‘Digimon Tamers 2.0” was well on its way to becoming one of the most popular free-to-play MMORPGs from all around the globe. From what started many years ago as an older title with a small dedicated following. Now invited casual and competitive gamers alike to lose themselves in an enormous and ever-evolving fantasy world. Each choosing an egg that hatches into one of the countless customizable creatures that then becomes your player avatar. Where you progress through the digital monster’s childhood by training to become stronger and dominating everything that crosses your path. Or alternatively, there’s a deep communication system that allows you to speak and forge alliances with any of the NPC’s. Continuously growing your numbers and reputation until you chose to take on 'The Abyss'.
By far the hardest dungeon in the game, with a seemingly endless number of floors that had yet to be beaten. Likely requiring the highest attainable forms that had yet to be achieved by its top players, nor discovered by the borderline-obsessive fanbase. Because the greater truth of what lies beyond it remained shrouded in mystery, like anything concerning the developers true identities. Questions of which were ceaselessly brought up in certain public or private chat rooms — albeit with vocal disagreement about the virtue of gossiping. Although, such a thing was encouraged in the ‘Astral Observers’. A high-ranking guild led by a bunch of eccentric individuals, that was open to whoever wanted to join them, so long as you yearned for exploration, and lived fearlessly in the pursuit for adventure. Making it a strangely tight-knit community for the select few that would change their lives drastically by pure happenstance. For this game would soon create multiple bridges into a new reality for those who decided to face the danger, and seek out what fell from tonight’s starry sky...
Notwithstanding a lone sixteen year old member, who received an even earlier opportunity in the midst of his ordinary afternoon gaming session...
The sun began to set over the ramshackle buildings of a city considered by its residents to be a lukewarm version of hell, rather than a place anyone actually called home. Yet there Asher was — inside this little blue house in the corner of a dead-end road. Knowing it was the best his father could afford with whatever job he had that week. Especially with the lifetime supply of medical bills that were currently stuffed in their mailbox. But this fact wouldn’t stop the lively energy persisting from within, as the pair partook in some mutual escapism while sitting on opposite sides of the living room.
“Dad, quick. Aggro the dude behind me.” Asher instructed in a calm voice, as his dark baggy eyes glanced at the remaining mission time. Quickly wiping the sweat off his forehead with his jacket sleeve, and pulling back the azure cat-eared hood to unleash his uncombed mop of blonde hair. “We’re so close.” He muttered to himself, leaning further forward in his cheap foldable metal chair with a noisy creak. Notably contrasted by their matching computer setups, which if combined, would be more expensive than the pick-up truck that was parked in their driveway. But these purchases were merely explained by the father touting his lucky evening at the casino's last poker tourney. Though truly believing in his story or not was beside the point…if it meant he could have fun for once.
"No! It sent me back to the start!” The father half-shouted in-between reaching into a crinkling bag on top of his tower and stuffing his mouth full of cheddar chips.
"Try to chill a bit Dad. We’ve still got thirty seconds to beat the other server’s time.” Asher replied. As his eyes suddenly caught a glimpse of something black and fiery, like a giant piece of flaming coal, plummeting toward his nearby window. Taking the focus away from his game until it dived below his line of sight and presumably crash landed into a mulch bed filled with dandelions. Only to glance back at the screen to hear the melody of victory, as the result screen proudly displayed ‘New Best Server Time!’ with a difference of six seconds. Proceeding to show his avatar ranked 8th against the top list of several hundreds of players who had joined in. However, Asher didn’t notice this, as he was busy doing a double take at the darkness outside. Subsequently going into the game’s menu and then leaning back with a sigh. Noticing the father was getting up to head into the kitchen. "Hey, Dad — can we order a pizza? I haven’t eaten yet...”
"Ho ho! There’s no need! Your number one dad has already ordered our favorite!” The father boasted, as he held his treasured ‘#1 Dad’ coffee mug. Opening the fridge and grabbing a bottle of 100 proof whiskey from the variety of liquor filling the middle shelf. Carefully setting his mug on the adjacent countertop, and twisting the lid off to chug it down like water. Before he wiped off his lips with the back of his thumb, and proceeded to refill his mug. "Because I’m proud of my A- son! Who will always be an A triple plus in my eye!" He exclaimed. Looking at his son’s report card which was kept on the freezer door with an upside down smiley-face magnet. Overhearing the front door opening and closing, as the father hastily returned to the living room to see that his son was gone...
As Asher was now ambling through his fenced off backyard. Using his cellphone for a flashlight, as he walked up and blankly stared at the still smoldering rock fragments lying where he expected to find a much larger object. As he slowly turned around to illuminate all the overgrown grass in their otherwise empty yard. "Was it...just a meteorite?" Asher pondered. "But I thought I saw...its eyes..."
Both unaware of what he was searching for, and that he was also being watched from their rooftop...
Her pink bedroom walls were concealed in more punk band posters than the crumpled pages of hackneyed song lyrics that she discarded in her wicker wastebasket. As even her black onesie pajamas, with the colorful electric guitars designs on it, weren’t helping her get comfortable in bed. While she half-listened to some classic rock playing from her nightstand and her three-way call. Lying on her stomach, as a tennis ball is lazily tossed forward in the air, into the patiently awaiting maw of her male German shepherd.
“Come on! Play a game with your besties…you may meet a good guy.” The bubbly voice chirped.
“Roger’s the only good boy that I know of.” Kate retorted. Pointing her finger at the foot of her bed, where the dog promptly dropped the ball and sat down with a wagging tail. “Cuz at least he can listen to basic directions.”
“Did you really dump Troy because he bought you the wrong colored guitar pick?” Her mellow friend questioned dubiously.
Kate grabbed the ball and flipped over to face the ceiling, having her dyed-red hair hang off the bed. Carefully throwing it backward out of her opened door and into the hallway, as Roger scampered off to chase it down. "You make it sound like I’m the type of person that says no to a marriage cuz the diamond ring wasn’t big enough.” She scoffed. “It was my own money. I was too busy writing songs today, and he’s the one who said ‘he was driving to the store anyway’. So I don’t understand how dense of the skull you'd need to think ‘Please grab me a Violet pick.’ means ‘I secretly want a green one, and in the ugliest shade you could find. Thanks.' "
"So yes." She sighed. "Don’t you think that’s a little too harsh?”
“Alright-” Kate huffed, as she sprung herself up from her bed. “I’ll download the game — if we change the topic.” Kate bargained. As she scooped up her cellphone and walked to her computer desk, which was covered in audio mixing equipment.
“Yay! I already sent you the link.”
She rolled her eyes and fiddled through fifty browser tabs to find the messenger, while unconsciously swaying and humming the song’s melody. As she eventually found and double clicked on the link. “So...how long is supposed to take exactly?” She uttered, staring at the loading bar as it crawled to completion. Noticing Roger had laid on the floor beside her bed, with an orange leash in his mouth.
“Should be about thirty minutes.”
Kate lightly slapped her desk as she stood, causing Roger to spring upright and wag his tail. “Great. Time to go for a walk.” She stated with a smile, quickly putting his leash on.
”Outside? What if someone tries to rob you?” She spoke with her tone filled with concern.
“Of what — my pajamas?” Kate teased, picking up the phone. “I’m walking with Roger. I’ll have him bite the mugger’s balls off.”
“Well...call us when you get back. Okay?”
“Will do.” Kate replied. Hanging up the phone and then seeing her unread messages from her new ex. As she shook her head and set it back on her desk. Meet someone online. Pft. Yeah...and maybe Mr.Right will fall out of the sky.” Kate muttered dismissively. As she crept downstairs with Roger mimicking her cautious approach toward their sliding patio door, where his sister loudly snored in her dog bed. Successfully leaving her house, as she began to stroll along the lit sidewalk with leash in hand. Feeling the freedom of a gentle breeze, without anyone telling her that she can’t. Able to gaze up at the quiet night and observe a shooting star...as a wish suddenly came across her mind. Making it seem like a twisted course of fate in the immediate aftermath of a meteor directly striking down upon the sidewalk only a few yards in front of her. Freezing at the sight of the egg shaped stone, as she watched it swiftly shatter to pieces and reveal a green scaly creature. Gripping the leash tightly, as she prevented the dog from lunging too far forward as he began frantically barking at the monster in front of them. “What the hell is...”
The twelve year old imagined the clouds shedding their tears and releasing their frustrations down at the world below. Although all the noise didn’t bother Izabel any, it would mean that she likely wouldn’t stay alone for long. As she sat in the driver’s seat of the fixer-upper car in her family’s built-in garage. Rocking back and forth while intently watching one of her guildmate's streaming on her notebook laptop. Chatting with the many anonymous individuals who usernames were also in the guild. Her profile picture was a chibi drawing of her with her black hat and golden goggles, which were resting on top of the dashboard, along with the car’s key. Not even turning her head as she heard a rush of footsteps, proceeded by the passenger side door opening up and remaining ajar.
"Koushiro, it’s way too late for you to be up." She spoke matter-of-factly, glancing at her younger brother, who was still too old to be nervously sucking on his thumb. "If mom or dad weren’t out working they’d be-”
"I saw a monster outside, Izzy." The boy interrupted. "It opened my bedroom window and hid in my closet. Honest.” He explained. As Izabel closed her laptop and set it aside.
"It’s okay, I believe you.” Izabel assured Koushiro. As she got out of the car and went around to grasp her brother’s saliva-less hand. "Come with me, I’ll let you sleep in my bed tonight. Your big sis can take care of the monster." She instructed, as he reluctantly nodded and followed her back into the house and up the stairwell. As she flipped on the lights to safety led her brother to her bedroom. Entering her tinkerer’s paradise, having a desk and shelves filled with model cars, planes and all their little toy parts. As she went through the usual motions of tucking her little brother in bed and getting him comfortable. "There. My golden phoenix will keep an eye on you too." She said, placing the medium-sized plush by the pillow and kissing his forehead. Making her brother smile a bit, as he closed his eyes.
"Thank you, Izzy." He uttered softly, falling asleep in moments.
"Sweet dreams." Izabel replied. "Now to go look in the closet for beasties...” She thought with a shrug, making her way downstairs without hesitation. Turning off the unneeded lights as she passed the first floor bathroom. Feeling a sudden chill as she entered the room across from her parents bedroom. Standing by the opened door of Koushiro’s room, which was surprisingly tidy for his age. Quickly realizing this was more than just Koushiro’s typical nightmare when she saw the wide-open window. Its white curtains flapping in the cold air that was blowing from outside. "He wouldn’t do that himself…even if he does really like that plush." She reasoned, casually approaching to pull it shut. Only to abruptly turn her attention to the sounds of muffled weeping coming from within the closet.
She blinked and considered finding the nearest phone to dial the police. But instead, she opened it up, and was introduced by a conspicuously child-sized lump underneath a large quilt blanket. "Why be afraid of something that’s hiding from my younger brother?" She thought, reaching out with fearless curiosity to uncover what hid within. Getting the strangest feeling that she already knew what it was, as she spoke up a firm and critical tone. “You’re not allowed to break into other people's homes, ya know. You’ll get yourself in trouble-”
Suddenly — the blanket was flung off. As Izabel would soon find herself at the mercy of a captivating spell...
New York || Afternoon “I’m heading out. Later,” Cavan said, throwing a wave as he left, his skateboard tucked under an arm and his bag slung over the other.
Though Cavan probably could have stuck around for longer, given that it was only three and all, he was getting pretty bored with hanging around the park. The group had hit up the same park for three days in a row now, mainly because Pete wanted to practice bench tricks on the “tricky benches” there. Cavan, though, had had his fill of the limited number of surfaces in the park, which started to fill up with kids when schools started getting out. By day four, also known as today, he’d gotten the hang of it, and by that he meant he’d figured out that heading home early was an easier choice than trying to tap out when the kids arrived. Personally, he didn’t like being watched, and he definitely didn’t want to be asked to demonstrate the same few bench tricks over and over again like some broken record. Sam and some of the other guys seemed to get off on showing off to a bunch of hard-to-please middle schoolers, but it wasn’t his thing. So, home it was.
After a few seconds jostling his key inside the doorknob, he opened the door, walking in with a yawn and a cursory glance around. “I’m home!” he called. When no one answered, he dumped his stuff beside the couch and let himself fall on it, pulling his phone out for a good scroll. Not much had happened. A few classmates who’d gone to class were complaining about what a waste of time it’d been and how much they regretted not ditching, and a girl who’d DMed him had finally bothered to respond with a singular emoji, which made him wonder why she’d DMed him in the first place. Given that his profile consisted of a bunch of skate pics and nearly nothing else, he hadn’t expected much in the first place, but she’d been the one who messaged first so he supposed, maybe, that he had been expecting something after all. But it was whatever.
Another notification from his gaming group pinged, and he tapped it, scrolling through the conversation to get a sense of what they were talking about. Apparently, there was a raid planned, for 13:00 GMT, which was… sometime in the morning for him, if he remembered correctly. Not that it mattered, though. The last time he’d gone on a raid, well, he couldn’t even recall.
@O11ie You been good? Haven’t seen you in a bit.
His brows went up slightly when he read the PM, and he sat up on the couch, frowning. It had been a while since he’d logged on, huh? But he didn’t really need an excuse for it. Kadence got it. He was a chill dude, and it wasn’t like Cavan had left the guild or anything. Still, Cavan felt a bit bad. Kadence was a friend from the glory days, back when the crew were all together and grinding. Nowadays, they were more scattered. A few had gone AWOL, and a few had gone off to join different guilds and stuff. Sure there were a few players from back then who’d stuck around like Kadence did, but Cavan wasn’t one of them, and thinking about it made him feel a bit bad.
@Kadence been good, just havent logged on. u going to the raid?
@O11ie I’m going. Can’t miss a chance at a spirit, after all. 1300 gmt, you in?
Cavan hesitated. When exactly was 13:00 GMT again? He scrolled over to his search engine, plugging the numbers in. Nine in the morning. That was pretty damn early. A bit too early for his liking, but he didn’t recall there being any tests this week, so he had a bit of time on his hands.
@Kadence yea, see u there
@O11ie Sweet. Can’t wait to see Garu back in action.
@Kadence Garus back, baby
Los Angeles || Night Afton rubbed a towel against her hair as she made for the kitchen, wrapping it around her neck as she opened the fridge.
Grabbing a glass from the dishwasher, she filled it, tucking the carton back as her other hand wrapped around the now-cold glass. There wasn’t much more to ask for besides a cold glass of milk after an afternoon of practice and a shower. She had a fair bit of homework due the next day, but she’d finish it soon enough. She could stand to idle for a bit.
Taking a seat at the table, she sat, gazing out the backyard door as she sipped at her milk. The sky outside was an interesting color, neither truly orange nor pink, with the faintest edges of purple creeping up on it from the edges. Afton wouldn’t call it pretty, though. What helped the shades meld together was more the smog than the sun, which was barely visible over the next building now. Still, even knowing that the colors might result more from bad air quality than diffracted light waves, she wouldn’t call it ugly either. It was a sunset. It was that simple.
Her phone buzzed, and she pulled it out, taking another sip as she scrolled over the messages. Raid at six in the morning, her time. Knowing the people in the guild, though, it’d likely be closer to six-thirty than six, given how much drivel they liked to pass around before the raid started. She’d have enough time to get a run and a shower in before joining, and maybe even make breakfast too. Smoothies were fast and easy, and she was feeling some more cold milk in the morning. Whether she was feeling dealing with all the people who’d now signed up to go, though, was a different story. Most of them were fine and wouldn’t bother her. Some, though, would, like Synchai or D00rmaus. Those two were a headache, prattling on about equality and all despite the loot system having been the same from day one. Last time Afton went on a raid with them, they’d suggested that she split her loot with the others, which was crossing the line in her book. She’d joined to get loot, not give it away. If she wanted to do that, well, she wouldn’t be playing.
@Ephie U coming?
Afton paused mid-sip, her thumb hovering over the screen. Then, taking the sip, she tapped in for the raid count, adding her username to the meager but growing list of attendees.
@Ephie Sweet, see u there
Getting DMed so easily was a bit irritating, but she dealt with it. It was the price of being one of the highest-leveled members in the guild, and she understood why Synchai did it. That wasn’t to say, though, that she would’ve done the same because she wouldn’t. Asking for help was weak, especially in a game where nearly everything could be accomplished with time and fingers. But Synchai wasn’t that sort of person, so yes, Afton understood why Synchai did it, just as she understood why Synchai could never not do it.
A sudden boom vibrated through her bones, and she shot to her feet, knocking her chair and glass over in one smooth motion, her phone clattering onto the table as her eyes shot to the backyard door. Her yard was glowing. Completely lit up, but rapidly darkening. And at the center of the dimming light was a crater. A smoking one.
Afton couldn’t get to the door fast enough. The grass was cool against her feet, but she made a beeline for the crater, drawing her elbow against her face as she neared the smoke. Of everything that had happened in her life so far, this was easily the most interesting.
Tokyo || Noon “Ruka, are you free after school? Let’s go to the mall!”
“Oh, today? Well…”
“C’mon, Ruka, don’t be like that! Airi, Jean, and Kaori are all coming so make some time, okay?”
At her desk, Alice poked through her bento box with her chopsticks, her eyes glossing over her phone, only half-focused on it. Her classmates’ conversation, which was rapidly moving on to the topic of their weekend group date event, held the other half of her attention. They were planning on going to a new cafe in Shibuya, and the event was open invite, so they were planning on getting some more classmates on board.
Now, Shibuya was nothing new to Alice, but it wasn’t familiar either. She could count on her fingers the number of times she’d been there, but not the number of times she’d wanted to go. And she wanted to go now, too. What was the new cafe like? What games would they play on the group date, and what sorts of people would be there?
“Oh, Kate! Hold on, are you free after school?”
“Huh? Yeah, um, yeah I think so.”
“Great! Come with us to the mall!”
“C’mon, Kate! Ruka’s coming too, right?”
On Alice’s phone now was the Shibuya cafe they’d mentioned, which was furnished in simple whites, browns, and oranges that all together gave it a modern chic vibe. There was a big window on the first story, and the second story had some sets of sofas and coffee tables that were no doubt set up with large groups in mind. Plus, there was a discount for groups this weekend, which was probably why the cafe had been chosen as the site for a group date.
“Yep, and Terry’s coming too. You know what that means.”
“Hey you were a lot louder than me just now, and—fine, okay, but you better come!”
Closing her phone, Alice refocused on her lunch, eyeing the soup as she continued eating away at her curry rice. School lunches were never bad, but they weren’t particularly good either. Compared to the leftovers she had waiting in the fridge at home, though, the fancy desserts cafes tended to serve left no room for contest.
Her phone buzzed, and the ghost of a grin crossed her face. Down went her chopsticks as she clicked open her phone again, scrolling to her newest notification.
DAILY REMINDER: RAID AT 1300 GMT I better see u all there
That was ten at night for her, leaving just enough time for sleep. But she already knew that. This raid had been a week in the planning, and everyone involved was pumped. Well, mostly everyone. But Alice was pumped and looking forward to the loot they’d no doubt get their hands on. What would they get this time, a crest? An X-Antibody? Or, maybe even a spirit, if they were lucky? Either way, the day couldn’t move fast enough, and her reply was done in an instant.
I’ll be there Chai~~ excited (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
The world shook for a second, and Alice nearly fell back in her seat. Luckily, she didn’t. Unluckily, she managed to spill her soup over her desk, and she met a few classmates’ curious gazes with wide eyes.
“Did, um, did anyone feel that?” she managed after a moment. A few more eyes turned her way, varying between confused and concerned.
“Feel what?” someone finally asked.
Alice blinked. “The earthquake? Or whatever it was. It was short, but I definitely felt it, and…”
She trailed off, realizing none of her classmates showed any sign of knowing what she was talking about. But she had felt it. No doubt about it. For a moment, there definitely had been an earthquake, or at least some sort of shake, and—
“Alice, do you want me to go with you to the nurse’s office?” a classmate asked, walking over.
“What? No, no.” she waved her hands frantically. Dumb. Stupid. She probably just imagined that, got too caught up with texting and all that she confused someone jumping from the story above for an earthquake. “No, I, um, I need to clean up.”
“Right,” her classmate said, frowning, but walking away all the same.
New York || Midnight Cavan stared at it, and it stared back. It being the most realistic version of a Tunomon that Cavan had ever seen, which wasn’t saying much because every version of a Tunomon he’d seen was a digital one—one in a screen, or on a screen, or any version of “not outside a screen.” This one, though, was now on his bedroom floor, his shredded hoodie in an unholy circle around it as it bared its fangs at him, as if his heart wasn’t already pounding. Was he dreaming? He couldn’t be. His arm was still bleeding from where it’d bit him, and he could feel the sting of the wound with every beat of his heart. There was a puddle-shaped blotch of red forming on his carpet, which he registered in the back of his mind as something he should probably avoid making bigger, but his attention was focused on the literal digimon sitting on his floor.
The Tunomon cut him off with a growl, the corner of its mouth still bearing a small smear of red. In its defense, Cavan had picked it up without warning, but that was because it had been standing in the middle of the road. Not moving. With a car coming at it. And yeah, grabbing it and sprinting back home probably wasn’t the best plan, but it’d been the plan he’d gone with. So yeah, it got him good, biting him through his hoodie, and he’d done his best to shake it off, eventually shedding his hoodie in a desperate attempt to loosen its jaws. Which led them to the present, with him facing off against the small, horned ball of orange fuzz in the middle of his bedroom, his blood dripping away at the floor as he continued staring.
“Y-you’re a Tunomon,” he said, this time not cutting off despite the digimon’s growl. At the mention of its name, though, the digimon’s eyes seemed to widen, which encouraged Cavan to keep going.
“You’re a digimon. And you fell from the sky. But… why? How?”
The Tunomon showed no signs of wanting to answer, and its fangs remained bared, sharp and shiny against the dim light of his bedroom. For a moment, Cavan wished he’d accepted his brother’s lamp when he left for college. It was a lot brighter, for one, and it’d also seen a straight-A student through four years with only two bulb changes. Or so his mother had claimed. Of course, that wasn’t important now, but he was having a hard time wrapping his head around the entire situation, and thinking about his lamp and dim lighting seemed like a better option than trying to figure out how and why he now had a Tunomon on his bedroom floor.
The flashlight on Asher’s cellphone helped him survey the ground, without stumbling over the fallen branches hidden in the overgrowth. While his wandering eyes briefly glanced at the late hour displayed at the top of his screen. Seeing a new weather notification for a ‘potential’ meteor shower in his area. “Maybe I should head inside so dad doesn’t start to worry about me.” He thought with a sigh. Only to become distracted by the noises of a frantic squirrel that scampered across their backyard fence, as he watched it climb into the next-door neighbor’s giant oak tree. As his gut instinct made him stay idly by regardless. Realizing that nothing short of completely satisfying his curiosity would heed the continued investigation to find what he truly saw.
Receiving an answer from on high, as Asher incidentally turned to witness the very creature who had already leaped off of his roof. Now careening toward him at a forty-five degree angle, and promptly crushing the grass underneath the impact of its two clawed feet. As it stood closely in front of the still calm teen, illuminated enough by the phone’s light to distinguish the black glossy sheen coming its volcanic stone body. “Is this really happening...” Asher wondered, noting its uncanny resemblance to the dragon that he played as in the game. Observing the creature’s unmistakably aggressive stance, as its vibrant golden eyes glared directly at him. Feeling like he was standing beside a campfire, as many of its features gleamed crimson. From the stubby horns on its heads, or its underbite that highlighted a row of pointed teeth. To the three forward-facing spikes on each outstretched wing, soon wavering as the creature staggered a bit to its left before regaining its balance. Causing Asher to cautiously step away from it, as he spoke up softly. “Are you a — digimon?”
“I’m Vorvomon!” He snapped in a hostile tone, as a flame built up within his maw.
“Alright. Try to chill a little. I’m not your foe.” Asher replied, remaining incredibly cool-headed in spite of the sentient flamethrower being seconds from setting him ablaze. However, despite the creature not having any apparent wounds, Asher was certain in his conclusion. “He’s almost certainly too damaged to use that Petit Flame attack.”
And it was just as Asher suspected, as the Vorvomon abruptly collapsed on his back. Producing a weak puff of fire into the air on his way down, which swiftly dissipated before it had the opportunity to singe a single blade of grass, and merely left a smoky smell in the aftermath. “I can’t believe this is real life…” Asher muttered, while rubbing under his nose. Quickly approaching and kneeling beside the unconscious and immobile Vorvomon, noticing the pupils had faded from his open eyes. As Asher’s hands reached out to touch the warm, rocky exterior of his chest. Trying to scoop up the fainted digimon and hold him in his arms. But lifting him up proved to be a challenge, as Asher stopped to ponder a bold alternative. “I’ll have to accept the risk. It’s my best chance I have to get him somewhere safe to rest...” Asher assessed, hastily running back into the house. Where his dad was sitting on the living room couch, cocooned in a big heavy quilt blanket and holding a nearly empty bottle of rum. As he seemed to be both crying and happy at the sight.
“Asher! You came - HIC - back to me!”
“Sorry Dad, I was in the backyard.” Asher explained, going up to him.
“I’m so sorry...” He whimpered, dropping the liquor bottle onto the vacant couch cushion. As Asher shook his head, moving the bottle to the side table and out of his father's reach.
“You didn’t do anything wrong-” Asher began to assure.
“The pizza!” He clarified in distress, “They thought I ordered pick-up, so - HIC - I told them to cancel it!”
Asher sighed and hugged his father. “That’s probably for the best. It’s okay Dad, really...” Soon getting squeezed in return by his father’s bear-like grip. “Dad, I need your help and this blanket to carry something outside up to my room...please.”
And without raising any questions, the father stood upright, allowing Asher to take the quilt and get outside with it before Dad could slip his shoes on. So when the Father stumbled into the backyard, he saw the blanket rolled up on the ground to obscure what was within. “Just make sure to put this in the laundry hamper when you’re done with it.” He requested while rubbing his eyelids, then bending over to grab the blanket with both hands. Asher nodded with a kind smile, and got ready to pick up the other side. “On the count of 3 — 1...2...3.”
Suddenly, Asher recognized the weight had lessened significantly, as the two of them effortlessly carried it all the way into Asher’s cleanly and studious looking bedroom. Setting it carefully onto the carpeted floor, as Asher watched his father leaving. “Thank you for trusting me, Dad.”
Making his Dad turn around and grin, holding his right index finger up. “I’ll always trust my number one son.” He replied, as Asher simply shook his head.
“Goodnight.” Asher stated, as he went to shut the bedroom door. Pressing his back against it, as he waited for a moment. “You couldn’t have devolved a little earlier?” He sighed, approaching to reveal the slumped over fireball inside the cover. Thankfully, not burning anything in his slumber. “DemiMeramon. So it’s real...I have an honest-to-god digimon that fell from the sky...” Asher then paused, to immediately draw a mostly correct hypothesis. “What if the meteor shower — brought more of them here?”
The dragon’s scarlet eyes were focused on her fiercely barking German shepherd, albeit while gazing at the silver medal on its collar. Raising his claws up like a boxer ready to brawl. “Well if you’re looking for a fight Mr.Tough guy — you’ve come to the right Dracomon.” He declared with a cocky grin, in a pitch that was higher than he was, at about half of her height. And though there hadn’t been any physical contact between them yet, she was undoubtedly facing a precarious situation that risked injuring Roger or worse. But the only jabs getting thrown happened to be another snarky comment by the bizarre creature, who proceeded to stick the tip of his tail in the side of his maw, as he began to gnaw on it. “Sorry, but I don’t speak the language of inferior species.”
Not knowing how much time she had to flee or negotiate before it got ugly, Kate chose to do neither of those things. ”Roger, sit.” Kate ordered, as Roger quieted down and sat. Causing Dracomon to look confused and turn his attention toward her pointing at him. “Hey Ouroboros! My dog doesn’t want to fight you, so quit taunting him!” She berated. As Dracomon’s expression showed clear disappointment and bewilderment, as his arms dropped slowly and his little red wings twitched.
”Huh? Why not?” He muttered sheepishly, still chewing on his tail. Soon grinning and posing pompously, with a claw placed on his chest. ”Very well. Fortunately for you, a dragon’s code spares those who are weak.” He pridefully stated. As Kate responded with a glare.
“I need a concealed carry permit.” She wishfully pondered. Suddenly, interrupted by the loud gurgling sound coming from the dragon’s stomach. Surprisingly followed by him huffing and turning his back to her, beginning to amble along the sidewalk.
“I guess I’m going to search for a challenging opponent.” He uttered. Giving Kate every chance to escape with Roger, and forgo making this her problem to solve. And yet, she couldn’t just allow this thing to destroy others' property or harm anybody. So she stepped forward, holding her open palm in front of Roger to get him to stay put.
“Hold on!” Kate exclaimed, approaching the dragon who swiftly turned to face the girl with a wide smile.
“Oh! Do you wish to challenge me instead?” He asked, with a hopeful gaze. As Kate firmly shook her head.
“I’m asking if you’re hungry.” Kate clarified, taking her gamble. “Because you’re trying to eat your own tail.” As Dracomon seemed surprised by this statement, as he glanced at his maw and quickly spit it out.
“T-thank you, lass. Yes, it’s an unconscious habit of mine when I’m starving.” He replied in a less abrasive tone, swishing his tail. “You wouldn’t happen to know where I could acquire some hot peppers, do you?”
