Episode 33: Shifting
Perspectives

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Tom’s keys clattered on the hallway table after he had unlocked the front door to his house. Eva followed after him, carrying her bag, while Tom carried with him a small suitcase. They were only staying for a few days, four or five at most, but Eva had insisted bringing nearly their entire wardrobe.

She closed the front door behind them, and immediately, flashes of pink and green lit up from their respective owners and manifested in the forms of Digimon.

Irbimon stretched and yawned loudly, while Poemon followed after Tom, who was heading directly for the stairs.

He had expected his parents to be home, after all, they had invited himself and Eva to stay. He had also given his parents the time of their train and when approximately they would be arriving. The answering machine flashed with a message in the hallway, so Eva pressed it, unloading herself of the bag she carried.

“Isabelle, it’s Miranda – let me know if we’re still on for lunch on Wednesday.”

Beep.

“Isabelle, Miranda again. Wednesday isn’t good for me anymore, is Thursday alright? Also, Holly wants to come along. I said I’d ask you. Let me know, toodles.”

Beep. Eva cast Tom a wary look.

“Hey, it’s just me. Our train’s kind of delayed, something about some weird crossing… or something. So we’ll be arriving a little later than planned. Not to worry though, we’ll be at home for dinner.”

That was Tom’s message, and he had left it about three hours ago.

“Guess mom went out to pick up some extra bits… probably.” Tom shrugged, placing the suitcase on the floor at the foot of the stairs. “I’m hungry,” he stated, heading through into the kitchen.

“They’ve redecorated…” Eva pointed out as she followed. It had been a while since she and Tom had been back to his parents’ house. They used to come more frequently, almost every month, but with increased Digimon attacks and Eva working more hours, they had found it hard to organize a trip down. Not to mention the fact that Eva had commented that every time they had visited before, the two of them had been roped into decorating the house or doing some kind of hard labor.

Tom noticed the decoration too, he had also noticed the main reception room and hallway had been repainted. The hallway was now stark white in comparison to the bright yellow it used to be, and the reception room had been totally gutted, the wall that had divided that from the dining room had been torn down, making it bigger and airier.

The kitchen had been remodeled as well; instead of there being counters all around the side there were now a central island-breakfast bar. The fridge stood to one side, with a cluster of counters for preparing food, and then there were things like the dishwasher neatly hidden under the main counter. The walls had been tiled in a somewhat rustic red color, with a white floor.

“It looks nice,” Eva commented, as Tom grabbed a soda from the fridge. “Different, but nice.”

“Guess they’re updating,” Tom murmured. He threw a can to Eva, and closed the fridge door. “Probably looking to sell this place, finally.”

Eva quirked an eyebrow. “This is the house you grew up in though, isn’t it?”

“Uh-huh.” Tom nodded, and leaned on the central island for a moment. “It’s weird to see it so changed. I just remember it how it used to be.” He grinned a little. “I bet the reason we’re here is to go through all my old stuff and clear it out.”

“Huh… probably,” Eva agreed. “Am I going to have to stay in the guest bedroom again?”

Tom grimaced. “Probably. Do you mind?”

Irbimon grinned. “Hey, finally I can sleep without having to listen to you snoring.” Tom regarded the snow leopard, shrugged, and looked back at Eva.

“We’ve been together for four years, and we live together. Surely they don’t think that we don’t… do anything,” Eva explained, planting a hand on her hip.

“I doubt it’s anything like that. Isabelle and John aren’t naïve,” Poemon explained softly. “It’s probably just a parent thing. Perhaps they don’t like the idea of… those things happening under their own roof.”

Eva shrugged, took a sip of her drink. “Probably.”

Tom sighed loudly, stood up straight and patted the island counter. “This is nice. I think we should have something like this when we get a place of our own,” he stated, walking past Eva.

“We have a place,” Eva replied, following him.

Tom glanced at her over his shoulder and turned to go into the living room, they could unpack a little later. “I mean when we have a place that’s big enough to turn around in. A place we own, that we’re not paying stupid amounts of rent on.”

“I like our apartment,” Eva said quietly, pouting. She sat down, relishing the softness of the couch underneath her. It almost swallowed her, it was so deep. The seats on the train had been hard and uncomfortable, and their journey had started early that morning, so she was still worn out. It hadn’t helped that for three quarters of the journey there had been a family with three small children. Two of which insisted on running up and down their carriage, and the third decided to be violently sick at one point when the train lurched, thereby filling the carriage with an acrid stench. “One of us needs to get a car,” Eva murmured to herself.

“Huh?” Irbimon asked, climbing up onto the sofa beside Eva, shoving Tom over with his body. Tom grumbled something under his breath and resettled in a different place.

“Oh, nothing.” Eva smiled, and then turned her gaze to Tom. “So what’s wrong with our apartment?”

“Nothing.” Tom shrugged. “It’s just small. We’ll need to move some time, get a bigger place for the two… well – four of us.”

“But I like the apartment. The fact its small means there’s not a lot that needs to be cleaned,” Eva explained, grinning. “And the rent isn’t that bad.”

“I’m not saying we should move right away, or to a massive, six story mansion. But a house would be nice. Two floors, bedrooms separate from everywhere else. A garden,” Tom explained. “Nice place to settle down and start planning for a future.”

“Future?” Eva queried, eyebrow tilted. Irbimon puffed on her lap, eyeing Tom with obvious suspicion. “We barely know if we’re going to make it through most days with all the Digimon trying to kill us… do you really think now is the most opportune time to start thinking and planning our future?”

“Why not?” Tom countered. “Unless you’re planning on running off with someone else, I think it’s a pretty smart thing to do.”

Eva cast Irbimon a long, thoughtful look. “It just sounds so… final to start planning our future. Like that’s it, as soon as we start planning there’s no room to maneuver. We’ll have set things in motion.”

“Still failing to see the problem here,” Tom said slowly, running his hand back through his hair. “Unless there’s something you’re not telling me? Like you don’t want a future with me…?”

“No, no, not like that!” Eva squeaked.

“I don’t want a future with you,” Irbimon said gruffly. Tom shot him a dirty look, while Eva flicked one of his ears with her fingers.

