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

Episode 07: Word On the Wing

"People are going bonkers over these monster sighting things."

That's a fine welcome-home. Peter had barely walked in the door when his roommate met him with that comment. "And how is the stock market doing?" he said in utter deadpan, sarcasm apparent despite the lack of inflection in his voice.

"Hey, don't shoot the messenger," Ian said, shrugging one shoulder. He didn't look away from his computer for even a moment. "I figured you might be interested in the affair of monsters, you know, your best friend is one." Beat, wherein he looked up. "But enough about me, I mean you're also friends with Banmon, so."

"You're hilarious." Peter did not think he was hilarious. He flopped down onto the couch to start pulling his shoes off. "What happened? Another digimon sighting or something?" He had kind of given the cliffnotes to Ian as to what was going on, but he felt he was kind of justified in keeping the details on a need-to-know basis.

"Nah, not as far as I know. It was just on the news again. I think someone at the station is preoccupied or something. Someone claiming they saw a giant blue beetle the other day, I think? They were just doing another blah blah if you have any information blah blah shtick."

"Right," Peter said, running a hand backwards through his hair as he exhaled.

"You have any idea why all this shit is going down all of a sudden?"

Were it possible for Peter to have less of an idea than he had a couple weeks ago, that was as much idea as he had now. Not only were more digimon coming through with the same cryptic motivations, but now there were more digimon that made up their merry little band, and moreover, those digimon all agreed that they knew each other, but didn't know why.

"Not the damndest," Peter said. That was that, and he changed the subject. "You're not working tonight, right?" Ian shook his head, and allowed Peter to continue. "You down to run up to the used record store later?"

"The one up northside?"

"Yeah."

"That sounds like some hipster-ass bullshit."

Beat. "So that's a yes?"

"Yuh."

"I'm gonna go get out of these clothes what reek of coffee beans and desperation," Peter said in unnecessarily flowery tones, tugging on his work shirt with a displeased expression. "And check on Banmon. Bellow if you need anything." Ian grunted his acknowledgement, and Peter retreated to his room to do just this.

"You here?" he asked as he closed the door behind him, looking around for any sign of the little ghost. When she didn't respond immediately, he shrugged to himself and figured she might have been asleep. It wasn't until after he had already changed out of his work clothes and into something a bit less soul-crushing that she made her grand reappearance.

'Grand reappearance' meant she drifted in silently while Peter's attention was on his laptop; he saw her out of the corner of his eye and nodded a greeting. "Where were you hiding?"

"Oh," Banmon said, "um." Peter leaned back in his chair to look over at her, waiting patiently. "I actually, um." She raised a hand to rub the back of her head nervously. "I went outside for a little while actually?"

There as a moment where Peter paused, as though waiting for a punchline. "Really?"

Banmon practically wrung her hands in her nervousness. "There's the tree right near the window, and I've been, you know, feeling kind of." She gestured vaguely. "Ever since the thing. With the Kabuterimon, I mean. So I kind of... sat out in it for a while?"

Well. Colour Peter surprised. Not that he had any problem with this, as long as nobody spotted her and nothing happened to her. Still, in all the years he had known her, Peter was fairly certain he could count on his fingers the times she had gone outside alone for any significant length of time, maybe his toes if his definition of 'significant length of time' was really loose.

"You feel any better after?"

"Not really," Banmon said after a moment of hesitation.

"No?"

There was a beat, before "... there's a really aggressive bird who lives on the far side of the tree. That kind of put a damper on things."

The corner of Peter's mouth curled into a small smile, and he swivelled his chair around to face her. Though Banmon's mouth wasn't visible, the fact that she was smiling was evident from the expressiveness of her eyes.

"I don't know," she said after a moment. "I think I just want to be... you know. Ready, if another digimon shows up."

"I thought you weren't exactly thrilled about the fighting, though," Peter said, leaning back and folding his arms. Even though he was asking what he felt were fairly obvious questions, he already followed what she meant. He just had to ask questions, because, you know, he was diffcult like that.

"I'm not," Banmon said, and she kind of slumped as she thought of how to phrase what she meant. "But I... I don't want things to go badly if it happens. I don't want anyone to get hurt, I guess?"

Peter nodded, and considered the little ghost before him. "You think you might want to try coming out in my D-Rive a bit more?"

"Like... when you're working?" Banmon said, shaking her head. "Oh, god, no." The fact that she was using that forceful of language (grading on a scale, here) was a testament to the intensity of her do not want.

"I wouldn't wish that on anyone," Peter said, looking and sounding well and truly dead inside, before he continued in a less hollow tone. "We're going to run up northside to the record store a bit later, things like that. Might do you some good to get out some more, without fear of hostile birds."

"Very funny," Banmon said, shaking her head. "I guess. Maybe? I don't know."

"You don't have to make the decision right now," Peter said, shrugging one shoulder. "Offer's just open."

***

"If you keep throwing that thing, I'm going to catch it, and if I catch it, there's a non-zero chance it's going to get eaten," Gelermon said, her eyes fixed on the old stress ball that Sam was currently throwing at the ceiling.

