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

Episode 05: Wolf Bite

"Come on," Natalie huffed in exasperation, her feet beating against the pavement. Raumon was hot on her heels, and her digivice was held tightly in her hand. There were four little dots shining bright on the radar-- two of them, she wasn't worried about.
The other two, though? The other two were a problem, and were why she was currently running full tilt down an alleyway.

Her peaceful Friday afternoon had been interrupted by a message from Xander plopped all nonchalantly in the group chat right around 4:30.
hey. thing went off. two dots on my radar heading towards downtown from NW. following but if anyone wants to beat me to it be my guest

So, see, she knew: two of those dots were Desmon and Oremon, because Meghan had also jumped in with an omw of her own.

She also knew for sure who they were when, as she was about to emerge from the alleyway into the street, she saw Oremon go skidding backwards down the road.
Natalie and Raumon practically power-slid into the street, looking in the direction that Oremon had been flung from, right as the goat barrelled right past them and back into the fray. A few meters up the street, Desmon was flapping about fifteen feet off the ground, spitting rings of black static at the identities of the anonymous dots made themselves apparent.

It was two of what looked like the same digimon in different colours -- tall, more or less humanoid, with huge gaping mouths full of sharp teeth, and wild manes of white hair. The only appreciable difference was that one was green and had long, striped horns, while the other was a brownish-red and had tiger-striped shorts but no horns.

The little info window that had popped up on pressing the dots had said Ogremon - Champion level and Fugamon - Champion level, and it was a fair bet that these were said digimon; judging by position, the green one was the Ogremon, and the brown one, Fugamon.

They seemed as interested in fighting each other as they did in Desmon and Oremon. This would be fine (... for a given value of fine? That is, they might not have intervened) if not for the fact that they also seemed to have very little interest in things like 'buildings' and 'property'. A couple windows had been smashed, an awning was in tatters, a couple cars had been dented and pushed up onto the curb, and there were cracks in the concrete and the brick walls of half the buildings on the block.

"Bone Cudgel!" Ogremon yelled as it leapt off of a parked car and swung its massive bone club at Fugamon. It hit true and sent Fugamon flying, where it clipped the corner of a building -- and broke off a little bit of the brick.
This was, Natalie realized, probably what had hit Oremon right before she showed up.

On that note. "Iron Head!" Oremon yelled, rushing at Ogremon.

"Acro Slicer!" Desmon yelled from her vantage point in the air, slashing down in an arc with one arm. Her claws left a crescent-shaped blade of energy in their wake, aimed right at Ogremon as well. The attack only barely avoided hitting Oremon; if he had moved even the tiniest bit faster, he'd have been hit instead of Ogremon. That said, the big green digimon stumbled backwards a half-step when Desmon's attack hit, and took the full brunt of Oremon's horns right after, knocking it right into the parked car it had just jumped off of.

It was dazed, and the car would get away with a bit of a dent, but that still left Fugamon, who was leaping right for Oremon.

Raumon saw his chance, and leapt out of the mouth of they alley, claws glowing.
"Symptom Claw!" he cried, slashing out at Fugamon. While he did this, Natalie dashed across the street to where Xander and Meghan were standing, at a safe distance-- that is, far enough away to have some kind of plausible deniability about being involved.

"Hi! Better late than never?" Meghan said as Natalie ran up.

"You almost missed the party," Xander said in deadpan, looking at the fight ahead of them.

"Oh, yeah, totally, gotta be fashionably late," Natalie said, taking a moment to catch her breath and look around. Some people were looking out the windows of the buildings; a couple people had slammed on the brakes in their cars and were rubbernecking out the window. Dammit. Up to now, they had done a pretty good job of pulling digimon at times and places where it wasn't that big a deal; there had always been some plausible deniability. Meanwhile, if nobody saw this, Natalie would eat her bandana.

In fact, just out of sight in an alleyway on the other side of the fighting digimon, was a young man, watching very intently-- more intently than the people who were hurrying out of the street or gaping in surprise and confusion, at any rate.

***

This young man leaned against the wall on one arm, looking between a picture on his phone to the scene happening on the street.

"You think it's the same ones?" a female voice asked from a little ways behind him, from behind a garbage can. The speaker crawled up on top of the trash can she was hiding behind to get a better vantage point.

"Iunno. Doesn't really look like the pictures, don't you think?"

"Hmmm... I think the goat does, just, like, smaller."

"Yeah, I guess," he said, stuffing one hand in his pocket as he thumbed through the pictures he had saved.

He'd stared at those grainy, distorted cell phone pictures for hours over the past few days. He'd been keeping tabs on everything he could find since last week-- actually, since two weeks ago, when this stupid device had shown up, but only since last week did he have any actual leads.
You know. If internet wackos and conspiracy theorists uploading and reposting shitty photos to derelict news aggregator sites and image boards and blogs counted as leads.

Take what you can get.

"Sam," the female voice said, with sudden urgency. "Hey. Sam. Look."

