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

Episode 08: Radio Static

"... and with the rotors, that's gonna come out to twelve hundred forty seven and change," Xander said in his best customer service voice, bracing for an outrage that, thankfully, didn't come. It was twenty minutes past five, and he was clocking out in ten minutes, and he really didn't want his day to end on a frustrated customer note.

The man, for whom Xander was currently ringing up services, groaned and shook his head. "Oof. I'm thinkin' I should've gotten the brakes checked out earlier."

"Wasn't gonna say it, but yeah," Xander said, smiling sardonically; the man chuckled as he went to dig for his wallet.

The news running on the TV -- an ancient old thing, crammed on a bracket mount up in the opposite corner of the waiting room -- filled the silence. "... and many eyewitnesses are reporting that electronics they had on their person at the time of the incident have experienced minor data corruption. If anyone has any information about yesterday's incident, or the similar incidents that have happened over the past month," the newscaster was saying, "they are advised to contact the Atlas Park Police Department as well as our tip line..."

"You heard about all this?" the customer said, leaning on the counter and gesturing at the television as he fished out his card. "Heard there was another incident over near Market yesterday." He gestured in the vaguely easterly direction of the street he was referencing.

"Yeah," Xander said, shrugging one shoulder. "I've heard." That was as neutral an answer as he could manage. He had heard firsthand pretty much moments after it happened, and he himself had had some choice thoughts about the matter. None of those thoughts were appropriate to share with customers, what with concerns about coming across as professional.

"Pretty wild, don't you think? I've been seein' stories on about it since, oh, on and off since about May... lotta people are claiming it's monsters, but all the video people've been takin's been gettin' all screwed up."

"Sounds like someone's screwing with them, if you ask me," Xander said, keeping his voice even. "Hasn't really disturbed my life yet, so honestly I cant say it's my biggest concern," he continued, lying through his teeth and doing an admirable job of it. "Here's your receipt."

"Here's hopin' it doesn't, you seem like a nice young man."

Right. He suuuure was. The bell on the door jingled as said door swung shut, and the customer took his leave; Xander massaged the bridge of his nose. "I need like, fifteen cigarettes."

"You don't even smoke," a coworker said, popping his head in behind Xander.

"I sure don't," Xander said, not even turning around. "What's your point?"

"Hey, don't bite my head off. Was he that bad?"

Xander shrugged one shoulder. the customer hadn't been bad, outside of the fact that he wouldn't shut up even before the subject turned to the news; of course, Xander had a pretty good handle on tuning out anything that wasn't essential. It was a learned and practiced skill.
"Nah. I've just had other sh-- things on my mind lately."

The attack yesterday, and both Sam and (ugh) Peter had been perfectly willing to share their ample thoughts on what had happened. He had skimmed it, but it had seemed that they had gotten at least a little bit more insight into why these Digimon were getting up in their shit so much.
Vaguely. Very vaguely.
Something about glory and refugees.

Whatever.

Having that damn news running sure wasn't helping-- and neither was the fact that he could feel his phone, in his pocket, blow up with text notifications. He would bet money, he told himself, that it was some Digimon shit. Again.

So he assumed, anyway.

As Xander headed out to his car fifteen minutes later, it turned out that he would have lost that bet. The messages weren't from any of the team squad at all-- they were from his bandmates. Mostly Paul. Like, 90% of them were from Paul. As he settled into the driver's seat, he flicked through the notifications.

dude the first one read.
dude call me when you get off work
ps how late are you working today?
dude

"What the fuck is going on that's so important?" That's how Xander greeted Paul once he called-- no hello, no what's up, cutting straight to the point. "Because if it's less important than someone's goddamn mom dying, there's no fuckin' reason you should've blown up my phone like an insecure girlfriend."
Tactful as ever.

"Dude, Xander, Xander, my dude, my guy," Paul's voice crackled out of the speaker, so excited he almost cut off Xander's little rant, "you know that gig at the Pit this weekend? Opening for The Phobias?"

"Yeah," Xander said, raising an eyebrow. They had tried to get it, but they'd gotten shunted, and he'd long ago accepted that fact.

"So, we're playing it now."

There was a moment where Xander blinked, before:
"What, seriously?"

"Yeah!" Paul's excitement was practically tangible even over the phone. "The band that was going to open had to back out and I slid in and secured it for us. Apparently the booking guy saw us at the Rock Star and decided we'd do in a pinch. Please, hold your applause. ... who am I kidding? Applause, please."

Xander couldn't help but grin. "Shit yeah!" The Pit was not, by any means, a glamorous gig-- it was a little music club, probably even more of a dump than the Rock Star was, but that was part of the appeal, dammit-- and opening for The Phobias, one of Atlas Park's most promising under-the-radar punk bands, only served to sweeten the deal.

A moment, as reality suddenly seeped in.

"Wait. That gig's on Saturday, right?"

"Yeah."

"It's Wednesday now. As in, four days before this gig."

"Also yeah."

"Fuck."

"Also also yeah. I mean, look, I get it if you can't, but if we're gonna back out I gotta know now--"

Xander sighed, and sat back in his seat. Like hell he needed this on top of all this monster bullshit, but also like hell was he prepared to give up this chance.
"I'm in."