Sam, for his part, was laying on his bed with one earbud in, a podcast that he wasn't paying attention to running on his phone to provide the background noise. "What?" he said a half-a-second too late to sound natural, turning to look at Gelermon and getting beaned in the face by the stress ball. "Ow." It was more of a kneejerk reaction to getting hit in the face, not that it actually hurt.

"What's up," Gelermon said, not really a question, as she hopped up onto the foot of Sam's bed, "and if you say something like 'gas prices' I am going to punch you in the dick, so help me god."

Sam couldn't help but snort, and cracked a lopsided smile despite himself. "What? Nothing's up."

"Yeah, that's the point," she said, dramatically flopping backwards. "I'm bored."

"And here I was thinking we'd had enough excitement with the giant bugs," Sam said, propping himself up with, and leaning backwards on, his elbows. "And, you know, the whole human interaction thing. Enough of that for the next century, thanks."

Gelermon snorted. "Right?" she said, grinning. She paused, and her expression -- though not her tone -- softened just a tiny bit, but Sam knew her well enough to notice it clear as day. "I thought you were doing pretty good about it, though. Even if they're all annoying as tar."

"Oh, not with the face," Sam groaned, rolling his eyes and letting himself fall back down on the bed.

Gelermon did, mercifully, not harp on the subject. "We ever gonna tell your parental unit about all the digimon shit?"

Sam thought for a moment and pulled a face, even though he was still staring at the ceiling. "I'm gonna call that something he doesn't need to know about."
His dad had been home for about a week, and would be off again in another few days. This entire time, Sam had magnificently managed to skirt around the issue of digimon-- he had already had to deal with enough well-meaning surprise when he had explained that he had to go out and meet up with some.
Well. He didn't call them friends so much as people, but the point was this was still surprising.

Gosh, was it that surprising that he was interacting with people? ... yes, but shut up.

Point is, it had already been a bit of a shock-- he didn't need to make it worse.

Gelermon smirked. "Ah, lying to your parent. A proud tradition."

"It's not lying, it's just leaving out details. Mark the difference."

Sam chuckled, and still laying down, reached over to the bedside table where he had thrown his baseball cap. It was old and worn -- he had had it since his freshman year of high school, and it was hardly the only thing he still had laying around. The clutter in the corners of his room was testament enough to that, but hey, it wasn't clutter, it was coziness.
(Less charitably, a fire hazard, but either way.)

He cast a look to the window, only bare traces of afternoon sun getting through the blackout curtains, and his gaze drifted from the window to the bedside table. His hat had been covering his D-Rive, and of course, this led to a thought.

"You wanna go out and get something to eat?" he proposed, looking over at Gelermon. "I mean, you'd have to minimize, but." Even though she had literally just been complaining about being bored, she blinked, incredulity on her face.

"Are you sick? Dying, maybe? Pod person?"

"You literally just said you were bored," Sam said, sitting up and tucking his hat onto his head.

"Yeah, but I say that all the time. I thought you knew me well enough to know that meant let's go downstairs and play Street Fighter, meet me in the virtual pit and I'll kick your pasty ass or something."

"So you're saying you're gonna pass on getting food?"

Beat. "Nope."

Sam smiled and picked up his D-Rive.

One trip downstairs later, Sam bid a quick hey we're getting food we'll be back in a bit do you want anything all in one breath to his father, who was more-than-half-asleep on the living room couch anyway. When he got no response, he cast a second comment about I'll try not to die but no promises over his shoulder as he beckoned for Gelermon to follow him through the kitchen and out the back door.

"I wonder if you could try to pass me off as a normal dog," she said as she fell onto all fours and followed Sam out; since they opened up into the back alley, she wasn't too worried about being seen just yet. "That way I wouldn't have to get minimized."

"You're green, wear bracelets, and talk."

"Just like a normal dog, you know," she said, cheeky and smirking.

***

Turns out that Banmon had, with a bit of deliberation, decided to come along with Peter in his D-Rive, after all.

See, being minimized was... kind of odd. She was still there, next to Peter, but kind of not. She knew she was floating next to Peter, and could still hear everything that was going on around her, but she felt kind of pleasantly numb, and moving seemed like more effort than it was worth. In a way, it made her think of the idea that Peter had once proposed, of planes of existence layered over each other-- she hadn't really understood it, but it's what came to mind.

Regardless, she had to repeatedly remind herself that nobody could see her as she listened to the idle chatter of Peter and Ian rifling through milk crates of used vinyls in this hipster-tastic used record store.

"Hey, look. Hospice on vinyl," Peter said, pulling a nearly-new record out as he flipped through the dust sleeves.

"I'm vetoing. You're not buying that."

"What? Why?"

"Because if you buy it, you're going to want to listen to it, and if you listen to it, I have to listen to it, and if I have to listen to it, I'm going to want to hang myself."

"It's a good album, Ian."

"It's a suicidally depressing album."

"... that's the same thing. What you just said, that is exactly the same thing I just said."

"You are only allowed to make our shitty little flat so depressing. I can deal with the dead things in jars, but there are limits."

Peter rolled his eyes as he put the album he was holding back in the crate. Banmon smiled to herself -- not like she had anyone else to smile at, of course. Sure, they were a bit abrasive to each other, which always made Banmon as an observer a little bit ill at ease, just because she had always been on the more sensitive side. That said, this practically was the equivalent of uproarious banter, and even if it wasn't quite her style, the fact that Peter was enjoying himself accounted for something.

