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

Episode 12: Hard Times

"Poison Cobweb!"

Frekimon snarled with pain as she was assailed by the spray of poisonous mist, lifting her arms to protect her face. The flames around her wrists flickered; when the mist hit it, it formed a putrid greenish smoke that made everything five thousand times worse, but, hey, they were already in the industrial district, it's not like the smell in the air could get any worse, right?

"Terra Spear!" Ibexmon yelled, smashing his hooves down into the ground. Rocky spikes shot up into the underbelly of the giant spider they were in the middle of fighting, and it snarled with pain as it tumbled away, practically thrown by the force of the rocks.

Sam and Meghan kept well out of the way, D-Rives cluched tightly. It had barely been four days since Natalie and Xander had taken care of Aquilamon, and thus since Xander and Peter had come to blows. While any of them would be hard-pressed to say that there was a baseline of normal monster appearances to days passed ratio, but it felt decidedly odd that there had been this many incidents this closely back-to-back, and with what little they knew now... well, it didn't put anyone's minds at ease.

Between that weighing on their minds, the interpersonal garbage going on both inside and outside of their little group, and the fact that the entire city seemed to be on high-alert for digimon sightings -- not a day didn't go by that a news report went out about alleged sightings and follow-up on the fire... it made fighting a giant spider more stressful than it had any right to be.
And, considering they were fighting a giant spider, one that spat poison no less, that was certainly saying something.

"Poison Thread!" Dokugumon snarled while scrambling to its many feet. It released a fully-formed purple-tinted spider web from the talon-like spinneret on its abdomen, and this web fell over Ibexmon like a net. The goat tossed his head to try and dislodge it, but he only succeeded in getting himself more stuck. "Poison Thread!" it yelled again as Frekimon lunged for it, and the web stopped her mid-leap, knocking her off course like a cannonball-- impressive stuff, for a blob of spider silk.
"This is much easier," Dokugumon rumbled, rounding on Ibexmon, whose struggling was only making his situation worse, "when you stop struggling so much."

"New Moon Fire!"

If the poison mist had released putrid smoke on contact with the flames on Frekimon's arms, then what the burning web released when hit with a full-on fireball was on a whole other level. Sam ripped his cap off of his head to cover his mouth with it, and Meghan ducked her face into her shirt, and even so, it not only reeked something awful, but stung their throats and eyes.

Well, it was better than the alternative, but...

"Ravenous Hunter!" Frekimon yelled from somewhere in the cloud of smoke, and then she bounded out of it, the fire on her wrists engulfing her hands entirely as she lunged towards Dokugumon. The spider -- even with all the eyes set in its gold-masked face -- couldn't seem to tell where she was coming from until the moment she made contact.

Dokugumon roared and spat as it began to dissolve into pixellated light, and the light shot to Meghan and Sam's D-Rives; Ibexmon was only now starting to break free of the sticky purplish spider web, and he seemed rather put out to have been waylaid so easily. Both humans kept to the side, still keeping their mouths covered as the gentle wind was taking its sweet time dissipating.

"Looks like you were in a bit of a sticky--" Frekimon said, a self-satisfied smirk on her face.

"If you finish that sentence," Ibexmon said, snorting and tossing his head, "I will headbutt you into the next county."

Both champion-level digimon began to glow, and as the light faded, they were replaced by their usual forms, and the smoke was fading faster as time went on.

"It's lucky that Frekimon was able to burn the webbing off," Meghan said, glancing over at Sam. She couldn't say she was surprised when he was looking down at his D-Rive, not fully paying attention to anything else, but she did feel a vague pang of-- annoyance? Disappointment? Something like that.

"It's only lucky it was distracted enough for her to be able to burn it off," Oremon said as he closed the distance between them. He sounded slightly put out.

"Yeah, you did a real good job being bait, nice work" Gelermon said with a smirk, reaching over and patting Oremon on the back with one paw. Considering the full foot difference in their heighths, it was kind of an awkward reach for Gelermon, but whatever.

Oremon snorted. He was clearly more than a little bit embarassed over the whole affair, but wasn't about to say as much. "I weakened it."

"And I pulled out the save, so I mean, if not for me, we'd all be spider food. Please don't hold your applause."

"I wasn't going to applaud in the first place."

"Shame, you really should."

Meghan looked from the bickering digimon over to Sam, who had shifted his attention right back to his D-Rive, and she sighed. "Well, at least there was nobody around," she tried, gesturing vaguely in the air with one hand. She looked around to confirm that she was right, and indeed-- there had no audience, best she could tell.

She didn't actually expect him to throw down and actually want to hang around, but she still kind of felt frustrated when Sam blinked a couple times, like he was waking up from a day dream, shaking his head and looked over at her.
"Uh," he said, elegantly. "Yeah."
He minimized Gelermon before she started a fight with Oremon -- which she was on-track to do -- and resumed looking at the device, and then around at their surroundings.

"Is something wrong?" Meghan asked, while Oremon -- not yet minimized -- crossed over to her. Again, Sam was a bit preoccupied, and took a couple seconds before he seemed to realize he was being spoken to.
(Meg tried not to take it too personally.)

"I was just looking on the radar," Sam said belatedly, shaking his head. There were a number of things he could be looking for-- Ratamon, the other D-Rive holders, any tag-along emergents -- but judging by the fact that he tucked the device away into his pocket, none of them were making themselves apparent. "Thought I saw something, but it's either gone or I was wrong."

