Episode 26: Star Light,
Star Bright

  dark                      light

It was clear now that the crystalline Digimon had only been distractions, taking their attention away from the main enemy, Satyressmon, who had been the one to send the Digimon out, and watch the carnage unfold. Despite the fighting that had been happening around the city, people were still out on the streets, morbidly interested in the battles and the creatures who fought.

The police were now on their way, the last large attack on the crystalline Digimon had attracted so much attention, but they couldn’t turn away now.

Byakkomon and Aureliumon were both tossed into nearby buildings.

Satyressmon grabbed Terasumon with both hands and she tossed him into the air as if he was a mere rag doll and leaped after him. She grabbed the canine with a secure hug and crashed into the ground with him, head first.

“Piercing Hail!” Hyrokkimon’s attack was echoed by a muted note chiming and black energy dispersing on and around Satyressmon’s body. Attacks from Kinnarimon.

“Discipline!” Mistresmon’s attack followed, cracking vine whips against Satyressmon’s face.

Satyressmon roared, flinging one arm out to try and catch the quickly moving fairy Digimon who dodged with incredible speed, using the moving limb to jump off of, giving her more height. “Beautiful Bouquet!”

“Mirror Charger!” The orbs around Satyressmon’s armor glowed, each one extinguishing as the main centre orb on the front of her chest piece grew to an intense, glimmering light. Satyressmon pushed the energy forward, sending an intense beam crashing into where Mistresmon landed, creating a groove along the floor, exploding several police cars, sending them flying into the sky.

Surprisingly, some police remained, unsure who to aim for.

“Manora’s Dance!” Kinnarimon attacked.

Hyrokkimon joined in. “Glacial Saber!” On command, the two blades of manifested in his hands, and he was slashing at Satyressmon’s armor, trying to break through without success. Kinnarimon, appearing and reappearing kept Satyressmon busy as she tried to grab onto her, while Mistresmon shot another charge of energy from her back flower.

“Beauty Hammer!” Satyressmon swung, Hyrokkimon dodged.

“Piercing Hai-“

“Tundra Claws!” Hyrokkimon recoiled. He hadn’t seen Remamon coming – no one had - she had been totally obscured. But now she was here, raining down blow after blow on Hyrokkimon’s body, pummeling him down into the street below with fists encased in ice.

“Hyrokkimon!” Eva yelled.

“Ocean Massacre!” The cry from Aureliumon, the attack sailed over Eva’s head and crashed into Remamon, knocking her clean off of Hyrokkimon. She remained composed, supporting herself on the ground and remaining upright. Aureliumon entered the fray once again.

Byakkomon had recovered as well and was pushing against Satyressmon’s hammer, the ground was cracking beneath the pressure, and Terasumon was chasing Remamon off.

“Where there’s Remamon, there’s Rose.” Frankie said as she came up to Reyez’s side, a hand casually on her hip.

“And James, I bet.” Reyez added. Frankie said nothing in return.

“Beauty Hammer!” Satyressmon charged her bulk against Byakkomon, sending him reeling back a few steps. She swung the hammer back, knocking against Aureliumon’s shield, and then smacked Kinnarimon down to the ground like an annoying fly. “You’re as bad as these pathetic humans!” Satyressmon yelled. “Why do you protect them? They fear you! They would kill you given a moment’s chance!”

“You wouldn’t understand.” Byakkomon roared, charging the other Digimon. “Tiger Clutch!” A second sword formed in his free hand, he jumped, coming down with both blades pointed directly down an aim that would cut into Satyressmon’s flesh.

“Mirror Charger!” The intense beam shot up, knocking Byakkomon back.

“Ocean Massacre!”

“Nightsong!”

“Beautiful Bouquet!”

“Piercing Hail!”

“Blazing Mirage!”

Each Digimon’s attack flew at the gigantic Digimon, crashing upon impact, causing a massive explosive noise which forced each human to cover their faces from the over spray of dust and debris, with echoes of slight screams and grunts.

“Flash Freeze.” No one heard Remamon’s voice over the explosion; and no one noticed the ice spreading over the ground from Remamon’s paw, encasing their feet and paws. Sticking them firmly in place. The dust was clearing, Satyressmon was still standing and she looked more than pleased with herself, chuckling throatily, leaning her hammer across her shoulder, like she was enjoying this. Like this was the easiest thing in the world to her, like she could take her time. Everyone was quick to realize why.

“My feet.” Piper murmured, “I can’t move my feet!”

“Neither can I!” Frankie agreed.

“Oh shit.” Reyez muttered. He followed the layer of sleet, saw Remamon’s paw on the ground, and the concentration on her face; how the ice moved out, covering their feet, the Digimon’s feet, but left Satyressmon and herself free from the icy confines of the trap.

Kinnarimon flapped her wings wildly against the coldness around her feet. When the ice wouldn’t give though she relented. Byakkomon and Aureliumon tried to chip away, every dent they made, the ice was replaced by another sheet. Satyressmon laughed again, pleased. While Remamon trembled under the effort of keeping her attack going and under control.


