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

Episode 16: Kill the DJ

"And I---"

Sour guitar notes followed, and Xander hissed through his teeth.
There was a reason he had practically leapt at the chance to make Paul play guitar when they had decided to form Ekko Lokation-- it had never been his strong point, even though he was competent at it, and now that he hadn't practiced regularly in ages, he was remembering this fact vividly.

He tried again, just trying to get the basic lead down, but with that came a little less focus on the lyrics, even as he kept the tune.

"And I... am going to throw myself in front of a motherfucking train if this stupid guitar doesn't start cooperating instead of being a little bitch--"

"I like these new lyrics," Desmon piped up across the room. "Maybe 'off a motherfucking cliff' would be better, instead of "in front of a motherfucking train"? It fits your meter better."

"Thanks, I'll keep that in mind," Xander said flatly, reaching over the guitar to the pen and pad of paper sitting on the messy coffee table in front of him. It was covered in scratched-out notes and hasty re-writes, to the point where it was borderline unreadable.

If he made any significant progress worth keeping, he'd have to rewrite it, but he only barely seemed to register that fact.

It had... been a rough couple days, let's leave it at that.

It was only the day after Natalie had had her airquotes discussion with Ryan, and so only two days since Draugmon had ruined everything for everyone. The garage he worked at was only a short ways out of downtown, which meant that it was impossible not to hear about it; the news was still understandably enough clogged up with it, and of course, every so often his phone would go off with notifications about some aspect of it that the others were overthinking.
So, yeah, he was fairly well entrenched in this last thing in his life that Digimon bullshit hadn't infected yet.

Admittedly, he could probably put this song off; it wasn't urgent, and there were probably more important things he could be focusing on, even in regards to the band considering they had lined up another show in a couple weeks, but... eh, let him have this.

"Your phone's going off again," Desmon pointed out from her hammock, her ears twitching; said phone was across the room, buried under Xander's discarded work shirt and pants. He had been in such a hurry to switch into something less depressing that he hadn't cared about throwing them into the half-broken laundry basket. He hadn't taken his ringer off vibrate, and the clothes were muffling it. "You want me to check it?"

Xander sighed through his nose. "Yeah, sure. Tell me if it's anyone I actually want to talk to."

Desmon hopped down to the floor and over to the pile of discarded clothes. She fished Xander's phone out while it was still buzzing away. "Oh, cool!" she said, and she beamed as she skip-flapped her way over to her partner.

Xander paused scribbling notes to look over the back of the couch. "What the fuck could it possibly be, unless you entered me in some kind of fuckin'... free pizza for life sweepstakes?"

"It's Mikey!"

Xander blinked, momentarily taken aback.

"Shit, really? Give it here," he said and Desmon did just that, and he slid his thumb across the screen to accept the call.
"Hey, Mike, dude, sup?" he said, lifting the phone to his ear and cradling it between his head and his shoulder as he set the poor, out-of-tune guitar aside. There was a pause, wherein Desmon twitched her ears to listen in, but the static of the phone made it hard for her to pick out the words.
"Same to you, you evasive bastard," Xander said, smirking.

Realizing she would have a hard time eavesdropping like this, she quickly developed a cunning plan.

"Free pizza for life would be hella though," Desmon mused louder than she really needed to, then popped her head back over the back of Xander's futon. "Say hi for me!")

"One sec, I'm putting you on speaker so Desmon doesn't try to talk into my ear the entire fuckin' time," Xander said, doing just that and setting his phone on the table in front of him.
This was, in fact, Desmon's plan, and she was happy it had worked so efficiently. (Well, less happy than she could have been, considering this was the same plan she came up with every time she wanted to listen in on a phone call, and she was ninety percent sure Xander knew this...
Eh, still happy about it.)

"Hi, Mikey!" Desmon chirped, kicking into the air and even going to the effort of flying over the back of the couch so she could drop down next to Xander.

"Hail up, ya giant flying rat," the voice of Xander's brother came over the phone. He, like Desmon, had the uncanny ability to make it clear when he was grinning just with his voice. "As I was just saying to Alex, it's good to hear you aren't dead yet."
(Xander winced a little bit at being referred to by that derivation of his name, because lord did he not go by that if it was ever possible, but he had given up the futile endeavor of trying to get anyone in his family to change it up.)

"You're one to talk," Xander said, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees.

"I'm not the one who's right in the heart of the shitshow. It's not often I get to say that, you know."

See, this requires some explanation. Xander's older brother, Michael -- Mikey to Desmon, and Mike to everyone who wasn't Desmon and who didn't want to get punched in the mouth -- was chronically difficult to get in contact with. He was one of those people who didn't have a social media presence at all, not least of all because he spent a whole lot of his time both in other countries and the extremely rural parts of this country, doing work with various humanitarian groups and his church, from developing nations to reservations.

Yes, the contrast between him and Xander was hilariously pronounced and obvious, thanks for asking-- and indeed, it was rare that he got to say that it wasn't him in the thick of things.

"So I take it you've been filled in on the shitshow?" Xander asked, weighing his words carefully, trying to judge how much Mike knew without shooting his mouth off.

"Well, when your hometown is all over every news site and station in the country, you take a little bit of notice," Mike replied, probably shrugging on the other end of the line, and Xander groaned. "And I only know one blue bat monster, I was thinking there might be some connection between her and the giant blue bat thing I saw on the news."