“My name is Kate.” She corrected. “And I have plenty of them at my place. So I’d be more than willing to give you some-” Words that made Dracomon’s eyes sparkle.
“You would? For free?” He said leaning in and fluttering his wings.
“Looks like I’ve baited his interest...now to pull him in.” She schemed, slyly smiling. “Yes. But you have to follow my orders-” Kate cautioned.
“Sure!” He half-shouted joyously, with fluttering wings. Much to Kate’s startled surprise. “Well that was almost too easy…” She thought, rubbing the back of her neck. Before clapping her hands twice, and having Roger return to her right side. But perplexingly, Dracomon mimicked the dog’s actions on the left. As Kate observed Roger and the dragon both quietly staring up at her, which felt quite strange indeed. “Why do I get the feeling that he’s competing with him?” A thought that was interrupted by Dracomon's peculiar question.
“Can I have a shiny name coin too?” He asked, which was somehow understood by Kate, as she covered up an involuntary laugh with her hand. Which had him naively tilting his head. “Did I say something funny, Kate?”
“Maybe.” She replied in an amused tone, shifting the hair that obscured her vision. “But I have to know your name first, Ouro-”
“Ouro!” Dracomon interjected loudly with sparkly eyes, as Kate sighed slightly and subsequently shrugged her shoulders.
“Maybe he isn’t so dangerous to anything but my eardrums…” Kate concluded, her pinky massaging the ear closest to the loudspeaker. As she looked around for a moment to see nobody else around. “But I should probably be extra sure…especially if I’m hiding him in my house.” She rationalized. Though really it was an eventual consequence of giving any teenager power. “Alright, Ouro. Let’s see how you follow my orders…” She stated, taking a few steps back with her open palm stuck out. As Dracomon stood by attentively, clearly eager to prove himself. “Sit.” She instructed, watching Roger sit, followed by Dracomon plopping his rump down on the sidewalk. “Belly.” She added, observing him looking over to copy what was being done. Now lying flat on his back, without a hint of hesitation nor complaint. “...now, bark?” She uttered falteringly, receiving Dracomon’s best mimicked ‘Ruff’. Confirming her desire to keep a close eye on him, as she went over to pet Roger and pick up his leash.
“So do I win?” Dracomon inquired, swiftly jumping upright. As Kate looked at him and unconsciously twirled her hair.
“Yeah. You’ll get your hot peppers…” Kate answered, motioning him over with her hand, before she started walking back home. “Come on, Ouro.”
As Dracomon grinned in response and hurriedly along beside her, allowing the silent peace to resume. However, Kate couldn’t help but feel the pressure building, like she got wrapped up in something insane. “I get in trouble for bringing boys home from class in the afternoon. And now I’m sneaking in a talking dragon past midnight...but what else was I supposed to do? And what if a criminal found somebody this willing to obey commands just for food?” She wondered amidst her stride. Yet these lingering concerns would have to wait...as her own stomach soon unleashed a famished roar from underneath the starlit sky.
Izabel tapped her fingers against the doorframe, as she quietly observed the bright orange tropical bird nervously swaying his wings and wiggling his pudgy belly. As he eventually froze in place and blinked his emerald eyes at her, shedding a few more tears in the process. “Y-you won’t attack me now.” He gently stated, wiping his damp cheeks. As Izabel then reached out with her hand, causing him to hastily recoil into a shivering feathery ball. “Eh? No, wait I surrender! Please don’t hurt me!” He whimpered.
“You don’t have to be such a crybaby Muchomon. I only want to know why you came to my house.” She said matter-of-factly. As he peaked up through his wing at her.
“I-I’m sorry. Have we introduced ourselves before?” He asked, sounding as if he was attempting to recall. She shook her head and stepped away from the closet.
“No, but I play you in a game.” She responded, scratching her head. “At least — you’re a game in my world.”
“I-I’m afraid I don’t understand…” He uttered sniffling, slowly appearing less fearful, as he cautiously crept into her brother’s room. “I really didn't mean to frighten the child…I was just trying to find somewhere warmer and out of the rain.” He explained remorsefully, tapping his wings together, flinching at the thunder booming outside as the lightning flashed in the nearby window.
“Well you can’t stay here.” Izabel said bluntly, seeming to give him the cold shoulder as she moved for the door. Making him nod sorrowfully, with a guilty look on his face.
“I-I understand. P-please pardon my intrusion.” He replied, trembling a bit. Beginning to approach the wall and pull himself up the same window he entered, only to quickly fall backward and hit his head with an audible thud. Turning her attention back to the fallen Muchomon, who began rubbing his head. “Oww…”
“I meant not in my brother’s room.” She clarified, walking up to him and offering him her hand. “You come sleep in our basement until the rain stops in the morning.”
“R-really? I’d be so grateful-” Munchomon said, suddenly brightening up with a gentle smile. As Izabel felt the softness and warmth of his feathers, as his wing trustfully touched her fingertips. Helping Muchomon stand up then letting him go, as she stared at him inquisitively. Watching while he folded a wing and gracefully bowed. “Allow me to properly introduce myself — I’m Muchomon.” He spoke softly, albeit upbeat. “M-may I have your name, Seronttia?”
“You can call me Izzy — but we can talk after we get downstairs.” Izabel noted, as she started to lead him out. The bird anxiously waddled like a penguin up to the door, and timidly looked both ways. “You’ll be fine.” She assured, nonchalantly pacing backwards toward the dead-end of her hallway to the farthest door on the left. As she stopped with her arms folded casually behind her head.
“I-I won’t scare anyone else?” Muchomon questioned in concern. Carefully approaching her, so he wouldn’t bump into anything on either side. As she raised her finger to politely shush him. Opening the basement door, and flipping on the light switch that illuminated the long set of wooden stairs and railing.
“Nobody comes down here but me.” She answered in a hushed tone, as Muchomon reluctantly gazed down there.
“W-why is that?” Muchomon inquired shyly, as he watched her descend the first several steps.
“My parents are always too busy working.” She explained, reaching her hand out again. “Come on — there’s no reason to be scared.” As Muchomon restlessly nodded, independently heading downstairs along beside her. As Izabel abruptly leapt past the bottom four steps onto the ground, sticking the landing with bent knees. While Muchomon appeared to gawk in awe, both impressed at her feat and that the interior was actually nice. A billiards room with a pool table and foosball, with leather couches and big bean bag chairs sitting in a semi-circle around a flatscreen T.V. But most notably for him was the wide hanging strings of ceiling lights, and the plush carpet which was incredibly soft on his feet. And there was another thing that caught his eye...as he waddled up to a large mirror on the wall.
“I like it.” Muchomon said, gazing at his reflection with a smile. As Izabel observed him while sitting on the three seat couch, pushing the middle throw pillow onto the floor and continuously moving it side to side with her foot. Before he turned around and happily approached her, suddenly tripping flat on his face. As Izabel reflexively reached out, and though she was too late...at least it was a softer fall.
“You’re a bit of klutz.” She commented while rubbing her eyes, as Muchomon blushed upon sitting up.
“I-I know.” Muchomon muttered, eyes shifting away. “I’ve been told I was born with two left flippers…but they look different to me.” He lamented, wiggling his feet. As they shared in an awkward pause, before he gazed up at her relaxed posture. “I truly am in your debt for being so kind to me…” She replied with a yawn, promptly laying back on the cushion.
“I’m not that kind.” She inaudibly mumbled, making him stand upright.
“A-are you sleeping here too?” Muchomon questioned shyly.
“No. I’m going to my room…” She muttered sleepily, curling up on her side and falling asleep shortly after. Muchomon blinked at her and reluctantly nudged her leg with his wing to no avail. He opened his beak to speak, but no words came out.
“W-wait…oh...oh no... Muchomon pondered nervously. Ruffling the feathers by rubbing his head in embarrassment. “...w-what was her name again?” A question that would haunt the digimon until the following morning, where the new tamers would discover that they were not alone...
New York || Midnight “Y-you can talk?” Cavan shut his mouth. Of course it could. Digimon could talk in the game—were said to be intelligent, sometimes even smarter than humans. “Then why? How are you here?” he asked, sliding back into bewilderment. “Aren’t you a video game character?”
The Tunomon narrowed its eyes, its teeth flashing. “Tell me what you are, first,” it growled. “And why you brought me to this… this…” Its eyes flicked between the bed, the pile of clothes by the closet, and the lamp before focusing back on Cavan. “Place.”
“You mean my room?” Cavan asked, brows furrowing.
“So it is your den!” the Tunomon snarled. “If you think I’m going to go down easy, think again! I’ll rip your face off and tear your limbs from—”
“Woah, calm down, I’m not going to hurt you!” Cavan raised his palms. “I just—I saw you outside, and you were—you’re a digimon, you know?”
“Yeah, so?” the Tunomon asked, its teeth still bared. “And you’re not?”
“Me? No, I’m a person. Human. Definitely not a digimon.”
This time it was the Tunomon who looked confused, though its teeth remained fully in view all the same. “I don’t believe you,” it asserted with a growl.
“Hey, I’m telling the truth, okay?” Cavan said, waving his palms.
“Then why did you bring me here?”
“I… I just…” Cavan paused. Why had he brought the Tunomon inside? It’d been a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing for sure, but past that…
“Cuz you’re a Tunomon,” he said at last. “Cuz I thought… I thought you being here might have something to do with me.”
The Tunomon narrowed its eyes, and Cavan waved his palms again.
“Look, I don’t know, okay? It’s just that in Digimon—Tamers, the game—my character’s a Tunomon. Well, he was before I digivolved him, but he was a Tunomon originally, and…” Cavan frowned. “Are you a guy? Are you… my character?”
The Tunomon closed its mouth and stared at him. “I get it,” it said at last. “You’re crazy.”
Tokyo || Evening Alice opened the door to her apartment, locked it behind her, and made a beeline for her room. Setting her school bag by her desk, she sat down at her desk and turned on her computer, clicking the mouse impatiently as she waited for the system to boot. The group raid was more than four hours away, but raiding was never her first priority. Sure it was important, considering that some items only dropped during raids, but Alice wasn’t in it for the items or experience, or even the game, sometimes. No, she was in it for the people. Years of chatting, battling, and growing with the same group had led her to make more than a few good friends, and she meant it literally when she said that she had stayed in the game for the people and not for the game itself. Even if she claimed that they’d supported her through her highs and lows and ups and downs without knowing a thing, that wouldn’t be untrue, because she’d been playing for that long now. In fact, she’d been playing for so long that could go through all the motions of opening the game, signing in, and shrinking the window down so that she could just look at the chatbox, all without looking. It wasn’t a skill she was particularly proud of, but it was a skill she possessed and considered vital to her daily routine. Case in point.
@D00rmaus Hey Mau, hope u had a good day today!
Alice grinned. Synchai, or Kelly, was one of her closest friends in the game. So close that they’d traded contacts years ago, but messaging each other while online was something they’d never stopped doing.
@Synchai Chai!! I’m doing good (づ｡◕‿‿◕｡)づ You?
@D00rmaus Good too! I’m so glad the raid came together. Planning was such a pain but its paying off
@Synchai Of course it did, you deserve it (づ｡◕‿‿◕｡)づ What chu up to now? ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
@D00rmaus Grinding some credits, u?
@Synchai Just chatting (~˘▾˘)~ Good luck though! Hope you get a rare (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
@D00rmaus Thanks Mau, see u at the raid then~
@Synchai See you (づ｡◕‿‿◕｡)づ
Though few other messages cropped up, it seemed like most people weren’t online yet, which made sense. It was prudent to use the hours before the raid to get everything out of the way, if only to guarantee that there wouldn’t be any disruptions during the raid. Hence why she had her homework open in her main tab.
A thump sounded from behind the wall, and Alice froze. Judging by the direction it came from, it had to have come from the balcony, but that made no sense. She lived on the fifth floor, and though she usually walked up the stairs, that was still too tall for anyone to be climbing up to. So, it probably wasn’t a person. Probably a bird, or a stray ball someone threw for some unknown reason. Probably.
But, it’d been pretty heavy. And Alice was home alone. Sure, she usually was, given how late her parents worked, but she’d also never had to deal with sounds coming from the balcony. Sounds, plural, because there was another, and another, and another.
Slowly, she rose from her chair, eyes flicking around her room as she looked for something with leverage. After a moment of deliberation, she settled for the bonsai plant on her window sill, which had a clay pot that was somewhat throwable in shape. It wasn’t the best weapon, but it was something, a gift from grandmother or not.
Attempting to get to the living room quietly wasn’t too hard given the socks and floorboards situation, but her heartbeat was loud and she kept worrying she’d slip and fall and give away her presence. Still, she managed, making it to her door and peeking around the corner at the balcony door. It was… empty. The balcony was empty.
“What the,” she muttered, straightening and walking over to the door. She definitely heard something earlier. Multiple somethings, even, but where—
She screamed. Well, shrieked, in a pitch higher than she’d like to claim and at a volume louder than she’d want to admit. But there, huddled at the side of the door, previously obscured by the potted plant beside it, was a shock of bright purple hair and large orange eyes.
It moved, and she shrieked again, scrambling back from the sliding door in such a rush that she dropped the bonsai pot she’d been holding. It hit the floor, shattering with a dull crack, its contents scattering across the living room floor, but Alice was too busy focusing on it. It, whatever it was, was alive, and it moved, crawling—walking?—walking towards her on stubby legs, its mouth rimmed with jagged edges as it looked at her, meeting her eyes.
“Hello. Um. Sorry to bother you,” it said, “but do you happen to know where we are?”
Alice shrieked again, tripping onto the sofa now, then continued to slide back across it, using her legs to kick her away from the door. It was talking.
“Hi, yes, um, I’m not going to hurt you!” It waved a leg at her. “I’m just lost. And hungry. Could you spare some food too?”
Okay, now Alice screamed.
Los Angeles || Early Morning With a piece of buttered toast in her mouth, Afton clicked away, her other hand matching buttons to each click with practiced ease. The raid was on, and though she was still tired, she wasn’t about to back out of something she’d agreed to do. Beyond the fact that Chai was annoying to cross, and beyond the fact that she needed a particular item that might drop during the raid, there was the fact that she hated going back on her word. There were times when she let people down, yes, but in that case she wouldn’t have committed. Shouldn’t have, in this case, but how was she to know what could’ve, and had, happened?
A shift sounded from behind her, and she adjusted her bite on the toast. “Fooths on the floor besithe you,” she managed, her eyes flicking between her character, her teammates, and the rogues on screen.
She spat her toast out, letting it drop onto her plate with a small puff of crumbs that stayed within the edges of the plate. “Food’s on the floor beside you.”
More shifting, then some chewing, then the sound of small thumps as the Hopmon came into view in her peripheral vision. She glanced over, registering confusion in the bacon-stuffed face, and refocused on her screen. “You don’t like bacon?”
“No ith gwood,” More chewing, then a swallow as the Hopmon stilled, staring at her. “Afton?” he asked after a moment.
“Yeah.” The rogue leader was close to death now. So far, Afton had been running Justimon’s Blitz Arm, but she was now switching over to the Critical Arm to get a better chance of landing the final blow.
“You’re a human?”
“Yeah.” Just a few more attacks to go.
“And I’m in the human world…”
“Yeah.” Synchai was furiously DMing her, but Afton had resolved to ignore her. No reason she had to be that helpful.
“Did I fall asleep last night?”
“Yeah.” The definition of “enough” was applicable here.
“I ate too much ‘pizza’...”
“Yeah.” This was starting to grate on her nerves.
“And humans don’t have abilities…”
The raid ending banner popped up on her screen, and Afton exhaled, noting with satisfaction that she’d landed the last blow, which meant she got the bonus loot too. Then, turning to the Hopmon, she stared at him, stared at the gleam of grease on his mouth, at the mess of leftover bacon pieces on the floor.
“Yeah,” she said, grabbing her plate and rising from her seat. Then, retrieving the other plate from the ground beside her bed, she made for the kitchen, tossing her toast and placing both plates into the sink, rolling up her sleeves as she got the water running.
“What are you doing?” the Hopmon asked, bouncing over.
“Washing the plates,” Afton replied, sudsing up the sponge. “My dad’s getting up in an hour. You’re gonna have to be quiet then.”
“Your dad?” The Hopmon looked behind him towards the direction of the snores, and Afton looked at the Hopmon.
“Stay still,” Afton said, plucking the Hopmon from the ground and sliding him into the sink.
“Wh-what are you—”
“Washing you. You have bacon grease and dirt on you.” Afton scrubbed him lightly with the sudsy sponge. “I decided to wait until you woke up.”
“Is this how humans clean themselves?” the Hopmon asked, stilling his struggles.
“No.” Maybe she should’ve gone with her gut and toweled him off while he was asleep. He was a pretty heavy sleeper.
Kate finished chugging the last of her ‘Night Owl’ energy drink. “I can’t believe there’s a goddamn dragon sitting on my bedroom floor.” She groaned internally, continuing to watch Dracomon blissfully munching on clawfuls of ghost peppers. Noticing he already ate half of what was given to him in the large plastic storage bag, once filled to the brim with them a few minutes ago. Only to finally pause his consumption and let out a contented sigh — the sweltering heat of which could be felt from where Kate sat and fanned her face. “I think you’ve had enough.” She muttered under her breath, before setting the emptied can next to the other caffeinated beverages that were scattered across her computer desk. Causing him to stand up after he was done licking the juice off of his claws, approaching as she turned around to look at her screen to see ‘Digimon Tamers 2.0’ had fully downloaded. As her knee accidentally bumped the desk and knocked off a depleted liter bottle of cola by her feet. Making Kate bend over in her office chair to pick it up for the third and final time, unknowingly underhand tossing it above Dracomon’s head and having it land successfully in the nearby bin.
“Thank you, Kate.” Ouro said, looking at her with a satisfied smile. “Without food, I was going to devolve soon.”
“I don’t know what that means-” She stated bluntly, facing him and leaning backward. “But you’re welcome, Ouro.” She added casually, observing his wings twitching with delight at his nickname. Realizing that she wouldn’t be able to keep herself from asking what was on her mind. “So, what planet did you come from exactly?”
Ouro frowned at the question and pensively scratched the back of his head. “Huh. I guess you’re not a digimon at all.” He uttered, pointing at the closed door. “Does that mean the growling thing out there isn’t one either?”
“Wait, digimon? This dumb game my friends are playing?” Kate realized, then interrupted by the sound of dog paws scratching outside her door. Prompting her to stand up to go open the door ever-so-slightly. Wearily sighing and petting Roger’s head, who had followed the pair upstairs and was told to stay put, was now giving Ouro a death glare. “I’m fine. And he’s not stealing your top spot.” She assured in a hushed tone, quietly shutting the door. “And if this creature wanted to harm me...he could’ve.”
“You’re really nice, aren’t you?” Ouro said, gazing curiously at the monitor's glow. Having her turn to witness a surreal display of the same heavily detailed model similar to his likeness, slowly rotating clockwise. Drawing her focus to the scrolling lore text at the side, describing a ‘Dracomon’. However, reading some of the information made her feel oddly guilty, like she was invading his privacy. Yet he appeared unbothered, showing her a cheeky grin and explaining himself further. “For keeping me here with you I mean — so nobody else will be scared of me. Even if you’re uncertain about me yourself.” Ouro surmised, sounding far more mature than anything that preceded it.
“...He’s a lot smarter than I gave him credit for. But I suppose he’s actually meant to be the wisest and strongest of his type.” She thought, practically rendered speechless. Suddenly feeling goosebumps running down her arm, as his claws outstretched and wiggled tauntingly in her direction.
“Hehe. I don’t blame you for being intimidated by claws as sharp as mine.” He asserted proudly.
“Please stop that.” Kate urged with a shifted gaze and crossed arms. As Ouro swiftly froze in place and blinked in bewilderment. While his head then tilted with a concerned stare, watching her sit on the bed and massage her forehead. Both overhearing her phone vibrating on the table. “Ugh. Caffeine headache.”
“I'm sorry — I was trying to get along.” He replied, hanging his head low.
“It’s not you.” She corrected with a sigh, laying down and looking up at her ceiling. “I’m just tired-" She began, pulling her big fluffy pillow closer to cover her eyes. “...and overwhelmed.”
"Oh. So you need rest then, yes?" He inquired with an eager grin, soon taking a prideful stance. "Well, you have nothing to fear with a dragon of my caliber being here to protect you while you're in a weak and helpless state." He offered, receiving a sudden pillow to the face.
The father’s ‘sleep talking’ made Asher’s night a bit unsettling. Not helping that he half expected to discover the house burning in his wake. Though fortunately, his eyes would be rubbed open to see the fireball slumbering in the exact spot it was before. So he carefully sat up from his side to stare at the sunlight peeking through his window blinds. “Okay. So what am I supposed to do now?” Asher pondered, as he stood and crept toward his door. Quietly opening it up to stick his head out and look into the hallway, not hearing a peep. “Dad’s probably out looking for work...” He assumed. Unbeknownst to him, that one eye of Demimeramon’s briefly peaked open, only to shut again once Asher turned around after he thought of an idea. “Is it riskier to leave or carry him into the living room with me?” Asher questioned, wiping the sweat of his forehead. Noticing the temperature of his room was much warmer than it was yesterday, while slowly approaching closer and reaching out to wrap up that source of heat in the blanket underneath. However, his careful consideration would still prove careless, as Demimeramon’s flame burst slightly and nearly singed the tips of his recoiling fingers. Unexpectedly finding his ass hitting the ground with a heavy thud, as the digimon lunged straight into his chest. “Woah, chill, I’m not going to harm you.” Asher quickly informed in a calm manner, with both his hands motioning to stop. But the Demimeramon’s aggressiveness didn’t cease — gripping the teen’s knees with its fiery hands.
“I don’t care if you’re a threat or not. Don’t move or you’ll be set ablaze.” Demimeramon warned, testing the limits of the boy’s composure.
“O-okay.” Asher uttered. “I know they’re usually aggressive — but he’s not meant to be so strong...”
“Now, you have two options. Become my slave, who will answer my questions and follow my orders. Or be destroyed and have your data absorbed by your conqueror.” He explained, sounding sincere in his hostility.
“A slave it is.” Asher sighed, observing at its doubtful glare. “Perhaps, it’s better to play along until he cools off.”
“Very well. Then start by telling me where I am, and why you brought me here?” He interrogated.
Asher swallowed and cleared his throat. “You fell from our sky...and you were hurt. So I — um. Took you into my home to keep you warm-”
Watching the Demimeramon’s temper shimmering down as he released his hold. “Then provide me whatever sustenance you’re able to. And I’ll be on my way.” He replied, in a conciliatory tone. Causing Asher to exhale in relief and cautiously stand upright, grateful that he merely bruised his ego.
“I’ll show you the way-” Asher said, recognizing Demimeramon was beginning to wobble in the air. Reflexively stepping forward to catch the digimon in mid-fall, the touch of which was mild in comparison to how it felt earlier. “I got ya.” He assured, keeping the obviously winded flame in his arms while it stubbornly squirmed. “Quit it. You’re needlessly exhausting your energy.” Asher scolded firmly, switching to a more empathetic tone. “I’m your slave, remember? So let me help you...okay?”
He huffed and pouted, shifting his gaze away. “Like I can even stop you in this pitiful form.” He muttered sheepishly, being carried out of the room and into the hallway. “Why would you help me if you have nothing to gain?”
“Because that’s what good leaders do.” Asher answered, keeping his eye on the Demimeramon, who glanced up at him. “But maybe we could start by becoming allies who don’t attack each other?”
“I fight alone. So no one else gets in my way.” He scoffed dismissively, observing the cluttered mess of the house. “Your home is a dump.” He commented, as Asher cracked a smile.
“You don’t need to fight for, or with me. But I’m asking if you could refrain from attacking me or anyone else who comes into my place the moment I feed you.” He requested, as it was strange to hear the extended silence that followed. Asher sighed heavily, as he arrived in the kitchen. “I don’t know what happened to you, little guy. But nobody's out to get you in my world.” Asher noted, walking up to find something in the snack cupboard, and setting Demimeramon down on the countertop.
“Well I have no interest in staying in this world any longer than I have to.” He countered. “But if you give me some food. I’ll spare you from my fiery wrath. You have my word.”
“Comforting.” Asher retorted, grabbing a fresh bag of ketchup flavored potato chips and opening the bag up. The smell of it clearly catching his interest, as Asher set the bag next to him. “Here, try these.”
As the Demimeramon curiously reached in and crammed one in his mouth. Suddenly, his eyes glistened with awe. Soon diving headfirst into the bag and ferociously devouring everything within, causing the creature to glow and change back into a Vorvomon. A process far quicker and less flashy than the game would be when 'digivolutions' happened — though it made more sense practically. But it was still amazing for Asher to witness, despite not knowing what to expect, as the bag dropped from Vorvomon’s elated face. “I’ve changed my mind! If you give me more of those — you’ve got yourself an ally!” He proclaimed with a vibrant energy. Causing Asher to pause and process the complete reversal of the digimon's attitude, before rubbing the back of his neck and reaching up to grab the second bag.
“I certainly hope so...this is my last snack.”
It was fortunate that Izabel was the only soul to be rudely awakened by the sound of something violently tumbling down the basement stairs, followed by bashful weeping that her hurried effort to get up off the couch would realize it was originating from a teary-eyed bird ball. An orange Chicchimon, which was Muchomon’s in-training form, if she wasn’t mistaken with her terminology.
“What were you even doing?” Izabel asked gently, scooping his lightweight body off the ground. Looking up at the door for a moment, but not hearing anybody else making a peep upstairs, as she sighed afterward.
“I’m sorry.” He sniffled. “I promised to leave after it stopped raining so I-” He explained, trying to stop himself from crying like a baby. “I wouldn’t be a bother…”
She closed her eyes and shook her head a bit. As she carried him over, and set Chichimon into one of the beanbag chairs. “It would’ve been much worse if somebody heard you and came downstairs.” She chided, watching him stare at her remorsefully at her stinging truth. “It’s okay. It was just a mistake. I’m not mad at you.” She quickly reassured, seeing him blink and continue to look upset.
“Um...I forgot your name-” He admitted shamefully.
“Izabel.” She reminded him without seeming to mind, immediately brightening up his face with a big smile.
“Izzy! What a pretty sounding name.” He chirped, causing her to turn around to hide her reaction. Coming to a sudden realization that had her hastily walking toward the stairs.
“Wait here. I’ll be back.” She urged, rushing up the steps and out the door. Moving more cautiously when she noticed that most of the lights were on, as she made a beeline to her family’s garage. Noticing the van was gone and remembering how she was told about Koushiro’s dentist appointment. However, her laptop and accessories had disappeared from the car! “I bet Dad put 'em in my room.” She surmised, talking aloud to herself. Promptly running upstairs into her bedroom to confirm her suspicions. Finding a sticky note placed on her laptop, resting on the bed along with the rest of her stuff. Written in her father’s immaculate handwriting.
At the dentist with Koushiro for his routine cleaning. Mom’s probably still sleeping in our living room. So keep it down. We’ll be back with food!
I charged your laptop. Love you.
“Thanks dad.” She uttered, climbing up onto her bed and sitting with folded legs. Opening the laptop and logging on her game, typing in her username in seconds flat. Letting ‘The_Electromancer’ arrive into the main hub area where the majority of users first enter. Swiftly checking her inbox for messages and that certain something, gawking at ‘The Stream-Watcher’ present icon sparkling in the northwest corner of her screen. As she eagerly clicked on it several times, waiting for a colorful ribbon to be pulled away as it the box shines, soon flashing various pictures on her screen.
“What ya lookin at?”
“These are my rewards for viewing Digimon Tamers streams.” She answered absentmindedly. “I got a banner, an achievement medal, and-” She interrupted her fervor to do a double take, spotting a wide-smiling Chichimon on the carpet beside her bed. Having her nearly crash to the floor due to her swift roll off her mattress, rushing to close her bedroom door. As she turned to stare in utter disbelief at the naivety in his highly-spirited face. “I told you to wait didn’t I?” She questioned in her normal tone.
He paused awkwardly. “...you did?”
“Yes, you bird-brain.” She chided, which only seemed to make him happier, starting to bounce his body up and down with delight.
“You really are best Izzy! No one’s ever praised me for my brain before.” He chirped with a contagious amount of glee. Making Izabel unconsciously smile and shake her head, as she sat back down without spoiling it for him. Curiously peeking into the guild chatroom to see a pinned message created by ‘ApolloKnight’, one of the more active guild leaders.
@allmembers Good morning, my fellow guildmates. Please inform me if you’ve seen something strange yesterday. Something falling out of your sky perhaps...
“No way...” She uttered, finding herself starstruck. "Him too?"
New York || Morning A sequence of loud beeping noises pulled Cavan from his sleep, and he instinctively reached for his phone. At the same time, two things happened: There was a loud snarl and bump, and Cavan remembered the digimon in his room.
Shooting up from bed, he grabbed his phone, tapping at it rapidly as he looked around for Tunomon. The digimon’s growling advertised his position in the corner of the room, where he’d flattened himself, teeth bared as he glared at Cavan.
“What is that?” he snarled, his eyes zeroed on Cavan’s phone.
“Woah, calm down,” Cavan said, flashing his palms, his phone raised in one. “This is a phone. My phone,” he said, indicating the device. “I had an alarm on it is all. I must’ve forgot to turn it off last night.”
After another second of thinly-veiled suspicion, Tunomon relaxed slightly. “Okay,” he said, though his eyes still lingered on the phone. He was interrupted, however, by a loud growl emanating from his stomach rather than his mouth, and he met Cavan’s eyes with no small amount of annoyance.