“Now the tables are in my favor. I will do what Taranimon and Bondyemon could not. I will destroy your Digimon first; force you to watch them suffer as you will suffer.” Satyressmon said fiercely. “Mirror Charger!” She drew back, the energy from each armor orb relinquishing into her centre one. A deafening silence and then she released it; sending the intense white beam across and around her, crashing against each Digimon, as they struggled to move.

Screams went up, and yelps of pain; covered only by a cackle.

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

Rose observed the battle from a safe distance. James was with her, trying to ignore the sounds he heard as he had his back turned towards the fighting. Rose had been sent to find the crystalline Digimon and Satyressmon after Bella had discovered that they were out, causing destruction across the city. But this had worked out better than even Bella could have devised. Remamon had trapped them all, humans and Digimon alike, and with them trapped; stopped in their own tracks, helpless and defenseless all that needed to be done was to watch and wait. Let Satyressmon have her fun. She would eventually get bored and destroy them.

“You really are missing quite an impressive show.” Rose commented to James, smiling a little too contentedly with her hair twirled around her finger. “Who would have thought that lummox of a Digimon had a brain. One must wonder if this was her plan all along.”

James grit his teeth, clenching his hands into fists. They were a safe distance away, but close enough so Rose could view the carnage, see everything and hear everything. James had wanted to go home; leave. He didn’t want to hear his friends screaming, or see their Digimon being hurt like this. The thought of it made him look at Rusdramon who was just as horrified, if not more.

“How can you watch this?”

“You’re really being so overdramatic~” Rose commented in a sing-song voice. “This is what you signed up for.”

James shook his head. “Not this.” He felt sick.

“If you don’t think you can handle this then perhaps you should have thought of what you were getting yourself into. Instead of concentrating solely on your greed.” Rose explained, keeping her eyes on the carnage. Her voice was still light, as if she and James were having a casual every day conversation. “It’s really incredible – just look at the firepower.” Rose suppressed what could have been a laugh, and James glimpsed Terasumon out of the corner of his eye being smashed against by Satyressmon’s hammer. “At least this will teach Hunter not to pick the wrong side.”

“Wrong side?” James questioned.

Rose hummed a little, unraveling her strand of hair from her finger and sweeping her hair back. “At the end of the day your little gang is fighting a losing battle. However valiantly they are doing it; they will eventually all just... give in. It’s inevitable really. But they’ll make good trophies.”

“Enough.” Rusdramon piped up from where she had been silent. “How can you talk like that – what if it was your Digimon in that situation?”

“It’s not.” Rose retorted. “Remamon would never be so stupid.”

Rusdramon made a disgusted sound in her throat and pawed the ground impatiently. Another cry and this time it was Byakkomon and Frankie. James’s teeth grit together painfully. He hadn’t spoken to her, to any of them for weeks, but that didn’t mean he didn’t still care - and hearing them, any of them, in pain or fearing for their lives like this, James just wanted to block it all out.

“Make it stop.” James muttered to himself, bringing his hands up to his ears. “Make it stop. I don’t want to hear it anymore.”

“Tough.” Rose snapped, she grabbed the back of James’ collar and span him around so he had to see what was happening. “This is the path you chose, James. It’s time you faced it. You’re no better than anyone else.”

“I made a choice to better my families living conditions. I didn’t know it would involve this.”

“You took the easy way out!” Rusdramon yelled suddenly. James and Rose were suddenly staring at the deer Digimon in shock. Rose recovered first, releasing James’s shirt. “I have stood by you, and been on your side this entire time. But I cannot hold my tongue any longer!”


“Rusdra-“

“I have known you your entire life! You have always strived and worked hard. You have struggled and found it difficult, but you have never taken the simplest or easiest route! And the one time you do, it brings you nothing but misery! You have lost the friendship of people who asked nothing in return for your services, only loyalty, and you are forced to sell your soul to those who have none.”

“I had to do something.” James murmured softly.

Rusdramon shook her head. “You should have found an alternative. I am your Digimon, I am meant to stick by you through thick and thin… But even I cannot stand by and watch this destruction of our friends. Your choice is made; and now so is mine.” She turned on the spot, without another look back at James, and her hooves clattered against the paving on the street, she disappeared making a beeline for the battle.

“Hmm... this will be an interesting turn of events.” Rose murmured to herself. “Do you pursue your Digimon, give up everything… Or leave her to her fate? After all, she is expendable.”

Something inside James suddenly snapped. Whatever it was he had been carrying around had finally broken, and felt a rage building up inside him he hadn’t felt before. His teeth clenched as his eyes nearly closed with rage. His voice grew darker, a low growl as he stood to his full height to Rose.

“Is that how you see Digimon? …As expendable?!”

Rose rolled her eyes. “Of course. What else are they?”

