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Chapter Thirty-Five: Keep Your Chin Up
Something tickled his nose, flicking back and forth and then he heard little scratching sounds. Slowly, Taran opened his eyes and saw a big fluffy brown thing on his face. He felt his heart thud hard against his chest and his mind race as he wondered what it was. Whatever it was flew through the air as he sat bolt upright. A bear? No, too small. His eyes skimmed over it as it shot across the forest floor like a lightning bolt. A squirrel. He breathed a sigh of relief as it scurried up into the trees, leaving behind the nut it had been holding. Taran looked around for Matt or Hououmon but neither were there. They had left him. Pumon was still sleeping soundly on the floor and the fire was just embers now—little charred remnants of the roaring flames from the night before. He rubbed his head, the bright light shining through the gaps in the branches an unwelcome visitor to his spinning head. Covering his eyes from the sun as he looked up into the sky, he watched a bird fly overhead
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Chapter Thirty-Four: Campfire
Taran scrabbled up the fence, terrified as the thin metal wires dug into his little hands.
“TARAN!” Mrs Adené screamed, her voice vibrating in the still night air.
He looked over his shoulder at her, freezing from the blustering wind that constantly blew through his pyjamas. There was no way he was going to go back there but he couldn’t move any further. Something about her fierce gaze petrified him like she was Medusa from his bedtime stories.
“Get down this instant!” She pointed her finger firmly at the muddy ground.
Taran stared at her vacantly. She was literally shaking with rage. Slowly, he shook his head; he was unable to vocalise a response.
Mrs Adené turned to one of the men in black clothes next to her. In his hand was something that shone silver in the moonlight. That shape… was it a gun? “Take him down. Just…” She glanced at Taran, her voice hesitant, “Don’t kill him.” She was going to shoot hi
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Chapter Thirty-Three: Faster
Taran plodded upstairs. Why on earth he was still putting up with all of this was quickly becoming lost after eating yet another unsatisfying meal of salad. Holding one hand on his stomach and the other on the slippery wooden bannister, he looked up the stairs and exhaled heavily. Climbing all these steps was so tiring. With each touch of his foot to the staircase, his stomach grumbled. Glancing over his shoulder, he lamented that he would much rather slide down the bannister and steal some food but, sadly, he had promised to be good.
“You used to love that painting when you were young.”
Taran snapped his head towards the voice, scanning around the dimly lit staircase. In a dark alcove between the two floors, he was sure he could see something. A hand grabbed his wrist firmly, tugging him into the shadows, with another hand clamping over his mouth as he tried to yell out. Screaming and kick into the darkness, he clenched his eyes shut hoping they would let him go. And then
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Chapter Thirty-Two: No Man Left Behind
Rori watched Aleena, gritting her teeth to hold back the tears brewing. Seeing the one she looked up to in this state was… soul-destroying. Steeling herself, she clenched her fists and saw Andrew walk over from a door at the back of the room. His black suit was pristine and the Digimon next to him certainly wasn’t G-Mon. A new partner? It was a huge boulder with arms made from interlocking rocks and a stern expression. Her Digivice buzzed.
Geomon, Champion level, Data, Nature Sprits, Metal Empire.
Don’t get stuck in his Quicksand attack or you might just go missing!
Aleena coughed, blood spurting out onto the floor.
Rori rushed to help her but Aleena’s arm flew out, pushing her back.
“I’m fine.” She turned to Andrew. “Digivolving G-Mon is like polishing a turd—pointless.”
“Aleena, please,” Talmon muttered as his eyelids closed against his will.
“I’m fine,” she hissed, angry.
Talmon t
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Chapter Thirty-One: The Dragon Emerges
“Energy Burst.” Talmon panted weakly, spitting the energy ball at Alice.
Alice dodged at the last second, allowing it to hit the floor.
Aleena felt a smile spread across her lips despite the pain as she saw her partner standing up for her. He truly was her best friend.
Talmon slowly stood up, walking over. “No one hurts Aleena, no one,” he stated flatly, his furry brow furrowed into the most serious glare she had ever seen from the excitable rabbit.
At her hip, Aleena felt her Digivice flailing about. Looking down, she saw sky blue lights dancing out from it. The knife in her wrist twisted and she gasped in pain, although it was difficult to understand how more pain could be caused at this point. As she opened her mouth, a tornado of blue energy erupted and flew straight at Talmon, wrapping around him and encasing him in a Digivolution egg.
“I should…” Simon began, appearing from the shadows.
“No.” Alice glared at her partner but ha
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Chapter Thirty: No Alternative
“I’m sorry I was the one chosen to stand in your way, but I truly respect what you are trying to stand for.” King cracked his neck. “And I wish you luck.”
“If you respect me that much then stop fighting!” Corinne yelled. This was awful; her entire belief system was being challenged.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.” King ran forwards and Corinne ran away, hoping to keep distance until he tired, as stupid as that sounded.
The two Digimon looked exhausted as Corinne ran past, making sure not to get too close to them as they recovered from their last exchange of blows. “Holy Strike!” a blast of light flew over Corinne’s head, exploding the wall behind her as she continued running.
“Crescent Moon Crush!” The ground shook as the two Digimon exchanged another bout of luminous attacks.
The bright lights clashed again in her peripheral vision and then Kings fist swiped for her head.
Ducking underneath,
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Chapter Twenty-Nine: A Promise
“We can still delay them by torturing them, right, Tony?” Trish asked as they nonchalantly walked over.
“I guess.” Tony looked at the gun she was idly swinging in her hand unsurely.
“Don’t back down now!” Vipermon leapt out of the hole, injured but mostly fine and Baernmon followed soon after.
“Yo, delay us for what?” Zalyea yelled. What on earth were they on about?
“Just stay back, Zaylee,” Len warned.
Tony pointed his bat. “We gotta delay you so Lord Kayran can run a few experiments on—”
Trish punched him in the arm. “Shut up, Tony. You never start monologuing. It’s pathetic.”
“Sorry, Trish,” Tony mumbled as they stopped a little away from Len and Zalyea.
“Baernmon, you and Vipermon finish off these pathetic excuses for Digimon. We’ll take care of the owners.”
“Yes, Trish.” Baernmon shot at Zalyea like a bullet. “Rocketgirl!”
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Chapter Twenty-Eight: Not A Good Idea
Iceangemon thrust his staff into the ground. “Frozen Throne.” He turned to Len and Zalyea. “Try not to fall over.”
Len watched him fly forwards as a small humanoid Digimon burst out with a blue metal bird helmet on its head. With wings and feathers adorning the pale blue skin of the body, it looked like a creepy cross between a bluebird and a pre-teen girl.
“Baernmon!” The Digimon flew at Iceangemon, the jetpack on its back bursting into action.
“Gaiamon!” Gaiamon winked at Zalyea. “I’m here, yo!”
“Vipermon!” A large green snake, easily seven foot in length slithered across the ground with the horn of its bone helmet pointing at them.
“Hand of Emotion!” Iceangemon unleashed a beam of blue energy from his fist at Baernmon but the latter avoided it, flying around behind Iceangemon.
“Wind Torrent!” From the open mouth of the helmet, a tornado of wind burst out, throwing Iceangemon backwar
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Chapter Twenty-Seven: Assault
Loading her gun, Aleena holstered it into her belt and turned to the others. “Get your Digimon out.”
Zalyea scoffed. “I know you did not just—”
Tyler placed a hand on her shoulder as he pressed the side button of his Digivice and a purple portal formed, releasing Idomon. “Just this once, Zalyea.”
“Whatever.” As Zalyea and the others released their Digimon, they were noticed.
“Who are you?” A RODAF agent rushed over, his black suit proof that he was a base agent and not a field agent. This would be easy.
“Talmon.” Aleena ran at him, diving into his chest before he could take in the situation. As she knocked him to the ground, she stood back up and continued to run.
From behind, Talmon said, “Energy Burst.”
Unfortunately, they had still raised suspicion and an alarm began to blare. Looking around, she kept her cool and blocked out the sound. “Leomon’ll be in the research labs.” Tur
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Chapter Twenty-Six: A New Life
Taran looked around the entrance hall that he had been left in. A blue flash caught his attention, originating from a crack in between the closed doors that Aleena and the others were behind. He swallowed back in a mixture of fear and nerves; how was he supposed to just live here now? Right now, he had never missed his family so much.
The entrance hall was as grand and spacious as the rest of the house had been. From the door, and continuing all the way up the staircase—which split into left and right about halfway up—was a black rug with lots of men holding swords on it made from gold thread. The white marble floor was shining as brightly as the mirrors hung on the walls, which made it a little hard to see, and the sounds of people moving about made him nervous. A faint scent of food drifted from somewhere else, but Taran didn’t dare venture to find out where. There were also a few paintings on the walls, but Taran didn’t recognise any, save for the one at the
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Chapter Six: The Odd Couple
Leon watched Alice leap off ahead of him; she landed gracefully on the ground and then dropped her black bag to the ground.
He climbed out after her, Oobmon floating by his side. “What you doing?”
Alice withdrew a manila folder from her bag and handed it to him. Immediately after, she withdrew a short blade from the bag and attached it to the small of her back as well as four sacks that jingled like bells. Each sack was hung around her waist, two on her front and one on either hip. The bandages around her ruffled in the windy weather, which was blowing about the tassels on his hat, while her black attire allowed her to blend into the darkness that surrounded them.
Leon opened the folder as Alice withdrew a rifle and tossed her empty bag into the plane. They were to eliminate everyone in this sect of Parricidium before dawn broke. Parricidium was the most powerful resistance to RODAF. It was imagined that they had close to around one hundred million members, excluding the sy
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Chapter Five: History 101
King clenched his fists, eyeing her nervously. He was clearly intimidated by her reputation. But he needn’t be. In truth, so many of her victories relied on that ability. She longed for the days where she had more time to pursue fighting by other means. Her World Record titles would not remain unbroken forever. And now she’d finished with the female opponents and the lightweight male opponents in MMA, she needed more of a challenge. King could provide a test for her. To see if she was still up to scratch.
Alice measured his height, weight, and muscle density at a glance to determine his reach, power and speed. This would be a battle of speed, rather than strength, if she were to play to her strengths. She slowly walked towards him, being closer before the battle started was beneficial. Without the bandages or training weights on her body, her vision was unhindered and her speed increased. Her mind flashed back, interrupting her battle stratagem.
* * *
Cursing inwardl
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Chapter Four: Simyan the Secret Keeper
In a haze of blurred colours and muffled sounds, Taran heard his name.
“Taran? If you’ll please, I’d like to ask you a few questions.” Taran glanced over at the ape-man sat at the end of his bed. Was this a dream? “Taran?”
Could he speak? His throat was sore. Swallowing back, he managed to rasp, “Yes?” This was so bizarre. He couldn’t move any of his body. All he could do was look straight ahead at blank walls and that monkey man.
“Excellent. My name is Simyan and I’m here to guide you.” Guide him? Guide him where?
Instead of asking, Taran preserved his words and decided to go along with the dream. “Okay.”
Simyan withdrew a iHoloPad from nowhere and then a iHoloPen. It was a dream, so pulling objects out of seemingly nowhere did make sense. The ape-man wiggled the iHoloPen in his hand as he read something on the iHoloPad. Weren’t dreams normally faster paced? “Your full name?”
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Chapter Twenty-Five: A Favour
Screaming. Crying. The smoke. That acrid smoke. It was all over—even in his lungs. Inhaling sharply, Len opened his eyes and saw the wheel in his face. “Guys?” he called, afraid to move. No response. He tried to move his toes and felt the inside of his shoes. So he could walk, at least. Sitting back slowly, he tried to move his arms and then turned his neck slowly to look for the others but was shocked to see nothing. There was no back compartment. It had been torn off entirely. Instead, he was looking up at the sky. That meant that the driver’s compartment was facing the ground. Looking at the broken glass all around his face, he noted that whatever had done this had really hit the car hard.
Touching his forehead, Len felt warm sticky liquid. He lifted his fingertips away and saw the blood. It almost made him feel woozy. He was always fine when he was training in the junior paramedics, but this was something different. It was his blood. “What
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Chapter Twenty-Four: The Calm Before The Storm
“I think I’ve got stomach cramps,” Alex grumbled.
Len laughed. Alex always knew how to lighten the mood. “Just lie down and relax.”
Alex’s disgruntled voice came from somewhere in the back of the van. “Easy for you to say.”
“Is everyone alright back there?” Corinne called as the car jittered about. “We didn’t forget anyone, did we?” Her voice let on to the fear she was feeling but she was outwardly calm as ever.
Tyler reached up and pulled open the little window hatch between the driver’s compartment and the back of the truck, allowing some light to spill in to the dim compartment. “Do you think you could drive a bit smoother?”
Len looked around at everyone. Taran was sat in the corner, with his knees tucked into his chest and Rori and Aleena were just barely visible on the floor. Alex was lay at his feet and Zalyea opposite. “Are you even driving on a road, Corinne?” Len asked.
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Talmon by KumoFuzei Talmon :iconkumofuzei:KumoFuzei 3 0


Red Leaves: YouTube by rossdraws Red Leaves: YouTube :iconrossdraws:rossdraws 8,528 219 Digimon Tamers by JackSquash Digimon Tamers :iconjacksquash:JackSquash 100 14 Ruki and Renamon (Speedpaint Video linked) by AmazingTash Ruki and Renamon (Speedpaint Video linked) :iconamazingtash:AmazingTash 151 11 C: Tor and Tapirmon by Detoreik C: Tor and Tapirmon :icondetoreik:Detoreik 76 11 - Ryuzaki Riza by Riza23 - Ryuzaki Riza :iconriza23:Riza23 61 9 - Hasegawa Kairi by Riza23 - Hasegawa Kairi :iconriza23:Riza23 58 6 Digimon Battles Template Against Kuwagamon by coleroboman Digimon Battles Template Against Kuwagamon :iconcoleroboman:coleroboman 2 0 Knite: New Begining by yuumei Knite: New Begining :iconyuumei:yuumei 8,966 189 Detemon's evolution by Exora-WM Detemon's evolution :iconexora-wm:Exora-WM 6 0 Drake Fanart by Midnitez-REMIX Drake Fanart :iconmidnitez-remix:Midnitez-REMIX 31 35 commission8 4 shelly131 by hikariangelove commission8 4 shelly131 :iconhikariangelove:hikariangelove 118 5 Something just like this by SayukiHikaru Something just like this :iconsayukihikaru:SayukiHikaru 26 15 Lymon line by Kirmon Lymon line :iconkirmon:Kirmon 40 18 Echomon line by Kirmon Echomon line :iconkirmon:Kirmon 27 8 Ruisemon line by Kirmon Ruisemon line :iconkirmon:Kirmon 34 8 Digimon Onus Team by BabydollStarCatcher Digimon Onus Team :iconbabydollstarcatcher:BabydollStarCatcher 33 22


Something tickled his nose, flicking back and forth and then he heard little scratching sounds. Slowly, Taran opened his eyes and saw a big fluffy brown thing on his face. He felt his heart thud hard against his chest and his mind race as he wondered what it was. Whatever it was flew through the air as he sat bolt upright. A bear? No, too small. His eyes skimmed over it as it shot across the forest floor like a lightning bolt. A squirrel. He breathed a sigh of relief as it scurried up into the trees, leaving behind the nut it had been holding. Taran looked around for Matt or Hououmon but neither were there. They had left him. Pumon was still sleeping soundly on the floor and the fire was just embers now—little charred remnants of the roaring flames from the night before. He rubbed his head, the bright light shining through the gaps in the branches an unwelcome visitor to his spinning head. Covering his eyes from the sun as he looked up into the sky, he watched a bird fly overhead. Everything that had happened kept replaying in his mind, in fact it had been all he had dreamt about. It all culminated in the current situation; he was alone somewhere strange and had no idea how to get home. Sure, he was lonely now, but he had to keep his chin up and keep moving until he got home.

