Episode 18: State of my Head
"I understand your point," Lurumon said, splaying her hands out palms-up, "it's just that I think it's more important right now to keep things from getting worse."
"I know that!" Shitomon said, folding her arms and looking a bit defensive, a little bit like her pride had been wounded. "It's just that--" she cut herself off, trying to find the words.
Once again, she, Lurumon, Hulimon, and each of their respective humans were seated in a little awkward six-person circle in Ryan's living room.
(Ryan, see, was the only one of the three who had his place to himself, so he was the only one who could hold Digimon Discussion Times without worrying about annoying a roommate, as Jen did, or family, as Eli did. This had inadvertently turned his living room into the meeting space of choice.)
It hadn't yet been a full twenty-four hours since Lurumon had fought SkullSatamon and Onryomon, and in the aftermath, she and Shitomon were in stark disagreement about it. As Lurumon and Shitomon had their back-and-forth, Jen was on her phone, Ryan was listening intently with fingers interlaced and his elbows on his knees, and Eli was batting at the curtains by the couch like an unenthusiastic cat.
"I just don't understand how you can put everything aside like that," Shitomon said slowly. "After everything, all these years, and everything they've done-- not just in general, but I mean specifically, what their actions have done to you. And Hulimon, too."
"Hey, don't bring me into this," Hulimon said, though he knew full well that he was as fully involved as anyone else, even if his only contributions to the conversation so far had been unsolicited commentary.
"I know that," Lurumon said, frowning and looking down. "But at this point, I think that it's too late to try and patch over a leak, when the entire dam has already burst. The best we can do is, metaphorically speaking, try to evacuate the village."
"Yikes. Metaphor's a bit on the nose, isn't it?" Hulimon said, a bit more soberly than he usually said anything. Lurumon smiled faintly, but humorlessly.
Jen and Eli glanced at each other, not entirely sure what was being referred to but having a vague idea; Ryan raised an eyebrow, and Eli mouthed tell you later soundlessly.
Shitomon frowned, looking at the floor. She understood the weight of Lurumon's statement, and her choice of metaphor as well.
"I understand what you mean," she said, but then she shook her head. "I just-- I don't see how you could put that aside and walk away from a chance." She looked up. "Even if patching a leak doesn't undo the dam breaking, if you have the chance, shouldn't you take it?"
"Not to play devil's advocate or anything," Hulimon pointed out, "but you've walked away from a chance, too."
"Yeah, but--" Shitomon said, and she stopped; she was trying to come up with a compelling reason to defend herself with, but she was stumbling. Hulimon was, of course, talking about the day she had fought IlDoctorimon, and and had walked away from the chance to eliminate Raumon.
Shitomon knew she couldn't say that it was because Natalie had been in the way; if she really had wanted to, that wouldn't have been an obstacle at all. She could have easily forced Natalie away if push came to shove.
But she hadn't, and she was trying to figure out a good enough reason to come back with. It wasn't working.
Shitomon knew there was something else at play, even if... well. It wasn't just her pride. It was her pride, her conviction, the entire core of her belief system, and some other stuff, too, all of which kept her from being comfortable admitting that there were things that influenced her decision more than just well, there was a human in the way.
This new information -- the fact that the refugees keep corrupting and yet coming back down from it, and the fact that there were other digimon popping up... all of this complicated things greatly, and the news, however vague, that Martyamon had provided (that Lurumon had heard Jen had heard Theo had heard Martyamon say-- what was that? Fourth-hand information?) about the digital world, about why she had come over, was clearly not sitting well with any of them, least of all Shitomon.
It was a lot.
The actual publicized digimon encounters had died down somewhat. Camazmon had been the last high-profile one, and that was like, a whole ten days ago! There was little coverage of SkullSatamon outside of the usual glitchy pictures, but, hey, those could have been photoshopped, right?
Somehow that didn't make Meghan feel any better.
Maybe because she knew it wasn't, and she -- like everyone else in their group -- felt like she was walking on eggshells, waiting for something else to go wrong. She knew that there had been at least three emergents in the last couple days alone. She knew it was only a matter of time.
Honestly, it was kind of getting to her.
Weeks of uncertainty, paired with her best friend with whom she shared almost all of her personal space (Oremon) being on-and-off moody, on top of everyone else having their problems, and her mother freaking out about digimon, and Xander's questionable advice about her mother, and her own lack of getting out, and... and, and, and.
Not to be too repetitive, but it was a lot.
So when Natalie asked if she wanted to meet up and hang out, she was prepared to take the offer, just to have an excuse to get out of her head, room, and house for a little while.
"I swear to god, if anything happens today," Natalie said in between sips of iced tea, and by 'anything' she meant 'digimon', "I'm just going to completely lose my shit. Right here in the food court. It'll be a huge scene."