“I just mean, making plans for the future is makes everything seem so… set. Like that’s it. We’ll move into a house in a year, settle in there. Get married in four years. Two years after that I’ll have our first kid and then that’s it. Our lives will be over,” Eva explained, getting more and more worked up.

“What’s wrong with wanting to make plans? To think about having a home, a marriage, or a family?” Tom asked. “Eva, you’re going to have to help me understand here. We’re adults – we can’t live like teenagers forever.”

“I know, I know,” Eva whined. “I just…” She flopped her head back onto the top of the couch. “I don’t know if I’m marriage material.”

Before Tom had a chance to respond, the front door clicked open, and there were sounds of shoes on the floor as the door closed briskly.

Tom heard his mother’s voice. “Ah, they must be here.” He rose up off the sofa, he and Eva would have to continue this conversation later. That is, if it ever got brought up again.

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

“Wait… what?” Tom sat down slowly on the couch. Eva sat beside him, her mug of tea poised in midair, frozen, as she was in shock from what she had just heard. Opposite him, his parents, Isabelle and John, looked at him gravely. Isabelle had her hands clasped together, wringing her fingers back and forth between her hands, while John sat forward with his fingers templed together before him. His brow was furrowed; he was looking at his son from beneath his eyebrows. “What are you saying?”

“We want you to…” Isabelle paused, glancing slowly at Poemon, who stood at Tom’s side, her beak open a little and her eyes unblinking. Irbimon, who sat between Tom and Eva, almost replicated Poemon’s expression, though his was more puzzled, compared to her unabashed shock.

“The Digimon are dangerous,” John continued for his wife. “We’ve seen them on the news, how the city has been overrun with the things, and how they’ve been destroying everything and killing people. We don’t want you to have a Digimon anymore.”

Tom’s mouth opened and closed several times, though no sound came out, and eventually he just closed his mouth, exhaling deeply. He and Eva exchanged looks, she finally moved, placing her mug on the coffee table and settling her hands in her lap.

It should have been obvious that the invite to stay at Tom’s parents’ house for a weekend had some ulterior motive. It was often that way; last time they had stayed, they had been roped into redecorating. But this… this was not something either of them could have imagined. And Tom was more aghast by their request than his expression showed. It was a complete and utter shock, to have his parents suddenly turn around and tell him not to have a Digimon.

They – like any parents – had been wary of Digimon at first. When Tom had been a baby, they had made every effort to keep him apart from Kraamon, until it got to a point that Tom would wail endlessly whenever the two were parted. Consequently, Isabelle and John had allowed Tom to keep the strange gray ball of bouncing fluff, until she became as much a part of the family as Tom was. They had, since then, never shown much aversion to her, so this sudden declaration that they didn’t want Tom to have her any longer was much more than a shock and surprise. It was down right out of character.

“It’s nothing personal towards Poemon,” Isabelle tried to placate, though she caught a look from John and tensed a little. “We’re worried about you. That having a Digimon is bringing unwanted danger towards you.”

“But… Poemon isn’t dangerous,” Tom explained.

John huffed, muttering something beneath his breath. Eva frowned. “Would that mean you’d like me and Tom to break up then?” she asked boldly. “After all, I have a Digimon too, and I’m not going to stop having one, just because you say so.”


“That’s your prerogative, dear,” Isabelle explained gently. “What you do is your business, and if Tom chooses to stay with you, despite all the danger involved, then that is his choice too. But having a Digimon… having Poemon wasn’t a choice for him. She was just there from day one.”

“You never questioned why you had one. Maybe she was meant for someone else,” John grumbled.

“I wasn’t,” Poemon spoke up, finally finding her voice. “Just like Irbimon wasn’t meant for someone else. Tom was chosen for me. It’s like what you humans call being soul mates, but different.”

“So he had no say in it,” John stated, without looking at the small crow Digimon. “That hardly seems fair.”

“Dad,” Tom barked, “lay off her.”

“Tom…” Isabelle murmured, leaning forward. “We’re just worried. We’ve seen the attacks on the news. That people have been dying because of the Digimon. It scares us.”

“But Poemon isn’t to blame for that,” Tom argued. “Poemon, in whatever form, has been helping get rid of the Digimon who are responsible. Fake Digimon, created by Atlas Corp.”

“Atlas Corp?” John repeated.

“Yes,” Tom snapped. “Bella Divine. I can’t go into it, it’s… complicated. Digimon can be dangerous; I’m not denying that – Eva and I have fought enough of them to know. But Poemon isn’t one of them. She’s not dangerous. She couldn’t hurt a fly; she’s not that kind of Digimon. She’s just not strong enough to do that.”

“What?” Poemon queried.

Tom tilted his head, looking at her. He felt Eva put a hand on his arm, like a signal for him to stop talking, but he ignored it. “It’s true though, you’re not as strong as say… Irbimon. Or Ailurmon. But that’s okay.”

Poemon’s expression became puzzled. “I am strong,” she said slowly. “You’ve seen it. I am a strong Digimon.”

“You’re stronger,” Tom corrected, “but you’re still not dangerous. Not a threat. That’s the point I’m trying to make.” He turned his attention back to his parents. “She’s not dangerous. She’s not threatening to me, or to anyone. Poemon is the gentlest Digimon in existence. If she fights, it’s for a reason, and even then she doesn’t hurt anyone.”

“But what about all the other Digimon you face?” Isabelle asked. “Poemon may be an exception – but what about Irbimon. And the Digimon of your friends? What’s to say they won’t turn on you?”

John nodded fervently in agreement. “It’s like with any beast, tame as they may be, there is nothing to stop them turning on their masters.”

“Digimon aren’t ‘beasts’,” Eva corrected. “They have brains, and cognitive thought, like human beings. It’s a completely different thing.”

Irbimon listened as the conversation continued, everyone trying their hardest to keep their tempers in check and listen to the opinions of the others. He didn’t understand the problem Tom’s parents suddenly had with Digimon. After all, he and Poemon had been protecting Tom and Eva since their birth. There was no chance they would turn on their partners. It wasn’t in a Digimon’s nature.

