Episode 46:
City of the Dead

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They decided to make a move from where they had all awoken and start walking through the city, slowly and carefully. There was no telling the damage that had been done while they’d been away, or what dangers were lurking behind the fallen buildings or the crushed cars.

Ryudamon took the lead with Rubimon, and the Digimon all stuck close to their partners, keeping their senses open, smelling the air, listening for any sounds.

It was eerie to walk through the city and for it to be so still. There were no sounds aside from the breathing of one another and the occasional thrum of a helicopter overhead. They saw the same helicopter regularly, and from that Reyez assumed it was doing surveillance. With that in mind, every time they heard it, the group would hide anywhere they could to keep off the radar.

The destruction the city had gone under was worse than any of them could have imagined. Roads were in a state of upheaval, full of potholes and other marks that looked like giant footprints. Some buildings were flattened and those that still remained had sustained serious damage to the roof and walls. Windows had been shattered or blown out, so the pavement was covered in glass, stone, and brick. Some buildings were missing half a wall or a whole corner, exposing the interior.

Several times Reyez pointed out a series of holes in the wall of one building or that had penetrated a car – undeniable signs of automatic gun fire.

And wherever they went as they moved through the city, the odd glassy formations followed. Torrents and pillars rose out of the ground, and parts of the street and roads were covered in the clear material, making it look like ice and treacherous to cross.

Cars and lamp posts had been covered with it. Even some buildings were coated, making them impenetrable. Each of the Digimon tried to break through, using their powers or brute strength. They made small dents but whatever the shield was made of, it was too strong to make much of a dent or scratch in.

Their walking drew them closer to the center of the city. The mall had been in the process of being rebuilt from the fight with Satyressmon – which now seemed like eons ago, and even then everything had been much simpler. All the work that had been accomplished on the rebuilding had been destroyed and then some. Where some of the mall had remained, now barely a third of it stayed standing, and that small part of it was covered in the clear casing.

Small boutiques and restaurants were destroyed; tables were overturned and crushed underfoot of something huge and heavy. They saw mannequins lining the streets and roads: one intact, a few with missing limbs, and sometimes they just saw a disembodied hand or head. Clothes and fabrics were ripped and shredded, caught on the destruction, and the frail wind that traveled through the empty city made them wave weakly like flags.

This area had been busy when this attack hit, when the crystal-like casing traveled through and over the city. It was disturbing to see the pillars sticking out of the ground, with people stuck inside them. Their faces formed into expressions of shock, fear and surprise.

“They’re like the ones you described,” Piper pointed out, looking at one, “when you went to the Gardens of the Dead and saw Digimon the same way.”

Caesarmon frowned a little and tried to nudge Piper along. He didn’t want to lose the group – not that they would have allowed any of them to become separated. He didn’t like seeing the expressions of the people trapped inside; it reminded him of the Digimon he and the others had seen caught in their clear graves. And reminded him that he didn’t know whether the people were alive or dead inside them.

“Come on.” He nudged her leg again, and Piper started moving. The others said nothing more about the statues or the people inside them; in fact, they tried hard not to look at any of them. Many of them had their eyes open and whatever it was that had caused this had been eye level, so it almost appeared as if the trapped peoples’ eyes followed the group as they moved.

It was a disconcerting feeling, almost as if those who could “see” them were judging them – silent voices screaming, begging for mercy and demanding to know why they hadn’t been there to stop it from happening or to defend them.

Ryudamon’s pace quickened without him noticing, and the others who walked behind him quickened as well. They couldn’t get away from the glassy formations and the people trapped within entirely, as every corner they turned there were more, but they could certainly try to get away from them faster without having to linger and see the faces for longer than necessary.

Without realizing, Ryudamon led the group through the desolate and demolished streets towards a place that they each considered a safe haven. They all felt a sense of relief to see Excellent Bean still standing, and that the building had not sustained as much damage as other places around it. Two of the main front windows were shattered and the glass littered the ground. The tables that sat out front with the Excellent Bean umbrellas and stands had been thrown across the street and crushed. The door hung off its hinges, and the inside of the building was a picture of pandemonium with tables overturned, coffee mugs smashed on the floor, and stains of coffee and other drinks dried in places.

They all climbed in through the broken windows, the door looked like one small push would cause it to collapse on top of them.

It was dark and dingy inside, but they had cover, and it gave them a place to hide from the circling helicopter for the time being. The light from outside was enough for them to see clearly the inside of the coffee house, and to see each other. They each stood or sat close together, silently letting the images they had just seen wash over them.

“I need to check on my family,” James announced after a long, uneasy silence where the Digimon and humans had not spoken. “If it’s like this here, I want to find out what it’s like in my neighborhood.”

“We should all go home,” Eleanor said. “Check on our families, make sure they’re all right and safe. Then meet up early tomorrow morning.”

“Do you think it’s a good idea to wait that long?” Tom asked, folding his arms. “There’s no telling what could happen in the space of twenty-four hours. We need to figure out what did this, how to change it and fight.”