"What?" Sam said, looking up at what was happening on the street.
Oh. Well, damn. He pocketed his cell phone and grabbed the other device sitting in his pocket, just in case. Truth be told he was kind of hoping this was a dead-end, but... too late now.

***

"Shit!" Natalie hissed through grit teeth. All it took for Fugamon and Ogremon to put aside their differences was few claws to the shins, goat heads to the abdomen, and staticky energy blasts, all in the interest of taking care of these nuisances.

"Bone Cudgel!" Ogremon yelled as it leapt, striking Desmon right out of the air with a well-timed bone-club swing.

"Heavy Swing!" Fugamon cried in turn, knocking a charging Oremon aside with its own club.

Raumon, only now recovering from being knocked back himself, was already starting to charge back in-- when in Natalie's hand, her digivice began to glow.

Thankfully, this time it did not see fit to make that horrible screeching noise as Raumon began to glow.

"Raumon, drive evolve to... Doctorimon!"

The transformation basically happened mid-step, and where one moment was Raumon, Doctorimon was rushing forward with staff in hand. For a moment, he didn't seem to realize that he had changed forms, but he was quick to accomodate for this fact, a phrase here meaning leapt at Ogremon.

"Face of Judgment!" Doctorimon yelled, skidding to a stop and turning the angry face of his staff towards Ogremon. Out spilled a stream of black fire, and Ogremon yelped in pain, jumping backwards and on top of a car to get out of the literal line of fire.
Fugamon, seeing an opening, was rushing to lay a blow on Doctorimon's turned back, when--

"Oremon, drive evolve to... Ibexmon! Headstrong Charge!"

Fugamon caught a side full of angry goat headbutting him. Oremon had rushed right back into the fray, and what do you know? The exact same thing had happened. Meghan's digivice had lit up, much quieter than the first time, and Ibexmon took Oremon's place, and where Oremon's headbutt only would have knocked one back, Fugamon got sent skidding down the road just as it had made the goat go skipping like a rock, just mere minutes before.

Ibexmon snorted as justice was, in his eyes, served.

Ogremon stared dumbly after Fugamon, getting the distinct feeling that it may have gotten in over its head. That feeling only intensified when Desmon, not wanting to be left out, half ran and half flapped her way back in, began to glow.

"Desmon, drive evolve to... Corymon!" she cried, growing in size as she took off of the ground.

Ogremon's eyes flitted between the three digimon it now faced, and it snorted derisively. It swung its club in a menacing fashion, and for good measure, slammed it down on the car it was standing on top of, smashing the driver's-side window.
"Pummel Whack!" it yelled, throwing a fist out to punch into the air. This released a wave of dark energy, aimed right for Corymon. The big bat-dragon ducked out of the way-- and the wave continued on to take a few inches off the top corner of another building.

"Whoopsies," Corymon said, a bit nervously, casting a look over her shoulder, before turning her attention back to Ogremon. "Black Stinger!" she cried, her tail curling under her, and a series of three black blasts of energy shot from her tailtip.

All three of them hit true -- and Ogremon stopped in its tracks, apparently stunned. Corymon grinned.

It was at this moment that Fugamon was back on its feet and running back--

"Moon Howler!"

Right as Fugamon was passing an alleyway, out shot a beam of swirling, black and green energy. Fugamon yelped, looking around for what hit it.

Luckily, both Fugamon and everyone else present didn't have to wait or wonder, as the culprit bounded out of the alleyway on all fours, growling.
It was a dog-like creature, about the size of a labrador. It kind of resembled a particularly stocky saluki, mostly white with a grey muzzle and underbelly, with long, fluffy ears and a matching tail. That said, most dogs didn't have green paws and ears, or green markings on their limbs and faces, nor did they wear not only a leather collar, but also bands around their wrists and ankles.

And they certainly didn't shoot laser beams out of their mouths, but that was beside the point, beacuse this one sure was.

"More?" Natalie muttered, looking down at her digivice-- and sure enough, right where the dog was standing was now another little point of light.

"Wasn't on the radar a minute ago," Xander said, squinting.

"Nice puppy," Corymon said sarcastically, from somewhere above; Ibexmon snorted, and Doctorimon shook his head.

The introduction of a new digimon whose hostility was hard to discern was a bit of a spanner in the gears, but the digimon rolled with it.

"Black Bloom!" Doctorimon yelled, procuring a black rose from inside his sleeve; unlike the time back on the roof, this time, he simply threw the rose like a dagger, and it shone bright as it flew towards Fugamon.

"Terra Spear!" Ibexmon reared up and slammed his hooves down into the ground, leaving cracks in the pavement yet again. Spikes of rock shot up out of the ground under Fugamon's feet. This was just enough to tip it over the line, as as the rocks receded, leaving only slightly-buckled pavement in their wake, Fugamon began to glow, before dissipating into pixellated bits of light.