Frowning deeply, Irbimon looked across the room to where Poemon had been standing. He glimpsed her walking, unnoticed, into the kitchen through the open door, left wide open by Isabelle so she could hear the timer on the oven when it finally bleeped. Irbimon slipped off the sofa onto the ground, and followed her into the kitchen, leaving the humans to talk and argue over things that Irbimon didn’t understand. Or at least, things Tom’s parents didn’t understand. Irbimon was grateful that Eva’s own parents didn’t question him the way Tom’s parents questioned Poemon.

He found the feathery Digimon staring up at an open window in the kitchen, left open by Isabelle to stop the kitchen steaming up.

“They’re being stupid; they don’t know what they’re talking about,” Irbimon explained, walking towards his friend, who looked downcast, like she would burst into tears at any moment. “And Tom’s wrong, you are strong.”

“Then why doesn’t he think so?” Poemon asked softly, not lifting her head, or looking at Irbimon. “He still thinks I’m a weakling. After everything. It makes me feel so bad. Like I’m not doing enough to show him how strong I’ve become.”

“You shouldn’t need to show him. He should just know,” Irbimon said. “He shouldn’t be so stupid as to question your strength.”

“Maybe I need to try harder,” Poemon muttered to herself. “Maybe I need to do something he wouldn’t expect. Something more like Odocomon, or Ailurmon.” She turned her head a little to look at Irbimon. “Or you.”

“Poe-” Irbimon was cut off suddenly as his companion disappeared in a puff of black smoke. His eyes widened and he leapt up onto the counter, until he was practically hanging out of the kitchen window. Poemon would only puff outside, or into another area of the house. Her ability didn’t allow her to puff long distances, no matter how much she might want to. “Poemon!” Irbimon yelped, almost losing grip on the windowsill as he spotted her, a few meters away, swooping off into the air. “POEMON!”

His yells attracted the attention of Tom and Eva, who rushed into the room.

“What’s going on?” Eva asked urgently, taking in the scene of Irbimon hanging out the window, and Poemon nowhere to be seen.

“Poemon just left,” Irbimon explained.

“What?! Why?!” Tom yelled.

“Because you’re an idiot who made her feel bad about herself!” Irbimon told him harshly. “I’m going after her.” He leapt from the window down to the ground and was bounding across it on all fours, like an over-sized cat.

Seconds later, Tom and Eva had run from the back door in pursuit.

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

Irbimon bounded across the rooftops, leaping from one to the other, using his feline agility to his advantage. Poemon was ahead of him, flying at speed, but he was quick enough to keep her in view at all times. Luckily, the streets were mostly deserted of people in this rural neighborhood, and if anyone did glimpse either of them, Irbimon looked like nothing more than an oversized cat, and Poemon a large crow.

“Poemon!” Irbimon yelled after her, grappling for the guttering on one house. “Poemon, wait!” Either she didn’t hear him, or she was ignoring him – Irbimon was willing to venture that it was the latter – she continued flying, taking a sudden turn and drifting down lower to the ground. Irbimon turned sharply, and jumped down from a house roof on the ground, following her.

They seemed to be getting further and further away from civilization, and further towards a more secluded area. Irbimon kept his eyes firmly on his Digimon companion and only noticed the changes because of the smells and the different textures that he felt beneath his paws as he ran. Soon, tarmac and pavement was replaced by grass and dried out dirt. The smell of the town, of car fumes, was replaced by that of fresh air - cleaner smells.

Poemon seemed to tire eventually, when the pair of them neared an empty park. She flapped her wings a few times, swooping down towards the ground. Irbimon put in a burst of speed, following her to where she had landed. She sat on the ground, breathing heavily after having flown so far. At first, Irbimon wasn’t sure whether to approach her, or whether to stay at a distance. He also realized he didn’t have a clue where she had led them, and only hoped the D-Touches would be able to track them.

He kicked a small stone on the ground with his foot. “So…”

“Do you think I’m weak?” Poemon asked. She stared at the ground, at the grass that moved a little in the small breeze.


Irbimon took a small step towards her. “No.”

“So why does Tom?” Poemon asked. Her head turned, she looked at Irbimon squarely, her eyes slightly glazed. “I’ve evolved like you have, like everyone has. I know I didn’t evolve as soon, or into something as impressive as Hyrokkimon or SkullSkadimon, but… but… I thought I did really well…”

“You wouldn’t have wanted to evolve into SkullSkadimon, believe me,” Irbimon muttered. He walked over to her and flopped on the ground, sticking his legs out in front of him. “Maybe Tom just doesn’t see you the way everyone else does.”

“Why not?”

“Because he’s stupid?” Irbimon offered. Poemon cast him an unimpressed look before her gaze returned to her feathers. Irbimon sighed and leaned back. “Maybe because… to him you’ll always need protecting.”

“I don’t though…” Poemon murmured softly. “True, when I was small… Kraamon or Corvimon, he would protect me, hide me in backpacks and keep me safe. But I’m bigger now. He shouldn’t be protecting me; it should be the other way around.”

“And you do,” Irbimon commented, “but think about it, it’s taken you a long time to get to where you are now. When you were Corvimon and I was Uncimon… remember how terrified of me you were at first? You would puff away if I went near you, or Eva went near you.”

“I know.”

“Personally, I think Tom’s smothering you; good as his intentions were, they’ve made you the way you were. He was probably so scared that you’d get discovered or something, that he projected that fear on to you.” Irbimon shrugged again. “I dunno.”

“But I’m trying. I’m really, really trying.”

“All of us can see that. Come on, even Ailurmon picks on you less.” Irbimon grinned a little.

Poemon fidgeted uncomfortably. “I wish I was more like her. I wish I could stand up for myself from the start, then Tom wouldn’t have to keep thinking I need protecting. I wish I wasn’t afraid to speak my mind and show everyone how strong I’ve gotten, how strong I…” her words trailed off, eyes looking past Irbimon and into the distance.

“What is it, Poe…?” He turned his head slowly and realized what it was without her answering. The line of trees behind them had begun to shift, their colors no longer green but sliding into shades of purple and turquoise. It was like looking at the world through a filter - pixels and static seemed to float around the edges of the change. They couldn’t sense any Digimon, at least not yet, but the phenomenon was enough to put both of them on edge.

“This is… bizarre,” Poemon muttered. She considered flying towards it for a moment, but thought better of it and slightly recoiled. “That is what we both think it is, isn’t it?”