"Hey, it could be anyone's blue bat monster, this is unfair," Desmon said, and Xander gave her a gentle thwap on the back of the head.

"Cool," he muttered sarcastically, scratching the back of his neck.

"So you do have something to do with it, then?" Mike said

Xander looked at Desmon, who looked back at him cheerfully; he looked at his D-Rive, set (thrown) on the corner of the coffee table haphazardly; and he sighed.
"Eh."

"So that's a yes."

"Fuck you."

"Definitely a yes." Mike snorted a laugh, and Xander swore under his breath. "You oughta call--"

Xander cut him off. "If you say mom and dad, I'm going to lose my shit," he said, curling his lip in disdain. "Fuck no. I already got the passive aggressive wall post from hell from mom."

"Well, in fairness, have you actually talked to them?" Mike prompted.

"They know I'm alive and not in the hospital," Xander said, which was not an answer to the question. "That should be enough. I don't really want to give them any ammunition, and even putting that aside, I sure as fuck don't want to sit through the inevitable 45 minute phone lecture about how I need to find Jesus and get a four-year degree, preferably in that fuckin' order." He paused, and sighed, slumping back. "So, yeah, no."

"I can't argue that's probably what'd happen," Mike said, then sighed. "It's your life, Alex. I sure ain't going to tell you what to do with it, but if you do have something to do with all this, whatever it is, you should at least let them know what's up."

"Suggestion acknowledged," Xander said sharply, sitting back and tucking his hands behind his head; Desmon gave him a funny look, right up until he followed up with, "and summarily thrown into the fuckin' trash."
Desmon nodded sagely.

It wasn't that she hated Xander's parents, and she knew he didn't either -- not really -- but just about every time they interacted anymore it ended up going horribly south, which was a bad time for everyone involved. While Xander frequently got frustrated, few things made him as-- well, upset felt like a poor word, but 'angry' didn't quite cover it, so it would have to do -- upset as dealing with family bullshit.
(The fact that they had never been especially fond of her certainly didn't hurt her stance.)

"You know what? Fair enough," Mike conceded, and there was a brief pause. "So, explain to me: what is the level of your involvement here? You know, I'm just curious and all."

"Oh, you can just fuck right off," Xander said, smirking a bit despite himself. "It's a goddamn long story."

"Clearly, you should explain it to me at some point in the near future," Mike said, and Xander furrowed his brow until he continued speaking. "Which provides a nice segue. The reason I called was actually not to try and shame you into speaking to our parents so much as it was to tell you I'm going to be getting into town this weekend, and was wondering if you wanted to get a couple drinks or something."

Desmon waggled her eyebrows at Xander, and mouthed the words get crunk; he rolled his eyes at her.

"You've proposed worse ideas," he admitted after a moment.

***

A young woman sighed as she walked past the corner shops and cafes and Mediterranean-Ethiopian fusion hole-in-the-wall restaurants that she had sworn hadn't been there last week-- or maybe they had. It was a crapshoot.

Her mind had been kind of... elsewhere the past couple days.
She felt she had a pretty damn good reason to, but it was the kind of reason that was hard to explain to anyone who wasn't in the know, which meant that she would get no sympathy from her coworkers, her bosses, or the randos on the street.

After all, 'my best friend, the giant talking badger, went mysteriously missing a few days ago, my apartment is a metaphorical disaster zone, and the downtown is recovering from being a literal disaster zone, and all three of these facts are related' is... a bit much.

She sighed and pulled a very familiar little black device out of her purse. She pressed the buttons; she wasn't sure why. While it still turned on, it barely functioned; the screen would light up, but the radar was blank, and none of the other options in the menu were even active. It was like as soon as Brockmon had gone missing, her D-Rive was as good as a paperweight.

It didn't exactly inspire a whole lot of confidence, you know?

But she couldn't exactly tell anyone all of this. She still had to go in to work; she still had to power through it. Honestly, she thought, maybe that was for the better-- to keep herself busy and occupied, instead of dwelling in the dark.

She had decided already that she was either going to go out this weekend or die trying. She needed it even more than usual.

She knew she had to work out a plan. She knew, intellectually, that she had to try and make contact with the other digimon in the city, but right now... well, she couldn't go knocking door to door. She'd have to wait until there was an opportunity, and since 'opportunity' meant 'attack', she wasn't praying for anything to happen any time soon.

She sighed heavily and shouldered open the door of the flower shop at which she worked.
"You're early, Lily," the owner of the shop, standing behind the counter, remarked, looking up with some surprise.

"Am I?" she said, feigning ignorance; she knew full well that she was. She had tried to spend as little time in her apartment as she could, the past couple days; even with as small as it was, it felt entirely too big and too empty without Brockmon in it.

"It's actually really fortuitous, you know, Marissa called out sick, something about her car being in for repairs, so it's just been me, and..."

Lily sighed through her nose, stretching her arms above her head. She'd just have to focus on what was right in front of her, for now, and for right now, that was not digimon.

***

Honestly, the fact that nothing had happened since Frosty the Bad-Time Bear (which, by the way, as a flawless nickname for Draugmon as far as Desmon was concerned, even if nobody else seemed to want to help make it a Thing) was cause for more alarm than any relaxation.
The fact that they felt less at ease when digimon attacks weren't happening had to be some sort of horrible reflection on... something.

"I'm pretty sure the only reason I haven't gotten a more exact lecture is because she doesn't have enough new material since the last time," Meghan said, sighing heavily and slumping her shoulders.

