Episode 13: Signal to Noise
"You know," Jen said, folding her arms and looking next to her, where Eli sat, "generally most people would expect you to share information a bit sooner than two weeks after it happens."
He shrugged one shoulder, tilting his head back onto the back of Ryan's couch. "Eh, it slipped my mind. It's not like it changes anything, you know?" Hulimon, sitting on Eli's other side, snickered. "Figured it wasn't that important."
He had only just now bothered to share that he and Hulimon had run into Oremon, Gelermon, and their humans, and yes, it was two weeks after the fact. The rest of July had come and gone; it was August first now, and thankfully, the blitz of digimon had cooled down somewhat.
"Yeah, but," Jen began to object, then she shrugged with a sigh as she couldn't come up with a proper complaint.
"At least it wasn't anything important," Ryan conceded, stroking his chin and putting his feet up on the coffee table. He had pulled up a chair opposite his couch so that they could all face each other; this was the first time all three (six) of them had been in the same place in a couple weeks, and the conversation had come up of why all they had seen of the Refugees was the aftermath of their fights-- the news reports and the alleged, unconfirmed sightings, and as it had turned out, Eli's near-run-in.
"It seems they're as interested as us in keeping damage to a minimum," Lurumon said, tapping a claw thoughtfully to her chin. She was content to sit, cross-legged on the floor, her tail partially wrapped around her legs.
"Which is, frankly, weird," Shitomon piped up; she was practically hanging off of the back of Ryan's chair, and peering over her partner's shoulder.
"No kidding," Hulimon said. "It's not really in their nature, as far as I remember."
"It's been fifteen years," Lurumon said, spreading her paws out palms-up. "It's possible that things have changed."
"They're still a threat to the integrity of the Digital World," Shitomon said firmly. "They still carry the corruption, no matter how much time has gone by."
Hulimon, though, was a bit more incredulous. "That aside, I mean, regardless of time that's passed, they're still the same digimon that--"
"I didn't say that they weren't," Lurumon said back, a little bit defensive, but keeping her voice relatively calm even as she cut Hulimon off. "And I remember as well as you do." Hulimon looked at her with a kind of blank expression and he shrugged one shoulder. Lurumon knew him well enough to know he was being apologetic.
(Well, apologetic for Hulimon's standards. We're grading on a scale, here.)
See, these three digimon -- they did remember. Their memories were intact; they had been intact for fifteen years. They remembered full well coming through to this world in pursuit of dangerous digimon carrying remnants of the corruption threatening their world; they remembered getting blindsided by a powerful something on the way, and they rembered thinking it would be impossible to try and find their allies. After all, each one of them would hardly have survived if they hadn't met their respective human friends. They hadn't even been sure they were in the right world at all, until that scant few months ago when all of this had started.
"My point isn't that we need to stop trying to apprehend them," Lurumon continued. "Just that... I don't know. There's been a lot to think about."
"No kidding," Ryan cut in, here, sighing as he tucked his hands behind his head. They hadn't been expecting the other digimon to have human partners as well-- and he sure hadn't been expecting to know one of them, which had really been sticking in his mind all month.
"I mean," Jen said, "didn't you say you knew where the girl with the bird lives, Ry? We could just go in guns blazing, metaphorically speakin'."
Ryan winced, and Eli looked over at him and smirked. "So I take it that your relationship with her is stunningly good," Eli said, raising an eyebrow.
Ryan rolled his eyes; he hadn't seen fit to divulge his history with Natalie to them, and he knew by now they had formed some theories. "Ha ha very clever," he said. "No, though. I'd either get decked or the police called on me, or potentially both."
"And we'd cause a lot of damage and get in a lot of trouble," Shitomon said, "if we tried to just go hunt Raumon down where he lives. She could just minimize him into her D-Rive and we'd be stalemated."
"Riiiight," Jen said. "I kind of forgot they had D-Rives, too."
"... they could evolve," Eli said, his tone dry as he looked sidelong at Jen. The how could you forget that? was unstated; luckily, she took it pretty well in stride.
"Well, you know me: me brain good," Jen said sarcastically right back, tapping the side of her skull to emphasize her point. "And either way, I guess that would still leave-- what, four more, maybe five others? Okay, so strike that."
"I mean, you gotta wait for the right moment," Eli said, shrugging. "We'll have chances, I'm sure. It's not like there aren't more digimon who are gonna show up."
"I just don't want to risk collateral damage," Ryan said, shaking his head, "or worse, casualties. I know your mission is really important to you guys, but keeping damage to a minimum is really high on our list of human priorities." Jen and Eli both nodded in agreement.