“We need to rest,” Poemon told him softly. “You were all asleep, but don’t forget we,” she indicated to the other Digimon, “all just went through something traumatic and need to rest and recover before we launch ourselves into an all-out battle.”

Corneliamon added, “I imagine, though you might not feel it, the impact from the lightning at The Rift probably caused you all some minor damage and you all need to recuperate too.”

“I don’t think Mukademon and his followers are going to be going anywhere,” Rose added. She sighed, folding her arms and crossing to the windows to peer out over the devastation. “They’re here to stay, and now he’s probably just waiting for us to come out and fight him.”

“We’ll do better if we’re fed, rested, and at full strength,” Siberimon agreed. “Running into battle now would be unwise.”

Tom frowned. “I just don’t think I’ll be able to sleep knowing the city is like this… and it happened while we were away.”

“You weren’t to know,” Ryudamon told him sympathetically. “No one was to know what would happen.”

“Besides, the military is still occupying the city and can keep some order for another night,” Eric added. “Excellent Bean is still in good condition, so perhaps we should all arrange to meet back here tomorrow morning?”

Quietly everyone agreed to his suggestion, even though some agreed more begrudgingly than others.

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Their apartment building had seen some damage, just like the other buildings that surrounded it, but most of the damage was exclusive to the apartments on the upper floors. At least two floors of the building had been leveled, and there was excessive damage around the bottom floor and the entrance to the building itself. It had been cordoned off by orange tape and iron fencing, stating the building was unstable. The iron fencing however had been knocked down and crushed, and the orange tape blew limply in the wind from where it had been fastened to entrance doors to the building.

Tom and Eva disregarded the warnings and entered from the foyer door. Irbimon and Poemon ran ahead of them to scout for danger. Irbimon was convinced that Mukademon’s followers would come to their houses if they knew where any of them lived, and was not about to let Eva go anywhere ahead of him. Poemon had the same idea, but was not quite so vociferous about it.

The elevator was out of order – not that it was a big surprise, the elevator was almost always out of order – so they climbed several flights of stairs slowly, peering around every corner and stepping lightly on every step, checking for creaking sounds and weaknesses in the building.

Neither Tom, Eva, nor their Digimon were surprised to find the building abandoned. Several doors to apartments had been left wide open. There were large gaps on cabinets and dressers where people had taken their most valuable possessions, and left everything else in their haste to leave. Irbimon and Poemon investigated each apartment to check for danger while Tom and Eva waited patiently for their all clear.

They felt a little bad about stealing from these empty apartments, but they considered it a means of survival. People had left food, drinks, and other necessaries in their homes without thinking of them. There was no reason they could have them for themselves as they were going to need them. And the fact they all knew the food they would have stored in their refrigerator would be bad to eat by now.

It took every ounce of effort for them all not to just run for the front door of their apartment when they saw it. A welcome sight and one that none of them had realized they had missed so badly. Despite the relief of seeing just the front door and it still intact, they walked towards it calmly and with caution, Irbimon leading the way.

The small snow leopard allowed Tom to unlock and open the door, but then he and Poemon entered first in a flurry of fur and feathers in hopes of surprising any Digimon waiting to ambush them inside. They checked the living area and bedroom area thoroughly, and the bathroom. Irbimon drew the curtains to the windows to keep them hidden from view of any Digimon or military personnel watching, and signaled to Eva and Tom that they could come in.

Eva let the door close behind her and locked it, before she put their dishonestly procured goods down on the counter. She flopped down on to the sofa and let out a long breath. She stared at Tom for a moment as he sat down beside her. She curled into his chest without a word, Tom kissed the top of her head and they sat for a few minutes in silence, letting the feelings of anxiety and worry that had plagued them both since spotting their apartment building dissipate.

They were home, and their apartment was unharmed. The impact of whatever had destroyed the upper floors of the building had knocked a lamp from the table; a couple of glasses that had been left out when they had left to visit Tom’s parents’ house were also broken on the floor from where they had fallen. Aside from that, their home was as it had been when they had left it, and they were both grateful for it.

Tom was the first to move. He shifted out from beneath Eva, who was almost asleep. She wriggled when he stood up, and stared at him blearily as he began to clear up the broken glass to avoid injury to any of them. Irbimon curled up beside Eva, while Poemon took up a perch on the back of the sofa. None of them spoke, just listened to the nothingness outside, and the light clinking on the broken glass pieces Tom handled.

“There’s a message on the answering machine,” Tom pointed out as he threw the broken glass into the trash. Eva sat up.

“It’s probably your parents. We did disappear when we were visiting them,” she explained with a small, weak smile.


Tom nodded, and pressed play for the messages.

“You have five new messages,” the automated voice announced. “First new message…”

“Tom? Did you and Eva decide to go back home without telling your father and me?” It was Isabelle, and she sounded worried. “You could have told us. Sorry about the incident with Poemon, we didn’t mean for things to… Just call me. Let me know you’re both safe.”

A beep, and then the second message.

“Tom, it’s me again.” Isabelle. “I just saw the news! What’s going on in that city? Is that why you went home? Please call me as soon as you get this. I’m worried. Please, I just want to make sure you’re safe.”  Tom rubbed the back of his neck uneasily, guilt gnawing at his insides. Eva wrapped her arms around his middle, hugging him as the third message began.