“So,” Cavan said, grinning, “breakfast?”
Given that his family was usually on his sister’s schedule and his sister’s school was both farther and earlier, he was usually alone by the time he woke up. This, though, suited him just fine; breakfast was waiting in the kitchen, a little cold but in no way rushing him out the door, and he could even sleep in or bring a digimon to the kitchen if he wanted.
Now seated across from each other at the small, rectangular table whose four chairs perpetually touched, Cavan and Tunomon looked at each other, one shoveling pancakes down with a fork and one inhaling them straight from plate to fanged mouth. The details of the previous night had come back to Cavan by now: Sometime during the early AMs, he had, in hopes to end the standoff, suggested a truce until the morning. The terms—that each party stay in their own corner of the room—had been simple, and both parties had found them palatable enough to bunker down for the night. And, after attempting some last-minute discussion in the dark, Cavan had been informed that Tunomon could see and bite perfectly well in the dark, cutting the peace talks short.
“You sure you wanna be called ‘Tunomon’?” Cavan asked, reaching for more syrup.
“What do you mean?” Tunomon asked, licking his syrup-encrusted lips. His eyes were narrowed, but they were on the syrup bottle rather than on Cavan.
“I mean, every Tunomon is a Tunomon. Don’t you have some sort of nickname or something?” He offered the open bottle out to Tunomon, then reached over and gave the digimon’s pancakes a healthy drench of sugary goodness when he got somewhat of an affirmative nod. “Something you call yourself that you can’t call every other Tunomon.”
The Tunomon chewed as he stared at Cavan, then swallowed. “A nickname? What’s that?” he asked. “Is that like ‘Cavan’ because that sounds dumb.”
“Woah, okay dude,” Cavan said, brows raised. He’d gotten remarks on his name before, mostly about how it was basically ‘Kevin’ spelled weird, but he’d never had much issue with it. It wasn’t a bad name. His bros were chill with it, chicks dug it, and he’d never met another dude named it so that was that.
“‘Dude’?” Tunomon echoed. “Is that a nickname? Or an insult?” At the last question, Tunomon’s confused expression had morphed into a threatening one, and fangs were bared so quickly Cavan had to raise his palms again, fork, syrupy pancake, and all.
“What? No, it’s,” Cavan floundered for words for a moment, then shook his head, sighing. “Never mind. But ‘dude’ is not an insult, so chill, dude.”
They ate in silence for a few seconds, alternating between staring at each other and their plates when they met each others’ eyes on accident before Cavan decided to take another stab at conversation. The Tunomon was living in his house, after all, so they’d have to get on talking terms at some point.
“So what brings you to this part of town?” he asked, spreading the syrup in his plate over a freshly unlayered pancake.
Tunomon gave him a funny look as he chewed. “I don’t know,” he said at last. “I don’t remember.”
Cavan nodded slowly, processing the words. If Tunomon didn’t know how he got here, that meant no one did. Or did it?
“Wait.” His fork clattered onto his plate as he made a dash for his room, grabbing his laptop before returning and plopping the device onto the table. It took a few minutes to skim through all the messages since he’d last logged on, which seemed to be centered around the raid happening in just over an hour, but sure enough someone had said something relating to his current situation.
“Reading you loud and clear over here, Apollo,” Cavan said, grinning as he got to work typing out a reply.
“What are you doing?” Tunomon asked, hopping over to the laptop on the table. “Is that a black Weregarurumon?”
“Yup. I call him ‘Ollie’,” Cavan said proudly, then paused, looking at Tunomon. “Can I call you Ollie?”
He got a very unamused and rather unfriendly look in response.
Tokyo || Night “Oh!” Alice’s brows went up as a message popped responding to Apollo.
@ApolloKnightu talkin bout the digimon rite
“Oh my—did he just,” Alice glanced at Doru beside her on the table, and the digimon looked back at her, tipping his head.
“Did he say something wrong?” he asked.
“Wrong? He just announced to everyone that he found a digimon. Hm, let me think if he did anything—of course he said something wrong!” she said, finishing with a huff as her fingers flew over her keys. “Of all the people, him? I mean, Ollie’s a nice guy, but he’s just… so… Agh! I just didn’t expect him to find a digimon too, you know?” She looked at Doru, then reached out to rub his head. “Like Apollo, sure, that makes sense. Apollo’s a great leader, and if anyone’s deserving of a digimon it’s him, but Ollie? Really?” She shook her head. “He’s gonna get caught and his digimon’s going to get killed and—”
“Arisu-chan?” her mother called, knocking on her door. “It’s late. Go to bed soon!”
“Okay, Okaa-san!” she called back, relieved when she heard footsteps leading away from her door. “My parents usually tell me to go to sleep when they’re about to sleep themselves,” she explained, shrugging. “I don’t though.”
“It is fairly dark out,” Doru said.
“Please, it’s not even nine,” Alice said, then paused her typing. “Well, here goes nothing. Right?”
“I’m sure you’ll do better than Ollie,” Doru replied. “Though why does this ‘chat room’ look different from the other one?”
“This one’s private, which is exactly why I’m going to do better than Ollie,” she said, smirking.
“Okay,” Doru said, and the message was sent.
@StarWatching Let’s use a private channel to talk about the ‘meteors’, okay? Or do you want to just tell everyone, O11ie ಠ_ಠ
“He deserved that call out,” Alice said, crossing her arms and sitting back in her chair. Doru looked at her with some alarm.
“Call out? Alice, are you arguing with someone in this ‘chat room’?”
Alice’s brows shot up. “Arguing? No I’m not arguing with Ollie, I’m just letting him know that he did something dumb,” she said. Doru gave her an unconvinced look, and she sighed, waving at the laptop. “Look, Ollie’s not the brightest member of the guild, okay? Not by far. And, again, he’ll probably get his digimon killed somehow, so really I’m doing us all a favor by calling out his stupidity early”—her laptop dinged—“and well, he responded so he isn’t mad, okay?”
@StarWatching chill maus
Alice blinked, then read the message again.
“Oh it is on!” she said, fingers once again flying over keys as she typed out a more strongly worded reply. There were certain types of people that got to her, and one of those were people like Ollie who were too laid back for their own good, and if he thought he could brush over his mistake with a misplaced ‘chill’ he had another thing coming.
“Alice, I really don’t think you should be sending messages when you’re so mad,” Doru said, tapping the closest of her hands hesitantly.
“Yeah, just give me a second,” she said, not really hearing him. What she did hear, though, was another message notification, and she paused mid-sentence, again surprised.
“Ephie?” Alice buried her face in her hands. “Why?” she whined. “Why her?”
“Um, who is this ‘Ephie’?” Doru asked.
“Some leech who joined the guild because she realized she had to in order to get items,” Alice growled, deleting everything she’d typed at Ollie. Suddenly he wasn’t the priority anymore. “Of all the people, her?”
“I feel like you don’t like many people in this guild you’re in,” Doru said, frowning as he sat down on the table beside her.
“Oh, I like people. I like Apollo plenty. It’s just these two I have a problem with,” she said, adding Ephie to the group chat she’d started. “But I guess I’ll have to be the mature one in the situation because Ollie’s clearly incapable of doing it and Ephie’s too busy trying to look cool to do it. Alice, being the mature one. How new, how novel a concept.”
@StarWatching Everyone welcome Ephie to the group (づ｡◕‿‿◕｡)づ
A response from Ollie came within seconds.
@StarWatching hey ephs
Her brows shot up. Ollie knew Ephie? Last time she checked, Ollie barely played these days, and Ephie barely talked to anyone.
Alice sighed. “She really pisses me off.”
Los Angeles || Morning Halfway through brushing her teeth, Afton’s laptop dinged, and she walked over to find that she’d been dragged into a private group chat with three other people. ‘StarWatching’. One glance at the member list—and the chat history—told Afton all she needed to know, and she had to actually pause her brushing to weigh her options. On one hand, ApolloKnight and Ollie were reasonable people. On the other, Doormaus was annoying enough for Afton to have considered leaving the guild on multiple occasions. Combined with Synchai, raids tended to get nigh unbearable, and she’d been hoping to avoid them both for as long as possible. Unfortunately, it now seemed that she’d have to deal with Doormaus a more frequently than she’d ever wanted to.
“What? Is something happening?” Hopmon asked, jumping up and down beside her. She held up a finger to her lips, then reached down, picking the digimon up and putting him on her chair.
“My dad’s in the kitchen, remember,” she said, sending her reply to Ollie. The guy was nice. He kept to himself and therefore out of trouble, which was more than what she could say for some other people.
“Yeah, but what’s happening?” Hopmon asked, though this time more quietly. “Afton?”
“Some guild members found digimon too,” she said, then resumed her brushing, walking back towards the bathroom, Hopmon on her tail.
“There are other digimon here? On Earth?” The excitement was clear in Hopmon’s voice. “That means I’m not alone! Where are they? Can we meet them?”
“Not sure,” Afton said, rinsing her mouth, then cleaning up. “Probably not.”
“What? But Afton, we have to! How else am I going to get back to the digital world?” Bouncing up and down seemed to be Hopmon’s way of expressing his distress, and Afton bent down, placing a hand on the digimon’s head until he ceased his hopping.
“No bouncing. It’s loud,” she said, straightening, “and I don’t know, but I have to go, and you’re staying here. Quietly. Don’t make a mess or go outside,” she said, grabbing her bag from her chair and fixing her hair in front of the mirror. Today felt like a cupcake earring kind of day.
“W-what? Where are you going? Are you going to leave me here? Alone?” The hopping resumed, then ceased when Afton looked down at Hopmon.
“Yeah. Handle yourself, Hopmon,” she said, then headed for her bedroom door. “I’m going to close this door. If anyone opens it, hide in the closet and don’t make a sound or I might never see you again.”
“What? What do you mean? Afton!”
For someone who claimed he was considered pretty strong in the digital world, he sure did whine a lot. But at least he listened. If he didn’t, Afton would have to skip school, and she didn’t have an excuse to do so yet.
The music was playing loudly from her computer to no avail. As Kate watched her neighborhood enjoying the perfect morning to be outside, by peeking through her bedroom window’s curtain and letting out a weary sigh. Turning to stare and shake her head in disbelief at the slumbering Dracomon. Continuing to stand still as a statue beside her bed, with the same pillow she threw resting atop his face. “When I told him to go to sleep, I didn’t expect him to take it so literally.” Kate thought, briefly cracking a smile at the sight. Soon going over to sit at her computer chair and turn off her speakers. “This dragon sleeps like a boulder." She noted, grabbing her phone to check for any new messages.
But with those issues solved for now...Kate sat up and grabbed a water filled spray bottle sitting on her desk. “I think I can trust him to not bite my arm off for doing this.” She reasoned, approaching Ouro and cautiously lifting the pillow off to see his eyes were shut. Beginning to spritz it into his slightly agape maw, until she saw him close it and swallow.
“Hmm?” Ouro hummed groggily, as he barely opened his eyes. Looking up at Kate with a twitching nose, as he picked up the sweet lavender scent from her damp hair. Noticing the change of outfit, as she changed out of her pajamas into her usual punk rock attire. “Mmm. You smell tasty, Kate.”
“Please don’t use the word ‘tasty’ to describe me.” Kate interjected, as she lightly tossed the pillow back onto the bed. “Now follow me. And I'll find you something to eat.” She said, heading toward the door and glancing over her shoulder to watch him yawning and rubbing his eyes. “Not much of a morning digimon, are you?” She teased.
“Oh. My mistake.” Ouro apologized after he processed her words, unconsciously nomming on his tail. “And a dragon sleeps hard, so they don’t need to sleep often.” He answered in a prideful tone, as he followed her out of the room.
“You’re chewing on your tail again, Ouro.” She noted, as he quickly spat it out and had it fall limp behind him. As Kate led Ouro across the hallway and downstairs into the kitchen, where both German Shepards sat by the emptied food bowls. Although the male one barked at Ouro once he stepped on the tiled floor. “Roger, hush.” She scolded, observing Dracomon grinning in superiority and puffing out his chest. “You two are going to get along before my parents return at three-thirty.” Kate asserted, while walking in-between their resumed glare off. “Hold out your claw — and don’t eat these.” She instructed, grabbing a box of dog treats from the cupboard. As he reluctantly complied and curiously watched her pour a few bone shaped biscuits into his awaiting grasp. Though he had no interest in eating what smelled so foul, Ouro realized that the inferior species were coming closer to him and wagging their tails.
“I get it! We’re poisoning him to gain leverage!” He declared proudly. Getting visibly flustered as he received a dirty look from Kate. “Erm, so what am I doing then?”
“You're going to ask Roger and Roxanne to shake hands. And if they do, you’ll give them a biscuit.” She explained pointing at his claw. As Dracomon observed her taking one from the box and showing him what to do. “Roxanne, shake...good girl.”
“I’m afraid — such a thing goes against a dragon’s code.” Ouro interrupted hesitantly, causing her gaze to squint in his direction as he elaborated. “No dragon is to touch or be touched by a non-dragon, unless in the heat of battle.”
“Is that so?” She sighed, rubbing her forehead. “Alright. Just drop them then. I have another idea.” She said before walking off. As he eagerly did so, promptly following her down the hallway and toward the back screen door with a guilty expression.
“I’m sorry that my presence has caused you trouble-” Ouro uttered while climbing the stairs directly behind her, interrupted by the sound of his stomach rumbling.
“I understand that you don’t know how to go home.” Kate stated, scanning the floors for a tennis ball. “Maybe they'll start being more friendly if he plays some fetch with them...”
“No, I’m almost certain on how I can return to my world-” He corrected, causing Kate to spin around and face him with a look demanding an explanation. “Well — no creature can just appear in thin air.” He noted shrewdly. “So there’s likely an open portal between our worlds. Whether it’s the location that I began my descent, or left by the impact from my crash-”
“Now hold on!” She exclaimed in a frustrated tone, recalling how wise a Dracomon is supposed to be. “It sounds like you knew this from the start...”
“It’s not a guaranteed hypothesis but-” He uttered, as she began to rub her forehead again.
“Unbelievable.” She muttered. “If you could head home, why didn’t you tell me that earlier?”
“You didn’t ask.” He answered with a frown, making Kate glare at him. “...have I made you upset?”
“How long were you planning on staying here without telling me?” She retorted with hands on her hips. As he looked up and thoughtfully tapped a claw against his chin.
“I have been a little bored without having anyone to fight.” He admitted non-nonchalantly. Abruptly shifting their attention at the sound of the doorbell ringing, as Kate’s face filled with panic.
“Go back to my room. We’ll look for that ‘portal’ when it gets dark.” She hastily instructed, rushing past Dracomon to reach her front door. “Please don’t be my parents-” Kate begged, as she leaned up and peeked through the peephole to see Troy standing there. “Nevermind — that’s worse!”
@ApolloKnight We need to talk.
Izabel stared at the laptop screen with her goggles on, as she waited for her message to be answered. Rocking her body in bed until she was suddenly brought into a private room with three additional members that she had differing amounts of knowledge on. “Everyone seems to be acquainted with each other. But I’ve been a prominent dungeon runner on Apollo’s team, and I don’t recognize any of these names. Beside Doormaus, who I’ve seen in the chat.” She thought, leaning forward and typing up her first question.
@StarWatchingHow do I know one of you isn't a secret government operative?
“So what’cha ya doing, Izzy?” Chicchimon asked softly, happily perched atop of her hat.
“I’m trying to learn more about you. So I can help you get back home.” Izabel replied.
“But I like it here!” He exclaimed cheerfully, lifting his wings high in the air.
“You won’t be able to stay without my parents or my brother finding out.” Izabel noted, glancing up at the quivering bird. As she nonchalantly lifted the digimon off her head, and held him in her hands. “What’s a matter now?”
His big eyes started to water in her grasp. “What are parents? Will they eat me?”
She sighed and shook her head. “No, and mom’s a pescetarian anyway.”
“That sounds scary too.” He muttered, hiding his face behind his wings. As she noticed a few new messages.
@StarWatching@The_Clockmaker Guildmates should trust one another, Clock.
“My mom isn’t scary-” She corrected, setting him down in her lap and reaching out to write a response. As Izabel stopped to look over to him as he appeared upset. “Don’t you have anyone who will miss you if you’re gone?”
“Um...no I don’t think so.” Chicchimon murmured. “And I don't have any friends where I’m from-”
“I can be your friend.” She offered on the spot, causing the sad bird to immediately brighten up. His eyes twinkling in awe, as he smiled and excitedly fluttered his wings.
“Hooray! Izzy's my friend!” He chirped, as Izabel unsuccessfully tried to shush him.
“Don’t be too loud, my mom’s still home.” She urged him, as he began hopping around on the bed.
“I’m sorry Izzy, I’m so happy that I can’t stop.” He said with a giggle, as she sighed and firmly grabbed the gleefully bouncing ball.
“You’re more hyperactive than my brother after he’s had sugar.” She stated, sitting him down in her lap and holding him there. “Please sit still.”
As he looked up at Izabel with a smile, and saluted her with his wing. “Yes, friend.”
“Thank you.” Izabel replied, as she released her hands. Pulling her laptop closer and noticing the lack of responses from ApolloKnight in particular. “It’s taking him a while to say anything…did something happen?” She wondered, quickly deleting what she typed to ask something else.
@StarWatchingDid anyone see or check the spot where they fell from the sky? Mine came through the window because it was raining outside last night.
Interrupted by a sudden knock against the door, that had Chicchimon diving under the bedsheets. As Izabel closed her laptop and quickly stuffed her pillows under the covers. “Come in.” She called out casually, moving up to sit by the edge of her bed. “I guess everything is scary for him.”
Watching her mom proceed to open the door, and smile with a plate in her hands. “I brought you up a sandwich Izabel — have you eaten yet?”
“No mom.” Izabel said, looking at the dark circles under her mother’s eyes as she set the sandwich plate on her desk.
“Is everything okay?” She asked, approaching Izabel as she looked off to the side. “You know you can talk to me about anything.”
“I’m fine.” Izabel replied, her hands gripping the bed sheets. “Mom. Why do you work so late at night?” Izabel asked, as the mom crouched to her daughter’s level.
“I do it because I like my job.” She explained, with her hands delicately lifting up Izabel’s goggles to look into her daughter’s eyes. “It lets me take care of sick girls and boys, so they can feel better and return home to a family that loves them.”
“What happens when they don’t have a family to go back too?” Izabel questioned in a cold tone, causing the mom to hug her. While Chicchimon was listening in with watery eyes from underneath the blankets.
“Those days are hard.” She admitted softly. “But when I come home and get to see my family smiling back at me-” The mother continued, as Izabel finally made eye contact. “It makes me feel warm and sunny — no matter what the time is.” She said, kissing her daughter’s forehead and making Izabel smile. Even if it was just for her mom’s sake...
“I love you Mom.” Izabel said, as her mom stood up and briefly noticed the shifting under the covers.
“I love you too.” The mother replied, making her way out of the room. “Just don’t forget your sandwich.” She added sweetly, before quietly closing the door behind her. Allowing Izabel to flop backward on her bed, and let out a big sigh of relief.
“You can come out now Chicchimon.” Izabel uttered, before sitting up and getting off the bed. As Chicchimon sprung out of the covers with his wings covering a blushing face.
“C-can you call me Sunny?” He muttered, with one eye bashfully peeking through his wing to see her blank stare. “B-because you make me feel warm too, Izzy.”
Izabel turned in response and shook her head a bit. As she grabbed the two halves of the tuna sandwich off the plate. “You’re such a bird-brain.” She muttered, as she glanced over to him, smiling brightly at the compliment that he received. “Alright.” She sighed, soon approaching her bed, and setting one half of it beside him. “Then help me eat this, Sunny.” Izabel instructed, as she reluctantly took a bite.
As he gleefully looked up at his friend. “What is it?” Sunny asked curiously.
“Bleh — Tuna.” She replied with her mouth full. As he then tried a small bite, Sunny’s eyes soon twinkled in delight. “Oh my! This Blehtuna’s is amazing!”
@StarWatchingGuildmates, I believe we’ve each received a real digimon. And I would like to request that we all exchange information, so we can converse outside of the game. Does anyone here have any objections or suggestions of their own?
Asher’s focus would remain on his computer’s screen, in spite of the literal heat emitting from his new ally. “So — do you like it?” He asked in a relaxed manner.
“Hmm...a god of volcanic fire, you say?” Vorvomon pondered aloud to himself, while standing beside Asher’s computer chair. As his proceeding shout and foot stomp would nearly rattle Asher’s living room walls. “Like it?! I love it!”
Causing Asher to pick at his ear and turn his attention to Vorvomon. “Vulcan is it then.” He confirmed, seeing the dragon’s cheerful smile. “Though you can lower your voice a bit?”
“I could, but I won’t.” Vorvomon protested at a quieter, albeit still loud volume. Swiftly stepping up closer and pointing his wing at Asher, popping a bubble of personal space. “So tell me, Asher. What are you doing?” He inquired energetically. Receiving no immediate answer, as Asher seemed to be off in another world entirely. His eyes facing the upper righthand corner, with both elbows placed on his desk, his chin rested underneath his folded hands.
“Four other members had the same thing happen to them? That can’t be a mere coincidence, can it?” Asher questioned. “No, we must’ve been chosen for something...important.”
“Asher?” Vulcan uttered again, glancing up at the monitor. “If this some kind of test-” Vulcan grumbled, as his smile had quickly changed into a serious scowl. “Fine! I’ll speak quietly from now on!” He hollered out with wings raised high, while the red parts of his body glowed fiercely. As he slammed his wings to the ground, with just enough restraint to keep his promise not to break anything, it abruptly snapped Asher out of his thought process.
“Woah, try to chill a little. There’s no reason to be so aggressive.” Asher urged, lowering his downturned palm, as Vorvomon found himself sheepishly mellowing out.
“...then don’t ignore me.” Vulcan replied softly, his eyes looking down and away.
“It wasn’t on purpose, Vulcan.” Asher reassured. “I was thinking about why you and I met-“ He explained.
“I want to know why you’re telling others about me.” He interrupted in a skeptical tone, pointing his up to the screen.
“I’m speaking with more of my allies.” Asher clarified. “I wasn’t trying to hide it from you.” He assured, as Vulcan stared at him dubiously.
“Well they’re not my allies.” Vulcan rebuked. “And since I’m being hunted, I don’t want anyone else to know where I am!” Something which caused Asher to casually get up from his seat and kneel down to the digimon’s level, as Vorvomon froze in place like an animal caught in the headlights.
“It’s the same look he gave me before. And yet...I didn’t even consider how scared he actually was.” Asher thought. “I understand. And I won’t tell them anything without your approval first.” He conceded, soon extending his hand. “Can you agree to those terms?”
Vulcan blinked and skeptically eyed his hand, as Asher sat there and waited for him to accept. Eventually seeing a satisfied grin, as Vulcan stuck out his wing and shook on it. “Thank you.”
“Hang on…” Asher thought mid-handshake. Standing himself up once they were finished, to head toward the backyard window. “If we were partners like the game, then shouldn’t there be-” He speculated, squinting his gaze outside. As Vulcan eagerly approached and attempted to jump upward to reach the window’s height, landing with an abrupt thud.
“What now? Is someone out there? Do I need to set them ablaze!?” He questioned with increased intensity.
“No, but come with me.” Asher replied, pulling the hood over his head. Not needing to elaborate any further, as Vulcan curiously walked with him through his front door and back of his house. Smelling an odd odor in the warm dry air, as Vorvomon watched Asher aimlessly paced around his backyard and combed through the tall grass. “I’m looking for a small device that might’ve crashed along with you.” Asher answered before receiving the question.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about-” Vorvomon began to state bluntly. Then paused to point his wing at the mulch bed by the house’s wall where he originally crashed. “Something’s there!” He stated with enough vigor that it caught Asher’s attention.
As he noticed the small glitchy white and blue hole. “He’s not wrong. It’s shimmering...” He thought absent-mindedly, approaching up to the wall and kneeling in the dirt. Feeling a strange gravitational pull that was compelling his hand to touch it, as Asher suddenly vanished from Vorvomon’s sight.
“Hey! Don’t go without me! Vulcan exclaimed, rushing over to have the same thing occur.
Asher didn’t know what he expected to feel, as his body zipped through a blinding white. But for a minute, or at least that’s how long it felt, he couldn’t see or feel anything. Although his mind was actively thinking about where he was being taken to, as if he dived straight into the steepest and shortest tunnel slide. He was spat out of the other end and collapsed onto the solid ground below. Causing him to quickly rise to his feet and then stare in awe at the whimsical sight before him. The dark purple hue of his surroundings would’ve been unsettling, if it wasn’t the rainbow spectrum of colorful flora and glowing plant life of different shapes and sizes that covered this seemingly dense forest. However, unlike the usual wooded atmosphere, it was eerily silent.
“...Am I in the Digital World? Or did I step into Alice in Wonderland?” He uttered. Soon looking down at his clothes to see that they remained unchanged. “Actually — it kind of reminds me of one of the game’s starter dun-” Suddenly startled as somebody shouted directly behind him, as Asher spun around to see a large crimson moss coated tree where Vorvomon emerged from the same glitchy white portal.
“Asher! Don’t go any farther!” Vulcan warned, stepping out of the tree and hastily dashing to Asher's side. “They might still be here-” He said, looking around with his wings outstretched.
“The ones who were chasing you?” He asked softly, thinking about it for a moment. “Is this the last place you were — before you crashed I mean?” As Vulcan firmly nodded, Asher noticed something was inside his pocket. “The digivice!” He realized, quickly sticking his hand in to pull it out and look at the small digital device. Which was surprisingly weighty for its compact size, as its metallic body was colored orange and its three buttons were red. While Asher tried to comprehend this bizarre situation. “...Did coming through that portal give me this? Maybe so...I wouldn’t miss it?”
However, those questions would have to be addressed later. Since Vorvomon interjected with a much bigger query. “Hey! The sparkling thing disappeared!” Vulcan exclaimed. And sure enough, when Asher looked at the crimson tree. That glitchy hole from where they first arrived...was gone...
New York || Morning Another member joined the group chat, pinging in with instant suspicion under the name “Clockmaker”. Cavan didn’t know them—him, he figured—probably because he joined after Cavan started his break from the game. From his message, though, it seemed that Clockmaker was either paranoid or joking, though Apollo cleared that up with his next message.
“What’s happening?” Tunomon asked from beside Cavan, looking between him and the screen with narrowed eyes.
“Chat’s going. Looks like some other guild members found digimon too.” Cavan traced the screen with a finger. “Four, five counting us. Not that many, but we’re not alone, at least.”
“There're four other digimon?” Tunomon leaned in, then stared at Cavan, who nodded hastily.
“Yeah, looks that way,” Cavan said, scratching his head. “Weird crowd though. I guess we’ve all played for years. But, dunno about Clock.” His brows rose as he read the message that’d just blipped in. “Hold up, you fell from the sky?”
“Me?” Tunomon tipped his head, as if in thought. “Maybe? I don’t remember much except wind and… the dark.”
“But how’d you… Are you hurt then?” Cavan frowned, reaching for Tunomon and quickly retracting his hands when the digimon growled. “I mean, if you fell, shouldn’t you be…”
“You make it sound like you always get hurt when you fall,” Tunomon said, snorting. Noticing Cavan’s stare, he blinked. “What? Do you?”
“Er, yeah, kinda.” Cavan gave an awkward shrug, then refocused on the screen. “Nice! Apollo to the rescue,” he said, typing out his number and sending it to chat. As the numbers rolled in, he grinned, sitting back on his chair. “Never thought I’d get Ephie’s number.”
“Who’s Ephie? And what’s a number?” Tunomon demanded from the table.
Cavan looked at him, then pointed at the phone in his hand. “Phone number. You get it, you punch it in, you call it.”
Tunomon didn’t look like he got it, but he didn’t pursue it. “Who’s Ephie then?”
“Ephie? She’s the one with the Justimon here,” Cavan said, pulling up Ephie’s profile from the guild roster. “Damn good player. See, she maxed all her stats here, which isn’t easy, and…” Glancing at Tunomon, he realized the digimon wasn’t listening and settled for a shrug, grinning. “She’s just a lowkey legend, okay? Apollo’s the highkey legend, Ephie’s the lowkey one. You get me?”
Tunomon considered his words for a second. “No,” he said at last, then looked back at the Justimon on the screen. “But she looks strong. Is she dangerous? Will we be fighting her?”
“What? No, we’re not fighting anyone,” Cavan said, alarmed when he saw a flash of Tunomon’s fangs. “Chill, dude. They’re friends, not enemies.”
Tunomon didn’t seem fully convinced, but he settled down anyway. “Good. But I can take them.”
“Er.” Cavan glanced at Tunomon, then decided it’d be easier not to address whatever this was for the moment. “Maybe.”
Tokyo || Night “So you’ve fought other digimon before?”
“Yes. It’s pretty normal for you to fight those around you if there’s something you can’t agree with them on, like who gets how much territory,” Doru said, looking at Alice. “Do humans not fight each other then?”
“No, fighting someone is against the law. It’s assault, I think, and laws are rules that the government put in place to keep peace and order and…” Realizing that introducing all these new words in her explanation wasn’t helping her explain much at all, Alice trailed off, sighing. “Basically, humans don’t fight each other.”
“What happens when you don’t agree with someone then?” Doru asked.
