Episode 18: All in the Family

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“I’ll be right back, okay?” Piper nodded as her mother, Cleo, lightly patted her head. Across the street was an Excellent Bean and Cleo had been complaining that she wanted tea before she, Piper and Andrew – Piper’s father – started their day together in the museum. Andrew was running late, which wasn’t unusual for him. He had been called to a business meeting with some clients to look over some family heirlooms they wanted to put into auction. They were good clients, and always used Andrew for their dealings so he had made an exception despite being on his vacation from work. Piper didn’t mind too much.

She was going to get the whole day with her parents – she was a little excited to say the least. It had been about four months since her parents had been home, at the same time, together, for any length of time where Piper could see them and spend time with them. Every year they took three breaks so they could spend time together. One week in the spring, two weeks in the summer and another one week break in the fall.

“Sure thing.” Cleo smiled, turned and quickly crossed the busy street to the opposite coffee shop. Piper watched her dark hair disappear into the building before she sat down on a bench and tapped away at her D-Touch, sending and replying to messages from Eva and Reyez. Eva had been worried about Frankie and had asked if Piper had heard from her; Piper hadn’t. They were trying to arrange a time to meet up and go to Frankie’s apartment to check on her. And Reyez was just commenting on a movie Piper had suggested he watch. He hadn’t been impressed.

“Do I have to stay in here?!” Caesarmon’s voice whined out of the D-Touch surprising Piper to the point she almost dropped it.

“Shhh!” Piper scolded. “And yes, you do. They don’t allow animals in the museum.”

“Museums are boring!” Caesarmon complained.

“That’s your opinion.” Piper replied. She smirked to herself and slotted the item into her bag that hung off her shoulder. With her parents around, and Piper only too aware of her mother’s over critical nature, she had tried to dress in a way she knew her mother would find suitable; in a white dress with a black flower and petals floating across it, worn over black leggings. With a red crop cardigan; matched with her red ankle fastened ballet pumps – she’d even managed to pull her unruly hair up into a pony tail complete with a red ribbon.

People were coming and going from the museum doors, not that Piper was surprised. There were new exhibits that had just opened. One about clothing in the Elizabethan period; another about Ancient Egypt, which Cleo had spent a lot of the last year organizing and finding pieces for. And the one Piper was most anxious to see, Veterinary Science through History. Technically that exhibit wasn’t open yet, but because of her mother’s connections with the museum, Piper and her parents were getting a sneak peek before it opened to the general public.

Piper huffed quietly and leaned back on the bench; she hoped today would be as relaxed as possible. Between fighting Digimon, studying for exams, and finally getting a placement in a veterinary surgery, Piper felt she was working a full time job with nothing to show for it. So today she was claiming as her day off. She’d still get some work done when she got home – no doubt about it, but for now she was having a day of just being Piper, with her parents.

“Hello Blondie!” Quickly Piper’s eyes snapped opened hearing a strangely familiar voice. She glanced around to find who it belonged to. Hoping it wasn’t who she thought. She saw a pair of familiar green eyes and rushed to her feet.

She hadn’t seen Hunter Divine since... well... since he and his sister had attacked her and the others at the warehouses and they had gone to the Digital World. She had hoped she wouldn’t have to see either of them ever again, and yet here he was, standing behind the bench, in a teal hoodie and jeans, his hair tied back. Piper swallowed.

“It’s okay – I’m not going to h-” Hunter stepped from behind the bench and instinctively Piper stepped back. Skollmon was at Hunter’s feet, no one batted an eyelid at him due to his canine form. Hunter frowned. “I guess I scared you.”


Piper rubbed her arms uneasily, suddenly wishing Caesarmon was at her feet, and not in the D-Touch, which was in her bag. She crossed her arms over her chest as some form of protection. What was he doing here? Had he followed her? It couldn’t have been a co-incidence. Was he going to attack her, now that she was alone with none of the others to help her? There was no way Vespasmon could last in a fight against Romulumon or Terasumon alone.

“I’m not going to hurt you.” Hunter tried again.

“You’ll understand if I don’t believe you.” Piper snapped.

Hunter smirked, “Oh so you can talk.”

“Obviously.” Piper sighed. She was getting some confidence back. He wouldn’t attack here... it was too much out in the open. So many innocent people could get harmed. “What do you want?” She asked briskly.

“Nothin’.” Hunter shrugged in a noncommittal way, “I saw you sitting there, thought I’d come over and say hi. Last I checked that wasn’t a crime.”

“No. But trying to kill someone is.”

“Ah – you’re still holding that against me, huh?”

Piper scoffed, “Yeah. Just a little. I mean maybe I should feel flattered, it’s not every day someone tries to murder me.” She said sarcastically.

“Yeah well.” Hunter shifted uncomfortably. Piper examined his body language, his hands were in his pockets and his shoulders hunched over, and his eyes down for the most part, unless he was speaking. He seemed... different. Not as cocky or as confident as when Piper had seen him before. “We all screw up from time-to-time.”

If Caesarmon was around, Piper would have exchanged very confused looks with him, but for now she simply raised her eyebrows in surprise and then furrowed them. She went to speak, to ask if he was trying to apologize, but was stopped short with a hand landing on her shoulder.

“Sorry about that, Petal.” Andrew was behind her, with Cleo arm-in-arm. “The Morrisons are good friends.”

Piper turned and smiled “That’s okay.”

“Who’s this, a friend?” Cleo indicated to Hunter with her free hand, which held her tea.