“Eva? Are you there?” Eva started, hearing her mother’s voice. “Please, call me when you get a chance. It’s all over the news! Monsters attacking your city and the military are ordering an evacuation. Don’t try to be a hero with Irbimon. Just get out and call me!”

A beep.

“Did you get my message, Eva?” Her mother again, sounding more frantic. “Please tell me you did. Please call me. I’m so worried about you and Tom.”

The fifth and final message was another from Isabelle, she had the same things to say as her first two messages and sounded more distraught that before. In her message she explained that the military wasn’t letting anyone into the town, and that she and Tom’s dad were staying in a hotel just outside the city.

“You should call them both,” Poemon said softly from her perch.

Eva smiled. “You call your mom first,” she told Tom, planting a light kiss on his cheek. “She called first and she’s always prone to panicking. I’ll have a shower, if we have any hot water left.”

Tom agreed silently and picked up the receiver as Eva padded towards the bathroom. She closed the door just as Tom finished dialing his mother’s cell phone number and it began to ring.

It took four rings for Isabelle to pick up.

“Tom?! Is that you, Tom?! Why didn’t you call me sooner? Are you okay? What happened? What’s happening in town? Why are you still there?” She asked more questions in quick succession, until she realized she hadn’t heard Tom reply and started to repeat his name.

“Mom… mom!” Tom snapped a little. “I’m fine. I’m sorry Eva and I disappeared. It was out of our control.”

“What happened?”

Tom explained in the simplest terms he could what had happened. That Irbimon and Poemon had evolved and destroyed Anubismon. That he and the others had been sucked into the Digital World and stuck there. That they had only just come back and the devastation around them had been something they were totally unaware of. He also explained that the only way to get things back to normal was to fight the source of it all, and only he and those with Digimon could do that.

He doubted very much his mother understood everything he was saying, or even took it on board. She kept asking why he couldn’t just leave, and let the military handle everything. She repeated she didn’t understand why the job of fighting something so strong was his, and why he couldn’t just hand Poemon off to someone else.

Eventually Tom became frustrated with his mother’s questions and lack of understanding and hung up on her. He was certain it hurt him more to do that, than it would her hurt mother, but there was no making her or his father understand what had happened to the city – that the job of saving the day was on his shoulders, and the shoulders of seven other people. That he couldn’t just hand the job off to someone else, or give Poemon to someone else.

He felt exhausted after speaking to Isabelle and fell back onto the sofa, leaning his head as far back as the cushions would allow. He was grateful Isabelle didn’t try to call back. Poemon settled on Tom’s lap, a ball of feathers, soft and calming to stroke. He pushed his hat off his head as he heard the door to the bathroom open. His eyes were closed; Eva kissed his forehead and rubbed her fingers in small circles on Tom’s temples. She was wrapped in a towel, Tom saw when he opened his eyes, with her hair all matted and wet from where it had been washed.

“The water is tepid at best. But it’s bearable,” Eva explained. “I take it you talked to your mom?”

Tom grunted a reply. He tilted his head back further and Eva kissed him on the mouth. As a couple they weren’t always entirely affectionate, he supposed it was because they had been together for so long. But after what they had both witnessed, all Tom wanted was to stay close to Eva and keep her safe. If he had his own way they wouldn’t leave the apartment tomorrow morning to face… whatever they would have to face. They would stay here, where it was safe, and never leave.

“You should call your mom too,” Tom sighed as Eva’s lips left his own. “She’s probably worried sick.”

Eva made a small sound of agreement and stood up straight. She climbed the steps to the bedroom area and changed quickly as Tom started his own shower. After she was in a new set of clothes and her hair was a little dryer, she grabbed the phone and dialed her mother’s number.

She picked up almost immediately.

“Hi mom…” Eva smiled into the phone, hearing her mother’s voice.


She was worried, as Eva had anticipated, but was more opening to hearing what Eva said than Tom’s mother had been. She explained where they had been, and what was happening in town, and also who was behind it. Her mother was silent for most of the conversation, letting Eva talk and explain, and only speaking to ask more questions to get clarity on the situation. When Eva was finished, her mother was silent for several long moments, and Eva sat on the sofa.

Tom had finished his shower by then and sat on the arm of the couch listening to Eva’s side of the conversation.

“I’d prefer it was someone else facing this, and not you and Irbimon,” her mother spoke slowly, as if she was thinking of each word as she said them, “but I understand this is a duty to the two of you. A responsibility.”

“Yeah,” Eva murmured. “To me, Tom and the others.”

“Just…” Her mother sighed. “Promise me you’ll be careful. Listen to your gut. If it’s telling you to run, then you run. Don’t try to be a hero if things look bleak.”

“We have to win, mom,” Eva said. “If we don’t… what’s happened here will happen everywhere.”

“I suppose. I just don’t want to…” Eva’s mother stopped. “Just promise me you’ll be careful. I’ll be happy with that.

