking by, not sure what to expect--

"Oremon!" Meghan practically yelped, running over to him. Note that at this point, she hadn't noticed the digimon in the tree, and in fact, had hardly even noticed the three other people staring; her focus was solely on Oremon.
Xander furrowed his brow; Peter squinted; Natalie watched carefully.

"Hey, Raumon, come here," she said, erring on the side of caution.

"Looks like it's a regular party," Desmon remarked from her position up in the tree, causing Meg to snap her attention up. Oremon, a bit dazed and in not the most dignified position, also looked up, and his pupils constricted.

"There goes the cover," Raumon said, looking around to make sure no other people were around before jumping out of the tree. He landed much more far more gracefully than Oremon had. He didn't quite run, but he did make haste to get over to Natalie's side; behind him, Desmon and Banmon, both able to fly (or at least float), drifted more directly over to their humans. Just in case, you know?

Oremon scrambled to his feet and put himself between the group and Meghan, glaring.

"Who are you?" Peter asked, looking between the girl and the goat. Meghan, for her part, was a bit flabberghasted.

"Um... what?" she sputtered, looking between the now-six individuals all staring at her and Oremon. Ratamon had said there were other digimon -- he had said nothing about people. Aside from, you know, the people you usually expect to see in public places. "My name's Meghan?" she ventured after a moment.

"She has one of the... things," Banmon said, speaking primarily to Peter. "The devices. I saw it."

"Still doesn't help much, seeing as we barely know what they are," Xander cut in; Peter shot him a sidelong glance but ignored him.

"Is the goat with you?" Natalie said, gesturing at Oremon.

"Oremon," Oremon said crossly, still standing between Meghan and the others.

"He's definitely a digimon," Raumon said decisively, looking up at Natalie. "I mean, the name just solidifies it."

"We're not looking for trouble--!" Meghan said, holding her hands up, palms out in a kind of whoa there gesture.

"We might be looking for trouble," Oremon said, though luckily not loudly enough to be heard by anyone other than himself and Meghan, who shot him a dirty look, a nonverbal you're not helping.
Unnoticed in all the hubbub, Ratamon had migrated over to the tree that was the cause of all the trouble.

A short round of introductions went around as tensions began to ease. Why, Oremon even relaxed a little bit! They stayed on the lookout for any people coming around, but luckily enough, nobody seemed particularly interested in coming out to the park on a cloudy Tuesday afternoon. The digimon had settled on the grass nearby, on the far side of the humans from the path.

"Why are you here?" Xander asked as he looked at Meghan, about as polite as usual.

"You could try being a little less hostile," Peter muttered.

Xander completely ignored Peter's comment. "I mean, it's not just me who thinks it's weird, though, right?" he said, shrugging. "The first time the three of us meet up, and here comes goat girl out of the blue."

"It is kind of odd," Natalie said, frowning slightly and stroking her chin.

"Oh!" Meghan said, looking around. "Um, there was--"

"Hi!" the voice of Ratamon, familiar only to Meg, said from his position, unseen, in the tree, giving everyone present a start. He popped his head out of the leaves and jumped down, his wings flapping enough to slow his descent a little bit, not that a fall from that small a height would have done much to him.

"This guy," Meghan said after a second, gesturing as Ratamon skittered over to the other digimon. He kept a little bit of distance, but nothing too major.

"Is he with you, too?" Raumon asked, looking between Ratamon and Meghan, the latter of whom frowned and scratched at her face.

"Not... really?"
This, of course, raised a great many questions. The pressure was on Meghan (and a little bit of Oremon, but he wasn't particularly talkative) to explain herself. She did-- admittedly, it wasn't much, but still, 'a little white monster told me' was at least an explanation for why she and Oremon were here.

"If it knew we were here," Natalie said, looking over at Ratamon, "it must have been here before... did we just not notice it or something?"

"It certainly moves fast enough that I'd call that rational," Peter reasoned, watching how Ratamon was zipping around-- up trees, across the grass, down to the stream, up a street lamp, and back again.

"It needs to calm the fuck down," Xander said. That was as much an agreement as anything.

Meghan had as many questions for them as they did for her, if not more. She hadn't seen any other digimon, and was totally engrossed in hearing about the ones these strangers had encountered, so they gave a quick recap of what they had dealt with so far.

"I didn't know there were other people with digimon," Meghan said, beaming.

"I just wonder how many others we're going to have to party up with," Xander said, leaning back on both his hands.

"It can't be that many, or this wouldn't be the first we'd heard of it." That was courtesy of Peter.