"It's high on our list of priorities too," Lurumon assured the humans. "I'd rather not hurt anyone."
"Eh, it's probably in my top ten," Hulimon said with a grin. "Maybe." Eli thwapped him upside the head gently.
"Right!" Shitomon said, dropping down to the ground off of the back of Ryan's chair and circling around to stand beside him instead. "It just... it sucks that we can't do anything more than sit around and wait for the right moment." She frowned. "I mean-- we've already sat around and waited for fifteen years, but it feels like now we're running out of time, I guess."
"Time until what?" Hulimon prompted, tilting his head and twitching his ears.
"Someone gets hurt," Lurumon tried, waving a hand in a vague gesture. "Or--" She fell quiet, and frowned. They all knew what she meant-- until it was too late to stop it. They didn't really have a choice.
Peter cast a cursory glance at his D-Rive as he exited the Lotus out the front door. He didn't know why; it wasn't like he had been in the position to take care of any of the emergents that had happened lately, having either been busy or otherwise indisposed (read: still kind of awkward about interacting with Xander, for obvious reasons, or Natalie, because she had bore witness to said obvious reasons).
He wondered if it wasn't starting to get to him, a little bit, that he had been sitting out.
Thankfully, the emergents had slowed back down after Meghan's Drimogemon encounter-- there had only been two that they knew about. One a week, admittedly, was still way more monster incidents than anyone wanted, but after four confirmed incidents in the space of barely more than a week, this pace seemed downright breezy.
(He wondered if there wasn't a reason that digimon attacks seemed to oscillate between a bunch back to back and a slower trickle, but truth be told, he wasn't even sure what the implications of that would be.)
August had decided to start with sweltering heat. Now, even though it was only the early afternoon, an oppressive humidity hung over everything like a damp, suffocating blanket, and there weren't even any clouds to take the edge off of it.
Because he had worked opening shift, it hadn't been this bad when Peter had walked to work, and his foresight had failed him. He was presently experiencing a profound sense of regret. He squinted up at the too-bright sky and sighed through his nose, resigning himself to his fate. Bugs buzzed and he heard what may have been an ambulance somewhere in the distance.
He made it about half of the way up the block before he heard a voice behind him.
He did a very good job of not jumping like a startled cat, even though he really wanted to. He merely jolted a little bit and looked over his shoulder, fixing his face into its usual stoic blank state.
Natalie came jogging up the distance between them, and immediately seemed to regret it because of how freaking hot it was, but she powered through.
"I was just going to come by to see if you were working," she said, "so I'm glad I caught you. As far as I know, nobody's heard from you in, like, weeks."
Peter shrugged one shoulder. He had indeed kind of fallen off the planet; really, the only person he had interacted with to any great degree outside of work had been Banmon and his roommate (but really, was that so different from the norm?). "I've been busy," he said evenly, but Natalie raised an eyebrow at him. She didn't say as much, but he could practically hear the, you know, you can admit what the real reason is.
"Are you doing okay?" she said instead, with her hands on her hips and her eyebrow still quirked.
"For as much as anyone whose life is a constant spiral of disaster and monster attacks, yes," Peter said, his tone completely flat.
"You know, honestly, same," Natalie said, her delivery not quite as emotionless as his but she made a good attempt. Peter huffed what may have been a laugh through his nose, and Natalie did the same. "Really, though. I just thought I'd touch base, and I figured it'd be kind of creepy if I just bust down the door at your house," she said, gesturing with one hand.
"Breaking and entering is usually frowned upon, yes," Peter said, shaking his head, but he was amused. "And why you couldn't just message me about this, if you were so concerned?"
Natalie paused for a half a second. "Part of it was that I wanted an iced coffee," she admitted, shrugging one shoulder. "I assume you just got off work?" When Peter nodded, she looked around. "Do you, uh, want a ride back to your flat, maybe?"
"It's not that far," Peter said, glancing over his shoulder, but a bit of sweat rolling down his forehead betrayed him.
"It's also, like, a hundred and five out."
"... yes, I would appreciate a ride."
Natalie beamed, then paused. "Can you wait for like five minutes? I still want a coffee."
This had, admittedly, gotten a bit out of hand. Ratamon had only meant to bait the big one; the other two tagalongs, he hadn't accounted for. He wasn't particularly worried, per se. He figured it'd work itself out, one way or another, and if he really had to he could probably intervene, but...
Well. He'd worry about crossing that bridge when he got to it.
(He probably could have stood to be a bit more careful, but... he was getting frustrated. Since he formulated his plan, the cracks had been so irregular that he hadn't had the chance to lure anything through. The only couple that had gotten through were digimon deliberately trying to seek out the refugees, which... well, that was the opposite of helping.)