Piper hesitated. “Well... we go to the same college.” Piper explained. “This is... Hunter.”

“Nice to meet you.” Hunter smiled briefly, “Well, I need to get going.” He indicated over his shoulder with a jerk of his thumb. He glanced from Piper’s parents to Piper, “Was good to see you.”

“Y-yeah...” Piper breathed. She felt as if the wind had been knocked from her lungs as Hunter turned and disappeared into the throngs of people.

“Let’s go then!” Andrew said enthusiastically. He steered Piper and his wife towards the large arched doors of the building and through.

-----------------------------

As expected, the museum was busy with tourists, classes of school children and the typical visitors who just fancied a day of culture. Many of the different areas were full of people, and in the more popular sections it was almost impossible to move through the groups of people. Piper became fed up quickly. Not just because of all the people, but because twenty minutes into getting into the museum Andrew’s cell phone had rung and he’d been talking on it constantly for nearly two hours now.

That and Cleo was constantly stopping to make notes on her Dictaphone about the displays and what could be changed. Any ideas she was suddenly struck with for the museum; because she was often away acquiring pieces for exhibits, she rarely got to see the finished product. She made memos on her phone to speak with those in charge of different sections about what could be changed or improved. Piper had taken her D-Touch from her bag and was talking through it to Caesarmon, though neither of her parents seemed to notice this. Nor did they notice her frustration and how irritated she was getting with them and their distraction.

“Piper, don’t slouch.” Cleo tapped Piper on the shoulder as she passed by the blonde and peered over into a casing of ancient Viking weaponry, in amazing condition, considering its age and the wear. Piper stood up straight and followed Cleo around. Andrew was standing in the threshold of the door from the main hall into this room, still on his phone talking loudly.

“Dad,” Piper walked over to him. “Dad!”

“Just a second, Jesse.” Andrew paused and covered the receiver, Piper scowled. Not business he was talking then, just to her brother. “What’s wrong, Petal?”

“You’re meant to be spending the day with me.” Piper said, folding her arms. “Not spending all day on your phone.”

“I know, pet, but I just wanted to check up on your brother. You know how it is, he’s almost impossible to get in touch with the rest of the time.” Andrew explained, smiling. He always smiled and it always seemed to get him out of trouble. He had smiled a lot in his life, his face crinkled when he grinned.

“Then you should have made plans with Jesse!” Piper complained. “You can talk to him any time. I haven’t se-“

“Sorry, what was that, Jesse?” Andrew put the phone back to his ear cutting Piper short. She growled softly and stalked back to her mother, who was tapping furiously on her phone’s screen with a stylus.

“I do like the way they have this place laid out, it’s really changed recently.” Cleo commented, she put the stylus back into the phone and put it on key lock. “Piper, don’t slouch.” Cleo said again, more firmly. Piper had been brought up with her mother’s mentality that slouching was scruffy, but she still did it – more to annoy Cleo than anything. Cleo was everything prim and proper. She was of English nationality and had been brought up there until her early twenties when she had come to America to study. There she had met Andrew. Despite living over the pond for twenty years, Cleo stilled drummed in her up-bringing into her children. Though, Piper more than Jesse.

As a child and young teen Piper had always been punished for swearing, and even now in her twenties had to curb her language. She had been taught to hold herself properly by walking with books on her head and having a ruler strapped to her shoulders to stop them from hunching over. She knew about different forms of etiquette; from how to eat and sit at a table with lots of company to how to be the perfect hostess and house guest. Even how to lay a table perfectly for a multi-course meal, complete with different plates and cutlery in order of course.

“Sorry.” Piper muttered, she stood up straight.

Cleo looked from a mannequin decorated in the remains of Viking armor to Piper. “What’s the matter?” she asked, bending to attain a better view with the blonde.

Piper frowned, “It’s nothing. Just... dad.”

“Hm?” Cleo looked over her shoulder; Andrew was still on the phone. “Oh. Well, you know what he’s like, always business.”

“But he’s meant to be spending time with you and me. And it’s not business – he’s talking to Jesse!” Piper complained.


Cleo pursed her lips. “Give it ten minutes. We’ll get some lunch in the café in a minute. That’ll distract him.” She smiled reassuringly, before holding Piper’s chin in her hand and turning Piper’s head like a puppet master. “Are you wearing make up?”

“A little. Why?”

“You shouldn’t wear so much powder. It’s bad for your skin. Do you moisturize?”

“Yes.” Piper answered shortly. “I’ll go and wait for you and dad.”

Sitting down in the café was a moment of welcome respite in the busy museum. Piper settled to a large mug of tea. Cleo had her own silver tea pot, with matching milk jug, along with a selection of sweet cakes and bread. Andrew had actually worked up an appetite, so was munching on a large sandwich, his phone was on the table and he kept glancing at it.

“Where do you want to see next?” Cleo asked, open in front of her was a map and layout of the museum. On the lower floor was European history, the next floor was prehistoric history on one side, with more exhibits on animals on the other side. The next floor up was about Asia, Africa and traditional medicine through the centuries. On the main floor where the café and the Egyptian exhibits were, was the closed off Veterinary Science through the Ages that Piper had been interested. Cleo had been given a time that they could go and see it, and that was three hours away.

“Maybe we can go and have a look at the dinosaurs?” Piper suggested.

Andrew made a face, “You’re a little old for dinosaurs, aren’t you pet?”