Eva nodded to herself, choking on something in her throat as she tried to speak. “I… I promise.”

A few more words went between Eva and mother until she hung up and put the phone down on the coffee table in front of the sofa. She leaned back on the cushion and stared straight ahead for a second. Irbimon climbed into her lap and purred softly, nuzzling her face.

“You okay?” Tom asked tentatively.

“Yeah.” Eva nodded. She wiped her sleeve across her eyes and sniffled. “I’m fine. She said she loves me, and just to be careful.”

“I’ll keep you safe,” Irbimon told her, with a small smile. Eva returned it and rubbed his ears.

A few minutes later, Tom was dressed and Poemon came floating down from the bedroom area where she had been resting, with Eva’s D-Touch in her claws. Eva had discarded it as she dressed and had forgotten to pick it back up. It chimed with Eva’s overly cheerful ring tone as Poemon carried it. She dropped the pink device onto a cushion on the sofa. Tom looked at Eva curiously from the kitchen where he had been putting away their food, while Eva picked it up.

“It’s Frankie,” she informed him, before accepting the call and holding the phone up to her ears. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Frankie replied. “Well, the city’s an ice-capade but you already knew that. Did you speak to your family?”

“Yeah,” Eva replied. “They’re fine. Mine and Tom’s. Just worried.”

“Understandable.”

“What about yours?”

“Mom’s fine. She’s just really worried too. Wanted me to leave the city, but we talked and I think she gets that I can’t just do that. James just left to go home and check on his family too. He tried calling them but no one’s picking up so he’s freaking out,” Frankie explained.

Eva shifted on the sofa. “Is your apartment in a bad way?”

“Surprisingly, no. The damage hasn’t reached this neighborhood yet,” Frankie told her. “But that’s not the reason I called. Turn on the news.”

“I don’t think our cable’s working,” Eva murmured, she indicated to Tom to turn on the TV, and he grabbed the remote, pressing the power button several times. It took a few tries and some time for a picture to appear, but a relatively clear signal came through, showing the last channel they had been watching, a movie channel. Tom clicked the remote, scrolling through until he landed on the news. “It’s working.”

“Good. They’ve been showing regular updated reports all day. Give them a watch; it’s actually pretty helpful to figure out what’s been going on.”

“Thanks Frankie.”

“No problem. Get some sleep, remember?” Frankie told her. “No staying up stupidly late thinking tomorrow is going to be our last day.” She sounded cheerful, but Eva knew better. Frankie was trying to make a joke of her own anxiety.

“See you tomorrow.” Eva hung up on the other girl and laid her D-Touch on the coffee table. Tom sat on the couch beside her, while Irbimon and Poemon stared at the screen from their places on the floor and the back of the sofa.

They listened to the reporter on the camera. He stood quite a distance from a compound of glass formation. It made a hill of clear and crystal-like substance, covering an entire area, an aerial shot confirmed. There were military tanks and planes everywhere, as well as foot soldiers, armored cars and large trucks.

“As you can see behind me, the city center has been barricaded by this glass-like shield. There is no way in or out, and despite the best military efforts, it seems none of their shells or attacks make a dent. We have seen that any damage done just regenerates in a manner of minutes and seems harder to break than before. This formation began over a week ago when the fighting between the military and these invading monsters began. So far, it seems both sides are equally matched and there does not appear to be a likely end in sight.”

The reporter went to talk about the battles that had been occurring and what had happened to the city. Each sentence was punctuated with video and photographs from the last few days showing the devastation and what had been happening while they had been away.

Despite the pictures and videos all being relatively the same, neither Tom, Eva nor their Digimon could look away from the screen.

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James had parked his jeep at the entrance to his street. As he turned into it, he had seen the road had been turned to rubble and there were frozen people and cars littering the roads where they had tried to escape the coming encasement.

He saw the disaster here more than he had seen it driving slowly through the city with Odocomon. He had come from Frankie’s house when he hadn’t been able to get through to his family on the phone. He hoped they had escaped, but his concern gnawed at him and he needed to know whether they got out or not. Here the houses that lined the street were completely encased by the see-through crystal. It looked like a wasteland, and James’ footsteps echoed off the houses, as did Odocomon’s hooves.

Despite his worry, James made himself check the faces of every trapped person they walked past, wanting to see if any of them were his brothers, or mother, father or grandmother. Every time he saw the face of a neighbor or some stranger who had been in the wrong place at the wrong time, he felt a tiny bit of relief, tinged with guilt.

These were all people he had failed. He had not been there to protect them when he should have been, and now there was nothing he could do to break them out of their glass coffins. All he could do was silently ask these people, these strangers, to forgive him, and that he would do all he could to save them now he was there. He was sorry he was late.

“Oh no…” Odocomon’s quiet exclaim grabbed James’ attention and he followed her line of sight. His house was the same as the others. It was encased in the glass, covered from the ground up. There was only one car in the driveway, and it was covered too. The walls, the windows, everything. There was no way in or out from what James could see. “You don’t think they’re in there… do you?” Odocomon asked him, her ears quirked uneasily.