All he needed was for one of the refugees to get there and start handling it, and he'd figure out the rest on the fly from there. Sure, some stuff might get broken in the meantime, but... eh.
That wasn't really his problem, was it?
A few minutes later, they circled back around to Natalie's car behind the café, and wasted no time in climbing on in and cranking up the A/C. Natalie sipped at her coffee, and a flash of purple light heralded Raumon's materialization in her back seat.
"There he goes, taking my spot in shotgun," Raumon said, putting on an air of patently faux huffiness. He folded his arms and defiantly stuck his beak in the air, but he was doing a poor job being convincing about it.
"Sorry," Banmon said earnestly, apologizing for Peter as she appeared next to Raumon in her own burst of white light.
"You don't need to apologize!" Raumon blurted. He put his hands up and waved them a bit frantically in a no, no! kind of way.
Both Natalie and Peter shook their heads at the silliness happening behind them.
It was indeed a very short jaunt from the Lotus to Peter's place, and they spent most of it complaining about the weather, because, seriously, nobody in the history of the world had ever asked for it to be this hot, followed by at least we don't live any further south.
"While I'm grateful for the ride," Peter said as Natalie pulled up, "I feel like you didn't just want to check whether I was alive."
Natalie leaning forward, resting her arms on her steering wheel. She looked kind of like she'd been caught out, but wasn't too bothered about it. "You've been doing alright?" she said.
"As I ever am," Peter said after a moment, helpful and detailed as always. He lifted and dropped one shoulder in a shrug. "What possesses you to ask?"
Natalie shrugged, herself, but it was Raumon who spoke. "You seemed like you weren't exactly doing that great last time any of us saw you," he said, tilting his head.
"That's certainly a way to put it," Peter said dryly, shaking his head; it was a very diplomatic way to say hey, you snapped and punched a guy and it freaked us out, which is what he was sure they meant.
"And it'd been long enough that we figured we should check in," Natalie said. "Since you haven't really stepped forward to help with any digimon stuff lately, and..." she trailed off, shrugging a shoulder.
"In fairness," Banmon piped up, "the couple of incidents since haven't been very close to us..."
"Right," Raumon said, nodding, "but..."
Peter nodded once, looking out the window of the car. They were idling in the driveway, but he felt like up and getting out of the car now would be rude, and he couldn't deny his own curiosity.
"So you decided you'd pop by," he provided, resting his elbow on the door and the side of his head on his knuckles.
"Nobody else was going to. I mean-- Sam doesn't exactly reach out unless he wants to tell us something, and Meghan told me she doesn't want to bother you, so..." She didn't mention Xander, because... well, that was a foregone conclusion.
"Iunno. Felt like somebody should. Especially considering how much you were all about not having the option to sit things out..."
"It makes me a hypocrite," Peter finished for her.
"I wasn't going to say that," Natalie said, but Peter shook his head.
"It's fine. I'm the one saying it."
Natalie furrowed her brow and sighed, perhaps about to say something that was a bit more productive and useful than Peter's self-deprecation, but they were interrupted by a message alert sound.
They blinked and looked at each other in the universal was that my phone or yours? look, before they pulled out their phones, and wouldn't you know it? It was both of them.
So no points for guessing that it was a message in their group chat.
hey so not to make anyone worry or anything, from Sam, and he was still typing a second one when they looked. This, of course, was a great way to make them worry, even before his next message came in.
but ive got three (3) emergents on my radar starting north heading towards downtown, so some backup before we try to engage them would just be fan fucking tastic
"Well, shit," Peter said flatly, stroking his chin. That was... probably what the sirens he had heard had been. The sound did tend to carry; Atlas Park was quite compact, geographically.
"I'm assuming," Raumon said, peering over the back of Natalie's seat to peer over her shoulder, as Banmon did the same with Peter, "that it's not good news."
Natalie shook her head. "Digimon," she said, looking over her shoulder at Raumon, before she shifted her attention over at Peter. "Do you want to come?"
Peter, in turn, sighed and ran a hand backwards through his hair. "Yeah. Might as well. Where do we need to go?"
"Already asking," Natalie said, already typing the question in to the group chat.
Xander had to admit there were certain advantages to having Desmon for a partner.
For instance, he only rarely had to worry about any food going stale or bad; she'd eat it before that point. (Aside from the pudding in the back of the fridge, which had, indeed, been there since Easter of last year. The pudding was an outlier and should not be counted. He was fairly sure it was sentient, now; moving it might be inhumane.)
... what point was he trying to make, here?
