Episode 22: 50% Off Sale

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It was a sharp noise that echoed around the warehouse until the walls and ornaments swallowed it whole. James visibly winced at the noise and Odocomon’s mouth dropped open a little. However, Rose remained perfectly stoic. She didn’t move a muscle, apart from a slight twitching in her jaw which was involuntary. Hatimon didn’t react either. It was disturbing to think this might have been the behaviour and treatment Rose and Hatimon were used to from Bella.

She had been the one to administer the shocking slap that now colored Rose’s cheek a bright red. The usually composed woman was visibly trembling, her mouth drawn into a painfully tight line. Her face had turned almost the same greyish color as her hair. Towards the back of the warehouse, Bondyemon and Satyressmon paid as little attention at possible. Family feuds were not their business, and it held no interest for either of them.

This was the first time James had had to see Bella since agreeing to her terms. Just knowing he would have to see her had made him feel disgusted with himself, but that was nothing in comparison to the way he felt actually being in the same room as her. He wanted to be sick, violently sick. It was why he hadn’t eaten this morning. In fact he hadn’t eaten much the last few days. He didn’t have the stomach for it, and every time he caught a glance of himself in a mirror or window, he noticed how skinny he was starting to look. It just made him feel worse.

He should have been grateful. He and his family were more comfortable now than they had been in James’ entire life. His family had always had the meager necessities, not having enough money to lavish on luxury items, like holidays or expensive meals. But now they had everything they needed. Marie was attending a nice pre-school where she was well liked and popular. James’ brothers were both in private academies now, getting the best education possible - the kind of education James had never been able to have himself. James was even looking into going back to college to start studying again, to get his life back on track.

He should have been happy. Blissfully so. Beside himself that for once, everything was going right. So why wasn’t he?

The answer was simple, and something he saw every time he caught Odocomon looking at him: he had betrayed the only people in his life who had asked for nothing else in return. He had destroyed his relationship with Frankie, pretty much. And while his family was happy and had all the comforts they had been forced to go without for years, all the material possessions couldn’t quell the dull, numb throb of guilt that he felt all day, every day.

James was snapped back to the now, by the noise of Bella’s voice echoing through the warehouse.

“How could you let this happen?!” The question was aimed at Rose, they were always aimed at Rose. It didn’t make sense for James to be there, Bella wasn’t paying any attention to him. Rose was standing at her full height, and levelled Bella with an icy glare of her own.

“Hunter has a mind of his own. I am not responsible for his choices in life. Perhaps you should examine your own faults.”

“How dare you.” Bella hissed, she drew her hand back again. James grimaced preemptively, just in time to miss the visual that went with the sound. To his surprise, Rose was still standing when he opened his eyes. And though now both cheeks were reddening, she hadn’t moved an inch. She was as stubborn as Bella was. “This is entirely your fault, you stupid girl. I knew I shouldn’t have put you in charge of anything.”

“My apologies, mother.” Rose sneered, “I only used what I had learned from you.”

Bella’s eyes widened and her nostrils flared. She was obviously not used to being spoken to like this, by anyone, let alone her own daughter. The older woman’s arm moved, but James moved quicker and grabbed the hand about to give Rose’s face another back handed smack. Cold eyes turned on James, and Bella snarled.

“Enough.” James said firmly. “Explain to me how slapping Rose silly is helping?” Bella arched an eyebrow at him, judging him with cold, calculating eyes. She took a long, slow breath, breathing through her nose. She visibly relaxed and James felt it was safe enough to release her hand, which he did. Bella’s arm dropped to her side and she straightened her shirt. James fell back into rank beside Rose, ignoring the side-long glare she treated him to.

“I knew you were incompetent, but I had no idea quite how much.” Bella explained, slowly. “You’ve lost your brother to his stupid whims. How did it happen?”

“A girl.” Rose said simply.

Bella almost laughed, rubbing the space between her eyebrows. “Why am I not surprised. The dark haired girl?”

“No. Piper. The blonde one.” Rose said. James noticed as she spoke about this her hands had clenched into fists, her nails digging into the palms of her hands. “I’ll deal with it.”

“You had better.” Bella said with a warning tone edging her voice. “And we lost Taranimon, to the Digimon that had a corrupted evolution no less. As a team they’re more resilient than I thought.”