Piper laughed into her tea, “You’re kidding? You’re never too old for dinosaurs.” She grinned at Andrew, who was dead pan. “Okay – no you’re not kidding. No, you’re never too old for dinosaurs.”

“I never really understood the attraction.” Andrew commented. “They’re just big lizards.”

“I... I know.” Piper murmured, “But I like them. You can pretty much trace all current animal life to its prehistoric predecessor. Whether is a dinosaur, or something from the ice age. Everything started somewhere.”

“Your brother was never big on dinosaurs.” Cleo said primly. “He’s never been a big fan of animals at all.”

“I remember.” Piper sighed loudly, “He killed the sparrow I saved from the neighbor’s cat when I was seven, remember? He broke its neck.”

Andrew sipped his water, “Well, it was probably the most humane thing. It was on its way out.”

“Your memory sucks.”

“Piper.” Cleo warned.

“The sparrow had an injured wing, that was all. It just needed being put in a splint and rest. It would have been fine.” Piper explained.

“It was just a sparrow, pet.” Andrew smiled, trying to shift the conversation on away from an impending argument.

Piper tutted, “But it wasn’t just the sparrow. There were the kittens someone dumped at the end of our road when I was ten. The stray dog with mange that he hit with his car. The pigeons and crows he put poison out for. Not to mention the handful of other animals he injured or hurt on purpose with his stupid friends and his stupid bee-bee guns and air rifle.”

“They were just animals, Piper.” Cleo said.

“But they’re not just animals. Come on mom, I spend time with them and study them. They’re as entitled to be alive as you or me. But as far as you guys were concerned, Jesse can never do a thing wrong.”

“Where’s this come from, petal?” Andrew asked, placing one hand over Piper’s. She snatched her hand away and pushed her chair out getting to her feet.

“You’ve always treated Jesse better. Like he’s more important. Oh, wonderful Jesse, studying to be a surgeon! He’ll make us so proud! The sun shines out of his backside. Never mind I have to study nine years to get my degree, and he only has to study five. Never mind I spend most of my time either studying or trying to rescue people. Never mind that when you guys are away Jesse comes and goes from the house taking money and food that I buy. That he gets drunk or high most nights and is just about getting through med school.”

“Piper, sit down!” Cleo hissed.

“You know what I got on my last exam? An A. I studied my ass off and I got the grade for it. Never mind I’ve had so much crap going on I don’t know how I managed it. Jesse scraped through his last exam with a D. And what do you guys do – you buy him a new TV. What do I get? Oh, nice job Piper. Let’s go to the free-of-charge museum.”

Andrew’s phone began to ring, and he reached for it, shrinking away from his daughter who was on the verge of tears. Piper grabbed the ringing and vibrating item before her father could get it and hesitated to throw it on the floor. Her hand clenched around it and she shuddered before dropping her arm to her side, sniffing.

“Give me the phone, Piper.” Andrew said, holding his hand out expectantly. Cleo was glowering in her seat, her face red from embarrassment and annoyance. Andrew simply looked ashamed. “It’s probably important.”

“More important than me.” Piper muttered. She glanced at the phone screen as it stopped ringing. It showed Jesse’s name and number. “Forget this. Forget you guys.” She turned quickly and ran through the tables disappearing into a crowd of people.

-----------------------------

Caesarmon manifested himself from Piper’s discarded D-Touch that lay on the floor next to her bag. She had been trying to send a message to Eva, a reply to one she had received earlier but couldn’t see straight. He frowned, seeing his partner leaning against the wall with her legs curled up to her chest and her head against them. Through the masses of people, Piper had managed to find her way up several flights of stairs and into a closed off, under construction section of the museum. A new exhibit was being installed and for now the workers were elsewhere.

His claws clicked on the floor as he padded over to Piper, stuffing his head through a gap between her arms and legs. Piper shifted, wrapping her arms around the otter.

“Why’d you get so mad?” Caesarmon asked. “That’s not like you.”


“I know.” Piper said slowly. “I don’t know what’s the matter with me. I just... I feel like I’m going to break.”

“Break?”

“There’s so much happening. Ms. Lynn; Frankie’s disappeared; James is like nowhere to be found. Eva’s lost all her confidence in Irbimon. I feel like we’re not a group any more. Like we’re falling apart.”

“That’s not your fault. It’s no one’s fault.” Caesarmon explained. “Bad things happen; you just have to muddle through.”

“I don’t want to muddle through!” Piper exclaimed getting to her feet in a rush. “I didn’t want to suddenly be saving the world, and random people from rampant Digimon! I was just about getting through my courses! Managing my grades! And suddenly it’s do this! Do that! Solve this! Learn how to be this! Learn how to be that! Your Digimon is a God! You’ve got to save your world and the Digital World! No pressure!”

“Are you saying you wish I hadn’t evolved?” Caesarmon asked, his expression confused, but he also looked scared and hurt. Piper slumped onto her knees.

“No.” She said firmly, “I would never wish that.” She leaned forward over her knees, and her hair splaying out in front of her, hugging Caesarmon again. “I just... wish all these bad things hadn’t happened at once.” She spoke into his fur and suddenly felt like collapsing and going to sleep.

“Ah, these things are sent to try us.”

Piper felt Caesarmon tense up in her arms. She tried to grab him, but he jumped out of her grip to face Hunter and Skollmon. He was snarling, his back arched as he sized up the fire-canine Digimon. Skollmon snarled straight back, eyeing the orange otter.