Ogremon, while they were distracted, was beginning to move again.
"Pummel Whack!" it yelled, punching out in the direction of the strange new dog-like digimon. Once again, a blast of dark energy escaped its fist.

The dog took the full brunt of the attack, tumbling backwards, but it provided the opening Corymon needed, and she swooped in close.
"Black Stinger!" This time, she struck out with her scorpion-like tail at close range, the tip engulfed in the same black energy as it had shot before.

Bam. Ogremon problem, solved!

...
Mostly!

You know, aside from the property damage, and the people who saw, and---

That white dog was watching them intently, and watching even more intently as Raumon, Oremon, and Desmon began to glow and return to their rookie forms. She smirked and took off for the alley she had emerged from.

"Hey!" Desmon said, dropping down to ground level, looking around at the other digimon.

"Follow it!" Raumon said, loud enough for the humans to hear. They didn't need telling twice; in fact, Natalie had already started moving. Both trios made a beeline for the alleyway. Not only was following a strange digimon a priority, there was also the issue of getting the hell away from the scene as soon as possible at hand, so, you know-- two birds, one stone.

But see, funny thing: when you try to cram six individuals into the mouth of an alleyway at the same time, and they're coming from roughly two different angles... even if half of them are smaller than normal people, you kind of have a clusterfuck to deal with, and it gets even worse when there's already someone there.

Human and Digimon collided with each other, and nearly jumped a mile when there was a young man sitting on top of a garbage can right around the corner as they turned in to the alley.

He looked to be around their age, with a short-sleeved hoodie over a T-shirt, and a baseball cap on top of messy black hair. He was relatively small in stature, and in his hand he was holding something distinctly cell-phone sized, and distinctly familiar.
And on the other side of the garbage can, the dog digimon was falling over herself laughing.

"Sounded like fuckin' coconuts colliding!"

"Not wrong, but shut up," the boy said looking sidelong at her. He twirled his digivice in his hand, turned it on, and pushed a button down-- almost like he actually knew what the options meant. The dog digimon began to pixellate in a manner not unlike the digimon they defeated, and with a streak of green light shooting from her right into the green digivice, she was... gone. Just like that.

Natalie and Meghan stared blankly, while Xander voiced what was on their mind:
"The fuck?"

"... what?" the stranger said, genuinely not understanding why they were looking at him funny. "Have you not found that feature yet?"

"Um... no?" Meghan said slowly. "What?"

Oremon, behind her, was looking between Meg, the stranger, and where the dog had been a moment before. "Where did she go?" he said, fixing his gaze on the boy.

"Don't you think it'd be a good idea to get somewhere a little less... obvious?" Raumon cut in, looking over his shoulder back out at where they had fought Ogremon and Fugamon.

Natalie nodded; the strange boy jumped off the trashcan he was sitting on.

"My name's Sam, by the way," he said, but didn't wait for any other introductions before he took off down the alley.

"Maybe my downstairs neighbor can have a digimon, next," Xander said in deadpan as Desmon alighted on his shoulder. "-- fucking fatass. Warning when you do that, please?"

Natalie and Raumon were first to follow Sam, followed by Meghan; Oremon came a moment later, with Xander bringing up the back.

"So can I assume," Natalie said, half-jogging to close the distance between her and Sam, but he wasn't running particularly fast, "that that dog is your friend?"

Sam didn't touch his digivice at all, nor did he actually say anything (Natalie kind of thought she saw him roll his eyes?) but in a burst of green light, the dog digimon appeared again. Natalie stumbled a bit to the side to accomodate her; she was keeping pace, running alongside Sam on all fours. "My name is Gelermon," she said, looking up at Natalie, "and yes."

"Cool!" Desmon said from her vantage point on Xander's shoulder, grinning. She looked at Xander. "Teach me how to do that. The light show thing."

"Oh!" Meghan said, and one could practically see the lightbulb pop up over her head. "That must be why she didn't show up on our radars!"

They turned around a corner and off to the side was a small, dirt-filled back lot where someone had set up a small garden; this would do. If they listened close, they could hear police sirens not far away.

"Oh no," Meghan mumbled, looking in the direction they had just come from.

"It was just property damage. We're the only ones that got hurt," Oremon said, quietly enough that only she could hear him.

"So nice job back there," Sam said, turning around to face the others; his voice was dripping with sarcasm and he looked like he was going to keep talking, but Xander cut in.

"Hey, hey, hold up. Before you start with the snark, explain yourself. Who are you?"

Natalie might have phrased it a little less bluntly, but she was about to say something similar herself. "And why were you there?"

Sam looked between the other people and their digimon, and shrugged his shoulders, averting his eyes. "Same reason you were there. My D-Rive went off. I followed the radar." He sounded like he wasn't telling the whole truth, but first of all--

"D-Rive?" Natalie repeated, looking from Sam -- still holding the little green device in his hand -- to her own purple one. He had pronounced it like derive, which wasn't a noun, but had mentioned the radar... "Is that what these things are called?"