“The car is in the driveway,” he told her. He had steeled himself for the possibility of his family being trapped. He wanted to go and start kicking and punching the glass around the house, like his weak hits would make a dent, but he forced himself not to. He had to stay calm. So far there was no sign they were in the house…

They approached slowly together, weaving in between the frozen cars and people. Odocomon stayed a few feet ahead of James, prepared for danger that might leap out at them, though so far they had not seen any other Digimon – only the military helicopter – since they had arrived in the city. The news report James had watched at Frankie’s showed the main bulk of military forced was concentrated at the center of the city. Odocomon assumed that would be where the Digimon force was concentrated too, but didn’t want to take any chances.

“JAYJAY!!” Odocomon’s ears pricked up.

They were standing in what was the front garden and a curtain in the living room twitched. James’ face practically turned white when he saw Marie’s face peering out of the window at him, distorted by the glass. She was waving frantically, though she didn’t look frightened or in a panic. He was willing to guess she didn’t understand what was happening.

Marie’s small form was quickly joined by Tabitha, Noah and Elliott.

“Grams!” James yelped. He started to run but slipped on the glass. He fell and bit down hard on his tongue. Blood pooled in his mouth and he spat it out on the ground irritably. His D-Touch rang noisily in his pocket, the sound echoing off the house. James grabbed it and answered without a second thought.

“That looked painful,” Noah spoke through the receiver. He sounded amused.

“Yeah, yeah,” James grumbled. His tongue was already swelling. “Are you okay? What happened?!”

“We’re fine,” Noah assured him. “It happened about four days ago. This weird crystal stuff has been taking over the whole city. Our neighborhood was ordered to evacuate, the military had been ordering it section by section to not cause panic or congestion, but they ordered it here too late.”

“Where are mom and dad?” James asked.

Noah explained, “It was one of dad’s sessions, so mom drove them. We heard from her, she and dad got evacuated from the hospital and are in a hotel outside the city where it’s safe. No one is allowed out of or into the city until the threat is dealt with.”

James cursed to himself. The military weren’t handling the threat, they didn’t even know what they were doing, and there was no telling how long it would take for everything to be back to normal and for people to be allowed back into the city. But at least his parents and siblings were safe. He was glad of that.

“You should go help the military. It’s Digimon, isn’t it?” Noah said to James, his voice serious.

“Yeah,” James affirmed. “A really nasty one called Mukademon.”

“So go.”

James growled to himself. “I don’t want to leave you all in there.”

“Unless Odocomon can break us out, I don’t think there’s a choice here, bro,” Noah told him plainly. Noah was always one for realism. He never sugarcoated anything, and there was a bluntness to his words that was also quite final.

James turned to Odocomon who was straining her ears to listen. “Could you?” He indicated to the glass.


She shook her head. “I don’t think I could even as Ceryneiamon. I think we have to take out the source for this to become weaker.”

“James, seriously,” Noah spoke. “We’re okay in here. We have food; we have warmth, shelter and each other. You need to go where you can fight and get rid of this… Mukademon, for good.”

“Noah…” James sighed.

“I’ll watch over Elliott and Marie and Grams. You’ve got bigger, more important things to do right now,” said Noah fiercely. “So go do it. The sooner you win, the sooner we’re out.”

“If we go back to Frankie’s then we’ll be safe too, and we can start to generate a plan,” Odocomon explained to James softly. “We’ll be no use here at the moment.”

James hesitated. He didn’t want to leave his family trapped as they were, but as it stood at the moment, he saw no other option. He couldn’t break through the crystal with Odocomon, himself, or his jeep. It was impenetrable, and if Odocomon was right, the only way to get through would be to destroy the source of it all, which was far from him.

“Dammit…” James hissed to himself. He mopped blood from his chin and returned his phone to his ear. “I’ll get you out. I promise,” he swore.

Noah sighed on the other end of the phone and James vaguely saw his brother through the window. “I know you will, bro.”

James hung up, pocketed his D-Touch and glanced back at his house before he turned and went back the way he had come towards his jeep.

Mukademon was going to pay. Bella. Mason. Richard.

Everyone was going to pay.

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Everything that had happened in the city hadn’t seemed to have happened in Reyez’s neighborhood. He noticed it as he had driven his car further and further out of the city, and more towards the outskirts where his house was. There were still roads he couldn’t go down, and there was some damage to houses he drove past. However, the crystal-glass stopped suddenly about seven blocks from his house, and with that, so did the images of people and cars trapped inside it.

All the neighborhoods he drove through were empty. Doors to houses were left open, and he could see people had left in a hurry when he slowed and saw that they had left a lot of personal belongings behind.

He didn’t stop driving though, just drove slowly with Ailurmon in the passenger seat, as they both looked into the houses of other people that had been left abandoned.

Reyez had found his car parked where he had left it, in a multi-story car park that for the most part had been spared any damage. He had found a handful of parking tickets on his windshield and promptly torn them up and driven away.