“They work through their problems. They don’t ignore them.” Rose explained.

Bella turned to James, he blanched. “You knew them well. What weaknesses do you know of?”

James swallowed. He glanced at Odocomon who held his gaze for a moment before turning her eyes away, her ears drooping. She had barely been able to look at him since he had agreed to this. She was probably more disgusted with him, than James was with himself.

“They’re normal people. Their weaknesses are the same as everyone else’s. They’re not like superheroes with kryptonite. You’re making things more complicated than they need to be.” James sighed, he rubbed his forehead. He wouldn’t disclose their actual weaknesses, at least if he could afford not to. He was on the opposite side now that was true enough, but he still cared about everyone. “Your best bet would be to attack something personal to them. Something... they care about.”

“You mean like their families?” Rose inquired, tilting her head to one side. She looked almost confused as to why James was making a suggestion which would endanger innocents. But if she was puzzled, she wasn’t going to ask him about it.

“No! No.” James said firmly. “Not their families.”

Bella scowled. “Then what do you suggest?” She hissed, folding her arms over her chest and eyeing James dangerously.


James struggled for a moment, staring around the warehouse at the ornaments and walls, trying to think quickly. What else was personal to someone, if it wasn’t their family, or friends? It had to be... something different. Something that would really set someone off. Somewhere that was material, so it could be replaced. “A location.” James suddenly blurted out.

Bella’s eyebrows tilted just a little. “A location?” She repeated.

“Y-yeah.” James was nodding to himself, in an attempt to keep himself on track. “Like a second home. Somewhere they spend a lot of time.”

“Such as?” Bella prompted.

“Well –“

“Hurry up!”

“It depends on the person.” James said slowly. “If you were Tom then a second home would be an amusement arcade. Piper... it’d be the veterinary clinic. Eva, I guess it’d be the bakery. Frankie... probably some club somewhere.”

“Or the mall.” Rose quipped. Bella’s eyes turned to her daughter, and glared at her like a hawk. She looked intrigued, eyes gleaming dangerously. James glanced at Rose, who was staring at him. “That’s where she spends most of her time, or so our research has shown.”

“And there are plenty of people there too to witness the devastation.” Bella added in a tone so soft, it was like she was talking to herself. “We can unleash an all out attack.”

James’ eyes widened as he realized exactly what Bella meant. “You can’t attack there! People, innocent people, will be there. You could wind up killing someone.”

“That’s the idea.” Rose said softly.

Bella marched ahead, towards Satyressmon and Bondyemon who had been waiting silently in the in wings for instruction. Rose followed after her quickly, and James behind her with their Digimon.

“Might I suggest-“

“No!” Bella rounded on Rose before she could finish her sentence. “You may not suggest. Everything you have orchestrated has been an unmitigated disaster. You will attack with Bondyemon and Satyressmon. The both of you will.”

“Bella, please. Don’t do this, people could die.” James pleaded. The older woman rounded on him with a sneer and cold expression on her face.

“You knew what you signed up for when you joined me, boy.” She snarled. “Or would you like to return to the squalid and impoverished conditions I took you from?”

“I- -“ James ran his hands through his hair, and stared at Odocomon helplessly. Bella hooked her fingers under his chin, turning him to face her directly.

“I own you now, James.” She informed him, like it was a simple fact of stating you owned a car. “I gave you everything you and your family now have…and I can take it away with a snap of my fingers. You agreed to my terms, unconditionally. Do not cross me.” James swallowed, lowered his eyes and nodded solemnly. Bella dropped her fingers from his chin smirking. “Good.”

Rose interjected, wanting to move on. “What do you intend to do, mother?”

“Do?” Bella laughed. “I won’t be doing anything. Bondyemon, Satyressmon!” She addressed the two Digimon, “go and unleash hell.”

“And us?” Rose asked. Bella eyed her with distaste.

“Bring me carnage.”

Odocomon sighed softly to herself, “Frankie will murder us for this.” James offered a small smile, which was not returned by the Digimon while they, with Rose and Hatimon, waited for Bella to leave now she had set her rather slap-dash plan in motion. They were alone soon enough, Bella being driven off in her car, and the two Generals had left the warehouse going separate ways to their targeted area.