Alice paused, thinking over her words. “There are ways to fight people, but it’s usually not actually fighting them. We can fight with our words or actions, but usually we don’t end up punching someone.” She shrugged. “Also we’re just not that strong. Most digimon could take out a person easily.”
Doru nodded, and Alice could see that he was still thinking about what she’d said, but she was distracted by the entrance of Clockmaker, whose first move was to openly announce their suspicion. Apollo, ever the shining example, responded quickly with a reminder about trusting guildmates, but Alice figured she’d say a bit too. After all, Clock wasn’t a bad person—just a bit cold, standoffish, and not the most active. But not bad.
@StarWatching@The_Clockmaker There’s no way to know over chat, but the government probably doesn’t know yet (☞ﾟヮﾟ)☞
And if they did know, pointing it out would make them more suspicious. Plus, the chat record didn’t currently specify why they’d grouped together, so any government agents crawling the web couldn’t use their words against them. With the exception of Ollie, of course. “Is something happening?” Doru asked.
“Yeah, those of us who found digimon are going to take it to text, apparently,” Alice said, typing in her own numbers. “Move the conversation off the game and onto our phones,” she clarified, letting it settle at that. Apollo had just blatantly stated the purpose of the group, and Alice wondered whether Clockmaker would get annoyed. On one hand, they could all pass it off as a silly guild thing they all got together to do for no reason; on the other, if someone who knew what they were looking for was really monitoring the game’s chat rooms, it’d look pretty suspicious. But it wasn’t the end of the world, and it was Apollo, soo Alice was willing to look the other way.
@D00rmausMissed u at the raid! Everything alright?
Alice read the new message with a growing note of guilt, realizing that attending the raid, or at least informing people of her inability to attend said raid, had all but slipped her mind. While it was true that a living, breathing digimon could be said to be a sufficient distraction, Alice didn’t feel that it excused her completely, and she attempted a message back.
@SynchaiSorry Chai!!! Something happened irl that needed my attention... ༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ Next time for sure though ᕙ(⇀‸↼‶)ᕗ
“Did something happen now?” Doru asked, and Alice gave him a pursed smile.
“Kind of. I forgot to tell a friend I couldn’t do something with them, mainly because I was distracted by… all of this,” she said, waving her hand in a general fashion, “but I’ll explain it to her later. After I figure out what’s going on myself, I mean.”
When a few more numbers were in, Alice started typing them into her phone, labelling each of them under their username before adding them all to a text group. Apollo hadn’t sent his number yet, for some reason, but she figured she’d get the group started first.
Los Angeles || Morning
D00rmaus here, hi everyone (◕‿◕✿) Let’s get along (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
Cavan O11ie What r ur names
I’m Alice (ᵔᴥᵔ) Nice to meet everyone (ﾉ◕ヮ◕)ﾉ*:･ﾟ✧
Afton looked up from her phone and met her English teacher’s eyes. A few quotes from chapter four of Slaughterhouse-Five were written on the whiteboard, which had taken a shade of multicolored grey from all the marker ink it’d seen over the years. Even from her seat in the back of the classroom, it was clear that attention was focused on her, and she set her phone on her lap.
“The Tralfamadorians don't ask ‘why me’ because in their concept of time, what happens will always happen, so there’s no need to discuss why. For them it’s just what will happen, and can’s and might’s don’t exist,” she said, maintaining eye contact with the greying, bespectacled man at the head of the classroom, who no doubt guessed what she was holding under the table.
“Yes,” he said, and he was professional enough to roll with his surprise. “That’s right, it’s about how the Tralfamadorians view time. Because their concept of time is so different from ours, we, like Billy, have a difficult time understanding them, but if you think about it from their point of view, what Billy’s question really doesn’t make sense.”
Afton’s attention dropped back to her phone as he went on. Cavan and Alice had found a Tunomon and a Dorimon respectively, confirming that they were finding the digimon they played as. That it was coordinated made it that much more probable that someone was behind it all, but then again the digimon had fallen from the sky. Last time Afton checked, there weren’t many insitutitions, much less people, capable of dropping meteors.
Newest to the group was Clockmaker, who Afton knew as a competent player and raider. They were similar to her in that they also kept to themselves, and Afton respected that, just as she respected the direct questions they asked. Respecting their actions, though, didn’t mean that she’d get along with them, but she suspected that she wouldn’t dislike them anyway.
Mine fell in the yard. Empty crater.
That she quickly buried after looking it over for anything other than the moving spike of purple that’d left it. And, since her dad wasn’t the type to question her much, that was the end of it.
Doru climbed up to my balcony so I’m not sure (• ε •)
I found him on the street
Dunno he hasnt responded
I’ll try DMing him ◉_◉
It was unlike Apollo to fail to respond for so long, especially given how important the subject at hand was, but Afton was distracted by something else. She’d been so caught up with covering her tracks last night that she didn’t go back to check on the hole. It’d been smoking when she buried it, and the fumes coming from it had an odd, ebbing quality to them that had only encouraged her to work faster, but now that she thought about it…
She rose from her seat suddenly, surprising the teacher enough for him and the class to turn and look at her. “I don’t feel well,” she said. “I’m going to go to the nurse’s office.”
“R-right. Okay.” Her teacher didn’t seem too familiar with the situation she’d put him in, and he watched her pack for another second before nodding and redirecting the class’ attention. By then, though, Afton was already out the door, her mind focused on the shimmery quality of the smoke she’d seen last night, which she’d put down to strange chemicals but was now beginning to suspect was something different altogether.
Asher spent the eerie silence in thought. After he pressed each button on the small device to no avail, he carefully stuffed it into his pant’s pocket, and leaned up against the same moss covered tree that left them without a portal home. Only being able to see Vorvomon cautiously pace around the perimeter of the forest, due to the glowing plants that reminded Asher of the foreign world he was now stranded in. Yet with an exchanged glance between the pair, it was apparent which of them was on edge.
“Well?!” Vulcan half-shouted, with his wing pointing at who he was describing. “You’re the one that comes up with the strategies, and I’m the dragon that does them!”
“Okay, I’ll get us out of here. Just try to chill a little.” Asher reassured. Walking toward what appeared to be the best lit path and rubbing the back of his hoodie. As Vorvomon glared in his direction and proceeded to follow behind him, as his body began to glow red with a noticeable heat. “Maybe the portal moved somewhere else nearby.” He uttered with scant confidence in his theory, while wiping a bit of sweat from his forehead. “At least I hope so...”
“Do you even have a clue where you’re going?” Vulcan muttered, shifting his gaze to the surrounding dark on either side. As it didn’t take long for Asher to realize that the plants were decreasing in frequency the further he went, and so was the light necessary to see anything. But then — Asher was interrupted by a mighty stomp that rattled the ground beneath his feet. Getting him to turn and witness Vulcan's expanded wings, and his open maw abruptly unleashing a flame that Asher felt blasting past him. Though it merely dissipated into the darkness, as Asher swiftly raised his hands in a stopping motion.
Though before Asher could speak, Vulcan’s wings folded as he looked up at him. “You didn’t notice it moving through the shadows?” He asked crossly, squinting his eyes at Asher’s lack of reaction. Continuing with his literal heated words faster than Asher could fully process what had happened. “You should pay more attention to your surroundings!” Vulcan scolded with puffs of smoke coming out of his maw, before pointing at him again. “Because what am I supposed to do if my ally gets hurt?”
“Alright, Alright,” Asher interjected in a placid tone. “We’ll head back and stay in the light.” He proposed, noticing that Vorvomon’s body was cooling off, as the two soon returned to where they started. Asher pulled out the device and pondered their options. “If there’s a threat out there — wandering aimlessly is the last thing I should be doing.” He concluded, looking at Vulcan, who let out a brief growl and stomped up to the mossy tree.
“Why. won’t. you. open?” Vulcan said, releasing his pent-up frustration by clawing at the tree.
“I’ll let him cool off his own way.” Asher dismissed, before closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. Inexplicably picturing a vision of his own backyard, as the device’s screen then lit up in a bright white light that caught Vulcan’s attention. “There must be a reason the portal closed. And this device has to do something…why else would it suddenly appear in my pocket once I arrived here?”
“Asher! That light is like the portal!” Vulcan exclaimed, seeming to calm down in an instant. Causing Asher to open his eyes and see the gleaming device, as everything in his mind had suddenly clicked.
“I get it now.” Asher replied, as he extended his arm and held out the device in his hand. Obtaining knowledge of the device’s purpose that seemed to come from nowhere, not too dissimilar to the device itself. Both watching the device's light beam out and create a portal on the surface of the tree. “Let’s go home, Vulcan.” As Vorvomon smiled. “Gladly.”
Then without hesitation, they both rushed into the light.
The bedroom door remained wide open, as Dracomon boredly laid on the floor and muttered to himself. “I know I don’t belong here...but I thought we could be friends.” But he was soon interrupted by the sight of Roxanne approaching with a colorful knotted rope clamped in her maw. Dropping the toy down in front of him, as he swiftly sat upright and blinked at the dog. “What’s this?” He questioned, reaching out to inquisitively pick it up with his claws. Realizing its true purpose, once the dog hopped forward to grab the other end to tug it away from his grip. “Oh, I see. A friendly challenge of strength.” Ouro said with a grin, quite easily holding the toy against the German Shepherd’s efforts to repeatedly scoot backward with a low growl and wagging tail. As Ouro stood up and started stepping backward toward her bedroom dresser. “I admire your bravery against a far stronger opponent.” Ouro snarked with his tail swaying about, playfully dragging her along as Roxanne persisted. However, their tug of war would be disrupted by a loud bark coming from the doorway.
“I can’t just ignore him...” Kate thought, making the mistake of opening their door. As Troy presented Kate with a confident smile, along with a dozen violets, and a heart-shaped box of dark chocolates with its price tag half torn off.
“I noticed your parents weren’t home.” He stated with a brief chuckle, trying to eliminate the last excuse for why he couldn’t come inside.
“This is really not a good time-” Kate stressed with a clenched hand gripping the doorknob, unable to stop the boyfriend from walking through the door.
“Do you need help with something?” Troy asked, noticing as she looked away from his gaze. “Are you...still angry with me?” He added in a guilty tone.
“No I’m not, but I have-” Kate paused, as they both overheard the loud crashing sound coming from upstairs. “Really? What are you doing, Ouro?” Kate internally questioned in exasperation, before being hit with a sudden revelation. As she facepalmed and let out a believable groan. “Well, I guess you can hear it.”
“Sounds like your dogs are roughhousing.” Troy replied casually, also listening to Roger’s barking, as he set the gifts on the nearest table.
“I’m watching the Perkinson’s Cat. The Hellspawn.” She revealed with a sigh, observing Troy’s apparent discomfort. “That’s right. You’re not only allergic. It’s the one that chased you out of their yard, when you delivered their newspaper.”
“Oh. Doesn’t she hate your dogs though?” He uttered, as she shrugged her shoulders in false irritation.
“It wasn’t my idea for a punishment for not cleaning my room within the five minutes I was told to.” She said indignantly. “So now I have a little demon barricaded in my room, and wrecking it even further because they keep barking at her.”
He sighed in defeat, reluctantly walking out to her porch. “I’ll let you break it up then.”
“Thanks for the flowers and chocolate. I’ll call you when you can come over tomorrow.” She hinted with a polite smile. Causing him to smile and give her a departing wave, as he walked off toward his car, which was parked by the next door neighbor’s mailbox. Allowing Kate to promptly shut and lock her door. “Thank god.” She emphasized. Rushing upstairs to her bedroom where Ouro stood alone beside her upright dresser with a nervous look. Along with many piles of clean clothes that covered her floor, and the knotted rope toy by Dracomon's feet.
“U-um. It was an accident.” Ouro stammered.
Kate rubbed her forehead and sighed. “Look, I’m sorry that I snapped at you earlier, Ouro. She apologized, while receiving Ouro’s slightly agape maw in response. As she approached him to start picking up the clothes and stuffing them back into the drawers with disregard. “And I’ll still feed you after I put everything away.” She remarked with a smirk.
Ouro released a hot sigh of relief and held his stomach. “Thank you. I’m starving.”
Izabel rocked back and forth with the laptop on her folded legs. Simultaneously responding to the guildmates’ text messages through her laptop’s phone service, and watching Sunny glow from the opposite end of her bed. Evolving into a Muchomon the second after finishing his half of the tuna sandwich. As he took a moment to briefly admire the exquisiteness of his regrown wings, and then patted his plump belly with a gleeful smile. “I love the way you dance Izzy.” He commented softly, breaking the quiet atmosphere of her typing away.
“I’m not dancing. It’s how I stay focused.” She explained in a calculated manner, promptly setting the laptop aside and standing up from her bed.
“Oh.” Sunny uttered shyly, as he spun around to follow her advancing toward the door. “Um, where are you going Izzy?
As Izabel opened the door and peeked her head out. Seeing that the coast was clear, as she soon shut it again and turned to approach the anxious bird. “Since you don't remember where you landed. We’re going to go look outside for the portal that ApolloKnight was talking about.” She replied, while putting on her goggles.
“Can I come too?” He asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
“Yes bird-brain, that is what ‘we’re’ means.” She lightly chided, as he blushed and twittered from beneath his wing.
“I’m truly humbled by your praise-” He added, clearly tickled by her words.
“But you need to sit there until I make sure that mom won’t notice you.” Izabel clarified. “Can you do this time?”
“So what will you here do when I leave?” Izabel questioned skeptically, as Sunny wiggled his feet with readiness to prove himself.
“Sit and wait for Izzy to return.” He chirped.
“Good.” She said with a firm nod, before walking out of her bedroom and closing the door. Heading downstairs to check in the living room where the television was still on, reporting on last night’s meteor shower denting someone’s mailbox, and then into the kitchen to turn off the dripping sink faucet, and even peeking inside her parent’s bedroom to find nobody there. “Mom?” She called out from the first floor hallway. “Where else would she be?
* * *
“Sit and wait for Izzy to return.” Sunny repeated like a melody in his head, as he sat in the same spot and preened his feathers as the minutes passed by. Looking up with a smile when he heard the doorknob turning. As Izabel stepped into her room with a sigh.
“Alright, my mom’s busy. So we can go now. Just follow me closely, okay?” She stated, looking at Muchomon.
“Really? I can come too?” He asked, as his face lit up with excitement. Receiving a blank stare from Izabel, as then she approached and picked him up. Causing him to blush as she proceeded to hold him in her folded arms. “O-oh my.” He muttered sheepishly, glancing up in surprise to see the slightest smile on her face.
“Let’s go find our partner device, Sunny.” Izabel said, as Muchomon relaxed in her hold.
“I-I’ll do my best.” He responded. As she carried him all the way downstairs and into the garage, before he mustered the courage to speak up again. “Um...could you remind me what that is again?”
Hello everyone. This is ApolloKnight. My name is Asher.
This is Clockmaker. But I don’t think my parents would be happy with me if I gave my real name to people online.
Thank you for joining us.
Welcome Asher (づ｡◕‿‿◕｡)づ
Did everyone here really receive their partner digimon from the game?
I believe we have Clock. And it’s no likely coincidence either.
Anyway. Please let me account for my radio silence.
I went to check where Vorvomon fell from the sky last night. And that’s when I found a portal that pulled me into another dimension. The digimon’s world.
(°ロ°) (°ロ°) (°ロ°)
As I zipped through some blindingly bright tunnel and found myself in a location that looked vaguely similar to that glowing mushroom dungeon from the game. Although it was too dark and I didn’t think it was wise to explore on my own.
Anyway, it’s incredibly important that you go to the digimon’s crash site and go through these portals. It’s where you’ll receive a partner device. Like from the game, but besides its similar design, its functions aren’t entirely clear to me yet.
A digivice? \(°ロ°)/
But I have learned one important feature. It is our connection to the digimon world. And it’s how I got back home.
From what I can gather. This device has the ability to open and close portals from our world to theirs. Like from Point A to Point B.
That sounds a bit dangerous. What happens if you get stuck?
Let me clarify. The original portal seems to close on its own, once you and your digimon partner go through it. Probably to prevent others from using it too. So I had to reopen it, by holding the device in my hands and imagining a location clearly in my mind. Which then immediately sent me and Vorvomon back to my pictured location. And the portal is still there now.
I think I understand. But what happens if that experience was just a fluke? I mean, have you repeated that hypothesis?
I wanted to get back to share this information with you all. So I’m afraid that I haven’t tested it yet. But I will do so, if that means making sure that my guildmates stay safe.
I got no idea how to find a portal
Just look around (~˘▾˘)~
Citys huge its gonna take forever
Muchomon climbed through my window to get out of the rain. So I wouldn’t know where to look.
Try looking around first (~˘▾˘)~
And apparently he forgot too.
I have one in my yard.
Headed home right now to confirm.
Alright then. Just don’t stay there for any longer than you have to.
(°ロ°) Stay safe Afton!
Damn its like some scifi movie
I’ll send pictures when I get there.
Los Angeles || Morning “Again, Dad, I’m fine,” Afton said as she hopped out of the car and walked towards the front door of their house. “Go back to work.”
“Alright Daise,” her father said, shifting his car into gear, “take care of yourself. Love you!”
Unlocking the door, Afton slipped into the shaded room and made a beeline for her bedroom. In she went, not bothering to knock as she opened the door and tossed her bag against the foot of her bed.
“Hopmon, come out,” she said, then paused to wait for the digimon to reveal itself, which it did, tumbling out of her closet after a second of rustling.
“Afton! You’re back!” Hopmon said, bouncing to her side. “I was so bored waiting around, especially after Dad left. This place is so boring! How do you have fun?”
Though she heard Hopmon’s words, she chose to ignore them, turning towards the door. “Follow me,” she said, leading the way out and towards the screen door in the living room. The meteor had landed
“Where are we going? To the outside? Oh, isn’t this the place I landed yesterday? Smells like it. Smells dry, hot, and… empty.” Hopmon paused at Afton’s side outside the opened door, looking around at the barren yellow foothills of dried grass and dirt, which saw color in the form of the hardiest of weeds and native shrubbery. “Is this place a desert?”
“Yeah,” Afton said, crouching and looking at the patch of loose dirt. She could still make out a strong ebbing quality to the air above the patch, through which the world appeared to waver.
Pulling out her phone, she snapped a picture of the strange air and sent it to the group. Text messages started popping up immediately.
(°ロ°) (°ロ°) (°ロ°)
does it move?
I’m going through.
With the text sent, she slid her phone in her pocket and waved Hopmon over. “Get ready,” she said, picking him up and tucking him under as she would a basketball.
“Get ready for what?” he asked, wiggling in the crook of her arm. “Are we doing something?”
“Yeah,” she said, leaning forwards to touch the waver, finding that her hand almost seemed to move forwards without her, drawn towards the visible folds in the air until she made contact with and was sucked into nothing.
The world went white, bright, and featureless, but Afton registered a very clear feeling of movement. She was moving. Where and how, she had no idea, but onwards she zipped until suddenly she hit the floor, deposited unceremoniously back into existence.
“Woah, what was that?” Hopmon asked, wiggling out of her hold and dropping onto the floor to start bouncing up and down. “That was fun! Let’s do it again!”
His words flew right past Afton, whose attention was wholly absorbed by their new surroundings: a world of shadowy violet, splotched by the rainbow in the form of every form of flora possible. Another glance around confirmed what Asher had said over text. This was indeed the mushroom forest every player spawned in on their first day, though Afton had portalled here herself this time around. What she was missing, now, was the digivice, which Asher had said she would “receive” after going through the portal. In the game, a line of text had popped up, and the device had been added to her inventory, but did that apply now?
“What’s wrong?” Hopmon asked, bouncing over to her side. “What’re you looking for?”
Afton froze mid-pat, one hand on her back pocket, in which the unmistakable outline of something she’d never had could be felt. Reaching into it, she grabbed the digivice, holding it up to what light was available in the forest. “This.”
“That?” Hopmon cocked his head, staring at it. “What is that?”
“A digivice,” Afton said, turning it in her hands. The device itself was a dark red, highlighting its white buttons, which Afton pressed after a brief moment. On the third button, the device’s screen lit up.
The shade of uncertainty in Hopmon’s voice prompted Afton to look at him, and she was surprised to see that he was glowing—faintly, but clearly. An outline of white surrounded him, getting stronger with every passing second until suddenly the light engulfed him, lengthening into a beam that shot into the sky. Glancing down at her digivice, Afton saw the words, “Hopmon digivolve to: Monodramon” flash across the screen. Then all at once, it ended. The beam of light retracted into itself and her digivice went out, leaving her standing in front of what was very much now a Monodramon.
“Hey! I’m a Monodramon again!” The purple dragon spun in a circle, holding up each wing separately as he looked himself over. Now over two times taller and several times larger, Monodramon was no longer as easy to look over as he was while he was a Hopmon. Where he was barely a foot tall before, he was now solidly two feet tall, if not more. His claws were now prominent features, each stretching over an inch long, and as clearly as Afton remembered her character’s avatar back in the day, she had to admit that seeing a Monodramon in real life was quite a different experience.
After another few seconds of admiring himself, Monodramon looked to Afton with a grin. “How about that?”
“You’re going to be harder to hide now,” she said, looking around at their surroundings again. As Asher had written, the forest was dark and Afton agreed that it wasn’t a good idea to stick around. Still, she took a moment to stand there, taking in the digital world’s color with her own eyes. On a monitor, colors were vivid, but they held none of the realistic properties experiencing them in real life did. The dampness of the forest, the vague scent of moss and mulch, the lukewarm temperature that likely drove growth as much as it did laziness in its inhabitants—those properties were all lost in a screen-based experience, however much text and lore the game tried to throw at its players.
“Buzz off,” Monodramon said suddenly, his voice lowered and hardened, more growl than talk at that point, and Afton stared at him. Then, the bushes rustled, and it all made sense.
“Yeah, that’s right, run,” he said, clacking his teeth together, one side of his mouth hooking as he puffed his chest.
Afton gave him a nod when he looked over, then turned back to where they landed. “Let’s get back.”
“Aw, can’t we stick around? This place is way more fun than the human world,” Monodramon said, his voice bordering on a whine.
“We’ll be back,” she said, holding the digivice up at the spot. Though it felt strange doing it, Asher had outlined the process already. When it came to figuring the situation out, Afton had to hand it to him. He wasn’t a guild leader for nothing.
New York || Morning
Back. I ended up in the Mushroom Forest too. Found the digivice in my pocket. Didn’t stay for long.
(°ロ°) (°ロ°) (°ロ°) It’s real! It’s happening!!!
Cavan sat up on his bed from where he’d been slouching on his bed. It’d barely been a few minutes since Afton sent the photos and said she was going through, and she was already back. Had she been that quick?
Time doesn’t seem to translate between dimensions properly. I was there for around ten minutes. My Hopmon digivolved into Monodramon.
(°ロ°) What? How??
I pressed the rightmost button on my digivice and he digivolved. Maybe connecting to it was enough to bring him to rookie form. He said he was a rookie before arriving.
As Cavan’s eyes flicked over the messages, a smile grew on his face. “Get ready, we’re going to the digital world.”
Tunomon looked up from where he was resting on a pile of Cavan’s clothes, a mixture of confusion and hostility in his eyes. “How?”
“Through a portal, apparently,” Cavan said, sliding off his bed and grabbing his skateboard. Then, looking around, he picked up his sports bag, emptying its contents onto the floor and setting it on the floor with its flap wide open. “Would you mind catching a ride in this bag? I’m pretty sure walking around with you next to me is a bad idea.”
Tunomon eyed him dubiously. “Why? If anyone’s not minding their own business, a good tackle should change their mind.”
“Well, I said already, but you can’t just go around tackling people,” Cavan said, adjusting his bag idly, his mind focused on his words, struggling to find phrases that didn’t come off as aggressive, dismissive, or otherwise triggering for Tunomon. “Humans who fight each other get in trouble. They get captured and locked up.”
Seeing that Tunomon looked nowhere near convinced, Cavan shook his head, sighing. “Look, just trust me, okay? As soon as I find the portal, we’ll go through and I’ll let you out. But if you go around walking in the human world, someone’s probably going to try and hurt us.”
“Okay,” Tunomon said cautiously, bouncing over to the bag, then into. “What’s that?” he asked, staring at some sharpie scrawls along the side of the bag’s interior.
“That’s a list of trick name ideas,” Cavan said, running a hand down the list. “It’s old and I should really get back into it.”
Tunomon grunted in response, clearly done with the conversation, but wasn’t, and his eyes lit up as it caught on a particular idea he’d scrawled down.
“Hey, how do you feel about the name ‘Baxter’? After one of the steepest streets in LA. Thirty-two percent grade. Epic skate street,” Cavan said. “Or just ‘Bax’. Sounds cooler anyway.”
Tunomon was silent for a moment before grunting again, and Cavan grinned.
“Bax it is,” he said, zipping the bag and hefting it up with a grin.
Tokyo || Night
If you both ended up in the mushroom forest, maybe all our portals lead there (• ε •)
We could all meet in the digital world then (╯°□°)╯(╯°□°)╯(╯°□°)╯
Sounds doable. Mushroom forest isn’t that big.
sweet. last one there loses
“This isn’t a race!” Alice hissed to no one in particular, one hand holding her phone and the other rifling through her closet for something to wear into the Tokyo night.
“Are we really going to try and find a portal to the digital world?” Dorimon asked from where he sat on Alice’s bed. “I don’t remember where I landed very well either. The impact left me pretty rattled and confused. I just felt like climbing up here was the right thing to do, so I did.”
“Well I’m glad you did, but yes, we’ll be going to look for where you landed,” Alice said, stuffing her arms through the sleeves of her oversized jacket as she walked over to her bed. “Here, I’ll hide you in here,” she said, pulling open the side of her jacket and motioning for Dorimon to hop over.
“Okay.” Dorimon hopped into her arms carefully. “You sure you don’t want me to walk? It’s pretty dark outside, and I’m pretty good at hiding.”
“Nah, it’s fine,” Alice said, adjusting her grip with a smile. “You’re not that heavy anyway.”
That was a partial lie, and Alice suspected that Dorimon knew that. Still, he didn’t say anything, and she was grateful. Even though he was only about the size of a soccer ball, he was heavier than any cat or small dog she’d tried to pick up before, likely because he was much rounder and denser than any cat or small dog she’d seen before.
Still, the most treacherous part of the night had yet to start: Alice needed to get out of her apartment without alerting her parents. Though they slept early, her mother was a light sleeper, and any stray creak or crack could summon her from bed. Luckily, Alice had experience sneaking around the house at night. She was a master at getting to and from the kitchen, where she filched snacks many a night when raids happened at odd times, and it wasn’t until she reached the front door that she hit the first snag in her plan. With its chain lock and creaky hinge, her front door was a worthy adversary that she’d never tried to best. All she could do was try and go as slow as possible as she unlatched the hatch, holding her breath in prayer as she opened the door one achingly slow millimeter at a time.
C r e a k
Alice froze, one hand on the doorknob and the other starting to tremble from supporting Dorimon’s weight. One second passed, then two, and when her parents’ bedroom continued to stay quiet, she breathed a sigh of relief, slipping out the door and carefully closing it behind her.
“Whew, hard part over,” she said, as the elevator doors closed.
“Are you afraid of your parents, Alice?” Dorimon asked.
Alice’s brows shot up. “Wh—no! No, why would you think that?”
“You seemed to be afraid of letting them find out that you leaving tonight,” he said. “I know some digimon who have ‘protectors’ that treat them more like prisoners than anything.”
“What? No, it’s nothing like that,” she said. “It’s just that I don’t know what I’d tell them if they found out I was going out. I mean, I would get in trouble, maybe, but it wouldn’t be that bad… ”
She trailed off, then shook her head. “No, I love my parents. They just worry a lot sometimes.”
“Okay,” Dorimon said, which Alice was beginning to understand as the phrase he said when he didn’t really understand, but felt that he should say he did anyway. As much as she disliked the non-confrontational attitude of his application of the phrase, she appreciated the sentiment, It was a mature thing to do, she figured, and she vaguely wondered whether she could be that mature.
“I think I’ve seen that tree before,” Dorimon said when they exited her apartment building.
The tree in reference was a leafy ginkgo tree, and Alice walked towards it, looking around expectantly. “I don’t see a crater anywhere.”
“Over there,” Dorimon said, pointing at a row of bushes. “I think I landed by those.”
Alice walked over, squinting in the darkness. With the streetlights behind them, her shadow made it difficult to properly make out anything near the bushes. “I don’t see anything,” she said as she peered over a bush, taking a few more steps forward. “Are you—”
She’d stepped into the portal, she figured, and before she knew it she was wherever the portal unceremoniously dumped her, the moist forest floor dampening her pants. A glance around revealed a hazy purple forest, and she shot to her feet, patting herself down as Dorimon hopped to the ground, shaking himself off.
“Are you okay, Alice?” Dorimon asked.
“Yep, fine! Fine,” she said, looking around again. “Right, so, digital world, mushroom forest, digivice,” she said, fishing the device that had appeared in her jacket pocket. “Now, digivolution.”
The bushes rustled, and she froze, looking over with wide eyes. The shadows made it difficult to make anything out, but Dorimon no longer looked friendly, his mouth held slightly open to accentuate his jagged jaw.
“W-who’s there?” Alice asked, voice trembling as she clutched her digivice, attempting a brave face, which was rather difficult to do knowing the vast number of digimon capable of obliterating her existence.
“You really are much lighter than I expected, for how pudgy you look.” Izabel noted. As she soon carried a blushing Muchomon outside through their automatic garage door. Briefly glancing up at the light grey clouds covering the sky, and then proceeding to fast-walk into their fenced-off backyard.