"Is he the only one who's looked at it for more than thirty seconds?" Gelermon said, rolling her eyes. Sam nudged her with his foot as a nonverbal shut it gesture. She did not. "I mean, between not knowing what it's called, and not knowing how to minimize--"

She was cut off mid-sentence by the fact that once again she was absorbed into Sam's little device. "Don't mind her," he said, though the look on his face said that he at least in part thought she was right.

"How are you doing that?" Meghan asked. It was obviously a pertinent question, for her (and Oremon) maybe more than anyone.

"You really didn't mess with it at all?" Sam looked over at her, then at the other humans, and at their digimon, and shrugged his shoulders. "Start the D-Rive up and hold the center button down for like two seconds. I thought it was obvious."

Natalie looked at the device in her hand. "It wasn't, really," she said, but looked to Raumon. "You mind if I try?" Raumon nodded, and Natalie did just as Sam had said... and it turned out, he was telling the truth. Raumon pixellated like the digimon they had defeated, was engulfed in purple-tinged light, and shot like a beam into her digivice.

And not two seconds later, he re-emerged and re-formed, looking confused and a bit flustered.
"Okay. That was weird," he said, looking up at Natalie.

"Bad weird?" she asked, kneeling down to be more on his level.

"Not... really?" Raumon tapped his beak and thought of how to explain. "It's kind of like... being there, but not?" He shrugged apologetically. "I'd have to spend a bit longer to tell you for sure." He stretched out, inspecting himself to make sure nothing was out of place, and seemed satisfied. "I kind of got freaked out and wanted out; kinda looks like that's all it takes."

"I was wondering if it was just Gelermon could break out," Sam remarked, stuffing his hands in his pockets as both Meghan and Xander followed suit in minimizing their friends, their digimon absorbed into their D-Rives. "Apparently it's a universal feature."

"Can't contain me!" Desmon chirped while she was still re-forming. Apparently, they could still hear perfectly well while... what had Gelermon called it? Minimized?

"Shit, there goes any hope I ever had of sleeping at night," Xander mumbled in a dry deadpan, and the girls couldn't help but snicker a little bit.

Oremon reappeared in his turn; Meghan was bubbling over with questions to ask him, but Gelermon reappeared next to Sam, too, apparently getting the hint enough to at least discontinue the mocking.

"So, anyway," she said, getting up onto her hind legs and standing upright so she could put her paws on her hips. "You guys are the same digimon there's pictures of, right?"

"What pictures?" Natalie asked immediately, looking up; she was still kneeling, inspecting Raumon.

"Not you," Sam said, gesturing at Raumon and Natalie, then looking to the other two. "The bat and the goat. Couple of local discussion forums have been blowing up ever since batgirl fought the Kentucky fried chicken," he said, pointing at Desmon, "and Billy the Kid over here taking a stand against pork."

"Oremon," Oremon snapped before anything else (Desmon didn't take issue with her nickname at all), before-- "... people got pictures of that?" There hadn't been any news hubbub about it-- but it had taken place in a residential area...

Sam shrugged one shoulder. "Just a couple conspiracy theory weirdos, mostly, but. Gelermon kept insisting it was Digimon-related so I kept my ear to the ground." Beat. "Turns out she was right."

"As I usually am."

Natalie thought for a moment, looking at this new kid. After a moment, she held up her digivice. "What did you say these things were called again?"

***

A round of introductions went around; Sam explained what he knew. It wasn't much. He had the same story as them, that the D-Rive appeared a couple weeks ago; he had been keeping up with local news aggregates and gossip apps, and he showed them the pictures he had. They were of bad quality, and distorted slightly, like the files had become corrupt in rendering them. There were only a couple. The ones of Corymon were about the same quality as the ones that had been on the news; the ones of Ibexmon were only marginally better.

When asked how he had figured out the little device as much as he had, he had shrugged and said only I spent a little time messing with it. This was an understatement, but that was beside the point, and he didn't share that fact.

(In truth, he had spent at least a couple days trying to get every piece of information out of it. He had practically pulled it apart to no avail. He tried plugging it into a computer; that had dumped an encrypted file, which itself opened up a whole other set of questions. He had even done a cursory internet search or two, as a total last-ditch effort when his attempts to puzzle it out on his own proved fruitless... but if they hadn't even figured out how to minimize their digimon, then... eh. He figured they wouldn't understand anyway.)

For their part, the others explained what they knew; that there was a fourth (a fifth, now?) person they had found, Peter. Meghan asked Sam if he'd encountered Ratamon; his bewildered expression spoke volumes.

They parted ways before long; Natalie, Xander, and especially Meghan were relieved to know they could get around with their digimon without risking exposure, and they tried out this new travel mode. Natalie was sure to ask for Sam's contact information before she left, and then she was off, leaving Sam and Gelermon alone in the parking lot.

Sam stuffed his hands into his pockets and adjusted his baseball cap.
"What you think?" he said, looking at Gelermon.