It was the following Friday afternoon. She had only worked a half-shift today, and Xander was clocked out on his lunch break; Meg had dropped by before going home, since it was one of the only chances she really had had to do so-- as she was in the middle of explaining.
This had all come about because Xander had invited Meghan to the next Ekko Lokation show they were doing closer to the end of the month, if she wanted to take pictures again or just come for shits and giggles.

"Your mother still on that?" Xander asked, sitting on the hood of his car with his elbows resting on his knees.
Out of all of them, it seemed that Meghan was the one who struggled the most with family concerns -- Sam's father was borderline absent, Peter's mother was hardly aware of Peter's involvement in any of this digimon crap, Natalie's parents didn't seem to pay attention to anything their daughter was doing, and Xander... well. That's been covered.

That left only Meghan, who was still struggling with her mother being very, very concerned about digimon attacks and the danger of Meg being involved in any of it, which was very clearly starting to wear on her. Xander noticed she seemed a bit more harried than usual, just by virtue of having been fairly cooped up since Draugmon ruined everything for everyone, forever, and Xander found himself pretty frustrated by proxy.
(He was usually frustrated about something, but, you know.)

"I mean, half the downtown kind of got wrecked," Meghan admitted, looking in the direction thereof and furrowing her brow. "I understand why she's worried, it's just-- I don't know, I can't help but feel like any time I leave the house for anything other than work she's afraid I'm going to get crushed by falling debris or something."

"Fuck'er and do what you want anyway. What's the worst she's gonna do?" Xander said, leaning back. "She can't take your car since you need it for work and school, and she doesn't seem like the kind of person who'd flip out and kick you out so much as just go paranoid white suburban mom on you."

Meghan put her hands on her hips and sighed. "Even if all she does is try to convince me more that Oremon is dangerous, even if she can't do anything about it, it's just gonna make it more and more stressful, you know?"

"It's gonna be stressful, anyway," Xander argued, "so, you know, why not go balls to the wall on it and cut the bullshit? S'not like she can realistically stop you from first of all being a fuckin' adult and going out on your own time, and second of all from being implicated in this digimon shit." He snorted. "I'm pretty sure even if you tried to stay out of it it'd come to us, anyway, so I mean, fuck it, go for broke and give yourself one less fuckin' thing to worry about."

"You know, I know you're trying to be helpful -- or at least I think you are?" Meghan said, hands still on her hips, "but it's not terribly useful if every time, your solution is generally the nuclear option."

"It's worked pretty well for me so far," Xander said dryly, shrugging one shoulder.

"You've also punched, like, at least two people in the past month," Meghan pointed out. Xander frowned slightly, while she ammended.
"I mean, like-- I know the first time was kind of weird, since from what Natalie said you didn't start it? And I'm pretty sure we all wanted to punch Ryan, but it's still two more people than I'm used to the people I've interacted with having punched. Unless you count Oremon, and digimon fights as punching, but I don't think that counts."

"What's this got to do with whether or not I'm right?" he said, resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

Meghan sighed and thought over what she meant to say for a moment. "Just, your advice tends to be very 'torch it and run', which doesn't seem to me like part of the world's best long-term all-situation strategy, you know?"

Xander snorted through his nose. "Well, you're under no obligation to take my advice," he said a little defensively, shrugging one shoulder. "Just calling it how I see it."

"Right," Meghan said with a nod, sighing and twiddling a little bit with a bit of her hair.

"Anyway, the original offer still stands," Xander said. "Assuming you're able to get away from she who must be obeyed, you're free to come."

"I'll keep it in mind," Meghan said; she nodded with a smile, but Xander couldn't help but hear it as a we'll see. "You heading back in, then?" she asked, tilting her head as Xander slid off of his car. His break was just about over; he'd have to go clock back in any minute now.

"Yeah," he said, scratching the back of his neck. "I'll see you later."

"Later! Have fun with your brother!" she said, turning to begin the short jaunt back to where she had parked; she turned around and walked backwards for a few seconds to wave, and Xander lifted a hand in acknowledgement thereof.

He dropped his hand back down and stuffed it into his pocket, humming through his nose as he turned to go back inside and clock back in.
Man. Fuck this.

***

"You break," Mike said, tossing a pool cue from the rack over to Xander, who grabbed it out of the air before it smacked him in the face.

This place was only a half-step up from a complete and utter dump of a dive bar, which meant it was absolutely ideal. Xander and his brother were camped out in the farthest corner, lit as much by the old neon signs on the wall as much as any proper lighting; they had laid claim to the less-decrepit of the two pool tables, and had created as much of a little oasis for themselves as they possibly could, considering they were downtown on a Friday night.

Then again, making fun of drunk people and bitching about the jukebox was half of the point.

"Christ, we sound better than half the crap these people listen to," Xander muttered, "and we're fuckin' hot garbage."

"Still doing the--" Mike said, pausing while Xander took the break shot. "-- the band thing, I take it?"

"'Band thing'," Xander repeated, looking over at Mike with a quirked eyebrow; they spoke as they exchanged pool shots. Neither of them had played the game in ages, and they were only half paying attention to it in the first place, so neither was doing a particularly impressive job.

"Hey, don't blame me if I can't remember. You guys changed the name every two fuckin' weeks for like three years. What is it now? Is it still Clones Criterion?"