“What do you want?” Caesarmon spat, directing the question to Hunter but never taking his eyes off Skollmon. They matched movements, checking one another weaknesses as their circled.

“We saw you run in here.” Skollmon said fiercely. “Hunter was worried.”

“Likely.” Caesarmon’s front legs were starting to glow on the blue markings. Fire was starting to engulf Skollmon’s mouth.

“Easy there! We don’t want to kill anyone.” Hunter scooped up Skollmon and hoisted him over one shoulder. Skollmon shook his legs and tail in irritation.

“Lemme down! I can take him!”

“We’re not here to fight.” Hunter said firmly. Caesarmon was glaring at Hunter and at Skollmon’s tail. Hunter glanced at Piper and gestured with his hand. Piper sighed slowly and rubbed Caesarmon’s ear.

“It’s okay.” She soothed, “Calm down.” Caesarmon stared at Piper in surprise. She allowed a reassuring smile, continuing to rub his ears with her fingers. He relaxed very slowly, glancing between Hunter and Piper as he did so. Piper got to her feet and hooked her arms under Caesarmon’s front legs hugging him to her body. Hunter lowered Skollmon to the ground. She stared at Hunter for a long moment, an eyebrow tilted on her face, he looked back. “Are you following me?”

He scoffed, “No. That would be creepy.” Piper shrugged dismissively. Hunter cleared his throat, “Do you feel better after having a rage at your parents?” Hunter asked, he had one hand in his pocket and the other toying with his dog tags. He was smirking too.

Piper grimaced, “You saw that?”

Hunter chuckled, “Yeah. I decided to stick around.” He paused, “You’re adorable when you’re mad, by the way.”

“Oh.” Piper averted her eyes to Caesarmon who was glaring at Hunter.

“Lay off.” He growled.

Hunter laughed again, “Okay, overstepping my bounds.”

“What do you want, Hunter?” Piper asked suddenly, she placed Caesarmon on the ground; he stuck close to her legs and feet. She folded her arms over her abdomen, surveying the grey haired man opposite her. “I mean... last time we met you tried to kill me and my friends. So – what are you doing here? If it’s not to do the same.”

“Like I said, I was in the same area when I saw you.” Hunter explained. His mouth quirked, he looked uncomfortable again. “And I... I guess I’d had you on my mind since then.”

“Oh?” Piper asked, she managed to suppress any kind of embarrassment that threatened to take hold. She didn’t stammer, or blush. But she could feel her heart rate increasing. “And why would that be?”

“Something you said – it bothered me. I wanted to ask you about it.” Hunter replied. He stuffed both hands in his pockets.


“Why’s that? I was under the impression you didn’t give a crap what anyone thought of you.”

“I don’t.” Hunter said defensively. “Mostly.” He struggled again. “You said you hated me. I’ve never had someone say that. Guess it didn’t sit right, y’know?”

“Yeah, well.” Piper shrugged. “What can you do?” The question was entirely rhetorical, and she didn’t expect an answer as she scooped up her D-Touch from the floor.

“I wanted to know if you still feel like that.” Hunter said, “I mean I’m not that bad a guy. I’m pretty cool, really. I’m good fun, even. And I’m not always that eager to kill and maim people.”

“Let me guess, you were under orders.” Piper sighed, “I don’t care. You tried to kill me. My friends. You’ve done nothing to suggest that you’re nothing but a complete lunatic. So I guess what I said then still stands.”

“Oh.” Hunter muttered, he pursed his lips and rubbed his chin. “Well, I guess that answers my question.”

“I guess so.” Piper replied shortly. She waited a few moments, she and Hunter both staring at the other, willing the other one to back down. Piper did first, “So you’ve got your answer, you can g-“

She stopped mid-sentence hearing a crash come from outside the room. It wasn’t close, but it wasn’t far away either. It sounded as if it had come from the same floor. Piper went to the plastic sheeting that was keeping this section away from prying eyes and peered out. Hunter followed her and did the same, leaning over her.

“Oh my god.” Piper gasped. Hunter shoved a hand over her mouth, she was grateful for it. His other hand appeared above her head, scanning the creature that was heading down the large stairwells three steps at a time. It was tall, skinny, with limbs that looked as if they had no muscle to them, that they were only bone with skin. The skin itself was a dark purple. It wore red boots with curled over toes on its feet, decorated with sun bleached skulls at the knee caps. And its hands were covered with large red gauntlets with orange claws.

Keeping its body upright was an exposed spinal cord which was a lighter pink color; from under its rib cage it looked as if a lung was exposed. Around its body it had a collection of red spheres all connected to one another. It had no eyes to speak of, its mouth and skeletal nose were exposed, the mouth full of sharp teeth, formed in a demented smile. The top part of its head was wrapped in bandages, with gold rings dangling from it. From out of the back of the bandages lime green hair was visible. Circling around its head were five flames, which were a grey-purple color and never appeared to go out.

“Bondyemon.” Hunter hissed in Piper’s ear. Now she was blushing and hoping Hunter couldn’t see. “It’s a Nightmare Soldier Digimon; one of the voodoo family. The flames allow it to see; and can also take over other Digimon and people to make them do his bidding like mindless zombies. The zipper on his chest is a trophy... He’s strong, unyielding and enjoys nothing more than inflicting intense pain on his targets.”

Bondyemon was down the second flight of stairs now. A chorus of screams were echoing up to the top of the building, joined by the sound of feet running and clicking on the tiled floor. Hunter released Piper and backed away; Piper did the same and was immediately typing on her D-Touch. Caesarmon was growling at Hunter as Skollmon had curled up on the floor, bored.