“What if Hatimon dies? What will you do then?! You don’t care about anyone, or anything. Not even your own Digimon who loves you, even though you don’t have a clue what love even is! You’re not a human being, you’re just a shell. Pathetic, empty and devoid of any emotion unless it’s anger.” James paused, clenching his hands into fists and taking a long breath.

Rose sighed softly, sweeping her hands back through her hair again. “stop being so over dramatic. You’re missing everything.”

James spoke clearly with no hesitance, leveling Rose with a stare and with his jaw set. “Tell your mother this: she can keep her money, her contract, her house, everything. I don’t want it anymore. I don’t want to be like you.”

Keeping silent, her attention taken from the battle for the moment, Rose watched as James turned and walked away. She shook her head to herself as he disappeared through a group of cars, trying to find the easiest route. “Foolish. Very foolish.” She muttered to herself. Bella was not going to be pleased.

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

“Kinnarimon!” Tom was aghast, watching his Digimon crumble into a heap, stuck on the spot unable to move or avoid the swings from Satyressmon’s hammer as she span in place, her hammer lower down, hitting it against whatever got into her path.

Despite still being able to use her hands, like some of the other Digimon, Satyressmon’s attacks were so constant and insistent that generating the energy for the attacks took too long, by the time Kinnarimon or Mistresmon had the energy ready, Satyressmon rounded on them with another swipe of her hammer; or another rounded charge from the mirror orb on her belly.

“Does anyone have any bright ideas?” Hunter asked loudly. He wasn’t joking either. At this rate their Digimon would devolve back to their rookie stages, and they wouldn’t have a chance, they’d be crushed into dust before they could even get away. The only thing Hunter had managed to think of was waiting for Remamon to tire; but that wasn’t going to help in any way; she didn’t show any signs of tiring out.

“Who should I pick on next!” Satyressmon spoke to herself, looking boredly over the injured Digimon before her, too amused by her own power and the damaged she had already caused. “It’s just too difficult to pick favorites!”

Byakkomon growled quietly. “We have to do something.”

“Our weapons aren’t harming her.” Aureliumon explained; “and she’s too strong for any one of us to hold.”

“Can’t Terasumon burn through the ice? Melt it or something?” Reyez snapped at Hunter, who gave him a dirty look.

“He’s trying; but any melting he does, the ice comes back! It’s a losing strategy.”

“Then... then what... we’re out of options?” Eva said slowly.

“It does look bleak for you all, now doesn’t it?” Satyressmon bellowed, laughing loudly. “Who’d have thought you’d all fall so easily! But I think I have toyed with you enough. Mirr-“

“Amethyst Chains!”

“WHAT?!”

The mauve trails of light shot behind Satyressmon, hooking around Remamon’s body, dragging her back off the ground and loosening her grip. Remamon screeched as the chains tightened around her. Rusdramon bucked her head back, releasing Remamon into the side on a building.

“I can move!” Piper exclaimed.

“As can I.” Hyrokkimon added. The other Digimon were starting to move too, the ice melting quickly around their feet and turning into a massive pile of slush. Hyrokkimon charged, “Glacial Saber!” He landed on Satyressmon’s back, wasting no time in plunging both blades into her flesh. Satyressmon roared in outrage, reaching to remove the offending objects, Hyrokkimon dodged her hand and scraped his claws down her skin, eliciting another cry from the massive Digimon.

“Manora’s Dance!” Kinnarimon disappeared and reappeared in puffs of smoke, landing smooth kicks and punches to Satyressmon’s face; Mistresmon followed suit; raining down one kick after another.

“Grand Cross!”

“Sudden Gale!” Both attacks from Byakkomon and Rusdramon impacted together, knocking Satyressmon back, wobbling on her feet. Byakkomon eyed Rusdramon warily. “A change of heart?”

“My heart never changed. I decided to take my own path.” Rusdramon explained, though it was obvious she wasn’t in the mood to talk. “And hope James will follow me.” Byakkomon nodded once before they both re-entered the fray.

Aureliumon’s shield clanged against Satyressmon’s hammer, the noise reverberating around the area. He lunged, his sword clashing with one of the orbs on her armor and shattering it.

“Beauty Hammer!” Satyressmon returned the attack, smacking her hammer down onto the ground. Beneath it, the ground cracked, sending shockwaves through the street; causing the other Digimon to shake on their feet. Satyressmon gained the upper hand again, the orbs charged.

“Mirror Cannon!” The beam shot out directly down at the unbalanced Digimon, Mistresmon catapulted out of the way, while Hyrokkimon narrowly missed. The beam hit against Terasumon squarely, sending him flying back several feet in the air. Kinnarimon remained airborne, narrowly avoiding the charged beam as Satyressmon moved.

“Beautiful Bouquet!”

“Roma Victor!”