She came back with another question as opposed to a real answer. "Does this mean we have to start working with them?"

Sam shrugged one shoulder. He really hoped it didn't, but he had a feeling what he wanted had very little to do with what was going to happen.

"... well, I for one hope not," Gelermon continued, folding her arms. She paused before looking up at him. "Wanna go home?"

He let loose a huff of breath and half-laughter, his shoulders falling with the release of tension he hadn't realized he had been carrying. "You have no fucking idea."

***

It wasn't quite right to say that Sam lived alone; he lived with his father, but for all intents and purposes, that meant he lived alone as often as not. Not to imply that his father was deliberately absent or neglectful; he just worked as a trucker, meaning he spent weeks at a time away from home on a regular basis. It was just as well; they only had one parking spot out front of their crammed little townhouse, anyway.

So the fact that Sam walked into a house that was dark in the middle of the day -- from both drawn blinds and all the lights off -- was no surprise.

As soon as he was in the door, Gelermon reappeared out of his D-Rive with a flash of light and data, having -- of course -- hidden, even for the short walk up from the parking spot. She was already appreciating the fact that she could get out and about a bit more easily now. Not that she minded staying inside by any means, but ever since she had grown into Gelermon last year, she had been feeling a little bit cooped up.

Still. Sam had the monopoly on feeling cooped up, far as Gelermon was concerned. Maybe the whole going out and beating up giant monsters would be good for him, she thought. It was certainly a better incentive than most.

"When's your dad get back?" she asked, stretching out her paws as she stooped over onto all fours as she followed Sam up the stairs.

"Uhh, fucked if I know. Next week? It's, what, the 25th?"

"Something like that."

"Then yeah, he's back on the first, eye-eye-are-see." Yes, he just spelled out iirc.

Gelermon stuck her tongue out. "Boo."

"You just hate having to stay in my room," Sam remarked as they reached the first landing. Again, don't take this the wrong way-- his father and Gelermon had a perfectly acceptable, amicable relationship; it was just that the former was allergic to dogs, and the latter's being a digimon and not a normal dog didn't seem to make a difference.

"Well, I mean, that's not even going to be a problem now, is it?" she said, starting up the second flight of stairs. "What with digimon showing up. Wrecking shit. I'll get all the exercise I can handle." She grinned.

"Joybunnies," Sam drawled and rolled his eyes, taking the stairs two at a time to beat Gelermon to the top. He pushed open his bedroom door and waited for her.

"And," Gelermon continued, standing up on her hind legs once she was on the top landing, "you saw those other digimon. The ones with the humans, I mean. They're sloppy." She thought back to not just how they had almost hit each other with their attacks in the process of fighting the two ogres, and also to how they had collided like rubes in turning in to the alley. "We're going to have to pick up the slack if any more digimon show up."

***

"... eyewitnesses disagree on the exact series of events," read off the newscaster, "but regardless, several thousand dollars worth of property damage is estimated to have occurred as a result of the incident. Investigations are underway by the Atlas Park Police Department..."

Sam paused the video playback, sitting back in his computer chair and resuming the consumption of his half-eaten dinner of microwave pizza. "The conspiracy wackjobs are probably having a field day with this already," he said, looking over to where Gelermon was flipping through an old comic book, lounging on his bed.
It was around half-past eleven o clock by now. Normal people might have considered this a bit late to be eating dinner, but when your sleep schedule could be politely described as totally fucked... well, time loses all sense of meaning, you know?

"Sounds like the general populace is already getting in on the gig," Gelermon said, not looking up. "Just watch. There'll be weird furry porn by the end of the month."

"Christ, there's a mental image I never asked for," Sam said, pressing his fingers to the bridge of his nose. Gelermon grinned.

"I mean, it's got the transformation, and the big monsters, we're like sitting on the holy grail--"

Sam raised his voice as he cut her off. "Here, toss the D-Rive over. I wanna look at it again."

Gelermon snorted and continued grinning. "It hasn't grown any new limbs, you know, it's going to be the same as it was last time you looked at it." Regardless, she picked it up from where it lay on Sam's bedside table, among a veritable pile of disassembled old electornics, and threw it underhand over to him.
He caught it with both hands and turned it over to look at it from all angles.

He cast a look at his computer. Natalie had added him to their little group chat, but luckily, it seemed pretty low-activity; the one Sam hadn't met, Peter, reacted with mild surprise at there being a new person in the group, but seemed pretty hard to faze. It had gone quiet since then.
Sam was thinking of it now, not because anyone had said anything new but... well. for as much as he'd postured, this thing was only slightly less a mystery to him than it had been to any of them. It had shown up for him two weeks ago out of nowhere, and in fact he had almost overlooked it. Only the fact that Gelermon was drawn to it made him give it a second glance, as Gelermon usually kept her nose out of his electronics.

There had been no doubt that it was related to digimon, or at least to Gelermon (seeing as how it was able to minimize her), but watching it at work -- and watching the digimon change forms temporarily as a result of the D-Rive at work -- made a whole fat lot of nothing make any more sense.