He had planned his first stop to be his mother’s house. He wanted to make sure she was alright. She lived alone and there was no telling what could have happened to her in the panic of people trying to get out of the city. You heard about the kind of things that could happen. In a panic, people turned on each other and riots started. A collection of people fearing for their lives were just as dangerous a collection of people angry and drunk.

Reyez had found their way to his mother’s house denied. He had driven as close as he dared and stopped, finding that the house was completely encased in the crystal and there was a good three or four feet of it barring his way through.

He had cursed so much Ailurmon had been forced to slap him, telling him is voice would attract unwanted attention. After that Reyez hadn’t spoken much except to grab his D-Touch and begin to call his sisters.

He discovered that his mother had gone to stay with Nicole and her husband at the first sign of danger, and that they were safe, staying out of town until the worst was over. Reyez had felt a sense of relief knowing his mother was safe, and had quickly hung up, not answering any of his sister’s questions.

He called the rest of them and discovered where they were, if they were trapped or not, and for the most part, they were all safe and sound away from the worst of the damage and the danger. He only failed to get a hold of Blaire, which caused a painful twist to form in his stomach.

As he climbed out of his car, and Ailurmon out of the passenger side, Reyez grabbed his phone again and decided to call Nicole a second time. She picked up promptly.

“Así que mierda grosero! Always hanging up-“

“Have you heard from Blaire?” Reyez demanded, cutting Nicole short.

Nicole went silent. “You mean she’s not with you?”

“No.”

“We all thought she was staying with you,” Nicole told him, she had hushed her voice, obviously their mother was in hearing distance.

“She is,” Reyez snapped. “I just tried to call her, I can’t get through to her.”

“Have you tried your house?” Nicole asked.

Reyez groaned. “Going there now. But you’d figure she’d keep her phone on her. She’s a teenager for fuck’s sake. Isn’t a phone a teenage girl’s lifeline or some shit?”

“Maybe she lost it?” Nicole suggested hopefully.

“Yeah,” Reyez grunted. Reyez hung up before Nicole could say another word.

“She’s just as worried as you are,” Ailurmon informed him. “There’s no reason to snap at Nicole or cut her off.”

Reyez ignored the panda as he reached the front door to his house, turned the key in the lock, and pushed the door open with his weight against it. Ailurmon ran in first and the door slammed behind Reyez. Ailurmon disappeared into the living room, stopping short a few feet of the door.

“I found Blaire,” Ailurmon called over her shoulder to Reyez.

Reyez muttered under his breath and stomped into the living room. “Don’t you know how to pick up a fucking phone?!” he shouted.

Blaire sat on the couch with the news on. A spoon hovered over a bowl of cereal, halfway to her mouth. “S’up to you too, Rey.” She grinned at him a little and finished her mouthful. Ailurmon smirked to herself and carried on into the room.

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

Hunter’s car turned the corner slowly as he applied the brakes far more rigorously than he had been. He hadn’t even bothered considering going back to his apartment. He had clothes at Piper’s which were clean and that he could change into, and a spare set of contact lenses so he could get rid of his glasses. Piper had been anxious to get home to see if the house was still standing and to find out if either of her parents had made an impromptu trip home between business meetings.

The journey from the city to her neighborhood had been slow. The direction they went in had been hit hard, and it was clear to see how badly places had been damaged. Several houses had been almost completely flattened, or had lost an entire side of the house. The glass formations they had been seeing seemed to cluster in this area, like this had been where the spreading had started and then it had branched out all over the city.

Piper sat on the edge of the passenger seat, staring out of the windshield, biting her lip. Caesarmon and Skollmon sat in the back. They occasionally changed sides from where they sat, staring at the disasters and destroyed buildings they rolled past.

Soon, Hunter knew he wouldn’t be able to drive his car. It was risky even now with the pillars of people. None of them knew if those trapped inside the glass were alive or dead, but Hunter didn’t want to risk knocking any of them over to find out. He eased his car gently through spaces which were wide enough for it to get through, and sometimes eased it up onto the curb to get past.

He drove through a hole in one road that had obviously been created by some kind of explosion, and at one point he and Piper had paused beside a set of abandoned armored military trucks. It was easy to see why; they were barely road worthy any more. Something had torn a hole in one of them, and the sides were littered with bullet holes of another where the soldiers inside must have shot through it at the other trucks attacker. The front of that truck had been torn off and was sitting in what had been someone’s living room.

Piper squirmed in her seat beside him, and it wasn’t a squirm of anticipation, she was restless. She had wanted to get out of the car and said so a hundred times, but Hunter had locked the doors and refused to let her out alone.

He placed a hand on her thigh and smiled weakly when she looked at him.

“I’m worried,” Piper admitted.

“I can tell,” Hunter replied. “We’ll be there soon. I’m sure Cleo or Andrew would have sent you a message if they were coming home.”

Piper scoffed. “You don’t know my parents very well. They just turn up… Remember that time you were over and we were in the bath and my dad came home, unannounced?”

Hunter had to smile at the memory, not just for the recollection of being in the bath with Piper, but because her reaction to her father coming home early had been incredibly over the top. She had freaked out when Andrew had called through the door of the bathroom to announce he had come home and was staying the night but would be leaving early the next morning. He had tried not to laugh, while Piper had turned white as a sheet when she’d realized the bathroom door was unlocked.