James climbed over a pair of cars that had collided and were now nothing more than a mangled mess of metal and glass. He narrowly missed Terasumon flying over his head, crashing into a tree before finally landing. Rusdramon had chains wrapped around Satyressmon’s legs, and Byakkomon was trying to unbalance her, while Hyrokkimon and the others kept her distracted with direct attacks and attacks from the air. Satyressmon rumbled with rage; her body trembling under the effort to keep fighting the continuous onslaught.

“Beauty Hammer!” Again the hammer came down, knocking Byakkomon one way into a pile of bricks and rubble. Rusdramon grunted as she was dragged along the ground, unable to hold Satyressmon in place herself.

“Beautiful Bouquet!!”

“Ocean Massacre!”

“Volcanic Pillar!”

“JAMES, MOVE!” Frankie was yelling from a safe distance. James had walked right into the middle of everything; Frankie and the others were a few feet away from it all. James saw why, as he turned. The attacks from Aureliumon, Mistresmon and Terasumon were enough to force Satyressmon stumbling back clumsily. James could see her bulk coming towards him but was stuck fast where his feet were. This was it – he decided to do a good thing but for all the bad he had done, this was his punishment.

Then there was a pain as someone shoved him – hard - and James was knocked a few feet away to the ground, smacking his head on the pavement in the process. He avoided Satyressmon’s bulk as she fell. James felt blood dripping from a cut he had sustained, but ignored it. Satyressmon was groaning, struggling to rise to her feet. She rocked once, twice, managing to support herself on her hammer.

The Digimon returned in full force, launching their attacks before Satyressmon was fully ready.

“Piercing Hail!”

“Nightsong!”

“Full Moon Divide!”


“Roma Victor!”

“Volcanic Pillar!”

“Discipline!”

The attacks impacted all at once; and Satyressmon groaned beneath it all; taking the attacks one by one. She bled from wounds sustained by the weapons of the opposing Digimon; but even as the dust cleared, she remained standing. She fought back, raising her hammer above her head and charging.

As Satyressmon charged towards the other Digimon, James took notice of what had shoved him out the way. Rusdramon laid where Satyressmon’s full weight had collapse, barely breathing. With no hesitation he ran to her side.

James cradled Rusdramon’s head in his lap. The others had followed the fight, but he could at least sense someone behind him, hesitating. Rusdramon breathed weakly, her belly rising and falling on uneven and broken breaths. One of her antlers had split down to her head, and the other had lost several of its prongs. She was bleeding from her nose and mouth.

“James--”

“Don’t talk.” James told her firmly. “You need to devolve, go back to Odocomon – you’ll be okay.” He told her, running his hand across her fur, trying to pretend he couldn’t feel it shaking. He inhaled through his nose. “Why did you have to do that? You should have just...”

“Because it’s you, silly.” Rusdramon explained. “I told you. I’m on your side.”

A gasp alerted James and he glanced around. Frankie was hanging back, staring at where Rusdramon’s back legs were laying limply. James followed her gaze, Rusdramon’s legs were starting to disappear. “No!” He buried his face into Rusdramon’s soft fur, holding her head tighter to him. “This is all my fault... I should have…I should’ve listened to you in the first place.”

Rusdramon’s head moved a tiny bit. “You wouldn’t have. You did what you thought was best for your family. I admire that.”

“You can’t leave.”

“I don’t think I have a choice.”

 “I love you, ok? You’re my best friend and…and-” James mumbled, rocking Rusdramon’s head, “I’m sorry. I’m…so sorry.”

“It’s all right,” Rusdramon’s head moved the littlest bit, nuzzling James’s cheek. “I forgive you.” She went silent, letting her head rest against James’s knees, her breathing slowing. James’s eyes clenched shut, his arms wrapped around Rusdramon’s neck. He felt Frankie’s hand on his shoulder as a comforting gesture as she sat on her knees beside him. A warmth was emitting from something in his pocket. He ignored it, he didn’t want to deal with whatever it was right now.

Frankie swallowed, there was nothing she could do, and right now she wanted to see how the battle was going, up close. Satyressmon was still standing, and despite their best efforts, their Digimon were still having trouble doing any damage to her. But at the same time, she wanted to stay, help James. She still cared for him, even after he had betrayed them - no one deserved to lose their Digimon; Eva had come close, and the panic Frankie had seen on her face when she had found Irbimon... it was enough. She shifted her weight, resting her head onto James‘s shoulder; the movement triggered something. James’s D-Touch fell out of his jacket pocket, exploding in a violent purple light.

The surroundings changed, like a ghost channel coming through a TV, replacing the destroyed cars and buildings. It was like a meadow was spreading over the area, covering the destruction with a lush, green carpet. It wasn’t just that though, iridescent crystals were rising up out of the ground, chiming as they did. Trees and forests were sprouting in the distance, blocking out everything, even the fighting.

“James...” Frankie shook James’s shoulder gently and he didn’t respond. “James.” More insistent this time while she stood to her feet. James moved his head, his eyes half open; glowing the same purple as that of his D-Touch. He looked around curiously at the changing scenery, picking up his D-Touch with one hand as he stood taking in the surroundings, the changes, the smells.