“Taran?” Pumon groaned, opening one eye. “You okay?”
Taran nodded. He was lying, of course. The question had broken what little strength he had managed to muster as he was forced to face the situation he was in. And then shook his head. “No.”
Pumon opened the other eye. “What’s wrong?”
“We’re alone…” Taran looked around, as if to confirm it and then stood up. “I don’t know what to do.”
Pumon bounced up and over to Taran. “We keep going, of course!”
“Going where?” Taran chewed on his pyjama sleeve, a nervous tick of his.
Pumon looked around and then began to bound off. “This way will be fun. Come on!”
Taran rushed after Pumon. “Don’t leave me behind!”

“Pumon, not so fast! I don’t have any shoes!” Taran called as he rushed after his hyper friend.
Pumon turned mid-bounce and asked, “Shoes?” He stopped still on the ground and Taran nearly ran straight into him.
“Yeah, the things I put on my feet.” Taran looked down at the torn and dirty soles of his feetie pyjamas. “Oh!” Taran exclaimed. He slung the backpack off his back and onto the ground. “Maybe there’s some in here.”
“Why do you need them?” Pumon bounced into the air, looking down into the backpack as Taran flipped the brown flap open. “I don’t have any.”
“So my feet don’t get hurt.” Taran smirked as he looked at Pumon. “You haven’t got feet, silly, so you don’t need them.” He looked back down, grinning as he spotted some white trainers. “Got some!” He pulled them out and then slipped them on but quickly realised a flaw.
“We can go now?” Pumon asked, turning back around.
“Wait!” Taran looked down at the shoes. “I can’t tie my laces.”
Pumon bounced around and looked at his shoes. “I could bite them off.” He opened his mouth wide, his teeth glinting brightly.
“No!” Taran held up a hand. “I’ll tuck them in until a grown-up does them for me.” He pulled the laces tight and then tucked them into the side of his feet. It was a bit uncomfortable but he was quite proud of his problem-solving skills. “Okay, let’s go!”

As they reached the edge of the forest, Taran stopped and looked out from the hill they stood atop. A small town with a few people going about their business was ahead. They mostly wore plain clothing and were slim. No one seemed to be overtly happy either. A girl was sat with her mother sewing something in front of one of the small wooden houses. Didn’t she want to play? Fields full of flowers and butterflies flanked the town on either side; they looked like they would be fun to run through but no one seemed to be doing it. Seeing this was very different to how he remembered the people in his home town of Acquina during the day.

“Why don’t we go down and say hi?” Pumon began to bounce down the hill towards the town.
“Wait, Pumon!” Taran sighed and ran after his partner. What if they were scary? Or if they knew Mr and Mrs Adené? Pain in his back stopped him and Taran slowed to a walk, rushing still after Pumon.

Pumon bounced up to a boy who was picking potatoes from the fields on the edge of town. “Hi, I’m Pumon!”
The boy, with blond hair that was matted with sweat and dirt looked a little taken aback. “Hallo, Ich heisse Alrik. Du bist ein Digimon? Freunde oder Feind?” He knelt down, putting the wicker basket of potatoes next to him and reached out to touch Pumon.
“Friend!” Pumon chirped, nuzzling towards the hand.
Taran cocked his head to the side. That wasn’t English. “I’m Taran.”
The boy’s head snapped up and he retracted his hand sharply. “Englische?”
Taran nodded affirmatively. “I’m English, yeah. And I want to go home. Can you help me?”
The boy, who looked the same age as Taran, shook his head and picked up the basket. “Leave now.”

Pumon looked up at Taran and then bounced into his arms. “But wait. Alvin, why is English bad here?”
He pointed at himself and said, “Alrik. Mein name ist Alrik.” The boy looked at Pumon with wary hazel eyes. “Dangerous here. English bad.” Did he mean his English was bad? Well, it was better than Taran’s whatever he was speaking.
“Why does he understand you more than me?” Taran looked down at Pumon, who shrugged, well as well as a ball could shrug. Taran frowned, usually he made friends really easily and everyone wanted to talk to him. “Are you ignoring me?”
Alrik cocked his head to the side. “You want leave?”
Taran nodded. “Yeah, I guess.” Taran chewed his sleeve and continued to speak. “I want to go home.”
Alrik began walking. “Come.” He stopped and looked back. “But no talk.”

Taran found it hard to bite his tongue the whole time and the judging stares from everyone they walked past as they made their way through the town didn’t make it any easier. It was probably wrong to call this place a town; it was closer to a village from what he had been taught in school. A village had less people and houses. There were probably only twenty or thirty buildings all set out in a row along either side of a dirt track that ran through the village and beyond into the distance. At the other edge of the village, far away, he could see a hill rising up to obscure his view. Was this even the right way to head home? As he snapped out of his daydream, he realised they had stopped in front of one of the houses. “Is this—?”
The boy slammed his finger on Taran’s lips. “Shh.” He pushed open the door and walked inside.
Pumon looked up. “Come on, then. Let’s go!”
Taran nodded, a little afraid, and walked inside.

“Mutti! Ich bin zuhause!” Alrik called out, placing the basket of potatoes on the floor by the door. The house was a single floor and Taran could see that just past this small hallway was a smoke-filled kitchen. Heavenly scents drifted from it, causing Taran’s stomach to grumble. Two doors either side of him were closed but he figured they must be bedrooms. There was no light in the hallway, just the light from the front door and from the kitchen ahead.
“Alrik?” A woman with greying hair tied in a tight bun walked out. “Du bist zuhause. Und, du hast Freunde mitgebracht! Aber, Ich erkenne dich nicht. Du lebst nicht im Dorf?” She smiled warmly, walking towards Taran. “Du heisst?”
Taran pointed at himself and looked at Alrik nervously. He wasn’t allowed to talk but she was talking to him.
Alrik spoke up. “Tomas.” He added quickly, “Aber, er wird bald abreisen.”
“Du musst essen, Tomas. Ich habe Eintopf gekocht. Mögen sie das?”
“Nein, nein. Mutti, wir warden spielen!” Alrik exclaimed, seeming uneasy. He was bouncing from foot to foot nervously, glancing back at Taran throughout the conversation.
She brought her wooden spoon swiftly through the air towards Alrik but stopped it in front of his face. “Alrik! Ruhe bitte.” She retracted the spoon and looked over at Taran. “Tomas, komm essen.”
“Aber—!” Alrik protested.
“Alrik.” She narrowed her gaze at him. “Tomas spricht für sich.”

Taran looked between the two. The mother looked so friendly and kind but Alrik seemed to really want to get him away. Was she pretending like Mrs Adené? He had to say something. She was waiting and it was making him really nervous. Chewing his sleeve, he whispered, “I’m sorry, I don’t understand.”
The wooden spoon slipped from her thin fingers and clattered onto the floor, being the only sound anywhere in the house at that moment. She looked in disbelief. And then her gaunt face lit up like a raging fire. She was so angry all of a sudden. “ENGLISCHE! ENGLISCHE!” She grabbed Alrik by the ear, dragging him towards her and yelling in his face, “Du bist sehr blöd, Alrik! Wir sprechen nicht mit Englische!”
“Es tut mir leid, Mutti!”

Taran stepped back. “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to upset you.”
Pumon leapt from Taran’s arms, defensively baring his fangs. “Stay back!”
Alrik’s mother glanced at them. “Gehen! Geh Raus!”
Pumon looked up at Taran and then back at her. “We’ll get out when we want to!”  
Taran frowned. This was so harsh. What had he done? She kept shouting English really angrily. Was it because he was English? But no one had ever been mean to him for this before.
She picked up her spoon and waved it at him. “Geh Raus! Jetzt! Jetzt!”
Alrik looked at them, his eyes sullen and then looked down at his feet. “Sorry…”
“Come on, Taran, let’s go.” Pumon bounced outside and Taran followed closely, afraid to be alone with the angry woman.

“Englische! Englische ist hier!” She yelled out the front door after him.
At that point, the earlier animosity from the villagers exploded into full blown rage as everyone in earshot picked up the nearest object to hand and bared it like a weapon.
Taran felt himself shrink to the size of a pea and fear struck him in place like a statue. Control of his bladder was about to slip from his grasp as a man smashed a chair, grabbing the broken chair leg and baring the pointed end at Taran as he advanced.

A bright flash to his right shocked Taran, breaking him from the trance he was in. From the flash burst a large creature. It looked like a devil from picture books but in a white hue, save for a few black belts. Tattered white bat-like wings protruded from its back, which beat forcefully and blew the villagers near it backwards. Its humanoid head had two large horns either side and then it spoke with a menacing yet velvety voice, “Zero Freeze!” The soulless eyes lit up and unleashed an icy blue beam that froze the man with the chair leg completely still, encased in ice. At that point people began to run and scream. With no warning, the demonic monster flew towards Taran like an arrow. “Razor Wing.” Its wings lit up bright red, like the colour of blood.

Taran ran forwards, screaming in fear. Fumbling, he tried to reach into his bag to pull out the buttons he had put into it but there was no time. “Help! Someone help!” His Digivice buzzed in his pocket as he dived to the ground. Turning back, he saw that the house had just been in was now unrecognizable; it had been decimated by the beast in an instant. Pulling the Digivice out of his front pocket, he held it up and the strange object relayed information to him like a computer.

[In]IceDevimon, Champion level, Virus, Nightmare Soldiers.
His Icy Shower is one you don’t want to get caught in for sure!

So, it was a Digimon. IceDevimon flew back into the air and its long arm extended towards Taran, the claw glistening white. “Frost Claw!”
“Taran!” Pumon knocked him out the way.
“Pumon!” Taran watched the little green ball fly across the dirt and crash into a house. “No! We have to run!”
“I’ll fight. You get safe!” Pumon yelled, bouncing back out of the broken timber and knickknacks. “Dazzle!” The feather on its head began to glow white hot and then Pumon opened its mouth to unleash a beam of rainbow coloured energy. It struck IceDevimon square in the chest, exploding and clouding IceDevimon in smoke, but as soon as the small cloud of smoke cleared, IceDevimon was still flying and completely unscathed. “Quick, Taran!”
IceDevimon glanced at Taran and then flew at Pumon. “Razor Wing!”

Taran felt tears prick his eyes and his throat felt like it was closed. Sliding his hand back into the backpack, he withdrew one of the buttons and pressed it down firmly. But when no one came, fear took control. He would have to save himself. Taran began to run, clenching the button tightly in his hand in the hope someone would come to help. A cry for help came from behind. Taran stopped, balled up his fasts and turned back to see Alrik’s mother trapped under some rubble. Rushing over, the thought of running leaving his mind quickly, Taran tossed the button into his backpack; it obviously had stopped working.

This woman was nice to him until she found out she was English and she had raised Alrik, who was also nice to him; she was a nice person regardless of what she thought of him. He grabbed hold off the wood and tugged but it wouldn’t budge.
She looked up at him, tears in her eyes but not a word left her grimacing mouth.
Taran pushed hard and felt the cuboid beam of wood shift slightly. And then he felt another pair of hands slip over his and saw Alrik on the other side.
He nodded at Taran. “Go.” He screamed as he pulled hard and Taran quickly snapped into action, digging his toes into the dirt and pushing. His chest and arms hurt really bad but it was moving! Abruptly, the beam slipped off Alrik’s mother and fell into the rest of the rubble. Taran fell to the floor, having lost his footing and panted heavily, his arms still throbbing from the strain as he looked at the dust swirling around on the ground.

He looked up, pushing himself back onto his knees and dusting his pyjamas with a pat of his hands.
“Mutti! Du bist okay!” Alrik rushed over, hugging his mum tightly and then they both looked at him. He could see the anger in Alrik’s mother’s eyes but it had changed. Her face, and his, had softened. It made him feel warm inside.
Pumon yelled loudly in pain and Taran snapped his head around to look.
IceDevimon was pinning the small Digimon to ground with his claw.
Little specks of data swirled off Pumon as he groaned in pain. “Taran, run! Now!”
Taran froze briefly but then ran towards Pumon. He wasn’t sure why. He couldn’t quite explain it if someone asked him but something compelled him towards Pumon. Not only was that Digimon his friend, but it felt like he had known him his whole life and he wouldn’t give that up. Not like this. Not for anyone.

IceDevimon’s arm extended rapidly towards Taran like a charging snake. It hit his body with the force of a moving train and thrust him into the ground in one swift movement. Spittle flew from his mouth and he felt himself become winded and struggle to breathe in the time it took for his brain to work out what was going on. The force of the claw on his body, constricting tightly and cutting into him, was coupled with the back-breaking force of the body slam he had just endured to leave him stunned. The pain he had been feeling before was nothing compared to this.
“Taran!” Pumon yelled. “Get off him!”
IceDevimon’s claw glistened white atop Pumon and the latter began to cry out in pain.
Pumon screamed, clearly in pain, “I told you to run!”
His head foggy, Taran looked over at his partner, his friend. “I didn’t want to.” The claws squished harder and he groaned loudly. “I didn’t want to imagine a world without you.” He looked over at Pumon but the little Digimon was now glowing brightly and then energy erupted all around him, forming a sphere. “Pumon, are you okay?” Taran panicked. Was IceDevimon finishing him off? At his waist, he felt the Digivice shaking about.

IceDevimon retracted its claw from Pumon’s orb and then its wings began to frost over. “Icy Shower!”
The orb burst open and a very different Digimon emerged. It looked like a little green squirrel, with some strange mutations. The tail was a long multi-coloured feather plumage and the ears were rounded off but the eyes were exactly the same. Was this Pumon? “Leaf Kunai!” The little Digimon leapt into the air as icicles flew from IceDevimon’s wings and threw several sharpened leaves at IceDevimon’s other claw, the one pinning Taran down. They dug in, sending spirals of data free from the claw and the little green Digimon landed, summoning another handful of them and tossing them at IceDevimon’s face while dodging the icicles that hit the ground.
IceDevimon winced in pain and flew up into the sky as the attack hit. “Zero Freeze!” The beam of freezing energy erupted from its eyes but Pumon was quick to dart away. The size difference between the two was astonishing. Pumon was barely bigger than he was before but IceDevimon easily towered over the houses.