Meghan cast a look down at her own D-Rive, and indeed, there was nothing there. When she looked back up, though, Sam was already turning to leave.

"I'll see you later I guess?" she called to his back; at the very least, he waved over his shoulder, so he had at least heard and acknowledged her, which was... something, she supposed.

"Yeah," he called, a bit belatedly, "later!"

Meghan paused, then slumped with a sigh.
"You know, I'm not even terribly surprised," she said, looking over at Oremon, who was standing with arms folded. She didn't explain herself, instead looking around to see if anyone had seen them. "You ready to go?"

Oremon nodded.
It wasn't that there was a huge risk of being seen here -- this wasn't exactly a busy thoroughfare -- but they didn't want to dawdle any longer than they had to. With a burst of orange light, Meghan minimized Oremon and took off back to where she had parked-- though it took a moment to remember which way to go, among all of the industrial plants and piles of gravel and general detritus.

***

"So, I take it by the fact that you so rudely minimized me," Hulimon said, emerging out of his respective D-Rive with a burst of cyan light on the roof of Eli's car as he approached, "we're just going to let them get away? No muss, no fuss?"

They had gotten to the scene of the fight at the very tail end of things-- they had literally seen the green and orange light as the goat and the dog had returned to their base forms. Hulimon had emerged of his own volition, ready to fight, but Eli had been quick to hold him back by minimizing him before he could give away their location.

He was used to Hulimon practically leaping into danger (and often danger that Hulimon himself had caused), so keeping a rein on the little fox was pretty standard operating procedure.

"It'd have been two against one, my dude," Eli said, stretching his arms out over his head. He hadn't really wanted to come out today, anyway, so when the emergent had shown up on his radar, he had kind of low key been hoping that one of the others would deal with it.
Maybe not the best attitude for someone who was supposed to be the hero and all, what with the mission and shit, but... really, that was more Ryan's shtick, far as Eli cared.

"Five on three the last time, and we did fine!" Hulimon objected, apparently quite a bit more hurt by the blow to his ego than actually concerned with letting the refugee digimon get away.

"Yeah, because they couldn't focus on who to concentrate on, and the both of them are the heaviest hitters. You'd be a pancake in, like, thirty seconds flat."

"So little faith you have in me!"

"Would you have faith in you?"

Beat. "Okay, I hear your point, but still, you don't gotta be so hurtful." Hulimon groaned, tilting his head back. "Are we actually gonna gonna tell California McGee that we were just late and didn't want a two-on-one, or are we just gonna," the little fox set down his bag so that he could use both paws to made air quotes, "'forget' to mention it again?"

"Eh, we should probably mention it," Eli said, looking around after looking down at his radar again. He could have sworn he saw that little Ratamon thing on his radar-- had he been mistaken? He wasn't sure, but he didn't think it would have been able to run fast enough to completely get out of range that quickly...
Mm.
He'd worry about it later.

Honestly, he wanted to mess with Ratamon alone even less than he wanted to get involved in a two-on-one alone.

***

Ever since the Meramon fight, and even moreso since Xander and Peter came to blows, Meghan couldn't shake the feeling that what comraderie they had built up was starting to dissolve again.
The past few days had been-- let's charitably call them understandably tense. Nobody really seemed to know how to react to two of their little squad members flipping out on each other like Xander and Peter had, and similarly, nobody really wanted to be the first one to talk about it. Xander and Peter were both staying remarkably quiet; Sam was as hard to interact with as usual; even Natalie had become a bit more withdrawn as she, presumably, tried to figure out the best route to take.

Meghan couldn't say she begrudged anyone, because she had her own fallout to deal with. She got how it went.

She poked her head in the front door, looking around. Sure, her mother's car wasn't there, but she couldn't be too careful. "Hey, I'm back," she called in, cautiously.

"Hey Meg," James said in greeting; though she could hear her younger brother's voice, she couldn't see him except for one foot hanging off the side of the couch that he was currently, apparently, sprawled across. The TV was going, the AC was blasting, and it was in all regards a pretty typical July mid-afternoon.

"Mom's not back yet, is she?" she asked, looking around a bit nervously. She practically jumped when she saw a shape come out of the kitchen, but this was just -- as it turned out -- Brendan, holding a sandwich.

"Nah," her older brother said, shaking his head. "You're safe, for now."

Even with a couple days to cool down since the newsworthy incident that hard sparked this media firestorm (both 'cool down' and 'firestorm' puns thoroughly intended), the acting head of the Abbott household was still tetchy about any potential Digimon activity. Meghan really didn't want to deal with it if she could help it, so she had felt deeply lucky when her mother had been out of the house, running errands, when she got the heads-up on the emergent digimon from Sam.
She had low key been dreading the possibility of her mother getting back before her and asking all sorts of well-meaning, but unwanted and nagging, questions about where she was running off to on a day off.

(She knew her mother was just concerned about her safety; it didn't make it any less frustrating.)

Oremon re-appeared next to Meghan with a flash of orange light as she knelt down to pull her shoes off; from over the back of the couch, James waved one hand when he heard the tap of Oremon's hooves settling on the floor. Oremon, though he'd deny it if ever asked, half-waved back even though he knew James couldn't see it.