Suddenly, without his hitting any of the buttons, the D-Rive lit up, and Sam nearly fumbled with it in his surprise.

Gelermon's ears involuntarily perked up in a moment that made her seem very much like a normal, non-Digimon dog. "Something up?"

Sam frowned as he looked at the D-Rive, and a few button presses later brought up the radar. Right at the very, very edges, one dot came into view-- followed, mere seconds later, by a second.
This had happened earlier today, too-- but these two were pretty much on a direct course in their direction, coming from dead north and moving south.

"Shit, not again."

Gelermon, meanwhile, cottoned on immediately, without needing to see what Sam saw, or even have it explained to her. "Let's go!" Gelermon said, clenching her fists and practically springing to her feet.

"You realize I could be saying, shit, not again, we're out of corn chips."

"Yeah, but you're not."

Sam groaned and put his pizza aside again, standing up. He paused, before firing off a message into the group chat.
so are we using this to tell each other when something shows up?
Beat.
anyway there's shit on my radar, northside heading towards the river looks like. but none of you are probably awake so w/e wish me luck

He grabbed his phone, pocketed his D-Rive, and looked over at Gelermon-- but she was already waiting outside of his room, at the top of the stairs.
As they were about to head out the back door, he swiped his thumb to the dots on the map, bringing up both names at once.

Garurumon - Champion level

Ratamon - In-Training Level

... hadn't one of them said something about a Ratamon? Like, in a positive sense? Because, you know, by the look of this, every turn the Ratamon dot took, the Garurumon dot followed, almost like Ratamon was being chased.
Dammit, now he had to. ... ... aside from Gelermon practically beside herself ready to go and he was pretty sure she'd explode if they didn't.

... not that he was hoping that they wouldn't have to, but... you know?

Shut up.

***

Ratamon frowned, looking over his shoulder as he stopped in a tree. There existed the faint -- just a faint!-- possibility that he had made a mistake. He'd gotten a bit too close, that was all.

"Howling Blaster!"

He squeaked in a terribly dignified manner (read: not at all) and jumped out of the way, the stream of blue fire hitting the branch and snapping it off instead of hitting him and snapping him off.

Okay, he had made a few mistakes. He could fix this!
... he realized, only belatedly, that he only knew where one of the humans actually lived.

...

...

He could fix this!

***

Sam had surmised that on the track they were on, the dots would intersect with a street a few blocks over, still in the general residential neighborhood-- they'd have plenty of time to cut them off, so there was no real point in driving for that, right? Right.
The problems that arose were that, A, the dots were still moving; and B, the dots started moving at an angle, moving more streets away, and by the time he noticed, it would have cost him more time to go back.

"I!" Huff. "Hate!" Huff. "Running!"

Sure, it was only, like, fifteen minutes, but still. That was fifteen minutes of a brisk jog he hadn't been prepared to make, with the bonus vague fear of someone trying to jump him because who went jogging at midnight?

Gelermon took the liberty of rematerializing herself out of minimization as Sam nearly doubled over on the sidewalk, hands on his knees, to catch his breath. She lowered herself into a quadrupedal stance, just in case anyone looked, so as to minimize suspicion.
"I'm exempt from running for the rest of my life after this." Pause to catch his breath. "This is what I get for skipping PE."
Gelermon sniffed at the air, her ears perking up again.

Turns out, she might not have needed to, because the street lamps flickered for a second, all as one.

Sam looked up and around -- which direction was north was kind of a crapshoot, he had always sucked at directions, so he looked up and down the street.
Well, looking to the left yielded nothing, and looking to the right he could see a large shape coming their way, so, you know, bets on the right here. Sam (correctly) assumed that the big one was Garurumon, but Ratamon was proving hard to spot in the dark.

That was not a problem for long.

"Howling Blaster!"

A beam of blue flame shot from the big, approaching shape, right at a street lamp on the far side of the street. It certainly stopped flickering-- the actual light part practically exploded, and a little white shape leapt from where it had apparently been sitting down to the street and resumed running on all fours with its massive tail held high, like a squirrel-- and then looked straight at Sam and Gelermon, as if just noticing them.

The approaching digimon were only about a block away, now, and it was much easier for Sam to make out details. Garurumon, it turned out, was a big-ass wolf, silver and blue, with weird furry feather-like protrusions on its head and back and a long ribbon-like tail.
Okay. Noted.

By the time he was able to take stock of this, a few things happened.

Ratamon suddenly darted to the side of the road that Sam and Gelermon were standing on; Garurumon turned its attention to them, and skidded to a stop, the feather-like protrusions around its face twitching. Ratamon darted behind the boy and the dog. Gelermon got up onto her hind legs, taking a defensive stance.

Sam got the intense feeling that he was being used as a meat shield.

"You," Garurumon growled, eyes narrowing, its voice deep but with a feminine timbre.