***

And now we flash forward to Friday afternoon.

"... it's just that I don't think it's really fair to judge," Oremon was in the middle of saying, "considering I don't have fingers."

"You could just stop trying to challenge James to fighting games, you know?" Meghan offered as a suggestion, looking over at her friend as she pulled her keyes out of the ignition.

Oremon looked back at her flatly. "No."

Meghan... didn't mean to laugh at him, really! But she couldn't help it-- the deadpan delivery paired with Oremon's bruised ego over such a silly thing... she kind of burst out laughing.

Oremon folded his arms. "Hmph."

"You ready?" Meghan said as she regained her composure. She fished her D-Rive out of her pocket with a bit of difficulty, as she was still in the driver's seat of her car; Oremon snorted, but he stretched out his legs and nodded. In the blink of an eye was minimized back into Meghan's digivice so that she could walk right on in to the Lotus, unhindered by trying to hide a giant talking goat.

See, she had agreed to meet up with Natalie-- and not even because of Digimon stuff, either! As it turned out, being able to socialize and talk with someone who understood the good ol' Digimon struggle, even if the conversations weren't about Digimon, was a lot more freeing than maybe any of them had expected it to be.
Oremon, for his part, just liked finally being able to get out-- even if being minimized took some adjustment, the change of scenery was doing him a lot of good. Meghan could tell, even if he was still exactly as grumpy and gruff as ever. After the Strigimon incident, he had practically demanded to come along whenever Meghan was out and about in the past couple days. She knew this was kind of thanks to his conviction that something might happen at any moment, but... she had a feeling that not all of it was just protectiveness and grouchiness.

She was, of course, correct-- but good luck getting Oremon to admit as such.

Seeing as they were meeting at the Lotus, they had extended the offer to Peter to come along. He had declined; it was his day off, and he refused to step foot in the Lotus if he didn't have to. Fair enough.

As Meghan walked in to the dimly-lit café, it took a moment for her eyes to adjust, but once she had, it wasn't hard to spot Natalie. Today was not a busy day-- there were maybe four tables occupied, and one of them, tucked over in the corner, had a familiar redhead scrolling through something on her phone and blind to the world.

Meghan tried waving, but quickly realizing that Natalie wasn't going to look up, she closed the distance between them.
"What's up?" Meghan said as she walked up; Natalie didn't seem to have been expecting her, so she jumped a little bit, but she quickly righted herself.

"Oh, hey!" Natalie said. "Sorry, I kind of--" she gestured vaguely at her phone. She tucked said phone into her bag, freeing up her hands to grab her drink.

"Yeah, I could tell," Meghan said, sitting down. She put her elbows on the table and rested her chin on both of her hands. "What's up? More of the same?" she said, peering at Nat's phone. By 'more of the same', she meant 'digimon stuff', and was only asking half-sarcastically.

"You know, surprisingly, no," Natalie said-- surprisingly, indeed. It might be easy to overlook that their lives weren't yet one hundred percent about Digimon.
Keyword: yet. (Give it time.) "I was just reading something while I was waiting and, you know, kinda got distracted."

Meghan nodded her understanding, and with her chin still resting on her palms, she looked around. "I actually don't think I've ever been here before," she remarked.

Natalie raised an eyebrow. "No? And here I was," she said wryly, "thinking that coming here was basically a requirement for attending NWSU."

"Well, I don't go to Northwest, which, you know, probably has something to do with it," Meghan said with a wry smile of her own.

Natalie tilted her head and blinked in mild bemusement. "Really? I could have sworn you said you did..." she said, tapping her chin as she tried to remember, but Meghan was on the ball and ready to provide answers.

"Nope!" Meghan smiled and leaned forward on her hands. "I'm doing two years for an AA at Mountainside," she said, referring to a community college on the northern side of town. "I miiiight transfer to Northwest after, but, you know, art major and all, may as well get on the cheap what can be gotten on the cheap, you know?" She shrugged one shoulder.
(It had taken a lot of finagling to get her parents to go along with that much, so she was still willing to call it a victory.)

Natalie nodded along, taking a sip of her drink. "Art major?"

"Photography!" Meghan provided, beaming. "Because, you know, I hate the prospect of ever having a well-paid job in my field," she added, still smiling despite the sarcasm and vague defeatism. She sounded remarkably like she had heard this exact assessment of her major more than once.

"Man, I'm an English major, talk to me about it," Natalie said, rolling her eyes with a smile.

As it turned out, the two of them got along on more fronts than simply digimon. They were talking like close friends -- instead of friendly acquaintences who had met barely under a month ago -- almost immediately.
(What a long month it had been though.)
Meghan practically bubbled over with commentary on everything Natalie said, and Natalie had a knack for asking questions to keep the conversation flowing.

Surprisingly, if you put a couple of socially-minded extroverts together, they'll make fast friends. Go figure.

They started talking about Meghan's photography, how she got into it, how she was working on building up a portfolio, and it segued from there into discussions of movies (Natalie made sure to recommend some great old B-movies), and from there... well, pretty much everything was free game.
As sure as the tide coming in, though, the conversation did end up taking a turn for the monster-related.