***

They parted ways not long after; Natalie, being Natalie, had been first to request contact infromation from Meghan, which she gladly gave. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology (read: cell phones), she was added in to the group messenger chat before leaving the circle. Seeing as they were all headed towards the same parking lot, they didn't give their goodbyes prematurely, instead waiting until they were actually parting ways.

"Did any of you see where Ratamon went?" Meghan asked, looking around. As soon as she asked that, though, a little white shape poked out of a tree-- upside-down. Ratamon had the tip of his huge tail curled around a bough, and he looked at the digimon and humans assembled, waved one hand, and vanished back into the leaves. He hurtled himself upright and took off like a shot.
Darn; she had wanted to thank him for the tipoff to come here.

"I guess if he's not hurting anyone," Natalie said, arms akimbo, "then we don't have to worry about him."

"I'm sure we'd find out if he was," Desmon said, entirely too cheerfully; Xander rolled his eyes and held out his arm as a signal for her to come perch on his shoulder, which she did.

"Later," Xander said, throwing deuces over his other shoulder as he made to walk towards his car.

"I'll talk to one or the other of you later as well, I'm sure," Peter said, nodding his regards as he knelt on the ground to unzip Banmon's duffel bag. She had had quite enough of people for now, and was quick to retreat into it. Peter hefted the bag up onto his back, but left it half-unzipped; Banmon waved shyly as they crossed the parking lot over to the old junker that Peter drove here in.

"And then there were two," Natalie said, looking over at Meg. Raumon coughed conspicuously. "Four," she corrected herself.

"It was nice meeting you," Meghan said with a little wave of her hand, "and Raumon, too."

Raumon held out a claw to Oremon to shake. He wasn't expecting much; Oremon had been quite tight-lipped for much of the short time they had spent in each other's company.
Oremon looked down at Raumon, who was maybe half his height. To both Raumon and Meghan's surprise, Oremon reached down with one hoof and shook the bird's hand.

As Natalie and Raumon departed, Meghan put her hands on her hips and looked at Oremon.

"Look at you, being all sociable," she teased.

Oremon snorted, totally not slightly embarrassed, folding his arms.

***

By the time they had returned home, Meghan's mother had gotten back from the store, asking in her typical way where she had been. See, it wasn't like her mother was radically overbearing or anything, but she went low key nuts whenever she didn't know where any of her kids were, despite the fact that now two out of three were adults, legally if nothing else.

Meghan had elected, perhaps understandably, to leave out the part about the digimon, and had just said that she and Oremon had taken a quick trip to the park to get some fresh air.

So it was around eight o clock that evening. James was excitedly explaining some video game to Brendan that Brendan could hardly care less about, and their mother was tending to other business in the kitchen. Meghan was seated downstairs on the couch, laptop on her knees and feet propped up on the coffee table. For her part, she was only barely paying attention to anything, instead idly scrolling through and tabbing between her social media without absorbing much of any of it.

For all Oremon could move relatively stealthy when he wanted to, it was still about as stealthy as a foghorn when he came down the stairs in a hurry, and got all of their attention.

"Something up?" Meg asked, but she looked at him, and could see he was holding the digivice in his hand. More importantly, it was very much lighting up, so she didn't wait for a response before continuting with an, "oh, crap."
Conveniently, it was at that moment that the lights browned out, and the television and her computer both staticked out for a half a second.

Oh crap, indeed. Meghan set her laptop aside and jumped to her feet; her brothers looked between the television, her, and Oremon with bewildered expressions.
"What's up?" James asked, peering over at her as she bolted over near the door to put her shoes on again.

"I'll explain later." That was actually courtesy of Oremon, not Meghan, going over to join her.

"You know mom's going to ask me where you are," Brendan said, resting his head on his knuckles.

"Tell her I decided I wanted a cheeseburger more than I need to live?" Meghan suggested halfheartedly, shrugging one shoulder helplessly. "I don't know."

***

Ratamon frowned, looking on with vague concern from a safe vantage point on a rooftop as he watched the faint, fiery shape start to flicker down in the middle of the street, shifting and distorting but growing more solid by the moment.

The digimon on the street began to move before it had fully realized, and as it ran, Ratamon could feel the static in the air. It was trying to draw electricity from its surroundings to pull itself through more efficiently-- which, unbeknownst to Ratamon, was causing the electronics in the area to flicker and distort.

It was totally unfair that he had to find them himself, whereas these antagonistic digimon seemed to have either a better idea of where to look, or the best luck in the world.

***

It was significantly harder to make sure Oremon stayed out of sight in suburbia instead of the park, but just staying off of the main streets was a huge help.