"Would I be right in guessing you wouldn't have totally thrown me under the bus if she had gotten back before me?" Meghan asked, realizing wih some repulsion that her clothes vaguely smelled like the putrid smoke that burning Dokugumon's attacks had resulted in and resolving to change them as soon as she got upstairs.

"I didn't exactly have a plan--" Brendan admitted, crossing over to the couch and dropping down onto it, even though James was in the way; this did not even remotely stop him.

"Ow you're sitting on my legs get off!"

The yelling also didn't stop him.

"-- But I figured I'd wing it," Brendan continued, looking over his shoulder. "Though, honestly, is this gonna be a regular thing? Am I going to have to start pre-writing excuses for you?"

"I'll write some on cards for you ahead of time," Meghan said, heaving a sigh and slumping her shoulders. "I'm gonna go change, my clothes smell like I've been hanging around hippies and I'd rather not deal with questions about that."

"Should we hose Oremon off in the back yard while you're doing that?" James piped up, and Oremon snorted with offense, folding his arms. (He smelled fine, thank you very much.)

"Let's go upstairs," he said, turning on his heel to do just that. Meghan paused for a beat and tossed a quick 'later' to her brothers before following.
Meghan took the stairs two at a time, while Oremon clumped his way up rather heavily-- each step was a little more forceful than it really had to be, though not so much that he was stomping.

"You seem grumpier than usual," Meghan pointed out once they were both at the landing, and Oremon snorted yet again.

"No I'm not," he said, lying so obviously and so poorly that Meghan didn't see the point in arguing it.

"If you say so," she said with a shrug of one shoulder, stretching her arms above her head; Oremon continued on without her. This struck her as slightly odd -- Oremon almost always waited up for her, but...
He did wait outside of her door, though, standing with arms folded to the side so she could go in and change in privacy.

"You know," Oremon's voice drifted through the door a few minutes later, voice muffled, "I'm fairly certain I could have taken that Dokugumon on by myself."

Meghan paused as she pulled a new shirt on and thus completing her re-dressing, furrowing her brow. She paused before answering. In this pause, she pulled her D-Rive out of the pocket of her old jeans and placed it on her desk before she crossed to the door and cracked it open. Oremon was still standing to the side of the door with his back against the wall, arms folded and expression grumpy.
"I'm sure you could have?" she said, raising her voice in a slightly bewildered question, pulling the door open further so Oremon could enter the room.

He pushed away from the wall and entered the room. He went directly for his futon, which lay on the floor on the opposite side of the room from Meghan's bed; he dropped unceremoniously into a cross-legged sitting position, obviously still put out.

"Okay, what's wrong?" Meghan said, puffing one of her cheeks out in frustration.

Oremon looked like he was considering saying nothing, but luckily, he seemed to veto that, and cut to the chase. "I don't see why Gelermon had to be so obnoxious about the fight," he said.

"That's kind of just the way she is, I think," Meghan tried, shrugging one shoulder-- she was relieved that he was actually sharing what was bothering him, but she couldn't help but feel a little frustrated. Why now, when everything else was already piling up? "She wouldn't have had an easy a time without you around, either, so I get where you're annoyed, but--"

Oremon snorted loudly, his voice derisive as he recalled Gelermon's words. "Right. I made great bait. Great job."

"That's not what I said," Meghan said a bit helplessly, slumping her shoulders. She was starting to see what he was so sore about, but what could she do about it?

"But I'm not wrong," Oremon said gruffly. "Between being bait so she has a chance to get a hit in and getting thrown up and down the street every time I get in a fight, I'm just doing a fantastic job making everyone else's job easier."

Meghan looked at him with a slightly bemused expression on her face, her brow furrowed. "I-- what?" Oremon frowned, but he didn't say anything further, folding his arms and turning away.
She furrowed her brow and flopped down onto her bed, spread out eagle and her eyes on the ceiling.

It was true that Oremon was-- well, out of the group, he was indeed probably the most likely to get a bit roughed up in a fight, but she had figured that no small part of that was the fact that, as both Oremon and Ibexmon, one of his primary modes of attack was smashing his head into other digimon, which put him in the line of proverbial fire, and he had always been able to shrug it off pretty well.

She wondered, all of a sudden, what kind of blow it had been to his ego when she had run out between him and Hokkaimon when they had been fighting the other group, and she felt a strange lump in her throat.
Between the tension in the group, the back-to-back digimon and all the stresses that that entailed, her mother's reaction to all of this, (what she interpreted as) vague annoyance from her brothers being asked to cover for her, and now Oremon's mood tanking...

Well.
Obviously, she told herself, she was just being over-sensitive, right? Right! Nothing to worry about.

...

She wiped at her face with the sleeve of her shirt in as surreptitious a way as she could muster. Oremon -- to his credit -- seemed to notice anyway, and as she sat up, she noticed that he was looking at her.
"Is something else wrong?" she said, putting a smile on her face. "You're looking at me weird."

Oremon frowned. He didn't say anything, merely shook his head.

***

Later on, Meghan, James, and her mother were seated in the living room; the sounds of the evening news on the televison and their conversation carried well enough for Oremon to hear all of them from the top of the stairs.
It wasn't unusual for him to sit out of these times-- at least, when Meghan's mother was the only parent around. He could never shake the feeling that she had never liked him as much as Meghan's father did, especially not since he had evolved into Oremon, and double especially not since all of this digimon business had begun. Triple especially since last week.