“A-are you sure it’s safe to be out here?” Sunny murmured, staring at the colorful playground equipment that was in the middle of the otherwise open lawn.
“No one else can see us.” Izabel replied casually, bending down to set the bird on his own two feet. Quickly noticing his anxious expression and feathers quivering, which caused her to stare in the same direction that he was. “Is there something you’re not telling me?”
A question that made Sunny frown a bit and lift his gaze to hers. “Nuh-no Izzy, I would never hide anything from you…” Although his upset words would trail off, as Izabel headed straight between the pair of swings to approach a single wide gap of broken boards in the fence. Peeking in her neighbor’s lush garden and stone patio to spot a evident crater in their ground. Feeling a gentle tug on her pants as she noticed Muchomon had waddled up beside her. “H-hey Izzy. I just remembered where I fell-”
“You landed in someone else’s yard, but decided to squeeze yourself past the gap in our fence.” Izabel interrupted dispassionately. Even if Muchomon could feel a sensation tingling across his back about how she truly felt.
“It’s because of the m-monster right there.” Sunny admitted softly, while pointing forward with his wing. His eyes widening at the massive creature lying low and on the prowl. As Izabel then curiously observed ‘Melon’, the neighbor’s bulbous orange Maine Coon, attempting to sneak up and ineffectually swipe at the more nimble blue butterfly. Before looking at the still larger-sized digimon’s traumatized face and shaking her head in disbelief.
“But how am I going to get over there?” She pondered aloud, dismissing her other niggling thoughts. Figuring there was only one possible option that had nobody else getting involved. “I’ll be back. So stay here, okay Sunny?” Izabel instructed to earn his attention. Receiving a reluctant nod from Muchomon, as he watched her run off and eventually return with a six foot stepladder that she fetched from their garage. But it was too heavy and awkward to move without her dragging it all the way toward the fence.
“What are you doing with that?” Sunny asked, while she stopped to take a breather.
“It’s a ladder. And I’m using it, so we can go to your world.” Izabel explained, starting to unfold the ladder and position it up against the fence. As he nervously watched her climbing up to the top rung that matched the fence’s height.
“Please be careful Izzy.”
“I’ll be fine.” Izabel asserted, though she had never done this before. “And I’ll keep ‘the beast’ distracted, so you can run into the portal first.” She quipped, seeing the abnormal shimmering white light and recognizing it as the portal that Apollo described. Then fearlessly jumping to the neighbor’s grass below and promptly having their cat waltz over to her. As Izzy’s brave statement of self-sacrifice had fueled him with enough courage to waddle on up to the gap and wriggle his way onto the other side. Soon gawking in awe at Izabel idly kneeling and getting the beast to remain prone — when she was merely stroking its fluffy belly.
”My partner is so cunning.” Sunny uttered in surprise, before recalling what he was meant to do and taking slow steps toward the light. Pausing for an extended moment to gulp and reach up in the air with his wing. “Are you c-coming with-”
Interrupted by her hand firmly grabbing his wing and standing there by his side. As the cat stalked them from within a bed of snapdragons. “Yes bird-brain, we’re going in together. Come on.” Izabel chided, leading Muchomon in closer. Which was when the cat lunged out and dashed into the suddenly empty space where the two disappeared along with the portal.
* * *
The dark mushroom forest and its glowing flora was much cooler to witness in real life. Though the feathery ball curled up beneath her feet would’ve probably disagreed. “Do I need to pick you again, scaredy bird?” She teased him, while checking in her pockets. Pulling out a gold and orange colored device and smiling from ear to ear.
As he uncovered his eyes and relaxed when he looked up at Izzy. “No. I just don’t like the darkness.” Sunny answered, with his wing touching her leg for reassurance. “I have poorer vision, and I can’t even see my beautiful wings glisten in the darkness.” He whined. Hastily clinging himself onto Izabel’s leg while she focused on fiddling with her device. “I-I-Izzy! Someone’s scared-”
“Yeah, I can tell.” She scoffed, eyes still glued to her device.
“No. I mean someone may be in trouble.” He clarified, which caught her interest.
“Where?” Izabel asked quickly. Getting Sunny to point his wing at a section of dense trees with no source of light. As she lifted him up without hesitation and headed into the unheard cry for help. With her wild imagination running faster than her legs. “Then let’s be their heroes.”
“O-oh my.” Sunny murmured, not being able to stop her from spotting a light and racing out to another nearby clearing. Making her presence obvious after she saw another older human girl and a purple digimon both facing the forest. Able to make an educated guess on who she was after remembering what was said in the messages.
“Doormaus?” Izabel called out, with Muchomon lately covering her mouth with his wing. But it was probably too late to prevent them from noticing the goggle-wearing twelve year old holding a tropical-colored penguin.
When Asher asked Vorvomon to do a physical task that was unfamiliar to him, he didn’t expect to see Vulcan be so eager to try it. But that was why Asher was standing in the mulch bed and monitoring the dragon dashing back and forth across the backyard’s overgrown grass with a reel push mower.
“Die by my blades you fools!” Vulcan exclaimed with a bombastic laugh. While Asher sighed with a cellphone in hand and waited for his guildmates’ messages.
“Hey, Vulcan.” Asher called out in a normal volume. Not ceasing Vulcan’s zealous efforts to ensure that everything was cut short as originally requested.
“What is it, Asher?” Vulcan inquired, joyfully zipping by. Which was quite a stark contrast to the aggression displayed mere hours ago — not that Asher was complaining.
“Is there anything you remember about your world?”
Causing Vulcan to abruptly skid to a halt in front of him and frown. “No.” He grumbled with his tail flicking in the air. “And neither do I like not knowing what I should.” Staring down at his hind claw grinding the dirt. While Asher understood who he was upset at and rubbed his stiff shoulders.
“Don’t worry. I’ll help you figure it out.” Asher stated calmly, reversing Vulcan’s mood as he grinned.
“Thanks, my ally.” Vorvomon said, immediately resuming his hyperactive mowing.
“No problem partner.” Asher replied quietly, glancing at the vibrating phone to notice Afton’s texts confirming that he went through the same thing. Feeling a slight weight releasing from his shoulders in the process, as he leaned against the wall in thought. “I suppose it’s better to believe that they all can handle it themselves-” However, Vulcan suddenly intervened and appeared directly at eye level by briefly flying to snap Asher at attention.
“An enemy is near us. North of your dwelling.” Vorvomon warned in a hushed growl.
As Asher swiftly drew a separate conclusion and raised his hand in a stopping motion. Knowing that everyone around him were a bunch of old people that rarely left their house and maybe the occasion visiting grandchild. So despite this particular city’s reputation, the street he lived on was certainly not dangerous. “Wait. It might be my dad-” He uttered.
“No, I can smell their hostile intent.” Vulcan counted with a light stomp.
“Okay, I trust you. But I don’t want anyone seeing you if I don’t have to. So I’ll check it out. Alright?” Asher reasoned, taking it seriously by approaching the back corner of their home. Really not sure what he was expecting to find as he walked toward the front of his house. But peering at the mail van that was idly parked driver’s side beside his opposite neighbor’s mailbox, was at first, a merely bothersome sight. Because it was an alarm over nothing important. Though he’d start to wonder how late they usually delivered packages on this road. But he continued to scrutinize and realize that the van wasn’t moving. Nor did the person sitting inside belong here — since mailmen didn’t work today. So whatever impulse possessed Asher to keep walking closer, it wasn’t long before the vehicle's tires were screeching and speeding away before he could get a decent look at its license plate. Though Asher did catch a glimpse of Vorvomon, who was already perched on the rooftop of his house and watching this unfold. “Vulcan, we need to get inside now!” Asher half-shouted, with enough urgency that Vorvomon leapt off the building and landed with aplomb. While Asher rushed up to open their door.
“I told you it was a threat.” Vulcan remarked, as he followed him inside.
Asher typed out a message of what happened, but deleted it afterward. Instead closing the door and shaking his head in dismissal. “It’s unlikely that we’re their target...”
“And who else lives here exactly?” Vorvomon scoffed. Although both of them arrived at the same answer. “So why does your Dad have enemies?” He pressed, creating a silence between the pair. As Asher rubbed his forehead to ponder a question that wouldn’t have any positive result, and muttered his reply. “I...I don’t know.”
“Ouro, tuck your tail in. The tip is sticking out of your disguise.” Kate instructed, before kneeling on her bedroom floor. Getting close and helping Dracomon make the proper adjustments to a hooded vampire robe that she insisted he put on. So Ouro quickly curled it up, and kept his blushing gaze affixed to the emptied and discarded plastic bag of peppers.
“Human clothing is uncomfortable and itchy.” He muttered aloud.
“And yet you still wanted to wear my dog’s collar.” Kate scoffed, as she stood upright and circled around to inspect the now cloth-enveloped digimon. “That’ll probably work...”
“I only like it because it’s shiny.” Ouro mumbled with a pout. Soon staring up at her uncertain expression, with the hood partially obscuring his view. “Is this...really necessary?”
Kate sighed wearily in response and rested her hands on her hips. “I already told you that I didn’t expect my parents to call me and say that they’re both coming home early from work.” She stated firmly.
“Your parents voices sounded nice to me.” Dracomon commented, with his tail swishing to the other side. “So why can’t I meet them too? I promise I’d go easy on them in a fight.” He asked with a joking smile. As Kate rolled her eyes and shook her head. Beginning to turn around and grab her phone off the bed, to check exactly how long ago it was when her parents called.
“Yeah, well my mom is eccentric enough that I could almost see her not freaking out over a dragon being next to her daughter.” Kate surmised, looking at the Digimon Tamers 2.0 title screen that remained running on her computer. “But my dad will shoot you on the spot.” She added emphatically. As Ouro’s stare followed her toward the closed door, he squirmed and shifted in the fabric that repeatedly brushed up against his scales.
“Are you that eager to visit my wonderful shrine?” Dracomon questioned, itching himself very carefully with his claw.
While Kate opened the door and then looked at him. “Well the least I can do is get you back safely.” She replied, suddenly realizing something. “Wait, are you saying I could enter that portal too?”
“I’d be disappointed if you didn’t.” Ouro answered in a vibrant tone. “And there’s no need to be afraid. Since you can use the same portal to return. Plus, everyone in the kingdom is friendly to the meek-”
“You mean a kingdom full of dragons?” Kate interrupted, letting his disparaging remark slide, and allowing her imagination to sell the once in a lifetime opportunity that supposedly existed on her neighborhood’s sidewalk. However, she then pictured all the various ways it might go terribly wrong. “I don’t plan to stay. But if you insist...I’ll take a quick peek.” She conceded, trying to sound uninterested. Which made Dracomon’s wings flutter briefly, as he began to follow her into the hallway.
“Wait until you see how ginormous it is.” He boasted with a grin, walking a few steps behind her to the back entrance of her house, all without tripping over his flowing cape. Although Ouro stopped and waited beside Kate as they waited for a police car to drive by. Exchanging glances with each other, as Ouro became the one leading the pair straight to where they were first acquainted.
“Woah.” Kate thought in awe, after watching Dracomon walk near the portal and vanish suddenly. Giving her a moment to reconsider what she was about to get herself into — until she took another step and found herself being pulled in. Feeling her anxiety building up in the tunnel of blinding light, before it was soon replaced with a vastly different scenery than she had envisioned. For in front of her stood a massive golden archway, with endless rows of intricately etched glyphs which seemed like ancient writing. However, it was standing tall atop the remnants of stone steps that lead up to the lone structure that didn’t seem to be destroyed ages ago. From the numerous large golden spiral pillars that collapsed on either side of the steps, and remains of what seemed to be several dragon statues. As she turned to stare at the purest of blue skies and a black robed figure standing silently at the mountain’s cliffside. And though the air was crisp, Kate still felt as if she was having trouble breathing.
“Ouro? Is this...what you wanted to show me?” She called out, to no reply. Realizing something was inside her pocket, and pulling it out to look at the odd green and orange device. Not even noticing that there was no portal, as Kate’s attention turned to Dracomon. Cautiously approaching to witness the same bird’s-eye view he had, once she got close enough to the edge. Seeing a sprawling sight of many heavily damaged golden buildings and no one else in her sight. “Ouro?” She uttered in a concerned tone, due to her disguise doing too good of a job in concealing his expression. Causing Kate to reluctantly reach out her hand to gently grip the hood and pull it off of Dracomon’s head.
Instantly feeling her fingertip barely brush against one of his horns in the process, as Dracomon swiftly spun around to reveal a scowling glare. “Don’t touch me.” Ouro snapped in a critical yet restrained tone. Sounding similar to a parent scolding their young in a public space, even as Kate could feel his emotional punch of wrathful anger. Something that changed both of their expressions to ones of deep regret.
"I’m really sorry I-"
They both stopped to sigh.
“Please don’t hate me, Kate. It’s simply not safe for others to touch me.” Dracomon pleaded, with his head hung low and staring at the ground. “My...home is gone.”
“Your Gekirin, right? I know. But-” She mumbled, stopping herself from making an excuse for what she knew from reading the MMO game’s description. Though not much consideration went into what came spilling from her mouth next. “If that’s the case, you’ll live with me!” She declared with a brash passion that seemed to render Dracomon’s slightly agape maw speechless. However, in the following seconds of awkward silence, he did finally respond to her with a clearing of his throat.
“A Dragon’s Code permits me to take up temporary dwelling if it is offered...” Ouro answered while turning to the side and closing his eyes. Failing to appear stoic when his downcast expression returned.
“Ouro. How do we leave?” She inquired anxiously, knowing the whole new world and all of its unanswered questions would have to wait. As Ouro faced Kate again, but then widened his eyes at the device that she held in her hand. Soon pointing at the device with his claw, and causing her to look at it.
“Start off by clearly picturing where you’d like to be in your mind...”
Mushroom Forest || Night Hearing her username made Alice relax a little. “Yeah, it’s Alice,” she said, getting her phone out to switch on the flashlight function and point it at where the voice was coming from. It was a feminine one, and pretty high-pitched too, which didn’t fit with Alice’s mental image of Afton, but Afton was the only other girl, as far as she could tell, so she gave it a shot. “Are you Ephie? Afton?”
The person that stepped out of the bushes was indeed a girl, but the digimon at her side was markedly not a Hopmon or Monodramon. Rather, it was a Muchomon, and if Alice remembered correctly, the person who with the Muchomon line in-game was—
“Clockmaker?” She blinked, looking the young and very much not male girl up and down. “I-I thought you were a boy.”
At her side, Doru looked the pair over, seeming more interested in the digimon at the girl’s side. “Hi,” he said. “I’m Dorimon, but you can call me Doru.”
“Yeah, um, hi, I’m Alice, nice to meet you,” she said, bowing, pausing mid-bow, then straightening and awkwardly offering a hand. Handshakes were how they did it in America, right? “Should I call you Clock then?” she asked. She understood privacy and all, especially given the girl’s age. Her parents were pretty protective too, but what they didn’t know couldn’t hurt them, and they knew enough about social media to accept most of it.
Looking around again, Alice could see why Afton and Asher hadn’t stuck around. As pretty as purple looked on the screen, purple in real life was pretty unsettling, especially when paired with the damp and dark.
“Oh, before you got here, I was about to digivolve Doru,” she said, glancing at Doru, who nodded, then at Clock. “That’s okay with you, right?”
After getting confirmation, she got Doru to stand a little away from them, then looked down at her digivice. With her phone’s light, she could see that it was white with purple-blue buttons, and she pressed the one Afton had mentioned in the messages earlier, then looked up. “Doru, is anything happening?”
Doru hesitated for a second, looking down at his feet, then looked back up again, eyes wide. “Y-yeah. I think something’s happening.”
In her hands, the screen of her digivice lit up, words writing themselves across the screen: Dorimon digivolve to: Dorumon At the same time, a beam of light enveloped Doru, rising until it disappeared into the dark clouds overhead.
“Doru!” The light contrasted their surroundings enough that Alice raised a hand to shield her eyes as she peered at it, and from under her hand she saw it retract into itself, coalescing into a form that stood hip-level instead of knee-level. Now a Dorumon proper, Doru was a truer purple than before, and he took on a bipedal stance that better suited his new fangs and claws.
Flexing his front claws, he glanced at Alice. “This is more comfortable.”
“Yeah,” she said, eyes wide as she walked over. “Can I?” she asked, checking before she touched his head, running a hand down his fur. He felt much like any coarse-haired dog, though she could tell his hair was much thicker than the dogs she’d petted before. The jewel on his head glinted in the moonlight, and she refrained from reaching for it, choosing instead to step back with a smile. “Good. Now you look ten times cooler.”
Doru blinked. “I do?” He looked over himself again, then looked back at Alice, his eyes just as confused as before. Still, he didn’t push the issue, instead opting for a nod, and Alice again got the impression he was choosing to do the mature thing. She had half a mind to call him out right then and there but thought better of it since Izzy was present.
“So, Muchomon, do you have a nickname?” Alice asked, looking at the colorful bird, whose demeanor showed their relative immaturity. At least they seemed like the type to speak their mind, unlike some other digimon, but she wasn’t complaining. Who could complain about someone being mature?
Los Angeles || Morning Afton scoured her house for supplies, her pace brisk as she walked from closet to kitchen. Beside her was Monodramon, who, because he was now much bigger, could now keep up with her much more easily. As such, he was now more prone to getting in her way, and she found herself pausing multiple times to allow him to amble out of her way.
“How about I get you something to eat or drink?” she suggested after another second of mounting irritation, very aware that her voice had taken on a note of annoyance. There were certain emotions she had a harder time reining in than others. Annoyance was one of those.
“Pizza? I want pizza,” Monodramon said, his fangs glinting as he followed Afton towards the kitchen. “Or bacon. Bacon was good. I’ll accept more bacon.”
Afton eyed him out of the corner of her eye. Though she couldn’t recall ever seeing a digimon get fat in the game, the game likely wasn’t a comprehensive source for information on digimon, and Monodramon certainly didn’t look lacking in the weight department.
“How about some chicken tenders?” she asked, pulling open the freezer and retrieving the box of frozen chicken strips. “Chickens are a bird. Meat. And they’re good,” she clarified immediately when she saw confusion forming on Monodramon’s face, which quickly returned to delight when he heard her words.
“Human food is pretty good, so I’ll try it,” he said, watching eagerly as Afton popped a few frozen strips into the toaster oven. When she turned to return the rest into the freezer, she found him waiting in front of the oven, his eyes boring into it intensely.
“Stay here and keep an eye on it,” she said, washing and toweling her hands off. “Let me know when the timer rings.”
Monodramon turned to look at her, confused. “Timer?”
“It’ll ring,” she said, walking back towards the closet to retrieve the backpack she’d been packing. The goal was to travel light, and she had lots of experience with packing for track meets and team hikes, but this was a bit different. Bringing a change of clothes seemed rather unnecessary, though she left in the waterproof windbreaker, and she opted for straight water instead of gatorade, throwing in a few granola bars for good measure. In went a small flashlight, an obnoxiously pink can of unused pepper spray, and a flimsy keychain compass roughly an inch wide.
Just as she was confirming she had all her bases covered, Monodramon burst out from the kitchen, his running gait reminding Afton strongly of how she imagined penguins could run if they had joints that weren’t made for streamlined swimming.
“Afton, the chicken is ready! It made a ringing sound! I heard it!” His eyes were bright as he came to a stop beside her, and she zipped up her backpack, staring at him. If she was estimating time correctly, which she usually did, it’d been roughly ten minutes, and she’d set the timer on the oven to fifteen. What, then, was the sound he’d heard?
“Did the sound come from the chicken?” she asked, walking towards the kitchen.
“Yeah,” Monodramon said after a brief moment of hesitation, prompting another glance from Afton as she rounded the corner. “Yeah it did!”
Despite the protesting firmness in his tone, Afton returned to find the timer still ticking down. A glance around had her eyes catch on her phone, which was charging on the counter’s corner, and she picked it up, opening it.
You feeling better? Drink more water.
Afton looked at Monodramon, silent. There were a lot of things to unpack here, and she didn’t feel like getting to all of them right now. It was only day one, and she needed him not to be upset or hurt for the moment.
“What?” His voice came out scratchy and defensive, but it held a tenor of nervousness, and Afton relented, dropping her gaze, then looking back up at him.
“Don’t lie to me, Monodramon. I’m honest with you, so be honest with me,” she said, her tone clean as she looked down at the dragon digimon, who looked more peevish every second. Then, bending down, she laid a hand on his head, letting it pause there, then dropped it, turning back to the toaster as it dinged. As soon as she retrieved the strips and put them in a bowl for Monodramon, they were on their way to the backyard, bowl and all.
“Afton,” Monodramon started as she crouched in front of where she’d found the portal earlier that day, but she snapped her eyes up to look at him, quieting him.
“Don’t apologize,” she said, reaching for his shoulder. “Just eat and do better.”
And with that, she touched her digivice to where she believed the portal to be, letting it suck her in again.
Mushroom Forest || Night “You know, I never thought about if the sun rises in this forest. It was always night here in the game, and… Yeah,” Cavan said, shrugging as he led the way through fungi-splotched forest. “Guess I just never thought about it. ”
At his side, Bax, who’d digivolved into Black Gabumon moments before, stalked along, his shoulders tense and his front claws at the ready. Personally, Cavan was of the opinion that merely being black made Black Gabumon eons cooler than the normal Gabumon. It was sorta like shiny Pokemon—they were rarer, so obviously, they were cooler. Plus, Black Gabumon had the virus attribute, giving its concept a darker vibe that Cavan appreciated. Vaccines were cool, but viruses? Definitely cooler.
“You know, I spent a ton of time here in-game,” Cavan said as he walked, looking around with a grin. “Mostly because I was dumb and couldn’t figure out what I needed to do originally, but my friends clued me in at school the next day. You just need to talk to Blossomon and ask it to let you use its portal.” He laughed, shaking his head. “The game told you and everything, but I didn’t get the hint. I mean, I wasn’t even ten. How was I supposed to know the crazy-looking flower was a good guy?”
Beside him, Bax cocked his head. “Blossomon?” He frowned, then sniffed. “Never heard of him.”
“What? You said you’ve been here right?” Cavan asked, his brows furrowed. “You’ve been here and you haven’t heard of Blossomon, the guardian of the Mushroom Forest?”
“No,” Bax said brusquely, twitching an ear.
“Huh. I thought everyone who comes through here meets him,” Cavan said, frowning. Then, after another moment of consideration, he shrugged. “Well, maybe real life is different from the games.”
Bax grunted, not bothering to respond, and Cavan grinned again.
“Well, this place is still pretty much the same,” he said, stopping and pointing to a tree. In its bark was a clean-cut X, sheared deep enough into the bark to leave a permanent mark. “This is Ninjamon territory. They’re ninjas, so they stay hidden until they need to strike. Kinda spooky, but I’ve never seen one in this forest,” he said, shrugging. “I always thought it was weird that this place was supposed to have them but didn’t. Guess the devs wanted to keep Champion-level digimon out of the beginner dungeon.”
Bax paused beside him, leaning forward to sniff the tree, then turned to sniff the air behind him. His eyes widened and shot up to the branches overhead, and he managed a growl just as several small red figures dropped out of the tree, landing beside him and Cavan with swords drawn and pointed. One of them dropped onto Cavan’s head, surprising him enough to make him duck, but it clung on even as he stumbled back, and he froze when he felt something cold press against his neck.
“Who are you,” the Ninjamon on his head squeaked, its voice scratchy but not intelligible. “Why have you trespassed on Ninjamon land.”
“I-I’m Cavan! And he’s Bax,” Cavan said quickly, hands raised in surrender. An awkward glance down showed that Bax had been pinned down by no less than three Ninjamon, and more had their blades out and pointed at him beside them. “We’re just exploring! We didn’t mean to trespass!”
A series of high-pitched chitters started, the Ninjamon repeating Cavan’s name and words. Then, after another moment, he felt the Ninjamon on his head shift imperceptibly. “We do not know of any Cavan within this forest. Are you a Mushroomon spy?”
His words jolted something in Cavan’s memory. Mushroomon—those were the mushroom digimon that also lived in the forest. If he was recalling correctly, they didn’t get along well with the rest of the inhabitants, and there were a lot of them. It was called “Mushroom Forest”, after all, but they weren’t in a position to take control of the forest. Blossomon. It was because of Blossomon.
“We’re here to see Blossomon!” Cavan burst out, looking around at the Ninjamon, who’d frozen enough for Bax to shake one off him. But then the second passed, and two others leapt onto Bax and pinned him down again, and Cavan felt the cold blade against his neck touch his skin.
“We do not appreciate your cruel jokes,” the Ninjamon on his head said. “We will take you to the Flower Council. They will decide whether or not you are spies.”
“Follow,” another Ninjamon said sharply, breaking the darkness, and Cavan did, casting worried glances at Bax, who was being prodded along between snarls. At this point, he had no idea what was happening. Some parts of what he remembered of the game checked out, but others didn't. Now, he just had to follow and see. Maybe Blossomon was on the Flower Council and would be willing to help, or maybe he’d just screwed himself royally by wandering around the digimon world with his digimon.
Izabel stepped out of the bushes and averted her gaze. As she gently pushed down on Muchomon’s wing, after he attempted to shield her eyes from Alice’s flashlight. Since this was her chance to see a guild member in real life. Although, in contrast to Clockmaker’s more chummy personality inside the game, she kept her distance from the brown-haired teenager. Making it hard to interpret exactly what she was thinking with her deadpan stare. But it’s not like she wasn’t expecting Doormaus to be older than her — as everyone on the internet seemed to be. Nor did she really care about getting mistaken for a boy, when her little brother had said the same thing. Yet there was just something at the back of her throat, that made it difficult to articulate to someone she had messaged online numerous times. “Yeah. That’s me.” She finally managed to answer, soon bending over to set Sunny on the ground. Freeing her hands to pull out the device and endlessly fidget with it. Though Muchomon smiled at the pair of them, spreading his colorful feathers with an eye-catching flourish.
“A pretty name I shall never forget.” Sunny noted once Dorimon had introduced himself. Receiving an immediate scoff from the young girl beside him. Before gracefully bowing his head to the other human in kind. And unlike Izabel, lacking a hint of reluctance, as he waddled forward to delicately touch Alice’s extended hand with his soft wings. “It’s truly wonderful to meet some of my partner’s friends.” He remarked in a sincere tone and cherished expression. Causing Izabel to sigh wearily and walk up behind him. Showing a glimpse of true emotion in her flustered reaction to his big mouth. “Izzy was so concerned that you two were in danger, that she rushed through this dark spooky forest to help-”
He was abruptly interrupted by a bop on the noggin. “You told them my name, bird-brain.” She chided, having him look up at her in confusion.
“I did?” Muchomon asked while lightly rubbing his head, having no recollection of it.
Izabel shook her head in disbelief and took a brief moment to scrutinize her surroundings. “I swear your head is denser than the forest.” She muttered, causing Sunny to hold his blushing cheeks.
“Hehe, you make me sound so impressive.” He twittered fondly, imagining the strength and sturdiness of the trees. As Izabel heard Alice’s intention to digivolve her pint-sized partner, she nodded firmly with a curious sparkle in her eyes. Focusing on the purple ball, as the light beamed and transformed the now dragon digimon in a flash. Gawking at the surreal sight, at least until she noticed Muchomon had vanished from the spot he was standing in. Only to touch Izabel’s hand from behind her legs.
“It’s the same digimon.” She stated, getting Muchomon to peek his head out.
“Yes, quite. I knew that.” He uttered sheepishly. As Muchomon hopped out from hiding and smiled warmly upon Alice’s question. Clearly eager to share precisely how happy he was to answer. “I’m Sunny.” He chirped. “Because that’s how Izzy makes me feel when I’m around her.” Izabel groaned, as Muchomon leaned back and looked up at her with a naive smile. “And she’s the best friend a bird could ask for.” He added, in hopes that she’d smile too.
Instead, Izabel reached down and pinched the air near his mouth, then threw her hand over her shoulder. “I tossed away your speaking key.” She chided, before facing Alice. “I believe it would be wise for us to return home.” She explained maturely, unaware of Muchomon’s wide teary eyes until he sniffled.
“Why Izzy?” He whimpered sadly, as she coldly stared at him.
“What are you crying for now?” She sighed.
“Why did you throw away my speaking key? How am I going to find it now?” Sunny uttered, impossible to tell how serious he was being in this regard. But she calmly crouched in front of him and wiped the tears from his eyes.
“I’m sorry Sunny.” Izabel said, softly patting his head, in a similar way she would for Koushiro.
Kate had never been happier to be inside her own room again. As she flopped backward onto her bed, and buried her troubled face underneath a pillow. “Thank you Ouro.” She huffed gratefully.
“No, please. It is I who must thank you for your hospitality.” Dracomon replied sincerely. As he casually stepped out of her open closet where the portal would disappear. Beginning to feel even worse due to how much better he sounded in comparison to her. Since the devastated image of everything he seemed to hold dear, was still at the forefront of her mind. Before being beaten to the punch by Dracomon, asking her the obvious question first. “Um...will you be okay?”
Making Kate abruptly sit up and stare at Dracomon’s inexplicable grin. “I should be asking you that.” She countered, sounding frustrated. Causing him to take a prideful stance.
“Great and ancient dragons have exceptional emotional control. So unlike more fragile species, I won’t let my feelings be a burden to others.” He explained in a pompous tone, while waving his claw in a dismissive manner.