“What are you doing?” Hunter asked, staring as Piper tapped wildly at the buttons.

“Sending a message to everyone. I need them to be here.”

“There’s no time.” Hunter said harshly. Piper continued. Hunter grabbed her D-Touch from her hand. “Piper, there is no time.”

“I can’t face that thing on my own!” Piper retorted, reaching for her D-Touch. “I need them! My parents are down there!”

“What are we, salad?” Skollmon asked from the floor. “We can help.”

“You!?” Caesarmon exclaimed. He gave a sharp bark of laughter. “We don’t want your help.”

“Why not?” Skollmon asked.

“You tried to kill us!” Caesarmon replied, he looked at Piper and shook his head, “How many times, huh?” He smiled quickly. Piper was trembling.

“I... I need to get the others here.” Piper said shakily. “Please give me-” she paused, watching Hunter pocket the D-Touch. “You’re not helping!” She screamed.

Hunter grimaced, “Okay wow. Look, Skollmon is right we can help you. He can evolve to Terasumon, no problem.”

“I don’t want your help.” Piper snapped, “You’ll probably just turn on me first chance you get.” Hunter growled and grabbed Piper’s face in his hands, holding her in place. He stared at her seriously.

“Do you really think I’m going to do that?”


“I don’t know, I don’t want to find out!” Piper struggled.

“Look at me, Piper.” Hunter ordered, “Really look. You think I’m going to turn on you?”

Piper stopped squirming. She was aware of time, and that she needed to get down stairs, that there was no telling what that thing was going to do to her parents. To everyone else in the building. But she also knew she couldn’t take something like that on alone. Hunter was here, he had more experience, and with Romulumon or Terasumon on her side she and Caesarmon would at least have a fighting chance and his face was so serious. He had no image of jokiness or silliness on his features. His eyebrows were furrowed, and his mouth drawn into a tight line. He looked serious... dangerous almost. Piper blinked and nodded slowly as Hunter relaxed his grip on her face.

“O-okay...” She gathered up her bag, her dad’s phone and snatched her D-Touch from Hunter when he handed it to her. “We have to hurry!”

-----------------------------

The main entrance hall, café and the gift shop areas of the museum were a picture of pandemonium. People were running in all different directions, their footsteps frantic and echoed only by screams of fear and pain. No care was given to other people, it was every man for himself as people shoved one another out of the way and to the floor in order to escape the monstrous creature in their midst.

Bondyemon was in the middle of it all; he pursued groups of people on his long legs, grinning manically when he would corner them. Then he would swoop at the group with his arms and send people scattering. He had thrown two or three people who had been unlucky enough to get within arm’s reach across the room; they had landed in heaps. There was blood on the floor from members of the public who had been injured in some way. The exits were all barred and guarded by other Digimon, small golems, Gotsumon who simply waved their arms and yelled at people when they got too close as a deterrent, giving more fun for Bondyemon.

Cleo and Andrew had stuck close together. Andrew was trying to contact Piper on Cleo’s phone, while Cleo sheltered herself trying to remember the quickest way out of the museum in the event of emergency. And this was a big emergency. The fire exits were all blocked, and the Gotsumon also guarded the stairs and the main doors preventing anyone from going in or out. She and Andrew were hiding in the gift shop with a handful of other people who were avoiding the panic outside.

“Still no answer.” Andrew growled, pressing the off button on Cleo’s phone to conserve battery. “She could be dead!”

“She’s not.” Cleo said firmly, to try and convince Andrew and herself of her words. “She’s a clever girl. She’s fine.”

“I hope so.” Andrew murmured, he peeked over the serving desk he and Cleo hid beneath just in time to see one of the café tables crash through the glass window. He ducked back behind. “Any ideas?”

“I’m thinking, I’m thinking.” Cleo replied impatiently. She could remember there being a storage floor for the gift shop down some stairs which had a fire exit. But she couldn’t recall the security code that would allow them to pass through the door without setting off the alarm.

Outside the gift shop, people were cowering in groups; finding running to be useless as they were just herded from place to place like sheep. Bondyemon was leering over one small group and pulled out a small boy by the leg. The boy was crying, and reaching for his parents who were in the group. On his right wrist, Bondyemon reached for a green doll with yellow hair that dangled from a purple chord. He held the doll in his right hand, and with the claws on his left, started pinching and poking at the doll. He faced the boy directly; the purple spirit flame directly in front of his face glowing fiercely.

The boy started screaming and writhing on the floor. Bondyemon’s grin increased and he pinched harder on the left arm of the doll. The boy screamed again, almost drowning out the sound of the ‘crack’ where Bondyemon snapped the dolls arm obscurely. The boys left arm flopped to his side as if all his bones had been removed; a woman screamed in the group, dashing out and grabbing the youngster.

“Wow. Sick.” Hunter commented; behind him, Romulumon was growling, eyeing Bondyemon both his front paws engulfed in flames. Piper was beside him, sitting on Vespasmon’s back. Bondyemon turned towards the two champion Digimon and sneered.

“Oh good... fun.” He hissed; his voice was like that of a child almost, but it had darker undertones. “Charge!” He ordered. The Gotsumon guarding the doors all ran at the intruders.

Romulumon leaped over Hunter and was raining down balls of fire at Bondyemon. “Searing Claws!!” He bellowed. One shot from one paw, another from the other one; a pattern he repeated until he landed on the ground.