"You're sure it's not Ratamon again?" Meghan asked, running to keep up with Oremon. They had run halfway across the neighborhood by this point, and had run into thankfully few people.

"Yes," Oremon said simply, stopping to sniff the air and taking a right turn at an intersection. Meghan looked down at her digivice and, indeed, he was heading closer and closer to the little white dot-- and the white dot was heading closer to them, but not moving nearly as fast as Ratamon would have.
In one day, she had gone from confused about the little device, to meeting Ratamon, to meeting the others, to... well. This.

Oremon, for his part, seemed like... almost like he had finally been validated in something that Meghan couldn't quite place.

"It might help if we knew what we were looking for," Meghan lamented, looking at her digivice and up to the road again. She pressed her thumb down on the white dot approaching them; it brought up the words Boarmon. Champion level., but a fat lot of good that did them.
However, it turned out that they'd get the answer to the question of what they were looking for as they turned another corner.
Quite handily, actually.

Heading right towards them, barrelling right down the street like a runaway car, was an enormous pig.
Okay, a boar, but you get the point.

Its entire head and the mane-like ridge down its spine looked like they were on fire, and most of its its body was vivid orange, save for a black underbelly and face, oddly striped tusks, and a metal plate that glinted in the dying light -- and also, it was the size of an SUV. You know, in case they were going to mistake it for a normal boar.

You know, it might just be the 'Boarmon' that the digivice read out.

Before Meghan could even express confusion or alarm, Oremon rushed forward.

"Iron Head!" Oremon yelled, rearing his head down and holding out his hands like he was preparing to grapple. The space between him and the Boarmon closed rapidly, and the goat straight up smashed his head into the metal plate on the Boarmon's forehead as he grabbed onto the boar's tusks.

"Oremon!" Meg yelped, but to her intense surprise, this didn't result in Oremon being flung, or even knocked backwards. Though the Boarmon didn't stop moving entirely, Oremon smashing headlong into it did seem to have the effect of slowing it down. They skidded to a stop mere meters away from where Meghan stood rooted.

Her relief was not long-lived, though. Boarmon snorted, releasing a cloud of smoke from its nostrils.
"Running right to me! Make my job easier!" Broken English aside, that was not the most encouraging set of words to hear --- and even less so when it followed up. "Nose Blaster!"

Boarmon snorted loudly and released a plume of flame from its nose-- which, you'll remember, Oremon was practically flush against. The blast of fire threw Oremon backwards, sending him tumbling head over heels across the concrete.

"Shit," Oremon hissed; he was badly singed, but even as Meghan made to run over to him, he was already getting back to his feet-- but struggling at it. "No! Stay back. Don't get hurt."

"You're already hurt!" Meg protested, but she was drowned out by the hostile digimon.

Boarmon was chuckling, a deep and rumbling noise, as it began to close the distance between itself and Oremon. "Too simple," the giant pig said, narrowing its eyes and grinning; it hardly even seemed to notice Meg was there. It reared down and its tusks began to glow, preparing to charge. "Slamming--!"
At that point, Meghan threw her entire body weight against Boarmon, jamming her elbow into the general vicinity of its ribs, taking care to avoid its fiery mane.

Well, if you've ever tried to dislodge a car with one elbow (and if you have, why?), you can imagine how effective this was at actually derailing Boarmon, but it did distract it. It turned its head to glare at the girl as she stumbled backwards with the recoil, snorted out a cloud of smoke from its nostrils.
Meghan was realizing she had made a massive mistake when she saw embers begin to form in Boarmon's nostrils-- but Oremon, just as his friend had, saw a chance, and was rushing at Boarmon once more, consequences be damned.

"Iron Head!" Oremon yelled, smashing his horns right into the side of Boarmon's turned cheek.

Boarmon roared in pain and frustration and it stumbled backwards. It tossed its head as it looked between Meghan and Oremon, and again, flames began to flicker to life in its snout.
Oremon realized a half a second too late that, perhaps fueled by frustration, Boarmon was turning his head towards Meghan as it prepared to call its attack.

And then, that terrible screeching noise echoed off the street, courtesy of the digivice gripped tightly in Meg's hand.

She nearly dropped the darn thing, and it certainly surprised Boarmon out of action. It began to swirl with orange-tinged light as the noise died down, and Oremon smirked as the light began to overtake him as well.

"Oremon, drive evolve to..."

Oremon's body began to grow as he hunched over and grew to match Boarmon in size. His club-like arms slimmed down into forelegs as he became quadrupedal, though his (now hind) legs stayed as fluffy as ever. Red and black markings decorated all four limbs and across the small of his back, and a pair of red marks appeared on his face, following the curve of his cheek bones.