"I can't even say I'd stop you," Meghan said. "Like, that'd be totally understandable."
"Man, you won't hold me back? What kind of friend even are you?" Natalie said with a wry smile.
Meghan paused, and tapped her chin in thought. "I'd hold your drink while you flipped out."
"Okay, that's fair."
They had both agreed to keep the subject off digimon as best they could, and were in a public space -- the mall -- to help enforce that rule, but that didn't mean that they were above making some jokes about it here and there, because, heey, when it's basically consuming your life and brainspace, you use what release valves you can.
"Your term starts up soon, right?" Meghan said as they began to walk through the throngs of people.
"Yeah, on Monday," Natalie said, frowning faintly; she had kind of put out of her mind the very concept of class starting again, so distracted she had been by, you know. Monsters. So much so that the fact that it was Saturday now only barely registered.
She was already dreading it; it meant being back in proximity to see Ryan on a semi-regular basis, since they were in the same department, and even without the digimon crap, it was already bound to be awkward and uncomfortable.
"I still have a week left," Meghan said, stretching her arms above her head. Her older brother had already amscrayed back out east, and so the house had felt kind of weirdly empty again. "I know because next weekend is my last weekend before break is done, and that weekend is Xander and his band's concert--"
"How's that going for you, by the way?" Natalie said, and Meghan blinked, stopping for a half-step.
"How's what going?"
"Your thing with Xander," Natalie said, and she smiled faintly at the slightly alarmed expression that graced Meghan's face for a half-a-second before she fixed it. "I mean, correct me if I'm wrong, I just kind of assumed."
"Is it that obvious?" Meghan said after a moment a bit sheepishly. (She could practically hear Oremon make a little hmph noise.)
"Well, not so much, but I'm perceptive," Natalie said, grinning. "I wouldn't have taken him for your type."
"Oh? What's that supposed to mean?" Meghan said, putting her hands on her hips. She wasn't really offended, but she was putting on the act.
"Mostly that he's-- how do I put this gently..."
"Kind of a dick?" Meghan provided, and Natalie almost choked on her tea.
"I wasn't going to say it that way. I might have said abrasive. Unsubtle. ... blunt, maybe?" She paused. "Though come to think of it, I suppose it kind of makes sense, considering how well you manage with goats..."
Meghan stuck her tongue out. Again, she wasn't actually offended, and her tone of voice gave her away, even if her cheeks were tinged a little bit pinker than usual underneath all the freckles. "It's a lot of posturing, mostly, I think? Not to play up some like oh it's different thing, but... you know?"
"Like a punk rock peacock," Natalie mused aloud and Meghan snickered before continuing.
"Well, as far as I know, we're not actually going out or anything. He's just invited me out a couple times and to a couple of his bands' concerts--"
"Those all totally constitute dates," Natalie said matter-of-factly, nodding sagely. "It's science."
"You're an english major, you're like, contractually obligated to be bad at science."
Luckily, Natalie didn't have to have a digimon-fueled freakout in the food court; nothing happened, nobody messaged the group about any incidents elsewhere, and all was well. But for the knowledge that their digimon partners were on-hand, it was almost entirely... normal.
They cracked slightly-morbid jokes about how many of the stores in the mall were struggling; they remarked that in a couple years it would make a good zombie apocalypse setting, if zombies weren't the most horrendously overplayed thing in existence; they debated what was primed to fill the cultural void that the oversaturation of zombies had left behind.
(Clowns? Meghan had suggested; I'll take a thousand more zombies before I take clowns, Natalie had said with disdain, and the sheer look of disgust on her face as she said it had cracked Meghan up.)
Oremon, as he always did, invited himself out of Meghan's D-Rive once they were safely inside of her car, but he said very little, sitting with arms folded and eyes fixed out the window.
"Any reason you're acting like a grumpy five year old?" Meghan asked, sticking her tongue out playfully.
"No," Oremon said, in a fashion completely consistent with grumpy five year olds.
Meghan was about to make a joke about this, but she-- not thought better of it, but she decided not to.
Oremon had been grumpier than usual, and he had been for... gosh, the better part of the month. Ever since the catalyst digivolutions started happening, really, and Meghan had the feeling she kind of knew what was bothering him, but trying to pry him open would do no good.
Which, frankly, kind of annoyed the hell out of her, because she knew that he wouldn't be able to actually move past it unless he talked about it, but getting him to talk was like trying to politely ask a brick wall to step aside.
The rest of the car ride home was one made in relative quiet.
It was getting dark later that night, and it had been quite some time since Ryan's apartment had cleared out of people and digimon that didn't live there.
"I appreciate your investment in polishing my floor. Can you do the kitchen next?"
You're polishing the floor is a joke that Ryan had picked up ever since Shitomon had digivolved into her rookie level; her long faux-ears dragging on the floor were really good at attracting dust, and she had a habit of pacing whenever she was preoccupied with something, which she quite often was.