... she still wanted to instinctively dive behind Peter any time someone else entered the store, and only when she had a hard time moving did she remember, oh, right, only to be on high alert again 30 seconds later.

It... it was gonna take some getting used to.

***

It was a little while later that they were finally departing, a few vinyls richer and a bit of cash poorer.
"I haven't actually eaten anything today but a muffin on my break," Peter said, hands in his pockets. He idly ran his fingers over his digivice, almost like confirming that it was still there. "You want to get something to eat while we're here?"
The record store was within a very short walk from a number of restaurants, so it wasn't an out-of-nowhere suggestion.

Ian agreed, and so the debate turned to what, exactly, to get.

Peter scratched his jaw. "I'll have to get something meatless for my plus-one."

"This is a hipster town, near a hipster record store. I don't think that'll be a problem," Ian said, checking his phone to look up reviews for restaurants in the area.

Peter cocked an eyebrow at him. "You do realize that we're the hipsters."

"No, really, mister 'wearing a scarf in June'? Us?"

Peter rolled his eyes and looked around, waiting for Ian's search results to bear fruit, when-- he did a double-take. He squinted through his glasses, but no-- that was definitely a familiar face across the street, headed for the sold-by-the-slice pizza place on the corner immediately opposite the record store. Familiar baseball cap, eyes down on his phone (or was it a D-Rive? Nope, definitely a D-Rive), not exactly the tallest sprout in the metaphorical garden-- that was definitely Sam.

"Huh."

Well, what were the odds.
Not that he was going to just run over and say hi, that would be creepy.

(Unbeknownst to him, Banmon -- on high alert as she was -- had actually noticed him a short time before Peter himself did, but, you know, she very well couldn't just materialize to tell Peter this.)

"Pizza place is apparently way better than it used to be," Ian's voice cut through Peter's minor brain digression, "so that's where my vote is going."

Well, then.
How fortuitous!

***

Sam was not looking where he was going; he was flipping through the esoteric options on his D-Rive, idly wondering if he could find a way for Gelermon to communicate without having to re-emerge.
So lost was he in these trains of thought that he nearly smashed straight into another person.

"Uh-- sorry," he muttered, eyes down, deeply not interested.

"S'alright," an unfamiliar voice said-- the person he ran into. That wasn't the remarkable part.

"Hey," said a far more familiar voice, and Sam blinked a couple times as he snapped his attention up.

"Uh?" God, Sam, you're eloquent. He had run into a brown-haired dude who looked a few years older than him, significantly taller than him, and he had no idea who this guy was, but the other guy was... what's his name. Peter? Peter. "Hi."

"You know each other?" the brown-haired dude said, looking between Sam and Peter, and Peter nodded. Sam swore, for a split second, that he heard Gelermon growling.

"Vagugely," Peter said simply. He gestured to Sam and the brown-haired dude in turn. "Ian: this is Sam. Digimon stuff. Sam: this is my flatmate, Ian." Sam could see dawning comprehension on the stranger's (Ian's) face.

"Hi," Sam said flatly, nodding a vague acknowledgement.

"Heya, shorty," Ian said. He was taller than Peter, and Peter was taller than Sam, so he had room to say this, but--

"Ha ha short jokes, hilarious, I'm going to punch you in the dick," Sam muttered. (Maybe Gelermon's comment had just put dick-punching on the mind.) Ian, to his surprise, grinned.

"I like him," he said sidelong to Peter, who shook his head with a sigh.

"You here for a reason?" Peter said, looking to Sam. When he said reason, he meant digimon; Sam picked up on this, and shook his head.

"Nope." He held up his D-Rive and inclined his head towards it. "We're just getting food." Beat. "She was going to hang out in the back alley while I got food." Ian mouthed 'she?' at Peter, who mouthed 'digimon' back, and Sam waited for the exchange to finish before shrugging and turning, excusing himself.

"Hold on." Peter's voice behind him stopped him. "Haven't had the chance to check in with Banmon in a while. The back alley isn't going to get people walking through?" Sam nodded with lips pressed thin, and Peter looked over his shoulder. "Go ahead. I'll be along in a sec."

Ian waved over his shoulder as he carried on to go inside, while Peter followed Sam, who had already started to walk around the corner to get to the alleyway. The alleyway in question was narrow and cramped, with trash cans and old fire escapes. It was fenced off by an old wooden fence at one end, so it only had one way out, which helped cut down on cross traffic.

Gelermon materialized first with a swirl of green light, and she stretched out. She practically ignored Peter, looking imemdiately to Sam. "So you're going to get me pizza, too," she said with a grin, "or do I have to play up the puppy dog thing?"

"Pfft. Relax," Sam said, snorting as he placed a hand on her head.
(Peter didn't comment on it, but seeing the change in his demeanor when he was speaking to Gelermon versus when he was talking to him and Ian was almost shocking.)

Banmon came out a few moments later in a swirl of pure-white light, and she peered around herself.
"You doing alright?" Peter asked, kneeling down to be more on her level instead of making her drift up to his.