Taran’s Digivice buzzed again and he slowly withdrew it, sitting up despite the crushing pain in his chest remaining.

Punymon, Champion level, Vaccine, Nature Spirits.
He may be small but his Rainbow Sparkle isn’t just for show.

Was that his name now? Punymon? It didn’t sound very strong. And he was only little. IceDevimon was probably going to kill him. As soon as he gathered himself, he called out, “Punymon, quick, let’s go!”
Punymon turned to look but in that instant IceDevimon crashed an icy claw into the moss green Digimon, sending him rocketing through the village.
“Razor Wing!” He flew at Punymon, his wings glowing red once more.
Punymon leapt up and turned around, smacking his bum and turning to stick his tongue out. “Rainbow Sparkle!” The multi-coloured feather tail began to spin faster and faster. Punymon dug his little hands into the ground as a portal opened behind him. The yellow rim of the portal was the only light; the inside of the portal was the darkest dark Taran could imagine. It was terrifying, really.
IceDevimon paused, the red energy dissipating from its wings as it seemed to wonder what to do next.

“Eat this!” Punymon yelled and from the black portal erupted an oversized beam of multi-coloured ethereal energy. It engulfed IceDevimon in an instant, obliterating the Digimon and continuing up into the sky until it eventually faded and Punymon’s portal followed soon after.
Taran looked at Punymon, stunned, as an egg fell from the sky between them, where IceDevimon had previously been.
Punymon charged towards the egg, his eyes lighting up red as leaves appeared in between his fingers. He seemed ravenous and wild, not at all like Pumon was normally. The green Digimon threw the leaves at it, smashing apart the egg and leaving just a cracked shell on the ground. The shell abruptly lost its white and blue swirled appearance and became plain and translucent, like a giant chicken egg. And then Punymon collapsed to the ground, data flying off his body.

Taran leapt up but felt a sharp stabbing pain in his chest as he did so. Nevertheless, he rushed towards Punymon, grimacing all the while. As he reached the Digimon, he noticed that it had turned back into Pumon. “Pumon!” he exclaimed, dropping to his knees and bringing the little green ball into his chest despite the pain it elicited feeling like he was being hit by IceDevimon all over again.
“Did I do good?” Pumon’s voice was raspy and tired.
“Yes, you did very good!” Taran snuggled his partner, smiling warmly.

Taran turned around to see Alrik and his mother. “My name’s Taran, not Tomas, silly!”
“Taran?” She nodded. “Danke, Taran.” His mother smiled briefly. “Englische not all bad.”
“Taran, you must go. Everyone blame you for what happened.” Alrik pointed behind Taran, out of the village. “Walk for twenty minutes and you find a path. Walk down path towards Emden. Boat will be called Fähre. Will take you back.”
Taran nodded and stood up. “Thank you.”
“We say: Danke.” Alrik nodded. “Now you.”
Taran smiled. “Danke, Alrik.”
“Wait!” Alrik’s mother came over and knelt down. “Not tied. No good.” She pulled out Taran’s laces from his shoes and tied them tightly. “Now, go.” She stood back up, placing her arm around Alrik.

Taran nodded and turned away, walking away from the village. He had no idea what it was called but he would definitely come back some day and see Alrik. Maybe they could play together next time in the fields. He smiled; he would make sure they played together in the fields.

He headed up the steep hill away from the village and towards the path that would lead him to Emden but decided to glance back. The sun was a little lower in the sky now but it still looked so picturesque. Looking at it just made him further realise just how much he missed Acquina.

A blue portal appeared, like it had with IceDevimon and this time several monsters erupted. Taran’s Digivice buzzed for each of the five Digimon, who quickly began to wreak havoc.

[In]Majiramon, Ultimate level, Data, Wind Guardians, Dragon’s Roar.
This Exalted Beast Digimon can bury a horde of opponents instantly using its Flaming Arrowhead attack.

[In]Kuwagamon, Champion level, Virus, Nature Spirits, Wind Guardians.
This ruthless Digimon will cut you up with its Scissor Arms attack!

[In]Minotarumon, Ultimate level, Virus, Unknown, Nightmare Soldiers, Nature Spirits.
With its Demon Arm it can shake things up using Earthquake Drill.

As if on cue, Majiramon, a green dragon, disappeared into a swirl of light in the sky while Kuwagamon, a big scary red bug, tore apart the houses. Minotarumon, who looked like a minotaur from the stories his mum and dad would tell him, bashed people about with its big metal arm and then Majiramon’s fire arrows descended, decimating the village.

[In]Gwappamon, Champion level, Data, Deep Savers.
This Gwappa Rapper is no fake!

[In]Phantomon, Ultimate level, Virus, Nightmare Soldiers.
This evil Digimon’s Soul Chopper will send you on a fast-track to despair!

“Diabolic Star!” Phantomon, who looked like a grim reaper, swung the chain on the end of its sickle, bashing apart the townspeople with the dark energy ball.
“DJ Shooter!” Discs fired out from Gwappamon’s head, blowing holes into the ground. That frog certainly wasn’t very nice.
In shock, Taran stared, unable to move a muscle as he watched the destruction unfold.

No, that wasn’t right. It wasn’t what Aleena would do. “I have to do something!” Taran exclaimed, running back down the hill as he saw the flames spread and Alrik and his mother disappear from view.
“That won’t help anyone, least of all you.” Matt?
Taran spun to see the blond-haired man behind him with Hououmon also flying above and watching the village. “Please, you can help, right? Let’s go! We can’t just let that happen!”
Matt sighed and looked at Hououmon. “Look, Taran—”
“No! I won’t watch people get hurt!” His Digivice began to shine brightly, burning up on the inside of his pocket.
“This portal is unstable and RODAF will be here soon.” Matt grabbed his wrist. “I’m sorry but sticking around isn’t an option. We’re going to take a shortcut back to England; there’s some things that need our attention.” His eyes flickered blue, different to their natural blue. It seemed to cover his whole eye, not just the iris, for a moment, and then they were sucked away elsewhere while the Digimon continued to rampage.
Taran scrabbled up the fence, terrified as the thin metal wires dug into his little hands.
“TARAN!” Mrs Adené screamed, her voice vibrating in the still night air.
He looked over his shoulder at her, freezing from the blustering wind that constantly blew through his pyjamas. There was no way he was going to go back there but he couldn’t move any further. Something about her fierce gaze petrified him like she was Medusa from his bedtime stories.
“Get down this instant!” She pointed her finger firmly at the muddy ground.
Taran stared at her vacantly. She was literally shaking with rage. Slowly, he shook his head; he was unable to vocalise a response.

Mrs Adené turned to one of the men in black clothes next to her. In his hand was something that shone silver in the moonlight. That shape… was it a gun? “Take him down. Just…” She glanced at Taran, her voice hesitant, “Don’t kill him.” She was going to shoot him! Taran’s heart seemed to stop and he felt his legs go weak.
Stoically, the man lifted his gun and pulled the trigger in one swift motion.

In a flash of blue, then gold light, Taran felt warm. Was he dead? All he could see was a blinding golden light in front of him. Did he walk towards the light or away? It was too hard to remember.
“What the hell is that?” Mrs Adené roared. “Kill it!”
Sadly, he wasn’t dead and neither was Mrs Adené. Taran looked up at the golden light, gazing up until he saw it end and form a long strip. Wind pushed him back against the fence, but it was different this time—warmer. Then he heard wings flapping. Huge, powerful wings. Was this a bird? He gripped on tight to the metal, his fingers hurting as he tried to stop himself from being torn free of the fence and thrown to the ground.

“Don’t worry.” The voice was unfamiliar but comforting nonetheless. Like a mother’s voice. “Star-Light Explosion!” Its four wings flew backwards, locking Taran in place—unable to go up or down—and then they beat forwards, unleashing a wave of golden light. The attack threw Mrs Adené, and the men with her, all the way across the gardens. They landed with a thud at the doorstep of the house, the light of the attack dimming down as the huge bird turned to face Taran with its ancient blue eyes.

It was a monolithic bird, bigger than any Taran had ever imagined in his wildest dreams, with four golden wings and a colourful yellow-purple plumage poking out of the sleek golden helmet that covered its head. The black underbelly and claws were a sharp contrast to the rest of the bird, but both were scarred and showed Taran that this bird meant business.

“Don’t move.” The bird floated towards Taran like a spooky ghost.
As it had said, he was unable to move a single muscle. He was transfixed by the brilliance of the bird. Was it a Digimon too or something else entirely?
The golden rings on its ankles rattled as it grabbed hold of Taran with one of its claws, almost engulfing him entirely.
His senses and ability to move were immediately returned by the heart-stopping fear of being kidnapped. Taran tried to struggle, but it was impossible. He was now at the mercy of this bird. “Help!” He struggled against the ironclad grip but the cold rough claws wouldn’t budge an inch. In his backpack, he could feel Pumon struggling to get free.

The golden bird took off into the air, flying higher and higher with each beat of its massive wings. They reached dizzying heights in a matter of moments, the mansion that had been his prison was now the size of a pin and yet he would rather be back there than here. What if he fell? That would be it. It would be even scarier than when Nyx, Aleena and Ben took him to that forest. His mind flickered back to Reuben and Nyx and what happened to them for just a flash and when he regained his senses he had bitten straight through his bottom lip. Powerful winds buffeted Taran’s face, blowing his curly hair all over and spraying the fresh blood all over him. He clenched his eyes shut, unable to see anything in the darkness and screamed out in pain. His lip was throbbing now but he couldn’t do anything to help it.

The wind pushed hard against his face, like a wall, and then it all stopped and he felt himself rolling across the dirt. Something smacked into his back, knocking the wind out of him. Disorientated and his face still hurting too, he opened his eyes. The mud on the ground had splattered across his face and hair and obscured the golden light ahead slightly.
The bird shuffled its feathers and leaned its golden head in.
With his heart throbbing as he tried to calm himself down, Taran gripped the ground tightly. Where was he? What had happened? Who was this?
“Are you alive?” The bird cocked its head to the side. “Talk to me, it’s okay.”
“Are we alive?” Pumon roared, bursting out of Taran’s backpack and bouncing towards the bird. “How about I make you not alive!” Pumon bounced up at the bird, bopping it on the nose with his little green body. “Taking us without asking, so rude,” he grumbled.
The bird Digmon laughed gently, and then louder, the laughter shaking the trees and causing any nearby wildlife to scatter with a scurry of feet and wings.

“I… am Hououmon—a Digimon.” Hououmon sat down—rather awkwardly—and folded her wings in slightly.
Taran pushed himself up slowly against the tree behind him, the pain in his back still radiating outwards but his breath had returned. The blood from his lip dribbled down, dropping onto his legs.
“Let me help.” Hououmon reached out with a wing.
Taran winced, recoiling away. Was Hououmon going to blast him like she did earlier with Mrs Adené? Then the pain faded away as he felt a single feather brush his face.
“All better.” Hououmon folded her wings back in.
Taran was astounded. Had she really just fixed his lip just like that? His back was still sore but he was almost too shocked to even notice. “T— Thanks…” He reached in his pocket for the buttons and his Digivice but realised Hououmon seemed quite nice. He withdrew the buttons, dropping them into his rucksack and pulling it closed again after Pumon had popped out.
“Of course, sweetie.” Hououmon’s voice was so warm and loving.
Taran snapped back to reality, realising that his feet were completely freezing, even with the foot coverings of the blue and white BunBoy pyjamas. Speaking of the pyjamas, they were now dirty beyond repair. His mum would be so mad if she saw him right now. Pulling his arms in close, he flicked the hood of the pyjamas up over his head, the long blue ears now dangling down over his face. “Are you a nice Digimon?” Taran asked slowly. She hadn’t killed him yet, so presumably she was.

Hououmon moved closer, her warm golden light enveloping Taran and Pumon. He was grateful for it for sure. “I think Sora used to say I was nice sometimes.” The Digimon seemed contemplative, slow and purposeful with her speech. “She used to say a lot of things, actually.”
Taran frowned. “Why doesn’t she say stuff anymore?”
Hououmon smiled, if what you could call she did a smile, and said, “She had to leave me to spread her love.”
“Why does she have to spread it?” Taran crossed his legs, planting his hands on his knees and leaning forwards. “She could have just kept it with you, right?”
Hououmon nodded slowly. “She could but…” Hououmon looked wistfully up at the sky. “Sora always did care more about others than herself.”
Taran leaned back, resting on his hands, and looked up too; the night stars were dazzling out here. Back home, he could never see them because it was still so bright on a night from all the lights in Acquina. He didn’t realise there were so many beautiful twinkly lights right above his head like guardian angels. Somehow, with them, he didn’t feel so alone anymore.

Hououmon shook her head. “Enough of that. I came to save you, but, sadly, you are not yet safe.”
He wasn’t safe? But he was free from those evil people. Taran sat up, more attentively. “What do you mean?”
Hououmon sighed. “You’re in the human continent of Europe.”
Taran shook his head. He couldn’t be. He lived in England. Europe was across the sea. The sea was huge! This wasn’t right. “No!” he managed to blurt out, his tongue almost tripping over itself.
Pumon looked up at Taran with his little green eyes and then at Hououmon. “You heard him. No!”
“From you I feel a great… energy.” Hououmon’s voice reminded Taran of his grandma. “While we wait for him, do you need anything?”

Taran looked at Hououmon then back at Pumon. Why were they so different? And Talmon, Gabumon and Agumon had all been so different too. And mean old Alphamon. “How come all Digimon are so different?”
One of Hououmon’s wings extended down and wrapped around Pumon, lifting him into the air.
“Hey, put me down! Who do you think you are?” Pumon yelled, wriggling.
“Pumon is a Rookie level Digimon, and I.” Hououmon looked at Taran closer, while setting Pumon back down. “Am a Mega level Digimon.”
“I’ll still kick you back where you came from!” Pumon yelled, bouncing up and down angrily.
Hououmon glanced at Pumon and then back at Taran. “We are also of a different species.”
Taran nodded slowly. So, they were like a puppy and a big cat. Similar but different. He remembered the strange object Pumon had popped out of. “What is this for?” He withdrew the device and held it out.
Hououmon brought her face closer, inspecting it. “It reminds me of the Digivices that Sora and the others had. They were able to bond the two of us together, allowing us to reach higher levels.”
“So Pumon could become like you?” Taran gasped. “Wow!”
Hououmon laughed lightly. “Sort of.”

A twig snapped. “It took a while to find you out here.”
Taran looked for the source of the voice, his heart thudding against his chest. Who was it? What did they want? Had they come for him?
A blond head emerged from the trees, attached to the body of twenty-something man. He flicked his blond hair back and smiled, his pearly whites visible even in the dark. “Hey, Taran. Matt Ishida.” He walked towards them, slowly becoming more visible. “Glad I finally met you.” He stopped as he reached the golden light of Hououmon and ran his fingers through the sculpted blond waves of hair on his head. He unzipped his black jacket, revealing the logo for a band on his grey shirt beneath.
“Who are you?” Taran asked, grabbing Pumon and gripping him tightly.
“I’m one of the original Digidestined.” Matt sat down across from Taran, one leg stretched out in front of him and the other bent up so he could rest his arm on it. With the other arm, he withdrew a palm-sized silver object. “See, this is my Digivice.”