He was trying to give Meghan a bit of space, though he wondered if he wasn't making the wrong choice by doing so. He simply didn't want to exacerbate the problem; he knew that if her mother started talking about digimon, he might not be able to resist the urge to argue.
(Honestly, he might have started a fight anyway-- Brendan was out with some of his friends who were in town, and she hadn't said boo to him going out, and Meghan herself probably wasn't going to say anything about it...)

Of course, most of the time he simply stayed in their room during this time, reading or listening to music or trying practice emulated games on Meghan's computer (it was hard, with hooves, but he was dedicated), but he felt like he had the obligation to pay attention now.

"... another sighting has been reported, but not confirmed. Citizens are implored," the voice of co-anchor Rebecca Porter drifted up, "not to interfere if they encounter what they believe to be an Unidentified Destructive Creature, and are advised to vacate the vicinity and contact law enforcement immediately. Though there have yet to be any casualties or injuries resulting from a UDC incident, the property damage sustained should serve as a potent warning..."

Oremon snorted, rolling his eyes at the name that the media had decided to bestow upon them, but he couldn't dwell on it.

"Well, I'd certainly hate to be in such a situation," Mrs. Abbott said, and even though he couldn't see them, Oremon could clearly imagine the pointed way that she was looking at Meghan, and he frowned.
He heard the distinct sound of James ever-so-subtly getting up and wandering towards the kitchen, clearly sensing what was happening and surreptitiously excusing himself from it.

"Right," Meghan said, apprehension clear in her voice. "Well, let's hope you never have to be, yeah?" Just as clearly as Oremon could imagine the way her mother looked at her, he could imagine the slightly-forced smile Meghan put on her face.

There was a pause in the discussion where the only noise was the news, finishing up the usual tell the police if you see a digimon shpiel and moving on to some more lighthearted human interest story, but the tension was palpable.

"Meghan," her mother started up again, and her tone was clearly the serious discussion tone. "You know, I've been thinking."

Oremon snorted.

"Ever since the start of summer you've been acting very oddly... running off, doing god knows what at all hours. And I wondered what had gotten into you all of a sudden, but you seemed happy about it, so I was more or less okay with it."

Oremon leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and frowning; he could practically feel the objection coming up; the only way her pause for dramatic effect could have been more obvious if she had said pause for effect.

"But--?" Meghan prompted, just when Oremon thought that Mrs. Abbott was holding onto her dramatic pause a bit too long.

"But," Mrs. Abbott said, sounding like she wanted to say I was getting to it but deciding not to, "from what I've seen, it all seems to come back to Oremon, and I was just thinking that maybe we should consider..."

Oremon furrowed his brow, his face scrunching into one of vague displeasure for where this was going, but Meghan was way ahead of him.

"If you're going to suggest I kick him out or something, I'm going to flip my--" A beat, wherein she self-censored. "Flip out," she finished instead, not wanting to say flip my shit to her mother.

"I wasn't going to say that!" her mother said, tone defensive-- but, honestly, it wouldn't be the first time the conversation had happened; the last time had been back when Oremon had first actually evolved proper from Billymon to his present Oremon form. "You seemed to be safer when you didn't take him with you--"

"And what if something did happen?" Meghan said, cutting her mother off. There was a pause, where the tension hung thick; Meghan rarely interrupted her mother.

"Well, you probably wouldn't run off into danger if he wasn't there charging off all the time..."

"He doesn't just charge off into danger!" Meghan retorted, but Oremon frowned, looking down at his hands, even as her voice continued. "It's not like he's dragging me off--"
Oremon clenched his hooves like fists, thinking. Almost every time a digimon incident happened, he was the one with Meghan's D-Rive in hand as often as not, informing her that they needed to get moving, wasn't he?

He stood up-- he practically felt a ringing in his ears, and it was hard to concentrate on continuing to listen in. He turned and walked back to the bedroom, snorting. If he had pockets to shove his hands into, he would have done so.

Oremon had no doubt in his mind that Meghan would continue to stand up on his behalf to her mother, but... somehow, for some reason, he didn't want to hear it right now. Not when he was already licking his wounded ego-- he didn't need to hear his best friend making excuses for him to make him feel worse.

He sighed as he closed the door behind him with a click, and looked around the room. On Meghan's desk her D-Rive lay face-down, where she had placed it earlier after changing her clothes. Oremon picked the little device up and turned it over, and found himself unable to be surprised when -- pressing it to activate it -- he saw the radar was active.
It hadn't lit up on its own; as far as he knew, that meant there were no unfamiliar digimon around.

(But didn't Shitomon and her lot count as 'familiar' now...?)

(... but he had just felt bad about running off and dragging Meghan off to fight...)

For a few moments, Oremon stood, debating with himself what to do, but he didn't end up having to try to open the radar with his hooves-- a sharp tap-tap-tapping at the window drew his attention, and the culprit for the radar's activation was at the window.

No surprises: it was Ratamon, clinging to the tiny spit of windowsill that was outside the screen. This was frankly impressive; there was barely any more than the narrow plaster moulding for him to hold onto... but there he clung, peering in with those eyes the size of tea saucers, electric green and shocking pink and shiny like a cat's in the dark. He looked like he might might have waved, if his hands weren't otherwise occupied.