A shaggy red mane erupted from the back of his head and running down his back and between his shoulders; just past where the mane ended, two rib-like bone ridges grew out of his lower back. A skull-like helmet covered the top half of his face; his secondary horns disappeared, but as if to compensate, his primary horns grew enormously. With a snort, he reared back onto his hind legs and slammed his front hooves down into the ground.

"Ibexmon!"

Boarmon, unfortunately, was too aware to stand in awe of the goat's new form. The change had happened quickly, but Ibexmon barely had time to put his new hooves down on the street before flames licked at Boarmon's snout.

"Nose Blaster!" Boarmon cried, blasting a plume of fire out right at Meghan.

Ibexmon was having none of that, and leapt right in the path of the fire. He took the full brunt of the attack, but for all the good it did, it might as well have glanced off him harmlessly. Boarmon sputtered out a couple flustered clouds of smoke; Ibexmon smirked as he reared up onto his hind legs.
"Terra Spear!" he said, slamming his front hooves down onto the pavement with collossal force. From under his feet, cracks radiated out, towards the pig. Once they reached their target, the cracks spread open wide and from out of the street shot sharpened spires of rock, digging into Boarmon's belly.

Meghan was about to panic about ruining the road, but she looked twice, and though a few cracks were there that definitely weren't there before, most of them vanished as the sharpened rocks retreated into the ground. It was almost as though the ground beneath them was knitting itself back together like a wound.

What a weird metaphor to think of.

(She was beginning to fear there was no way this would go unnoticed by the people who lived on this street, and indeed-- from the safety of their homes, more than one person was peering out the window, staring-- and a couple were taking video.)

Boarmon groaned but righted itself, glaring daggers at Ibexmon. "Making things difficult," it snorted, before it charged at Ibexmon. "Slamming Attack!" it yelled, and judging by its actions and that attack it just called, it was probably going to try a full-body tackle.

Ibexmon met it.

"Headstrong Charge!" Ibexmon yelled, rearing up before charging at the oncoming boar.

His skull-masked face smashed straight into Boarmon's metal plated forehead-- and Boarmon's tusks got caught up in Ibexmon's horns. With a little bit of evident effort, Ibexmon reared his head back, and practically flipped Boarmon like a pancake, sending the big pig tumbling into the air. Not a second later, when he fell back down, instead of smashing into the ground, Ibexmon smashed his head forward one more time.

As the pig skidded down the road, it began to distort and pixellate. Before it even came to a complete stop, it had blown apart into little motes of light and data.

"Ha! Serves it right!" Ibexmon snorted with a wolfish grin.

Meghan ran over to him and placed a hand on his side. "Oremon, with all due respect: what the hell?" Her voice was somewhere between incredulous and ecstatic, excited and confused all at once.

Ibexmon smirked and tossed his head. It was then that he slowly began to glow white and orange once more. The light intermingled with the ever-sinking sun, and just like that, Oremon stood on the slightly-more-cracked concrete where Ibexmon had been a moment before.

They wasted no time getting out of sight-- even ducking down a side street felt a little safer than standing out there in the total open. Meghan was practically looking over her shoulder every inch of the way.
"Shame you couldn't stay all big long enough to give me a ride," she said, sticking her tongue out. Oremon snorted. That was totally a 'i know, right?', she knew.

***

Most of the walk home was fairly uneventful. Yes, they had to take some detours, but they avoided people, and the fading light provided a little bit of extra cover.

They were almost home free, when--

"Did I miss it?" Ratamon's familiar voice said from somewhere nearby, right before his white face popped out, upside-down, of the next-door neighbor's tree, where he was hanging by his tail.
Meghan and Oremon both nearly jumped; Oremon, for a half a second, took a defensive stance, but relaxed shortly thereafter.

"Depends on what you mean by it," Meghan said, looking at Oremon.

"Another digimon," Oremon said, after a moment of consideration. "If that's what you mean, then yes, you missed it."

Ratamon looked between them. He flipped himself right-side up on the branch and peered down at them. "You fought it off? Any trouble?" Oremon couldn't help but smirk a bit self-satisfiedly, and Ratamon grinned.
"I'll see you around, I'm sure!" he said, flicking his tail and waving as he took off up the tree, across to a power line, and away into the night.

"God, he's annoying," Oremon said flatly, after a few seconds of silence.

"Iunno, I think he's kinda cute," Meghan said, arms akimbo.

Oremon snorted.
He waited for Meghan to lead the way up to the house.

EPISODE 04: CONNECTION INTERRUPTED

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