"Yes, mostly," she said, looking around. She waved meekly at Gelermon; the dog at least acknowledged her with a nod, which she certainly didn't do for her human partner. "Would it be okay if I stayed out here? I could... use a little time away from people."
(Sure, it was... vaguely terrifying to be out here functionally alone -- aside from Gelermon -- but she had had more than her share of people for right now. She could use a little bit of detox time, and the pizza place was more crowded than the record store had been.)

"If you want to," Peter said after a moment, "I'm not going to stop you."

"It'll be a regular girls night out," Gelermon said, interrupting herself to butt in; she had just been in the middle of giving her order to Sam, but couldn't stop herself from commenting. She rolled her eyes. They didn't even need to look at her face to know that-- it dripped from every syllable.

"... right," Banmon said slowly, but nodded up at Peter. "You'll be back soon, right?"

"We're going to get food and be right back out. I'll get you something," he reassured her, nodding before standing upright again. He looked to Sam. "You coming back around front?"

Sam paused, looking back at the digimon, before, "Yeah."

The humans took back off to circle around to the front of the building while the digimon got comfortable; Sam kept a few steps behind Peter. When they finally made their way into the dimly-lit pizza place, there was already a bit of a line between them and Ian (himself still a ways from the front of the line). Ian, noticing them, beckoned Peter come join him. When Sam stayed put, Ian gave him a quirked eyebrow and gestured for him to cut in behind him.

Sam apprehensively did; aside from an eyeroll from the woman immediately behind them, nobody said boo. He wasn't exactly... thrilled? He knew Peter at least a little bit, but not this roommate of his, and he had never been the world's biggest social butterfly.
Understatement of the century.

Peter spoke up first, and he didn't speak loudly so as not to be overheard-- not that it would matter that much, but still. "You mentioned that you'd been messing with the D-Rives," he prompted, looking sidelong at Sam. "Aside from the minimizing thing, what else have you figured about them?" Sam perked up so much it was almost cartoonish.
(That is pretty much exactly the reaction Peter was gunning for.)

"Not a lot," Sam admitted, after his initial surprise at being asked to talk about something relevant to his interests wore off.

Damn.

Sam continued, and turned his D-Rive over in his hand. "They're like nothing I've actually seen before." He, uh, decided to leave out the part where he nearly tore his apart trying to get into its electronic guts, but seeing as how it had straight up refused to open up, no harm, no foul, right?

"Considering their delivery method, I'm not surprised," Peter said.

"Right, the whole delivery by light beam thing isn't exactly industry standard," Sam said. "Aside from the fact that whatever their deal is, though, fucked if I know. They're a big D-Rive shaped mystery."

Peter stroked his chin in thought. "How do you know they're called D-Rives, anyway?" he said after a moment.

Sam blinked. "I plugged it into a computer. That's what the device was called. Hyphen and all. I suppose it could also be drive going by the fact that they yell about drive evolution but, eh, I think D-Rive sounds cooler--"

"You plugged a mystery device sight unseen into your computer?" Peter asked, raising an eyebrow as he cut Sam off.

Sam blinked, giving Peter a do you think I'm stupid? look. "A computer. I have like, a half a dozen old paperweight laptops. I plugged it into one I wasn't afraid to lose."

Beat. Peter shrugged coolly. "Fair enough." Pause. "So where do you think it came from, then?"

Sam was still a bit defensive and sarcastic, and technological tinkering wasn't really Peter's forte -- there was a reason he was a liberal arts major -- but it turned out they did have a common ground.
Trying to explain what was going on.
Admittedly, Peter was more focused on the why, and Sam's interest more lay in the how, but still.

They were both looking for answers, here. In different ways, sure-- but they had that much in common. That was something.

***

Outside, conversation had been sparse between the two digimon.

"Ugh," Gelermon said, leaning against the garbage can and folding her arms. She had just been trying to engage Banmon in conversation for the third time, but Banmon had been put off by Gelermon's... let's call it blunt and forceful communication style. "Nevermind, then. I tried, gold star for me."

"I'm... sorry?" Banmon said, not entirely sure what to say.

Gelermon snorted. "Ugh, enough with the apologizing. You're like Sam used to be, but even worse. I'm almost impressed."

"... um?" Banmon said, blinking slowly. "I'm sorry, I'm not sure I follow."

"I mean the whole," Gelermon gestured vaguely with one paw, "shrinking violet act. You've got it on lock."

Banmon blinked slowly at her again. "O...kay?" She paused and tilted her head, while Gelermon huffed and looked around. "What do you mean, like how Sam used to be?" she tried. It certainly got Gelermon's attention.

"What's it matter to you?" she said, and Banmon shrunk back.

"I was just-- you brought it up!" she said in a defensive, albeit squeaky, voice. "I thought, maybe if we were going to have to--"

"To what?" Gelermon cut her off. "Pal around? Be bestest buddies?" She faked a swoon and rolled her eyes almightily. "Gag me."