"I don't know, like..." Meghan said, humming as she thought. "Oremon's been really worried about something going wrong."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah, like, he's acting like there's gonna be a digimon attack every other day," Meghan said, sticking her tongue out playfully. "Being all, look both ways before crossing the street, make sure you've got your four foot tall talking goat before going anywhere a monster might turn up." She could practically feel Oremon's unamused snort from beside her, even if he was safely minimized. She grinned.

"Well, Raumon's been coming out with me a lot of the time these days," Natalie said, opening up her messenger bag and surreptitiously pulling out her D-Rive, just enough for Meghan to see it before she dropped it back into the depths of the bag. "Just in case, you know?"

"Yeah, I guess," Meghan said, drumming her fingers on her cheek in thought. Beat. "I think we've been pretty lucky so far, though? I mean... for a given value of lucky. Not so lucky for the people who have to pay for car repairs and stuff."

"Right?" Natalie said, shrugging one shoulder. "No, like... I don't know. I know I'd rather not be caught unawares. Can't say I'm a huge fan of surprises when surprises are monsters with a grudge."

"No kidding," Meghan said, puffing out one cheek in thought, but her thoughts were interrupted by the jingling of the bell on the cafe door. Normally, this wouldn't interrupt her, but both she and Natalie noticed at the same time, out of the corner of their eye, that the person pushing the door open was a familiar face.

Xander -- for, yes indeedy, it was Xander walking into the café, even if the addition of glasses made Natalie double-take -- wasn't paying attention, eyes on his phone, until Meghan called to him:
"Hey!"

He looked up from his phone and blinked. He noticed the girls and raised a hand in greeting, then turned his attention to the barista ready to take his drink order.

"Talk about coincidence," Natalie remarked to nobody in particular, but Meghan hummed in agreement. They didn't have much time to mull over it; Xander crossed over to them while he waited for them to make his coffee.

"Hey. What up."
He sounded like he hadn't slept in the past twenty-four hours, which, honestly, he might not have.
Both Natalie and Meghan had assumed that his eyes weren't naturally that piercing shade of yellow, and judging by the fact that right now his eyes were both very dark brown and the bloodshot of someone who hasn't slept enough recently, the glasses made sense.

"You look..." Well, Natalie wasn't going to say like shit, but... "Tired?"
Xander caught her drift anyway.

"You mean I look like shit? Yeah, you're not the first to tell me." (They got the distinct impression that Desmon was the culprit, here.) "S'why I'm here. Coffee." He jerked a thumb over his shoulder at where his drink was being prepared. "Why're you here?" he said, looking between the two of them. "Did I miss some new Digimon shit?"

"Nope," Meghan said, shaking her head, "just doing that whole social thing, y'know?"

"Not a damn clue," Xander said in a flat deadpan and Meghan couldn't help but laugh a little at his delivery.

"Are you doing something that brings you down here?" Natalie asked after a moment of thought. "I mean, this seems pretty far away from your neck of the woods."

"Yuh. Band shit."

"That what's been keeping you total radio silence the past couple days?" Natalie asked. Not that Xander was always super talkative, but since Tuesday, the group chat in general had actually kind of started to come out of their collective shells... all except for Xander. Which, sure, he wasn't the most sociable, but he hadn't taken any chance to share his opinions on anything, which struck Natalie as a bit odd, knowing what she did about him so far.

For his part he took a moment to consider -- as if debating whether or not it was really their business -- before he answered. "Yeah. Got a gig tomorrow we weren't expecting to have. I haven't had time to do shit else, between prepping it and work."

"Oh, yeah, then, you've totally missed like four separate digimon attacks," Meghan said, but she found herself thinking pretty hard-- she had an idea she was mulling over in her head.

Xander snorted like a bull, running a hand backwards through his hair. "Swear, it's the last shit I need on my mind right now."
He stepped away for a moment as they called his order, and he returned a moment later with both his drink and a napkin-wrapped muffin in hand.

"You missed another digimon attack in the time you were away," Natalie said, swirling the half-melted ice and watered-down dregs of her drink at the bottom of her own cup.

Meghan shook her head. "Ain't that just the way?"

Xander snorted again-- they chose to take that as the Xander equivilent of laughter.
"Look, I gotta get going or they're gonna start riding my ass, and I'm pretty sure Desmon's gonna want this," he said, holding up the muffin.

"I would hate to deprive her of her pastries," Natalie said with a dry smile, and Meghan grinned. Xander snorted for the third time.

"Later."

"Later!"
They bid him goodbye, and Natalie hummed, while Meghan watched him go.

"You know, he gave me an idea," Natalie said, and Meg snapped her attention back over.

"Huh?" Meghan said, because honestly, she had also got an idea-- but she had the distinct feeling that it wasn't the same idea.

"I should get Raumon a muffin."

***

heeeey :D

It was past midnight when Xander checked his phone, walking out of Eric's garage with Desmon perching on his shoulder, and he was greeted with a message-- from Meghan, of all people.

"What's up?" Desmon asked, peering down at his phone and twitching her ears as she practically draped herself over Xander's head. (It was late-- nobody was going to care if she stayed out for the distance between Eric's garage and Xander's car.)