Kate glared and folded her arms in response. “Sharing your feelings isn’t a weakness, Ouro.” She argued calmly, as he firmly shook his head.
“It is for me.” He insisted, pointing to himself.
But instead of engaging the dragon — she promptly left her bed and retrieved the acoustic guitar from her closet. Causing Ouro to blink a few times, and then quietly wait for Kate to explain herself, as she sat back down and held the instrument in her lap. Soon hearing the pleasant sound of plucked strings that garnered Dracomon’s full attention. So once she noticed Ouro had closed his eyes, and began tapping his foot to the rhythm, her gaze returned to focus on strumming one of her upbeat songs. Both relaxing in the moment and smiling without the other knowing. However, her music would eventually be halted due to a sharp tone-deaf humming coming from Dracomon. The kind so bad, it was funny enough to invoke a burst of laughter from Kate.
“Huh? Why’d you stop?” He uttered with a tilted head. “And what’s so funny?”
“Nothing-” She lied, wiping a tear from her eye. Both interrupted by the device suddenly beeping from within her pocket.
“Oh, well that’s probably not a good sign.” He remarked, with his wings fluttering a bit. Getting Kate to quickly pull it out as if it was going to explode, only to then notice the displayed messages on the lit-up device. “So what’s it say?” He pried, approaching up to the foot of the bed.
As Kate slowly read the on-screen text aloud, and was utterly lost as she did so. “Mission One...find out what happened in...Mushroom Forest...and return it to its original state.”
Noting Ouro’s silence, she then held it out for Dracomon to look at it. “Hmm...I’m not too familiar with that forest. But I do know about the Mushroomon.” He acknowledged, thoughtfully tapping his chin.
Having a mental lightbulb go off, she promptly headed to her computer chair and set the device on top of her desk. “Another digimon that looks like a mushroom?” She guessed, while sitting down and turning on her computer. Proceeding to launch the Digimon Tamers 2.0 game client, and grabbing her phone to send texts to her perkier friend. “If anyone knows what this means — she will.”
“Yes. But more importantly, their virus-types which have a sinister tendency to brainwash and assimilate their opponents.” Ouro warned, walking up to her chair.
“Well it won’t matter, if we don’t go there.” She commented, starting the game to play the tutorial. “Look — I have no clue what I’m doing. So I’m hoping that if I join this guild, somebody will able to help me figure this all out.”
As Dracomon nodded in response. “Then do what you think is best. He approved with a burst of confidence. “Because I’ll be by your side no matter what.”
“That part of your ‘Dragon’s Code’ too?” She snarked, with a playful smirk.
Dracomon pouted. “Don’t mock a Dragon’s Code.” He muttered, unconsciously nomming on his tail and speaking like his mouth was full. “It’s a set of sacred guidelines that all superior dragons must abide-”
“Biting your tail.” She interjected, making Ouro swiftly spit it out.
“That’s it!” Vorvomon exclaimed with a teeth-clenching scowl, as his wings swung up in the air. Promptly stomping his way toward the rear of Asher’s bed, and clamping his jaws down on a hanging corner of the puffy comforter that his partner's head was currently lying on top of. Starting to yank the blanket backward in his maw, which dragged Asher ever closer to hitting the floor, inches at a time. But neither the motion, nor the endless procession of complaints that he made since their arrival, had entered the teen’s mind for the past nine minutes. Instead, his eyes were entirely focused on the messages he was typing on his phone.
Can everyone please confirm when they’ve returned safely? Thank you.
And I’d like to ask if anyone has any ideas on how we can all meet up in the digital world together.
Cuz we’d be better off working in a group, and keeping each other safe from potential danger.
I’ll be testing a few theories I have myself, and report my findings here.
“Hey! Stop looking at your whatzamagit and answer me!” Vulcan shouted with an angry hop and flailing of his wings. Finally snapping Asher out of his stillness, and having him sit up to notice that his sheets were pulled halfway off. With the culprit glaring at him, and tapping his clawed foot. Though notably, not emitting the same glowing heat as he was before.
“I’m sorry Vulcan. I didn’t mean to ignore your questions. I just zone out sometimes.” He explained, rubbing the back of his neck. Watching Vorvomon let out a heavy sigh, and swiftly point at his wing at him.
“So?! What am I going to do if the threat returns, and they bring reinforcements? Since I wasn’t allowed to pursue them.” He questioned in a passionate tone, which was several decibels higher than what was necessary.
“You’re right.” Asher acknowledged calmly, while pulling out the device from his pant’s pocket. “I’ll create us another portal so we-”
“Can return to that place where we were nearly attacked?” Vulcan interrupted grumpily. As Asher shook his head in response, and closed his eyes to clearly picture one of the game’s sanctuaries. Places known as the only combat-free zones in the game's world. However, after a spare moment of silence, he opened his eyes to see that no portal had formed. Receiving an irate huff from Vorvomon.
“Because the Mushroom Forest exists in the game I tried to make a portal to another location that I know from your world.” Asher elaborated, shaking his head. “But I guess it didn’t work...”
“Hmph! Well I could’ve told you that.” He scoffed, then averted his gaze. “And you’re supposed to be the smart one...”
A sudden beeping sound stopped the conversation, as Asher looked at the new information that displayed on the device’s screen. “A mission objective? Did...one of my guildmates trigger this?” He muttered in speculation.
“Sounds like your allies are taking this as seriously as you seem to be.” Vulcan derided, as the dragon watched Asher silently crouched down in front of him. Unwittingly flinching at the sight of Asher’s hand reaching out for him. But Asher hesitated and dropped the hand to his side.
“Try to chill a little.” He advised patiently. As Vorvomon’s aggressiveness had plummeted along with his eyes — now gazing at the carpet.
“My world is not a game.” He muttered, with a deeply concerned expression. “And I just don’t want you to get hurt.”
“I am taking this seriously, Vulcan. Asher reassured, showing the device’s screen to Vorvomon. “And I was given a task to learn more about your world — so I’m willing to take a risk and go back.” He added. Though his words were met with a brief silence, as Vulcan looked up anxiously. Asher stood undeterred, and created a portal to the same spot within the Mushroom Forest.
“Alright, we’ll do it your way. Vulcan conceded with a firm nod, while he marched toward the glitching light. “But I’m going in first this time…” He proclaimed, heading into the portal and subsequently vanishing from the room.
* * *
Asher soon followed Vorvomon through the portal, and heard his shouted warning after it was too late.
“Asher get out of here now!” Vulcan demanded, sensing far more than just a single hostile target like the last time. Causing Asher to trust Vorvomon’s urgency and turn to the crimson moss tree, where the portal had predictably vanished the moment they entered. Quickly pulling out the device to make another portal home — but it wasn’t fast enough. As Vulcan’s eyes rapidly scrutinized the surrounding darkness, and began building up some fire in the back of his maw.
“Eight of them! We’re surrounded!” Vulcan thought in panic. Watching as seven little red mushrooms with wicked grins being hurled from every angle at once. “No-no-no!” Vorvomon panicked, realizing he couldn’t stop them all. As he quickly spewed an ascending diagonal line of fire across the air — hitting four of the bombs as each burst into an extinguished puff of purple smoke. Then while using his quick reflexes and aim, Vulcan quickly spun his tail 180 degrees to smack one of the bombs, and sent it careening into the bushes where one of these bastards were hiding. Only to have the bomb harmlessly smack the Mushroomon in the face. Having the other two hit their intended target, colliding into both of Vorvomon’s wings and covering him in a purple smog. But the true terror of the situation was when Vulcan observed a lone bomb that was a mere foot away from hitting Asher directly in the face. But when Vulcan opened his mouth to shout out his partner’s name...heartily laughter escaped instead. And both were helpless to stop it — as Vorvomon begun laughing like a maniac.
Meanwhile, Asher didn’t create the portal in time. But perhaps that was the most fortunate outcome due to what would come next…
Swiftly catching a glimpse and recognizing the red mushroom flying his way, as one of Mushroomon’s status-inflicting attacks from the game. But having no physical talents to simply backflip out of the danger, he could only shield his face with an open hand, as the mushroom bomb exploded.
“You were right Vulcan. I was...supposed to be the smart one.” Were Asher’s final thoughts before unwittingly inhaling the nasty odor from the purple smog. Suddenly, undergoing the same impossible-to-stop fit of uproarious laughter.
“HA-HA-HA-HA-HA!” is all that came from Asher’s mouth. “Ow. I can’t...breathe. This...hurts…” Asher grieved internally, accidentally dropping the device to the dirt below, and clutching his stomach. Followed shortly after by Asher collapsing forward onto his knees, with his hand reaching out for his fallen partner. Before Asher's head met the ground, looking on as Vorvomon’s legs gave out on him, as Vulcan had collapsed on his rear end. As both abruptly stopped laughing. The complete and utter paralysis of his entire body, overtook the teen. Meaning the pair could only stare at one another from a short distance apart.
“Asher!” Vulcan managed to choke out. To a proceeding chorus of snickering, as the entire group of Mushroomon walked out of the forest. One of them waltzing over and kicking Vulcan over onto his stomach.
“That’s for having the nerve of coming back to our territory, after you tried to burn me to a crisp earlier.” The Mushroomon revealed with a bitter sneer, stomping on Vorvomon's back.
“Yes, yes. We got rid of our biggest threat!” Another exclaimed, as six of them approached the unmoving dragon and formed a circle.
“You-you bastards better not touch my partner.” Vorvomon growled, though remaining on the ground, while he watched two of them approaching Asher.
“Don’t worry, we aren’t looking to absorb your data. Or hurt your little friend.” The first Mushroommon replied.
“No, No. We have other plans in mind.” The second added blithely. Which was when the two standing in front of Asher, began to chant the same snidely-toned words.
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t resist. You are now one of us.” The duo repeated over and over again.
As every single one of Asher’s memories up until his body hit the ground had instantly vanished from his head. Not helping was the fact that he was already a bit forgetful as it was — regardless of the bomb’s impact.
“I am...” Asher uttered with his speech quivering slightly. “One of you...I am...one of you” Asher agreed. Making Vulcan’s eyes leak, as the group of Mushroommon snickered victoriously.
“Relax pal, his side effects won’t last that long.” The first Mushroommon informed Vorvomon. “Besides, we only want you to join us.”
“Die. I want all of you...to die.”
Vorvomon features began to glow red, growing hotter and hotter. As some of the Mushroommon started to fearfully back away. The first merely had to remove his foot from the dragon’s scalding exterior.
“Oh, he can’t even move, you cowards.” The first one chastised. Followed by the second nodding quickly.
“Yes, yes. And unlike the mindless fool over there. We can transform this foul beast into a fellow Mushroommon. One who will be forever loyal to us and our cause.” The second Mushroomon hastily reminded them all precisely why they waited there in the first place. Getting all eight to reluctantly walk back over to Vulcan, and lean their heads in close without touching him.
“Don’t be afraid. Don’t resist. You are now one of us.” The seven chanted endlessly. While the first explained exactly what was happening with intense glee.
“The toxins we produce will begin...to smell...so good...” He mocked, looking down at the now silent Vorvomon. “And it won’t be much longer...until we alter...and corrupt...every last bit of your data...”
Asher merely spectated the unfolding conflict, mindlessly uttering the same phrase. As the fallen device soon screeched and glowed pitch-black.
Mushroom Forest || Night If the Ninjamon were following some sort of path, Cavan couldn’t see it. Instead, he was lead through acres of similar foliage that couldn’t be all that similar considering the variety of flora available, but which felt the same in that he couldn’t tell one direction from another after a few turns. The mixture of bright colors on dark ones made it difficult to focus on any plant in particular, and any sort of landmark they passed was seen again and again as bubblegum pink trees and neon yellow bushes repeated themselves every few meters.
The walk seemed endless, but the Ninjamon led the way silently, and the blade at his neck kept him moving. More than once he had to swallow the instinct to try and ask a question, but eventually the silence got the better of him.
“Where are we going?” he asked, and the blade against his neck pressed close enough to sting.
“Quiet! Save your words for the Flower Council!” the Ninjamon on his head said, loosening the blade. The stinging sensation it left, however, served to keep Cavan quiet and still even when Bax growled from behind him, his mind caught up on what felt distinctly like a drop of blood rolling slowly down his neck. The reality of the situation was starting to sink in, and it left him frazzled, unable to think about anything except the impossibility of it all. He’d found a digimon, travelled to the digital world, and been captured by digimon. Whether dying in the digital world was about to be tacked onto the list, he wasn’t sure, but his heart pounded just at the thought.
Whispers from the Ninjamon below caught Cavan’s attention before the change in scenery did. After turning his face so that the large leaf ahead brushed by harmlessly, he looked back to find that he’d stepped into a clearing. Flattened leaves of varying colors covered the floor, and around the clearing were trees and bushes of varying heights.
One of the Ninjamon hopped onto a nearby stump, clearing its throat. “Announcing Cavan and Black Gabumon! Found by the western border!”
Suddenly the clearing was surrounded by chatter, Cavan made out what he’d previously missed: Digimon in every nook and cranny of the trees and bushes around the clearing, tucked onto branches and between leaves. A cursory glance had him spot a multitude of Floramon, though interspersed between them were some Ninjamon and Kiwimon—their champion form digivolution.
A loud sequence of tight clacks interrupted the chattering, and the clearing quieted. From directly ahead stepped forth a particularly large Floramon, the two flowers making up its hands the size of basketballs. Considering the size of its petals, its veins easily stood out, striating its anatomy with a distinct pattern that disappeared into the joints that attached its head and arms to its glossy green body.
“Cavanmon, Gabumon, you stand before the Flower Council,” the Flowermon said, its voice feminine and high-pitched, yet loud enough to carry an intimidating cadence of authority. “Identify yourselves and state your reason for trespassing on flower territory.”
Beside him, Bax was rumbling with the start of another snarl, and Cavan glanced between him and the Floramon before steeling himself. There were a lot of eyes on him—easily more than a hundred, considering the size of most of the digimon present—but not talking had never been an option.
“I’m Cavan! I’m a human, and I came here to talk to Blossomon!” he called to the crowds.
The noise of conversation broke out instantly, at first quiet but gaining momentum into full-fledged clamor within seconds. Interrupting it was another sequence of sharp clacks, which Cavan was able to pinpoint to a Kiwimon drilling against a trunk behind the center Floramon, who, though engaged in conversation with some other Floramon beside it, looked rather perturbed by his words.
Silence fell again, and the center Flowermon was quiet for another second before straightening, a frown visible on its face. “Forgive the council for doubting you, but we do not know what a Humanmon is. Why you are requesting to see Blossomon further confuses us. Explain yourself.”
“I…” Cavan trailed off, not knowing what to say. He was just doing what he remembered doing in the game, but this was nothing like what happened in the game. In the game, talking to any of the Floramon present in the forest would prompt them to point you towards where Blossomon was at that time. That, though, was clearly not happening now, and Cavan had no idea where to go from here.
A beeping noise from his pocket caught his attention, and he instinctively reached for it, stopping when the cold sting of steel dabbed again at his neck.
“The council asks you to explain that noise,” the center Floramon said.
“I-It should be my Digivice, but I don’t know why it’s beeping. I-I need to check it to see,” Cavan said.
He looked at the Floramon, hoping it’d agree, and it did, nodding. The blade at his neck dropped, and he quickly reached into his pocket, his brows furrowing as he read the message displayed.
MISSION 1: Find out what happened in Mushroom Forest and return it to its original state.
Though it didn’t read like a cryptic message, its timing and contents made it seem like one, but it helped stoke a flame of hope inside him. He had a clear goal now. All he had to do was figure out how to go about achieving it.
The voice came from his left, hoarse enough to leave doubt as to whether or not it was truly masculine. From the crowds stepped forth a Kiwimon, its bone mask dull and worn with scratches, and when it looked at him, Cavan felt a shiver run down his back. A crack ran down one side of its mask, creating a web-like area that culminated a missing chunk right below its eye. Underneath the mask, Cavan could see the pale purple skin of the Kiwimon, featherless, wrinkled, and raw. It was scar tissue, judging by the brown feathers visible through the eyehole on the other side of the mask, and Cavan wasn’t sure he wanted to know what caused it.
“He’s a tamer. That’s a digivice, used by tamers to digivolve their Digimon.” The Kiwimon’s gaze was fixed on him as it spoke, and he realized that the eye on the cracked side was milky in color, blending in with the whites of its eye.
“Yes! That’s right!” His words were as frantic as his tone, but his gut told him to jump on the opportunity. “I’m a digimon tamer!”
A new round of whispering started as the council turned in on itself, the center Floramon’s eyes flicking between the Floramon beside it, who seemed more to be talking over each other than discussing amongst themselves. After another minute, though, it seemed to have had enough, and it swung back around, raising a hand to signal the drilling sound from a Kiwimon nearby. When the crowd quieted it fixed its gaze on Cavan, its expression guarded.
“Cavan the Humanmon, forgive us for doubting you, but there has not been a tamer in the forest for many years. Why have you come now?”
Cavan hesitated. There’d been no planning involved in his coming here, but judging by the mission his digivice was reporting, he was supposed to be and do something here. What he had to do was vague, and he wasn’t sure what “original state” the mission was talking about, but he’d have to try anyway.
“I’m here to help,” he said, glancing at Bax, who’d stilled enough to stare at him suspiciously. “Me and Bax both.”
The center Floramon glanced behind it, then met Cavan’s gaze again, nodding. “The council accepts your offer to help then, Cavan the Humanmon and tamer. Kiwimon will be your guide,” it said, gesturing to the Kiwimon who’d spoken earlier, who managed a nod after a grudging pause. “The council awaits your report, then. Good luck.”
With that, the digimon around the clearing seemed to melt back into to forest, the center Floramon filing into the foliage with the rest of the council, and the Ninjamon on his head jumped off, sheathing its blade with a tsk.
“We will be watching, Cavan the tamer. Do not let the council down,”’ it said.
“I’ll try not to,” Cavan said, watching it jump onto a tree nearby. Its fellow Ninjamon jumped off of Bax and joined it on the branch overhead, casting one last disapproving look at Cavan before melting into the leaves, Bax’s growls not ending until they disappeared completely.
“Well, that was a mess.” The Kiwimon with the cracked mask jumped down from its perch on a stump, plodding over to look Cavan up and down. “You’re really a tamer, huh? Thought my eyes were lying when I saw you walk in, but then you pulled that thing out,” it said, nodding at the digivice.
“Er, thanks for speaking out,” Cavan said. “I don’t think I would’ve gotten anywhere if you didn’t.”
“The Ninjamon weren’t kidding, you know, so save it,” the Kiwimon said, looking down at Bax, who’d started again with the growls, his eyes fierce as he glared at the larger digimon. “Bax, was it? Happy little bundle of fur, aren’t you?”
“He, uh, doesn’t like strangers,” Cavan said, stepping forward to put himself in front of the growling Black Gabumon. “You’re my guide, then?”
“Guess so. Not like I volunteered, but maybe I’d have thought about it considering you’re a tamer.” It fixed its one green eye on Cavan, squinting at him before nodding and turning away. “Right, let’s talk on the way. We’ve a long way to go, so might as well start now.”
Cavan blinked but followed quickly, glancing behind him to make sure Bax was following before jogging to catch up to the Kiwimon’s pace. “Where are we going?” he asked, his eyes drawn to the powerful muscles that made up the Kiwimon’s legs. They were what he imagined ostrich legs to be like, and they seemed abnormally large on the otherwise dog-sized bird.
“To see Blossomon” the Kiwimon replied simply. “Or what’s left of him, at least.”
Mushroom Forest || Night The juxtaposition of Izzy and Sunny brought a smile to Alice’s face. Where Sunny was literally sunny and rather naive, Izzy was a kid-sized bundle of jaded maturity that sharply contrasted her age. Though the two personalities should’ve clashed, Izzy seemed to have enough capacity for patience to rein despite his thoughtlessness, and they made an interesting pair.
As she watched the two talk, Alice wondered whether she’d been that mature at twelve, or however old Izzy was. In middle school, she’d buried her head in her studies, barely looking up enough to talk to her classmates, much less befriend them. Maybe she would’ve been as mature as Izzy seemed, had she made friends, but even back then her interactions had mostly been online, where emojis and gifs did the talking for her, so it was difficult to say.
“Right, Sunny,” Alice said, offering the Muchomon a stiff nod and smile before looking back at Izzy. “And I won’t tell the others your name if you don’t want me to. It’s name, so it’s your call.”
A pair of beeping sounds called Alice’s attention to her digivice, and she raised, brows furrowing as her eyes skimmed over the words on the screen. “A mission? Like a raid-mission in-game?”
Doru walked over to glance at the screen. “What does it say?”
“‘Find out what happened in Mushroom Forest and return it to its original state.’” Alice looked up at Izzy. “Find out what happened? Did something happen to the forest?”
She looked around, not seeing anything out of the ordinary. In every direction were trees, bushes, and mushrooms of varying colors, each competing to fill what space was available. Though she didn’t remember much of the forest in the game, she remembered how colorful it’d been, how chock-full of color the background was right from the get-go. But what was different about it?
“And what does ‘original state’ mean? Original like the game, or original as in… before the game?” She bit her lip, her mind whirling. ‘Find out what happened’... Those words were too close to the ones that started every mystery game she’d played for her not to instantly assume the worst, and mystery games tended not to have happy settings.
Mushroom Forest || Night Her phone dinged as she straightened, and she opened it to find some messages from Asher. Since there was no signal, she repocketed her phone, figuring she could get some more exploring done before the others started returning from the digital world.
“Monodramon, can you smell anything?” she asked, looking at the winged digimon, who sniffed imperiously in response.
“Smell anything? I’m a dragon, not some lowly beast. I don’t go around sniffing things on all fours like a worm hunting dirt, and—” He paused mid-sentence, sniffing again. “Actually, mushrooms. I smell mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms.”
Afton frowned, glancing around the place again. From what she could remember, the Mushroom Forest emphasized balance, especially that of the forest. Plants grew, died, and were decomposed by the fungi in the forest, which broke down and released the nutrients previously used by each plant for the forest to reuse. Life and death, use and reuse—those were the facets of the forest, the cycles constantly running, chasing each other into creating the forest. In the game, it’d been personified by the Floramon and Mushroomon inhabiting the forest, which checked each other with the help of the local guardian, Blossomon. The Ultimate level digimon was the caretaker of the forest, acting as both guard and guardian to its inhabitants, and it was careful to not let either side win over the other. The mushroom smell, then, was mildly concerning since it seemed to imply that there were more mushrooms than plants in this part of the woods, but her eyes weren’t seeing the imbalance Monodramon smelled.
“Afton?” Monodramon padded over, his eyes inquisitive. “Why’re you just standing there?”
“I’m thinking,” she said, walking over to a patch of mushrooms nearby. “Are you smelling these mushrooms?”
“Yes. Well, kinda. I’m smelling Mushroomon too,” Monodramon said, pointing at the foliage to their left, grinning. “They’re over there, watching, but there’s only a few of them, so they’re afraid to come out. They know I’ll eat them.”
A grin had stretched across his face, but Afton only spared him a glance. Her attention was instead focused on the Mushroomon he’d just mentioned, and she stared at the leaves he’d pointed at, still. There were wild digimon hidden in those leaves, and Monodramon assumed they were scared of him, not that they were biding their time or waiting for reinforcements.
At the first beep of her digivice, Afton silenced it, reading the words and pausing to think. She had two options here: One, to head back through the portal now and risk informing the Mushroomon of her ability to use portals, or two, to head deeper into the woods.
“Monodramon, let’s go,” she said, straightening and heading in the opposite direction of the hostile foliage.
“Where are we going? Do you know how to get around here?” Monodramon asked, now better able to keep pace with her.
The forest was dense, but Afton pushed on, sidestepping the mossy,slippery roots in favor of the rougher ones around it. “To find Blossomon, or some Floramon. Whichever one we find first.”
The chatty pair who originally captured Vulcan and separated from the rest of their group, were now guiding the uniquely golden-eyed Mushroomon by the gloves. As the trio walked across an old wooden bridge that was surrounded by a body of bubbling purple water. Only visible due to the many glowing mushroom-filled trees; which created a pungent stench of fungi that would continue to permeate through the air. Making both of them smugly grin at the sight of Vulcan’s deep inhale of what would be an intoxicating aroma.
“Do you like the stink of our swamp, new friend?” The Mushroomon asked blithely.
“Yes, Yes. Kehehe. Do tell.” The other Mushroomon snickered.
Vulcan nodded firmly, while speaking in a joyful tone. “Yes, my friends.” As he turned to stare and smile at the one who couldn’t stop giggling.
“Kehehe. Well, well, aren’t you so much happier than before.” He sneered.
“Mhm! I’m so excited to see where we’re going." Vulcan said giddily, as they soon stopped at a crossroad of connecting bridges.
“Since we're behind schedule. We’ll be taking you to meet our prisoners.” The Mushroomon replied, as they simultaneously let go of Vulcan’s gloves. “So follow your leader.” He added, beginning to move at a quicker pace. Disregarding Vulcan, who was left to stumble forward with a smile. As the adjacent Mushroomon noticed him struggling to walk independently.
“Sad, Sad. You’ve already forgotten about that stupid humanmon of yours-Eh?!” The Mushroomon then yelped at the sudden pull toward Vulcan’s violent glare. As the leader spun around at the sound of a big splash, seeing the moment after Vulcan had shoved the Mushroomon in. “No, no. That’s not something a friend does at all.” The Mushroomon protested once he rose to the surface. As the leader wearily sighed, and went up to take Vulcan by the glove again.
“Don’t be too upset. The snickering fool used to be resistant to change just like you.” He noted with a smirk. “Now, say you’re sorry. Then I’ll help you to your holding cell.” He instructed, causing Vulcan to glumly nod and bow his head at the swimming Mushroomon. “Good. Frankly, I prefer your silence.” He scoffed, letting the other Mushroomon climb his own way up, while tugging Vulcan away.
* * *
The haphazard prison was in an open clearing. Containing twenty small metal cages, with mostly Floramon and a half-dozen unconscious Ninjamon. But the atmosphere of dread was felt, as most of the Floramon had quickly curled up in the corner, when they saw the two Mushroomon approaching. However, one stood defiantly and watched on in confusion. As the same one who brought her here, opened up the last empty cage, using a key which he pulled out from within the strap of his glove. Before the Mushroomon swiftly shoved Vulcan inside, and proceeded to lock the door behind him.
“You even treat your own kind terribly.” The Floramon snapped in an exasperated tone. Causing the Mushroomon to merely scoff and lock the door. “But at least one of you back where you belong.” She berated. While Vulcan turned around to watch the Mushroomon snicker at her remark and walk off.
“Not even a day goes by, and my ally got me captured.” Vulcan thought cynically, completely ignoring the same Floramon who was currently chastising him.
“Why? Why did you have to corrupt our Blossomon and capture my friends? What did we ever do to you?”
“And I couldn’t even evolve — because I wouldn’t have been able to protect my incompetent partner. So now they’ve ruined my good sense of smell.”
“Wait a minute. I’ve never seen a Mushroomon cry.” Another Floramon interrupted, as the group of prisoners watched a couple tears fall from the golden-eyed stranger. Causing Vulcan to stand up and spit out the key into his hand, stolen from that snide idiot that he shoved in the swamp.
“Because I’m a Vorvomon!” Vulcan snapped, before immediately freeing himself by wriggling his twig arm through the narrow bars and unlocking the door. “And now — I am their greatest enemy.”
“Vul...can…” Asher muttered, feeling the sudden light slap across his face. As he opened his eyes to the same scenery, but only saw the lone Ninjamon that was holding out the small device in its hand. A fact that briefly pierced through his armor of calm, and got Asher to scramble up onto his feet. “Vulcan!” He shouted out to no avail.
“Your partner is gone. He bargained with them to come along quietly, if they left you there.” Ninjamon explained in a solemn tone, while Asher looked at him and clenched his hands tightly. “And I’m sorry. But when I arrived, your partner had already transformed into a Mushroomon.” Ninjamon stated, as Asher took a deep breath and leaned over to reclaim his device.
“Panicking won’t help me here.” Asher reminded himself, unable to comprehend the sentence that was spoken. “D-did they really make Vorvomon into one of them?” He asked, noticing its compass was pointing south as the device started to glow an ominous black.
The Ninjamon shook his head nervously. “It seems your partner had a superior mental fortitude...but if you don’t mind me saying so. I’m a little scared of him too.”
“If this means what I think it does, I’ll trust that Vulcan knows what he’s doing and not get in his way this time.” Asher pondered, incidentally half-hearing what was said.
“Hey, I heard from the grapevine that my colleagues found another humanmon with a device like yours.” He informed, swiftly getting Asher’s attention. “We must leave this place before they decide to return. Come with me, I’ll bring you to the flower council. And they’ll be able to take you to Blossomon.”
“I suppose I don’t have a better choice...” Asher noted hesitantly.
“I understand why you don’t have a reason to trust me yet. But please do...” He pleaded. As Asher pulled the jacket's hood over his head and nodded silently. Proceeding to follow the Ninjamon toward the eastern territory. “Vulcan — I hope you don’t think I’ve abandoned you.”
“Well, I don’t know what it means either.” Izzy replied, also looking at her device’s message. As Muchomon looked at her from below and reached his wing up in the air.