Key among these advantages was the fact that, in case of emergency (or, as it were, emergents), now that they had a few months of experience under their belt and a better handle on evolving at will, they practically had a shortcut to digimon incidents. It was a hell of a lot faster to be able to fly, instead of having to try and maneuver on the ground.
He was getting more used to flying on Corymon's back-- where to hang onto her mane, where to tuck his knees to not interfere with her wings, and how to stomach the fact that there was nothing between him and falling to his death but his own grip and his faith in Corymon.
He was, by the day, getting more and more grateful that he had never been afraid of heights, not least of all because -- to avoid suspicion or staring -- they had to fly pretty high up.
They were coming up just north of the river, close to the largest the major bridges that ran across it, traffic had ground to a complete and utter stop. Not a crawl-- completely stopped. Sirens were already blaring, and the trail of oddly purplish smoke rising up off the ground was a fairly good indication of where they needed to go, even without having to risk pulling out his D-Rive, which he'd rather not do while riding on Corymon.
Xander steeled himself as they began to descend, and they quickly wished they hadn't, as they seemed to be the first on the scene. They held back for a moment to take a look at the problem of the week. The emergents, like them, had been coming from the north, and so the view they got was from behind. Underneath and behind them was chaos all down the road; cars were overturned and left abandoned in the street, pieces of buildings were broken, and people on the ground were having a fucking time.
The first two digimon, flanking the third from behind, were similar, differentiated only by colour. They were both-- and this was a strange thing, indeed -- enormously large gourds, or perhaps pitcher plants, with vibrant crests of leaves on their heads, grinning mouths full of teeth far too sharp for a plant, and long arm-like vines. The first was mostly yellow, with red leaves tipped with blue on its head; the other was more murky shades of green-grey, a crest of with yellow and brighter-green leaves on its head. There were other minor differences, but one could be forgiven for not taking a careful tally of the minutae.
Not only because they were currently having a heyday, swinging their vines around, taking out cars and windows and chunks of the pavement-- though that was definitely part of it. No, the primary reason there was other things to be concerned about was the horrible stench of rotting meat eminating from that other digimon. Paired with the sweltering heat, it was almost enough to make them retch.
The third digimon was huge and sludgy-- it was almost made of gunk, but it was too solid for comfort. It was a mass of greyish-blue flesh-- flesh that seemed to slough off it in chunks and globs, only to be reabsorbed. It was clearly rotting, and it filled the air with an unholy stench that made it hard to concentrate.
It had bones and strange pipe-like wiring on its body, indicating that maybe once upon a time, it had more form; metal plates were bolted onto the space above its gaping, tooth-filled mouth, and bulging red eyes peered out in different directions through gaps in these plates.
These three digimon had handily brought the city streets to a total standstill-- they were running wild. The more-mobile plants were bouncing around, smashing everything in sight. Meanwhile, the pile of rotting meat practically oozed forward, leading the way down the street with remarkable speed for something that could be described as oozing. It dragged its claws along the concrete and secreting a substance so vile it actively ate away at the pavement as it passed over it.
"Shit," Xander hissed, reaching up to cover his mouth and nose.
"No kidding," Corymon said, gritting her teeth.
Luckily, while they apparently had been the first on the scene, they weren't alone for long-- or maybe they had been spotted, and this was the signal to get involved. From an alley just ahead where the digimon were, they saw an unmistakable flash of green light, and a familiar black wolf leapt out, with green flames flickering at her wrists.
The mass of meat roared ferally, but the two plant digimon were quick to look around for any other digimon that might pose a threat-- and settled on Corymon behind them.
"Shit," Xander said for the second time, and Corymon growled.
"Hold on to your pants," she said, and she practically dropped to the ground, needing to let her partner off her back before anything else could happen. The fact that the two plants also stretched out their vines, aiming to grab a hold of her, was also a great incentive to move. Xander practically threw himself off of Corymon's back, skidding to an inelegant stop, but frankly, scuffing up his boots and the knees of his pants was a small price to pay.
Xander cast a glance around before bolting over to the alley from which Frekimon had emerged. As he had expected, Sam was there-- and when Xander suddenly came hurtling around the corner and into the alleyway, Sam jumped but composed himself quickly.
"Hey," Xander said, nodding in greeting. "The fuck we dealin' with here?"
"Green one is Weedmon," Sam said, pointing, and he couldn't say he wasn't expecting Xander's not-quite-amused snort, "yellow one's Vegiemon, the sludge one that smells like ass is Raremon. They're all champion level."
"Oh, fuck me sideways," Xander muttered, looking over his shoulder and hissing through his teeth.
"Yeah, that's why we were waiting before getting involved," Sam said, shaking his head, "but we decided they're causing enough damage that we're going to be in even deeper shit if we don't try to occupy them, so, hey, thanks for showing up before we did something even stupider."