She was indeed doing just that now, pacing in a little circle; she had been doing this on and off all evening, stopping only to occasionally stop and ponder, move a few feet to the left, and resume pacing.
"If Lurumon and Hulimon think what they do," Shitomon muttered to herself, barely registering that Ryan was talking to her, "then... but... hm..."
Even though he knew she wasn't listening to him, Ryan still responded to her. "It's hard to tell what Hulimon is thinking at any time, I'd really only say we know what Lurumon thinks."
Shitomon continued, and just as Ryan suspected, he was being ignored. "But I guess Hulimon didn't really say much, so it's really just Lurumon, but still, I can't remember the last time she was wrong..." She trailed off, frowning as she came to a stop, putting her hands on her hips; their conversation had given her a lot to think about.
"What do you think, Ryan?" she asked, looking over at him where he sat on his couch.
He blinked, not expecting to be addressed, and he sighed, scratching at his jaw in thought.
"Shit, fucked if I know. Not to like, abdicate responsibility or anything, but this is your mission, not mine, I'm afraid I'd give you shit advice."
Shitomon looked at him and tilted her head. "I asked for your opinion, though."
"Is it a copout to say I think you should do what you think is right?"
"It absolutely is."
Ryan shrugged one shoulder. "Well, I tried," he said, having not tried at all. He opened his mouth to say something else, maybe to actually give advice, but the both of them were immdeiately distracted by Ryan's D-Rive, on the coffee table, lighting up.
They exchanged glances as Ryan picked the device up, checked the radar, and hissed a profanity.
(It wasn't going unnoticed that they were getting less and less breathing room between big incidents the past few days, and whether this was about to become a pattern, or if it was just a sudden spike, was impossible to tell.)
Meghan and Oremon were in Meg's room; Meg was working on the digital touch-up of some of her recent photos, and Oremon was... well, to be perfectly honest, Oremon was brooding. Even more obviously than usual, at that; he was sitting on his futon, arms folded, staring restlessly into the middle distance, and he had been for most of the evening.
It was only now that Oremon seemed to find his voice again.
"How much longer is it going to be before the risk outweighs any benefit?" he said, appropos of nothing; it was hard to tell if Meghan was more taken aback by his sudden speaking up after being so steadfastly tight-lipped all day, or more baffled at what he actually said.
"What?" she said, blinking a couple times in bewilderment.
"The next time a digimon incident happens," Oremon said, "what if I have to digivolve to ultimate?"
"I... don't exactly follow," Meghan said slowly. She felt a sudden creeping sense of dread, but she couldn't quite place why.
(She probably could, if she wanted to, but. Sh.)
Oremon wasn't being particularly helpful. "What if something had happened today?"
"It didn't, though," Meghan pointed out, still not entirely following Oremon's line of logic.
"But what if it had, and I'd had to digivolve to ultimate in a place like that?" he said, and Meg didn't like where this was going.
"Then-- then we'd have worked it out if it had happened, but it didn't? I don't get your point, here-- do you think I should just avoid public spaces altogether or something?" she asked, not quite sarcasm and not quite irony in her voice, tinged with the barest bit of annoyance.
"I didn't say that," Oremon said back, defensive; he folded his arms. "I'm just saying that I don't understand why you're not more concerned about it."
"I'm always concerned about digimon stuff happening, you know," she said, tilting her head.
"But it's looking like it's more likely that I'll have to digivolve to ultimate," Oremon pointed out, "and it seems to me that we have a pattern of that not going well for our side."
"... yeah?" she said. It wasn't that she hadn't considered it, hadn't worried about it -- it was just... what could she do if it did happen, you know, except try to handle it in whatever way it manifested? "It still sounds like you're telling me that I should just, like, avoid going out?"
"I'm just saying that maybe you should try to avoid situations where you might get hurt," Oremon said, trying to keep his voice even with mixed success.
"'You should try to avoid'?" Meghan repeated, feeling her own voice get a little bit tighter. "You're not including yourself in that?"
Oremon didn't respond immediately, and he chose his words carefully. "I should deal with my own problems. You shouldn't be implicated in them."
"I don't exactly have a choice, you know," Meg said, gesturing at her D-Rive next to her computer.
"You could choose to stay where it's sa--"
"You're starting to sound like my mom," Meghan cut him off, and she almost said that in a laugh, except she found no part of it funny. She didn't want to admit she was actually kind of hurt, but whether she admitted it or not, it was glaringly obvious.
Oremon paused, tight-lipped for a moment, and he glanced towards the window as though he expected to see anything there. "Maybe--" he began, but she cut him off immediately.
"If you say she has a point, I'm going to flip every last bit of my shit," she said sharply, brushing her hair over her shoulder to distract from the fact that there were the first hints of pinprick tears gathering in her eyes for reasons she didn't care to fully examine right now.