“May I take a peek?” Sunny inquired with a soft smile. Causing Izabel to shrug her shoulders and crouch down to show him the screen. As he began to inquisitive stare at it, she could imagine the smoke rising out of his head. “Hmm...it might be...yes...yes I think that’s it.” He mumbled, slowly coming to a certain realization. As she patiently waited for his expected answer — not that it would appear that way from her restless fingers tapping against her knee. “Something in the forest has indeed changed. And we’re supposed to change it back.” He responded.
Prompting Izzy to stand up and cross her arms. “So what’s different then?” She questioned, while Muchomon’s wing shyly rubbed the tip of his beak in reply.
“Um...that, I don’t know.” Sunny muttered, before noticing that Izzy was already creating a portal in one of the nearby trees.
“You can call me Izzy.” She sighed. "And with how my partner is, the others would’ve found out my name anyway.”
Though hearing that made Muchomon hang his head low, before he turned to address Alice and Doru. “W-will you two be okay in this spooky place alone?” He asked, anxiously twirling his front talons. As Izzy quickly approached and scooped Muchomon up.
“Don’t meddle. They can handle themselves.” Izzy chided, watching as he opened his mouth to protest. But he said nothing, and let her carry him toward the portal without doing anything else. “I’ll report back to the guild for both of our sakes, if you want to stay.” Izzy offered, her back now turned to the pair. “But I don’t want to keep them waiting in suspense.”
“Y-yes, we really must get going.” Sunny chimed in agreement. “It was nice to meet you both.” He added politely, before she headed into the portal.
* * *
Izabel carried her ‘plush toy’ into the garage. To the surprise that her dad’s car had not returned yet. As she lightly squeezed her feathered friend, and Sunny then softly smiled up at her blank stare.
“I’m sure they’re okay.” He reassured in a soft tone, before she shushed him.
“No talking.” Izzy reminded, as she carefully walked up to the door that entered the house. “I’m...um...sorry...” She began, with Muchomon brightening up before she could finish apologizing.
“I know you were worried about your family wondering where you were. So you wanted to get home-” He replied, before being interrupted with another shushing sound. But this time it was because her name was being called out by her mother. So she quickly opened the door, and started to leg it down the hallway.
“Yeah, Mom?” Izzy called out, as she ascended the staircase. Not stopping until she managed to make it inside her room and sigh in relief. As she hurriedly set Muchomon on the bed. He casually plopped down and gave her a smile of acknowledgement. Letting her make a short run into the hallway, where she was abruptly halted by the presence of Koushiro running upstairs to approach her.
“Izzy! Look, I had no cavities!” He exclaimed, giving his sister a pearly white smile. As she took a moment to consider why her brother was here.
“That’s good.” She replied, fiddling with her hat and goggles. “What happened to dinner?”
“Dad brought the wrong food home.” He explained. As she nodded and pointed down the stairs.
“I’ll race ya to mom.” She offered, as her brother happily dashed back downstairs. “That’ll keep him from finding Muchomon for now.” Izabel thought, proceeding to head into the kitchen where her mother and brother were both sitting at the table. Not expecting the question she then received.
“Did you let a bird inside of our house?” The mother asked, with a stern expression.
The past few hours of her life were spent at the dauntless task of completing a basic tutorial. But at least the quiet ambient sounds coming from her speakers were nice...
“I’m honestly not sure what disturbs me more…” Ouro chimed in yet again, while sitting on the edge of the bed. With his gaze affixed to the computer monitor in front of him. “Watching you ‘play as me’. Or that you appear to be failing at it.” He scoffed, making Kate groan and slouch back in her computer chair. As she took one glance at the Mushroom Forest on her screen, before swiveling around to face the pouting Dracomon.
“Are you really still upset that I said that?” She sighed, not getting a response until she continued. “Or is it because I joked about your code-”
“Both.” Ouro interrupted with blunt honesty. As Kate played with her hair for a moment to consider what should be said next. Before deciding to shrug it off and turn herself around to send more messages to her friend.
@DestroyerOfWorlds Thanks for getting me into the guild, Ash.
@RockStarKate Mwhaha! My pleasure.
@DestroyerOfWorlds Are you understanding the game alright?
“No. But, I understand the real thing even less.” Kate thought, glancing over her shoulder to see Dracomon’s stubborn glare. As she quickly looked away and massaged her temples. “Though, he sure does seem to hold a grudge.” However, that notion got Kate thinking and frantically typing away at her keyboard. Feeling confident that her computer chair was blocking their chat from Ouro’s view.
@DestroyerOfWorlds So this may seem like a stupid question but...
@DestroyerOfWorlds Let’s say you actually found a real digimon. How would you hide it, and keep it hidden from your family?
Her friend didn’t respond right away, as Kate practically held her breath until she exhaled in relief at the answer.
@RockStarKate Ooo. That would be so great! Though I wouldn’t have to worry about anyone seeing the digimon. Since I’ve been living on my own since my 18th birthday. ^3^
She got halfway into writing her message, ‘Ash, I have a really big favor to ask of you’, but then immediately backspaced it into oblivion. “Ouro...would you be willing to live at my friend’s house?” Kate asked with a hesitant tone, as she turned around to notice that Dracomon was giving her time to elaborate further. “You’d be safer there, since she lives alone. You’d...probably get plenty of snacks.” She stated with an increasing lack of confidence, while starting to feel stupid for even suggesting it. Causing Dracomon to smile and shake his head slightly.
“If you’re worried about others finding me. I would rather return to my shrine.” He replied. “Really. I don’t want to trouble you, or your family.”
“If those are the only two options, you’re staying here.” Kate insisted sternly, picturing the little dragon sitting alone within the wreckage of his former home. As Ouro promptly nodded with a grin, getting a smile back from her in kind. “Alright then. I’ll figure it out…after I get myself another drink.” She assured herself, while standing up. Sparing one last look at the computer to see that she had just received a private message. Although it wasn’t from ‘ApolloKnight’, one of the supposed guild leader’s that her friend mentioned..
@RockStarKate I saw your message about the meteor in chat. Did you receive one too?
Kate stared at the message reluctantly, not even noticing that Dracomon had swiftly moved off the bed and stood up on her seat.
“It appears that someone else has had the same thing happen to them.” Ouro commented, briefly startling her, before Kate sent a reply.
@The_Clockmaker Are you a boy, or a girl?
“So, should I tell them anything?” Kate asked, seeking Dracomon’s advice.
“I think we could use whatever information they may have.” He responded promptly. As Kate also got a swift answer back.
@RockStarKate A girl. So did you get one or not?
“Straight and to the point. I like it.” Kate thought with a smile, as she began to reply. “I can already feel the start of a like-minded friendship.”
@The_Clockmaker Awesome. Yeah, I found a device. Does yours mention something about the Mushroom Forest too?
While at the same time...
Izabel was lying in bed on her stomach, with her legs casually swaying and kicking the pillows. Offering a blank expression to the messages she was now receiving. Taking a moment to place the laptop at her side and look down at Muchomon, who was sitting on the floor and joyously munching on a plate of sushi rolls.
“Well this person's already annoying me...” Izzy muttered, as Sunny soon swallowed and fluttered his wings gleefully.
“Oh my, this is quite delicious.” He chirped, proceeding to pop another one in his beak.
Mushroom Forest || Night “Er, what do I call you?” Cavan asked as he walked along between Bax and the Kiwimon with the cracked mask, the former of whom was glaring at the latter, prepared to growl at any time. “‘Kiwimon’ is, well, there’s a lot of Kiwimon around.”
The Kiwimon peered back at Bax, its lips curved in what Cavan could only assume was amusement. “Right,” it said, rolling its eyes. “Names. I’ll never understand why you tamers are so obsessed with them. I’m a Kiwimon, so call me a Kiwimon.” Then, after a pause, it looked back at Cavan, its one green eye giving nothing away as it looked at him in the darkness. “Flynn. You can call me Flynn,” it said, then focused its gaze forward.
“Right, Flynn, you a guy then?” While he and Bax had to maintain speed walking and jogging speeds respectively to keep up with Flynn, the Kiwimon showed no signs of wanting to slow its pace, so Cavan didn't ask.
“A guy?” Flynn repeated, glancing back again, his one green eye meeting Cavan’s gaze testily. “Don’t you have more important things to ask about?”
“Er, I guess?” Cavan rubbed the back of his neck, unsure of how to come back from that. For most digimon, their voice was enough to tell their gender since they were distinctly feminine, masculine, or neither. In Flynn’s case, however, the Kiwimon’s voice was too scratchy for Cavan to make anything specific out, though he was leaning towards masculine just because he got that vibe from the Kiwimon.
Flynn managed another eye roll. “Yeah I’m a ‘guy’. And to answer the other questions you’re probably thinking of asking, yes I’m blind in one eye, and yes these are injuries from fighting with the mushrooms, the sporous bastards.” He cocked his head the other way so that Cavan got a better look at the crack in his mask. “Mask got smashed in a fight with a Woodmon, which I don’t recommend you trying unless you can get that fluffball to digivolve, and my voice got messed up by the laughing gas,” he said, attempting a throat clear that sounded more like a wheeze than anything. “Laughing too much too long… Don’t recommend that either.”
“R-right.” Though Cavan had been wondering about those exact questions, having them answered so suddenly threw him off. Still, he was glad to have answers, especially since they lent themselves to more questions. “You said you, er, you said something about a Woodmon?” Asking about past injuries didn’t seem like a good idea, so he’d sidestepped the ask. Clumsily, sure, but hopefully he’d caught himself early enough that Flynn hadn’t noticed.
“Woodmon, Mushroomon’s digivolved form.” Flynn’s green eye lingered him, and he got the sense that the Kiwimon was considering him, which wasn’t a bad thing in itself. After another second, though, Flynn looked away, his pace as steady as it’d been when they’d set out. “A lot of things have changed since the last time tamers were here.”
“I’m getting that,” Cavan said, frowning. Woodmon? Sure he remembered chancing across descriptions of Ninjamon and maybe a single Kiwimon NPC back in the day, but Woodmon? No way, unless he and his friends had somehow missed a large and entirely optional portion of the Mushroom Forest quests, which he doubted. Him missing it on his own was believable, but a group of four all missing a quest? Considering how much smarter some of his friends were, he didn’t think that likely.
“Let’s start at the top. What do you know?” Flynn asked, his footsteps treading a low bass for the forest’s leafy ambience.
“I know that both Mushroomon and Floramon live in the forest, and that their digivolutions do too, apparently. And I know that Blossomon is the one in charge of this place.” And the one with access to the portal, but Cavan left that out. No need to make it seem like he was in to do anything else beside help.
“So you know nothing about what happened after the tamers left. Explains why you kept bringing up Blossomon like some daft hatchling.” Flynn sniffed, then continued. “Blossomon’s gone. Corrupted. The Mushroomon population kept growing, and when Woodmon started popping up, the old flower couldn’t keep up. They got to him, and he put up a good fight, but he lost in the end.” His tone turned sharp towards the end, almost scathing, as if there was blame to be assigned there. It almost sounded like he was blaming Blossomon, which Cavan didn’t know what to make of. Virus-attribute digimon like Mushroomon were notoriously difficult to deal with when their populations grew too big, which was why most of Digimon Tamers had been about battling them and keeping them in check. To hear that Blossomon had lost the fight, then, was disappointing but not difficult to believe, and Cavan had a sense that Blossomon was probably core to the mission announced on his digivice.
“Blossomon was corrupted? Did he turn virus?” The mere thought sent a shiver down Cavan’s spine. Blossomon was an Ultimate-level digimon, and in the game, players didn’t have to deal with Ultimate-level digimon until their characters were established Champion-level digimon.
“Virus? No, but he did turn something.” Flynn’s tone had taken on that tone of annoyance again, and it was clear where he was assigning blame now. “We’re almost there, so you can see for yourself.”
Another few minutes of fast-paced walking saw the colorful forest fade out in favor of the bland green of heavy woodland. Soon enough, all they passed were tan-barked trees raising leafy greens overhead, which seemed to grow denser with every step forward. The forest almost seemed to close in on them, the gaps between the trunks and branches growing smaller and smaller as they moved forward.
“We’ll be climbing from here,” Flynn said when they reached a fence-like row of trees, the texture of the bark resembling rope more than wood.
“Climbing?” Cavan looked around uncertainly. All he could see were trees.
Crouching down, Flynn boosted himself into a leap that easily cleared the top of Cavan’s head, landing cleanly on a branch above. “Yeah, climbing,” he said, looking down at Cavan and Bax with his one green eye. “You two coming?”
“Er.” Cavan looked to Bax, eyes widening when he saw the Black Gabumon easily scale up the bark of the tree Flynn had jumped into. Right, Bax was a beast-type digimon equipped with a pair of long, sharp claws that made short work of anything digging and climbing. He’d have no problem climbing, unlike Cavan.
Approaching a tree with a low-hanging branch, Cavan grasped it, attempting to raise himself but settling for inching up by trying to find leverage in the bark with his feet and kick himself up onto the branch. As he struggled to hoist himself up, his feet scrabbling against the bark, he caught Bax staring at him, and he grunted, managing a grin. “I’m fine!”
Bax didn’t look like he believed him in the slightest, and he jumped over, easily landing on the branch Cavan was struggling with, his claws scoring the bark like it were clay. Leaning over, he opened his mouth, and at the sight of the row of sharp teeth, Cavan cried out and dodged his mouth.
“What was that for?” he demanded, looking at Bax with wide eyes.
“Hold still,” Bax snapped back, leaning over again and snapping up his sleeve. When he started tugging, it clicked for Cavan that he was trying to help, and with his help, Cavan managed to heft himself up onto the branch, breathing out a sigh of relief when he did.
“Thanks,” Cavan said when he caught his breath, giving Bax a thankful look that the Gabumon pointedly avoided.
“You two planning on doing that for every single branch?” Flynn asked, his tone casual but betraying a note of amusement.
“What’s it to you?” Bax snapped back, throwing a glare at Flynn, who managed a scratchy laugh.
“Well, I don’t want to be here forever, you see.” Flynn cocked his head, looking around, then jumped over to the branch Cavan and Bax were on as well. “Look, I’m only offering because I want to get this over with as fast as possible,” he said, bending his head down so that it was lower than his body, “so hurry up.”
Cavan widened his eyes. “I, er, don’t think you’ll be able to carry me,” he said, frowning.
Flynn shot him an annoyed look. “Who’s carrying anyone? I’m telling you to use me to reach the next branch since Gabumon here’s too short to do it.”
“Oh. Right.” Cavan got up, pausing to regain his balance before walking over to Flynn, his steps slow and careful. “Thanks,” he said as he stepped onto Flynn’s head, then body, surprised when the Kiwimon barely budged at his weight.
“Just hurry up,” Flynn ground out as he hefted Cavan onto the next branch up with a push of his head. “We’ll need to climb another five, at least.”
Though Bax was clearly unhappy about Flynn’s earlier comment about him not being able to help, he didn’t protest much as he followed Cavan’s slow progression up the branches, which Cavan was grateful for. Bax was too short-tempered for his own good sometimes, and Cavan was glad to see that there were moments when the Gabumon knew to hold back his anger. As for Flynn, Cavan was glad to find that there was a decent soul underneath his can’t-phase-me exterior. Despite Flynn’s annoyance, the Kiwimon clearly wanted to help, and Cavan was getting the sense that there was more to Flynn’s story than he was letting on. His scars, for one, were uniquely his. The digimon Cavan had seen on the Flower Council lacked scars like Flynn’s, though Cavan admittedly hadn’t gotten a good look at many digimon there. Still, even Flynn’s annoyance at Blossomon seemed to stem from a deeper concern, either for the forest or its inhabitants, and that thought made him realize he could probably do to take this all more seriously.
“Here is fine,” Flynn said, hopping up to the branch Cavan had hoisted himself up onto.
“What’re we looking for exactly?” Cavan asked between pants, his eyes flicking aimlessly over the woody landscape below. All he could see were trees, trees, and more trees.
“There, that thing.” Flynn stabbed his beak at a particularly strange set of woody stalks in the sea of forest. “Four legs, petal head?”
As soon as he pointed it out, Cavan saw it: A giant lizard made of wood and leaves, its tail and spines long and made entirely of brown ropes of wood that swirled in on themselves to form thick stalks. Even from a distance, Cavan could tell the thing was massive, the length of the ring of red, leaf-like petals around its head tall enough to clear the first row of branches near it. Though its eyes were closed, the leaves on its back rustled restlessly, and Cavan felt a shiver of fear crawl down his spine.
“What is that?” he asked, his eyes not leaving the leafy lizard that he was this close to calling a dragon. The woody tendrils on its back were tall enough for Cavan to easily picture them as a set of large wings if they bound together, and its frill of red leaves didn’t help persuade him otherwise.
“That, my friend, used to be Blossomon,” Flynn said, his tone hard. “More wood than flower these days, and a whole lot more hungry too.”
Cavan broke his stare to look at Flynn, eyes round. “H-hungry?”
“Yeah, we feed him. Every other day, usually, or every three if we can’t get our hands on some Mushroomon.” Flynn shook his head. “There’s no way around it. If he doesn’t eat, he starts rampaging, and he ends up destroying the forest with these ‘trees’ he summons. You can tell,” he said, nodding at the trees beside them. “These things around here—they’re weird. Wrong. They don’t grow like normal, don’t seed and flower. They just… exist.”
Cavan’s eyes returned to the beast in the forest, his stomach sinking. He’d expected some virus-afflicted Blossomon, an Ultimate-level digimon, but that thing? That thing looked way bigger than Ultimate. Mega? Ultra? Cavan would believe either at this point.
A black structure a small distance from the beast caught his eyes, and he pointed at it, glancing at Flynn. “What’s that?”
“That?” Flynn leaned forward, squinting his eye. “No idea. But it’s always been there.”
Cavan looked back at it, the weight in his gut growing heavier. It was the portal—or something like it. It had to be. Blossomon was the guardian of the forest, and he guarded the portal. That meant that the beast really was Blossomon, and was likely the key to his mission.
“Well, how about it, tamer?” Flynn asked, looking at him. “Any questions? Ideas on how you’re going to help? And if you still want to talk to Blossomon, be my guest. He might eat you, but that’d help too.”
Mushroom Forest || Night Hearing that Izzy was clueless as well wasn’t comforting, but Alice supposed there was little that could comfort her except answers she didn’t have at this point. There was something about not being in the know—not being in control—that was profoundly irritating, but she was distracted by Sunny’s question of whether or not she and Doru would be okay alone.
“Reporting back?” That was a good idea. Why hadn’t she thought of that? But, now that Izzy had called the role, there was little point in leaving with her. The most she could do if she tagged along was confirm Izzy’s account, which no one would doubt anyway. Clockmaker didn’t joke around, and anyone who’d seen guild chats recently knew that.
“I-I think Doru and I will stick around, yeah. You report back,” Alice said, looking to Doru, who gave a delayed but confirming nod. “We might not be here when you get back, but we’ll text when we head back ourselves.”
“Nice to meet you both too, and stay safe,” Doru said from beside her, offering Sunny a wave as the bird digimon waddled away with Izzy.
“Yeah, that too,” Alice said, realizing that she probably should’ve said that. Honestly, in-person conversations were exhausting, with all the thinking and second-guessing she needed to do. On top of that was the matter of her missing her emoticons. With them, it was so much easier to make her words sound happy and kind. Without them, however, she came off sounding more awkward and depressed than she wanted to, and since trying to emote her emoticons was out of the question, she was stuck like this.
“I should’ve remembered to say bye,” she muttered, kicking at a stray branch near her feet. It was such a basic thing, saying bye, and she’d forgotten it, getting too caught up with her next step to pay attention to Izzy’s. Her parents had taught her better, but she’d forgotten.
“That’s okay. I said bye,” Doru said, looking at her. His gaze was a little too interested in Alice’s comfort, and she clenched her teeth, crossing her arms as she looked around for a direction to walk them in.
“We’re going this way,” she said, starting off in said direction without waiting for Doru’s response. Within seconds, though, Doru had caught up with her, his steps larger than hers as he walked along beside her.
“Where are we going?” he asked after another second, and Alice clenched her teeth tighter because she didn’t know. She just didn’t want to stand there like some clueless person, but admitting that would be admitting that she was just a clueless person heading in a random direction, and she didn’t want to do that.
“Forwards,” she managed at last, her annoyance too apparent in her tone for her liking, but Doru didn’t pursue the point further, so maybe it was fine. Silence was better than having to admit she was wrong, after all, and it gave her time to focus on the forest, which had started out calming but was beginning to strike her as creepy. What did this place look like in the daytime? Would it be equally dark, considering the dense foliage overhead, or would there be enough sunlight filtering through the leaves to light the place up?
“There’s someone up ahead,” Doru said, and Alice froze, her eyes wide as the bushes ahead rustled. Out burst a tall, purple-haired girl whose shorts and platform boots were clearly not meant for forest-trekking. Her eyes were pink and flat—contacts, really?—as they looked over Alice and Doru, giving the impression that the girl wasn’t impressed, and the curl of annoyance that inspired was enough for Alice to guess who the girl was even before her Monodramon stepped out into the moonlight.
“Afton? Effie?” she asked, crossing her arms.
“Alice, Doormaus,” the girl replied, mimicking the delivery of her words but with none of her tone, which only irked Alice more.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Doru,” Doru asserted, stepping forward with a careful glance at Alice. Despite the annoyed look Alice shot him, though, he focused on the Monodramon sizing him up, meeting the dragon digimon’s narrowed eyes with a small smile.
Mushroom Forest || Night Sure Alice wasn’t completely what Afton was expecting for D00rmaus. D00rmaus emoted like she breathed, sounded as upbeat as a leaf blower full of flowers and glitter, but take the glitz and glamor away and Afton could see where the wannabe groupee ended and the awkward, deadpan girl began. If Alice’s crossed arms didn’t spell out her dislike for Afton clearly enough, the distaste on her face did, and Afton figured it a waste of time to try and correct that opinion. Having D00rmaus feel awkward around her seemed like a win-win.
The Dorumon at Alice’s side, however, was interesting. Alice had named him Doru, as if people couldn’t see what digimon he was and what line he was from, which showed her lack of creativity and originality. She was probably the type to gravitate towards math, science, and history, the type to interpret art literally and fail to understand the subtext of pieces she came across, be that of music, literature, or otherwise. But that was enough about her. The Dorumon was what intrigued Afton. Unlike Monodramon, Doru seemed to understand nuance, and the smile he directed at Monodramon despite the dragon digimon’s open hostility revealed his maturity. Where Monodramon was quick to judge Doru to be below him, turning up his nose with a sniff, Doru understood that hostility or not, they were allies for the moment, and being polite now would serve him well in the long run. He had more maturity and intellect than many humans, nevermind digimon, and Afton respected that.
That all said, Afton wouldn’t get along with him either, and in a strange way, Monodramon fit her more. Sure Monodramon was prone to anger and arrogance, and sure she’d have to work that streak of dishonesty out of him, but he was something Afton could work with. He wouldn’t think to settle, wouldn’t think she’d gone too far or been too rude. Doru, on the other hand, would end up limiting her just as he limited himself, pushing her to grow in directions she didn’t want to grow in, and Afton could live without that. She wanted to rein her digimon in, not the other way around, and Monodramon worked perfectly with that role.
“How did you find us?” Alice asked, and Afton met her eyes solidly, noticing the way she looked at Afton like she was trying to figure out designs on some strange piece of pottery. It’d taken her a lot to ask that question, and she didn’t want to talk to Afton any more than Afton wanted to talk to her.
“We walked in one direction and got lucky,” Afton replied. The disapproval in Alice’s eyes was amusing, to say the least. What she wore was her business, and while she agreed she might look strange to most, she looked different, and that worked for her. Purple hair and pink colored contacts that matched her clothes and nails tied her look together, and if Alice thought her judgement meant anything to Afton, she could keep on.
“We met Clockmaker and Sunny earlier. They went back to inform the group,” Doru said, his voice cool but friendly. When Alice shot him another withering glare, Afton decided firmly that she liked Doru, if only because he too knew that Alice wasn’t doing herself any favors with that attitude.
“We almost ran into some Mushroomon earlier,” Afton said, her words and gaze directed at Doru. “I’m thinking they have something to do with the mission.”
Alice made a face, probably because she came to some realization she should’ve come to earlier. “What about the Floramon?”
“They’re probably our allies. Data versus virus and all,” Afton said, sparing her a glance. “We should try and find a Floramon to talk to.”
“Talk to the pansies? Count me out,” Monodramon said, sniffing.
“Let’s go,” Afton said, turning towards the woods. “No use in standing around.”
Alice glanced between her and Monodramon, brows furrowed, before shooting her one last look of annoyance. “Fine.”
Dorumon nodded, reaffirming Afton’s view of him as the reasonable half of the pair. “Lead the way.”
Beside Afton, Monodramon looked between them incredulously. When Afton's gaze flicked to him, however, he huffed. “Fine. Let's find some pansies.”
A knee-deep sea of tall violet grass made it harder for Asher to keep track of the Ninjamon’s silent movements. So thankfully their conversation allowed him to follow the digimon’s voice. As his arms were pushing through an endless clutter of sticky vines, clinging onto and hanging from every single crimson moss-covered tree. For what used to be a unique feature of his surroundings, became a disturbing similarity that felt particularly unnatural. Since the area looked nothing like this in the actual game.
“No, I’m not aware of any prophecy about tamers returning.” Ninjamon replied in a hushed tone, before quickly glancing over his shoulder. Just to see that the humanmon had finally caught up to him. “But someone at the flower council might be able to answer your questions.” He continued, shortly resuming his lead. As they soon reached the edge of an open clearing that was brimming with a bed of glowing flora, that blended colorful hues of purples, reds and blues. “Wait.” Ninjamon urged, stopping Asher where he stood. As the Ninjamon gripped the handle of the sheathed blade on his backside. “Stay quiet and get low beside me.”
Getting Asher to promptly crouch himself behind a tree. Not needing to wait for an explanation, when he heard the bout of deep snickering coming closer. While Ninjamon watched from a veil of vines, as a Mushroomon and a Woodmon ambled out into the clearing. “There’s always at least two of them.” Ninjamon thought, soon turning to face the completely placid teenager. Having trouble detecting the thump of Asher’s docile heartbeat. But still feeling the unsettling aura that was flowing from the device within his pocket. “How is he calmer than I am? Especially, after knowing what they're capable of."
“Yeah, yeah. Laugh it up. You managed to absorb their data and evolve first.” Mushroomon grumbled in a shrill pitch.
“Heh-heh. So how’s the weather down there?” The Woodmon snarked in a much deeper tone, with the widest of grins, patting the grumpy Mushroomon’s head. Causing Mushroommon to scoff and use both of his gloved hands to shove Woodmon’s arm away. As Woodmon stopped and turned to his right, squinting in Ninjamon’s direction. “Hey. Who’s there?” He called out, to no reply. As Mushroommon then looked up at his ally’s glare.
“What’s the problem, mate?”
“I smell mushrooms that shouldn’t be here.” Woodmon answered. Abruptly swinging his arm up and forward, to throw a trio of razor-sharp leafs that shot straight through the air and vanished in-between the trees. As Ninjamon reflexively drew his blade to block the impact. Splitting them each in two pieces that careened harmlessly to either side of both Ninjamon and Asher. Leading to a brief awkward silence, that caused the Mushroomon to chuckle and fearlessly approach the hidden pair.
“Seems like you’re barking up the wrong tree.” Mushroomon scoffed, not able to smell Asher’s clothing.
“I suppose I have no choice.” Ninjamon conceded, making one swift and sudden burst of motion. Dashing from out of cover with a thunderous speed, and slashing through the Mushroomon in an instant. Leaving behind a horizontal split of flickering data that began to get suddenly pulled into Woodmon’s body. Causing Ninjamon to pull out a large shuriken and hurl it right smack dab in the middle of Woodmon’s forehead. Although, this had the Ninjamon watch on in apprehensive surprise, as the Woodmon went cross-eyed and casually plucked the weapon out of his head.
As Asher now watched from the sidelines, from the other side of the tree. “Ninjamon moved in a blink of an eye… He thought, with an attentive gaze. “But can he really take on that Woodmon by himself?” Seeing the Ninjamon quickly dash back into the trees in the opposite direction of where Asher was. But it wasn’t to run away from danger, as the Ninjamon started nimbly hopping across the treetops. While Woodmon haphazardly discarded the shuriken, with an annoyed expression. Spinning himself clockwise ninety degrees to keep up with the shuffling of branches from on high, as Woodmon then caught a glimpse of the Ninjamon suddenly leaping down to the ground. Before the body shortly disappeared, suggesting that he had changed course.
“You Ninjamon get on my nerves.” Woodmon replied. When from behind him, the real Ninjamon leapt from the tree, and tightly held the blade over his own head. Ready to swing down and strike at his unassuming opponent. But then — Woodmon swiftly spun around in knowing anticipation and smashed the Ninjamon with his poisonous arm. Nearly knocking the sword out of the Ninjamon’s tight grasp, and sending him tumbling onto the glowing flora below. Quite close to where Asher had moved to in the interim. “Creating clones as a diversion. Hit and run tactics. I’ve seen it all before.” Woodmon sneered, while stomping over to the Ninjamon, who was struggling to stand back up and using his weapon as a cane.
However, that was Asher’s opportunity to dash forward and toss an entangled pile of yanked-off tree vines over top of the Woodmon. As the Woodmon reactively swung both of his arms forward to knock the harmless vines away, as it wasn’t the first time he came into contact with them. Or so Woodmon thought. For when he touched it, the vines began instantly wrapping around and clinging onto Woodmon’s body. Much to Ninjamon’s and Woodmon’s shock, the vines worked to bind the Woodmon’s arms together and bewildered him to no end.