Xander paused, and quirked an eyebrow. "Gelermon wanted to start the fight, didn't she."
"That was also part of it," Sam said after a moment. "We've been trying to head them off and stay out of sight, but--" he looked in the direction that the emergents had come from. "I don't know how much damage they've caused already, aside from not a small amount."
Xander swore under his breath, turning his attention to the digimon, and while it wasn't going badly, it certainly could have been going... a lot better.
Corymon was showing off her aerial stuff, dodging Vegiemon and Weedmon's best attempts to ground her; she wasn't risking moving in close, yet, so all she could do was fire off Black Stingers, and it was clearly trying her to keep track of both of them. Meanwhile, Frekimon desperately wanted not to get into melee range with Raremon, who was backtracking after her-- and it could really move, for a giant mass of rotten meat and slime. It roared as she fired off New Moon Fires into its face, retaliating with bursts of foul gas and swipes of its claws.
While the two-man team of Corymon and Frekimon were able to occupy the digimon, they weren't making much headway; this wasn't a job for two digimon.
Conveniently enough, within a few minutes, it didn't have to be.
A spike of sharp rock jetted up underneath Vegiemon, knocking the plant off its course as it produced and prepared to hurl an assuredly-horrible sludge of dubious origin at Corymon. Coming up from behind, Ibexmon came barrelling towards the fight, teeth gritted; Meg was clinging to his back with one hand, covering her mouth and nose with the other.
The goat came to a stop long enough to allow Meg to dismount, and she darted to where Xander and Sam were standing.
"Hi, sorry," she said. "We, uh-- we would have been here sooner, but--" she gestured at the direction they had come from. "It's backed up really bad."
"I'm not surprised," Sam muttered, tugging on the brim of his hat and frowning.
"I think there might be some people who got hurt," Meghan went on. "I couldn't look closely because we were just trying to get here, but--" She trailed off; it was remarkably hard to hold a conversation in these circumstances.
"We need to keep them here," Xander said. "So they don't fuck anything else up. Easier to deal with it if they're not running around." Besides that, the emergent digimon seemed pretty happy to just fight them, which was... well. At least they weren't the kind that had an agenda.
Maybe that would have been better, honestly. Then they might be able to lead them somewhere else, but they didn't want to risk ferals losing interest and going back to wrecking shit.
Natalie and Peter had to duck through alleys to get towards the fight; Natalie had a wild hunch that they wouldn't be able to just walk up the normal way, and she would have been right. She had also correctly assumed that the most straightforward way -- the main bridge -- would have been impossible to get across, and so part of their lateness was to do with the fact that she had circled around to the next bridge down to the south.
Though, honestly, they would have been later if they had tried to go the direct way, but... you get the point. They had had to park a few blocks ago, making the call that it was more worth it to take off running, even in this heat, than risk getting stuck in a traffic jam further up ahead. Raumon and Banmon were both minimized in their partners' respective D-Rives, wanting to attract as little attention as possible as they bolted through backstreets and shortcuts.
(Natalie vaguely contemplated how much time she had spent in alleyways in the past few months compared to the rest of her life up to that point.)
It wasn't hard to figure out where they had to go just playing it by ear -- just move towards the sound of all hell breaking loose -- but as they came to an intersection, they had to stop to catch their breath.
"That's... odd," Natalie murmured, looking down at her D-Rive's screen. She was taking advantage of the moment to make sure they were on the right course, but...
Peter frowned, pulling his own D-Rive out to see what she was looking at, and he furrowed his brow as he swiped his thumb over the radar screen.
"I don't recognize that name," Natalie said. "Do you think it's another emergent?"
"Hell if I know," Peter said. There was a lot to take in on the screen-- not only was there the cluster of digimon a few blocks away, there was a very active dot -- Ratamon, presumably -- bounding this way and that, but... there was a new dot, staying quite still, very close by-- just in the other direction.
"What's up?" Raumon asked, popping out of the D-Rive in a flash of light. This was hardly the first time he had popped out to inspect or ask questions, of course; he didn't figure that it would be a terribly big deal.
And the fact that it's necessary to point out that he didn't think this would be a big deal should be the warning sign that it was, in fact, about to be a big deal-- or at least, the precursor to a big deal. The enabler of a big deal. The first domino knocked over in a big deal.
As Natalie was opening her mouth to explain what was up, it happened very fast. All she -- or anyone -- saw was a white blur, and she felt a stinging in her hand-- the kind of sting you feel when someone high-fives you way too hard, or--
Or when something moving very fast crashes past your hand.