He heard hooves behind him, turned again. The parts of Rusdramon that had begun to disintegrate had reformed, and she was heaving herself to her feet.

“You-…” James swallowed thickly, “…how?”

Rusdramon tilted her head to one side. “It’s you. It’s always been you.” She explained, gently nudging his chest with her nose. “I’m always on your side, and I’ll always be by your side to get you to your destination... even if we take a detour to get there.”

James ran his fingers up Rusdramon’s snout and head, rubbing her ears. “Now, I think we should put Satyressmon down. What say you?”

“I’m all for it.” James nodded fervently.

“Frankie?”

Surprised at being addressed, Frankie took a moment to reply, she smiled cutely and winked giving a single thumbs up.

“Rusdramon, proxy evolve to...” the D-Touch flashed brighter, swallowing Rusdramon in a soothing mauve light. Her body lengthened a little with the metal circles that surrounded Rusdramon’s forelegs combining together, slipping down her legs all the way to her ankles, forming secure anklets on each of her four legs. Each anklet was decorated silver, with large purple gems all around. The color of Rusdramon’s coat lightened to a softer brown, the pink stripe down her back extended, and pink spots dappled across her flanks and withers, the underside of her belly became white. Her head and neck shifted form, mutating from her neck extended into a human back, arms, shoulders and head. Her wrists had silver bangles decorating them, similar to the anklets, with purple gems. Long white hair cascaded in waves from her head down her back, rippling past the quiver of arrows that formed. Long deer like ears sprouted from her head, appearing through her hair, and larger antlers, decorated with simple violet orbs grew in a shape similar to bird wings. “Oisinmon!”

She crashed through the temporary protective barrier her evolution had created, manifesting a bow made entirely of pinkish-purple light in one hand, and withdrawing an arrow from her quiver.

“Lunar Barrage!” Oisinmon released the arrow skyward. It split into five, and they in turn split into another five glowing purple arrows, before they descended straight down to where Satyressmon stood, flanked by Hyrokkimon and Byakkomon.

Satyressmon stumbled as the two dozen arrows fell; giving advantage to the other Digimon while she tried to shield herself.

“Tiger Clutch!” Byakkomon roared, he formed a second sword, and leapt straight up onto Satyressmon’s neck, Hyrokkimon followed and in unison they both sank their blades into the back of Satyressmon’s neck.

“Wedding Lust!” Mistresmon disappeared underneath the ground, her Venus fly trap flower appearing beneath Satyressmon, clamping around her legs, holding her firmly in place. Satyressmon bellowed indignantly, swinging her hammer down wildly.

“Beauty Hammer!”

Terasumon dodged and barked, “Blazing Mirage!” He covered himself in flames, and split into another two copies, each one throwing itself at Satyressmon, grabbing on with their teeth, tearing with flame claws.

“Manora’s Dance!” Kinnarimon moved easily and with grace, wailing down kicks and punches in puffs of black smoke, knocking the stationary Satyressmon in many directions.

A sphere of water careered into Satyressmon’s body, followed by a cry of: “Ocean Massacre!”

“New Moon Serenade!” Oisinmon rushed towards the battle. She fired an arrow at an opening, piercing through Satyressmon’s skin. The arrow dispersing in a wealth of purple energy. Another arrow, and the energy converged before it pierced into the water sphere created by Aureliumon. The arrow forced its way into the bubble, piercing through Satyressmon’s bared skin, scalding her, followed by the ocean pressure bubble combusting.

“Mirror Charger-” Satyressmon’s voice was almost drowned out by the sounds of the attacks being unleashed on her.

“Piercing Hail!” A shock of icicles hammered down against the other Digimon’s back.

Byakkomon joined in, sweeping his sword and releasing a harsh gust of wind, “Full Moon Divide!” The impact caused Satyressmon to tumble, shooting the mirror laser upwards into the sky, damaging only a Terasumon copy. Vines erupted from the concrete of the street and tied themselves around Satyressmon’s limbs, the Digimon had become too weak to struggle and break herself free.

“She’s down!” Hunter yelled.

“Give it everything!” Tom added.

Kinnarimon generated a ball of black energy between her hands. “Nightsong.” , the energy was shot forward, releasing a haunting note on the contact with Satyressmon’s body. She released another; joining the other attacks.

Terasumon howled, “Volcanic Pillar!” The tower of fire engulfing Satyressmon in a intense wave of heat.

“Twilight Wave!” Purple energy waves were released from Oisinmon’s hand, crashing against Satyressmon’s side as she wriggled and struggled to right herself. Hyrokkimon stood on her chest, his sabers aimed perfectly above her throat. With a feral growl, he lodged them both with a thrust down into her skin.

“Full Moon Divide!” Byakkomon yelled again, projecting another strong blade of wind against Satyressmon’s downed body.

Aureliumon made a motion with his own wrist-bound sword, encased in water, “Roma Victor!”