Oremon crossed the room and pulled open the window, but left the screen closed so Ratamon couldn't simply climb inside. "Why are you here?"

"See, that's an okay greeting," Ratamon said cheerfully, twitching his big feathery ears, "but I'd say something more like hi or long time no see, myself. Hi!"

Oremon frowned. He wanted more than anything to run downstairs and grab Meghan, but-- maybe not a good time, right now. Ratamon was looking at him cheerfully, waiting for the goat to process his words, and Oremon couldn't help but feel a little-- condescended to, even though he wasn't saying anything. It was just that unspoken I'll wait, paired with his inscrutiably smiling face...

Hmph.

Meghan could think Ratamon was cute all she wanted-- Oremon still thought the little creampuff was annoying at best.

"Are you the only digimon around?" the goat snapped, peering out the window, and then looking down at the D-Rive, just in case.

"As far as I know, and I know pretty far," Ratamon chirped, watching Oremon very intently. The goat stared back at him for a couple of beats, knitting his brow.

"What do you want?" he said after a moment.

"What?" Ratamon asked, still so chipper.

"You show your face so infrequently," Oremon said, "I assume you're here for a reason." (It also hadn't escaped Oremon's notice that Ratamon also seemed to have a preference for showing up around him and Meghan more than anyone else.)

"Aw, and here I thought I was being sneaky!" Ratamon said, shrugging his shoulders, and he looked around. "Could you let me in? This isn't terribly comfortable, you know."

Oremon paused again, looking over his shoulder at the door. He had no idea when Meghan would be back up, but-- how often did they lament how little they could find of Ratamon when they wanted him around? And knowing him, if Oremon did go get Meghan, he would likely be gone by the time they got back...

After some deliberation -- and a little bit of difficulty, because, you know, hooves -- Oremon managed to open the window screen just barely enough for Ratamon to squeeze his way in. He was like a cat-- it only needed to be wide enough to fit his head, and the rest of the odd little digimon followed.

Oremon intitially feared that Ratamon might start darting around or make a break for the door or something equally chaotic. Instead, he merely hefted himself so he was sitting on the inside of the windowsill next to the miniature pots containing Meghan's succulent plants, his little legs dangling against the wall.

"That's better!" he chirped, his little wings and tail flicking behind him as he dusted himself off. Oremon, though, wasn't one to waste time or beat around the bush half so much.

"What do you want?"

"I was getting to it!" Ratamon said, putting his hands up as if to say whoa there. He looked around the room. "Isn't the human here?"

Oremon frowned. "She's busy. What do you want?" he repeated, a bit more forcefully.

Ratamon didn't seem terribly bothered by the rude treatment, but he did give Oremon a bit of an owlish look for a few seconds before he spoke.
"I was just going to ask if the human you hang around with knew of any other digimon in the area," he said, "aside from, you know, you and Raumon and Desmon and Banmon and Gelermon and Shitomon and Hulimon and Lurumon." He was counting off on his claws, but he listed more digimon than he had fingers so he had to re-use some of them.

"Not to my knowledge," Oremon said, then he paused as a realization struck him. "When did you find out about--?"

"That's not important," Ratamon said, waving his hand to dismiss the question.

"... yes it is," Oremon said; but Ratamon continued talking over him, forging right ahead.

"That's disappointing, though," he said, tapping a claw to his chin. "I was hoping maybe you'd run into him and I just hadn't noticed yet, but if he's not showing himself to you, either..."

Oremon's ears twitched as he heard the sound of heavy footsteps coming up the stairs in the distance; he was willing to bet that Meghan's discussion with her mother hadn't gone stellarly, and Ratamon was busy bringing up exponentially more questions than he saw fit to answer, and-- and--

"Well, if you don't know, that's all I needed to know!" Ratamon said, and he stood up. "Do you know where the other humans are? I kind of came here because you're the only ones I really know for sure where you live. Wouldn't want to give some old lady a heart attack by popping in at the wrong apartment window or anything like that." He had a bit of a carefree lilt in his voice that was just the right inflection to make Oremon irrationally angry. He also didn't wait for Oremon to actually answer his question before he reared down and prepared to jump back out, which, really, only exacerbated the problem. Oremon realized he had to make a snap decision here, and so, in the space of about two seconds, three things happened.

First, Ratamon leapt out the window. He didn't fly, but his little wings flapped hard, allowing him to drift to the ground instead of falling like a rock.
Second, Oremon lunged towards said window after Ratamon, pulling the window the rest of the way open. He wound up half hanging his torso out the window with an arm outstretched, ineffectually reaching after Ratamon, before he re-stabilized himself on the windowsill.
Third, the bedroom door opened behind Oremon, and Meghan walked in on a slightly curious scene-- see point two.

"Dammit!" Oremon spat through grit teeth as he stood back up straight, looking frantically from the window over his shoulder at Meghan, back to the window, and finally back to Meghan, where his eyes came to rest. He realized suddenly that he was still holding her D-Rive clutched tightly in one hand.

Meghan looked more than a little bit upset, with a bit of shine in her eyes and a bit of pink in her cheeks, and she was looking at Oremon with a slightly bewildered expression. She seemed to be trying to piece together what was going on, while Oremon practically felt himself shrink back. Doubtlessly, she had just been going to bat for him, arguing with her mother that he wasn't the type to go running off and starting fights, and now--

"It's not a digimon, is it?" she said, sounding apprehensive, and Oremon frowned.