Taran looked down at his own Digivice and then back at Matt. “How do you know my name?”
“Do I need to beat you up?” Pumon struggled free from Taran’s arms, growling like a puppy dog.
Matt chuckled and placed a hand on Pumon, setting him still with a scratch behind the ears. “You’re a special boy, Taran.” He withdrew a harmonica from the pocket of his black trousers, waving it. “Do you like music?”
“Hey, don’t stop scratching me!” Pumon growled.
Matt chuckled and petted Pumon on the head.
Taran slowly nodded. He did like to listen to music that made him want to dance or had silly lyrics.
“One minute.” Matt cleared his throat, coughing loudly and then pursed his lips, placing them near the harmonica. A smooth sweet sound came out from the small metal instrument, vibrating Taran’s chest slightly as it resonated in the air. Matt moved his mouth along the instrument, changing the pitch and then he began to blow rhythmically, putting Taran almost into a trance. The magical music continued on for what felt like forever, seeming to wrap all around Taran.

Matt pulled away from the harmonica after a while, pocketing it with a small smile. On his pale cheek, there was a tear drying slowly and Taran felt bad for him.
“Why are you crying?” Taran frowned. “Was it meant to be sad?” It had made him feel like he was in a wonderland of magic and candy.
“Sometimes music makes you remember things… or people.” Matt exhaled slowly.
Hououmon lowered her head, resting it on Matt’s shoulder.
Matt patted Hououmon gently on the head, closing his eyes briefly before snapping them open and looking at Taran, his shining blue eyes piercing into Taran like arrows. “Taran, we need to teach you how to Digivolve Pumon.”
Taran looked down at Pumon. This was very sudden. And, if it meant him having to fight like everyone else’s Digimon, then Taran would rather not.  “I don’t know if he wants to.”
“Will I get bigger?” Pumon asked, bouncing into the air. “Let’s do it!”

“Taran, has anyone talked to you about your crest?” Matt moved closer, barely a foot from Taran now. “Or, what do they call it now?” He looked over his shoulder at Hououmon.
“Trait?” Hououmon leaned in to Taran too.
Taran felt a little crowded and backed up against the tree, shaking his head. “No.”
“You’re unique.” Matt looked down at the fizzing screen on his silver Digivice and then put it away. “You possess two crests: Light… and Hope.” He clenched the fist rested on his knee but shook it off. “This is why you need to be ready to face what’s coming.”
Taran felt a shiver run down his spine. “What’s coming?”
“Before me and my friends were around, there were some other kids. They managed to fight and seal away a great evil.” Matt frowned and looked up at Taran, his eyes apologetic and his face betraying his concern. “But the seal is weak. And it’ll get out soon. And when it does…” He sighed heavily, looking down at the ground. As he lifted his head, his eyes seemed so sorry that it hurt to look at them. “Everyone will die.”

Taran gasped and thought of his family, his friends. Aleena and the others! “But they can’t!”
Matt nodded slowly. “They can. And they will.”
Taran shook his head, balling up his fists. “We have to stop it!”
Hououmon nudged Matt, nearly knocking him over. “Stop pushing him.”
Matt glanced at Hououmon and then looked at Taran. “Only the crests of Light and Hope can stop him. This is what the prophecy said. With those two crests, he can be sealed away again.”
“So…” Taran pulled his hand into his chest, looking down. “I have to do it?”
Pumon bounced up. “No. We have to do it. I’m your friend, Taran. I’ll never let you go alone!”
Taran smiled, pulling Pumon in close. “I know. I’m your friend too.”

“As for how to Digivolve Pumon, you must embody both of your traits.” Matt stretched and leant back, crossing one leg over the other and using one arm to hold himself up. His other black gloved hand sat on his lap.
“What do you mean?” Taran furrowed his brow. Embody? What did that even mean?
“If you show both of your traits at a crucial moment, Pumon will Digivolve; it’s harder for you because you have two traits to take on.” Matt pointed at Taran and half-smiled. “But, you’re special and I believe you can do it like the special ones before you did.” The smirk seemed to instil confidence in Taran, as if it was a confidence transfusion.
Taran gripped his Digivice and then nodded firmly. “I’ll do my best.”

Matt nodded and stood up. “I’ll make you a fire and keep an eye out but me and Hououmon have to go.” He withdrew a black blanket from the bag on his back, tossing it to Taran. “You’ll be alright here tonight.”
Wait. What did he mean? They weren’t going to take him somewhere safe? They were going to leave him in the dark scary woods all by himself? What if a spider came and ate him?
“Are you sure about this?” Hououmon asked.
“But it’s cold, and dark!” Taran protested. He jumped up and gripped Matt’s trousers.

Matt sighed, looking down with fondness in his eyes. “Fine.” He picked Taran up, squeezing him tight in a bear hug before setting him back down standing. “You win; I’ll wait.” He picked up the blanket off the floor and sat down, his legs kicked out in front of him and his back rested against Hououmon. He patted the ground next to him. “Come on then, we don’t have all night. Hououmon, can you make a fire?”
Hououmon reached out with her wing, tearing a tree in half and dropping it nearby. She was so strong and yet with just a gentle breath, she set it ablaze. A branch snapped off the log as the fire began to crackle.

Taran sat down next to Matt, leaning on him slightly. The roaring flames staved off the dark and the cold so strongly that Taran almost forgot he was outside.
Pumon sat on his lap, his eyes already closed and soft snoring coming from his big mouth.
“Do you think I’ll ever get home?” Taran asked, looking up hopefully at the older male. It was all he wanted and yet it still seemed so far away.
Matt smiled slightly, but the corners of his eyes stayed the same. “For sure. And I know that you’ll get to live there forever and ever.”  
Taran grinned, hugging him tightly and leaning on the soft fabric of his long-sleeved grey t-shirt. He felt Matt patting his head and then the older male pulled the blanket over Taran, tucking him in tightly.

Taran rested his head on Matt’s lap; it was comfy there. The stars above, like twinkling lights, seemed to relax and soothe him. He could see Matt looking up too in his peripheries. “Tell me a story?”
Matt looked down. “I don’t really know any…”
“You must know some!” Taran looked at him with his best puppy eyes.
“No, really. I never got chance to—” Matt choked up. His lip trembling but it slid into a smirk quickly and the emotion left his face. “I’ve just not told a bedtime story before.”
PLEASEEE! Any story will do!” Taran begged, pouting. “With a cherry on top!”
Matt smirked. “Alright, alright. I’ve got one. It’s a bit long, but it’s a good one.” He patted Taran’s head and pulled the little boy’s hood up, making Taran’s ears all warm and snuggly. “A long time ago, there were seven kids at summer camp…”
Taran plodded upstairs. Why on earth he was still putting up with all of this was quickly becoming lost after eating yet another unsatisfying meal of salad. Holding one hand on his stomach and the other on the slippery wooden bannister, he looked up the stairs and exhaled heavily. Climbing all these steps was so tiring. With each touch of his foot to the staircase, his stomach grumbled. Glancing over his shoulder, he lamented that he would much rather slide down the bannister and steal some food but, sadly, he had promised to be good.

“You used to love that painting when you were young.”
Taran snapped his head towards the voice, scanning around the dimly lit staircase. In a dark alcove between the two floors, he was sure he could see something. A hand grabbed his wrist firmly, tugging him into the shadows, with another hand clamping over his mouth as he tried to yell out. Screaming and kick into the darkness, he clenched his eyes shut hoping they would let him go. And then they did.

Retreating back until he banged into the wall, Taran looked around for his attacker as his eyes adjusted. His heart pounded against his chest, adrenaline coursing through his veins and his legs nearly buckled. “Blergh!” Taran stuck out his tongue, the taste of the hand still in his mouth. He flinched as he felt something touch him and then realised the white gloved hands were gently brushing him down. Was that the butler?

“I apologise for my informality, but I must speak with you, Master Taran.” He looked around uneasily, his eyes darting back and forth like a game of tennis. Checking his watch, he quickly looked back at Taran. “I just wish it had been under.” The butler ran his finger along the side of the staircase and inspected it. Flicking the dust off his fingertip, he continued, “More pleasant circumstances.”
Taran eased up, his chest becoming less tight and his heart beat slowing down. “What’s wrong?” He pouted, the tone made him concerned enough to forget about his own problems for a little while.
“Your parents gave you up willingly, Taran.” The butler seemed uneasy, continually looking around them and speaking in hushed tones. “In order to further their lifestyle, they didn’t have time to care for a young child and, at that point, they didn’t have the funds for childcare.” He touched his large hand to Taran’s shoulder, glancing at the watch briefly. “I’m afraid to say that they do not want you.”

Taran had already gathered they didn’t like him, but to know they didn’t even want him felt like a blow to his ego. Was he really that bad? “Why don’t they want me?”
He snarled briefly. “Egomaniacs, Selfish, Narcissistic ignoramuses. You can take your pick.”
Taran didn’t know what those meant, but there were more important things. “Why am I here?”
“Your father—”
“He isn’t my dad.” Involuntarily, Taran recoiled. The very mention of the word in respect to someone other than his actual dad, especially that man annoyed him so much.
The butler sighed. “Fine.” He lowered his voice. “Mr Adené is about to declare bankruptcy. His public image is bad due to some bad decisions.” Getting closer, he whispered, “and there was also a scandal of infidelity.” He sighed, standing back up. “Basically, he needs good press.”

Taran pondered the statement for a while. Cocking his head to the side, he asked, “What’s bankruptcy?”
The butler looked up from his watch, narrowed his eyes and then nodded. “Fundamentally, it means he doesn’t have much money.”
Taran looked around. That couldn’t be right. He had all these nice things and offered to buy Taran anything he wanted. “But he has all this.”
This.” The butler looked around them then back at Taran. “Will soon disappear if his problems aren’t resolved. With you here, they look like parents who were troubled about the kidnapping of their son after all these years. Saving you will likely bring them everything they desire. Stock will rise and their problems will resolve.”
“They didn’t save me.” Taran crossed his arms. “I don’t like them.”
The butler glanced around. “I don’t have long left before I have to check on Mr Adené.” He looked at his shiny silver watch yet again and then gripped both of Taran’s shoulders. “Stay safe, stay strong and don’t trust them.” He stepped out into the light, checking his watch for the millionth time.
Taran grabbed his sleeve. “My mum.” He grimaced as he thought of Mrs Adené. “The one I love…” he remembered making masks out of paper plates with her on a rainy afternoon a few months ago. “Well, she taught me to always be polite and ask someone’s name.”
The man laughed a little. “Dominic, Dominic Devon.” He left without another word, disappearing into the vast house.

Walking back up to his room, he stepped inside, leaving the light off. Without it on, maybe they would leave him alone. His fingers touched the cold metal doorknob, flicking the lock closed as he leant back against the door and listened to his thoughts. If all this was true then he had to do something, go somewhere. Shaking the thoughts from his head, he walked over to the bed and sat down, the springs bouncing him back up slightly. He ran his fingers through the soft bright duvet, the fabric comforting as he glanced out of the window at the darkening sky. Seeing that sunset reminded him of back home. Something touched his leg and then he realised he was crying. Touching the tear on his cheek with his hand in disbelief, he looked at his damp fingers. Would he ever get home? His stomach began to churn and then he climbed into the bed, slamming his face into the pillow to try and stem the flow of tears.

Stretching his arms out, he felt something touch his hands. Frowning, he pulled his face away from the pillow, wiping it clean with his arm and then lifted the pillow to see the two buttons and the Digivice. He picked up the buttons, holding them gently in his hand and wishing someone would come save him soon. Shaking his head, he put them back down and got up off the bed to change into a set of BunBoy pyjamas that were folded neatly at the foot of the bed. If he just went to sleep then he could forget about all of this and then he would be one day closer to someone coming and taking him back home.

As he zipped up the front of the pyjamas, the fuzzy material warming him up, he looked back over at the window. Walking over to it, he pushed the window open and looked out onto the grounds. They were so vast that he couldn’t see another house anywhere; it was so removed from anything he knew back home. The maze down below, with all the flowers, pathways and other stuff he couldn’t make out in the darkness was so confusing. A gust of wind threw the BunBoy hood off his head, the ears flapping about behind him before falling flat on his back. The icy wind bit into his skin and he took a sharp inhale through his nose, the cold piercing his nostrils and turning him into an icicle, inside and out. Firmly holding onto the windowsill, he peered over the edge to see how far the drop was. At this height, he knew that would be it for sure. However, if he even went near the front door then someone would definitely spot him.

“What’s wrong Taran?”
Taran jumped and hurriedly looked for a source. He scanned his eyes across the dark furniture for anyone but there was no one. Did they have a camera or something in here?
“I’m in your Digivice, silly!”
Taran frowned. Was this a trick? “In that?” He pointed shakily at the object on his bed.
“Maybe,” the voice teased, giggling.
Taran stepped across the floor slowly, the padded feet of his pyjamas slapping quietly against the flooring, until he reached the bed.  
“Right here,” the little voice chimed.

Taran sat down on the bed and picked up the Digivice, looking at the little creature that was finally awake. The name flooded back into his head and he exclaimed elatedly, “Pumon.” The corners of his mouth slid up into a grin and his brown eyes lit up. “I almost forgot about you! I’m so sorry!”
“That’s me; I’m your Digimon partner!” The little Digimon cheered, bouncing around the screen. “You can let me out, you know!? It’s too small in here for me to bounce!”
Taran lifted the Digivice and looked underneath. Out where? He looked back at the screen sceptically, raising one eyebrow. “I can?”
“Yeah, just press that one on the side!” Pumon bounced against the side of the Digivice. “I know cause I’m smart, you see! The best Digimon around!”
Taran got close and whispered, “You’re also super loud, I don’t want to get caught, Pumon.”
“SORRY!” Pumon giggled. “I’ll fight whoever catches you so let me out!”
Taran gingerly placed his finger on the button. “This one?”
Pumon nodded eagerly. “Yup!”
Pressing the button down, Taran was astounded as a green light flew out from the Digivice and encompassed his hand. “What’s happening?” Taran yelled, trying to shake the warm light off his hand. Flinging his arm outwards and jumping back, he saw the green light fly off but fell off the bed in the process.

His legs in the air and his head throbbing, Taran groaned. What on earth had just happened?
“I’m FREE!” Pumon bounced off the edge of the bed onto Taran’s face and then back onto the bed. “Free, I tell you!”
Taran scrambled to his feet and watched the little green ball bounce. Was this real? Had he hit his head that hard? “P— Pumon?”
“That’s me!” He bounced up onto Taran’s face, kissing him.
Taran wiped his face, knocking Pumon off. “Blergh!” He sat up, sticking out his tongue. “Don’t kiss me!”
“Why not?” Pumon cocked his head, which was also his whole body. “You saved me.”
“So!” Taran blurted, wiping his mouth again. He climbed back onto the bed and crossed his arms angrily.
“I heard humans do it to show love, and I love you!”
Taran furrowed his brows and glared at the little Digimon. “You can’t.” He shook his head exasperatedly. “It’s naughty. Only mummies and daddies can do it.”
“What are mummies and daddies?” Pumon bounced. “Are they friends?” He narrowed his eyes, forming a snarl that showed his sharp little teeth. “Or food?”
Taran gasped in shock. Was Pumon being serious? “You don’t know?” Picking Pumon up, he leapt backwards onto the bed, bouncing up and down while cradling the little Digimon.