Banmon didn't seem to find it that amusing. "You don't have to be a jerk to me!" she said with sudden force. It wasn't a lot, but it was definitely a bit of an outburst. "I was just trying--!" Banmon seemed to realize she had raised her voice, and she seemed as surprised as anyone. She immediately quieted back down to her usual gentle tone. "I was just trying to ask you about your partner," she explained. "That's all..." Beat. "Sorry I -- didn't mean to get--" she trailed off, and wrung her hands nervously.

Gelermon had to admit she hadn't really expected it to happen-- she was kind of expecting the ghost to be a total doormat, so even thus much was a bit of a pleasant surprise. She put her hands on her hips and sighed, thinking for a moment. She looked up and down the alley, and seeing nobody who could interfere, she shrugged.

"It's not like it's a super interesting story," Gelermon said. "Sam's got really bad anxiety. Like, you know how some people on the internet say they have bad anxiety to look cute and quirky?" She paused for a half beat, but didn't wait for Banmon to actually respond. "Yeah, I'm gonna personally punch every single one of those people in the face."

Banmon blinked. "That's, um. Evocative."

Gelermon folded her arms and sighed. "Long story short, and I'm not going into details because it's not my damn place to, but he barely left the house for two years. We're talking dropped out of school, got his GED, threw deuces to the rest of civilized society. Can't blame him, honestly, people fuckin' suck." That last part was kind of an aside.
She shrugged again, looking at Banmon. "And you, ghosty-girl, remind me of him during that time but even worse."

"I'm... sorry?" Banmon said, kind of at a loss for what she was supposed to say to this information. This isn't to say she was unsympathetic; she felt like this kind of explained Sam's behavior, to a degree, and she definitely felt a distinct pang of empathy, but Gelermon didn't really seem up for discussion of the matter. "I wouldn't have guessed that about him, if that helps?"

"It's whatever," Gelermon said, flipping one of her long ears over her shoulder like a dismissive hair-flip. "But you should consider working on it."

"... I like me the way I already am," Banmon mumbled, but it was quiet enough that Gelermon either didn't hear her or was willing to pretend she didn't hear her.
(It was the latter.)

Or maybe, it was the sudden sense of Something in the air that kept this conversation from continuing.

Gelermon's ears perked up and she narrowed her eyes.

***

"... so I might be overthinking it, but that's also an option," Sam said. He had his D-Rive in one hand and was gesturing at it with his other hand. They had already placed their orders and were standing off to the side, waiting for their numbers to be called. "Or it could just be aliens. That's what half of the people I've seen seem to think."

"Somehow," Peter said, stroking his chin, "I feel like the conversation doesn't lose much by dismissing that one, no."

"Then I'm putting all my bets on that contingency," Ian chimed in, eyes fixed on his phone. He had interjected a couple times, but he had mostly just been half-listening to the conversation. It didn't really involve him, you know?

"Hedging your bets?" Sam said, raising an eyebrow.

"Mostly just betting against Peter."

They had aaaaalmost become comfortable (or at least, Sam had almost gotten comfortable talking to Peter and to a lesser extent Ian), when something immediately snapped Peter and Sam's attention away from their conversation. One guess what it was!
That's right-- Sam's D-Rive lit up. What else would it be?

"Dammit," Sam muttered.

Peter, staying tight-lipped, pulled his own D-Rive out and, indeed, his had also activated. Luckily, they just looked like they were looking at their phones, aside from the looks of vague distress and displeasure.
(Okay, so maybe they looked like they were looking at their phones and reading the news.)

"Maybe it's not hostile," Peter said, looking sidelong at Sam.

"And maybe it tapdances and sings showtunes," Sam said right back, swiping his thumb across the screen to bring up what limited info it could offer. Strigimon, the little pop-up window said, champion level.

Sam suddenly felt annoyed that, for all the features he had found, he couldn't find one that was more helpful than that. Either way-- it didn't bode well. Sam looked up to tell Peter that they should investigate, but by the time he ripped his eyes off his D-Rive screen, Peter was already gone.
He looked around; Ian gestured towards the door with a tilt of his head.

"He already took off," he clarified, then paused for a beat. "Digimon stuff?" Sam nodded, lips pressed tight, and Ian shrugged. "I'll grab your pizza for you. Go. Be free."

Sam blinked a couple times, muttered a vague thanks, and took off out the door. He stumbled a bit, blinking blearily into the evening light of almost-summer as his eyes adjusted to the change. He looked around up and down the street, then at his D-Rive.
And then he realized that he should probably reconvene with Gelermon.

He was only a few seconds behind Peter; as he turned the corner around the building, he could see the trailing end of Peter's hipster scarf turning ito the alleyway. He was quick to follow.
As they arrived, Banmon peeked out from behind a trash can, a worried expression on her face. ... ... more worried than her default worried expression, that is.

"About time!" Gelermon said, bounding out from behind another can, knocking it over in the process.

"I take it, then," Sam said, looking between Gelermon and Banmon, "that I won't be breaking any news to either of you if I say there's a digimon coming?"

Peter looked at the digimon, who were looking expectantly at them.
He adjusted his glasses, then looked sidelong at Sam. "Seems that's the case."

"Duh!" Gelermon said, rolling her eyes.

"Um... yes. I heard it," Banmon piped up meekly, gesturing at the sky.