And, more importantly, her D-Rive was not in her hand anymore.
"What the--?!" she blurted, and Raumon practically doubled in size from how his feathers puffed up in surprise. Peter, for his part, stumbled backwards a half-a-step.
"What's going on?" he said sharply, having not yet realized that Natalie's D-Rive wasn't where it was a moment before. Banmon in turn appeared behind Peter with a flash of white light, her expression more pointedly worried than usual.
Natalie looked around frantically for where her D-Rive was-- had it been knocked out of her hand? She hadn't heard it, but-- she looked on the ground, but she was looking in the entirely wrong place.
"I'll bring this back!" a high-pitched voice promised from up above, and all four in attendance snapped their attention upwards. On a rickety old fire escape sat Ratamon-- and in Ratamon's claw was Natalie's purple D-Rive.
"What--!?" Natalie said, this close to panicking, but before she could really process what was going on, Ratamon was bounding up the metal stairs and, in mere seconds, was completely out of sight.
"What-- the absolute-- fuck," she said, slow but tense, and then she-- instinctively-- tried to look at her D-Rive to see where Ratamon was going.
This didn't work.
"Oh, shit," Natalie muttered, digging her fingers into her hair. "What the heck- what the heck! What did he mean he'd bring it back--?"
"Why on earth did he want it?" Raumon said, talking to himself. His tail swayed back and forth quickly in agitation, a release for some of his nervous energy. Immediately a hundred possibilites came to him-- to all of them, really. Even considering they didn't fully understand the things--
Peter cast a look over his shoulder, back towards where they had originally been heading. The other three were there, right? Banmon looked at him and nodded her head once, even though she was shaking a little bit.
"We have to follow him," Natalie said, decisive if maybe a little bit frantic as she looked to Peter. "Not like this is going to be our first detour. Get your radar up?"
He was already in the middle of doing just that.
The block where they were facing down the trio of emergents was getting worse and worse for the wear by the moment; between the two plant digimon throwing their vines this way and that as Ibexmon and Corymon tried to avoid them and fire off attacks of their own, and Raremon spitting its acidic sludge after Frekimon, they were so busy trying not to get hit that it was hard for them to actually get attacks in edgewise.
The police had made their presence known-- now that the emergent digimon had been more or less contained to this couple of blocks, blockades were being set up both up and down the street, but nobody seemed to know what to do that wasn't already in the line of fire-- that is to say, anyone that wasn't a digimon or partnered to one. The humans tried their best to stay out of sight, practically crouching in the alleyway to give support to their digimon without giving themselvs away.
An officer was yelling over a megaphones for any civilians to evacuate as calmly as possible; calm was not in the cards, though, and people both clamored and panicked from beyond the wall of police and police cars to both get away and to get a better look.
A burst of white light later, and the fight was down to a three-on-two.
"Fuckin' brutal," Frekimon said, grinning her approval. Corymon smirked in return before she kicked back up into the air just in time to avoid a swipe from Raremon's claws.
Vegiemon snarled and whipped its vines around, trying to reorient itself and get away from Raremon, but it was met with something much greener and glowier than it might have liked.
And that was two down. Good progress, team! Good freakin' job.
Frekimon smirked, and Ibexmon snorted, and they might have started to snipe at each other if not for the fact that there was still Raremon to deal with.
And then, what happened next was either a blessing or a curse, depending on how you look at it.
"Shit," Xander spat, clenching his jaw as a cross-shaped beam of light came searing out of the sky.
The light seared at Raremon's rotting flesh and caused it to roar, averting its attention to look for its new assailant. Malakhimon herself came flapping out of the sky in short order, her strange furry-feathery dragon-angel shape unmistakable.
"Oh, no," Meghan muttered, stumbling a half-step backwards-- Ibexmon snarled, gritting his teeth and his pupils constricting, but he had to dodge to the side before he could even consider attacking.
A crackling bolt of golden energy shot from up the street as Himamon came running on all fours towards the fight, moving with surprising speed considering her size and bulky tail. Her attack only barely missed Ibexmon as it soared towards Raremon-- and it was hard for them to tell for certain which she had really been aiming at.
Hokkaimon leapt deftly off of his perch, the coat hanging off his shoulders trailing behind him like a cape as he bounced from the roof, practically doing wall-jumps to avoid a straight-down descent.
"Goddammit, yeah, great, thanks, just what we needed," Sam said, tugging on the brim of his hat and thinking quickly. They all seemed to be coming from the south. Had they gotten stuck in the backed-up traffic?
"Hey!" a policeman's voice over a loudspeaker boomed. "Do not cross the police line!"