(But, you know, maybe it was something about being condescended to and given this bloo hoo keep yourself safe and keep your distance crap that she got tired of when she stopped reading teen romance novels in high school.)
"Unless you think I can't handle you like Natalie and Xander and Peter have managed to handle their partners--"
"I could hurt you!" Oremon snapped, cutting her off in turn, and that, that, was the straw that broke Meghan's proverbial back.
"So could a really dedicated dude with a spoon!" she snapped right back, balling her hands into fists. "What's your point!?"
The words came flowing out of her practically unbidden, the culmination of a frustration that had been bubbling below the surface for-- well. For a while now. She understood what Oremon's point was-- really, she did -- but between everything else, she didn't need Oremon pulling this crap, too. She didn't need him starting to act like she couldn't handle what she was getting into, and she definitely didn't need him to be even more self-pitying.
Oremon's retort was a defensive one, and he stood up, apparently unable to take this (literally) sitting down: "I'm just trying to keep you from getting hurt!"
"Yeah, because I'm not going to be hurt at all by you pulling this oh I'm so dangerous stay away for your own good crap! By your logic, I should just stay inside all day just so I don't accidentally get hit by a runaway truck!"
They were both raising their voices as they snapped back and forth at each other.
"A runaway truck doesn't live with you!" Oremon retorted, gesturing at the room around them.
"A runaway truck isn't my best friend, you colossal dumbass!" Meg said, tone harsh and tight, and the words came pretty much unbidden. "But hell, you're not doing a much better job of it lately!"
Oremon looked taken aback, and Meg almost instantly regretted her words, but it was too late to back down now. She put her hands on her hips, her cheeks red and her eyes shiny with held-back tears.
Oremon opened and closed his mouth a couple times, and said nothing. He brushed past Meghan and all but stormed out of the room.
Meghan listened to the sound of his hooves not-so-subtly descending the stairs, and she stood, practically rooted to the spot.
She wiped her eyes with the back of her arm.
She wasn't sure if her internal monologue was referring to Oremon or to herself, and moreover, she wasn't sure it mattered.
Oremon realized pretty much immediately that he had made a mistake the moment he walked out the back door, because, in case you forgot, he was a four foot tall bipedal talking goat, but at this point he had already made his mistakes, so he may as well just plow forward.
No, he didn't want to think about how many further mistakes might be avoided if he had literally any other approach to problems, thanks.
He was lucky that it was getting dark; the street lights were just now flickering on, and he relegated himself to the alleys behind houses, sticking to anywhere he could easily duck behind a fence or a garbage can or even a tree in a pinch. It hadn't been the first time he had had to make an excursion like this; any of the few times he had left the house before Meghan got the D-Rive...
He kicked a pebble.
It wasn't that he didn't think Meghan could deal with things. It was more that he didn't want to put her in the line of fire. He had thought it all day when he had been minimized, practically floating next to her and seeing her speak happily and freely about everything but digimon. It had felt like she hadn't had the chance to do that nearly enough, lately, and...
Well, it was hard not to feel like that was kind of on him, being the digimon who implicated her in all of this.
Maybe it was Natalie's comment about his own resemblance to him that stuck in his mind.
(It wasn't that he hated Xander, he just... well, Oremon saw a lot of himself in him, which. Well.)
... he didn't want to be the reason for her to be so much as unhappy, let alone possibly get her hurt.
He felt a deep familiar ache somewhere in his chest, of a long-forgotten memory. ... correction: half-forgotten, half-repressed.
It had welled up inside him back when IlDoctorimon had first appeared, and he had done an admirable job of stomping it down since then, but... the more that every single one of them went berserk when they digivolved to ultimate, the more it seemed that digivolving to ultimate was going to be necessary, and the more risk he was realizing he posed, the more unavoidable it seemed to be.
He looked down at one hand and frowned as he clenched it into a fist (as best he could with hooves).
You're being selfish, a nagging imaginary voice in the back of his head -- an imaginary voice that sounded suspiciously like Meg's, said. You're just as likely to do more harm than good, throwing a tantrum like this.
He told that little voice to shut up, shaking his head to dispel the thought. It would be for the better.
It would be the right thing to do, for everyone's sake, especially Meg's. He couldn't risk losing control, and it had been on his mind for the past month-- maybe even more, maybe since the first time they had heard from Shitomon and company about the alleged corruption.
He knew, however distantly and foggily, that he had made that mistake before. He wasn't going to be responsible for something like that again.
Do you really think you're the only one who worries about this? Who has a past?
But when he really thought about it, Raumon, Desmon, Banmon-- even Gelermon, who hadn't digivolved to ultimate yet; all of them, he felt, for all the damage and trouble they had caused, could cause...