"And if she heard it," Gelermon said, not pausing for explanation, "then you know I did. You know. Since I actually have ears." This... explained very little. One could forgive Sam and Peter for not feeling stellar about this.

"Heard what?" Peter said, but just about as soon as he asked, they got an answer.

It wasn't loud, but it was hard to miss, much like how you can hear a firetruck from miles away. It was long and loud, distant, and sounded... avian. Kind of as if someone who had only a vague, pop culture-informed idea of what birds sound like had combined the screech of a hawk with the throatiness of an owl, and then cranked up the volume by a hundred decibels.
Sure, they didn't have proof that it was the digimon, but let's be real -- after encountering a giant beetle, it was safe to assume that any really loud, really huge animal noise was probably courtesy of a digimon.

Gelermon's fur bristled, and she looked up at Sam. "Come on. Let's you and me get a head start, here." She cast a sidelong glance to Banmon and Peter, more the former than the latter. She was trying to communicate without saying as much that she wasn't counting on Banmon to be a huge boon. Not that they were useless, you know, just...
Well.
Gelermon had, historically, always been of the opinion that they could manage fine on their own. Why would now be any different?

Sam followed her eyeline, and though she didn't say it, he got her message-- and he couldn't help but kind of feel it, to a certain degree. Despite the fact that they did have common ground, he was having a hard time getting a read on Peter. Admittedly, he wasn't the best at reading people in the first place, but still!

Peter was too busy recalling Banmon into his own D-Rive to pay mind to any of this. Sam followed suit with Gelermon.

"Dammit," Peter said flatly, looking at his radar again.
A car alarm went off in the distance.

Sam and Peter took off running, knowing they didn't have a whole lot of time to waste.

***

Strigimon snorted derisively as she spread her wings to soar. The little humans below were looking upon her with confusion, with fear-- but none of these plebians were what she was looking for.
None of them were going to gain her the glory she so rightly deserved. For their insolence -- for not being what she was looking for-- she had fired off a Razor Feather, and her feathers had riddled holes through their metal vehicles, cutting through them with distressing ease.

It had been, admittedly, mostly for her own amusement, but the loud noises -- the honking alarms, and the sound of sirens -- were less to her liking, so she decided not to dawdle.

She knew some of them had to be close.

(Okay, she was guessing they were close, but was rarely wrong.)

***

"I'm going to guess," Peter said flatly as they turned around a corner and saw an enormous bird flying overhead, "that's our mark."

"You think?" Sam said, glancing out of the corner of his eye at Peter. "What gave you the hint?" Peter didn't respond to his sarcasm; he just adjusted his glasses

In a flash of light, Gelermon and Banmon both materialized next to their partners-- Gelermon looked excited, and Banmon, apprehensive. They could hear clamor and what sounded like car alarms going off. Any hope they may have had that this digimon wasn't hostile was evaporating rapidly.

"Hope you're ready to kick some ass," Gelermon said-- it was hard to tell who she was talking to.

Damningly, the shape seemed to notice them, the closer it got. If nothing else, it was suddenly descending, and it was hard to take that as anything but a sign that they were being homed in on.
Banmon ducked behind Peter, while Gelermon bounded forward to put herself between the unknown threat and the others. Or, the unknown threat and Sam. Mostly Sam. Entirely Sam.

Without warning, the bird (the Digimon) swooped, and the distance between them was suddenly significantly less than anyone would have liked it to be. Arcing down between the buildings with remarkable grace for its size, Strigimon was, unsurprisingly, a giant bird. It resembled something like a cross between an owl and an eagle, albeit with a twenty-foot wingspan.

"Razor Feather!" it cried, flapping its huge wings and releasing a flurry of feathers that glowed brightly as they flew at Sam, Peter, and their unwitting Digimon. She missed-- luckily, it seemed that she had attacked prematurely, as the shower of feathers stopped a good fifteen feet ahead of them.

Considering the fact that they sliced through the body of a parked car like a hot knife through butter, this was something they were very thankful for.

"Moon Howler!" Gelermon yelled before anyone could tell her otherwise. She reared back and spat her energy beam at Strigimon, but Strigimon artfully dodged the beam with a (perhaps unnecessarily) dramatic flourish. The bird tucked in its wings and spun like a corkscrew as Gelermon's attack sailed by harmlessly, and then it burst back out to its full wingspan.
However, it did stop, flapping here to look down at the small gathering of humans and Digimon. They could get a good look at it now-- it was mostly tan, with brown and cream across its body. Its mostly natural colours brought out its few red and orange accents, as well as its piercing yellow eyes.

"Aha!" it (she, rather-- her voice was obviously feminine) declared, descending and delicately alighting in the middle of the road.

Behind himself, Peter could feel Banmon shrink down even harder to stay out of sight.

Lucky that traffic had completely backed up, or this might have been even more of a problem.

"Only one, I take it?" she said, peering -- indeed -- owlishly at Gelermon, and sighing dramatically. "Thought I saw... ah, well. I suppose it's better than nothing. I can gather the others at some later point, I assume, get my full dues..."

Peter furrowed his brow and hummed quietly; Sam cast him a sidelong glance, looking slightly confused, but Peter ignored him. "Dues?" he said, looking instead at Strigimon. Strigimon, in her turn, seemed slightly confused that a human was addressing her.