Oisinmon poised an arrow in her bow, breathed and aimed. The arrow lit up like a firework as she released it. In a quick flash of light, it pierced through Satyressmon’s head; coming through the other side, a DigiCore cracked and broken at the end of the arrow’s head.

Satyressmon’s body twitched, jerking. Her bulk became unstable as Mistresmon’s vines made their way back into the earth. In a stumble, Satyressmon’s body fell back, combusting into data before it made impact on the ground.

The battle was finally over, and everyone was recovering, checking one another for wounds. James hung back a few meters, feeling tense and awkward. He didn’t know if he was welcome anymore and didn’t want to risk rejection by finding out. He was relieved when Oisinmon walked towards him, carrying something that glowed in her hands.

“This is for you.” Oisinmon explained, placing the item in James’s hand. As soon as it touched his skin it ceased to glow, turning to a wooden item a few inches long, with right angles at each end. James looked puzzled. “It’ll come in useful – so keep it safe.”

“I’m glad you’re okay.” James said slowly. “I’m sorry I put you through... everything.”

Oisinmon might have smiled, James wasn’t sure, her cowl obscured her mouth. “We all make choices which make us who we are. And that is something you should never apologize for.”

James offered an awkward smile, peering beyond Oisinmon at the group. “Do you think they’ll forgive me?”

“Give it time.” Oisinmon affirmed, “that’s all they will need.”

It took little time for Satyressmon’s body to disintegrate into data, and to drift into the D-Touches belonging to everyone. The Digimon were bloodied and worn out from the fighting, and their partners weren’t faring much better, but they had won and it had been a hard victory to obtain. However, as they turned to each other to celebrate, sirens blared close by; and cars shone blinding lights on the group.

“Put your hands above your heads and get down on the ground!” A man, speaking over a megaphone, but he was obstructed by the bright lights of the car head lamps.

“Tell me this isn’t happening.” Hunter complained, leaning against Piper for support. “Is this really happening?”

“It’s happening.” Tom cursed.

Byakkomon grumbled something inaudible. Frankie hushed him and stepped forward. “We’re the good guys!” She yelled. “We just destroyed that Digimon there who was terrorizing everyone – I mean you saw the whole thing, you can’t be that stupid!”

“Frankie!” Eva hissed.

The voice again. “You are harboring dangerous monsters and we will open fire if you do not do as requested.”

“Fuck you.” Reyez snapped, sucking his teeth.

“Reyez.” Piper scolded, running her hands back through her hair, “this isn’t going to win us any points.”

Reyez ignored her, he took out his D-Touch, tapped a button and shone the light at Mistresmon, causing her is disappear inside, “take them if you can find them.” He pocketed his D-Touch, turned and began walking away.

“HALT!” Megaphone voice again. Reyez continued to move. “HALT.”

“I think I like Reyez’s idea.” Frankie said with a shrug. She copied him, pulling Byakkomon into the D-Touch, the others followed suit, until soon all the Digimon had disappeared leaving only humans. The lights dimmed and a couple of men walked forward.

“Where...?”

Frankie grinned, “They have a habit of doing that – don’t they? If you’ll excuse us, we were just innocent bystanders who got caught up in everything.” She sashayed passed the officer, leaving him and his partner staring around, astounded.

“They really are that stupid, wow.” Hunter mumbled audible enough for the group to hear as they all walked away.

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

After the fight, everyone went into recovery mode. The Digimon were all mentally and physically exhausted from their bout with Satyressmon, using up nearly all their energy to sustain their ultimate forms for the longest period of time any of them had before. Even their human partners were worn out by the fighting.

James sat at home every day, nervously waiting for a phone call or a letter or a knock at the door, expecting some kind of contact from Bella about what he had said to Rose. About how he had turned on her, and now he knew he wasn’t going back. He hadn’t said anything to his family about it; that they were soon likely to be homeless, and despite going over the contract he and Bella had both signed, James could find little to help him in this situation. He didn’t understand the legal side of things, and all the different information and terms confused him endlessly.

He understood he had to be grateful though. He still had his Digimon, and appreciated her more now than he ever had before. Odocomon rested for nearly two whole days after the battle. According to Odocomon, her near death as Rusdramon and her evolution to Oisinmon caused her to almost devolve to her baby stage of Doemon; she only managed to sustain her Odocomon form using leftover energy reserves. Plus she was rebuilding her strength. The time with Atlas Corp had changed Odocomon intently, she had grown weaker and tired though her unhappiness and her breaking bond with James: which was now on the mend.

James was worried about his other relationships though. He had hoped he would have the courage to contact them, one by one and explain how sorry he was, gain their forgiveness the best he could. But when it came to actually writing an email or getting the guts up to call any of them, he waned, gave up and was ready to resign himself to the fact that they would probably not want him around any longer.