"It was just Ratamon, being as helpful as always," he answered truthfully, closing the window screen before walking over to Meghan's desk and setting her D-Rive down on it. "It was nothing."

"That's a relief," Meghan said, her shoulders slumping in a sigh. "I mean-- not that he's not being helpful-- I'd rather not get another lecture so soon, you know?" she said, putting on a smile despite how little she obviously wanted to. "I was kind of worried, what with you almost jumping out the window, that I was going to have to go running down the stairs and... yeah."

Oremon cast another look out the window -- Ratamon had moved so fast that he couldn't see the little guy anymore -- and he frowned with a sigh.
"Yeah," he said. "No, it was nothing."

"What did he want?"

***

Meanwhile, in an apartment a ways out from downtown:

The young woman turned her TV off, sighing as she sat back on the couch. There was nothing good on, and she was, frankly, sick of hearing all of this digimon speculation and gossip on the local news.
Call her when something concrete actually happened.

"New day," she said, looking over at her best friend, who had just walked in from the other room, "same shit."

"Isn't that just the way," said friend responded, stretching out his claws and climbing up onto the couch. "Will you check the radar?"

The young woman responded with a shrug and picked a very familiar-looking device off of the coffee table. She carried it with her everywhere, though she wasn't really sure why; the two of them had yet to get involved in any fights, and though she knew it had the ability to minimize her partner (she had poked around after a few incidents had gone public, and she had put two and two together)... well, Brockmon didn't want to risk showing up in public.

(In fairness, he wasn't exactly the 'go out and do things' kind of guy; he preferred staying holed up, and was practically immune to cabin fever; she supposed it was apt. Weren't badgers supposed to be really 'hole up in their burrow' animals, after all? Sure, Brockmon was an abnormally huge badger who talked, but, still, a badger.)

But the radar function, they had definitely gotten acquainted with. Every time something called Ratamon was on the radar, Brockmon got very tense and prickly until it passed on. Of course, because Brockmon himself had huge claws that made it hard for him to work the device himself, so he frequently asked her to check it for him, like a child asking a parent to work the computer for him.

"Nada," she said; the radar wasn't even active, and she set the device down, face-up, back on the table. "I don't know why you're so paranoid about this, you know. Nobody's going to find you if you keep your nose out of things, you've said so yourself."

"Yes, well," Brockmon said, a bit defensively, "if things are going to keep going as they are, it doesn't hurt to be careful. Trouble may well come to us."

As if on cue, not five seconds later -- before the screen had even idled out back to black -- the radar option lit up. Brockmon looked, with a very I told you so look, at his partner, who sighed and picked the radar up.
She swiped her thumb over the dot.

Ratamon - In-Training level.

"Thanks for making a liar out of me," the young woman said, sighing as she ruffled her own hair in frustration. The dot zipped around a little bit, here and there; Brockmon practically held his breath, even though the dot was neatly avoiding coming in their direction.
And then-- it vanished. Not zoomed out of radius, but simply vanished.

This wasn't the first time they had seen the dot do this.

The badger digimon heaved a heavy sigh. Ratamon must have found a crack to slip through to slip back-- presumably to the Digital World.

Brockmon knew the cracks weren't new-- not really. They'd been there ever since the connection got (as good as) severed-- tiny trickles here and there, bare threads holding things together. The fact that digimon were starting to be able to pass through them was definitely new-- they had eroded away to the point where they could start forcing through.
(Brockmon got the vague but distinct feeling that truly, completely severing the connection would be difficult if not impossible; if it had been, knowing the culprit, he likely would have gone the whole nine yards and completely cut things off.)

But that wasn't the most relevant thing to him right now. What was relevant was that now, Ratamon wasn't around; just from that he felt a weight on his shoulders just barely lifted, only to be replaced with an equal (if not greater) weight.

At least it meant Ratamon still didn't have a clue, because he knew for a fact, if he knew, he'd be beelining for them-- but not knowing whether or not it meant he had another plan brewing, it couldn't be much comfort.

***

It's a sad truth that in life, lots of things that you want to happen don't happen. For instance, sometimes you want a meteor to hit your workplace, wiping it off the map, and sometimes you want a swarm of Japanese killer hornets to descend on a politician with tiny hands, and sometimes, sometimes, you want the giant monster attacks in your city to take a long weekend and stop happening for a couple days.

None of these things happen when you really want them to, and we live in a worse world for it.

Let's start at the start, though.

The day had actually started off well enough. Meghan's mother had seemed to cool down after the digimon debate last night. While they hadn't really followed up on it, she wasn't still harping on the subject, which Meg was totally willing to take at face value right now.

Meghan had explained to Oremon in broad strokes what said argument had been about -- and he more or less could have assumed it from the parts he had heard. This was dangerous, Oremon is a headstrong asshole dragging you into danger, you should consider just blah blah blah. Instead of expressing how frustrated it made him feel, he rolled his eyes and snorted at all of this as though it were patently ridiculous. This seemed to make Meghan feel a bit better, which completely validated his decision.

At any rate, Meghan had been helping her mother run a handful of errands (and was mooching a car trip to take care of some of her own to-do list, because if she didn't have to drive she'd take it). She presently stood just inside the door at the bank, flicking through her phone. She could practically hear Oremon to her side complaining; he had, of course, come along in her D-Rive. She had warned him that this was going to be a dull excursion, but he had elected to come along anyway.