When alone with Rose, which was more frequent than James liked, he never knew exactly what to say or how to act. Rose was like a porcelain doll as far as he was concerned, frozen with a consistent expression which was cold and unreadable. He didn’t know how anyone could stand it; to have her so close and not know what was going on inside her head. All he knew was that she was always thinking, always plotting and working things out. Her cheeks were still colored from the slaps she had obtained from Bella, the color wasn’t likely to drain from them for some time.

James realized he was staring when he caught Rose glaring at him, impatiently twining her hair around her fingers. “It’s not the first time she’s done that. Don’t look so aghast.”

“It happens a lot?”

“Fairly regularly.”

James sucked his teeth. “You don’t have to stand for it y’know.” He said, without considering his words before he said them. Rose eyed him with a plain and bored expression. Hatimon replicated it, sitting at Rose’s feet, waiting for instruction. “You’re not as much like your mother as you might think.”

Rose shook her head, and swept her hair back gracefully. “You know nothing of my mother... or of me for that matter. All you are to her is a pawn in a game.”

“I know that.” James admitted, with a shrug. There was no denying it, it was a fact James had come to terms with some time ago. “You don’t think you’re a pawn?”

“Not in the least.” Rose replied coolly. “Mother may think she’s the one pulling the strings... but she has no idea what I intend to do.”

“How did you become like this?” James asked the question before he could stop it. It was one he had wondered since he and the others had first met Rose and Hunter months ago. Even then it was obvious the differences between the twins. How Hunter was more open and friendly and Rose was so closed off and impersonal. It had been shocking, and something that had played endlessly on James’ mind those nights in Ryudamon’s house.

“Like what?” Rose asked, her tone dangerous.

James debated for a moment whether to push or not. He ignored his better senses, and went for it. “Like this.” He gestured to her entirely. “A robotic, ice queen-“

“Bitch.” Odocomon added the last part with a disdainful expression on her face. Rose looked at the Digimon with distaste, before she returned her attention to James.

“I grew up without a mother. Or a father. What do you expect?”

“You must have had someone you loved.” James argued. “You obviously don’t love Bella.”

Rose shook her head. “Love is unnecessary. It only creates more trouble and strife. All I need, all I have ever needed, is myself and Hatimon. Anyone else just gets in the way.”

“You must be lonely.” James stated. He felt sorry for Rose, she spoke like someone who had never had anyone to turn to. All bitterness and contempt. Like she’d never felt another person’s warmth, or had someone caring about her.

“Sometimes it’s better to be alone.” Rose muttered, she was walking away from James now, and what little of her voice he could pick up sounded sad. “It prevents others from hurting you.”

James sighed to himself, and was resigned to the fact that there was no getting through to Rose, no reasoning with her. The way she saw things was too black and white, there was no room from grey areas. He glanced at Odocomon who waited patiently without saying a word and without looking at him. He followed after the black haired girl.

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

The mall was bustling, busier than usual due to it being a holiday weekend, a four day one to be precise, so everyone who worked office jobs or was in college – anyone who didn’t work in the retail industry – had a nice long weekend to enjoy. To celebrate the long weekend, and also to capitalize on it, many stores had sales for that weekend only. Fifty percent prices. Seventy-five percent off prices. Frankie was in her element, darting from one shop to another, expertly examining their merchandise before deciding if what the store had to offer was good enough for her or not.

Her mother, Loretta, followed her daughter at a more leisurely pace, enjoying what was to be her last weekend in the city. Frankie had more-or-less recovered from the shocking death of her neighbor, and as Loretta could see, was lucky enough to have a tight support group to rally around her when needed, naturally led by Siberimon. And though Loretta enjoyed being around her daughter, and spending time together, she had her own matters to attend to at home. She had not stayed at Frankie’s apartment now for two weeks, and Frankie was happy enough that Loretta didn’t feel the need to worry any longer about her.

“Frankie, slow down.” She called after her daughter who had disappeared into another bustling store, filled with women Frankie’s own age.

“We have to be quick, or all the good bargains are going to be gone!” Frankie argued, not looking up from the dress she was surveying. Her purse dangled on her arm while she held the material of the dress in one hand, and the hanger it hung on in the other. It was a slinky nude dress, barely long enough to be called a dress, and was, like most everything else in the store, on sale and one of the last remaining. (Naturally, the only one remaining in Frankie’s size). “I’m going to go try this on.”