“I remember.” Hunter smiled and replaced his hand on the wheel. “But Pipes, this is different. I’m sure that even if they came home, they would have seen the news and decided to not stick around. Your parents are smart people.”

“It’s rare for book smarts to go hand-in-hand with common sense,” Piper murmured, slumping back in the car seat. She was still for a few seconds before she sat up straight again. Hunter brought the car to a halt and held it there as they saw what lay before them.

Piper’s street was a mess of bodies trapped in crystal. Cars were covered in it. Walls had fallen, gardens were trampled, and even Piper’s house had not been left unhurt in the fighting. The roof of the garage had caved in, and there were windows missing from her parents’ room, the study, and Jesse’s room.

Hunter resigned himself to the fact they would be going back to his apartment, there was no way they should stay at Piper’s with her house the way it was. And the mass of frozen bodies outside unnerved Hunter more than he cared to admit.

“We should-” He was cut off by the sound of the passenger door opening. Piper had unlocked the door and stepped out, followed by Caesarmon who slunk through the gap between the two front seats. Her boots crunched on the crystal-glass ground as if every step shattered it a little.

Hunter climbed out of his own seat and Skollmon jumped out after him.

“Piper,” Hunter called, but she was ignoring him, walking towards her house purposefully. He couldn’t make out her expression, but from her body language he knew she was searching, she stopped and peered at the glass coffins as she went by them. She was checking them for her parents.

Suddenly she was running and Hunter lost sight of her for a few moments as she disappeared behind a group of the crystal pillars. He jogged a few meters until she reappeared; she was standing in front of a crystal coffin, a few feet away. Now he could see her face, and it was a mask of confused anguish.

“Why… why is he here?” Piper murmured, stepping towards the pillar and the person within. Hunter strode towards her. “He-he was meant to be out of town. He wasn’t meant to be here…” She wasn’t talking to him or to Caesarmon, the words were just thoughts she was saying aloud. “He… he was meant to be safe. Away from all of this.”

“Piper…” Caesarmon murmured.

“JESSE!!” Piper screamed. She was kicking the glass pillar and clawing at it with her fingers. Digging into the small spaces she could find with her finger tips and pulling at them, like she was trying to pull the layers of glass away. “What were you doing here?! You stupid idiot!!” Several hard kicks sent some large splints of glass flying and shattering to the ground. “Let him go!” She punctuated her words with punches and kicks. “Let! Him! Go!!”

Skollmon ran forward as neither Hunter nor Caesarmon could seem to move. “Piper, stop it! You’re hurting yourself.”

“I’m supposed to protect him!” Piper cried, bringing her fingers up to her face. The tips were bloody, with thin streams of blood trickling down her hands. “He wasn’t supposed to be here. He was supposed to be out of the city, safe. Away from here.”

Hunter couldn’t fully understand it. Piper and Jesse had never been close, he knew that, but at the same time he understood they were siblings. He couldn’t say he wouldn’t react the same way to seeing Rose in a glass coffin.

Piper was back at the pillar, trying again to dig her fingers into it. “He’s got to be alive, he has to be. Mom and dad will never forgive me if I let him die. If I didn’t protect him.” Her blood was smearing the glass, and Hunter had had enough.

He grabbed Piper’s upper arms and held on tight as she flailed against him, trying to pull from his grip. He avoided her fists as they weaved past his head. Caesarmon sprang into action and shoved Piper away from Jesse’s body.

“Let me go!”

“No.”

“LET ME GO!!” Piper stamped a foot back and it landed squarely on Hunter’s foot. His grip slackened for a moment and she took the advantage, wrenching herself from Hunter’s grip and throwing herself at the crystal. “Caesarmon, you can break this, right? If you become Gaiusmon, I know you can!”

Caesarmon looked doubtful. “I don’t think-“

“And Skollmon, you can melt it? Or-or-or something, right? Like ice?!”

Skollmon practically cowered, whined and stared and Hunter for help.

“Enough, Piper.” He grabbed her upper arm and spun her towards him, keeping a tighter hold this time. He knew his grip was likely to leave bruises, but she kept squirming and he just wanted to get out of here now and get her calm. Her face was a mess of tears and smears of her own blood, and she was covered with a thin sheen of sweat. “Calm down!”


“Let go of me!” She struggled, but Hunter had a tight enough grip to keep her still. “Caesarmon, why aren’t you helping me?!”

“Because I think Hunter is right,” Caesarmon explained sadly. “You need to stop.”

“I have to get him out!” Piper argued.

“And you will,” Hunter spoke firmly, keeping his voice level. He bent a little, staring Piper squarely in the face. “But not like this, and not right now. We have to beat Mukademon and Bella to turn everything back to normal. Even Jesse.”

“This is all your father’s fault,” Piper snapped, glaring. Hunter was taken aback by her statement, but tried hard not to let it show. “None of this would have happened if it hadn’t been for him.”