“You can jump too? Let’s do it together!” Pumon leapt out of Taran’s arms and began to bounce on the bed, the multi-coloured feather on his head flapping back and forth.
Taran placed a hand on Pumon, holding him still. “Listen!”
Pumon pouted. “I can listen and bounce.”
“Fine.” Taran slid his hand off the excitable Digimon’s head and clasped his hands gently on his belly, looking up at the roof. “They’re just the bestest people ever. He threw his arms into the air, kicking his legs and grinning. “Mine are the most good though.”

Pumon stopped bouncing. “Why?”
Because they cuddle me when I’m sick, and they kiss me goodnight and make sure the bad men don’t get me while I sleep. Oooh! And, they buy you lots of sweets when you’re good!”
Pumon began to drool. “Sweets are food…” He rolled onto his back, the drool dribbling onto the duvet. “I like sweets.”
Taran grinned, sitting bolt upright. “ME TOO!”

Taran fell backwards onto the bed and sighed tiredly. His parents weren’t around at the moment and he had no idea when he would see them or his brothers and sisters again.
“Can we go see your mummy and daddy?” The words stung. Taran knew Pumon hadn’t intended them to, but it was something he wished for more than anything and yet he couldn’t do.
Something began to tickle his feet. Taran kicked out and covered his mouth to try and hold back the raucous laughter that he could feel building in his belly. Looking down, he saw Pumon using the feather on his head to tickle Taran’s feet with a mischievous grin.
Pumon bounced onto his chest with a gentle bump. “Well?”
Taran calmed down and shook his head. “I want to but Aleena said to stay here.” He lolled his head back looking at the roof. “And Aleena always knows best.”

Pumon began to bounce up and down. “But it’s making you sad. And I like when you’re happy!” He bounded on top of Taran, laughing.
Taran grunted as Pumon knocked the wind out of him, catching the little green ball. “That hurt, Pumon.” He frowned. “You can’t just jump on people without asking.”
“Sorry…” Pumon looked downtrodden and then his face slowly lifted, a grin forming. “Let’s go get some sweeties!”
Taran bit his lip. “I dunno...” It was a hard decision. Leaving this room put him at risk of being shouted at by those people.
PLEASE!” The little Digimon said, elongating the word.
“Fine.” Taran sighed and sat up. “But you have to be quiet,” he whispered, putting his index finger to his lips. Cautiously, he picked up the Digivice and the two buttons, dropping them all into the saggy front pocket of his pyjamas. He couldn’t be sure if he would need them, especially now he was doing something naughty.  

Carrying Pumon over to the door, he opened it slowly and looked around outside to see if anyone was about. But, luckily, the coast was clear. Slipping out, he pulled the door closed behind him and then peered down the stairs. It was clear. So far so good. He crept down the wooden staircase, afraid to move too fast for fear of being caught and reprimanded.

Taran remembered the Christmas eve where his life had changed. All that had started with creeping down stairs too. The stairs of his family home. He stopped, his feet not willing to move.
“What’re you doing?” Pumon whispered.
Taran felt his lip tremble and an involuntary tear rolled down his cheek, dropping onto Pumon’s head. “I miss mum and dad.” He kept crying like this; like he was a big baby.
The little Digimon looked up. “You’re leaking.” He waved his feather about. “Want to borrow my feather to plug the hole?”
Taran sniffed and took the feather gently, wiping his eye. “Thank you.”

Pumon flicked his feather about. “You’re gunky.” He then looked back down the stairs. “Now, sweeties.”
Taran nodded, trying to forget about his family, if only briefly. “Okay.” Taran slipped down the rest of the stairs quickly, casting a quick glance around as he reached the bottom before he rushed over to the dining room. He had never been in to the kitchen before, but he had seen people come in with food through a door in the dining room so there had to be food through there and that was good enough.

The door squeaked loudly behind Taran as it swung shut. He tensed up, expecting to be caught. The room was dark, with the obscure mahogany wooden furniture inside blending into the shadows. It looked a lot different at night times.
“This isn’t sweeties,” Pumon grumbled.
“The food comes from there,” Taran whispered, pointing at the door on the right. “Come—” The door in question swung open and light spilled into the room, dazzling Taran a little.

Diving onto the floor, he crawled underneath the table as footsteps resounded around the large dining room. His heart thudded against his ribcage, threatening to break free and reveal his hiding spot.
“I coulda sworn ah ‘eard somefink.” Who was that? It didn’t sound like Mr or Mrs Adené.
Taran covered his mouth, trying not to breathe as the black boots continued to walk around the room. A cupboard swung open.
“Hmm.” It slammed shut again.
“What’s he doing?” Pumon whispered.
The feet spun to face them and Taran silently cursed his rotten luck. Pumon would have to be taught to not be so naughty.

Slowly, the feet came towards them. With each thud of the heavy black boots against the wooden flooring, Taran felt his heart rate skyrocket. A chair flew out abruptly. They’d been caught. Taran clenched his eyes shut in fear as the footsteps continued. Then there was nothing but a little rustle. Slowly, he cracked open one eyelid and looked up to see a pair of legs under the table in front of him. The striped blue and white trousers were covered at the top with a white piece of fabric from whatever he was wearing on top.

“Am going batty ‘cause a all ‘em fumes. Berrah tek a brek.” He stretched his legs out, booting Taran in the face.
Taran whimpered, unable to resist but quickly crawled away, hoping he wouldn’t notice.
“Wha’ were tha’?” The chef mumbled. His bearded middle-aged face appeared as he bent over and spotted Taran, his eyes flying wide.
Leaping up, Taran kept low to avoid banging his head and ran for the nearest door he could see.

Heavy footsteps flanked him, quick and close as Taran tore the door open and ran through. Thwack! A mop smacked him in the face and he quickly realised that this was a cleaning cupboard as chemicals flanked him on all sides. Like the kind his mum would use on Sundays. He panicked, and turned back to run for another door but a robust shadowy frame was now taking up his only exit.

“Taran.” He leaned closer, his tired face becoming slightly clearer in the dim light. “‘s it?”
Taran nodded meekly, cowering back into a corner. He squeezed Pumon tightly as the man exhaled heavily. He was in big trouble now.
“I ber et’s sweets yeh beh wantin’.” The chef’s narrow hazel eyes homed in on Taran, fixating him like a deer in headlights.
Taran shook his head vehemently. Admitting something like that would just make the trouble he was in even worse.
“Don’ lie t’ meh, boy. Le’s be havin’ ya.” He moved aside, and held out a large arm towards the kitchen. “Come on. Quick Like.”  

Taran stared at him, completely unable to process what had just happened. Was it a trick? He looked down at Pumon, but the little Digimon had no words of support and was just salivating at the thought of sweets. Slowly, Taran walked out of the cleaning cupboard. This man seemed nice at least.
Behind him, the man slammed the cleaning cupboard door.
Taran flinched, expecting to be shouted at but he felt a firm, calloused hand in his hair. Looking up, he saw the chef grin and smiled back. It made him feel warm in his belly.
The chef laughed and ruffled his hair. Pushing him gently towards the kitchen door, the man said, “Come on, lad.”

Taran gazed around the large white tiled kitchen from his place atop a stainless steel countertop, that, like the rest of the kitchen, was sparkling. A twang of melancholy confused him as he struggled to find the cause. This was the best thing to happen to him in ages.
The chef was watching him closely. His hazel eyes looked apologetic, hiding something behind that careful gaze. This felt a lot like pity, but why? The chef was making him stay here too so why wasn’t he mean like everyone else?  
Frowning, Taran reached into the tub of chocolate chip ice cream on the counter and spooned a large amount into his mouth. Slowly, he lifted the tub, holding it out to the chef. “Want some?” In his grip, he could feel Pumon struggling to restrain himself for the next bite.
The chef shook his head. “Nah, lad. You ‘av et.” He turned back around and chopped some carrots on a wooden board that had seen better days.

Taran spooned out a chunk of ice cream and rammed it into Pumon’s mouth. “Stay quiet please?,” Taran whispered, pulling the spoon out. He looked at the spoon, which didn’t even have a speck of ice cream on anymore in amazement and then noticed the chef was looking at him again while tossing the carrots into a metal pan. It was that same look. “Have you told them I’m awake?” He glanced at the door nervously, expecting Mr and Mrs Adené to run in any second and shout at him.
The chef shook his head and looked down at the floor while sighing loudly. He looked up slightly, clearly battling inner difficulties by the way he was frowning. “Lad, are yeh gonna leave?”

Really, Taran hadn’t considered it wholeheartedly. Sure, he’d thought about running away. But right now, at this moment, he could just leave and never look back. All of the doors were open for the butlers and other members of staff to come and go as they pleased. Looking at the chef, the metal spoon hanging out of his mouth, he wasn’t sure what to say. The spoon fell from his lips, clattering against the countertop. He shook himself from the daze he was in and managed to stammer, “Leave? What do you mean?”

The chef paused, seeming to find it hard to answer as he opened and closed his mouth more than a few times. He gripped the counter behind him, leaning back on it as he faced Taran. “Run, lad.”
Did he mean to hurry back upstairs before they noticed? Was this a game? Hide and Seek? “… Back upstairs?”
“No, lad.” The chef rubbed his temples with his large fingers. “Don’ yeh see?” He glanced around. “You gotta ge’ while yeh can. They won’ pu’ you wi’ someone, see.” The chef walked over to the kitchen door, pushing it gently open and peering out into the dining room before coming back over. “This… thing they’re doin’. Where they use ya to mek ‘emselves look good?” He shook his head. “Ih won’ last.” Folding his arms, he leaned back. “They’ll drop yeh in a wood or somefink and drive off, lad. Yeh gotta go now. Trust meh.”

Taran was fixated on the chef’s grey-brown moustache. It was so full and thick. Each hair was wiry and individually strong, but together they looked soft and bouncy. This was the perfect distraction from the fear he was feeling but he couldn’t hide forever. His lip trembling, Taran quietly said, “I’m confused.” The world outside was so big and he was so little. He had no idea where he was or where to go and this man wanted him to run out there all alone. How could he?

The chef spun, reaching into the cabinet above his head. He withdrew a green rucksack from behind a sack of potatoes. “I fort this migh’ come in handy when ah ‘eard wha’ they were gonna do.” He held it out, shaking it. “Tek it. Goh everfink ya’ll need.”
Taran looked at the green rucksack worriedly. His brow wrinkled and he felt his fingers digging into the cool metal countertop as he held on for dear life.
“Tek this and run now, lad. Theh kitchen outside door is open. Don’ look back.” He indicated the big metal door to his left with his thumb.
Taran stared at his kind, withering face. Was he serious? He glanced at the metal door. What if this was all a trick? What would Aleena say?
“Taran, ice cream is empty. Let’s go.” Pumon burped loudly as his tongue, which had cleaned the inside of the tub to a sparkling white, rolled back into his mouth.
Taran hissed, “I told you to be quiet.”
“Ah knew et was one of ‘em!” The chef looked closer at Pumon, a smile growing at the corners of his mouth. “Tha’s double tha reason for yeh to scram. So, go on, do et!”

Gingerly, Taran reached out for the bag and pulled it onto his back before hopping down from the counter. He glanced around, confused. “Where?” He furrowed his brow. He couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a trick. His legs wouldn’t listen to him. Would Aleena be okay with this? Would she still be able to find him? His mind was racing with possibilities and questions.
The chef gripped his hand tightly, leading him over to the big red metal door at the back of the kitchen. He shoved it open and kept his hand splayed on the door, allowing the cold night air to blow in. “Out this door an’ keep runnin’. An’ don’ look back, lad.” He smiled, ruffling Taran’s hair with his other hand. “Ah can’ allow a baern t’ beh treated like an object.”

Pumon bounced up into Taran’s arms. “I bet there’s more sweets out there somewhere,” he said, salivating again.
Taran looked out into the darkness and couldn’t see anything, definitely not sweets. “I don’t think so,” he muttered, his voice quavering.
A gentle push on his back forced him forwards down the little wooden steps and onto the solid earth below. “Good luck, lad.”
Taran searched around in the darkness beyond the dim glow of the kitchen light behind but nothing was possible to make out. Gripping Pumon tightly, he turned back to the chef. Maybe this wasn’t the right idea. The door slammed closed and the light vanished. Was this a trick? He was in so much trouble now!

“I’m scared, Pumon.” Taran hadn’t wanted to admit it so readily but it flew out of him like machine gun fire. He was supposed to be brave. Pumon was the younger one.
“What are you waiting for?” Pumon laughed. “RUN!”
Taran nodded and started to run away into the darkness. He didn’t know where he was going so he ran straight forwards, barely able to see just in front of him. Surely, he would find somewhere eventually. Piles of rubbish and food waste littered the area around the kitchen door but beyond that was soft grass, which was easier to run on.

Suddenly, he heard voices and shouting. Then lights began to burst on, flying all over the grass around him. The chef had told on him? So, this really was just a trick? It was all too much too sudden and it left him frozen on the grass in front of the fence. He spun back, his chest heaving up and down as he panted, looking to see what was happening. He was trapped. “Pumon, I’m scared.”
“Keep going!” Pumon cheered.
“Where?” Taran looked up at the fence. It wasn’t exactly the freedom he had imagined.

“Taran!” It was that crazy evil woman. There was no way he would turn back for her so he was going to have to find a way out.
“Pumon!” Taran squeezed his partner, terrified.
“Hurry!” Pumon yelled, struggling free from the grip and bouncing onto the floor. “Up the fence!”
“Get him!” Mrs Adené screamed. Footsteps pounded the ground behind him along with loud barking.

Taran glanced up at the fence. It was so tall. “I’m not sure if—”
“Put me in your bag.” Pumon bounced into Taran’s hands. “Quick.”
Taran nodded. He would need his hands for climbing and he couldn’t carry Pumon at the same time. He pulled the bag off, allowing Pumon to drop in to it. Pulling the cord tight, Taran swung it back over his back. “I’m not sure I can do this,” he whimpered.
From his bag came the muffled reply, “Yes, you can. Now, go!”
Taran reached for the fence, gripping onto the cold metal but his arm flopped back to his side. “I don’t know how!”
“You can do it, just go!”
Taran took a deep breath in and grabbed the fence with both hands. He raised his foot to fit into one of the gaps in the links. With every movement, he felt his mind race with everything that could go wrong.
“Stop right there!”
Rori watched Aleena, gritting her teeth to hold back the tears brewing. Seeing the one she looked up to in this state was… soul-destroying. Steeling herself, she clenched her fists and saw Andrew walk over from a door at the back of the room. His black suit was pristine and the Digimon next to him certainly wasn’t G-Mon. A new partner? It was a huge boulder with arms made from interlocking rocks and a stern expression. Her Digivice buzzed.