"That was only for like, three days," Xander shot back immediately, shaking his head. "S'been Ekko Lokation--" and he rapid-fire spelled it out -- "for the last year. We actually started booking shit so we had to stop the name-changing shit."

"Colour me surprised," Mike said, raising both eyebrows; Xander rolled his eyes. "At the deciding on a name, I mean, not actually booking gigs. Considering how damn into it you always were, I'm not shocked you're finally making headway."

"Yeah, well," Xander said and shrugged, "it's just about the only goddamn thing in my life anymore that isn't hot garbage and goddamn monsters. I'd have lost my shit a lot sooner if not for it."

"That segues me fairly well, actually," Mike said, and Xander felt a creeping sense of dread. "Tell me: what's been up with batgirl? She looked significantly more familiar than the giant bat-thing I saw on the news. I was kind of disappointed, actually, was totally hoping she was just a -- what? Ten foot tall bat-dragon? -- all the time now."

"Christ, I don't even know where to start," Xander said, shaking his head and, to punctuate it, draining his glass. (He was going to need a couple more drinks if he had to explain it all.)

"We've got time.

"Public space, dude," Xander pointed out.

Mike didn't seem perturbed. "If anyone overhears you, they're close enough that I wouldn't judge you too hard for decking them."

Xander snorted derisively. (Hm.)
"Cliffnotes version is that bigger monsters with even bigger attitude problems than her," by which he meant Desmon, obviously, "started wrecking shit here and there a couple months back and she decided the solution to that was to beat them up."

"Sounds like something she'd do." Beat. "A couple months ago? What's the timeline on this, exactly?"

Xander shrugged one shoulder as he grabbed his drink. "Back in like, May, and I ain't even touched on the magical handheld from space or the fucking squirrel or the goddamn... rabbit with delusions of grandeur."

Mike paused, and looked over at Xander, then pointedly at the drink he had already finished. "Riiight. Do I need to cut you off already, or are the nice young men in the clean white coats gonna be bursting in here to take you away, ha-ha?

"Oh, fuck right off," Xander said, folding his arms and smirking humorlessly. "I told you it's a long fuckin' story."

"I'm realizing that much."

"Last chance to puss out and let me not explain."

"What kind of sibling would I be if I didn't make you suffer?"

Xander groaned and, over the next few mintues, gave his brother an extremely abridged version of the past couple months, his vague understanding of the D-Rives, of the fucking squirrel (Ratamon), and the douche parade. He mentioned keeping Desmon on-hand at all times, just in case any goddamn thing he was doing got interrupted.
He cut out a lot of parts -- most of the details in general, and he only really covered what he himself had been a part of, and since he out of everyone was the least concerned with the hows and whys so much as the hey I'd like shit to stop getting broken so I can live my goddamn life, he completely left out any discussion of the corruption bullshit, which, yes, made it hard to explain IlDoctorimon, but that wasn't the point.
(Mike for his part mostly just let Xander explain, prompting only when necessary, and patiently waiting through the parts where some halfway-buzzed asshole was getting close enough that Xander decided not to shoot his mouth off.)

"So, like, correct me if I'm wrong here," Michael said as Xander got through explaining what had happened last week, "but you're not running around alone full vigilante style, right?"

"There's other people with digimon, yes," Xander said, stepping up to the table. "Most of them are some brand of fucking annoying."

"I mean, you call your bandmates -- and every other friend you've ever had as long as I've known you -- 'fucking annoying' on the regular, too, so you're going to have to be more specific." Mike did air quotes around 'fucking annoying', which Xander in fact found immaculately annoying.

Regardless. Xander snorted, took a moment to tally up, and started counting on his fingers. "Hipster douche needs to jump into the river. His ghost thing's kind of a doormat but whatever. Natalie's alright-- she's got the bird... plague doctor thing. Sam's a fuckin' nerd-ass NEET far as I can tell, and his weird dog thing is annoying but they generally keep out of everyone's hair unless there's shit that needs fighting. Douchebag McShades, Ponytail, Token Chick, and their small fuzzy animal brigade can get fucked."

He was, of course, leaving one out.
... fuck off.

"Sounds like you've been having fun, then," Mike said dryly, and Xander snorted.

"Cool idea: let's talk about something, anything, fuckin' else."

"Hey, sue me, I'm interested in it when my little brother gets involved in monster attacks. I'd say that's fair."

"For the ten billionth time, fuck off, dude."

***

It shouldn't have been possible to lose a giant icy death monster, but life was just full of surprises. Ratamon decided he'd do one more scout around the area just to see if there wasn't some crevice or hole or that Draugmon had found his way into (or, hell, created) before he considered that he might have slipped through the cracks.

Or, specifically, a crack.

... what a pain.

He was starting to wonder if he might have to step up his own game a little bit if he was going to have to try and corral this stupid thing on the regular. It had already been enough of a pain, and... well, the cracks were only going to get worse (better?) from here, and if they were were going to be permeable... Well, he could live with a little collateral damage -- not really his problem! -- but he didn't want to run the risk of anyone killing anyone they weren't supposed to, and with all the other things he had to be dealing with...

Ratamon was quick, and Ratamon was clever, but this kind of speed-chess, keeping all these balls in the air, wasn't really his forte.

He'd consider putting in an application for consideration, so to speak.

...

But first things first.

***

To Xander's immense relief, they did switch conversational gears when he asked to, which improved Xander's mood almost immediately. They had gone through a couple drinks each and a couple games of pool, just enough to keep anyone else from invading their little corner.
(Xander's win streak thus far was three to zero.)