Irbimon’s fur was beginning to stand on end. “The Digital World. This can’t be good. I’ve only ever seen it appear like this when one of us evolved into our Ultimate level…”

Poemon was looking increasingly agitated. “But that was only the first time it happened for each of us, and we’ve all evolved…”

“It’s not us,” Irbimon stated. He didn’t know exactly how, but he was sure he was correct. This shift didn’t feel as natural, as correct as it did when he and his comrades evolved. As the two Digimon stared at what was happening, wondering if they should retreat or investigate, the rift seemed to spread. The grass in front of them was becoming more fluorescent. A signpost beside a nearby beaten path seemed to melt away as the pixel-like edge reached it.

“This isn’t good.” The crow Digimon suddenly looked very serious. “It looks like it’s devouring this world as it’s spreading. Like some kind of disease, like a…”

“…Parasite,” Irbimon finished for her. The two Digimon looked at each other. Irbimon’s ears suddenly perked up and his eyes widened. “Eva and Tom! They’re probably looking for us by now!”

Poemon was instantly airborne. “I hope this isn’t spreading over there, too.”

With a rush, both Rookies dashed back the way they came, hoping they remembered the way.

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

Their footsteps thudded down the concrete sidewalk, both Tom and Eva were winded from giving chase, but neither was willing to slow down. They had long since lost sight of their partners, and were now following the colored blips on their D-Touches. Being human, they could only pursue so quickly.

“I should have just taken my parents’ car,” Tom muttered. “We could have caught up to them right away if I had.”

Eva gave him a sidelong glance. “I doubt they would have stuck to the roads. If they ran into the forest, it would have been useless. Can’t drive a car into a forest, can you?”

“At least we would have had a head start, though.”

Eva made a hum of agreement. The stitch that had been slowly gathering in her side finally reached an unbearable level and she stumbled to a stop. “Sorry,” she panted, “I need a minute.”

Tom looked unhappy but stopped beside her anyway. “We’ve got to keep going or we might never catch up to them.”

“What, you think they won’t wait for us, or won’t come back?”

“That’s not it. What if someone sees them? What if they get attacked?”

“Irbimon looks like a cat and Poemon looks like a bird, and they’re both clever enough to hide before anyone gets a long enough look at them.” Eva frowned a little. “If they get attacked, well… our D-Touches will tell us.” She glanced down at the pink device in her hand, the blinking green and pink dots taunting at the edge of the screen. Inevitably she remembered the day Irbimon first evolved into Hyrokkimon, and the piercing wail her D-Touch released as her partner’s icon flashed dangerously, threatening to turn off.

Nonesuch wailing was to be heard now, just the gentle beeping of the radar.

“I don’t get it, why would she fly off like that?” Tom rubbed his temples in frustration. “There was no Digimon attack to urgently run to, no one’s in danger.”

Eva tore her eyes from the D-Touch screen and looked at the blond in disbelief. “Really? You’re surprised?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“Well…” She fidgeted slightly. “I know you were trying to placate your parents, but were you listening to yourself at all while you spoke?”

Tom crossed his arms over his chest. “I know what I was saying, Eva.”

“Did you? Because Poemon, and even Irbimon, seemed really offended by it. Heck, I was surprised to hear that kind of opinion from you…”

“Stop beating around the bush.”

Eva took a deep breath. “I’m surprised that after everything we’ve all been through, you still see Poemon as a quivering ball of feathers. She tries so hard to get you to see that she’s grown.” Despite the darkening expression on her boyfriend’s face and the deflating confidence in her chest, she kept going. “What I mean is, while you were trying to explain to your parents that our Digimon aren’t dangerous, you were also making it very clear that you felt Poemon is the weakest of them all.”

Tom was, to put it plainly, more than a little surprised. He hadn’t expected this kind of opposition from Eva of all people. Maybe if she hadn’t sounded so accusing, the words wouldn’t have affected him as strongly. Did everyone else really not see how his partner was afraid of nearly everything, that she still stuttered over words and behaved like a little girl?

“I want to look out for her, is that a crime?” Tom asked bitingly.

Eva put her hands out and waved them defensively. “No, not at all! But you make it out to sound like she can’t do anything. When it’s pretty obvious she can.”

Tom growled something under his breath softly. “Well, I’m sorry if I want to prevent her from getting deleted. Or getting hurt. Or becoming a destructive monster, hell bent on mass destruction.” That was a low blow, referring to Irbimon’s evolution to SkullSkadimon, and Tom knew it. He also knew it would affect Eva, and at that moment in time, he didn’t care as much as he should have.

He was angry with her. Angry for pointing out, and somehow making it sound like caring for his Digimon was a bad thing. And also angry because of their conversation when they had first arrived.

“That’s not fair,” Eva rebuffed, irritably.

“Tough,” Tom snapped. He breathed through his nose, and ran his hand back through his hair and over his beard. “Enough, I’ll keep going on my own. You go home, it’d be stupid for them to go back to the house and one of us not be there.” Tom turned on his heel and quickly started walking in the opposite direction.

Eva stood in place for a moment, just watching Tom’s back as he stalked off, eyes glued to his D-Touch. She slumped down onto the curb, releasing a heavy sigh. She felt bad for having been so straight with him, but it was needed, and both of them stressing about their Digimon didn’t help the situation. Irbimon’s strong reaction to Tom’s words surprised her as well. He’d rarely ever been that outspoken about anything relating to the other Digimon, seemingly more concerned with himself and what happened to him, only. She figured he and Poemon just got along because they were both Digimon and she and Tom were always together, so they had no choice.

Her thoughts were interrupted by a strange tingle at the back of her neck, immediately causing her to turn around. She stood with a sharp intake of breath; the houses behind her had been replaced with the thick trunks of bluish-purple trees, a row of mountains behind them. A line of pixilated reality was sweeping towards her, shifting concrete into clovers. Before Eva had a chance to properly react and back away, the edge of the rift swept under her feet. Physically, she felt no change, but the sudden shift in reality made her nervous and extremely worried.

These were the trees and fields of the Digital World.

Thanking her lucky stars that her D-Touch still showed the colored dots of the Digimon – and now Tom – Eva took off at a quick jog in the direction they pointed to. Hopefully, this didn’t spell immediate danger.