He couldn't place why, but he felt like it was different, because he knew himself, and he knew ("knew") better about himself.
(Why do you think you're so special? he asked himself. Why do you think that Meg couldn't handle it? If Natalie and Xander and Peter could help bring their partners back down-- did that speak more to your own self-pity parade, or--?)
Of course it spoke more about him than about her. She would be fine-- hell, she'd probably be better off!
(He wasn't sure he could say the same about himself, but, you know, that wasn't the point.)
Isn't it a bit suspicious that what's 'for the better' is what lets you feel bad for yourself?
This went on, back and forth, in his head for quite a while as he walked; he quickly became acutely aware that he was, in fact, arguing with himself, and he was glad he didn't have any audience except for himself.
He frowned and stopped as he caught scent of something unfamiliar on the air. He furrowed his brow, and looked at the sky, and then his surroundings. He was at the old soccer field; there were a few lonely cars parked nearby, but for the most part, it was quiet and bereft of people. He had been following his feet, taking turns to avoid the flickering street lamps.
(They had been flickering a lot, hadn't they?)
Wasn't it odd, though?
The lights on the field were flickering, too.
Meghan was pacing restlessly in her room. It had only been maybe ten minutes since Oremon had stormed out, but it had felt like ten hours. She looked outside; it was getting dark, and she didn't want to go running after him, because she didn't want to potentially exacerbate a problem, but if he hadn't come back in the first two minutes...
She realized she maybe had gone a bit far with that last comment, but as far as she saw it, Oremon was being a complete emo dickhead.
She hadn't let go of her D-Rive. She kept it held tightly in her hands, watching the path of the little glowing shape of Oremon's head as it moved further and further from the center of the radar, though he was moving slowly. She guessed he was heading wherever seemed to be the most stealthy, but who knew how long that would last?
(And what if someone -- or something -- else ran into him...?)
And anyway that's how Meghan ended up pulling on her sneakers and running down alleyways to try and catch up with a talking goat at 8:52 PM on a fine August evening.
Not long after she left her house, she felt her heart skip a beat as a new dot appeared on her radar.
Karatenmon. Ultimate level.
Oremon didn't have much of a chance to see Karatenmon before he was quite, quite familiar with it. That is to say, Karatenmon was dark, and dropped out of the quickly-darkening sky, and it wasn't particularly interested in wasting time.
It was a humanoid bird, covered in black feathers, distinctly Japanese-looking armor and pants, and with black wings bursting out of its back. In either of its hands it clutched a golden sword, and it made its opening move by attempting to spear Oremon on said swords.
Oremon threw himself inelegantly backwards, which is a polite way of saying he jumped back and fell on his ass to avoid the attack. Instead, Karatenmon's swords took a chunk out of the grass, and the bird-man stood up straight, staying his blades long enough to consider Oremon before him.
"You are alone? How fortuitous," Karatenmon mused, and Oremon felt a deep sense of an emotion that could only be described as oh, fuck. "And it's you. Fortune smiles on me."
"Why does every single one of you seem to think it matters if there's only one of us to pick off," Oremon muttered, more to himself than Karatenmon, but he was overheard anyway.
"Allow me to ammend. You do not have your human," Karatenmon said plainly, and Oremon gritted his teeth and growled. "Which is the far more relevant point than whether or not you have your little allies, yes?" He could see the smirk on Karatenmon's face, even among the black feathers and the low light, and he growled. This seemed only to amuse Karatenmon. "I see I was not misinformed, then."
"Let me guess," Oremon said, standing up to his full height and standing his ground, "you're one of the ones who thinks you'll get the glory of being a hero for picking us off."
A little voice in his head, a one that still sounded remarkably like Meg, was yelling at him:
WHY ARE YOU TAUNTING IT. RUN.
He ignored it.
"It's not really a matter of thinking so," Karatenmon said, his gaze piercing and unwavering. "Though I will admit at this point it's more a matter of justice at this point, more than of glory.
Oremon lifted one arm to protect his face as the blast of feathers hit him, and he gritted his teeth as they stuck into his arm like knives. Even taking the brunt of that attack was a lot-- Karatenmon was an ultimate, after all.
He vaguely questioned why he knew that, but that led him to a thought that Karatenmon felt familiar, and he didn't care to examine that, but it turned out he might not get the choice.
"I can see it in your eyes," Karatenmon said smoothly, again taking another couple steps towards Oremon and brandishing his swords dramatically. "You remember me."
"I don't know what you're talking about," Oremon said gruffly, cautiously lowering his arm away from his face.
"I remember you, you know," Karatenmon said, and a sort of bitterness started creeping into his voice. "Even if you're smaller than you used to be--"
Meghan's voice interrupted Karatenmon -- a whole lot of interrupting was going on tonight. The sound of her voice drew Oremon's attention, and he glanced immediately to the side. For her to have caught up with him so quickly, she must either have been following him almost immediately, or following him very quickly-- or both.