Geomon, Champion level, Data, Nature Sprits, Metal Empire.
Don’t get stuck in his Quicksand attack or you might just go missing!

Aleena coughed, blood spurting out onto the floor.
Rori rushed to help her but Aleena’s arm flew out, pushing her back.
“I’m fine.” She turned to Andrew. “Digivolving G-Mon is like polishing a turd—pointless.”
“Aleena, please,” Talmon muttered as his eyelids closed against his will.
“I’m fine,” she hissed, angry.
Talmon tried to stand up, to walk towards her, but his little body fell back to the floor with a soft thud.  
Andrew scowled. “You’ve seen better days.” Thrusting his hands in his trouser pockets, he looked at Geomon. “End it quickly.”

Geomon’s eyes turned black for a second. “Quicksand.”
Sand gathered around them all instantaneously, pulling at their feet as if it were alive. Rori grabbed hold of her leg, tugging at it. “This isn’t good!” she yelled as she realised she was already shin-deep.
Leaves appeared all around them and quickly formed a lasso, with Chrysanthemon holding the other end. Tugging hard, she smacked them together, the leaves tightening around the three humans while Idolonmon was holding Talmon. Chrysanthemon flew up towards the roof, freeing them from a sandy demise, lifting them barely a few feet above the attack, before she began to falter.
“Idolonmon, stop him doing that again!” Tyler yelled, looking over his shoulder at Aleena and Rori, as the three were squashed together by Chrysanthemon’s lasso. “This is a little too close for comfort,” he mumbled. “I’m glad I brushed my teeth.”

Idolonmon dropped Talmon and pointed his trident. “Killer Instinct!” The red lasers battered against the rock Digimon but had seemingly no effect.
“Extendor!” Geomon reached up, its arm extending rapidly towards Idolonmon until it snatched his neck, crushing down hard and continuing to push until Idolonmon was thrown into a wall. “Extendor!” The other shot at them, the rocks clunking against each other as they grew and more were added.

Chrysanthemon tossed them up into the air, leaving Rori’s stomach behind in her wake. “Rotary Spin!” With a quick twirl, she kicked the arm into a wall, blowing out a chunk of the wall with it.
Rori held herself firm as they plummeted back down, Chrysanthemon would catch them for sure. Wouldn’t she? With a thud, she felt the rope dig into her abdomen as they were dangled inches from the ground.
“Sorry.” Chrysanthemon released the rope and they fell in a tumble onto the cold metal below.
Rubbing her head, Rori looked at her partner. “We’ll work on it.” The leaves flew off them and towards Geomon, exploding to create a smoke screen.

Aleena lay on the ground panting, not even the Body Enhancing pills were able to overcome the damage that had been done to her body.
Rori shakily pushed herself up. She had to be strong for Aleena. “Chrysanthemon, go help Idolonmon. We’ll be fine.”
Chrysanthemon looked at her for a moment, hesitating, and then flew off.

Aleena growled, snarling through the pain she was in as she got onto all fours. “Go.” She shoved herself up, falling backwards so that she was on her knees. “Get.” She stood up, staggering from side to side and then steadied herself, pointing at the tank. “Leomon.”
Rori could see—through her good eye—that Aleena was in no fit shape to fight anyone, let alone a grown man in peak condition like Lord Kayran. But telling Aleena no was pointless. Nodding, and holding back the tears as she looked at her friend’s injured body, she said, “I won’t let you down.”
Aleena held out three fingers. “I can buy three minutes. You better not let me down.”

Pointing at Kayran, Aleena yelled, “One on one, you coward!”
He laughed and pointed his gun. “And, why, pray tell, would I squander time on you when I can, instead, end it instantly?”
Aleena clenched her fists, steadying on her feet. “You’re afraid? That it?” She laughed. “No wonder RODAF sucks at everything!”
Unloading his gun, Kayran tossed it and his jacket to the ground. His pectorals seemed to burst from the white vest top he wore underneath the army jacket. Every single muscle was defined and trying to erupt out of his tan skin. “Have it your way. You’ll be easier to dispose of if all your bones are broken, I suppose.”

Kayran moved into a boxing stance as Aleena ran at him, screaming.
“I’ll kill you,” she caterwauled as she raised her fist.
Rori looked at Tyler. They had to focus. “I’ll keep Tracy away from you.”
Tyler nodded. “If you require assistance, alert me immediately.” Even now, he was still trying to help. He didn’t seem to grasp the situation they were in.
Nevertheless, the gesture was something that made Rori feel at ease. “Thanks.”
“For what?” he raised a quizzical eyebrow.
Rori smiled. He hadn’t realised. “For everything, silly.” She touched his shoulder, her finger tips resting gently on the bone. “You treat me like one of you.” Pulling her hand back, she nodded. “You’re good people.”
Geomon’s fist crashed into the ground in front of them, blowing chunks of dust and shards of metal all over.

Coughing, Rori moved her arms down from her face, where she had instinctively raised them to. “Are you okay?” she asked, looking at Tyler as their partners’ attacks echoed across the room.
“Fine.” Tyler grimaced, slowly opening his eyes and lowering his hands down from where he had them held in front of him as if he were trying to catch a Frisbee. “We have to be hasty, no time for trivialities.”
Rori remembered their goal. Thirty seconds had already passed and they had done nothing. Time to act. Sprinting across the floor, she kept an eye on both battles, trying to avoid them as she went.
Tracy was just ahead, typing furiously while pushing buttons and pulling levers in an attempt to stop the inevitable.
Rori pounced from the ground like a tiger, leaping onto the older woman’s back and clawing underneath her glasses in an attempt to blind her. She not only had to stop her, Rori had to make sure she stayed stopped. “Now!” She flipped over the top of Tracy, landing on the console. Grabbing it with both hands, she booted Tracy on the chest, knocking her to the ground.

Tyler clambered up the platform, past the controls and grabbed hold of the needle. Tugging it, he growled in frustration. “It won’t budge.”
“Blöd Mädchen!” Tracy leapt up, charging at Rori with her claw-like nails out.
Rori dived to the side, and smashed Tracy’s head into the controls. Quickly, she leapt back to avoid Tracy’s swipe with her sharp nails. While not technically a weapon, they sure would hurt. “Pull harder!” Rori yelled. She was already doing the hard work; she couldn’t help him as well.

Tyler tugged at the needle, growling. Digging his feet into the floor, he leaned backwards, still yanking at the needle, until it came loose and he was thrown back into the console with a thump. He slumped down, dazed and a trickle of liquid spilled out, falling onto his head and wetting his dark hair with a gentle patter. It dropped down his fringe and tapped onto the ground and then, with quick realisation, Tyler leapt over the console and got down low as the cracks spread up the tube. Looking at the needle in his hand, he shook his head and tossed it away, covering his head with both hands A spider web of fissures formed, creaking loudly, and then with one final snap, the glass fell away and the liquid sloshed out all over.

“All my work!” Tracy exclaimed angrily. “Witch!” She grabbed hold of Rori, strangling her in a headlock.
Rori brought her elbow back twice into Tracy’s stomach, slipping free from her grasp just long enough to get a hold of Tracy’s white lab coat. Spinning around on her heel, she brought the older woman with her and abruptly let go, throwing her across the room. “Get Leomon!” she yelled.

“Removal of her eyeglasses will impair her ocular ability!” Tyler yelled, getting back up and rushing over to the fallen Lion Digimon.
“You will not touch!” Tracy yelled, slapping Rori in the face.
Rori staggered backwards on the liquid, slipping, until she fell onto her back. This was it, she was down and how tired she felt hit her like a tonne of bricks, pressing her into place.
Tracy’s weight thudded on top of her and the older woman clawed at Rori’s face.
Gripping the white coated arms, Rori tried to hold her back, too weak to do much else. She screamed, terrified that this was it for her journey.

No. She would fight on. That was the promise she made to Aleena. Letting go of one of Tracy’s hands, Rori allowed the scientist to scratch her neck while she reached for the glasses. Grabbing them in her fists, she crushed them and then punched Tracy hard in the face as the searing pain spread out from her neck. The adrenaline quickly masked the pain, like it had the rest of her injuries.
Tracy fell off her and staggered to her feet. “You evil witch!”
Twirling on the ground, Rori kicked out with her leg, knocking Tracy back to the floor with a thump that knocked her out.

Panting heavily, Rori gazed up at the roof. She was almost at her complete limit of physical endurance. But, there was a bit left. There was something still in the tank to make sure she could get to the end. Groaning, she got up and walked over, not able to run as she blocked out the background noise behind her. Flicking out the shards of glass in her hands as she went, she tried to ignore everything but her task. She padded across the water with gentle splashes while cold water dripped from her body. It smelt stagnant and dirty. Blood dripped from almost everywhere on her body and the metallic smell filled her nostrils.

As she got up to Leomon, she moved under one arm, Tyler doing the same. This single arm felt like more than she could manage alone but she would have to push herself.
“On my count.” Tyler held up three fingers. “Three.” He gripped Leomon tightly with his other arm. “Two.” Dropping a finger, he held just two. “One.” Grabbing tight with his other hand, Rori copied and they both tensed their legs. “Lift!”

Gritting her teeth, Rori tried not to scream like her muscles were. In her periphery, she could see how red Tyler’s face was already. Leomon’s limp feet and the bottoms of his legs were still trailing on the floor, but it was all they could do. Slowly, they took one step after another, trying to just focus on their goal. Anything else seemed impossible at this point.
“Idolonmon!” Tyler roared, clenching his teeth down so hard. Rori could actually hear him grinding his teeth against each other; it went right through her.
Idolonmon thrust his staff into Geomon’s arm, pinning it to the ground as Chrysanthemon unleashed a devastating slew of lasers. Tearing the trident free as the attack hit, Idolonmon flew over to them.

Rori stopped and looked up at the man in front of her. He was huge, as much a boulder as his partner was.
Andrew held up a hand. “You are not authorised to—” A red trident struck him across the face, throwing him across the room—through the middle of Kayran and Aleena’s battle—and into a wall where he slumped down, out cold.
“Pathetic.” Idolonmon scoffed. “No one can challenge the great me!”
Tyler clenched his teeth, tears trickling down his cheeks. “I can’t lift him anymore!” he screamed.  
Rori was also close to her limit, but this reminded her that none of The Resistance were trained, they were ordinary. This wasn’t right; bringing them here.
“Fine, I’ll help,” Idolonmon said, yawning as he picked Leomon up, throwing the Digimon over his shoulder.
Rori saw in that moment, a flash of strain. A break in Idolonmon’s confident façade that he refused to relent.
Tyler breathed a sigh of relief, rubbing his shoulders. “Let’s get out of here.”

Chrysanthemon flew over, data orbs flying off Geomon behind her. Her face was stern, but Rori could see it had hurt the sensitive Digimon to do harm to someone she had previously known as a comrade. They were putting their Digimon in such difficult situations, situations that she wouldn’t wish on her worst enemy. While still flying, Chrysanthemon scooped them up, pulling them both close to her chest. “Safe now.”
“Thank you,” Rori whispered, feeling the warmth and comfort of her partner. In that moment, she forgot where they were and just wanted to sleep, to forget it all.
“Aleena, come on!” Tyler yelled.

Rori snapped her eyes open, looking around for the green haired girl. Well, it was hard to say that she spotted the girl she had known and considered a friend. But she had spotted someone similar.
Aleena gripped at Kayran’s arm around her neck and kicked out helplessly but she was unable to even slightly phase him. It was like a child fighting with their parent; a complete disparity of strength and ability.

Kayran didn’t even seem tired as he lifted a large serrated knife to her neck from his hip. Light danced across the blade, making it almost seem exciting if it weren’t for the implications. “If you’re taking Leomon, I’ll have this one.” He gripped Aleena tighter as she tried to fight her way free. “There are some tests I’ve been meaning to do on a live subject. Luckily, she’s the perfect candidate.” He clenched his arm tight around her neck, cutting off her airflow “Even if she’s not good for much else.” Each word was dripping with malice, with pure evil. Grinning, he looked her in the eyes and brought the blade up against her cheek and then relented slightly, allowing her to breathe as her face turned red. Then he thumped her in the leg, smirking.
Aleena released an ear-splitting scream of pain. No amount of adrenaline or painkillers could have covered up the pain she was in.
“Stop it!” Rori screamed, struggling against Chrysanthemon’s steadfast grip.
“If she stopped struggling.” He squeezed again and Aleena squealed, her head falling limp after. “Then maybe I’d stop squeezing.”
Aleena lifted her head weakly, her whole expression one of defeat.

Rori was not prepared to give up. Not now. Even if Aleena had, she would keep fighting. “Aleena, we’re coming to get you!” She slipped free of Chrysanthemon’s grasp and ran across the floor as fast as her injured body could manage but that break while in Chrysanthemon’s arms had taken her body out of its state of shock and she could now feel every injury she had sustained. She collapsed onto her knees, her legs splayed out and her arms just barely holding her up as she pushed them out in front of her. “I won’t leave you!”
“Rori!” Chrysanthemon shouted, flying after her.

Aleena looked at her, the green eyes downcast. Her teeth were clenched tight, like she was holding herself back from doing something. The sweat, dirt and cuts on her face had removed any semblance of the old strong Aleena. From her already messy hair, a matted clump of blue hair fell in front of her mouth as she opened it to speak. “Leave! Now!
“Don’t be stupid, we can still fight; we can help!” Tyler protested, reaching out at her from Chrysanthemon’s arms. The flower fairy Digimon was protectively standing over Rori while Idolonmon held an unconscious Talmon in one arm and Leomon in the other.
“For a smart guy, you’re so stupid!” Aleena yelled. She shook her head, the last remnants of her hair that weren’t dishevelled flew all over; the bobble that had been holding it back fell out and onto the ground. Her face was barely visible now. “Go!”

As Rori looked at her, she felt her head hurt. This wasn’t right. She couldn’t do this. The memory of her first moment on the base, where Aleena had helped her up from the ground during combat training flashed into her head. Ever since that simple act of kindness, when Rori had been so low, she had wanted to pay her friend back. And now, she was being told to throw that away and go. If Aleena had never met these people, if she had been alone—which she preferred—then she would have been fine. She could have been happy. Crawling towards her, Rori was determined to save her friend but her arms gave way and she fell to the floor, unable to command her body to do anything.

“Aleena…” Rori reached out, her hand shaking. “Come with us, please.” Tears welled up in her eyes. This wasn’t a time to cry, she had to be there for her. She had to be strong. “We need to leave together.”
“GO!” Aleena roared, her blood trickling through Kayran’s grip and dripping onto the floor with gentle plops.
Kayran laughed and nodded his head towards the door. “You heard her. Why don’t you try get out of here alive? I’ll give you a headstart.” He squeezed Aleena tight, but this time she didn’t scream, she held firm. “And leave her to me.”