"It's no concern of yours," she said sharply.

"It kind of is, seeing as how she," Peter gestured at Gelermon, "is kind of with my friend here." He made absolutely no mention of Banmon; if Strigimon hadn't noticed her, he wasn't going to point her out.
Sam gave Peter a what are you getting at look with lips pressed tight and eyebrow quirked. Gelermon, hilariously, shot the exact same expression over her shoulder at Peter. It was actually kind of uncanny how similar they looked.

See, he couldn't say it, but Peter had a feeling, and he was going to take a shot here.
Strigimon, just as Peter had hoped, looked slightly taken aback. "Is that so," she said, and Peter knew that he had struck onto something-- even if he didn't know what.

Gelermon caught on. "Hey, yeah," she said, darting her eyes between Strigimon and back to Sam. "I've got a human. That means, you know." She certainly hoped that Strigimon knew, because she sure didn't!

"That can't be right," Strigimon mumbled. Peter was feeling mighty proud of himself, right up until the point that Strigimon decided to resolve her conundrum her own way-- that is to say, by lunging forward and grabbing Gelermon in her talons.

"Hey!" Gelermon yelled, struggling immediately. "Moon Howler!" She fired the swirling green beam right at Strigimon's underside, but it was like trying to shoot a water gun at a brick wall.

"You can't fool me," Strigimon said, glaring at Peter and Sam. "I will return, and you humans will pay for attempting to harbor a refugee." Pause. "And more importantly, attempting to impede my ascent to glory."
Her talons scraped horribly against the concrete as she picked Gelermon up, and lifted into the air with the dog still attempting to break free. With a mighty flap of her wings, she turned and prepared to fly away.

"Gelermon!" Sam blurted, looking around frantically for something he could throw. In a fleeting moment of passion, he almost threw his D-Rive. (That, he realized, was probably not wise.) In lieu of that, he lunged forward, preparing to try and physically intervene himself.
A thousand thoughts rushed through his mind at once-- that Banmon wasn't going to be able to help, that he didn't know how close he had to be to Gelermon to get the evolution thing to work, that he didn't know how to make the evolution thing happen, that this asshole was not helping--

Banmon drifted to Peter's side instead of behind him.

Peter looked over at Banmon, and she looked right back. He met her eye and nodded once; she frowned, but then looked back up at Strigimon. She paused for a half a second before she slowly nodded.
She threw herself forward, bypassing Sam easily. Peter's D-Rive, held tight in his hand, began to swirl with light.

"Banmon, drive evolve to... Banshemon!"

As she grew in size, her ability to efficiently follow Strigimon followed suit. "Banshee's Call!" she cried, and all around her, shining white spirits materialized. They accelerated past Banshemon herself and flew straight for Strigimon.

The owl, in all her infinite wisdom, rotated her head to look over her shoulder at what was happening behind her. Her timing was impeccable; right as she turned, one of the little white spirits was on a collision course with her face. The little ghosts pelted her and she squawked in a most undignified manner. Not expecting to actually be hurt (for, indeed, Banshemon's spirits packed a punch), she tumbled out of the air and back down onto the street, dropping Gelermon moments before she impacted the concrete.

Gelermon made an oof! noise, but was quick to return to her feet. She growled as she righted herself, and boy howdy-- she was ready for revenge.

Luckily, Sam's D-rive seemed to agree, and began to glow green.

"Gelermon, drive evolve to... Frekimon!"

Strigimon looked between Frekimon and Banshemon, confusion plain on her face. "How on earth did you manage--" she blurted, temporarily losing her cool as she picked herself off the ground, but she quickly regained her composure.
'Regained her composure' meant she attacked.

"Owl Talon!" Strigimon yelled, rushing close and leaping at Banshemon. Her talons glowed crimson as she did, and when she slashed out at Banshemon, she tore long, jagged rips into her robe before digging her claws in. Despite the apparent lack of substantial form for her to dig into, she was able to grab hold of Banshemon, and began ripping and tearing at her.

"Spirit Ripper!" Banshemon yelled in desperation. Her claws began to glow and she raked them across (or rather, through) Strigimon, which was at least enough to dislodge her. Strigimon let Banshemon go, backing up as she rose into the air, but she was far from done.

"Razor Feather!" she yelled, leaping into the air and flapping hard, and not just to gain altitude. As she flapped, she released another rain of wickedly sharp feathers.

"Shit!"

Was it Peter or Sam that blurted that? It didn't really matter-- both of them, not wanting to be cut to ribbons anytime soon, stumbled backwards, but this wasn't enough to get them totally out of range. They braced for--
Nothing. Frekimon leapt into the line of fire, covering her face with one arm as she shieleded the humans-- but Peter got the incredibly distinctive feeling that she was not jumping in to save him.

"You okay?" Frekimon growled, low and quiet and looking over her shoulder specifically at Sam, which confirmed Peter's suspicion. Sam nodded, and Frekimon snapped her attention to Strigimon again.

"Are you--" Banshemon began, but Frekimon wasn't in the mood to answer silly questions like that.