Karatenmon took advantage of this to lunge forward, wielding both swords to strike Oremon hard, sending the goat tumbling into the half-sliced-up chain link fence with a clatter.
Meghan didn't stop-- in fact if anything she picked up her pace, breaking from a run into a sprint as she saw Oremon take the hit.
Her D-Rive began to glow, as though it just had been waiting for the chance to be in range of her partner.
"Oremon, drive evolve to... Ibexmon!"
Ibexmon didn't wait a half a second, throwing himself at Karatenmon before he had even fully righted himself-- Meg got the distinct impression that he was going to lunge back at the weird bird-man whether he had evolved or not, and she actually wondered if he even realized he had evolved.
Ibexmon bowed his head as he ran at Karatenmon, even with as little room as he had to build up inertia. He hooked Karatenmon on his horns, or at least tried to-- the bird-man grabbed a hold of Ibexmon's horns and began to try and wrench the goat's head away. The few people who were milling around in the parking lot had noticed that something was going on, and were starting to look, keeping a safe distance.
"Get out of here!" Ibexmon snarled, digging his hooves into the grass; Meghan knew she was speaking to him. There was only that now half-sliced-up chain link fence between her and the fight, and she had come right up to it, hooking her fingers on some of the intact segments with one hand and tightling gripping her D-Rive in the other.
"Because you were taking care of it so well yourself!" Meghan yelled back, feeling tears well up in her eyes again.
(If she hadn't arrived this quickly, how much longer would Oremon have lasted against Karatenmon?)
"Concerned for her safety?" Karatenmon said, tone mocking as he wrenched Ibexmon's head away, practically tossing the goat aside. "That's a new one. That's hilarious."
"Shut the fuck up," Ibexmon snarled as he got to his feet. He didn't dare glance over his shoulder, but he knew Meghan was close--
As Karatenmon prepared to release his attack, something inside Ibexmon snapped-- perhaps at the revelation that Karatenmon was about to use an attack that could have caught Meg in the crossfire.
Perhaps. No shit, sherlock.
Meghan almost dropped her D-Rive when it began to make that unearthly screeching noise, and she felt her heart drop into her stomach. She looked back at Ibexmon, and indeed, orange circuits and vein-like patterns were beginning to seep up his body, and a black glow was beginning to consume everywhere not touched by the orange light.
Karatenmon fell into a defensive stance, raising his swords and not wanting to risk touching Ibexmon just yet.
Underneath his skull mask, Ibexmon's eyes were filled by an orange glow; the noise he made was between a roar and a gutteral scream, pained and feral, like a trapped and wounded animal, but there was also a fury to it, a berserker rage that threatened to tear at Ibexmon's throat until he tasted blood. It began to meld with the screeching noise, and too-familar words could be made out in the noise.
"Ibexmon, catalyst evolve to--!"
Ibexmon was surrounded by the same sphere of glitching orange and black light that was becoming uncomfortably familiar. It began to grow in size, and when it sheared away, the new form left behind didn't inspire a lot of confidence.
He was now larger than he had been as Ibexmon by a fair margin, but his basic bodily shape stayed intact-- a large (very large) quadrupedal goat, black and burnt orange in colour. In a mocking echo of Ibexmon's skull mask, the flesh had all been stripped away from his head, leaving only bleached bone sitting in the nest-like framing that an ochre-coloured lion's mane provided. He had four horns once more, as he did as Oremon, but now they were curved and arrayed like a Jacob ram instead of a goat, with the lower pair curling up near his face and the upper pair sweeping back, and between the points of these upper horns, a black flame was suspended in the air, flickering gently.
Bone protruded from his haunches, shoulders, and the base of his spine, while ivory rings were settled around his elbow joints. His hooves were that same bleached-bone colour, and the slightly shaggy fur on his limbs had turned a darker, burnt-orange colour than it had been as Ibexmon.
And that wasn't even getting into the eyes. He had five eyes, now-- actually, no, he had seven. There were five on his face, and one each on his shoulders, each of them yellow with bright-red rectangular pupils, and none of them seemed to focus on the same spot, or focus on any one spot for longer than a few moments at all.
No longer a simple fluffy nub, his tail was long and thrashed wildly-- which made it hard to tell, immediately, that it was in fact a cobra with ruby-red eyes and orange scales, its hood splayed out wide and its fangs on display, as long as a human head.
"Oremon!" Meghan yelled, clenching her hands into fists, a deep sick-ish feeling in the pit of her stomach.
(This was, after all, what Oremon had just been afraid of, right?)