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

The sudden twist of reality didn’t go unnoticed by Tom. He was distracted from his thoughts when he walked into a large purple bush, full of thorns and giant waxy leaves, which seemed to appear out of nowhere.

“What the hell…?” He took a moment to take in his surroundings. Though he had initially been walking into the small forest by his parents’ house, that forest was supposed to be nothing but saplings and beaten paths. Now it was an overgrown wilderness, with thick trunks and heavily grassed ground. He rubbed his arms where the bush had scratched him, trying to figure out what the hell was going on, when the realization that this was the Digital World hit him.

“Oh no… Eva!” The two Digimon could at least somewhat hold their own in a fight, but a human was completely helpless in the Digital World. And considering how quickly it had crept up on him, he didn’t doubt that it had reached her as well. However, the details under her blip on the D-Touch showed her as much farther away than he remembered going. Nonetheless, he turned tail and ran straight back the way he came.

It didn’t take long for the forest to start thinning out. The surroundings began to reveal ruined statues that lay under thick vines, then crumbling walls and other vague signs of civilizations long since destroyed. Tom had no time to stop and investigate, his mind focused in one direction.

The moment he cleared the last of the trees he was knocked off his feet by a sudden gust of wind. No, not wind. As he shook his head to clear his vision, the shape of a giant flying Digimon came into focus. His D-Touch had only just started bleeping a warning, as if the attacker had seemingly come out of nowhere.

It towered over him, its massive golden wings were the first thing Tom noticed. Its face was canine, with navy blue fur. An off-white sirwal covered its legs, while its upper body was decorated with red and gold jewelry. The D-Touch offered information, which Tom barely had a moment to read: Anubismon. Mega level. Guardian to the gates of the Dark Area. Attacks: Pyramid Power, Amemit.

“I really don’t have the time for this!” Tom complained, sounding more confident than he felt. A Mega level. The only Mega level they had faced thus far was Selenemon, and that had not been an easy fight for the seven of them combined. He was a single human, alone in the Digital World, what chance did he have?

Anubismon smirked in response, raising his huge claws and muttering, “Amemit.” Shadows suddenly burst from his palm, in the shape of a demonic beast, and headed straight towards Tom.

He dove at the last second, feeling the blast shoot overhead. A stump in its path was deleted instantly as the attack passed through. Tom didn’t even notice his D-Touch wailing and shining as he scrambled to his feet. Anubismon flexed his claws in preparation for another attack, but a glowing sphere of green energy shot into the space between it and Tom, slowing and dispersing to reveal the airborne form of Valramon.

“Try that again and I’ll send you right back to the Dark Area!” the giant crow cawed threateningly.

“V-Valramon…!” Tom blinked in disbelief. He sat up, grateful for her arrival but suddenly immensely worried. “Don’t do it! He’s a Mega level Digimon!”

Though she visibly faltered at that statement, she chose to ignore her partner’s warnings and flew into the air to prepare an attack.

“Damnit, Valramon…”

Irbimon came hurtling through the bushes as the giant crow headed towards their powerful opponent. “EVA I’M HERE, DON’T WORRY!” He rolled to a stop, claws flexed, ready for the surge of power that the D-Touch released for evolution. When it didn’t come he turned around, startled to only see Tom, sitting on his ass on the ground and very much on his own. “What? Where’s Eva?”


Tom hesitated with his response. “Err, we had a… disagreement. And split up. Well, I split up. I was on my way back to find her when the Digital World invaded…”

Irbimon puffed up in anger. “You WHAT?” He slapped a paw to his forehead in exasperation. “What is this, the day for Tom to ruin everything, all the time!?”

Meanwhile, Valramon was flapping around Anubismon, her own bat-bird wings severely dwarfed by the god-dog’s golden ones. She was attempting to blast him with her shadowy ravens, but they were easily dispersed by a careless wave from Anubismon’s claw. Finally, he became bored with her attempts and smacked the crow Digimon, sending her sliding across the ground until she came to a rest near the arguing boys.

Both of them immediately leaped to their feet and ran over to Valramon. She was breathing heavily, her eyes shut tight. None of them expected a single blow to be so powerful, to knock a Champion into this state so quickly.

“Irbimon, you’ve got to evolve to help her!”

The snow leopard scoffed. “I can’t evolve without Eva here. And since you lost her, I’m basically useless!” he snapped, somewhat delighting in the fact that he now had a good reason to be pissed off at Tom. “What, you don’t think your partner is strong enough to take him on, on her own?”

That struck a nerve. “No,” Tom snapped, “I just can’t imagine the chances a Champion level Digimon would have against a Mega!” His fingers were buried in Valramon’s feathers, and his partner shuddered slightly.

“If Irbimon… can’t evolve… then it’s all up to me.” The large crow rolled over onto her stomach, trying to stand on shaky knees. “I can… protect you.”

Tom took a deep breath, his eyes beginning to take on the same green glow as the first time his partner reached the Ultimate level. “Be careful.”

Valramon cawed out a quick laugh, taking to the skies again as glowing rings enveloped her. “Valramon, proxy evolve to… Kinnarimon!”

Anubismon, who had been amusing himself watching the group squabble, was instantly alert again. He raised his claws, preparing to summon his Amemit attack.

“Manora’s Dance!” Before the canine Digimon could attack, he was assaulted from all sides by Kinnarimon’s teleporting kicks and palm strikes. Though nowhere near as effective as they would have been against a fellow Ultimate, they certainly had a greater effect than when she was Valramon.

Anubismon’s body was jerked around from the force, as each one landed before he had a chance to collect himself. He was quickly worked up into a rage, and clawed at the air while Kinnarimon danced around him.

“See?” Irbimon crossed his arms over his chest. “She’s doing very well.”

“But she’s not able to hurt him,” Tom muttered, watching the fight with his D-Touch clenched in his hand. “She’s just flying around distracting him.”

“Maybe a distraction was the idea all along?” A female voice sounded from behind some ruins. “Maybe it was her plan to buy some time?”