"-- and he stood up, pointed a finger at me, and yelled --" Mike affected a voice, and for purposes of demonstration, he pointed a finger at Xander, "'people like YOU are why GOD," and he pointed his accusatory finger straight up at the sky, "doesn't TALK TO US ANYMORE!'"
Beat, which Mike filled with a sip of his drink and sitting back in his seat.
"He didn't appreciate my theological puns, is what I'm saying."

"To be fair, I don't fuckin' appreciate them either," Xander said, smirking then humming quietly. "Mostly because nobody fuckin' likes puns," (he could practically hear Desmon's offended gasp), "but also 'cause I don't know how you can deal with that shit you do. I'd've thought you'd've gotten just as sick of it from mom and dad as I did."
In this case, that shit you do meant the work Mike did with his church, since Xander's own experience with the matter -- on all fronts -- was roughly 'walking out with middle fingers flying'.

"It's different, you know," Mike said, shrugging one shoulder. "A lot less of the repent all ye sinners and a lot more on the don't be dicks to each other."

"S'all the same to me," Xander said, shaking his head.

"Well, yeah, makes sense, seeing as being a dick to people is your religion."

"Damn fuckin' straight it is." Xander snorted.

Mike put up his hands in a faux-defensive way, a sort of whoa-there motion. "Far be it from me to tell you otherwise."

"I've said it before: I sure as fuck ain't goin' up, so if I'm goin' down, I'm goin' down on my terms-- which means in fuckin' flames."

They continued their banter, laden as it was with insults and insistent requests that the other go fuck himself -- as brothers are wont to do.

Then, for about three seconds, the power completely died.

The confusion was palpable as the entire bar -- every sign, light, and jukebox blaring Alice's Restaurant for the third loop because some asshole thought they were clever -- completely powered down, leaving the clientelle in the dark both metaphorically and quite literally. Even the lights outside, visible only barely through the tinted glass windows at the front of the bar, seemed to have given up.
Before anyone had the chance to really contemplate it, though, the power flickered back on with a quick whiff of ozone and a staticky crackle.

"Fuckin' weird," Mike muttered, looking quizzically over at the bar -- where the staff were exchanging just as confused looks.

Xander, though, had a deep and sinking feeling. He swore under his breath as he pulled his D-Rive out of his pocket.

They usually didn't cause full on power outages, right? Usually just the flickering shit-- maybe it was just a trick of the shitty old wiring. He had a glimmer of hope when he saw that the screen hadn't activated on its own-- but then he noticed that the radar option was active, and since he couldn't remember whether or not it was always like that -- spoilers: it wasn't -- he figured he should probably check.

Indeed, sure as anything, there was a shining dot on the D-Rive's radar.

"Fuck," Xander muttered; Mike raised an eyebrow at him, but said nothing.

Xander already had a bad feeling, and that bad feeling was only made worse when he thumbed over it and it brought up a garbled name that was just, just readable enough to be familiar.

D̷̡̕r̷̡a͡͡͡͏ú̵͜͝g̷̷̀m̨̛҉̴̶

He hissed, getting up in such an inelegant hurry that he knocked over his glass.

By the time he got outside, he could already hear sirens in the distance, and he hissed some profanities that were definitely not quiet enough. This is a diplomatic way to say he said fuck very loudly on a street with quite a few people going about their business, and he got a couple strange looks for it.
(Which, admittedly, when someone stumbles out of a bar on a Friday night at half past nine and starts swearing, there are a couple things you might expect of them, but he was only really buzzed, not even drunk yet.)

draugmon. downtown. he shot off in a group message to the chat, for all the good it'd do, and he tried to come up with a plan.

He didn't want to just go charging in and start attacking if it would cause more problems than it'd solve, but chances were good that Draugmon's level of regard for structural integrity of buildings was suspect, and they were probably the only ones who could--

Christ, maybe Natalie's constant lectures about we're the only ones that can help was starting to rub off on him.

The moment they got to a place where Desmon could have come out, she did, and she wasted no time in evolving up into Corymon and taking off into the air with Xander on her back.
"So, do we have a plan, here?" Corymon asked as they rose into the air, trying to get high enough to get a good look at their surroundings and situation.

"Do we ever?" Xander muttered, and Corymon nodded her head once after a brief pause.

"Why didn't you tell Mikey where you were going?" she asked as she began to fly towards the sirens.

"S'not really his problem, is it?" Xander said back through grit teeth. He was very, very glad he hadn't had that much to drink, because giant bat was not the smoothest mode of transport.

"He's going to worry, I bet."

"Since when is that the kind of thing you care about?"

"Since never, I'm just saying, it's true," Corymon said blithely, and she would have shrugged if she weren't busy flapping her wings. Xander frowned but chose not to comment, furrowing his brow and trying to figure out what they were going to do.

"Oh, shit!" Corymon hissed, and it was quickly apparent why.

***

Draugmon was moving with intent-- he wasn't simply wandering, like he had been the first time.

He had somewhere he wanted to be, and frankly, if there were buildings or people in the way of that, that was too damn bad for those buildings and those people.

After days of smashing himself into solid rock, rearing his head down and smashing his skeletal face and the massive spikes of solid ice on his shoulders into the relatively flimsy concrete and brick, drywall and glass, was nothing.