“You disgusting excuse for a human being!” Tyler yelled. “How dare you think you can get away with this!”
“Think?” Kayran chuckled. “I know I can get away with this.”
Rori tried her best to hold back the tears, looking at Aleena.
“Leave me!” Aleena sounded pained, like she was struggling just to talk.
Shaking her head, Rori turned back to Chrysanthemon, who quickly scooped her up. The tears ran down Rori’s cheeks now; the dam had burst. She turned back to Kayran and pointed. “Don’t you dare hurt her!”
“Just shut up and go, you idiot!” Aleena screamed, spittle flying out from between her hair.
Rori wiped her eyes clean. “We’ll come back for you.” She sniffed and then looked firm at her friend. She wanted to mean these words with every fibre of her being. “I promise.

Rori sullenly looked up at her partner. “Let’s go.”
Both Digimon left the room quickly, with Idolonmon hanging back to keep an eye on Kayran as they slipped through the door. He fired off two red lasers at the doorway behind them, collapsing it and then flew after Chrysanthemon.
Rori felt the tears coming again, thick and fast. She was so annoyed at herself. What she had just done was unforgivable.

* * *

Aleena watched them go, and eventually the sound of Idolonmon’s heavy footsteps faded. She allowed her head to fall, staring at the ground as the blood and sweat mixed on the tip of her pudgy nose, dripping off slowly. “I know you will,” she whispered softly.
“I think I’m going to cry. It’s so touching,” Kayran teased.
“Shut the hell up!” Aleena screamed, writhing about in his arms. The pain she was in was unimaginable; she had never felt anything like it before. Not even close.
Kayran laughed raucously and then turned her to face him. Any idea that she had control of her body was wiped away in that moment. “I can’t wait to show you all the brilliant things I have in store for you.” He looked over at Alice and smirked. “After your sister failed, I was in need of a new test subject.” His fist flew into her face and she allowed the darkness to consume her.

* * *

Rori quietly sobbed as the group continued through the desolated battlefields. There had been so much hurt, so much anger today. No one said anything until they headed towards Corinne’s battleground. What if she had lost? And the others? What if they had to leave with just the two of them?
“She’ll be alright; you know?” Tyler looked at her, his cool blue eyes feeling warm in that moment. “I’m sure of it.”
Rori nodded. In some ways, she knew herself that Aleena was strong enough to hold on. “I know she will.” But Rori didn’t want her to have to.

The alarm blared loudly as they entered, the red flashing disorientating. Blood was splattered around the room and they both quickly feared the worst. She felt Tyler’s hand grip her wrist tightly, digging into her sore flesh. But in that moment, she needed someone too. Grabbing his hand, she looked at him as he turned to her. “Tyler?”
“Rori, she’s…” Tyler looked back at where he had been looking.

Corinne was lay on the ground; her body so beat up it was hard to comprehend. King and Calmoonmon were nearby.
“Quick!” she exclaimed, noticing no one was moving.
Chrysanthemon sped over, with Idolonmon following slower. She set both of them down, looking around. “Safe.”
Tyler lifted Corinne into his arms gently, as if he were cradling a flower. “Corinne…”
Rori placed a hand on his shoulder, looking down at the sleeping girl.

“I’m alright,” Corinne whispered hoarsely, her eyes still closed.
Rori almost jumped in shock. She glanced at Tyler and saw a smile spreading from ear to ear and his blue-grey eyes twinkling like stars.
“Let’s go home.” Corinne became limp, her breathing slowing slightly.
Tyler sniffed and looked at Rori. “I knew she wasn’t.”
“I know you did.” Rori smiled.
Chrysanthemon lifted them up, bundling them into her arms and continuing towards the corridors of the Office block.

“I did, I swear.” Tyler looked back down at Corinne, who he was still holding. It was kind of cute, how much he actually cared. He sniffed, wiping tears from his eyes with his forearm.
“Never give up, eh, Ty?” Idolonmon said, the strain in his voice immediately apparent.
“Never give up.” Tyler stroked Corinne’s face gently, brushing a blonde curl free from her cheek.

* * *

“Kill the intruders!” How rude!
“We can’t yet!” Well, that was at least a bit of a relief.
Zalyea looked around at the circle of strange men and women in suits. Most were pointing guns at them.
“Yo, you hear that?” Zalyea grabbed Len’s hand. This was a terrifying moment.
“I’m not scared; you don’t have to hold my hand.” Len tried to pull himself free.
“I know you ain’t.” Zalyea gripped tighter. She would never admit it was for her own good. “I ain’t either, but I once heard somefing about united we tall and together we fall.”
Len snorted and started laughing. How could he laugh at a time like this?
“What?” Zalyea exclaimed.
“That’s the wrong quote!” he laughed louder, his face lighting up. It was actually nice to see him like this. Especially after what had happened.

“Be quiet and put your hands up!” One of the suits yelled. “We don’t wanna shoot you.”
“We needa grab Alex before they lynch him.” She pushed herself up, checking her Digivice as she did. Gaimon was still out of it.
“Who needs to grab who?”
Zalyea turned around to see Alex behind them, grinning through the blood caked onto his face.
He gave them a thumbs up. “I’m fine.”
“When’d you get here?” Zalyea resisted the urge to show she was happy to see him.
“Why, you miss me?” Alex winked. “Just before these guys got here I came to check on you two.”
Rolling her eyes, Zalyea looked around. “Why haven’t they done anything yet?”
“They must want to capture rather than kill. The threat is just to keep us from doing anything.” Len grabbed his Digivice, pressing Encompass and sucked Iontramon into it.  

Alex looked at the guards and then walked closer to them. “Both of your shrouds faded?”
Zalyea shook her head. “There’s no way I’m using that crazy thing again!” Last time it had screwed with her vision.
“I’d rather not, too,” Len muttered.
“I guess we’re alone then.” Alex laughed weakly, looking at the guards with a pained expression. “Do you think we can escape?”
“Before they shoot?” Len whispered.
“Yeah.” Alex gulped, gripping his Digivice tightly.
Len shook his head. “Probably not.”

There was a loud explosion and chunks of rubble flew into the air. Idolonmon and Chrysanthemon burst out of the smoke.
“Leaf Dance.” Leaves quickly formed a dome around them before Zalyea could register anything.
“Killer Instinct.”
As the dome moved away, the guards were blown apart and Chrysanthemon and Idolonmon were stood in front of them, data orbs flying off their bodies.

“You got Leomon!” Alex exclaimed. “We’re heroes!”
Len looked at Tyler, staying silent. Had it affected him that badly?
“Yo, you guys alright?” Zalyea asked, wiping her face with her jacket sleeve.
“Rori, Encompass.” Tyler was ignoring her. His face was stern as Idomon and Orchidemon flopped to the ground, exhausted. Idomon was sucked into Tyler’s Digivice and he walked over to them.
“You guys really draw a crowd.” Rori puffed out air and smirked as Orchidemon was sucked in. Something in Rori’s happy demeanour was off but Zalyea couldn’t grasp it.
“It wasn’t us!” Musta been you!” Zalyea joked. Talking about feelings was not her jam.
“I’m not blaming you,” Rori said, holding up her hands and half-laughing.
Alex smirked. “Ladies, listen.” He wrapped his arm around Zalyea’s shoulder. “I’m sure the three of us can work this out.”
“Shut up!” Zaylea shoved him off.

Tyler pulled Aleena’s bag over his shoulder, straining slightly. It was surprising enough no one had taken the bag away but all that extra cash would come in handy. Maybe he’d let her borrow some to buy those new trainers she had seen last week.
“Activate the Digiportal for Gimi’s house.”
Then it clicked. “Where’s bubble-gum head? Shouldn’t we wait for her?” He had her bag. And Talmon was here.
“And why are you and Corinne cuddling?” Alex stood up, crossing his arms. “I wanna get in on that action.”
Tyler and Rori looked at each other but didn’t say anything.

“Can you hold her, actually, Al?” Ty said, holding out Corinne’s limp body.  
“Gladly!” Alex wrapped his arm around the blond, tossing her over his shoulder and withdrawing his Digivice with his free hand.
“Thank you, Alex.” Tyler glanced at Rori again but said nothing. They were hiding something. Maybe romance? Or was it about bubble-gum head?
“Go.” Tyler said.
Together, they pressed the button on their Digivices and the Digiportal appeared.
“Energy Burst.” Talmon panted weakly, spitting the energy ball at Alice.
Alice dodged at the last second, allowing it to hit the floor.
Aleena felt a smile spread across her lips despite the pain as she saw her partner standing up for her. He truly was her best friend.
Talmon slowly stood up, walking over. “No one hurts Aleena, no one,” he stated flatly, his furry brow furrowed into the most serious glare she had ever seen from the excitable rabbit.
At her hip, Aleena felt her Digivice flailing about. Looking down, she saw sky blue lights dancing out from it. The knife in her wrist twisted and she gasped in pain, although it was difficult to understand how more pain could be caused at this point. As she opened her mouth, a tornado of blue energy erupted and flew straight at Talmon, wrapping around him and encasing him in a Digivolution egg.

“I should…” Simon began, appearing from the shadows.
“No.” Alice glared at her partner but half-sighed as she looked at the little pink orb. “I’ll deal with him. You go somewhere else and watch my back.”
Simon looked sad but Alice’s will was unwavering and eventually Simon flapped his little wings and bounced away.

Aleena groaned in pain, the Digivice still shaking violently on her waist.
“If I’m correct, your First Vector provides denser muscles, particularly in the upper body.” Alice clenched her fist, flexing her biceps. “Mine increases the elastic potential in my muscles. It may sound weird at first but I’ll show you on Talmon.” She smiled kindly, it almost seemed sincere. “There was no way I could have used this on my baby sister.” With a thud of her foot on the ground, she moved into a steadfast fighting stance.

“I’m not finished!” Aleena growled furiously, trying to push herself back up. Planting her hands on the ground, she pushed, ignoring the searing pains in her wrist. As soon as she did, the muscles in her right arm gave way and she fell back on to the floor with a thump.
Alice looked back, and softly said, “You are. It’s okay.” She then turned back to the Digivolution egg. “Believe in your partner. She waved her hand and all of the knives flew in front of her. The ones embedded in Aleena flew out, releasing spurts of blood and then they all formed a circle in front of Alice.
Aleena screamed in profuse agony. Her mind was swimming, circling the drain. She couldn’t think straight and her vision was swapping between blurred and pure darkness as blood spurted from the holes in her body.
Alice’s knives spun slowly and then dispersed into dust, becoming invisible. With a flash, pink lightning danced up and down Alice’s body and then vanished without a trace.

Aleena growled in pain, clamping her hand over her wrist and looking down at her leg. Now she had calmed down, Aleena noticed her bleeding wasn’t too bad and the pain was more like the ebb and flow of the tide. She had to find some way to stem the blood flow. Aleena grabbed her t-shirt and tore off one of the sleeves, ripping it to make a bandage. Tyler definitely wasn’t having this t-shirt back now. Grimacing through the pain of her injured hand, she tied the fabric tightly around her thigh. Hissing in pain, she felt the pain shift into a dull throb. Calmly, Aleena clamped her hand back over her wrist and tried to ignore the pain she was in. That alone was a behemoth task at the moment but she quickly planned to cover it up next with the other sleeve. The other injuries were less severe; she could ignore them for now.

* * *

Talmon burst out of his egg, having changed a lot. He was now bipedal and looked a lot like a young human boy. Like Taran, really. Being only five feet tall and not very muscular, he didn’t think this form was as impressive as the other Champion Digimon had previously been. However, he remembered that quote from a movie that big things can come in small packages. A gust of wind brushed his almost naked pale body. He would kill her for hurting Aleena.
Alice shot towards him, much faster than he was expecting. She was like a jaguar, pouncing on her prey.
With agility he almost didn’t recognise, he leapt through the air. His faded dark blue cape fluttered about behind him, a gentle reminder that it was there. Narrowing his eyes as he landed on top of the staircase, he tugged the golden string holding the cape on, tightening it. This was awesome. He was a Champion!

Looking through the messy brown hair that covered his eyes, he watched as she pounced upon him again—reminding him faintly of a rabbit, which was kind of cute, considering the fact that he had a little rabbit tail poking through the back of his shorts—however he easily flipped over the top of her and back onto the cold metal ground with his new-fangled swiftness. His new name, he remembered it. “Taimon!” he announced.
Alice burst back towards him, swinging her arm out. Iron filings extending from her fist, striking Taimon and knocking him backwards. Now, that, he hadn’t expected.

The level Alice was fighting at was entirely different to how she had been fighting earlier. He had to just hope that he really was a big thing in a small package.
Alice burst forwards with such speed and ferocity that Taimon couldn’t react in time. Her fist flew into him, throwing him all the way across the vast room and into the wall. The room shook from the force and he felt the pain erupt across his small body. Dust fell from the ceiling but Kayran and Tracy, who were nearby now, didn’t respond.
Alice breathed deeply, looking tired as her chest thudded up and down and sweat dripped from her brow.
Taimon got back up, shaking off the attack. He had to keep fighting for Aleena’s sake.

“Finish it,” Kayran yelled, tapping away.
Alice waved her hand, sighing and a knife appeared. She walked over slowly as Taimon raised his hand.
“Eleven Dragon Magic!” The blue rabbit tattoo on his chest illuminated and then a glyph appeared on his palm, unleashing eleven smoky dragons as it expanded outwards into the air. He hoped to stop her before she got close but Alice didn’t pause for a second, flipping backwards as the dragons tore into the ground in an attempt to ensnare her limber form.

After her fourth flip to get away, she propelled herself high into the air, out of his range and waved her hand to form ten knives. Tossing the one already in her hand into the air, she then flicked her wrist to unleash all eleven knives on different, arcing paths.

Taimon tried to think quickly, following the knives as best he could. She hadn’t given him more than he could handle with his dragons, which was strange, but it was still difficult to determine how they were actually going to come at him. He waved his hand and decided to do away with the dragons, placing his hands onto the floor and digging his nails into a groove between the metal panels. He got a good grip with his feet and then reared up on all fours. “Dragon Soul,” he roared in a primal fashion. A dark blue glyph appeared in front of his body and a bone shattering roar was unleashed from it. The sheer volume of sound created a cone of air pressure that caught all the knives, shaking them in the air as they struggled against it before they fell to the floor, having lost momentum.

Alice put both arms in front of her face as a metal shield formed in front of her. The shield was quickly forced backwards into her, knocking her further into the air.
Taimon sprinted across the ground and surged up at her, swinging his fist. He was like some sort of jetpack man with this jump. It was so cool!
Alice reached out, catching his fist with her hands, as her feet touched the roof. Letting go of Taimon before he could even think about getting back down, Alice tensed her legs and burst downwards like a javelin, crashing her head into Taimon’s stomach and knocking him into the ground with another attack that shook the entire room.