“Eva!” Tom made to rush forward and hug the girl, but Irbimon shoved him aside and leaped into his partner’s arms. The blond shot the snow leopard Digimon a quick glare. “I’m so glad you’re alright. When I saw the Digital World shift in, I turned right around to try and find you, but you were a lot further away than I remembered leaving you…”

Eva smiled, scratching her partner behind his ears. “Well, I’m glad you figured I’d need the help more so than Poemon. But it looks like you’ve gone and gotten yourself into trouble.”

“Well,” Tom grinned, “trouble went and found me.”

Irbimon leaped down from Eva’s arms. “Enough with the subtle flirting, I’ve got a dog to bite.” His fur was on end and his ears were twitching in anticipation. Eva nodded, a pink glow shooting from her D-Touch and enveloping Irbimon. “Irbimon, warp evolve to… Hyrokkimon!” The giant feline berserker leaped at Anubismon without a moment’s hesitation, icy swords already forming in his tensed claws.

Anubismon noticed the newcomer right away, tearing his attention away from Kinnarimon. He flapped his wings once, creating a gust so powerful it knocked Kinnarimon away the next time she reappeared.

“Glacial Saber!” Hyrokkimon was upon him, his two ice swords glinting in the sunlight as he slashed wildly. Though only about a third the size of Anubismon, he used this to his advantage, climbing onto difficult-to-reach spots. His affinity for climbing mountains and his long balancing tail making it an easy task.

“Nightsong!” His comrade’s blasts of dark energy slammed into Anubismon’s weak spots while he was distracted.

“What are we gonna do?” Tom muttered, his eyes locked onto the battle and his hand tightly clasping Eva’s. “There’s no way we’ll be able to contact the others. We’re in the Digital World now; at least I think we are. Who knows where they could be?”

“We’re going to fight it, obviously. You think Anubismon is just going to let us run away?” Eva shook her head. “Irbimon has never failed to pull through when it looked like we had no chance. Neither has Poemon.” She shot him a very meaningful look.

Tom frowned. “Weird for you to sound so un-worried about a fight like this.”

“I’m trying to prove a point.” She sounded much surer of herself than she let on. Her stomach was clenched tight with worry. Both Ultimates were barely making scratches, as if this was an Atlas Corp crystal creation. But it was a regular Digimon. A higher level regular Digimon, but still nothing that had been scientifically enhanced.

“Amemit!!” Anubismon spread out his arms, the dark creature snaking out of each palm and over his arms. It spiraled around, giving chase to the two smaller Digimon that were causing him much annoyance. They made to dodge but the shade gave chase, soon slamming into the chests of Hyrokkimon and Kinnarimon, sending them plummeting into the ground.

Tom and Eva covered their eyes from the sudden blast of dust and debris, the sand taking a long time to settle. Their partners were down, but not out yet, as both of them struggled to their feet, panting.

Kinnarimon clenched her fists, flapping her wings to make sure both still worked. “This is ridiculous; he isn’t even making an effort!”

Hyrokkimon shook the dust from his fur. “Do you propose we retreat?” he questioned.

The other Digimon looked at him with her bright green eyes narrowed. “Hardly.” She kicked up dust clouds as she shot into the air, her hands surrounded in dark energy. “Every Digimon has a weak spot. We just have to hit him in his.” She flew straight towards Anubismon, trying to out-fly his slowly rising arms.

“Kinnarimon…!” Hyrokkimon leaped after her, running on all fours to maximize his speed.

“What is she doing!?” Tom called out, startled. “She’s going to get smacked down right away with an approach like that!”

“Nightsong!!”

“Amemit!” Kinnarimon’s dark energy blasts were instantly dwarfed by the one from Anubismon’s palm, which was now in the air and pointed directly at her. Her musical spheres dispersed in a twisted symphony, and she was completely engulfed in the oncoming attack. Her telepathic scream caused both Tom and Eva to futilely cover their ears, shaking as her pain was expressed.

Hyrokkimon was so driven that he was numb to the cry. He tightened his leg muscles with every effort he could muster and sprung into the air, clutching Kinnarimon in his arms and using his momentum to shoot them both out of the way of the attack, him taking some damage in the process.

He barely had time to register her critical condition before he began to descend, and Anubismon took advantage of the opportunity – both of his opponents in one spot, unable to dodge or attack.

“Pyramid Power!” The canine Digimon’s eyes began to glow gold, and glowing lines slid into place around the falling pair, creating a pyramid-like cage around them. Anubismon grinned menacingly, and clutched both his claws into fists. The pyramid became solid, and condensed, shrinking rapidly with the two Ultimates trapped inside.

“HYROKKIMON!!” Eva cried out, tearing her throat. This was it. This was the end. This giant Mega-level Digimon just showed up and completely crushed their partners – literally.

Tom cursed under his breath, wanting to do something, wanting to run at the Digimon himself but knowing it would be futile.

The pyramid finally fizzled out, at a size much smaller than the Digimon it had held inside. To the tamer’s immense relief, it wasn’t particles of data that floated out. Instead, Irbimon and Poemon were plummeting towards the ground. Critically injured, but not deleted.

Eva broke contact with Tom and immediately dashed towards her partner, forgetting the presence of Anubismon. “Oh my god, IRBIMON!!”

“Poemon…” Tom muttered, catching up right away. He scooped the little crow Digimon into his arms. She didn’t reply. Both their D-Touches were bleeping critically. “We’ve got to get them out of here.”


“Don’t have to tell me twice!” Eva had Irbimon in her arms, his paws and head slung over her shoulder. The two ran faster than they ever ran, Anubismon not far behind.

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

“Maybe if we keep running,” Tom panted, “the real world will come back the same way it left.”

They were pounding their way back through the forest in a desperate attempt to out-run Anubismon. The trees at least provided some cover, as he couldn’t fly directly after them, and the layers of foliage absorbed his attacks. But they were both still tired from their previous pursuit, and could only run for so long.

“Somehow, I doubt we’re going to be that lucky.” Eva was clinging to Irbimon tighter than what was likely recommended. The critical condition signal was wailing from both D-Touches, providing surround sound of one of the most unpleasant noises either had ever heard.

Neither Irbimon nor Poemon were moving, but at least both had ever-so-slightly opened their eyes. Their expressions were glazed and unfocused, but they were alive.

“What a stupid way to die…” Tom growled.