“You do that.” Loretta sighed. She was relieved for a moment of respite. Shopping with Frankie was hard work. She moved so quickly and knew her way around the mall better than Loretta did. She didn’t wait around for her mother either, she seemed to expect Lora to match her pace – which was difficult to do in such busy crowds of people.

Lora examined a couple of spring shawls and scarves that had pretty designs while waiting for Frankie, all the while noticing the other girls and women in the shop. Lora had some reservations about the clothing Frankie liked, and it seemed the clothing most other women her age liked. She had tried, in vain, to steer Frankie to less revealing clothing. Clothing that Lora herself approved more of, like plain t-shirts and crop jeans. Things that didn’t show off more skin than necessary. But Frankie, even as a child had shown a penchant for dressing up and needing the make herself beautiful. Lora had not been surprised when Frankie had been a teenager than her clothing tastes had been more focused on short skirts and revealing tops; and while she wasn’t entirely approving of her only child’s choices in clothing, she understood her need to express herself and this is how she did it.

“You like these?” Frankie asked, coming to Lora’s side where she still stood feeling the fabric of a couple of the scarves in her fingers.

“They’re quite nice, I think.” Lora admitted. “Don’t you?”

“They’re a bit old.” Frankie said blankly, her upper lip curled back a little. She shook her head and her earrings jangled. “I mean, you’re only forty-nine, Mom. Not seventy. Most women your age still dress like they’re in their twenties.”


“I’m not most women my age.” Lora said coolly.

“True enough.” Frankie smiled cutely. “If you like them, then I‘ll buy ‘em for you!”

“I don’t think so. I’m not too old to need charity from my own daughter.” Lora arched an eyebrow, crossing her arms while Frankie laughed.

“It wasn’t an offer of charity.” Frankie explained, grinning. “Think of it more like a thank you for being around so much lately and all that.”

Lora’s expression softened a little. “I’m your mother. What exactly do you expect me to do when my only child is in crisis?”

Frankie released a tiny, awkward laugh, and ran her fingers back through her hair. “So, do you want the scarves or not? We’ll need to queue now if you do. The checkout is rammed.” Frankie tugged on the two scarves Lora held in her hand.

“Tell you what, I’ll get these. Then you can buy me lunch and we’ll call it even. How does that sound?”

“Sounds like I’m getting let off...”

“Not at all.” Lora gave her daughter a devious look. “I didn’t say where I wanted to eat.”

As it happened, Lora opted for a small bistro outside of the mall, where Siberimon could also join them, sitting in a chair, able to hide easily whenever the waiting staff neared them. Lora sipped diet coke and Frankie an iced tea while they waited for their food to arrive. Siberimon enjoyed a tall glass of milk, especially ordered for him by Lora.

Loretta was fond of the Digimon, she found him a good influence on Frankie, now more than ever. She had learned, while staying in Frankie’s apartment, that any crazy ideas Frankie had or insane suggestions, anything frivolous or out-of-the-ordinary she put forward or wanted to do, Siberimon would create a valid argument to try and prevent her from doing it; and even though Frankie often didn’t listen to him, it was clear his opinion mattered. His personality was a grounding influence on Frankie too. That much was obvious.

Frankie respected her Digimon, and his comments. Even if they didn’t always agree, she was different around him. Different overall. When Lora had first heard of Mrs. Lynn’s sudden death, she had worried the effects would be devastating on Frankie, knowing how close she was to the older woman. She had been concerned that out of grief Frankie would do something reckless and had been relieved to find her in one piece, in being constantly comforted and waited on by the small tiger Digimon. It was not the first time Siberimon had been the only to hold things together in a crisis and Lora felt it would likely not be the last.

“When’s your flight on Monday?” Frankie asked from across the table where she finished reapplying makeup in a compact mirror.

“Ten in the morning.” Lora answered. “Are you going to come and see me off?”

Frankie snapped the mirror shut. “I can do.” She smiled. “It’s been nice to have you around. Before this... well – it had been too long.”

Lora shrugged her shoulders. “Well you’re not a child any more. It’s not exactly surprising that you don’t keep in touch with me that much. You have so much going on here.”