Karatenmon had a glint of regret in his eyes, like maybe he had bitten off more than he could chew. He didn't have time to think about it; Cabramon charged, ready to fight. He was acting like a wild berserker, tossing his head and hissing and snarling and attacking with his hooves and horns and even his teeth, all while the cobra that comprised his tail hissed and swayed and struck out. There was an uncontrollable energy to everything he did, like he had no thoughts on his mind but killing whatever was in front of him.
Karatenmon leapt backwards and into the air to attempt to get some breathing room, but Cabramon was having none of that.
Cabramon didn't wait a moment; the moment the other digimon hit the ground, he lunged forward and resumed his assualt, slamming his hooves and even attempting (though not successful) to hook Karatenmon on his horns.
It was hard to watch; Meg only barely managed not to avert her eyes.
Karatenmon swung his swords as well as his entire body in a capoeira-like motion, dispelling Cabramon and giving himself the chance to get to his feet. He huffed and looked worse for the wear, teeth gritted, swords held tightly; one of his wings looked like it might have been broken by one of Cabramon's hooves stomping on it, or possibly by Karatenmon's own falling on it funnily; it was hard to tell.
Frankly, it was not a pleasant sight, as the eye was practically punctured by Karatenmon's blade, and began to seep a black ichor in lieu of blood. Meghan felt almost sick, and she couldn't hold back the quiet little not-quite-scream.
Cabramon, understandably enough, roared in pain and again attempted to catch Karatenmon on his horns, but the bird-man was moving too quickly for him to easily catch. He hissed and spat, bucking his legs and tossing his head wildly.
And beacuse that wasn't enough...
BECAUSE THAT'S WHAT THEY NEEDED, RIGHT?
Meghan couldn't contain her frustration as she saw the shining beam of light that came courtesy of Malakhimon as the bizarre dragon-angel came flying into view, with her human partner riding on her back.
The beam of light struck neither digimon, instead searing a cross-shaped mark in the grass, a few feet away from either. Malakhimon descended quickly, landing nearby; Ryan scrambled off of her back and took a few steps backwards while Malakhimon surged towards the fighting digimon.
Neither Karatenmon nor Cabramon were paying attention to the newcomer, locked in combat as they were-- but Meghan, at least, could be surprised that as Malakhimon was engulfed in light and dive-bombed into the fighting digimon, she collided primarily with Karatenmon, not the much larger target of Cabramon.
Karatenmon was send tumbling away, and Malakhimon immediately leapt backwards, wanting to put as much distance between herself and Cabramon as she could.
Meghan looked frantically over to where Ryan stood, some distance away, but he didn't seem to acknowledge her-- he was standing with his D-Rive in hand and his eyes on the fight. Cabramon, disregarding his wounded leg, didn't wait for a moment. He lunged towards Malakhimon, hissing and snarling; Malakhimon jumped into the air, spreading her wings out and avoiding his attack.
Karatenmon righted himself, and turned with some surprise to look at Malakhimon. "You?" the bird-man spat, and Malakhimon regarded him with a serious, severe expression that gave little away. "You of all digimon shouldn't be standing in my way."
"It's not your way," is all Malakhimon had to say, her voice quiet.
Cabramon, though, had something else to contribute, and he turned his attention back to Karatenmon, who was a closer target than Malkahimon, and having something to attack seemed more important than what he was attacking.
With a cry of surprise and, most evidently, pain, Karatenmon began to shift and distort into pixels like so many digimon before him had done.
Malakhimon only barely had the time to dodge out of the way of the attack; Cabramon wasn't waiting a moment before turning his quite literal sights on the champion-level digimon. She rose into the air, flapping her wings and gritting her teeth. The red light shot past her into the sky.
But Malakhimon didn't return the attack.
And even more curiously, Meghan realized--
She wasn't attempting to digivolve so she could defeat Cabramon.
"What are you doing!?" Meghan yelled, cupping her hands around her mouth so Malakhimon -- and Ryan -- could hear her. (Though, really, she might have been yelling at Cabramon, too...)
Malakhimon regarded her for only a second, her golden eyes only daring to look away from Cabramon for moments at a time. The digimon gave no answer, merely looked at Meghan with a clear intention in her eyes; Meghan looked to Ryan, whose eyes were still firmly focused on his own partner, and she felt frustratingly helpless-- and clueless as well.
Another massive, twisted spear of rock and glass rose out of the ground, knocking Malakhimon out of the sky handily even before she fell to the ground into the knife-sharp debris.
"Shitomon!" Ryan yelled, about to run forward and intercept any way he could, clutching his D-Rive. Whether he had to be prepared for her to digivolve to Eudaemon again or if he had to be ready to recall her into his D-Rive the very second she de-digivolved, he was prepared to call this a stupid idea, a writeoff, admit that maybe they had had the wrong idea and go back to operating as they had.
Indeed, Malakhimon wondered if she maybe had made a mistake as she felt the remnants of the attack dig into her flesh, burning as though the shards were white-hot daggers digging into her. Cabramon's eyes began to glow again.