People were screaming, and sirens were wailing, and the chopping of a helicopter's blades filled the air-- a police helicopter? Army? Certainly not a news one, at any rate, judging by the fact that the sound of gunfire joined the rest of the cacophony, and Draugmon vaguely felt bullets sink into his frozen hide. It was irritating more than painful, and it was too damn loud.

"Hypothermia," he said, the words coming out about as coherently as ever -- a faint hiss of air, outdone entirely by the icy mist that poured out of his jaws, solidifying into icicles.

The helicopter wasn't a problem for very long; it crashed to the ground, easily felled by the spear of ice.

It only seemed to make the sirens louder, and Draugmon hissed, more icy mist spilling out of his mouth as his white-fire pupils constricted.

***

It was this helicopter being icicle-sniped out of the sky that inspired Corymon's profanity, but, hey, on the bright side, it made it very evident where they had to go! Looking for positives, right?

... right.

"Drop me off on the ground," Xander said quickly, "a block away or something. I'll make up the difference and meet up with you without risking being fuckin' impaled. I'll-- fuck, we'll hope to god someone else can come help out. Just focus on not getting hit and keeping it busy, I guess? Fucked if I know."

Corymon glanced over her shoulder and nodded. "Roger-dodger," she said. A few minutes later, they had drawn close, Corymon had deposited Xander on the ground, and she had taken back off into the air to fly the whole two blocks between this impromptu drop-off point and Frosty the Bad-Time Bear, which was already close enough to start to feel the bone-chilling cold that surrounded Draugmon.
Just in case he had vaguely hoped that, maybe, it would disappear again. No such luck.

Xander ignored every signal and person telling him to stay away, and when he made it onto the proper street, just down the street from and behind the giant icy monster, he was just in time to see Corymon soar overhead, razor-sharp winds beginning to swirl around her. He cast a cautious look up the street, taking a quick tally; his guess that Draugmon wasn't particulary concerned with not wrecking shit was right.

He glanced to the side and saw emergency personel trying to rush in to manage the people who had been in the downed chopper; there was no fucking way they weren't injured, if not--

Dammit.

"Hurricane Blitz!" Corymon yelled from overhead. She swooped down towards Draugmon as the air whipped into a wild sphere around her, and she pulled out of her dive at the last moment. The ball of wind continued going and smashed into the back of Draugmon's head, dissipating some of the icy mist that had gathered around the skull-faced digimon's shoulders.

Draugmon hissed and turned around to see the bat who was currently frantically backpedalling away through the air. Draugmon still was bad at turning, and took out a parked car under one heavy foot as he maneuvered himself.

"Hey, buuuuddy," Corymon said, more to herself than really expecting Draugmon to pay attention to anything she said. "Nice to see you again, oughta catch up, you know, my buddy down there just had a catch-up with--"

"Black Ice," Draugmon hissed, icy energy swirling around his claws. He slashed through the air, the trails of energy leaving crescent-shaped blades of ice that soared straight for Corymon. Thankfully (and in fact, she had quite deliberately made sure) there was nothing behind her; when she dodged, feinting to one side, the icy attack sailed into open air, and began to sublimate into a foggy vapor when it was clear it wasn't going to hit its target.

"Right, somehow I forgot you weren't the talking type," Corymon said, gritting her teeth. "Black Stinger!" she yelled, firing off a round of shots from her tail-point, but they accomplished very little, as Draugmon merely swiped one huge paw and dispersed them with ease.

Xander was used to Corymon's constant talking, but her banter seemed a little more nervous than usual, and he couldn't say he couldn't figure out why, as Draugmon began to advance on her.

One time. Just one damn time, Xander wanted to not have to deal with this shit. He wanted someone else to be on-hand, or at least to have one night where his attempts to do something other than work didn't end in a goddamn digimon incident.
(Okay, it wasn't literally every time, but it damn well felt like it.)

"Hypothermia," Draugmon hissed, icicles forming over its shoulders and subsequently flying at Corymon. Corymon feinted to the side again as she had with Draugmon's last attack, but--
But she could hear clear as day that there were more helicopters approaching, and she wasn't entirely confident in her ability to keep Draugmon occupied without turning into freeze-dried bat, herself.

"Dammit," Xander hissed, his eyes focused on Corymon's attempts to occupy Draugmon so much that he didn't notice other aspects of his surroundings, like, for instance--

"Young man," a voice came over a police loudspeaker from down the block, voice firm and urgent, "you need to clear the area--"

Xander glanced over his shoulder and spotted the impromptu police barricade from which the sound was coming, and his stance immediately became defensive. "Shit, not now," he muttered through grit teeth, looking back up at Corymon.

"-- so that we may take appropriate measures to eliminate the threats--"

"Yeah, yeah, I fuckin' heard!" he snapped back, even though he had no chance of being heard; it was really for his own benefit as much as anyone.

"Please clear the area," the officer said, voice crackling over the speakers. "We have everything under control--"

Xander burst out with a laugh, incredulous. "Right," he said, "you sure do." He made absolutely no move to, well, move, figuring he'd figure out how he was going to deal with this after the fact.
The sarcasm wasn't subtle, but his naked amusement at how radically untrue that was was shortlived-- because more important things took over in short order.