Frankie laughed. “Heh. Ohhh yeah.” She leaned back in her chair, templing her fingers.

“It’s good to know you’re well cared about though.” Lora casted an approving look at Siberimon who sat up straighter in his seat. Frankie smirked. “And that your friends are nearby.”

“Yeah.” Frankie paused. She looked serious for a moment before leaning forward in her chair, placing her elbows on the table. “Ma, can I ask you a question?”

“Oh my, sounds serious.” Lora stated, noting the change in Frankie’s tone and posture.

“Well I... I want your opinion on something.”

“Okay.”

Frankie took a small breath. She hadn’t mentioned to Lora the incidents with James. She didn’t think it would be something that mattered hugely, that he would see sense quickly and return to their side. But it didn’t appear to be happening as quickly as Frankie had hoped. “Say... someone you know betrays you. But the reason they betrayed you was to help their family. Should you forgive them? Should you try and convince them that nothing is worth betraying people over... or should you just give up on them?”

Lora pursed her lips, and breathed out thoughtfully. She was silent for a few moments, considering Frankie’s question and dilemma. “How close to you is this person?” she asked.

“Like... a boyfriend.”

“Ah.” Lora nodded. Frankie knew her mother had now put two and two together and come up with four, but also knew her mother was not one to state the obvious or make a big deal out of something if Frankie was trying to be hush hush.

“My opinion is that you should just give up on them.” Siberimon said from his chair, staring directly at Frankie with a stern expression on his face. “Nothing is worth betraying the people you’re meant to care about.”

“Betrayal is obviously not something to take lightly. But if it’s a situation that involves family... then it maybe that you’re not being allowed to see the bigger picture. That all you’ve been told, all that you know is what this person wants you to know.” Lora explained. Frankie looked puzzled. “Hun, being betrayed by someone is never a pleasant thing to experience – but before you write this person off and give up on them, you should try and get them to tell you the whole story. There may be more to it than you think.” Lora closed her eyes and sipped her coke.

Frankie tilted her head to one side, “I... guess.” She went to carry on, when a waitress appeared at their table, food in hand. She placed one plate in front of either woman, and a third plate in the middle of the table. Once the waitress had left, Siberimon dragged the third plate towards him.

Half way through the meal, and a discussion about Lora’s work, Frankie’s D-Touch whirred noisily in her bag. She reached for it, only to realize why the machine was behaving in such a way - when the thundering of footsteps was heard, shaking the ground beneath them. Over the footsteps rose screams, then the sight of people running, scattering like cattle, running away from hammer swings, and thrown cars.

Siberimon was up on his feet, waiting for Frankie, and Lora sensed this was a tense situation, and one that did not involve her. Frankie pushed her chair out. “Sorry to cut this short.” Frankie murmured, making a quick, apologetic face at her mother.

“Go.” Lora ordered, grabbing her purse and the bags. Siberimon nodded, and Frankie ran. She called Eva as Hurakamon appeared in Siberimon’s place.

As Eva picked up, Frankie didn’t wait for her to say anything. “There’s an attack at the mall. Satyressmon and Bondyemon. Get here, with anyone else – NOW.” She put the phone down, and slotted the D-Touch in to her purse.

She and Hurakamon stopped at the bottom of the stairs that led up to the main doors of the mall. Satyressmon had smashed holes into parts of the outer hall, having already crushed the North entrance doors beneath her bulk. Bondyemon was hovering by the doors, sweeping people up in his hands and arms, flinging them this way and that. Frankie could hear police sirens in the distance.

Hurakamon grunted beside her impatiently. “What do you want to do?” He asked, with a gruff tone, and his claws digging into the sidewalk.

“We’re on our own for now. Just keep them busy until the others get here.”

Hurakamon nodded and lunged forward.

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

Eva was running out of the door before she had fully explained things to Tom. But the urgency on her face and the sheer pitch of her voice, a level of panic he hadn’t heard before, was enough to convince him the rush was necessary and that it was Digimon related. Irbimon and Poemon followed them both.

Reaching outside their apartment building, Tom grabbed Eva by the shoulders to stop her dashing off into traffic. “Explain.” He said plainly.