So when he received a text from Frankie, telling him to go to Excellent Bean he was surprised. He had been reading through the legal contract with Bella again. Hoping, again, to try and understand it. It only succeeded in making him frustrated so he slipped it into his back pocket. He woke Odocomon and transported her in his D-Touch, only too aware of how astute the police were becoming, if the could-have-been confrontation the other night was anything to go by that is.

It occurred to him, as James reached the street Excellent Bean was on and drove past it looking for a parking spot, he hadn’t been there for a while, because it had reminded him too much of the friends he had betrayed. He parked and sat in his truck for a while, staring out of the window at the other cars parked in front of him.

What if he went in and this was their way of telling him, officially, that they didn’t want him around?

What if it was all a trick?

What if it was Bella, playing a trick?

He had questions, so many what if questions, wrestling around inside his mind that James almost turned the engine back on and drove away. If they were going to reject him he didn’t want to hear it. If he was going to be alone, he didn’t want to deal with it right now. Not now, not ever.

Eventually James grit his teeth, dragging up what remaining courage he had from somewhere deep inside his gut. He didn’t think he had courage anymore. “Stop being a coward.” He told himself, removing the keys from the ignition and opening the truck door. “Just take it like a man, for fuck’s sake. Anything they say, you brought it on yourself.”

Before pulling the door open he steeled himself, set his shoulders, set his jaw. He would take what was coming to him, and deal with it. He couldn’t keep running away from things.

“Ah, you came!” Frankie waved to him from the back of the store. He smiled awkwardly, he had the contract out, and was tearing little tears into it along the edge nervously as he paced and weaved through the other tables and chairs.

They were all sat around two tables, Eva and Tom occupied one plush sofa, while Hunter sat in an arm chair, Piper comfortably sitting on the arm of the same chair. Frankie and Reyez occupied separate seats. James could just feel their eyes boring into him, and he stared at the floor while he pulled up a seat to join them. He sat as close as he dared, which wasn’t even within reaching distance of the table.
Eva and Frankie exchanged looks.

“You’re never going to reach your coffee from there.” Frankie said cheerfully, pushing a large mug towards James. He glanced up, barely holding her eyes for a second. “Come on, pull yourself in.”

James swallowed. “Why are you guys... being kind to me? After everything?” He asked, looking up at them all puzzled.


Frankie took the lead. “We all screw up.” She said, “and what you did... we’d have all probably done in your position.”

“That’s no excuse though. For what I did – why aren’t you all more angry at me?” James asked. There had to be a catch, they were lulling him into a false sense of security. They were planning something. Someone was going to stick a knife in and they were all going to twist it, figuratively.

“Seriously, I don’t think any of us really thought you’d stay with Atlas Corp.” Tom said, leaning on the table wrapping his hands around his own mug.

“I did.” Reyez added from his seat. He had his arms folded and didn’t look pleased at the situation or at James being back. His quip was ignored by the others, though.

“Look, we all got over our ‘angry’ a while ago.” Frankie said, leaning her head on her hand, elbow on the table. “We were just waiting for you to come to your senses.” A small grin, and she nudged James. “Now come on, let’s get down to business.”

James smiled weakly, he didn’t feel like everyone was as accepting as Frankie was. Eva hadn’t said anything, and neither had Piper. Reyez it was obvious was going to be difficult. Putting the bundle of contract papers down on the table, James tucked himself in a little closer, within reaching distance of his mug at least. He needed to gain back everyone’s trust, that much was certain; and it wasn’t going to be easy.

Reyez cleared his throat. “Now that the warm and fuzzies are over, we’re here because I figure we need a battle plan of some description.”

Hunter took over. “All the Generals are defeated – yay us – but that only means we’ve actually got to focus on the real issue here. Rose, and Bella. I can guarantee you Bella is going to be fucking furious that her first line of defense has fallen…and Rose is going to be wanting blood for multiple reasons. One: me. Two: James has now turned on her. Three: she’s going to want to prove to Bella that she’s all Bella’s needed all along.”

“Meaning-“

“James stop fiddling with that.” Piper grabbed up the contract from in front of him where James had been tearing the edges again. “Sorry.” She grinned and apologized quickly, laying the papers in Hunter’s lap.

Reyez rolled his eyes. “As I was saying. Rose is Bella’s last resort. We can only assume she’s going to come out all kung-fu wolf bitch style.”

“But we’ve seen what Tsukuyomon can do.” Eva expressed. “I mean, if that’s all she has, she has no more surprises up her sleeve, and we’ve taken down Satyressmon; Tsukuyomon couldn’t be much harder.”

“We just about took down Satyressmon.” Hunter corrected, glancing up from where he had been reading through the contract Piper had dumped in his lap. “She was tough and we only managed it with seven Ultimate level Digimon.”

“So we’ll take down Tsukuyomon with seven Ultimate level Digimon.” Eva replied.

Tom leaned back. “I don’t think it’s going to be that easy. You and Rose have been able to evolve Skollmon and Hatimon to Ultimate for longer, right?”