“Stop it!” Eva snapped back. “We’re not going to die! We’re going to make it out of this, we’re--” Both of them skidded to a stop; the forest ended abruptly in what could only be described as the most inconvenient cliff face ever. They had a scant few yards of clearing before them, but on either side the forest was even thicker.

“Are you fucking kidding me!?” Tom rarely swore, but this was a damn fine time to do so.

“Put me down,” a quiet voice murmured in his ear.

“What!?” The blond held Poemon away from himself so he could look her in the eye.

“I said, put me down.”

“You must be joking.”

You must be joking if you think we’re going to give up here.” Irbimon had wriggled out of Eva’s grip and was steadying himself on the ground.

Poemon fluttered away from Tom as he lightly loosened his grip. “What do you think we are, quitters? Weak?

Tom shifted uncomfortably, dodging the question. “You both got almost destroyed by that thing.”

“All the more reason to get back at him!” the little snow leopard retorted.

“All the more reason to keep running!

“Running where!?

“Irbimon…” Eva mumbled, interrupting the boys’ argument, “I don’t ever want to hear the D-Touch wailing like that again. I don’t want to lose you…”

All of them stood in silence for a moment as the realization of what might happen sunk in. But it was cut short as Anubismon appeared over the tree line, his eyes glowing gold and a devious grin on his face.

“Pyramid Power!!”

“Oh no you don’t!” Poemon shot forward, Irbimon immediately behind her.

IRBIMON!!” Eva gave chase, Tom a few yards behind.

The golden lines of Anubismon’s attack were already forming, this time pointing far into the ground instead of creating a cage above. Darkness was filling the geometric shape. The Rookies were already far ahead, Eva had just run out, but Tom’s feet didn’t quite reach the other side of the golden line before the ground vanished beneath him. With a yelp he was in free-fall, until Eva’s hand grabbed his wrist with surprising strength.

“I am not losing you as well!” she said through clenched teeth, her stomach pressed against the dirt.

Tom grinned, swinging his free arm up to get a better hold. “I love you.”

Eva smirked back. “I love you too. Just lose some weight or something; I think my shoulder’s going to pop out.” With a grunt, she rose to her knees and pulled as hard as she could until Tom got his footing and was able to climb out of the void on his own.

Poemon and Irbimon were doing surprisingly well with dodging Anubismon’s shadow blasts. Their attacks, however, were completely useless.

“Biting Ice!”

“Black Magic!”

Ice and shadow bounced off of the giant god-dog’s fur, but the Rookies didn’t let up.

“Poemon!” Tom called out to his partner. “Give it up, there’s no way you’re going to hurt him and neither of you have the strength to evolve again!”

“Don’t you understand, Thomas?” Poemon called back, barely dodging a blast of shadow. She never called him by his full name. It was something Eva did when she was being very serious with him. “We’re Digimon. Your Digimon. This is what we are born to do.”

“We’ll fight to the death if it’s in the name of protecting our partners!” Irbimon added.

Clutching his D-Touch, Tom cursed under his breath. “Damnit…”

“Irbimon, please…” Eva pleaded.

“Biting Ice!!”

“Black Magic!!!”

“Amemit!”

A giant blast of shadows, larger than the others, devoured the two tiny attacks. It gave no chance of escape and engulfed the two Rookies, their forms disappearing within the swirling blast.

Eva screamed. Tom had lost access to his vocal chords. Both D-Touches were screeching more wildly than ever before. Empty health bars; empty power bars. Icons flashing so dimly that they could barely be seen.

“Stop screeching at us and help them evolve or something!!” Tom was pounding his fist at the screen of his D-Touch.

“IRBIMON! OH MY GOD, IRBIMOOONNN!!!” On her knees, Eva was wailing, with her own Digivice pressed to her forehead, against the ground. Both Rookies had fallen into a heap of static and floating bits of data. The tamers had no way of reaching them, as Anubismon had begun to advance on them, and was already floating past the two Digimon. “Th-this is it… This is the end…” Eva stared through her tears as her D-Touch screen darkened, an error message typing itself out.

Power level depleted.

Emergency mode initiated.

Accessing reserve data…

Failed.

“NO!!” Tom slammed his fist into the screen once more, not thinking of the consequences if it broke. “DAMNIT, NO!”

Rebooting system.

When he again lifted his fist from the device, the darkening screen was now flashing a boot symbol. Anubismon was lifting his arms, taking aim at the two tamers.

“Come on, Poe…” Irbimon struggled to raise his head. His tail itched, and his entire back was slowly beginning to dissolve into data. “We’ve got to… stop him…”

“I’m way ahead of you…” Her head was barely an inch higher than her comrade’s. Poemon’s wings were almost completely deleted.

Tom and Eva were so focused on the state of their partners, so paralyzed with fear and concern, that somehow they barely noticed their D-Touches bursting into light. Not until they were brighter than they had ever been. Anubismon faltered, lifting his arms to cover his eyes instead of to attack. Irbimon and Poemon were shining violently, the data that had been shed returning to their bodies as if they had become vortexes.

“Irbimon, reboot evolve to…” Unlike his previous evolutions, his body didn’t morph. The light engulfed him so strongly that he was impossible to see. Shadows of Skadimon and Hyrokkimon flashed before him, as his strength grew to surpass those evolutions. His glowing blue eyes pierced through the light as a massive sword of ice slashed through it, dispersing it in all directions. His face was now humanoid, though he wore a leopard-like mask over the upper half of his face. A pauldron of glacier ice covered his shoulder, leading into a flowing blue cape. His tail and furry feet remained, but the rest of him was the body of a man, wrapped in furs and leather armor. Glowing blue cracks spread over his chest, and a blast of snow finished off his evolution. “Ymirmon!!”

“Poemon, reboot evolve to…” She was swallowed up in bright green light. Like Irbimon, Valramon and Kinnarimon misted over her form, lending her their power. Her own green eyes opened once more, curly black locks framing her face. She opened her wings with a blast, shedding the light to reveal the figure of a beautiful woman, her dark skin patterned with black swirls. Black boots and gloves were topped with silver holy rings, and silver bird talons guarded her knees and chest. She twirled her silver spear before slashing it to the side. “Morrigamon!”