Sam couldn't help himself. He looked in both directions around him, before saying with profound sarcasm, "me?"

"Not you!" Garurumon snapped, and focused on Gelermon. "Look at that, rat, you accidentally led me right to one."

"What?" Sam said, craning his neck to look at Ratamon; he looked apologetic and mouthed accidentally, and Sam was prepared to ask a number of questions of the little white monster.

Gelermon, however, did not have nearly so many questions. "Moon Howler!" she yelled, firing a green and black beam of energy out of her mouth right into Garurumon's face. Sam, of course, turned back to see it take the brunt of the attack right to the face.

"You're making it mad," Sam muttered, not a warning, not even worried, just a flat, deadpan observation.

"Howling Blaster!" Garurumon yelled, firing a beam of its own right back -- right at where Sam, Gelermon, and Ratamon were standing. Ratamon leapt away handily; Sam practically tripped over himself to get away from it, while Gelermon actually jumped forward, towards Garurumon, narrowing her eyes.

"You've got a problem with me, you try to blow my head off, not Sam's! Void Paw!" Gelermon cried, running right into close range with Garurumon's face. Her handpaws ignited with the same energy she had shot at Garurumon a moment before, and she began to strike out in quick jabs and punches.

Garurumon growled low, flinching back from the assault, but even as it did, icy energy began to well up in its mouth. "Alright! Subzero Ice Fang!" it yelled, and despite that mouthful of an attack name, it instead snapped out and grabbed Gelermon in its jaws. Its teeth began to freeze, sharpened ice digging into Gelermon's body. The smaller dog snarled, trying to escape, but it only made her problem worse.

"Hey!" Sam yelled, just about lunging forward, when--

You know, he hadn't been expecting the loud noise, because it sure hadn't happened when those other peoples' digimon had changed forms. His D-Rive screeched and quieted down as it began to glow, green mixed in with white light. Gelermon began to glow as well and Garurumon dropped her like she was burning hot. Gelermon landed on the ground and righted herself as the light overtook her.

"Gelermon, drive evolve to..."

She began to grow in size, and rose up onto her growing-more-powerful hind legs. Her wristbands and anklets disappeared as the dark and light parts of her body inverted, the bulk of her fur turning jet-black, and her paws and underside turning white, though the green circles on her body and the markings on her face remained vivid green. Her ears changed from long and floppy to cropped and alert, black outside and green inside, as her face became more lupine. Her tail followed suit, becoming black with a white tip and underside.

Bandages wrapped around her wrists, and from under the bandages, licking up her arms to the elbows, dark emerald-green flames roared to life. Her collar grew large, pointed spikes in place of its studs, as a black, spiked wristband settled onto her right wrist. For a finishing touch, a crest of three green-tipped "feathers" emerged from each of her shoulderblades, not unlike Garurumon's. She howled before slamming one flaming paw into the ground.

"Frekimon!"

Sam stumbled to a stop; he surely didn't need to intervene now. Frekimon smirked.

"Well, would'ya look at that," she said, flexing her claws and admiring her own new form for just a second. As she flexed them, the fire began to lick further down her hands, and she cried: "Ravenous Hunter!"
Her paws fully ignited in the dark-green flames, and she leapt onto Garurumon, slashing out with her claw before digging them in to grab a hold of it; she was still somewhat smaller than Garurumon, and Garurumon roared and began writhing to throw her off. She held fast for a few moments, but she lost her grip and skidded backwards.

The very second that Frekimon was off its back, Garurumon turned its sights to Sam. It was him, after all, holding the thing that had made Frekimon evolve, right? So...

"Subzero Ice Fang!" it cried, lunging for Sam with icy energy crackling in its jaws once more.

"Fuck!" Sam yelled, which we can all agree is a perfectly understandable reaction to having a giant wolf leap at you.

Speaking of giant wolves leaping at things, Garurumon was knocked off course mid-leap by Frekimon.

"Bitch!" she snarled, lunged and moved with surprising speed to smash into Garurumon's side, then feinted away, leaving Garurumon to go careening into a bush, whose owner was definitely going to have to call... whoever it was you called about bush concerns, Sam couldn't say he knew off the top of his head.

Garurumon was righting itself and growling, its pupils restricted-- as was Frekimon.

"Howling--!" Garurumon began, opening its mouth to gather up some blue fire, but Frekimon cut it off.

"New Moon Fire!" she yelled, rearing back. Within a second, she spat out a black-and-green fireball, which she shot right at Garurumon's face-- and into its open mouth, where it was gathering energy for its own Howling Blaster.
Needless to say, Garurumon did not get its attack off without a hitch-- in fact, it did quite the opposite, and began to shift and pixellate before exploding into little bits of data.

Ratamon, who had relocated in this time back to behind Sam, practically had big sparkly hearts in his eyes.

Frekimon was still glaring at the spot where Garurumon stood a moment before, breathing heavily, when Sam apprehensively approached her. "Hey. You, uh, you okay there?" he said, looking up at her face.