Hunter nodded. “Yeah. Hey James, is this the contract you signed with Bella?” James nodded. “Why do you have it with you?”

“I was reading through it again – trying to figure out if I could like... find a clause or something.” James explained. “It reads like stereo instructions - I can’t make heads or tails of it.”

Hunter leaned forward placing the pages on the table. “Oh well I-“

“Can we get back to the point!” Frankie said loudly. Hunter and James stopped mid-conversation, both smiling awkwardly. “Tom, you were saying?”

“If Hatimon has been able to get to her Ultimate stage for longer, it probably means she can hold it for longer, and has more power to use. Most of our Digimon have only been able to get to that stage for a short period of time.” Tom explained, gesturing.

“Exactly, that’s why I think we should actually have some kind of battle plan. A strategy or something, just a general idea of what we can do to maybe try and turn things into our favor.” Reyez said sitting up straight.

“So what do you suggest?” Piper asked.

“We call Rose out.”

Several protests rose up from Eva, Piper and Tom.

“Not this idea again.” Eva complained. “It’ll get us all killed. If not by Rose then by the police or the military. They don’t care if a Digimon is good or bad, they just see a Digimon. They’ll attack at will.

Piper added, “I’d also like to mention those crystalline Digimon? What is up with those, anyone? What’s to say Rose won’t have some of those on her side too? And the ones we were fighting – they were just champion level.”

Tom took a long drink from his mug. “Piper has a point.” He muttered.

“Rose wouldn’t fight alongside those, it’s not her style. If she takes us down, she will take us down on her own.” Hunter explained. “Any means neces-” Hunter stopped suddenly, pausing on a phrase on the papers he was reading through and started to laugh, turn the whole table’s attention to him. Piper cocked an eyebrow. “Oh boy, let me guess, she didn’t read this when she signed it, did she?” Hunter was talking to James, lying the papers on the table flat.

“I... don’t think she did.”

“Haha. This is great. Eleanor is a genius.” Hunter grinned, pointing out a section to James with his finger. “See this: party A  - that’s Bella – agrees that even if Party B – that’s you - reneges on this agreement, all monies, properties and legal parts will continue for the remainder of Party B’s natural life.”

James looked confused. “In English?”

Hunter rubbed his hands over his face grinning still. “It means that even though you’ve gone back on this contract, everything Bella promised you is still yours. The house, money, all that stuff and it’s a legally signed document, unbreakable.”

“You’re kidding.” James snatched the papers up, reading over the tiny phrase again.

“No.” Hunter sighed. “Eleanor must have changed the wording without Bella realizing. I wonder how many contracts like this she’s signed.”

“So that means I keep everything?” James confirmed. “You’re sure?”

“Positive.” Hunter confirmed. “You can go over it with a lawyer, he’ll confirm it for you.”

Reyez slammed his hands down on the table, palms down. “It’s great and all, but can we actually focus on the big issue here? The fact we still have a psycho wanting to kill us, and we don’t know have any idea how to deal with her?”

James quieted, slipping the contract safely into his pocket again, and trying to suppress the feeling of intense relief that threatened to over take him. Hunter gestured to Reyez to continue, only to become more interested in the threads coming loose from Piper’s top which he began to tug at.

“Rey, I don’t understand why you’re so flustered about this. We’ve come out of battles with Rose before unscathed.” Frankie said gently., “What’s got you so riled?”

“One, I hate Rose and two, I really just want everyone to be ready.” Reyez said, slowly sitting down. “Rusdramon nearly died; doesn’t that scare any of you? That our Digimon just might not be as strong or as infallible as we think they are? I don’t want to lose Ailurmon. I’m pretty damn certain none of you would want to lose your Digimon either, but it’s a possibility in this situation.” The table was silent and somber, everyone taking in the seriousness of what Reyez was saying. “We know what Rose is like fighting: unpredictable, intense, and Tsukuyomon is no different. We may out number her seven to one; but there’s still a big chance that things could not go our way.”

Tom shifted. “I didn’t really consider that.” He muttered. “It is possible…and she has no regard for anyone else when she is fighting. But saying to be ready is all well and good; but with Rose we don’t know when she’s going to strike.”

“So we have to be as prepared as we can be – if we’re going to reject my idea again to call her out first.”

“It's reckless.” Hunter chimed in from the opposite end of the table.

Reyez continued. “Being prepared just means having the Digimon well rested and fed, as much energy as they can have so we at least stand a chance. If we can avoid unnecessary fights with rogue Digimon, then we avoid them. Let the police or military handle them as they seem so keen to take down a Digimon.”

It was silent, but everyone seemed to agree, even if it was begrudgingly, with what Reyez was saying. That despite everything, despite all the Digimon they had destroyed and won against, Rose would still have the upper hand, and with no knowing when she would attack all they could physically do was make sure that they had done everything possible to make themselves and their Digimon ready for when she did eventually attack.

It was a solemn thing to accept.


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