"Mind your own damn business," Xander snapped back up at Desmon; she grinned and continued to peer as Xander scrolled through the messages. They were sent earlier in the evening, and he had a hunch that she was probably asleep by now.

so i had an idea earlier and i thought i might run it by you!!
your band thing-- do you want pictures? for like publicity stuff and social media
im a photography major and i thought maybe some nice semiprofessional style performance photos would probably be nice for you to have for like self-promotion kind of thing
or i mean you could do silly boy band promo shots too if that's more your style, matching outfits and all :P
(that was a joke)
anyway hit me back with a y/n?

"Huh," Xander said more to himself than anything as he began to walk to his car.

"Make the text on your screen bigger," Desmon complained, "I can't read from all the way up here."

"Get off of my shoulders, you overweight winged chihuahua."

***

"You're going?" Oremon said with vague distaste in his voice as he sat to the side, watching Meghan lace up her most comfortable shoes. Xander had conferred with his band and apparently, the idea had gone over well, judging by the yeah, sure message she woke up to.

It was around six PM now, the doors were at seven, and the music at eight; Xander had shot her a message around five that they were free from sound check hell (his words) and they could get her into the venue at her leisure.

"Well, yeah. It'll be fun!"

"You're not afraid you're going to get, say, knocked over? Have your stuff broken?"

Meg looked over at Oremon and puffed out one cheek in vague annoyance. "It'll be fine, you know." Oremon looked unconvinced, and Meghan rolled her eyes. "I'm not going to be like, down in the pit." Beat. "Well, I am," name of the venue and all that, "but I mean, I'll be up front for a couple songs, that's it, not staying in the mosh pit or anything." Another beat. "Well, not for extended periods of time, anymore," she said, sticking her tongue out.

Oremon made a grumpy, concerned little bleat, and Meghan reached over and gently bumped her knuckles into his forehead.

"If anyone starts anything, you can pop out and kick their ass. Anyone stupid enough to try and start a fight with a girl with a camera is gonna be so blasted that they probably won't remember that it was a goat that headbutted them in the gut. I come equipped with my own personal bouncer." She grinned.

There was a brief pause while Oremon considered this, and after a moment, he nodded, satisfied.

***

Desmon had yet to really get on board with the minimizing thing. ("I am no rich woman's lapdog to be carried around in a handbag," she had said, "nor are you a rich woman. Far as I know.") She sat comfortably backstage in a beaten-up, too-small dressing room, sitting on top of a busted amp that had been shoved into the corner.

"When is Will getting back with the food? I'm dyiiiiing," she complained, stretching out her arms above her head and spreading her wings. (Being the youngest, Will had been "volunteered" to be the one to run out and get food.)

"He said he'd be back in like ten minutes," Xander said, seated beside Eric on one of the two moth-eaten couches, flicking through his phone, "and you ate before we got here. You're going to survive."

"She's wasting away, man," Paul said from the other couch, not even looking up from his sketchbook; Xander shot him a dirty look while Desmon grinned.

"See? Everyone can see it!"

"Don't encourage her."

Any further discusson was cut off by knuckles rapping on the door. All three of the humans present made various grunts in a style vaguely indicating what's up or come in, while Desmon slumped backwards and did an impressive impression of a very strange prop.
(Hey, there was a half-destroyed papier-mache zebra on the other side of the room, she didn't stick out too badly.)

"I come bearing sandwiches," the familiar voice of their bassist drifted through the door, but it wasn't like him to knock.
The words were followed by a brief pause as he tried and failed to open the door with sandwiches in hand. A moment later the door swung open-- and behind him was a face that was only familiar to Xander. "And a girl with a camera. I assume she's your friend, X?"

"Hiii!" Desmon chirped, and both Meghan and the other members of the band looked surprised-- the former that Desmon was out and about, and the band that she had dropped the inanimate act.
(Turns out neither party had been expecting the other to be aware of Desmon.)

A round of introductions followed; Meghan made a confused sort of gesture at Desmon, and Xander shrugged, explaining that they -- the band -- had known about her for ages. When the band asked about Meg's nonchalance, Meg practically blue-screened until Xander jumped in with a "she's got one too, turns out it's a thing", though thankfully didn't go into any more detail than that.

"Don't you keep her minimized?" Meghan asked while the other members of the band were busy handing out the sandwiches that Will had brought.

"Why bother?" Xander asked, sitting back on the couch. "It's not like shit's gonna happen." She looked unconvinced; he snorted. "Anywhere I go where I'm gonna be able to run off and play superhero, she's gonna be with me. I'm not gonna go runnin' off to play with monsters at work or whatever, so why carry her around all the time?"

"I don't know," Meghan admitted, shrugging. "It just feels like..." she trailed off and gestured ineffectually.

"It feels like I've got enough going on," Xander said, resting his elbow on the arm of the couch and his head on his knuckles, "that I don't need to worry more about monster shit."

"And besides," Desmon said cheekily, "staying back here fully materialized while they go prance around on stage like a bunch of frat boys with stupider haircuts means I get to nosh on all their leftovers."