“It was Frankie! She’s at the mall. Bondyemon and Satyressmon are both attacking. We need to get there now!” Eva told him in a rushed breath. Her D-Touch glowed pink and Irbimon was engulfed, Skadimon appearing in the street in a flash of light. “Call Reyez, I’ll call Piper.” Eva ordered.

Tom nodded, fishing his D-Touch from his pocket. Poemon flashed a green colour, and Valramon was hovering in her place, lowering a claw for Tom to climb on and waiting patiently for him to climb onto her back. He was already on the phone to Reyez when she took off for the sky, following after Skadimon who bounded through the streets below.

“What?” Reyez snapped through the receiver. Tom could hear music coming from a game in the background.

“There’s an attack at the mall. Frankie’s there on her own. Me and Eva are on our way.”


A sigh, and then the sounds of movement. “Alright, we’ll be there.”

Tom hung up, and pocketed his D-Touch. From his high point he could already see the devastation being unleashed on the mall as Valramon neared it. Part of the North entrance wall had been knocked down, allowing access for the two other Digimon. A part of the ceiling had caved in too. People were scurrying in every direction, screams just audible over the sounds of police and ambulance sirens.

Valramon was diving from the sky down the ground, she flew almost directly above Skadimon who slowed only enough to let Eva slip off his back when they were near enough to the mall. Tom did the same, landing with a thump on the ground. Their Digimon sped off into the mall, Tom and Eva followed up the stairs.

Inside, the picture was worse than outside. People were cowering in shops, some were just bodies strewn across the ground, being tended to by other members of the public. Shop windows and displays had been destroyed. At the center of it all, Satyressmon swiped wildly at Byakkomon, who fought off her hammer with his sword. Skadimon and Valramon double-teamed on Bondyemon.

Frankie called the two new arrivals over as soon as she saw them. She was the only one not hiding.

“Oh wow, y'all got here fast.” She said, D-Touch in hand.

“Not like we’re going to leave you to do this alone.” Eva said. “I called Piper. She’s on her way.”

“Same with Reyez.” Tom confirmed. “What the hell happened?”

Frankie flailed, “I have no idea! I was just having lunch with my mom when BOOM. These two turn up out of nowhere!”

“Where’s you mom now?”

“Safe.” Frankie said.

“Why the mall?” Eva mused.

“It’s busy. It’s a holiday weekend, a lot of people to do damage to. It would get our attention.” Tom said briefly. “DUCK!” He grabbed both girls pulling them down, moments before Skadimon flew over their heads into the wall. He was back up on his feet a few moments later and charging into the fray.

“Beauty Hammer!”

“Full Moon Divide!” Byakkomon countered, hitting Satyressmon with his attack, sending her rolling back into the elevator shafts. He darted towards her. “Tiger Clutch!” A second sword made entirely of wind appeared in his other hand. He drew them down on the rotund Digimon, and a clang of metal sounded as she brought her hammer up to guard herself.

Satyressmon was up on her feet again surprisingly quickly, and clashed against Byakkomon.

“Duskbane!”

Bondyemon’s arms flailed wildly, trying to disperse the ravens flocking around his head. Skadimon jumped at him, catching one of the long flailing limbs in his maw, tearing at it with his teeth. Bondyemon shrieked and swiped blindly at the other Digimon.

Skadimon was nimble enough to dodge the attack, Valramon ascended.

“Night Strike!” A black cloud dove like a missile straight down, crashing into Bondyemon’s spine, knocking him forward. Skadimon dashed, clawing at the long legs of Bondyemon as he fell. At the same time, Byakkomon forced against Stayressmon’s bulk, over-whelming her for a moment with a strong shove. She toppled backwards, landing mere feet from where Bondyemon was recovering, watched carefully by Valramon and Skadimon.

Before Stayressmon and Bondyemon could arise to their feet, a giant flower shot from beneath them, trapping them both before shooting them into the air. Mistresmon arose from the earth in an elegant twirl, levitating only mere inches from the ground.

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

Rose paced for a moment. Guarding the South entrance was not what she had had in mind with this plan, but this was what her mother had ordered. James was close by with Rusdramon. Yet again he looked apprehensive, hearing the shouts and rumbles from inside the mall.

Tsukuyomon rose to her feet silently and bristled. Eyes darting from side to side, she snarled, forming her katana in her maw.