"Hypothermia," Draugmon hissed, icicles forming over his shoulders once again-- and this time, Corymon didn't feint out of the way in time, because she was looking down at Xander to see what the hell was going on there. Xander's snide amusement at the claim that the police had this under control (see: the completely wrecked helicopter and almost certainly injured operators thereof) quickly gave way to--

Corymon was hit squarely by another barrage of icicles from Draugmon. Her flight faltered as she flapped desperately, but it was clear that the icicle had taken a nice chunk out of her side and the membrane of her wing. A few more inches to one side and it would have gone through her abdomen.
She landed inelegantly, hissing in pain and trying not to look away from her skeletal-faced assailant, who was advancing on her now that she was downed.

"Shit! Desmon!" he yelled, immediately wrenching his attention away.

"Xander!" she blurted as she noticed him running forward, "stay back! See? This is fine, all fuckin' good--" She grit her teeth as she tried to straighten herself up, but even so, Xander was already breaking into a run towards her-- and Draugmon was already summoning up more icicles over his head, wholly unperturbed by the human running into his line of fire as well.

See, Xander didn't exactly have a plan here-- aside from maybe get Desmon to de-digivolve, minimize her, and make a fucking break for it. If they couldn't do jack or shit, it wasn't worth being here. In fact, he realized vaguely, their being present might actually make things worse, since Draugmon seemed to see another digimon and go into attack mode, so--

Fuck it, cut your losses and try to make a break, and whatever happens is what happens? Admittedly, it was rapidly becoming clear that what happens was looking more and more like a rain of icicles as big as he was, but too late now; Xander was not dissuaged, neither by Corymon telling him to stay back nor from the megaphone behind him yelling-- well, basically the same thing.

Of course, things chose that moment to go from bad to worse.

Before he had even half-closed the distance between him and his partner, a familiar sound filled the air. Xander's D-Rive began to screech as blue circuit-like lines began to creep up from the tips of Corymon's feet and spreading like spider webs up the membranes of her wings. Their geometric patterns opened up into more organic lines as they moved across her body.

Draugmon stopped in his tracks, just as he had when this had happened to Doctorimon, so at least there was that.

The rest of Corymon's body began to turn black. Once she was fully consumed by it, which took mere seconds, she snapped her head up, her eyes filled with the same blue light as the circuit-veins trailing up her body.

She began to screech, an unholy noise that came ripping out of her throat. It was the sound of an animal in pain, sounding breathless and panicked, and it began to match the sound of Xander's screeching D-Rive, until suddenly, four words could be discerned in the noise:

"Corymon, catalyst evolve to--!"

"Shit," Xander spat, skidding to a stop.

The black engulfed her and spread out into a sphere that engulfed her. Distortion racked it, interrupting the blue streaks of light that coursed across it, and the screeching noise of both Xander's D-Rive and the unearthly noise coming out of Corymon gradually in pitch until it was ear-splitting. Just at the moment that it was too much to bear, the orb burst, leaving a new form in its wake.

Where Corymon was like a wyvern crossed with a bat, this new form was stil draconic, but in a less familiar way. Her front half was... recognizable, at least, and looked similar enough to Corymon to be familiar-ish.

She'd gotten a bit of a makeover, though.

Her arms still served as her wings, now tipped ended more obviously in big, sharp, burnt-orange claws; they had turned black and had obvious stitching mending together old tears in their membranes, but just above them, a second, smaller pair of black membranous wings burst forth. Large orange spikes grew out of her shoulderblades between her pairs of wings, matching the ones that grew near the base of-- was it her tail, or just the lower half of her body? Below the abdomen, her fur stopped, segueing instead into what looked like a long, serpentine tail covered in light blue scales; a scorpion's stinger remained at the tip of her tail, but it was dripping a viscous orange venom.

Long bandages were lashed around her face, covering her eyes entirely, and a spiked band of leather crossed across the top of them. It looked almost as though she had additional white spikes growing out of her face, but when she wrenched her mouth to let loose with a feral screech, open despite the bandages apparently meant to impede her doing this, it was clear that they were sharp lower teeth, puncturing through the top of her muzzle.

She flapped her four wings as she lifted into the air, lashing her long tail. Her movements were ragged and uneven, like her wings couldn't quite beat in sync.

"Camazmon!" she screeched.

"Shit!" Xander said again, louder this time, and he began to backpedal-- not just because Camazmon had an air of wrongness about her, like something wasn't quite supposed to be this way, but because she wasted very little time.

"Kamikaze Dive!"

The claws on her primary wings glowing, Camazmon threw herself at Draugmon; she was maybe twenty feet long to his twenty-five tall, but this slight disparity didn't seem to concern her at all. She smashed into the undead digimon at full force, which was more than enough to stagger him backwards, and the two of them collided as one into a building.

That building's wall did not win that battle, and a cloud of dust and panic rose into the air-- because that building was not uninhabited, if the sounds of panic and frantic evacuation were any indication.

Camazmon seemed completely unperturbed by this; she tore at him with her claws, ripping gashes in his sparse fur and the frozen muscles underneath. Draugmon hissed as he tried to dislodge her, his own claws surrounded in icy energy in efforts force her off; in response, she wrenched her mouth open against the restraint of the bandages around them. She had to open her jaws quite a ways in order to get the sharp fangs that had grown through her face to come free, and yet she did, looking uncanny and almost snake-like in the moment before she sunk her teeth into Dragumon's side.

Xander felt kind of numb, honestly, rooted to the spot as he watched.