“Pain Geyser!” Vespasmon was soaking the Gotsumon through with boiling water from his raised tail and the yellow gem. The Gotsumon were retreating from him, trying to find places to shelter from the water. Piper slipped off the champions back and ran into the fray. Hunter followed her catching up wih long strides.

“What’s the plan?”

“Find my mother; get the people out of here.” Piper explained.

“Seems simple enough.” Hunter ran off in one direction, towards the main hall to look for Piper’s parents; Piper was in the opposite direction, checking the overturned tables and chairs for her parents.

Bondyemon was swiping his claws at Romulumon, who dodged easily, looking for an opening to attack; behind the purple Digimon, Vespasmon was taking up a place to attack from. Romulumon inhaled deeply, howling as his maw was engulfed in flames. “Incinerate!” He blew the flames at Bondyemon who shielded himself from the heat. The flames erupted around him, catching the wooden tables and chairs alight.

Bondyemon smirked to himself, waving one hand forward; four of the five flames circling his head drifted away from him, “Spirit Syphon...” he almost whispered the words. The flames disappeared into four people in the crowd. With his left hand, Bondyemon beckoned the four towards him. As if in a trance, they all rose from their places and made a small barrier in front of Bondyemon.

Romulumon snarled; Vespasmons’ claws were scratching reels into the marble floor out of frustration, Bondyemon remained behind the humans under his control creating a protective barricade.

Hunter returned from his search to see the people surrounding the skinny Digimon. “Not good.” He muttered. He spotted Piper, now with her mother, beginning to gather people up and direct them to the café; it appeared they had found a way out.

“Mystic Tremor!” Bondyemon yelled suddenly, his hands directed upwards as he held Romulumon in midair where he had been about to leap. Romulumon growled, his face contorting pain as a green aura surrounded him and as Bondyemon twitched his fingers, Romulumon’s body was twisted and turned.

“Blondie! Get over here!” Hunter yelled.  Piper stared at the scene, where Bondyemon was protected by possessed people and holding Romulumon in the air, toying with him and turning him into a puppet effectively. Vespasmon was padding the ground waiting for instruction, unsure whether to attack or not. Hunter caught her gaze and shook his head helplessly.

Gritting her teeth, Piper started towards the battle, pausing when she felt a hand grab her wrist.

“No, you’re escaping with me and your father.” Cleo said fiercely and tightened her grip on Piper’s wrist.

“I can’t.” Piper answered simply, “This is what I do... on top of everything else.”

“Piper-“

“Trust me, I’ll be fine.” Piper eased Cleo’s hand off her wrist and ran. “Vespasmon!” The large otter stared at her. “It’s okay.” Vespasmon growled in approval. He charged at the back of Bondyemon, snapped one of the thin limbs in his jaws and threw the lanky Digimon across the room into enflamed tables, he flew over the heads of those who created his protective wall, and they were suddenly returned to themselves, the flames that possessed them rushing back to surround Bondyemon’s head. Romulumon was freed from the green aura that kept him contained; the were-Digimon fell to the floor before regaining his composure. He bolted for the Gotsumon, coming to Bondyemon’s aide.

Vespasmon was clawing wildly at Bondyemon’s face and arms. The voodoo Digimon was snarling on his back, holding Vespasmon by the throat with one hand, keeping his snapping teeth away, and sinking his own claws into the champion Digimon’s skin.

Vespasmon retched as Bondyemon applied more pressure to his throat, but continued to thrash regardless. “Typhoon Circle!” A sphere of water began to generate in his open jaws. Bondyemon jerked Vespasmon’s head away and the water shot away from him, into the crowds of people who were staring at the battle between the monsters in awe. There were screams, and they scattered like ants.

Bondyemon kicked Vespasmon in the gut, throwing the large Digimon off him, allowing him to get to his feet. Romulumon charged, the Gotsumon placated, his paws enveloped in flames, he threw punches that were caught by Bondyemon’s long fingered hands. The flames engulfed Bondyemon’s limbs, though he did not flinch or show any signs of pain. Rather that, his sickening smile increased and he tightened his grip of Romulumon’s hands, extinguishing the flames.

 “I think-” Bondyemon shoved Romulumon away from him, “I want some toys to play.” He gestured, four of the soul flames around his head dispersed into another group of people who had been running. Immediately they stopped and began to charge the two Digimon. Romulumon looked confused for a moment, he glanced at Hunter.

“You guys need to attack him! Give it everything! That will break the control he has!” Piper instructed, she stood at the opposite side of the room, a stationary figure amongst hordes of panicking people. “The people will be fine.” She didn’t believe it at all; but had to say it out loud to try and convince herself. She didn’t want the Digimon to attack Bondyemon and endanger the people he had possessed any further, but there was no other option.

 “You heard the lady.” Hunter confirmed.

Romulumon dashed towards Bondyemon, leaping over the controlled people. At the same time Vespasmon ran at him from his side, knocking those under his power aside with a massive swipe of a forepaw.

Vespasmon jumped from the ground, while Romulumon slid down onto the smooth floor, knocking into Bondyemon’s legs, causing him to unbalance. Vespasmon landed again on Bondyemon’s back, pinning him to the ground. Bondyemon shrieked. Vespasmon bit down into the exposed spinal cord and shook his head from side to side, swinging Bondyemon from underneath him into the nearby wall. The wall cracked up the side from the impact.