“Ocean Massacre!” The sphere of water came flying towards her at high speed, and Tsukuyomon moved swiftly to dodge it. She snarled and turned on the otter Digimon who followed after the attack roaring with a bloodlust rage.

“Roma Victor!” Blade clashed against blade, and Tsukuyomon shoved against Aureliumon’s sword with her own.

“Winter’s Blade!”

Aureliumon raised his shield, fending off the attack. He charged again. Tsukuyomon brought her katana down in a sweep. Aureliumon side-stepped, without losing momentum and careered past the other Digimon, slamming his shield into the side of her face, shattering the sword in her mouth.

“This is stupid! Attacking a mall full of people?! Don’t you care if anyone dies?” Piper’s voice caught Rose’s attention from the fighting Digimon. Piper was on the ground floor, yelling up at her. Rose sneered.

“People die because they’re not worthy of being alive.” Rose retorted. “A fate you will soon share.” She added in an undertone. “Tsukuyomon! Dispose of her.”

Without missing a beat, Tsukuyomon finished her bout with Aureliumon, clawing across his chest, and ducked a swipe from his sword as she shoved him into the side of the building. His bulk created a crater in the wall. Tsukuyomon rounded on Piper, who backed up slowly.

“Endless Hailstorm!” Tsukuyomon howled. Within moments, the sky rained down hard-hitting hail, a mist appeared from nowhere obscuring her from view. Piper could barely hear anything above the noise of the hailstone hitting the ground. The Tsukuyomon’s face loomed out of the mist coming towards her at speed. Piper was rooted to the spot.

“Blazing Mirage!” Three fiery forms of Terasumon dashed through the hail, creating steam as they melted on contact, each one charged into Tsukuyomon.

“Roma Victor!” Aureliumon joined in.

Rusdramon cantered forward, orbs glowing on her horns. “Amethyst Chains!” Chains grasped around one of the fire forms of the wolf Digimon, and it dispersed into smoke. The other was sliced in two by Tsukuyomon’s katana.

Terasumon rounded on Rusdramon and swiped the smaller Digimon with a massive paw, tossing her to one side like a doll.

Hunter grabbed Piper’s hand. “Damnit Blondie, am I always going to be getting you out of these messes?”

“Let’s just say you have impeccable timing.” Piper retorted.

“Heh- shit, watch out!” Hunter grabbed Piper towards him, turned around covering her with his height. Rubble from the building hit against his back, he cursed at the impact, but was otherwise unhurt. He turned back around quickly, seeing his sister glaring down at them both. “What the fuck is this, Rose!?”

“You...” Rose snarled.

“You don’t frighten me, little sister.” Hunter sneered, taking a protective step in front of Piper. “I know you too well.”

“You watch. I will destroy you.” Rose screamed. “Tsukuyomon! Destroy Hunter!”

Tsukuyomon rushed towards both Piper and Hunter once again with a strong sense of determination in her eyes. Terasumon jumped in front, head butting his twin intentionally.

Neither Digimon faltered as they attempted to push each other out of their way, foreheads against each other glaring in each others’ eyes with canine-like growls.

“Roma Victor!” Shouted Aureliumon in the background.

Tsukuyomon leaped out of the way, allowing the attack to hit Terasumon as Tsukuyomon’s sudden movements had thrown him off balance.

Tsukuyomon lowered her head close to the ground, her tail standing straight up and her growl fierce.

Terasumon quickly recovered from Aureliumon’s accidental attack and charged towards Tsukuyomon.

“Amethyst Chains!”

Terasumon found himself yanked towards the floor of the mall, breaking through it and causing a crater.

Aureliumon leaped by a sudden rush attack from Rusdramon, confused on whether he should attack or not.

“Grand Cross!” Rusdramon turned back around quickly, leaping forward. Aureliumon raised his shield, sliding back from the impact of the attack.

“I don’t want to fight you, Rusdramon!” He shouted. “Cease this nonsense!”

“I must! Grand Cross!” Rusdramon unleashed another attack.

Aureliumon raised his shield again, still hesitant to return fire.

With a large rumble, everyone paused. The mall shook violently, leaving confusion on the group’s faces.

“MOVE MOVE MOVE!” The sound of Tom’s shouting.

“GET OUT OF THE FUCKING WAY!” Reyez co-signed the shouting.