They got the distinct feeling that that was the sound of Ryan, Eli, and Jen... crossing the police line. Well, could they really judge? They had kind of backdoored through it...
"Shit!" Corymon spat, encapsulating the true feeling of the moment. "
Another crackling stream of golden energy courtesy of Himamon connected with Raremon, and a moment later, all that remained of Raremon was the pixels of light shooting towards all six humans' D-Rives, and all of the damage its corrosive secretions had done to the street in its wake.
"Oh, fuck it, I'm stoppin' this before it starts," Xander hissed, and he ran out into the street, clutching his D-Rive and skidding to a stop, turning to face Ryan, Eli, and Jen, who had just come to a stop themselves.
Meghan and Sam exchanged looks before they decided to follow suit, and if nothing else, it seems that Xander's decision forced a stalemate, because the opposing digimon weren't willing to try and attack through him. Meghan and Sam, accordingly, went to their own partners.
"Hey, check it," Eli said, rubbing his nose. "Just like last time."
Hokkaimon nodded, stretching his paws up over his head and smirking. "Except they're down two, so this might actually be a fair fight."
"Are you seriously going to try to fight us here?" Meghan said, furrowing her brow. "When it's already--" she gestured around. Even now they had to shout, because of the sirens all around them.
"What more damage can we possibly do than what you've already done?" Malakhimon interrupted her, gesturing around. "Look at the mess you already made!"
"We didn't cause even a half of this, dumbass!" Xander yelled, with his typical level of tact.
"What he said!" Corymon piped up, landing on the ground behind "It was the goddamn meat smoothie and the side salad it came with! We were just trying to keep it from making things worse!"
"They wouldn't have come through in the first place," Himamon said, "if not for you. It's on your hands."
"You keep saying that," Frekimon said, flexing her claws, "but unless you've actually got something useful to say about it, maybe find a new line. It's not our fault and if you could get your heads out of your asses for two seconds, you might realize that!"
"Tactful," Ibexmon snorted, glancing over at Frekimon. She ignored him.
Brockmon paced around the apartment; he occasionally peeked through the curtains out at the city, but he didn't need to look to know what was going down. The fight was far, far too close for comfort-- mere blocks away, if he wasn't wrong. It was still close enough for the lights in the apartment to be shorting out from time to time, though not close enough that they flickered consistently.
He wouldn't have needed that to know that it was a digimon incident, though.
Truth be told, he kind of just assumed anything going wrong was a sign of a digimon incident these days. Maybe he was wrong, but it was better to be safe than sorry. He realized he probably couldn't keep his head down forever, but... he didn't really see any other options presenting themselves right now.
And then, his heart leapt into his throat as a white shape dropped onto the balcony in front of him. It was entirely too familiar to him-- big tail, feathery little wings, and shiny, shiny, shiny eyes. In one hand, it held a little purple device that Brockmon was entirely sure did not belong to it.
"Hi!" Ratamon chirped, face broken into a wide grin. "You've been a real pain in my ass, you know that? And you were right under my nose the whole time!"
Brockmon's pupils constricted and he began to snarl-- a reflexive reaction. He reared one big paw back and preparing to attack, but Ratamon was ready for this.
Ratamon leapt forward, tackling the badger digimon backwards and onto to the floor with almost no effort, despite their difference in size. To an onlooker, this might have looked a bit ridiculous, but Brockmon simply couldn't find it in him to be amused.
"I don't get why you decided to hide," Ratamon continued, cheerful and chipper. "You haven't forgotten the plan, have you?"
As he spoke, the claw planted on Brockmon's chest began to glow bright white. Ratamon pressed down, and his claw began to phase through Brockmon's body.
Natalie and Peter were moving as quickly, but no matter how fast they booked it, they could hardly keep up with Ratamon, especially when they had to keep out of sight. Peter had re-minimized Banmon, but without her D-Rive, Natalie and Raumon had no such indulgence, and so their only options were to move fast, and to lay as low as they could as they did.
Because of the heat, they elected to save a lot of their energy for moving, instead of chatting.
Well. A lot, but not all.
"There's another dot, right?" Natalie asked as they stopped momentarily to catch their breath, and Peter nodded after a glance at his own device. Ratamon's dot on the radar was running towards it, which meant that they were running toward it, and it would be good to know what they were getting into, considering they were getting quite close to it.
"Says it's--" Peter said, and looking down. He had swiped over it before they took off running -- it had started with a B, but he hadn't really comitted it to memory. Even so, when he looked again, he didn't need to remember it spot-on to know something was up, and not least of all because it changed as he looked at it.