"Oremon thinks it's going to happen regardless of whether we worry about it or not," Meghan said, then paused. "Then again, he's also worrying enough for all of us, I think."

"That's because billy goat gruff is, you know, gruff and all that," Desmon said, grinning.

"If something happens," Xander said, "I'll deal with it when it happens." (Of course, Xander should really get better about not tempting fate.) He huffed, shrugging one shoulder. "Can we cut this? Like, the last damn thing I need on my mind is more monster shit. No offense, or whatever."

"None taken," Meghan said, shrugging right back and rolling immediately with Xander's requested subject change. "So like, what'll probably happen is I'll be down up front for the first couple songs, and I'll back off after that so I don't get trampled..."

***

Meghan was fairly certain her hearing might never return to normal, but she was remarkably okay with this.

She had managed to get (what she was pretty sure were going to turn out to be) some great shots over the first couple songs in the set. Between the loud music (which was a lot more-- not melodic, but more fun sounding than she ever kind of expected punk rock to be?) and the energy of the crowd, which was comparatively small but energetic and enthused, the dimly-lit venue seemed a whole lot bigger than it was.
Turns out, Xander's usual aggression channeled well into the music; for all he could seem prickly and standoffish, he had a distinctive stage presence and a surfeit of energy. This stood in stark contrast to how tired he had seemed offstage-- maybe he had just been saving up his energy to use here?

Well, Meghan thought it was pretty damn cool, is the point, even if she was in no rush to stay up front after she got her pictures, and she had stuck through to the final song in their set.

"There's a stillness in the air, I pray for sound..."

It was different, sure, but she kind of found herself digging it-- just, you know. Maybe from a safer distance. Towards the back of the concert space was a bit more room to breathe with fewer people packed quite so tightly. So she was seated at a table, taking a cursory look over her shots, but...
Hm.

Some of them were... behaving oddly. They looked distorted, like somehow the photo data had been corrupted. But how was that possible?
(Three guesses, and the first two don't count.)

She scrolled through her photos with brow furrowed, but as she was doing so... the lights flickered conspicuously.

"I hold my breath, did tricks I hoped you wouldn't notice--"

Nobody in the crowd seemed to notice, or thought it was anything to take note of; it was part of the charm of the venue, right? The lights browned out for a half a second, a bit of static rang out over the speakers, and nobody really thought much about it except for maybe a cursory, internal curse for the tech guys.

We should all know by now that it was not just a quirk of the wiring, because they wouldn't be so lucky.

Meghan probably wouldn't have thought twice about it either, but between that, and the photos... Sam had been keeping them up to date on all the photos he could find, and...

She pulled her D-Rive out and, sure as anything, it was active-- and there was a digimon on the radar. (Well within the radar, actually-- it was close enough to make the lights flicker, after all...)
Tuskmon. Champion.

It wasn't just heading towards them-- it was almost there. She had been so distracted-- but really, could you blame her?

She didn't have the highest hopes, here. She looked frantically up at the stage as she shoved her camera back into its bag-- Ekko Lokation had just finished the song, the last in their set, and were met with a surprising amount of applause. (Maybe it was just the small venue making it echo? No, no-- the crowd was into it.)
Meghan, in the back, frantically waved her D-rive in the air and pointed at it, attempting to get Xander's attention. It wasn't a big venue, so it was at least realistically possible.

Up on stage, Xander caught sight of her and squinted. "What?" he hissed to himself, but he quickly cottoned on-- not least of all because he saw the flicker of orange light as Oremon materialized beside her, and the two of them took running for the door before anyone looked twice at them. (It was dark, their attention was on stage, a not-insignificant amount of them were drunk...)

God motherfucking dammit could he have one goddamn day.
(In fairness, he had had several days without digimon shit going on...)

***

You know, for something called 'Tuskmon', Meghan had to admit she hadn't expected a dinosaur, but that was the digimon she saw heading her way, only barely more than a block away, when she barrelled out the front door of the venue.
It was a big green T. rex, a story and a half tall, with pink stripes running down the length of its back. A pair of rhino-like horns adorned its head, and matching spikes ran down its spine from the shoulderblades down-- but from its shoulderblades a pair of large, curled... well, tusks, striped red and black.

So she could see where the tusk came from, but it still wasn't her first thought-- but regardles of what she thought, the big digimon seemed to be in a rather foul mood as it came down the street, looking this way and that-- and with those big tusks and swinging tail, it was causing no small amount of panic and collateral damage as it did.

And here was the thing.
It was around 8:45 on a Saturday night. They were close to the downtown.

It was kind of a big deal already.

"Crap, crap, crap--" Meghan blurted, looking around frantically. People were pointing, screaming, panicking... she could faintly hear sirens, and she realized a moment too late that they were probably closer than she thought they were, considering how she felt like she was hearing through cotton balls.

Oremon practically pushed past her, and Tuskmon's vivid-purple eyes settled on the goat that was suddenly heading his way.

"Bayonet Lancer!" it roared, and the larger horn on its face began to glow. It released a javelin-like blast of energy, headed right for Oremon. Oremon snorted and leapt out of the way, not stopping his charge-- the attack smashed into the street and cracked the concrete, but better it hit that than Oremon.