Where IlDoctorimon had moved uncannily fluidly with a contradictory jerkiness, Camazmon was... well, she was more consistent, in a way. All of her motions seemed to be barely contained, like a rabid animal, and she thrashed and clawed and dug her teeth and her claws into Draugmon to keep him from throwing her off.
Draugmon finally succeeded when he, rather inelegantly, grabbed her by the tail and hurled her away, though not without Camazmon taking a sizable chunk out of his side on the way out-- though almost immediately, Draugmon's flesh began to knit itself back together (or maybe freeze itself back together was a better term).

Camazmon only barely tried to rearrange herself in flight, and she only barely avoided crashing into another building. She didn't seem to realize this, and Xander got the distinct feeling it wasn't her intention to prevent more damage, as she came to a stop close to the ground.

"Hey, hey, hey, hey!" Camazmon said, her voice like a hyena's laugh, and-- it was actually words, not just attack names, "that's no fun! Kamikaze Dive!" she yelled, surging forward again as she had the last time, rushing up the street near ground level instead of from above; Xander had to quickly backpedal further away to stay out of the way.

"Black Ice," Draugmon hissed, slashing through the air and releasing another wave of ice. Camazmon dodged it by surging upwards; Draugmon's attack instead took chunks out of the street, the buildings, and the overturned cars that had been just past her.

Xander was glad he had moved, because if he hadn't--

Well, dammit all to hell.
(He'd kind of just been thinking of this-- all of this-- as inconvenient. Not dangerous-- not even after last time, but it was getting harder and harder to just brush this off, and--)

"Desmon! What the fuck are you doing!?" he yelled, doing an admirable job of keeping any emotion that wasn't anger out of his voice; she didn't seem to hear him, and he can't say he expected her to.

She smashed into Draugmon again, but this time, Draugmon was ready; he met her with icy claws, jamming them right into her chest as she drew close, and Camazmon--

Cackled.

Troubling.

Before she had even tumbled to a stop, and the moment she righted herself -- in fact, just before she finished righting herself -- she was bounding back towards Draugmon, digging her claws into the cracking concrete.

"Paralytic Acid!" she yelled, and the orange venom that was secreted from her tail-tip began to drip out of her mouth. She wrenched her mouth open most of the way as the substance began to gather, and as she ran, she fired it right at Draugmon's face.

Draugmon let loose with a rattling noise that was as good as a roar as the venom hit him squarely, and began to smoke. He lifted his claws to his face, hissing as he tried in vain to wipe it away.

"Can't see?" Camazmon taunted in a sing-song voice, snickering. "Guess we're even, now!"

Camazmon was the only one who found this amusing, as the newly temporarily blinded Draugmon began to emit icy fog from his mouth again.
"Hypothermia," he hissed, and this was a big one-- more and more icicles began to coalesce.

"Kamikaze Dive!" Camazmon yelled, but she was quite interrupted as Draugmon released his attack.

See, Kamazmon was indeed rushing forward, but the rain of icicles went in every direction, crashing into the ground, smashing windows, impaling overturned cars-- and piercing through Camazmon's wings, effectively pinning her to the ground.

Draugmon whipped his head around blindly, still letting loose with that rattling not-quite-breath.

Camazmon continued cackling, as though this was all some great game.

And then---

And then a little white shape shot by. Xander only barely saw it himself, and he snapped his head to follow it, but when he did--
He saw Draugmon vanish with a little surge of static and glitchiness, and no sign of what had done it. All that was left was Camazmon, pinned to the street by icicles holding her down like pins in a mounted butterfly.

And, of course, the police sirens and helicopters and fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

Xander didn't seem to even realize what he was doing when he ran towards Camazmon.
"Desmon you dumbfuck!" he yelled, but Camazmon didn't seem to register his voice at all. She writhed and continued her manic laughter, trying to wrench herself free, even as her partner ran up to her, totally unconcerned with anything going on around her. She didn't even seem to notice that her writhing was making a mess, her blood smearing on both herself and the street below her.

So Xander did all he could think to do.

He punched her.

He reared back and punched Camazmon. Just straight up decked her right in the snout.

She stopped laughing. She stopped moving entirely.
Her ears perked up.

And she began to glow.

In a matter of moments, she was Desmon once more, laying half-unconscious in a rough circle of icicles and smeared blood in the middle of the street.

"What the fuck," Xander muttered, looking over his shoulder at the police -- they were definitely approaching -- but more importantly at the battered bat.
He didn't have the time to reach down and pick her up; he reached for his D-Rive and minimized her in a flash of blue light.

Fuck.

He stood there kind of numbly for a few moments, and in that time, a police officer closed the distance, asking where the monsters had gone; apparently, they hadn't made the connection that he had minimized her. How could anyone expect them to, really?

Xander nodded with grit teeth as the police officer tried to question him, lectured him on evacuating, that he was lucky he wasn't hurt, that this and that and that-- honestly, he kind of tuned it out.
He glanced at his phone.

Ten new messages-- five were from the group chat, and the rest were from Mike.

God dammit.

***

Down the street, a particular young woman looked up the street at the flurry of icicles, at the young man who so obviously was partnered to the bat digimon that she wondered how nobody else noticed it. She tried to commit his face to memory, for all the good it would do her.

Lily frowned.

She had just wanted to go out, but when Draugmon and Camazmon had crashed into the club... well. She hadn't been hurt, but some people definitely had been, and she couldn't help but feel responsible.
She had just wanted to go out, but she supposed she couldn't have that, could she?

After all, it was clear to her, at least, what Draugmon was looking for:
Her.

EPISODE 16: CONNECTION INTERRUPTED

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