They were likely to be here for a good long while yet, as it was busy and her mother had to take care of more than a simple deposit (something about closing an old account), but, eh, worse things had happened, right?
And worse things were about to happen!

When the lights began to flicker, almost nobody thought twice about it; maybe they grumbled a little bit and looked around, and one person complained about it not being supposed to rain today -- perhaps blaming it on a rainstorm? Even though they could perfectly well see outside that it was dry?
Meghan, though, practically felt her heart leap into her throat.

She also wondered if she was going to have that reaction to flickering lights forever.

She tried to keep nonchalant as she opened her bag to look if her D-Rive was on, and sure enough, the moment she looked in, it sure was. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep herself from exclaiming something that would be inappropriate to exclaim in a public forum, looking up and around herself.
Her mother wasn't even remotely paying attention, and Meghan didn't want to draw attention to herself; she deliberated, then sidestepped her way towards the door.

(Why did it have to be now? Why so soon after the last-- and why now, why not any other time--)

She pulled the D-Rive out properly as she got outside onto the street, but she felt it was more important to look around her than to look at the little device. If a digimon was already close enough to screw with the electronics, then it was close enough to be a problem, right?
So... why couldn't she see anything? Ahead of her was the square that lay opposite the bank and the street running past her, with people milling around and going about their business without any of the typical 'a giant monster is nearby' reactions.

This did nothing to make her feel better.

She looked in every direction from her vantage point at the top of the steps in front of the bank. She didn't see anything, which made her think that maybe it was in the other direction, behind her, but more importantly-- she didn't hear anything. No yelling, no sirens, nothing that would indicate a digimon was nearby, and considering how high-alert it seemed like everything was...

"Come on," she muttered, venturing a glance down at her D-Rive; the dot was close, very close, even if she couldn't see it.
Drimogemon - Champion level.

As soon as she read its name, though, it seemed to take her request to come on to heart and made itself apparent.
As a rumbling sound began, the ground began to shake. It rose up through her legs and into her chest, practically vibrating her bones and rooting her in place, growing stronger and stronger by the moment.

... oh. Well, there were the sounds that had been missing-- people beginning to worry as they took notice as well.

It would be hard not to, as in the space of not about thirty seconds, the noise and the vibration grew steadily stronger. Worry gave way to panic in record time, and it'd be hard to blame anyone for that. In the square across from the bank, the pavement and stones began to churn and buckle, respectively, and mere moments later, a spiral drill the size of a tree trunk began to break through the ground right next to one of the benches.

Meghan had a feeling this may, just may, be a digimon.

"Shit!" someone yelled as a massive shape began to claw its way out of the hole, and Meghan found she agreed with the random expletive-yeller. People began to scatter and yell as a huge shape began to climb out of the ground. She saw people get out their phones, some to take video (fat lot of good that would do) and some to call the police-- obviously they had taken the constant reminders from the news to heart.

The digimon that was emerging was something like a mole crossed with a narwhal crossed with a power drill and scaled up until it was ten feet tall. Both the tusk in the middle of its face and the massive claws that ended its paws were grooved metal drills, but aside from that, it wasn't the most ornate-looking digimon Meghan had ever seen, its body mostly cream with a purplish-blue back, but that didn't change the fact that it looked pissed, and, you know, it had an enormous metal drill on its face. It pulled itself out of the hole it had come from and roared, baring rows of sharp white teeth.

Understandably enough, people began to scatter and panic. This only seemed to anger Drimogemon; it whipped its head around, snarling at anything that moved. It seemed to want to charge, but it couldn't decide on who to pursue; it settled on destroying one of the benches it had emerged near, smashing it into splinters with a single swing of its drill-like horn, and it rounded on the people around it.

Before she knew what her feet were doing, Meghan was bounding down the concrete steps, because -- as she said to herself -- she was a fucking idiot, apparently.

She faintly registered a burst of orange light out of the corner of her eye. Oremon materialized, running alongside her, and they were some of the only people who were pointedly running towards Drimogemon. God knows why.
"We won't be able to pull it away," Oremon said quickly. "Too many people, not enough room. It can probably dig away."

"Then we're going to have to fight it here, and quickly?"

Oremon nodded.

"Shit," Meghan muttered, casting a look over her shoulder. People were pouring out of the buildings to see what was going on, and she'd bet money she had a familial audience right now, which was exactly what she didn't need.
Not far away, someone yelled now there's two of them! and for a moment Meghan worried. A second later she realized the person was likely yelling about Oremon. ... that wasn't much better, actually.

Oremon gritted his teeth and -- because, like Meg, he was a fucking moron -- he began to run forward before even waiting to digivolve.

"Oremon--!" Meghan yelled after him, reaching a hand out as though she could stop him, but she realized in a heartbeat that he wasn't simply being foolhardy.

"Earth Wrecker!" Oremon yelled, slamming his hooves down into the ground as he bounded in; it wasn't like it was going to get any worse, after all. A pair of jagged rocks rocketed out of the ground and he grabbed them out of the air, hurling them at Drimogemon. It had about as much effect as you'd expect, but it decisively got Drimogemon's attention.