For a moment Bondyemon was completely still; upside down, his mouth closed and the exposed lung did not seem to expand or contract. Then the moment was over and Bondyemon was up on his feet. The impact had cleared the minds hypnotized people and the spirit flames returned back to surround Bondyemon’s head. He was snarling, foaming at the mouth practically, appearing to weigh up Vespasmon and Romulumon

He threw out his hands, one at Vespasmon and the other at Romulumon. “Mystic Tremor!” The green aura surrounded Vespasmon and Romulumon. Bondyemon’s fingers twitched easily and the two Digimon were moved in unnatural ways, their bodies and faces contorting in pain, joined by agonized grunts and growls.


“Fight it!” Hunter was yelling at Romulumon, who looked as though he was trying to fight the control over him. He was managing to get some control of his limbs, though every move he made on his own, Bondyemon strengthened his hold onto them both. He clenched his hands into fists, which caused the two Digimon to bend over almost into complete balls.

“Stop it, please!” Piper shouted from the ground.

Vespasmon struggled to open an eye. “Piper... don’t.”

Bondyemon turned his gaze to Piper. He let the two Digimon drop to the ground in heaps. “What do we have here?” He moved towards Piper, bending and putting his face in hers. Piper backed away a few steps. “A new toy!” He dangled the voodoo doll in his right hand and held it gently.

“Typhoon-!”

Bondyemon jumped back, landing heavily on Vespasmon’s head, slamming his mouth shut with his foot. He pinched the doll and stared at Piper. She stayed standing, despite feeling a tiny pinch in her side. The pinch increased in pressure. Piper’s jaw clenched and she held her hands in fists.

“Shtop!” Vespasmon growled, his mouth forced closed. Romulumon growled softly from the ground, working his limbs to get up and move again.

Confused, Bondyemon shook the doll wildly and then dug all his claws into his fabric body, staring at Piper. She shuddered. There was a strange sensation engulfing all her senses, overriding everything. The hair on the back of her neck stood on end and all her nerve endings tingled uncomfortably. Bondyemon dug his claws deeper.

That was enough. Piper felt like she had been pierced by several knives all at once. Pain was coursing through her veins and she screamed. Vespasmon was clawing the ground wildly, trying to get up. Bondyemon moved towards the blonde, his claws moving further into the doll. More pain, this time rushing to Piper’s lower limbs. Her knees shook and she doubled over, dry heaving. Her legs gave way underneath her. Hunter was able to reach her before she crumbled onto the floor, and held her upright. Her body was shaking violently, and from up close he could see sweat forming on her temple and tears.

“You’re much more fun...” Bondyemon teased, he was looming over the pair now, having released the pressure on the doll for a moment. Piper was panting. “Normally people give up in moments. You... you’re stronger.” His face was directly in Piper’s. He held the doll out for her to see, and clenched two claws perfectly around the dolls neck, digging into the green fabric.

Again, Piper screamed, but it was cut short, going hoarse. She heaved, starting to cough violently.

“Piper...” Vespasmon was struggling to his feet, momentarily forgotten by Bondyemon.

“Tighter and tighter. No more air.” Bondyemon was singing to himself. Piper’s body heaved; and she struggled to remain upright, despite Hunter holding her up. She was like a dead weight against him. Her cheeks were flushed bright red, her eyes open wide in panic as she was wheezing, struggling to breathe.

 “PIPER!” Vespasmon bellowed. Bondyemon turned quickly. Vespasmon was swallowed by a glowing yellow light, which erupted from the D-Touch in Piper’s bag. She breathed deeply and heavily, forcing air into her lungs, while ripping into her bag to get the D-Touch. Her eyes turned to yellow, glowing as Vespasmon did, and the area seemed to change suddenly; where Piper stood the ground also shone with a strange yellow light.

Hunter was spinning, taking in the changes around him, and keeping close to Piper. He could hear the sea, waves crashing against a shoreline. The yellow glow expanded from Piper’s feet, covering the entire floor. Shapes began to appear climbing up the walls, as if they were holograms. Rocks with barnacles on their surface, sand, and then there was that roaring ocean before them, waves crashing against the rocks that weren’t really there, a strong smell of salt and sea weed accosted Hunter’s senses. Bondyemon looked puzzled.

“Vespasmon, proxy evolve to...” Vespasmon’s form changed drastically as he grew, standing upright on his back legs. His front legs formed into muscular arms. His chest toned out and around his waist a belt appeared with metal studs, with panels of leather draping down around his thighs and legs. His left arm was suddenly decorated with a circular shield, and on his right arm a sword formed, held on by a leather band. The mane around his head, neck and chest shrank down to a large scruff around his head, covered with a large bronze helmet that encased most of his head and neck, allowing some of the blue fur to poke though. The top of the helmet was decorated with a red brush. He thrashed his way out of the yellow sphere caging him up, by shattering through it with the sword on his right wrist. “Aureliumon!”

Wasting no time, Aureliumon charged forward into Bondyemon. He slashed and sliced wildly with his sword, forcing Bondyemon back into a corner as he dodged and veered away from the attacks. Bondyemon struck back with his long arms, scratching and trying to get a grip on Aureliumon’s body. He guarded easily with his shield, knocking the limbs away from him.

A well aimed jab with his sword, Bondyemon shrieked as it sliced through his arm and blood dripped to the floor. Bondyemon held his arm tightly aloft and snarled.

“Mystic Tremor!” He threw out the green aura to surround Aureliumon with his good hand. Aureliumon countered, hitting the aura back with his shield again. The green power dissipated instantly.