This time, Taimon resolved he wouldn’t let her get the upper hand again. Flipping to his feet, he ran at her. “Eleven Dragon Magic!” The dragons erupted as he continued to run, stretching out towards her.
Alice hopped backwards as the dragons dived towards her with ease, not even seeming phased as he used every trick he could think of. With a flick of her wrist, she lifted up the metal panel beneath Taimon’s feet, flicking him into the air.
Dispelling the dragons, he rolled into a ball and angled his head away from Alice. “Dragon Soul.” Roaring, he sent himself flying towards her.
Alice grimaced and conjured a metal pole, holding it out.
Taimon opened his body up as he reached her and grabbed onto the pole. Flipping over her, while pulling the pole against her neck, he booted her in the back and roared again, shooting Alice across the room in a tumble of limbs as she tried to right herself.

Alice smirked as she rolled to her feet. “You’re just like Aleena.” Snorting, she giggled. “You always have another trick up your sleeve.” She wasn’t even taking this seriously!
“Don’t fraternise. Just eliminate!” Kayran roared angrily.
Alice shrugged, her smile vanishing and her face becoming a pale blank slate. “I’ll cut this short, I’m sorry but it’s necessary.”
Taimon had no idea what she was on about. He was clearly the one who was in the lead in this current battle of the strength, let alone the fact that she was just a human. How on earth did she expect to compete with a champion, even if she did have weird metal powers?

Alice threw the last of her iron filings out of her pouch, and lifted her arms. All of the little sparkles of metal lifted up, including the eleven knives, and they warped quickly into a multitude of small needles. There was far too many to count and no way Dragon Soul could stop this. He had little hope left to avoid it either with them almost covering the entire width and height of the room.

Iron abruptly appeared around Taimon’s wrists, ankles and neck, dragging him to the wall and pinning him against it. Panicking, he pulled, his body straining against the restraints but they wouldn’t even give a tiny bit. So, now he couldn’t even fight back. Okay, maybe she was able to compete with a champion but there had to be a way he could stop her.

Kayran turned around, laughing. “This is the true power of the one you have defied.” He turned to Aleena. “If you had just obeyed, I wouldn’t have to kill you like the dog you are.” Then he glanced at Taimon. “And I don’t need to say that all Digimon are feral animals that need to either be used for our benefit or put down.”
“Don’t talk to him like that!” Aleena screamed, thumping the ground. “I’ll kill you!”
“Aleena, you won’t.” Taimon looked at Kayran. “Because I’ll beat you to it.”
“You’ll need to defeat me first,” Alice said, throwing her arms down to her side and launching all the needles at once.
The attack came fast and he panicked.  

Taimon watched Aleena try to get up and help and felt guilty. He had promised to protect her and now she was going to have to protect him. No. He was going to make it stop. The needles burst through his Digital body, tearing through his flesh and releasing streams of data that swirled up to the roof. Howling, he tried to find a way to think about anything other than the pain he was in but it was impossible. His head was swimming in an ocean of agony and he just felt too weak to go on. Then the needles began to spin, clockwise and then counter clockwise. He roared, trying to do anything other than just survive but even that seemed impossible as they bored deeper.

The needles tugged free and slowly returned to Alice, sliding back into her pouch, smoothly followed by the cuffs dispersing into filings again.
Taimon fell to the ground, barely able to move amongst the fresh rubble, as his whole body ached. How come he hadn’t Dedigivolved? Was he able to keep going? It seemed impossible to move an inch right now, never mind fight. But he was going to have to. It was for Aleena. This was the battle of the century.
“It’s done,” Alice announced. She almost seemed sad about it. Why had she gone so hard if she hadn’t wanted to win?
“You may leave.” Kayran’s voice again. He wasn’t even going to say well done? He was truly awful.
Taimon didn’t regret them leaving anymore. Killing Kayran was the only thing he wanted to do now, and this was going to be his best chance if he could get Alice out of the way.

He coughed and got back to his feet. Looking over at Aleena, Taimon saw the look of sheer relief and then he looked at Alice as she walked away. He wouldn’t sneak attack her. He was going to beat her fair and square. Pointing his little fist, he yelled, “Alice!”
She turned back to look at him, raising an eyebrow. “You got back up?”
Taimon leapt forwards and then into the air. “Dragon Soul!”
Alice barely had time to throw some filings out and create a shield before both she and her shield were thrown back against the stairs.

Running across the room, the sound of his bare feet slapping across the ground, he prepared to continue his attack before she could get up again.
Alice smiled briefly, throwing out more filings and making the shield, and them, disperse into the air. Placing her arms and legs behind her, she thrust hard away from the wall, launching herself at Taimon.

Taimon leapt into the air. “Dragon Soul.”
Alice formed a shield and then flipped over it, vaulting herself upwards to meet him. She swung her leg up as she neared Taimon, a metal coating forming on her limb as it was about to connect with his face.
Opening his mouth, he roared at full volume, “Dragon Soul!” The attack blew them apart, throwing him into the roof and her into the ground. Bouncing off the roof, like she had, he opened his mouth again as she got back up. “Dragon Soul!”
Alice back flipped away and then leapt into the air, flicking her wrist to create and launch a hammer at Taimon.
Moving to the side, he caught it and hurled it back.
Alice laughed and clicked her fingers, turned it into filings as it reached her. “You’re doing really good, but you won’t win by playing around.”
Taimon kept his focus, not allowing the goading to get him annoyed.

Alice knelt down and then burst forwards, flying at him.
This was it. He had to use his last resort. “Dragon Form!” Taimon yelled. It was going to wipe him out quickly but it was the only way to take her on head to head. Energy flew outwards from his body, coating him and then spreading out further and further.
Alice’s fist collided with the faint red energy that had formed but didn’t even form a small indent. The energy cloak shimmered, turning golden and forming the shape of a dragon as Alice ran backwards. A snout and claws formed, linked to how his own body moved.

“This is something new; even to me.” Alice laughed, throwing out more iron filings from her pouch. “I may have to actually go sixty percent against you.”
Taimon was no longer prepared to play along, even if she was. He had to end this. “I’ll make you pay for what you did to Aleena!” He flew forwards, raising his right fist. The right arm of the dragon lifted up, the claws closing in to create a fist. Wings rippled from the back of the dragon, flapping to speed him up.
Alice waved her hand in a complicated pattern, unfazed by the attack, and a huge chain appeared. It wrapped around the dragon’s arm and as he tried to move his own arm, he found that he couldn’t. Before he could even try and escape, the chain dug into the wall.

He roared loudly and angrily, trying to tear the arm free but it was as if his real arm was stuck in the wall and every tug caused him immense pain to his already injured body.
Alice created more chains, pinning the other arm down into the ground and then his legs too.

Taimon was stuck; there was no way he could escape and while he was using this ability, he couldn’t use any of his other attacks. He had never felt so vulnerable. Waiting for her to make a decision on whether he would live or die was bone chilling. A little like a horror movie. Or maybe more like a thriller. Cursing himself for getting lost in a tangent, he watched Alice cover her mouth, coughing blood into it.

“I’m sorry, but I have to finish this.” Alice clenched her fist tightly and a gigantic bullet formed, facing him. Breathing in, she thrust her arm forwards and the projectile flew out towards him.
Simon bounced out of the shadows “Alice, you have to—” The little Digimon passed out, exhausted.  
Alice fell to her knees, her legs too weak to hold her up. “Dammit!”

Taimon pulled with his arms, desperate to block the attack. He wasn’t sure if the weaker belly of the energy dragon would be enough. The ground and the walls were torn up as he tugged, but his arms wouldn’t come free. Clenching his eyes shut, he willed the energy to somehow defend him.

Sharp stabbing pains flew through his bottom and he opened his eyes to see the energy dragon’s tail flicked out in front, the bullet embedded into it. The tail swished, knocking the bullet out, as data trickled out from his shorts. So this shroud wasn’t invulnerable, after all.

With one final tug, he freed his arms and legs, the chains and a chunk of the wall remaining attached. Panting, he felt nothing but exhaustion. His mind drifted to lazy days in front of the television and of a warm bed.

“Well?” Alice yelled. “You giving up?”
Snapping his eyes open he looked at her as she slowly stood back up and conjured a longsword into her hands, gripping it firmly. Looking down at his own hands, he watched the data swirl about. He had to do this. Clenching his fists, he charged at her, the wings beating in the air as he neared her. The ability vanished as he reached her and the chains thudded to the ground, leaving him feeling so vulnerable, so naked.

Alice immediately brought the sword down on him.
Darting to the side and with a grimace of pain, he flipped and kicked skyward, catching her in the face and knocking her back into stumble. Taking his chance as he landed, he bounded forwards, sinking his little fist into her chest and then her gut. Moving back, afraid of retaliation, he watched.
Alice staggered slightly and then dropped her sword, following it soon after with a thud to the ground.
Taimon grinned. He had done it! What a rush! Then tickling spread across his body and he looked at his little hands to see data orbs flying away from his body. That was right. He was exhausted. Closing his eyes, he fell to the ground.

“Pathetic.” Lord Kayran snatched a glare at Alice before looking back at them. “All of you.” Cracking his knuckles, he said, “If you want something done correctly, I guess you must do it yourself.” He pulled out a revolver, popping open the barrel, spinning it, and snapping it back into place. “Three bullets, so one each. No need to share.”
Talmon gathered his strength and lifted his paw. “Seven Dragon Magic.” However, the attack fizzled and crackled, just barely producing a single dragon. Ahead, he spotted a shiny object. The dragon darted towards it, picking up a fallen needle Alice had forgotten to turn back to filings in her haste. The dragon fizzled in and out of existence rapidly and he quickly realised he couldn’t do it alone. But he didn’t have to. “Aleena, catch!” he tossed the needle to her.

Aleena got up, screaming in pain, and caught the needle. With a spin on her right heel, she hurled it at the tank, piercing the container holding Leomon. Alarms began to blare and then Aleena fell onto her knees, panting. He had to go over and help her, and stop Kayran, but he could barely stay conscious.

Kayran shouted in German at Tracy, who shouted back, and then he turned and aimed his gun at Aleena.
Talmon panicked, trying to get up and stop it but every attempt ended with him falling back flat on his face like a pathetic waste of space. He couldn’t let this happen not now. Not after all they had been through!
“You will pay!” he yelled, squeezing the trigger.
“No!” Talmon screamed, hysterical. He couldn’t lose her! This could not happen!

“Leaf Dance.” A wall of leaves gathered in front of Aleena, absorbing the bullet into their ranks and then they separated, flying at Kayran and exploding as Rori, Chrysanthemon, Tyler and Idolonmon rushed in.
Idolonmon flew over to him, picking him up.
Talmon relaxed in the devil Digimon’s arms, exhausted. He was grateful for their friends, as much as he knew Aleena would be embarrassed.

“Aleena!” Rori gasped.
Talmon was set down by her side as Aleena coughed.
“This?” she smiled weakly. “It’s nothing.” Looking up, she nodded. “Free Leomon, I’ll hold Kayran off.” Just how she thought she would do that was baffling but Talmon knew how stubborn she was.
“You can barely stand.” Tyler placed his hand on her shoulder. “Let us handle this.”
Aleena shook her head, forcing herself up. Tears rolled down her cheeks as she clenched her teeth. “See, I’m fine,” she said, her voice strained. As she shook a bit, Rori caught her, slipping under her arm and holding her steady.

“Aleena, you can’t stand. Please, I don’t want to see you hurt!” Rori begged, struggling to hold the other girl up.
“It’s fine. I’ve got these.” Aleena shakily withdrew three body enhancing pills.
“Aleena in your state if you use them you could die!” Rori exclaimed.
“Don’t you dare!” Talmon yelled, trying to get up.
Aleena tossed them into her mouth and knocked her head back.
“No!” Rori screamed, grabbing at her throat.
Aleena lowered her head back down and opened her mouth. “Time to.” She hobbled away from Rori. “Kick his ass.”

“I didn’t think I’d need your assistance too. But now is the time.” Lord Kayran called, walking out from the smoke almost unscathed. His humanity was definitely in question now. How could a human not even be remotely hurt by that attack? And who was he calling for?
“As you wish, sir.” The voice announced from behind Leomon’s broken tank, accompanied by quiet footsteps.

Midnight Pondering

Mon Apr 7, 2014, 5:39 PM

Copyright 2010 Journal Skin by Airamneleb

Okay, so the old entry was a bit old now and redundant. I'm going to write something else... Hrm.

So, I've been suffering from writer's block recently and that really sucks because I wanted to ideally get my dream fanfiction released by the end of March and it's now April. Oopsie. I call it my dream fanfiction because I started it probably around three years ago now for a random drabble contest on a forum and then it really gripped me and ever since then I've wanted to finish it. It's what got me back into writing Original works so I'm always thankful for that and it introduced me to the world of fanfiction and how intense fandoms can be (I never knew people could get so angry about fiction!). Basically, at the moment I'm doing four or five things with the story.

1 - I'm rewriting it each chapter from the start (up to chapter six) so that it can be beta'd and undergo the final rewrite. However, the current chapter just isn't gripping me, despite being action packed, and so we can't really move on with the editing.
2 - I'm trying to finish the story but I'm stuck with which scenes to put where because I'm up to a sort of filler area before the final plot arc of the story. I've got a few ideas but not enough for the chapters I have left and yet also too little to fill the few chapters I have left (I'm at chapter 41 and I want to finish by chapter 54)
3 - I'm going through and writing in scenes that I forgot or couldn't be bothered with the first time around. To do this I jump from chapter to chapter following a single POV and then go back to the start with a different POV. It can get really tiresome but it's currently the only thing I'm making any progress on.
4 - I'm trying to finalise main character designs but I'm having a lot of trouble with them because I can't draw well so they don't match the image in my head. I'm also trying to think about side character designs and how important they are to the story.
5 - I'm trying to write my two projects with HawkRider but both are slow paced at the moment because we're at a tricky part of the plot that needs to be carefully handled and so the plot juices are drying up.

Anyway, so yeah... I'm a little bit pickled at the moment because I'm also trying to juggle college work alongside all of these thought processes which can mean late nights (like tonight). And now I'm ranting on Deviantart, which I've never done, rather than getting any work done for anything. I procrastinate far too much for a normal human being. Just the other day someone asked me when I last saw my girlfriend and I replied "But I'm busy!" the response was "All you do is play games and sit on facebook." While not 100% accurate it's pretty god damn close. I'm lazy and selfish. Someone motivate me~

Oh, I just noticed that this skin is so nice but my entry doesn't fit it so I'll end on something kinda dreamy. A mini (sort of) extract from my story:

"We fight every day. You may not think it but your heart fights to keep you alive; your brain fights to keep you conscious and your muscles fight to allow you to move. Every moment you spend breathing is a fight. Eventually you have to lose the fight, and while that may seem scary it's just the ending to a beautiful story. Don't let your story drag on."

  • Listening to: Technicolor Eyes - Backseat Goodbye
  • Reading: My story
  • Watching: Family Guy
  • Playing: Tales of Graces f
  • Eating: Dairy Milk Chocolate
  • Drinking: Tea

Journal History



Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United Kingdom
Just some dude :)

Site for D:SR = digimonsolsticereprieve.wordpr…


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DystopianGuy Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2017
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