She didn't immediately respond, growling faintly, still glaring straight ahead. She paused, her ears twitched, and she looked down at Sam. Her eyes were bright, practically glowing, such that he could actually see her pupils dilate back to normal.
"Never better," she said, slightly sarcastic, but after a moment, she smirked.

"You can digivolve!" Ratamon piped up-- he hadn't actually been present for any of the fights thus far. Frekimon snapped her attention to him, her pupils constricting again before she remembered who she was looking at, and relaxed.
As she relaxed, she began to glow, and in a swirl of light, she was back to being Gelermon.

She pointed one blunt claw at Ratamon. "You. Are you Ratamon?" Ratamon, in fact being Ratamon, nodded enthusiastically.

"Why was Garurumon chasing you?" Sam said, looking down uncertainly at the little white monster.

Ratamon looked between Gelermon and Sam, and scratched his cheek. "Kind of a long story," he said.

Gelermon retorted without missing a beat. "We've got time."

"It's midnight and we're standing on a residential street, we really don't..." Sam muttered, but his complaint went un-commented on, because at that moment, a human shape came around the corner. Gelermon fell to all fours and Ratamon leapt for the now-wrecked bush.

"I take it I'm late?"

It was Natalie, sounding a little out of breath. Sam apprently couldn't hide the surprise on his face. Ratamon poked his head out of the bush.

"Yep," Sam said simply, putting his hands in his pockets and trying not to look like he was still winded from running here. His eyes drifted to the side as the girl approached.

"You missed it," Gelermon said, tossing her head pridefully. "What with my champion form being by far the coolest."

With a flash of purple light, Raumon appeared next to Natalie. "Well, we're all entitled to our wrong opinions," he said with a shrug; Gelermon glared for a moment, then, after a moment, couldn't help but snicker. Raumon beamed.

"Hi!" Ratamon chirped.

Natalie blinked. "Oh, hey," she said in greeting, then looked at Sam. "You met Ratamon?"

"He led a giant wolf that tried to kill me to us. So let's say yes." Sam looked at Ratamon again, and folded his arms.

"Well, it was an accident!" Ratamon said, splaying out his little clawed hands defensively. "It was trying to eat me, and I was just trying to find where the goat lives!"

"Lucky it ran into you," Raumon said thoughtfully, earning him a strange look from Sam and Gelermon, and he puffed up his feathers as he hurried to explain himself. "Well-- Meghan and Oremon live kind of a ways away from here, right?"

"I think she said she lives over in the western quadrant," Natalie said, scratching her head in thought; this was a ways northeast.

"Right! So, you know, it might have caused more damage on the way," Raumon explained, looking at the destroyed bush, the claw marks in the road, and the destroyed street lamp the next block over.

"Well, your cities are hard to navigate," Ratamon said in his own defense.

Sam took off his baseball cap so he could run his hand through his hair, looking up in exasperation at the sky. "Still not what I'd call lucky." He paused, looking back down at Natalie. "Wait, how did you get here? Do you live nearby or something?"

Natalie shook her head. "Raumon and I were down at the park," she said, gesturing in the vague direction of the city park. "I got your message in the group chat and we thought we might be able to help. We crossed the river and the radar went off."

"We didn't need it, obviously," Gelermon said, but Sam blinked. He honestly hadn't been expecting that answer-- he hadn't been expecting anyone to actually come, but life was just full of surprises, wasn't it?
(Of course, sometimes those surprises take the form of giant wolves trying to eat you, but, you know!)

"Don't you, you know," Sam gestured vaguely with his hand here, "have a real life. Like, a job or something?" Beat. "School or something, maybe?" He honestly had no idea what the college schedule looked like. "You know. Like a normal person."
...
That was a normal person thing, right?

Natalie blinked, but shook her head. "Summer break, and..." she coughed. "I've been kind of distracted on the summer job front. With all the digimon stuff."

"Whatever. Not like I have room to judge you."

None of them were paying attention to Ratamon, who was sniffing at the air. He moved quickly enough that by the time Gelermon noticed that he was scurrying away and up a power line, it was too late.

"Hey!" she barked (ha). "Get back here!"

Ratamon looked over his shoulder and waved before taking off.

"Dammit," Sam muttered, replacing his hat.

"He'll show up again, probably," Natalie said, shrugging. They might have continued their conversation, but the window of a house nearby lit up-- the inhabitant was probably about to come out and demand to know what was going on. In a hurry, both Sam and Natalie minimized their digimon into their D-Rives, and Natalie began walking. Sure, it was a weird time to be taking a leisurely stroll, but...

"You drove here?" Sam said, following Natalie.

"Yeah," she said with a nod. "My car's on the next block over, at the gas station."

There was a brief pause.
"Can you give me a ride home? I'm not about this running thing and didn't exactly expect to come this far."

Natalie perked up. "Sure!"

EPISODE 05: CONNECTION INTERRUPTED

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