The skies instantly darkened and the ground became blanketed in snow. The area changed as it had when both first reached Ultimate, but their combined evolution created a mix. A chilly winter’s night - the trees became coniferous, and the boulders warped into graves and wrought-iron gates.

Without a moment’s hesitation, Morrigamon headed the attack. She inhaled deeply, driving her spear into the ground, where it vanished in a puff of dark smoke. “Banshee KeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE…” Her voice escalated into a keening wail, unheard by her comrade and the humans, but which instantly made Anubismon cringe. He covered his pointed ears and whipped around, reeling in pain and all attention away from Tom and Eva.

“Glacier Strike!” Ymirmon plunged his sword downwards, sending a trailing crack towards Anubismon. Barely giving him time to react, massive icicles shot out of the glowing fissure, slamming into him and jerking his body around unnaturally.

Tom gaped at the scene. This was the last thing he had expected to happen. He had been hoping for an evolution, but it was Kinnarimon that had been on his mind. Though he hated to admit it now, he certainly hadn’t expected Poemon to be one of the first to reach Mega. It was like seeing her in a new light.

Eva was shakily getting to her feet, seemingly just as shocked as he was. “Irbimon…”

Anubismon recovered, openly snarling at the newly evolved Digimon. “Pyramid POWER!”

Golden lines began to surround the pair, threatening to trap them. Ymirmon smirked, raising his sword in both hands. “Not likely. Blistering Cold!” A bright frosty aura covered the blade and he struck, shattering the glowing lines in one blow. He dashed forward, sword clashing with the golden bangles of Anubismon’s defending arms. Though the canine Digimon was surprisingly good at blocking, the aura was beginning to creep over him, covering his fur with a thick layer of ice.

Morrigamon had flown above the scuffle, taking the opportunity to charge up large black fireballs in her palms. “Time for some payback… Will-o-Wisp!” The fireballs grew as they were flung forward, exploding on contact. Anubismon took visible damage; his wings were now rendered useless. Holes burning with dark fire were scattered all over them, and the group was showered with golden feathers.

Anubismon howled in pain. “Foolish gods! You should never have returned!” He choked as Ymirmon slammed his blade against the golden jewelry guarding his neck. “Your fates were sealed the moment you interfered with the Master’s plan…” He wriggled himself free, leaping back a few paces to keep both opponents in his sight.

Ymirmon pointed his ice sword directly at the canine. “And you’ll tell us this plan of his, or those words will be your last.”

“HA!” Anubismon barked. “You’d kill me whether I told you or not! AMEMIT!” He lifted both palms and shot a blast of shadows at both Digimon.

Morrigamon effortlessly teleported away from the attack, retaining her signature trick. “Fool.”

“Remorseless Winter!” Ymirmon swung the blade over his head, sending a blast of ice and snow directly at Anubismon’s shadow creature. The two attacks collided and burst, but the one-off shadow blast was quickly overcome by Ymirmon’s constantly streaming blizzard. It advanced on Anubismon and engulfed him, tearing his skin with ice shards and freezing him in place. The frost warrior slumped, visibly taxed from unleashing the massive blizzard. “Final blow is yours, milady.”

The raven-haired woman stepped forward, her spear reappearing in her palms. “My pleasure… Witch Spear!” She pulled her arm back, launching the winged weapon forward. It sailed in a smooth arc, dark magic guiding it directly towards the center of Anubismon’s chest. The tip shot clean through, reappearing on the other side of his torso with a cracked DigiCore impaled on it. Anubismon didn’t scream, instead he grinned maliciously at the pair before his Core shattered and his body exploded into particles of data.

Ymirmon and Morrigamon watched the data, following it as it was absorbed into their partners’ D-Touches. The two met each other’s eyes and smiled a little before fully turning and walking towards the humans.

Eva choked back a sob, staring at her newly-evolved partner through eyes streaming with tears. Tripping slightly, she ran towards Ymirmon and flung herself at him, arms wrapping around his neck. “Why do all your new evolutions have to be such emotional roller-coasters!?”

Ymirmon chuckled, planting his sword in the ground and leaning down a bit to match Eva’s height. “It’s a motivation thing; you have to really want it.”

“Funny…”

Tom walked slowly towards Morrigamon, relief sweeping over him, well aware of what a fool he had been. He stood in front of her, looking her right in the eyes. “Morrigamon, I…”

She held out a gloved hand to silence him, and for a moment he expected a very harsh speech. But instead, she smiled and placed her hand on her hip. “Don’t I get a hug?”

He grinned sheepishly and leaned over to hug his partner. “Sorry, I’m not used to giving hugs to women two feet taller than me.”

“Oh?” Morrigamon mused. “But what about Eva?”

“Hey! I’m not that short!” Tom whined, pulling back slightly. He sighed and cast his eyes towards the ground, taking a deep breath before he spoke again. “Morrigamon, I’m sorry. I’ve spent so many years protecting you from our world that it’s been really hard to switch over to you protecting me from yours. I guess it’s kind of like parenting; you’re still that little gray ball of fluff to me, and I’ve been blind to how much you’ve grown. Heh, after all, it turns out you’re way older than me anyway. In any case, I’ve been an idiot, and I’m really sorry…”

He looked up at his Digimon and felt a twinge of guilt, for her bright green eyes were streaming tears down her cheeks. Before she spoke, both her and Ymirmon lit up in their corresponding colors, and rapidly shrunk to their In-Training forms – nestled in their partners’ arms.

As they changed, so did their surroundings. The snow thawed and the trees and rocks returned to normal. But it wasn’t the Digital World that reappeared; their own world was in place once more, and they found themselves by a playground. The night had set in here, too, and so the park was deserted.

Corvimon rubbed her face in Tom’s shirt to dry her tears before looking up at him. “You can be an idiot sometimes, but you’re still my partner. Just remember that I’m always trying my hardest for you. Every time I get stronger, it’s for you, to better keep you safe. And I’ve never been as weak as you thought; it just took me a while to open up.” She smiled.

Eva walked over, relieved that the tension between Tom and his Digimon had finally wore off. She pressed her forehead against Tom’s, while Uncimon alternated purring against her and Corvimon.

“We better get home. I don’t think your parents expected us out past sundown.”

Tom scoffed. “We’re not children anymore…”

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