"Iron Head!" Oremon yelled, bowing his head down as he prepared to headbutt him-- but Tuskmon didn't seem to care much for Oremon's aspirations.
As Oremon drew closer, Tuskmon reared down and hooked Oremon on the long curved tusks and tossed him aside effortlessly; a young man dove out of the way to avoid being collided by the discarded goat, and yes, he did do a double-take over the fact that a giant angry dinosaur just threw a bipedal goat at him. As you do.

But that was the thing-- Tuskmon didn't seem particularly interested in following up on that. It seemed content to throw Oremon aside and continue its trudge down the street, swinging its tail and coming dangerously close to smashing said tail into windows and street lamps.

Meghan had to make a decision, and quickly, whether it was more important to help Oremon, or to pretend she wasn't involved to avoid suspicion.

So anyway, that's a stupid question.

"Oremon!" she cried, rushing towards her partner, who was already getting up with no great abundance of dignity. "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine," he said, gritting his teeth, and before Meghan could tell him otherwise, he launched himself forward.

"Oh, you idiot," she muttered to herself, feeling quite helpless-- but of course, as Oremon ran towards Tuskmon's back...

"Oremon, drive evolve to... Ibexmon!"
To his credit, he didn't recklessly charge at Tuskmon; he merely snorted as he went from running at a full sprint as Oremon to a confident not-quite trot as Ibexmon as Tuskmon realized something was going on behind it, and it turned around. As it turned, its tail swung in an arc, and bystanders had to jump out of the way.

Once Tuskmon had turned, Ibexmon snorted.

"Headstrong Charge!" he yelled, rearing down and rushing forward.

"Horn Driver!" Tuskmon reared down in turn, locking its curved tusks with Ibexmon's horns.

"What the fuck did I miss?" Xander's voice brought Meghan back to reality. He had been jogging up to her when he had called to her, and came to a stop as she turned, and Meghan gestured at Tuskmon, practically playing tug of war with Ibexmon's horns.
She really didn't think she needed to explain further.

"Well, shit," Xander said, flat tone belying the irritated twitch of his eye.
Unbidden, a burst of blue light materialized into Desmon -- Xander had, Meg realized, had to run backstage, minimize her, and make his way back out. He had moved with impressive speed, really, considering he had had to drop literally any other concerns he had.

"Come on, let's kick some ass!" Desmon chirped the moment she formed, kicking into the air and flapping. She looked expectantly at her partner, impatience on her face.

"We need to get it away from here," Xander said, sharp and decisive. Meghan nodded-- there were a bunch of people in there, and if something went wrong out here on the street...

"Got it!" Desmon said, grinning. She threw before she flapped her way over to where Ibexmon and Tuskmon were locked in horn combat. "Hey! Big, green, and ugly! Black Static!"

The rings of energy hit Tuskmon straight in the face, which caused it to roar and pull away from Ibexmon to look at the new, small annoyance. Its pupils constricted and it snorted out a humid, rotten-smelling breath.

"Oremon! I mean-- Ibexmon!" Meghan said, cupping her hands around her mouth-- as she ran towards him. "We need to--!"

"Get it away from here, right" Ibexmon said with a nod. "Get on my back." When Meghan looked confused, "Can't fight it here, and I'm not going to just abandon you here to fight it somewhere else. Get on my back."

"Bayonet Lancer!" Tuskmon yelled for the second time; Desmon squeaked, practically divebombing out of the air to avoid the spear of energy. It smashed straight into the building opposite the venue that they had just come out of-- a shop that was, thankfully, not open, so all of the damage was to the property.
(Look, there's a sliding scale of things to be thankful for.)

As Meghan clambered onto Ibexmon's back with the time Desmon's distraction afforded them, Desmon herself dropped down next to Xander, and began to glow.

"Desmon, drive evolve to... Corymon!"

Xander didn't need special instructions-- he climbed onto Corymon's back the moment she had fully formed, and she kicked into the air. Ibexmon took off down the street, with Tuskmon focused on giving chase. Luckily, pretty much everyone gave a wide berth.
Meghan yelped, clutching the strap of her camera bag tightly with one hand and hanging onto Ibexmon's mane with the other.

"Come on, you overgrown gecko!" Corymon taunted, waving her scorpion-like tail like someone would wave string in front of a cat.

Xander disagreed with her course of action, and made his opinion clear.
"Hey, dumbass! Don't taunt it while I'm on your back!"

Luckily, it didn't seem to pay attention -- it was more interested in Ibexmon.

"Find somewhere to take it," Xander said to Corymon, looking around. "Somewhere where there's fewer people and more room to maneuver, or failing that, at least one of those."

To her credit, Corymon was already looking by the time Xander said as such. "There's an empty-ish parking lot close to here!" Corymon yelled down to Ibexmon. "Follow me!"

"Easier said than done," Ibexmon muttered, casting a sidelong glance over his shoulder -- careful not to disturb Meghan, best he could. Tuskmon's turning radius was wide, and to minimize damage while leading it around a turn would be... interesting, but what choice did they have?
As he looked back forward, he saw Corymon pull ahead, leading the way.

As they swung around the first turn, Tuskmon took out a stop sign and took a chunk out of the corner of a building with the swing of its tail.