It went from a normal window displaying a name -- that, again, Peter didn't get the chance to really commit to memory -- to one that looked like it had been put through the blender. The name began to glitch out, exploding into a mass of shifted pixels. Maybe there were letters under there; maybe there weren't. Fucked if he could tell.
"Oh, that's a good sign," Peter muttered, but for some reason, his comment went un-remarked upon.
The some reason was the fact that Raumon suddenly seized up, like he was being electrocuted. No sooner than they noticed this -- and they noticed it damn quick -- Banmon reappeared in a flash of white light. She, too, was locking up in mid-air-- and considering that Peter's D-Rive began emitting that familiar horrible screeching noise, they got the distinct impression she hadn't materialized by choice.
"Raumon?" Natalie blurted, dropping down onto her knees to grab a hold of his shoulders, while Peter grabbed Banmon in his arms. "What's going on?"
And then, quite all of a sudden -- despite the oppressive heat up until that very moment-- it got very cold.
"I think," Peter said slowly, stating the extremely obvious, "we should find the others."
Back at the scene of the standoff, the same thing had happened-- Ibexmon, Corymon, and Frekimon all froze where they stood. Moreover, Xander, Sam, and Meghan's D-Rives began to emit that same, familiar horrible shrieking sound-- and Ryan, Eli, and Jen's definitely didn't. Everyone -- digimon and human alike -- was taken aback by this.
"What the hell--?" Jen murmured, looking to Himamon and then to her human teammates-- but none of them looked any less confused than she did.
Xander, Sam, and Meghan all turned around to look at their partners, while still trying to keep an eye on their opponents; they were all locked in place, shaking slightly, as though they were being electrocuted and their muscles were seizing. They didn't even breathe. Then, for a moment, they surged- not like the pixels that digimon burst into when they were defeated, but rather, they shifted and changed for a half a second as if they were glitching out. It happened again after a moment, and the second time seemed worse.
And then they relaxed, exhaling as though they had been holding their breath and looking slightly confused. The entire deal took maybe thirty seconds.
"What on earth...?" Sam said, more to himself than to anything. While Xander and Meghan were inspecting their partners, though, he looked to his D-Rive.
Malakhimon furrowed her brow, and she looked between the digimon opposing them and then to her allies. She looked almost like she were considering if this were some kind of ruse or trick, but her train of thought got soundly derailed-- as did everyone else's, as the sound of something very, very large taking huge, heavy steps shook the ground.
And then it got very, very cold.
Thud. Thud. Crunch.
Ibexmon, Frekimon, Corymon, and their partners turned around to look as, from a few blocks down, the huge thing emerged from around the corner.
It was enormous, bigger than any digimon they'd seen so far-- 25 feet easily, and that was while it was hunched over. It looked like it might have been a bear at some point-- it had the right shape and it had fur, though admittedly, parts of its indigo hide were missing entirely, exposing purplish, frostbitten flesh underneath. And, yes, it was clearly frostbitten-- not just because its massive claws were made of ice, not just because its arrival heralded the immediate temperature change, not even because it had icy spikes sticking out of its arms and shoulders, but because it was visibly freezing the ground beneath its feet as it moved. The temperature difference between the hot and humid air and the freezing cold it was emanating was enough to immediately crack and buckle the road beneath it-- or maybe that was just because it was already weakened from Raremon and company.
It had tattered cloth hanging around its waist and black belts around its wrists, neck, and ankles, and lashed around its body were bandages with old, caked-on and dry blood. An inky-black orb was settled into its sternum and surrounded by protruding bones.
Oh, and let's not forget its most striking feature (after its size, anyway): its entire face was stripped-bare and skeletal, with glowing white lights set into empty sockets in lieu of eyes. It had what looked like black (or at least, dark indigo) warpaint smeared around its eyes, up its muzzle, and on its jaw, and massive lower teeth that were as long as a human arm.
It made no sound, didn't even appear to be breathing, aside from the heavy sound of its feet on the ground.
Though they really couldn't be blamed for missing it -- after all, there were bigger things to focus on -- the sound of footsteps echoed up one of the alleys nearby, just down from where Xander, Sam, and Meghan had been hiding for the fight.
Peter came barrelling out first; Banmon had evolved up to Banshemon on the run over here, and she came flying hot on her partner's heels. Natalie followed a few moments later, with Raumon sprinting after her without a moment to lose.
The huge undead digimon before them cast its gaze in the direction of those gathered in the middle of the street-- eight humans, eight digimon. Its white-fire eyes clearly focused on them, and it turned its entire body in their direction.
It opened its mouth and-- it looked like it might have been intending to roar, but what actually happened was significantly worse. It was like a choked death rattle, rasping and staggered. Icy mist poured from between its jaws, fogging up the air around it.
It began to advance.