Aureliumon charged, “Roma Victor!” He bellowed. The yellow orb at the hilt of his sword glowed and enveloped the blade, making it glow the same golden yellow. The glowing quickly gave way to a blade of water, which grew in size to one much larger than was there originally. Aureliumon thrashed with it, slicing the water blade through the wall of the museum.

Bondyemon waited for the sword to pass overhead before he jumped, grabbing and sinking his claws into Aureliumon’s upper arms, where they were not obscured by the armor that had formed on his shoulders. He flipped over the upright otter’s body, dragging his claws down Aureliumon’s arms, creating fierce and bloody reels. Aureliumon roared and dropped his shield to the ground. Bondyemon smirked and teased the other ultimate by waving his arms wildly in front of him.

Aureliumon roared and ran at the lanky Digimon. Bondyemon quickly dodged to one side. Aureliumon quickly changed directions and ran back the way he had come. He held his hands together, his claws out stretched creating a circle with his hands and claws. In the centre, a sphere of water started to form.

Bondyemon waited a moment too long to dodge the oncoming Digimon and was caught by Aureliumon, his spine held in the otter Digimon’s claws. Bondyemon fidgeted and squirmed against his grip, the aquatic sphere that had started forming in Aureliumon’s hands was growing, beginning to surround and encase Bondyemon. Aureliumon snarled, “Ocean Massacre!” he turned on the spot three times, spinning the encased Bondyemon with him, before he stopped and released him. The water collapsed in on Bondyemon as he flew through the air, smashed through the wall of the museum and crashed into the street below.

Aureliumon looked around the destroyed area, the hole in the wall, the dying flames of what where tables and chairs. To one side, Hunter was kneeling with Piper, his hands on her shoulders; keeping her supported while she recovered. Romulumon had devolved to Skollmon; he had a minor wound, but was more concerned with Hunter, and sat by him. Aureliumon picked up his shield and crossed to them in long strides. He turned yellow and shrank down to Vespasmon before he reached them, and shoved Hunter to one side, jutting his face in front of Piper’s, staring at her with concern.

“I’m fine.” Piper muttered. She rose to her feet and ran her hands back through the Digimon’s face fuzz and into his mane. “You did good.” Vespasmon released a small rumbling sound in return.

-----------------------------

The outside of the museum was a hubbub of activity. There were police cars everywhere, interviewing people. News vans were doing the same, and most of the top news companies were doing live coverage. Fire trucks were stationed outside, and were handling what was left of the fire inside, and two ambulances with paramedics were checking on people with even minor injuries. The little boy whose arm Bondyemon had broken had been one of the first to be evacuated and had been taken to hospital. Piper was being checked on by one of the ambulance men. Her parents were waiting close by; Hunter kept his distance across the street, not wanting to be caught on camera by accident.

After being given the all clear, Piper was quick to leave them and go to her parents. She wanted to apologise, to go home. Today had been a long day, Caesarmon could barely keep his eyes open.

“You were right.” Andrew said, as soon as Piper joined himself and Cleo. Piper looked at him surprised. “We do treat Jesse differently.”

“Dad...” Piper sighed. She had almost forgotten then argument, and didn’t want to bring it back up.

“No, it’s true.” Andrew continued, he looked at Cleo for some support. She nudged him. “I suppose it’s because... we’ve always had to worry about Jesse. With you, you’ve always known what you’ve wanted to do; we don’t have to worry ourselves about you. You’re smart and have common sense. Your brother – not so much.”

“And you’re so different from Jesse. He would... never have done what you did in there.” Cleo added. Piper smiled weakly.

“Thanks. But... it wasn’t me.” Piper shook her head, “That was all Caesarmon.” She indicated to the dozing Digimon in her arms. “Anyway... give me a minute, then can we go home?”

 “Sure.” Cleo nodded. Piper walked briskly from her parents to the road that had been closed off and crossed over. Hunter was sitting on one of the chairs on the outside tables and stood up when he saw her coming.

“Got the all clear?” he asked.

“Yeah.” Piper nodded. She stared at the table for a moment, awkwardly. Unsure why she had come over, or what she wanted to say. “Uhm... thanks.” She said finally.

“For what?”

“For your help.” Piper explained, “I appreciate it.”

“Eh.” Hunter shrugged, “It felt nice being a good guy for a change.”

Piper looked at him, quirking an eyebrow, “So this won’t be permanent.”

Hunter shrugged, “Not sure. Should it be permanent?” he looked at her, his mouth curling into a lop-sided smile. Piper ignored a sudden twist in her stomach and scoffed.

“Tch. I don’t know. It’s your choice.” She said quickly, putting her defences up.

“What I mean is, Blondie,” Hunter laughed, “Is there a reason for me to be a good guy permanently?”

Piper quirked an eyebrow. “Whatever you’re trying to insinuate, stop it – right now.” She grabbed Hunter’s hand and shook it once forcefully. “Thank you for your help. Enjoy your... whatever you do.” Piper turned quickly beginning to cross the road again.

Hunter sat back in the chair and exchanged looks with Skollmon. He turned his attention back to Piper who was back with her parents and they were about to leave, walking in the opposite direction to the coffee shop.

Hunter leaned forward, “Come on Blondie, look back. Don’t let me down.” He muttered to himself. Piper brushed her hair back behind her ear carefully, turning her head a little, her eyes moved back and landed on Hunter for a second.


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