***

By the time Ibexmon had turned the final corner, he could see Corymon already landing in the lot to let her passenger off before kicking back into the air, preparing to fight.
The big dinosaur didn't seem too intelligent or interested in anything other than chasing the other digimon, so the screams of people and the distant police sirens didn't seem to affect it much. Whether that was a curse or a blessing was really up for debate. Luckily, the further they went, the fewer people they ran into-- which said nothing of people following them, but, you know.

"Black Stinger!" Corymon yelled as Ibexmon bounded into the lot, firing off three rapid-fire shots from her tail's stinger.

Ibexmon was about to be angry, and he snarled that Corymon was antagonizing the dinosaur currently chasing him, but he realized after a half a beat-- she was distracting it once again, so that Meghan could get off his back.
She did, with great rapidity, and Ibexmon turned to face the hostile digimon.

Tuskmon, for its part, roared so loudly that it felt like its voice shook the earth beneath their feet-- which was just as well that their hearing was already kind of shot!

"Hurricane Blitz!" Corymon said, taking advantage of her newfound freedom to rush at her foe without fearing she'd smash into any innocent bystanders. Wind whipped around her and she swooped at Tuskmon, pulling back at the last second and leaving the wind sphere to continue on its path, smashing into Tuskmon head-on.

Grinning cockily, Corymon failed to move far enough away in time. "Horn Buster!" Tuskmon yelled, its horns glowing as it rushed at her, catching the bat with a nice sharp jab. She cried out, dropping to the ground. She wasn't terribly hurt, but hey, you try taking a horn to the stomach and see how not-winded you are, huh?

"Terra Spear!" Ibexmon yelled, rearing back and slamming his front hooves down hard. The cracks from where his hooves impacted rushed along to underneath Tuskmon's feet, and sharp spikes of rock shot out of the ground to strike it, giving it a taste of its own very sharp medicine.

Tuskmon did not seem terribly amused by this. It roared again, looking between Ibexmon and Corymon, as if it were trying to decide which one to go for first, but while it was undecided--

"Headstrong Charge!" Ibexmon cried, bowing his head down. Once again, Tuskmon reared down and locked horn with tusk, growling low.

This time, though, that was what Ibexmon was trying to do, and Corymon picked up on it, lifting up into the air to get some distance between herself and the dinosaur.

"Hurricane Blitz!" she yelled again, and once more, wind swirled around her. She swooped and pulled out of her dive at the last second.

In that last split second before the sphere of wind hit Tuskmon, Ibexmon gave an almighty toss of his head-- enough to unlock his horns from Tuskmon's, uh, tusks, and pull away so that he wouldn't be caught in the crossfire.

Tuskmon roared in pain, and Meghan and Xander could see it begin to shift and pixellate-- just slightly. Not enough to fully commit.

"One more hit!" Xander yelled up at his partner.

As Corymon circled back around, preparing to attack again, Tuskmon took initiative.

"Panzer Knuckle!" it roared, its fist engulfing in fire as it rushed at Ibexmon.

"Headstrong Charge!" Ibexmon once more rushed at Tuskmon. This time, Tuskmon wasn't rearing down, and didn't catch its tusks on Ibexmon's horns. Ibexmon smashed straight into Tuskmon's abdomen, and that was enough to tip it over the edge. In a flash, Tuskmon pixellated and broke apart into glowing little data particles.

The little pixels rushed into Xander and Meghan's D-Rives, and without the heavy breathing and angry vocalizations of a dinosaur, they were left -- as Peter and Sam had been days before -- to enjoy the distant sounds of the panic they had left behind.

Either Meghan's hearing was starting to come back, or the sirens were coming closer.

"Pretty cool, huh?" Corymon said as she alighted, grinning. Xander rolled his eyes and muttered something about idiot.

"You're alright?" Ibexmon asked as he crossed over to Meghan, and she paused, before reaching over and bumping him in the middle of his skull-plated forehead with her knuckles.

"At least we got it away from the concert hall?" Meghan said, looking over at Xander as Ibexmon started to de-digivolve back down to his rookie level.

Xander grunted and shrugged. "Yeah. Swear to fuck, though, can't believe I had to tap out like that, unprofessional as shit..." he shoved his hands into his pockets, checking his phone.

"Better than letting a dinosaur crash the party," Corymon said, just moments before she devolved back down to Desmon. Xander shrugged one shoulder in vague agreement and flicked through his texts.

where the hell you go? from Eric; the next, you're missing the main attraction dude from Will.

"They don't have a damn clue what's going on inside," he concluded, looking back over at Meghan.

"The power of loud music?" Meghan offered with a hopeless shrug, and then she paused. "... shit! Half of my photos got messed up!"

"What?" Xander asked, blinking.

"When I was-- because the digimon was nearby, I think, it messed with my camera?" she said, gesturing hopelessly, and Xander blinked before he put two and two togther.

"I wonder why that is," Xander muttered, looking over at Desmon and Oremon. "S'not like these assholes screw with our shit..." Oremon seemed unamused with the term of address. Desmon put on her best shit-eating grin.