“What the!? Why does-What is-!?”
Giving Ninjamon his last burst of energy to wield the blade and repeatedly slash at his panicking foe. Until the Woodmon shouted and had burst into data that freely ascended into the air. Soon after the Ninjamon had sheathed his blade in victory, and subsequently slumped onto the ground. Proceeding to be lifted up into Asher’s arms.
“Are you going to be alright?” Asher asked, as Ninjamon looked up and smiled through a wincing face.
“Heh. I’ve fought tougher…” He assured. “But thank you for helping me.”
Asher sighed out deeply and nodded. “It’s the least I could’ve done-”
“No. You shouldn’t undervalue yourself. You thought of something quite brilliant.” He praised, much to Asher’s uncertain stare. “It was really dumb luck. But, it certainly helped save our data.” Asher thought, not wanting to dwell on what would happen if he were to die in this world.
“Nevermind that, we should get going.” Ninjamon insisted, pointing to the direction that they needed to go. As Asher carried the clearly embarrassed Ninjamon across the glowing flora.
“What happened to Woodmon’s data?” Asher asked absentmindedly, getting a quick answer.
“Since I didn’t absorb it. The data got sent to the ‘Village of Beginnings’ to become a digiegg, and maybe start anew someday.” He explained, letting out a somber sigh. “Hopefully raised in a better environment than what our forest has become...”
“I see.” Asher uttered. Deciding to let the Ninjamon recover and keep the talking to a minimum for the rest of the way. Until they reached the mysterious flower council, where Asher hoped to find some answers…
“Hang in there, Vulcan...”
* * *
“Oh, joy. Another one.” One groaned from the amassed crowd of Floramon. As Asher scratched the side of his sweaty face and looked down at the same Ninjamon, who stood in front of Asher and tried his best to appear tough. Having brought up the plan that he wouldn’t explain the events that happened prior. For they would automatically distrust Asher for the fact that he’s been ‘gassed’ by the Mushroomon. And more importantly, that his pride would be shattered forever, if he had to admit that a humanmon carried him through the forest until the enemy’s poison wore off. Although, both of them were obviously exhausted to any mon with eyes. So a dry explanation of Asher being apprehended, with the addition that his wits did provide assistance in battle was already underway. As the Ninjamon and Floramon had an all too familiar conversation, that still offered a plethora of new information to Asher.
“Well I certainly don’t feel like a chosen one any more.” He thought, curiously pulling the device out of his pocket, Soon noticing, like everyone else did, how it was glowing an ominous black. “But with every answer I’m given...I still feel so far away from understanding a thing...”
“I’ve heard enough pointless yapping.” A Floramon proclaimed, firmly pointing at the Ninjamon. “Just take him to see Blossomon. The other humanmon tamer should be there too.” As Ninjamon subtly bowed his head and then turned to wink at Asher, before leading him to the centermost area where the corrupted Blossomon dwelled. Mutually hoping that the other wouldn’t collapse on their journey there...
* * *
“Hello?!” Ninjamon called out, after taking a deep breath to gather up enough energy to do so. As Asher observed the far more natural forest scenery, and stopped a few feet behind the Ninjamon, in order to catch his breath. Finally making it to where Cavan and Kiwimon weren’t too far ahead of them.
The imprisoned Floramon looked on anxiously, while Vulcan’s exterior began melting away like burning wax. Revealing the deep red glow from Vorvomon’s many features, as he slowly reverted to his original form. Able to see the intense rage in his eyes, as they kept quiet and watched him begin to stomp off. However, the youngest one managed to pipe up once again.
“Hey, wait a minute! If you free us, we can all help you fight the Mushroomon-” She exclaimed in a pleading manner, vainly shaking the cell's bars. Making Vulcan jerk his head to glare at her and snarl menacingly. Causing the other Floramon to hastily apologize for her sake. But it was too late, as he practically charged toward her cell. As she couldn’t help but flinch at the suddenness of Vulcan grabbing the locked gate and promptly ripping it off its hinges. Before tossing the door aside with a clang, and aggressively pointing his wing at the freed Floramon. With his claws getting close enough that she could feel the heat coming from them.
“I don’t need any more allies. You’ll just get in my way of my revenge.” Vulcan snapped. Pointing to the key that he dropped on the ground. “If you want to free ‘em — do it yourself.” He replied dismissively. Soon hearing the sound of obnoxious laughter off in the distance, as his cue to turn around and proceed in that direction. Ignoring the last attempt to call out to Vulcan, as she quickly picked up the key. Deciding she had no real choice, but to try using it.
“You stubborn oaf! How am I supposed to open every lock with an individual-” She shouted in frustration. At least until the clinking noise was heard, as the door creaked open. As a look of disbelief struck her face, the Floramon sighed in a relief. “These Mushroomon are even stupidier than I thought.”
* * *
“Yes, yes. I bet he’ll be begging for my forgiveness when he sees us.” The Mushroomon scoffed, still covered in the thick purple muck. As two others who were involved in the dragon’s kidnapping, couldn’t stop snickering at his expense. But the trio abruptly fell silent, and stopped walking across the bridge that ended with a grassy land nearby the prisons. All seeing the Vorvomon sprinting toward them at a distance. Yet they each reacted with a smug grin, and pulled out entire handfuls of their laughing bombs. Three in both gloves, as they haphazardly hurled the sixteen bombs altogether as a group. Creating an unavoidable minefield for the approaching dragon, who was building up a flame within his maw. At least, if he didn’t leap high into the air and fly past the small gassy explosions. As the three Mushroomon gasped in terror when Vulcan had landed with his wings spread out wide. Only two of them escaped the fire spewing out of Vorvomon’s gaping maw, by fearfully leaping off either side of the bridge. As the third’s agonized scream disappeared with Vulcan’s claw slashing the engulfed foe. Bursting into data, which Vulcan immediately began absorbing into his own body. Feeling himself surging with far more energy than he expended to get there. Seen by the two Mushroomon, as they emerged from the swamp’s depths.
“Wait-wait! Don’t get back up.” The Mushroomon warned. As the other one had already grabbed onto the bridge’s edge with its glove. But Vulcan had lunged quicker than the ascending Mushroomon could retaliate. As he snatched its exposed arm with his scorching fangs. Furiously yanking the Mushroomon upward with excessive force, to fight the heaviness of the swamp’s sludge, and tossing the fool back onto the bridge. Preventing the foe from getting back up, by fiercely stomping onto the back of its head with his equally hot foot.
“Ow-Ow-Ow! No, please stop! I swear I won’t cause trouble ever again!” The one begged, as Vulcan’s fiery glare turned to face the swamp.
“Heh-heh. I won’t be able to swim too far. But, this stuff is poisonous to outsiders. So, for as long as I can hold my breath under here. I should be safe from-” The submerged Mushroomon thought, until he was angrily interrupted.
“Hey! If you don’t come out in the next five seconds, your pal will be screaming even louder than the last one!” Vulcan hollered, making the Mushroomon underneath his foot, start to quiver with fear.
“Hurry! Do what he says!” It begged.
“Time’s up!” Vulcan shouted before the five seconds had actually passed. Getting the Mushroomon to suddenly rise.
“No, no! We surrender.” The emerging Mushroommon pleaded, in-between coughs. Suddenly struck by fear, as the last thing witnessed was Vorvomon’s unleashing his flame at that very moment. Turning them into data that was also quickly absorbed. “I’ll never be one of you.” Vorvomon growled, as his claw swiftly plunged into the one remaining. “But your data will help me evolve. So I can destroy the rest of you.”
* * *
With all her friends freed and likely returning together to the flower council. The young Floramon stayed put for some time. As she could hardly stand to follow the agonized cries and the sound of a dragon’s menacing roar. Yet she bravely walked over the bridges, and onto a field of blackened land. Where Vorvomon stood alone, without a single Mushroomon in sight. Except for the traces of data being absorbed into his gleaming body.
“Grrah!” Vulcan shouted with a stomp, before turning to face the hesitant Floramon. As he exhaled sharply through his nostrils and lowered his wings. “Oh, what do you want?” He grumbled, watching her approach.
“You hate the Mushroomon too right?” She asked, as Vulcan snorted at her sheer nerve. “Then please, come with me and join our council-”
“I said no.” He interrupted bluntly.
“You didn’t find the one who locked you in the cage, right?” She guessed, receiving confirmation after Vulcan growled at her. “Well, we know the areas where most of them gather. So the council will know where he is-”
Interrupted again by Vorvomon pointing his claws near her chest. “Fine. But you better not be lying...” He warned. As the Floramon firmly nodded, and watched Vorvomo noticeably cool down. As he dropped his wing and was no longer glowing.
“Thank you.” She replied, sounding grateful.
“Let’s get moving.” He mumbled.
Izabel Ivanowski & Kate Beckham
It was the same part of the Mushroom Forest that Izabel and Muchomon had first entered. With enough glowing flora to illuminate their path through the surrounding darkness. “I-it’s pretty dark here. S-so stay close to me.” Sunny murmured. As she walked onward and blankly looked down at the quivering bird within her arms.
“I don’t think you’ll have to worry about that.” Izabel replied. Causing him to look up at her uneasily.
“Are you worried that your family will find me?” He asked in a hushed tone.
Izabel firmly shook her head and continued to stroll forward. “It was just a feather in the basement, Sunny.” She reiterated. “Mom believed me when I told her it was from a plush-”
But then she stopped her statement, as they both heard somebody calling out her name. As Muchomon’s wing rubbed his cheek. “W-what if these two are dangerous?”
“I’ll protect us, if I have to.” Izabel stated off-handedly. Making Sunny’s eyes widen and start to water.
As he sniffled and buried his face within his wings. “I wish I could be so brave.”
“Oh, hush.” She uttered, before stepping behind a severely-rotted trunk. As she leaned over and gently set him on the ground. So he too would peek out and see the teenager was boredly twirling her red hair. Dressed in rockstar attire and leaning alone against the brightest tree that was surrounded by a bunch of thick purple bushes. “This must be Kate. But where is her partner-” Izabel wondered.
“A-alright. Let’s go together.” Muchomon insisted. Proceeding to puff out his chest and waddle toward the stranger. As she sighed and followed him, receiving Kate’s immediate attention.
“A hint-pint and a cereal mascot.” Kate thought, while politely smiling and extending out her hand. “Izzy, is it? Or would you prefer if I used your username?” She offered, noticing Izabel’s hands remained at her sides. Though Muchomon reached out to shake Kate’s hand.
“I’m Sunny. And it’s very nice to meet you-” He greeted softly. Getting interrupted by a Dracomon lunging out of the nearest bush.
“Rawr!” Ouro playfully hollered. As Muchomon promptly deflated and clung onto Izabel’s leg, while she stared at the grinning Dracomon.
“This is Ouro.” Kate added, rubbing the back of her neck. As Dracomon came out and gazed up at Izabel with twinkling eyes.
“Ooo, what are those?” He said, pointing his claw up at her golden goggles. Although, she didn’t answer him. As Muchomon released his grip and covered his blushing cheeks. Dracomon glanced at the bird’s nervous expression and smirked. “What's wrong? Did I scare you?” Ouro teased, waving his claws near Sunny’s trembling feathers.
“Alright. Quit picking on him already.” Kate chided. But Dracomon hadn’t expected Muchomon to nod sheepishly.
“I know what dragons are capable of.” Sunny muttered. As Dracomon scoffed and stepped backward with a prideful stance.
“Yes, I suppose I don’t want to bully the weak.” Ouro conceded in a condescending manner. As Izabel and Kate noticed Muchomon was beginning to tear up. Causing Izabel to clench her hands and immediately approach Dracomon. Getting Ouro to raise both of his claws in response and smile playfully at her.
“Hey, does that look mean you wanna fight?” He asked excitedly, with a brief flutter of his wings.
As Kate internally groaned. “Oh great. You’re about to make a girl and her digimon cry...” But before Kate could properly scold Ouro, Izabel stood directly in front of the dragon and swiftly smacked him across the face.
“Apologize to my friend.” Izabel demanded.
As Muchomon gasped at the sight, and felt his insides get all warm and fuzzy again. In contrast to Kate’s moment of dread to Dracomon’s potential retaliation. Knowing exactly how angry Ouro got when she touched him previously. Though he only touched the side of the maw that was struck, and dropped his claws in disappointment. As he turned to look up at Kate, sounding confused. “Did I go too far?”
“You need me to tell you that?” Kate chided, watching the young girl turn to Muchomon who reached out and gently grabbed her hand. As Izabel lifted him up and began to march away in the opposite direction. “Hey, wait. Where are you going, Izzy?” Kate called out.
“We’re exploring. Don’t follow us.” Izabel answered coldly, heading back the way they came.
“I-Izzy,” He shyly urged.
“We’ll talk later, Sunny.” Izabel uttered, as Muchomon fell silent and looked down. For there was nothing Kate could think of saying in time, until the two were left behind.
* * *
Kate had sat down on the ground in defeat. As a look of guilt finally appeared on Dracomon’s face.
“I didn’t mean to upset them.” Ouro stated, approaching with his tail swishing low. As Kate massaged her forehead.
“Could’ve fooled me.” Kate sighed. Pulling out her device, and looking at the vague mission that they were meant to meet up and discuss. Instead, there she was, sitting put for minutes without another plan. “So much for getting information...” She added. “Beside learning that Dracomon can create portals using this thing too.”
“So...what do we do now?” Dracomon asked hesitantly, before sharply turning his head at the forest. With his nose twitching at the scent. As Kate stood up and casually brushed off her pants.
“Well, it’s not everyday that I get to be in another world. So-” Kate began.
“Kate, I think we were being watched.” Dracomon informed, sounding serious.
“Yeah well...the other digimon who live here probably aren’t used to seeing us around.” Kate said, as Ouro shook his head a bit.
“No, I mean the Mushroomon.” He clarified, with clenched fists. “And I think they’re planning to attack those two-” Swiftly provoking Kate, as she knew that he meant what he said.
“Then we need to go after them, Ouro!” She asserted. As he eagerly nodded in confirmation. Before the both of them promptly ran off into the forest, with Dracomon leading the charge...
Mushroom Forest || Night The climb down was a shaky one for Cavan since his mind was still caught on what he’d seen moments prior. A mess of leaves and wood filling a dragon-like frame—had Blossomon really become that? And if Blossomon had, was it really Cavan’s job to deal with it right now, with a Rookie-level digimon who had virtually no chance of winning?
The obvious answer was yes, but that made no sense. As much as it was clear that this was real life and not part of some game he’d started playing before he could spell Wednesday correctly, a part of him still wanted to process it like the game, if only because he’d gone through some of this in the game. Talking to Blossomon was the goal, and though the situation had changed, maybe the core principles were still in place. That meant there was probably something he was missing here, like an Ultimate-level ally he could recruit, or some easy-fix artifact or cure he’d overlooked. Either of those made more sense than having him and Bax fight Blossomon in monster mode, because what kind of quest put a Rookie against an Ultimate?
Spotting a Ninjamon with a guy around his age at the base of the tree brought a grin to Cavan’s face, and he jumped off the last branch, landing on his feet and jogging over to the dude. “Let me guess—Clock?” There were only two other guys in the chat, so he had a good chance at guessing. As for why this guy struck Cavan as more of a Clock than an Apollo, Cavan wasn’t really sure. Maybe it was that Apollo was a guild leader and a pretty active player overall, so Cavan was expecting somebody more talkative, but now that he was thinking about it, this dude looked pretty chill, and Clock hadn’t sounded very chill from the few messages they’d exchanged, so…
“Wait, Apollo? Asher?” Cavan blinked, looking the dude up and down again. He didn’t strike Cavan as the mature authority figure Apollo sounded like over text, but hey what did Cavan know anyway? “Eyy, nice to meet you, guild leader,” he said, resuming his grin as he raised a hand to clap and bump fists with Asher.
Looking around and spotting nothing but the Ninjamon at Asher’s side, Cavan furrowed his brows. “You had a Vorvomon, right?” he asked, then shrugged. “Well, this is Bax,” he said, indicating the Gabumon at his side, who eyed Asher with clear suspicion, “and Flynn,” he said, throwing a thumb at the Kiwimon behind them.
“Great, another one. Is this it, or should I just wait here until everyone who needs help climbing a tree gets here?” Flynn asked dryly.
“Nah, I don’t think we’ll need it,” Cavan said, looking back to Asher with a grin. “So, I have an idea, and it might be kinda dumb, but hear me out.” He looked between his audience, who looked varying shades of wary and interested. “You know the portal thing Blossomon had? Well, it’s there. Behind all these trees. Problem is, Blossomon’s also there, and he’s turned virus—into this huge, gnarly lizard thing. He’s a whole lotta leaves now, and he doesn’t look nice. But, you saw the mission right? ” Cavan fished his digivice from his pocket, turning it on. “‘Return Mushroom Forest to its original state’—that definitely means we need Blossomon back, and I’m willing to bet that portal in there is how we’re going to do that. Maybe it’ll portal us to somewhere where we can get help, or maybe it’ll portal us to a lower-level place to train—I don’t know, but my gut says it’s the key.”
He looked to Asher, his grin wide. There was something exciting about the situation. Sure it was dangerous, and sure what he was suggesting was potentially very stupid, but it felt like the moment before he attempted a new trick. He knew what he needed to do, and all he had to do was go for it. If he fell, he fell. If he scraped his shins and elbows up, then he’d get a few more bandages, but there was never a world where he didn’t attempt the trick at least a dozen times. Jumping into the deep end was how he learned to skate and swim, and that’s how it worked. That’s how he worked.
“How about it? One of us can distract the thing, and the other can make a run for it. Check the portal out. If it’s broken, we bail. If it’s not, well, we save the day.” He could feel Bax’s eyes on him, but he didn’t care. This—this was exciting.
Mushroom Forest || Night The trek through the forest was silent, which was both annoying and not. While Alice didn’t want to talk to Afton, she also didn’t like that they hadn’t shared what they knew. They were on the mission together, after all, and sharing information and discussing possible plans seemed to be the obvious next step. That said, Alice wasn’t about to initiate a conversation, and since it didn’t seem like Afton was planning on initiating one either, they were at an impasse. One of them would have to give in and start the conversation, and though a part of Alice knew that she probably should, that it’d be the best and more mature course of action, she didn’t. Doing so would be like admitting defeat in some way that she couldn’t quite put a finger on, and it wasn’t like she needed anything from Afton anyway. All of the information she needed was on her Digivice, and all of her questions could be asked and answered when they found a Floramon, so she trudged on in silence, ignoring the glances Doru directed at her. He could pretend like taking the mature loss was some sort of win, but she wouldn’t. She’d rather have silence.
Afton stopped suddenly, forcing Alice to stumble back awkwardly in order to avoid crashing into her.
“What?” Alice asked, fully irritated as she looked around. Following Afton’s gaze, she spotted a light-colored tree with large purple mushrooms growing out of it. Considering the fact that it lacked leaves, it looked pretty dead to her, but one dead tree was nothing much.
“That’s a Woodmon with five Mushroomon on it,” Afton said, her voice flat as ever.
“Yep, and they stink,” Monodramon said, swiping at his snout with a wing.
Glancing to Doru, who was looking intensely at the tree, had Alice realize that she was probably the only one who hadn’t caught on, and she was none too happy about that.
“Aw, you found us?”
A pair of blue eyes opened on the tree, and the middle of the trunk cracked open to reveal a maw of jagged wood that curved upwards on either side to outline a grin. On top of the trunk, the mushrooms lifted their caps, revealing toothy smirks that glinted in the moonlight as the Mushroomon stood and flexed their hands through fuchsia gloves.
“Your turn to hide then!” the Woodmon exclaimed happily, its voice higher than what Alice would’ve expected, but with a throaty scratchiness that created an unsettling contrast. “I’ll start counting now.” It covered its eyes with its spiky arms, the Mushroomon on it continuing to leer. “Ten, nine, eight…”
Alice looked to Afton, eyes wide. Running seemed like their best bet since they were both outnumbered and outmatched, but exposing their back was like asking to get attacked. Taking the Woodmon at its word didn’t seem like a good idea no matter how she looked at it, yet there wasn’t a better option at the moment. The risk, then, was equal parts necessary and worth it.
“Should we?” she asked.
Afton nodded, her eyes steady as she met Alice’s gaze, and Alice got the impression that they had the same idea. “Run.”
They turned tail and ran, with Monodramon being the only one who seemed caught off-guard, judging by his cry of surprise. Doru, on the other hand, had kept up with Alice, flanking her as he glanced behind to where a sinister quintet of laughter chased after them. Nearby was Afton, who maintained a few feet’s distance but didn’t seem to be running at full speed beside Monodramon. Given her outfit, Alice wouldn’t have thought her particularly athletic, if only because the athletes she knew tended towards tennis shoes and athletic wear even on their downtime. From the way Afton effortlessly kept pace, her strides looking like a casual jog even in a pair of ostentatious platform boots, though, it was clear that Afton’s frame was leaner than it seemed, and this realization had Alice grit her teeth as she tried to speed up her own pace.
Spotting a faint glow in the darkness ahead, Alice frowned, glanced at Afton, then veered towards it. A few seconds later, a dragon-like digimon revealed itself between the trees, its claws and horns glowing bright enough to faintly illuminate the Floramon beside it.
“Vorvomon?” Alice looked around as she came to a stop beside the lava digimon. “Where’s Apollo? Asher?”
“We’re headed to the Flower Council to find them,” the Floramon said, looking over them warily. Since they weren’t digivolutions of Mushroomon, Alice figured the Floramon would connect the dots soon enough, so she turned her attention backward instead, peering through the leaves as another slew of delighted laughter echoed out.
“We’re being chased. Five Mushroomon and a Woodmon. Help us out,” Afton said, and Alice fixed her with a stare, surprised. That wasn’t cool, and it didn’t seem like something someone who liked coming off as cool would do, yet Afton had done it—and looked cool while saying it, Alice realized in retrospect. Though she’d thought them helping was a given when the Woodmon caught up to them, informing the other party was better, and now she was back to being too conscious of Doru’s eyes on her.
Just as Alice opened her mouth to add something—please, or that she agreed?—the stomping started, the sound muted but able to shake the leaves behind them as Alice glanced at the others.
“Fe fi fo fum, ready or not, here I come!” the Woodmon shouted, and Doru gave Alice a nod. Yeah, this was happening, and Alice was going to prove that Doru was better than the loudmouth Monodramon. Somehow.
“Doru, Metal Canon!” Alice called as the quartet of Mushroomon burst through the trees, sniggering with delight as they reached into their pockets. They were going to use their signature mushroom bombs, no doubt, but Metal Canon was a stronger move, and that’s what counted.
Doru shot her a questioning look but complied, his mouth opening and glowing with energy as an iron sphere formed between his jaws. Beside him, the Floramon lashed out at the closest Mushroomon with vines, and Monodramon followed suit after getting a nod from Afton, leaping at another Mushroomon and ramming his head into it as fire pooled in his jaws.
Given that Metal Canon took a bit to charge, it took a few seconds before Doru actually launched his first attack. Alice had thought this a calculated loss that would pad the way for a bigger win when the move struck, but as she watched Monodramon and Vorvomon throw out one fiery breath after another, she realized that she’d miscalculated. Besides the advantage the dragon digimon had with their fire-based moves, there was the simple fact that Metal Canon didn’t have enough DPS for this battle. While it hit hard, it failed to one-shot any of the Mushroomon, and as the last Mushroomon fell, Alice realized that the only digimon Doru had done more damage than was Floramon.
“Oh, are all the little mushrooms gone?” The Woodmon feigned surprise as it stepped forwards, its eyes round but brimming with mirth. “Then it’s time for some fun!”
Smashing its two large, branch-like arms together, it cackled, leering as its eyes swept across the group. Though Alice hadn’t questioned why it’d stood back as they made quick work of the Mushroomon, she had to now, and the only explanation she could come up with was that it didn’t care—that it was much stronger than its rookie-level counterparts and had no problem assuming that it could tank them all alone, and that in itself was scary.
“Eenie meenie miney mo, let’s see which one takes a blow!” the Woodmon shouted, charging for the Floramon, its arms raised.
“Monodramon!” Afton called.
“Doru, Hyper Dash Metal!” Alice shouted at the same time.
Again, Doru shot her a funny look, but he followed her instructions again, charging at the Woodmon alongside Monodramon, who’d streamlined his wings against his body as slivers of flame leaked from his jaws. They made contact with the Woodmon with consecutive headbutts, and the Woodmon cried out as it fell, the Floramon stepping out of the way and directing the vines she’d tripped the Woodmon with onto its arms. As the Woodmon struggled against its thin restraints, snapping vines easily despite its stunned state, Doru, Monodramon, and Vorvomon bombarded it with attacks. Doru had chosen Beast Attack, Alice realized from a distance, and judging by the way the Woodmon’s side gradually splintered away under his claws, Alice realized it was working.
“This isn’t fair! You’re not playing fair!” the Woodmon cried as its struggles got weaker. “I-I don’t want to play anymore!”
Within another few seconds, though, the Woodmon froze, then collapsed in on itself, its form dissolving into small blue cubes that glowed as they swirled towards the digimon around it. Monodramon was the first to jump towards the data, growling as he looked between Doru and Vorvomon, his gaze challenging. While the Floramon was the first to step back from the fray, Doru was a close second, and Monodramon was left staring down Vorvomon as the data flowed into the two of them.
“Doru! Why aren’t you absorbing the data?” Alice was all confusion as she came to a stop beside Doru, looking between him and the last traces of glowing data. Was he really letting his maturity come between him and digivolution?
“It’s just some data,” Doru said, his tone placative. “There’ll be more later.”
“That’s not the point!” Alice hissed back, but her words grew quiet as she saw Afton approaching with the rest of the digimon. Where the Floramon looked concerned, Monodramon was fully smug, which wasn’t made better by the lack of tells on Afton’s face.
Holding Alice’s gaze for a second, Afton blinked, then looked to Doru, nodding. “Thanks.”
At that, Doru hesitated, looking at Alice questioningly. Her “don’t talk to her or else” glare, though, prompted him to settle for a nod, which Alice wasn’t too upset about. It was simple, did the job, and she’d have a word with him about all of this later.
A snort from Monodramon made Alice want to snort as well because, really, what was this? They were guildmates and perhaps part of the same party, but gaining experience was an individual thing. Trying to pretend like everything was going to be split fairly when Ephie was involved was a joke in itself.
The disapproving look Afton shot Monodramon had the purple dragon straighten a bit, though her attention shifted immediately to the Vorvomon and Floramon. “Were you heading somewhere before we met?”
“I was taking him to the Flower Council so he can be reunited with his humanmon,” the Floramon said, glancing at Vorvomon briefly before continuing. “I can take you to them too. They will know where the other humanmon is, if you are looking for him.”
“Take us to them,” Alice asserted immediately. Though she was acutely aware of how unnecessary her rushed tone was, she didn’t want to be left out of the decision-making like some blind follower.
“This way,” the Floramon said after a hesitant glance at Afton, who’d only spared Alice a bland glance. Under the Floramon’s guidance, the forest felt slightly less ominous than before, even if it’d remained just as dark and crowded.
Mushroom Forest || Night “Announcing Aftonmon, Alicemon, Dorumon, Monodramon, and Vorvomon! Found in the southern woods!”
The forest clearing wasn’t bright, but there was enough clearance above to allow moonlight to illuminate the area and reveal the numerous digimon speckling the trees around them. At a glance, the crowd appeared to consist of Floramon and its champion forms, Ninjamon and Kiwimon, and a closer look simply revealed more and more of the same plant-based data digimon. Even considering how the Floramon from earlier had immediately helped them against the Mushroomon and Woodmon earlier, the crowd of digimon gathered around the clearing, simply standing around and watching, felt a distance from friendly.
“Humanmons, tamers, and digimon, you stand before the Flower Council. We have already met Cavanmon and Ashermon, and we have sent them with guides to see Blossomon,” a Floramon slightly larger than the Floramon beside it said, its voice feminine and steady as it carried around the clearing. “You are welcome to meet them there, but we have been informed that battle has broken out near our southeast border. Thus, we humbly ask for your assistance on the front.” The Floramon met each of the tamer’s eyes in turn, communicating an elegant plea with its gaze. “Our battles along the border are usually won, but at too great a cost for us not to ask for help. So please, offer us your aid and let us work together to limit the casualties in these endless battles.”
“Let’s do it. There’s no reason we need to all be in the same place, so if Asher and Cavan are already with Blossomon, we might as well go and help fight,” Alice said, looking at Afton expectantly. She expected Afton to agree with her, and Afton had to admit she was tempted to. There really wasn’t a reason they all needed to see the old flower together, and though pooling information was a priority, they needed information to pool first.
“Vorvomon,” Afton said, looking to the fiery dragon, “will you be joining us on the front?”
Whether or not he wanted to join them didn’t matter too much. He’d be a force on the battlefield considering his natural advantage over all plant digimon, but Afton couldn’t fault him if he wanted to reunite with his tamer instead. Considering his temperament so far, he seemed the type to prefer a fight over most things, but Afton didn’t want to assume—yet. So, she waited for his answer, a small, silent part of her thinking that Monodramon’s challenging glare at Vorvomon would be enough to convince the fire dragon to tag along to the war front, and another, smaller, and more cynical part of her wondering whether he’d be interesting enough to prove her wrong.