Piper and Hunter looked around, then towards the fourth floor of the mall. Reyez and Tom looked over the balcony then ran in a direction away from the battlefield. The two looked at each other then behind them. Rose’s gasp filled their ears as she ran away as well.

Hunter and Piper, still mildly confused turned to look back, only to see a giant blue goat Digimon flying in their direction. Aureliumon leaped out of the way as well as the wolf Digimon.

Piper shrieked as Hunter quickly took her wrist and ran as quickly as possible.

Satyressmon’s body crashed, sliding along the ground floor as Hyrokkimon landed on her bulk and body surfed her until she crashed into the escalators and out through the entire side exit of the building, creating a giant whole in the wall. 

Mistresmon moaned, high kicking Bondyemon in the chin.

Byakkomon took the advantage, “Tiger Clutch!” with a fierce swing of his sword, knocking Bondyemon into Satyressmon.

“Grand Cross!”

Byakkomon was hit directly, able to protect himself at the last minute with a strong gust of protective wind. “Tiger Clutch!” He fired wildly.

Rusdramon gasped as the powerful strike sent her flying through the wall and out of the building. 

Byakkomon took a moment of realization and leaped after her, an apologetic look upon his face.

Rusdramon stood to her feet quickly, charging towards Byakkomon with rage. Byakkomon growled, putting away his sword and taking her head on.

“Why are you doing this?!” Byakkomon demanded, holding Rusdramon by the antlers as she shook her head one way and the other in an attempt to relieve his grip. “What does this gain you?!”

“It gets me nothing!” Rusdramon retorted, snorting as she finally got her antlers free. “But I must do this! James is the whole purpose I exist! I must do what he asks of me!”

“But it’s killing you.” Byakkomon yelled.

Rusdramon’s whole body shook under her exertions. Her evolution was unstable, she was weaker than she ever felt. James’s heart wasn’t in this fight, it hadn’t ever been. And therefore neither was her own. “Then so be it.”

“You truly have nothing else to live for?” Byakkomon asked. His tone almost softening towards the deer Digimon.


“Unless you can give me a reason!” Rusdramon’s bellowed, though her voice did not sound like her own. It sounded far more intense and passionate than Byakkomon had expected, and her expression was far more grave. “My one purpose is to protect him. Even you can understand that.”

“Rusdramon...”

“ENOUGH!” Rusdramon yelled. “GRAND CROSS!”

“Wedding Lust!” In a moment, Mistresmon had vanished into the ground, and the earth beneath Rusdramon trembled as a flower emerged, and snapped around Rusdramon’s body and flailing legs.

“Let her go!” James yelled.

Frankie grabbed his shoulders. “Don’t you get it?! Nothing is worth this! Your Digimon getting massacred? Can you honestly tell me that all of Bella Divine’s promises are worth this?!”

James shrugged her off. “Just call off your Digimon.” He turned to Rose, “we need to retreat.”

“No!”

“Rose!” Tsukuyomon growled. The opposing Digimon were turning to face them, all except Mistresmon, who still held Rusdramon in her strength sapping flower. “We’re outnumbered!”

“But-!”

“Learn when you’re beat, Rose.” Hunter yelled. “You can’t win this one.”

Tsukuyomon waited. Rose stared at the scene, and at the panting, tired General Digimon who were bloodied. She hated to admit it, but Hunter was right. There was no way she could win. Not now. Not like this. She made the tiniest inclination with her head, Tsukuyomon lifted her up onto her back and turned to run. Satyressmon and Bondyemon followed. And then Rusdramon, with James on her back.

Hyrokkimon moved to follow them, stopped only by Byakkomon’s voice. “There is no point in perusing them. They are defeated for now. And we are all tired.”

“But now is the perfect time to destroy them once and for all.” Argued Hyrokkimon.

“There’s no glory in a cowardly victory.” Aureliumon said slowly. “Attacking them as they retreat would have no honor to it.”

Reyez sucked his teeth and stared at the partly destroyed mall. “Sorry about your hang out, Frankie.”

Frankie ran her hands over her hair, flipping it all to one shoulder. “I think we should all reconvene later to talk about this. I want to make sure my mom is okay.”

“My house is empty.” Piper said. “There in an hour?”

There was a silent mutual agreement, and the sound of sirens echoing in the distance.


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