"New Moon Fire!" the wolf yelled instead, spitting the blast of green fire right at Strigimon. It struck true, knocking Strigimon out of the air again, but she at least saved enough dignity to avoid tumbling backwards.

"Banshee's Call!" Banshemon cried, and once more a flurry of white ghosts materialized around her and threw themselves at Strigimon.

"Hey. You alright?" Sam asked, asking Peter the question that Frekimon hadn't. It took Peter a moment to snap back to reality; he was intently watching and listening to the fight.

"Oh. Yeah, nothing busted," he said, nodding and looking around as he got to his feet. He held out a hand for Sam; after a moment of hesitation, Sam took a hold of it, and Peter helped him to his feet.

It was now that onlookers were beginning to gather. People were getting out of their cars and coming out of buildings to gawk, yelling, capturing video on their phones...
Nobody had seen the interactions that would have given them away as connected to the digimon, right? Right. That was the important part. ... ... okay, it was one of the important parts. The fact that sirens were getting closer? Also a very important part. They had to act quickly.

"Such underhanded tactics would suit you, I suppose," Strigimon said, righting herself and picking herself up into the air as she glowered at the two digimon before her. "It doesn't surprise me at all that you'd sink to such tactics as deceit, trickery, hiding-- clearly a fitting end to be brought by my claws back to--"

"Oh my god, shut up!" Frekimon said, growling as green fire began to gather in her mouth again.

Peter wanted to chastise her for her hastiness-- to tell her that no, actually, let Strigimon ramble as much as she wanted-- but he had the niggling feeling that might not go over well. He held off.

"Ravenous Hunter!" Frekimon cried, leaping for Strigimon. The flames around her wrists ingited, engulfing her hands; at the apex of her leap, she slashed out at Strigimon.

Strigimon, however, was not about to simply wait around for Frekimon to reach her. "Owl Talon!" she yelled, swooping; her talons glowed red for a split second before they collided with Frekimon's face. Frekimon quite suddenly lost her forward momentum, and fell to the ground.

"Is that all," Strigimon taunted, tossing her head dramatically.

"Big talk for an overdramatic feather duster," Sam muttered to nobody in particular; Peter expelled a huff of dry laughter through his nose. Strigimon continued.

"Surely, you should know that you've no chance against me. If I were you, I'd simply give up now!"

"I'd rather not," Banshemon said, quietly but firmly. Being able to fly, she had much less worry of being knocked out of a jump, so she closed the distance between herself and Strigimon with surprising quickness. "Spirit Ripper!" she cried, her claws glowing white as she slashed out at Strigimon.

Strigimon hooted in indignation as she flapped backwards frantically to get away from Banshemon's attack. Peter and Sam could see her yellow eyes fix on them again. Perhaps she was preparing to fire off another razor feather; it didn't matter, because both Banshemon and Frekimon saw her focus on their human partners, too, and decided to be pre-emptive.

"Banshee's Call!"

"New Moon Fire!"

White ghosts and green fire met Strigimon at more or less the same time, and as they exploded, Strigimon let loose with a loud keen and began to pixellate.

"Damn the--!" she managed in one last caw before she burst into motes of light-- and luckily, the onlookers were so distracted by the fact that a giant bird just exploded into light to notice that those pixels of light rushed down into Sam and Peter's D-Rives.
Banshemon and Frekimon stayed where they were, breathing heavily with the rush of battle. With two more surges of light, they shrunk back down to their rookie forms-- and were becoming rapidly aware that they had spectators and rubberneckers staring at them.

Banmon, in particular, seemed not hugely fond of this idea; Gelermon was still glaring at where Strigimon had been moments before.
After a moment, Gelermon glanced out of the corner of her eye at Banmon; when they made eye contact, Gelermon nodded and smirked just the faintest bit. She wasn't going to say thanks for the assist, but she could at least imply it.

Peter didn't notice this small exchange; he was busy looking up at where Strigimon had been. "I wonder," he muttered to himself.

"Hey, cool idea-- wonder all you want when we're not in broad daylight, maybe?" Sam suggested in a hiss, glancing around. He, for one, hadn't forgotten the blow-up that had surrounded the ogre incident; he didn't want to get caught in the crossfire here, and didn't want Peter to, either.
Peter, getting lost up in his own head, actually kind of had-- so after a moment to come to his senses, Peter nodded.

He cast a look over at Banmon, who quickly caught his eye; Peter nodded, jerking his head just slightly, and he ducked back around the corner. Banmon followed, and with a flash of light, she was minimized into his D-Rive.

Sam whistled at Gelermon, which snapped her to attention; she bounded towards him as he too ducked around the corner, and minimized her into his D-Rive.

With the sounds of sirens behind them and trying their best to act nonchalant, the two of them began to walk back from whence they had come, but Peter's mind was already somewhere else; Strigimon's words had set the gears in his brain in motion, and he was trying to make sense of what little they knew.

Sam, on the other hand, felt a deep sense of dread, and his mind was very much in the present. He had seen people taking video-- no way this was going to go unnoticed.

Sam found himself looking over his shoulder the entire time that they walked away, as if waiting for someone to follow them.

Nobody did.
This did nothing to ease either of their minds.

EPISODE 07: CONNECTION INTERRUPTED

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