And then they stopped.
Meghan had, like she had done more than once in her life, run forward, into the line of fire. She threw herself between Cabramon and Malakhimon, arms outstretched, as though she could stop a sixteen-foot-tall demon goat with her body.
But the thing was? It seemed to work. For the first time since evolving, Cabramon wasn't actively trying to attack something.
Malakhimon took her chance to get back up, hissing in pain as she did; she was only barely hanging on to her evolved form. Taking attacks from a berserker ultimate-level wasn't her idea of a fun time, but if she had to intervene to keep the human from getting hurt--
But she wasn't getting hurt.
Cabramon took a few steps towards Meghan, and Meghan felt herself shake, but she held her ground, arms still held out and face resolute and absolutely not with tears in her eyes.
She tried to tell herself, as Cabramon drew closer to her, that this was still Oremon; that the idea of him ever hurting her was ridiculous.
The hissing of the cobra on his tail didn't do much to make her feel better, as it rose to its full height and spread its hood out in a clear threat. She felt the intense glare of every one of Cabramon's eyes focusing on her, and she wasn't sure if it was better or worse than if his eyes had all been looking in different directions.
He drew close to her, and the ragged, rattling sound of his breath felt almost defeaningly loud as his skeletal face drew close to her.
"You're not going to hurt me, you dumbass," she said quietly; it was hard to tell if it was her trying to reassure herself, her trying to reassure Cabramon, or her commanding him. In response, Cabramon only exhaled a ragged breath that smelled like something awful and rotten, but Meghan braced herself through it.
She reached out and, against her better judgement, balled her hand into a loose fist and gently bumped her knuckles against Cabramon's forehead.
From that point, a pale orange glow began to engulf Cabramon.
As it began to consume him, Meghan thought for a split second that she saw the glow take on a different, unfamiliar form, but she blinked and it was gone. So, too, was Cabramon-- and splayed out on the ground, unconscious and crumpled, was Oremon.
Meghan almost immediately fell down to her knees and, fuck it, fuck you, she was crying. She felt she was allowed, dammit.
"You absolute dickhead!" she said in a half-sob, not sure if Oremon could even hear her. "Why the hell did you have to worry me like that you jerk!"
Malakhimon sighed heavily, and didn't yet de-digivolve; she would prefer to be able to fly back to their place, after they had followed Karatenmon all the way here from the south side of town, and so she couldn't yet rest.
Ryan walked over to Malakhimon and placed a reassuring hand on her side. He still didn't get it, but he felt like it might have been in poor taste to ask why Meg was insulting her unconscious partner.
(Truth be told, he kind of understood, on some level, even without "getting it" intellectually.)
"Looks like we've done what we need to do," he said, loud and pointed and quite obviously saying it for Meg's benefit as much as anything.
Meg, on about a two-second delay, looked over her shoulder at Ryan and Malakhimon. She wiped her tears away with the back of her sleeve and furrowed her brow.
(Now would be as good a time as any, right?
... and why had Malakhimon shown up only to...?)
"It looks like the emergent was taken care of, yes," Malakhimon said, her voice a little tight, and she nodded slowly.
Meg blinked a couple times.
(Was it just her, or were they basically pulling a we didn't see anything, gosh, how convenient that that emergent was taken care of and we absolutely didn't run into a refugee digimon?
Yeah, it wasn't just her.)
"You alright to go home, or do you want me to just get a ride?" Ryan asked Malakhimon and she stretched her wings out gingerly before nodding. Ryan glanced at Meg. He nodded. "Later. Tell Nat I say hi."
Meg sat kneeling on the soccer field and she watched as Ryan and Malakhimon make their exit.
"Dammit," she muttered to nobody in particular, wiping her eyes again as she minimized Oremon into her D-Rive.
When Oremon came to, he was placed comfortably on his futon, and Meg's bedroom was entirely dark. He glanced over; Meg herself was asleep. A glance at the clock; it was almost 3 AM, so he supposed that this wasn't surprising.
He felt like he had been hit by a runaway truck.
He sat up, trying to piece together everything that had happened.
He looked at his hands again.
Karatenmon had been familiar; Karatenmon had acted like they had met before, and Oremon knew that it wasn't just a bluff.
Years ago, back in the digital world-- years before he had ever come to the real world in the first place -- he could remember vague flashes of memory.
He remembered digimon dying at his hands, berserker rages that had arisen from a newfound power that he couldn't control. He remembered digimon swearing revenge, that justice would be served--
He sighed through his nose, glancing over at Meghan again. His eyes drifted to her D-Rive, where it sat on her bedside table.
He knew -- he could remember -- that in the past, he hadn't been half as in control of himself as he had been earlier tonight, and he couldn't help but wonder why.
But he wasn't about to complain.