Oremon growled, his eyes narrowing as he bore down, and braced himself as Drimogemon rounded on him.
He could feel the fact that he was about to digivolve-- it felt like static electricity building up all throughout him, but now, right now, he was holding it back, holding it off. He could do this.
He wasn't sure if he was trying to prove it to himself or to Meghan or what, but dammit he was going to prove something to someone.

Drimogemon began to charge as its drill got up to full speed, roaring:
"Iron Drill Spinner!"

Oremon stood resolute, preparing to duck and maybe try to take out some of Drimogemon's teeth with a headbutt, even though he realized a moment too late that this may have been a mistake--

And then a rock hit Drimogemon in the side of the head, because Meghan had run up and thrown a rock at it to prevent Oremon from turning into a goat kebab.

Drimogemon snarled, turning his attention to Meghan, and in that moment, the metaphorical dam broke. Oremon was engulfed in orange light that surged through Meghan's D-Rive.

"Oremon, drive evolve to... Ibexmon! Terra Spear!"

The very moment he was done changing forms, he slammed his hooves down into the ground, and rock spikes emerged from the ground underneath Drimogemon. It roared in pain, scrambling for purchase and giving Meghan the time to backpedal the hell out of the line of fire, which she did without hesitation. As the spikes receded into the ground, Ibexmon glanced over at Meghan in the couple of moments while Drimogemon wasn't moving; she was putting space between herself and the mole as fast as possible. Right, then.

"Iron Drill Spinner!" Drimogemon roared again, rushing forward, and this time, Ibexmon leapt forward to meet it.

"Headstrong Charge!" he yelled, bowing his head down as he got close to the giant mole thing so as to duck underneath its whirring drill. He succeeded, hooking Drimogemon on his horns and, with a mighty effort, he reared his head up, practically tossing it backwards and driving his horns up into Drimogemon's chin.

Not the most gentle way to take care of a threat, but Ibexmon was not the most gentle of sorts, so you can't expect much more.

Drimogemon began to dissolve into pixels almost immediately, which shone and shifted and burst apart a moment later, gathering up in a beam that shot into Meghan's D-Rive.
She came running up to Ibexmon the moment she could, irrespective of the people staring and watching and the sirens coming closer, because dammit, this was more important. The moment she reached him, she reared back and punched Ibexmon, hard, in the chest. Sure, it didn't hurt much because it was a relatively unathletic human girl punching an eight-feet-tall-at-the-shoulders goat monster, but it was symbolic or something.

"You idiot!" she yelled, pinprick tears in her eyes. "What were you doing taking so long to evolve!? You worried me for a second!"

"I-- well, you almost put yourself in the line of fire," Ibexmon retorted, quick and gruff and avoiding the question by redirecting the blame.

"Because you were being a dumbass!" Meghan shot back, before she leaned in to hug the big goat around the neck.

Ibexmon snorted again, right before he minimized back down to Oremon. Meghan wasted no time in minimizing him; in all the flurry and the chaos and the confusion, people were more concerned asking what had just happened at all. Where had the big goat gone? What the hell was with the giant mole? Why, they hardly seemed to notice the girl who was running back towards the bank, trying her damnest to look inconspicuous.

(The police had just arrived on the scene, too, so she was doing her best to blend in with the crowd and make her way back to where she started. She'd rather deal with her mother, honestly.)

***

Ratamon watched from a safe, high vantage point, tapping at his chin.

He thought he had an idea, now. Even if he had been pretty sure of it before -- after all, how else could they find trouble so easily? -- it simply hadn't slid into place until he had so blatantly seen Oremon check the little device when asking if there had been anyone else around. He was almost entirely sure, now; he had to be, since he didn't want to risk possibly blowing his shot on a false hunch.

See, he had gotten the idea last night, when he had visited Oremon; he had just had to find some not-too-tough digimon, something that could go mostly unnoticed... it had taken a bit of prodding and poking and following, but the girl had definitely noticed it before she should have.
Sure, it was a bit unfortunate that he had to cause this much trouble just to confirm a hunch, but... Eh. Ends justify the means, he figured to himself, and the means had resulted in what, a little property damage? It didn't even look like any humans had gotten hurt. This was a stunning track record, the way he saw it!

And more importantly, it wasn't really his problem.

Honestly, now he just needed to borrow something.
That wouldn't be hard.

He'd wait on it, though; he didn't want to try to borrow one of their D-Rives, however temporarily, when there was a digimon inside it. He'd have other chances. He'd make other chances, if he had to.

***

The drive back home was a tense one; the argument from last night was basically being played on repeat. Meghan's mother hadn't seen that it had been Meg herself to rush into danger, and she was practically beside herself with panic and worry and hand-wringing.

Meghan understood. Really, she did. When Drimogemon had been facing her down, she had felt like she had made a massive mistake; but she felt just as much fear when it had been facing down with an unevolved Oremon, and all she could do was bite her tongue.
And besides that, she didn't really have a choice, did she?

"Well, I just think you should have let the police..."

Meghan knew not to argue. She knew it would do no good to protest that by the time the police had gotten there, Drimogemon might have had the chance to destroy more property or hurt someone. She took comfort, at least, in the the idea of Oremon, safely unheard as he was minimized in her D-Rive, saying everything that she couldn't.

(He was. He very, very much was.)

EPISODE 12: CONNECTION INTERRUPTED

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