"I hope I still have enough good ones," Meghan muttered, frowning as she pulled her camera out of its bag and starting to scroll through her photos again.

Xander looked back over at her for a moment; she made a kind of dejected groaning noise.
"At least I didn't have anything else on here..."

Xander rubbed the back of his head. "If you don't have any good ones, you could come to the next show we play."

Meghan was about to respond, and Desmon looked prepared to open her mouth to commentate, when they as a unit were distracted.
"Good job!" a familiar voice chirped, making all four of them jump.

Ratamon was perched up on the top of a utility pole, his eyes shining bright as stars in the fading light. How long had he been there? ... Actually, come to think, it had been a little while since he had turned up-- at least, in any way that they had seen him. (He'd been around.)

"Oh, look," Desmon said, "it's the Greek chorus pudding!" Oremon frowned and folded his arms.

"Caused a little bit of damage, but it looks like it's mostly cosmetic," Ratamon said, peering around before jumping down off of the pole. His little wings flapped frantically to slow his descent, and he practically bounced when he hit the ground again. "Good job, though! You're getting better!"

"How the hell do you keep knowing where we are?" Xander said without a moment of preamble, raising an eyebrow.

Ratamon blinked owlishly up at Xander. "Well, there's only so many digimon with humans," he said, which answered nothing, "so when something goes wrong, I'm going to assume it's happening around one of you!"

They couldn't place why, but they felt kind of... insulted.

"Right," Xander said slowly, and judging by the look on his face he was at least faintly contemplating murder.

Meghan, though, hummed in thought. "How do the digimon causing trouble know where we are, though?" she said, more to herself than to Ratamon.

"That one?" Ratamon said, looking at where Tuskmon had been not long ago. "I think he was just feral. He probably came through by accident! That's been happening more, you know. I'd be more worried about the ones with an agenda, myself, but whatever suits you, suits you."

The ones with an agenda-- they couldn't help but think of what Sam and Peter had said they had heard from Strigimon. But... coming through? By accident, even?

"What do you mean coming through?" Meghan asked, though she was becoming steadily more aware that they had less and less time to dawdle.

"Oh, from the Digital World!" Ratamon said as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. "There's more cracks now than there used to be. It's not doing so great right now, honestly, I don't really blame them for brute forcing their way through without a plan..."

The flashing of red and blue lights turning a corner announced that they really didn't have the affordances to continue this conversation. Ratamon seemed to agree, and without warning he bounded over to the pole he had jumped down from.

"I'll see you around!" he chirped, cheerful and smiling over his shoulder before he skittered up.

"God motherfucking dammit," Xander hissed, pulling out his D-Rive and minimizing Desmon. Meghan followed suit, and she sighed, watching as Ratamon took off like a little white bolt of lightning.

"Let's get back to where we started," Meghan said, gesturing in the direction they had come from. It was a few blocks away, but without the threat of being chased by a giant angry dinosaur, it wasn't too imperative to move super fast.

Xander sighed, looking at his D-Rive. He was going to have to start keeping Desmon on-hand more regularly now, wasn't he?
Damn.

"I'll take a look at the pictures I got that didn't get messed up," Meghan said as she began to walk, "but I'm totally down to come to you guys' next concert."

***

It was hardly ten minutes later that a young man ran into the parking lot that not even a half an hour ago had been the site of the scuffle; the police had moved right along from the empty parking lot, in search of the perpetrators. Nobody stopped him, nobody even questioned his being there.

"Damn," this young man huffed, stopping to catch his breath. He looked around; there were scuff marks in the pavement and a busted stop sign down the street, but not a thing that he was looking for. He pulled out his phone and fired off a quick text:
missed it

again? came back in no time flat.

hey come on it's not like we've had better luck a second responder chimed in. its like every other one we miss out on

fair nuff i guess

He sighed and pocketed his phone, and pulled out another little electronic device. With a little feathered wing charm hanging from the end, with a white back and a red faceplate...
Well. No prizes for guessing what it was. He turned it on and flicked to the radar screen, and he was met with nothing but the dot in the center of his radar, shaped like his partner's head.

"Every time," he said to himself, shaking his head. Now, don't get him wrong, he wasn't objecting to the fact that when digimon were running around causing trouble, it got more or less taken care of before he or his friends could respond, but... maybe taken care of was the wrong term? After all...

Well. It was complicated, but Shitomon had been right so far, and he had no reason to believe she would be wrong now.

***

Later that night, the city had quieted down somewhat-- as cities tend to do around 1 AM.
Ratamon sighed, flicking his tail. He was perched on top of a building, looking around.

This had all gotten more complicated than he had been anticipating.

The more digimon that were breaking through, the harder his job got-- the more he had to worry about the digimon and their humans making a mistake, or getting caught for real. On the other hand, he supposed there was at least a little bit of a silver lining. The more incidents, the greater the chance that the ones who were laying low would finally show their faces. And that went for all of them-- not just the one he really wanted to find.

...
Or, alternatively, the incidents could end super badly, in part because of those outliers.

... either way!

The Digital World had been cut off for long enough, and the sooner that he found the last one, the sooner they could get this ball rolling.

EPISODE 08: CONNECTION INTERRUPTED

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