“I know,” Hunter explained slowly, after taking a breath. Piper wasn’t angry with him, not really. She was angry with the situation; with the feeling of helplessness she now had hanging in her chest. He knew she had it, because he had it too. He wanted to help. Wanted to dig Jesse out and prove to Piper he was alive, but the crystal was too strong, and even if they tried they would only waste time and energy. “And believe me; I’m trying to make amends.”

Hunter unrolled a sleeve of his shirt and began to wipe the blood, sweat, and tears off of Piper’s face. Her shoulders shuddered and she shook uneasily, like her legs were about to give out from underneath her. “We’ll save Jesse. We’ll save everyone, I swear it.” Piper sagged against him, and Hunter’s arms went around her. She sniffled into his shirt and all Hunter could do was perch his head on top of her hair and stare at Jesse, frozen in the glass.

Skollmon and Caesarmon were staring too. Jesse’s face was not like many of the others they had seen. His eyes were wide open and terrified, his mouth open too, like he had been drawing a breath to scream. His legs and arms were turned in unnatural ways – as if he had been in the midst of running or about to start. Jesse had seen what had done this, and it had scared him half to death.

“We should… go,” Skollmon announced softly. The atmosphere and the shapes and faces of the bodies were causing him to be uneasy, just as they made Hunter uneasy.

“Yeah,” Caesarmon agreed. He padded past Hunter and Piper, towards the car, Skollmon in tow.

“No…” Piper shined, shaking her head.

Hunter sighed. “Yes.” He hooked an arm around Piper’s shoulders and maneuvered her, making sure she didn’t look back at her frozen brother.

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

As agreed, the following morning everyone congregated bright and early in the abandoned Excellent Bean. Eric jokingly referred to it in a reminder message as their ‘base of operations’, but he wasn’t wrong on that count. It was a safe place away from prying eyes, but close enough to the main disaster zone for them all to be within easy and short distance to get there.

Everyone seemed better and brighter after showers, a change of clothes, a good meal, and some sleep – though it did seem that some people had barely slept at all.

Eric sat at a table with his laptop open; Eleanor sat beside him as they both read through the news pages, Corneliamon in her lap. Ryudamon and Rubimon were sitting on a plush sofa, while the others all mingled together as they settled and waited for Reyez, who was last to arrive.

When he did, Blaire was in tow, and the two of them were bickering.

“I said you weren’t coming.”

“Whatever,” Blaire retorted. “I can help.”

“Help give me a fucking stroke,” Reyez snapped at her. “You’re supposed to stay home out of danger. Not tag along where you’ll more than likely get in the way.”

“I know things. You and the others have all been away for more over a week. You don’t know what’s been happening like I do. I’ve been here, seeing it all unfold on the news,” Blaire explained. “Look, I’m not saying I want to stick around for the fighting, but at least let me tell you what I can. I don’t wanna be useless.”

Reyez grumbled something in response as he climbed through the broken window. To Blaire his grumble seemed enough for her to take it as permission to stay, so she clambered through the window after him. Ailurmon followed them both, checking behind them to make sure they had not been followed or seen.

“Rough night?” Frankie asked, smiling a little from where she sat with James and Siberimon.

“Don’t ask,” Reyez retorted, stalking across to the counter and vaulting onto it to sit down. Piper and Hunter sat on two high stools; their Digimon were curled around their feet. Rose stayed standing. Tom and Eva were sitting on a love seat, though Tom kept shifting and fidgeting.

“So?” Tom asked. “What’s the plan?”

Eric glanced up from his laptop. “We found a forum that’s been talking about the goings on in town. Looks like it started around the time you say Poemon and Irbimon evolved to Ymirmon and Morrigamon. Right after you all got sucked into the Digital World. Little things at first, barely noticeable, but then things got worse fast.”

“There are news reports, photos, and videos from people’s phones. Crystalline Digimon have been coming out and attacking, mainly from the Atlas Corp building. The military have been making strikes on it but to no avail as it’s too well defended,” Eleanor continued. “And the military have been spreading themselves very thin, it was crystalline Digimon first, and then the glass… crystal stuff happened, it spread from the suburbs and into town until it surround and encased the Atlas Corp building to protect it.”

“There has to be a way in and out though,” Ryudamon said. “How else are the crystalline Digimon getting out?”

Eric shrugged.

“Blaire,” Reyez turned to his sister, “now’s your chance to be useful.”

Blaire rolled her eyes. “I’ve been watching it all unfold on TV,” she said. “The glass… stuff started in a freak wave. No one knew where it came from but it started about… four days after the attacks started? At a guess?”

“The day we went to the Digital World,” Eric spoke. Eleanor touched his hand gently, giving him a small smile.

“I guess?” Blaire murmured. “Anyway, it didn’t spread immediately. The military had started ordering evacuations as soon as they realized their weapons didn’t do much against the big crystal Digimon. Different sections were evacuated first, but there were still people left over when the glass began to take over parts of the town, locking the people that remained in their houses in those weird coffin things.”

“Are there many people left?” Eva asked. “That you know of?”

“A few people in their houses, but most people got out I think. The evacuation was announced just in time, and people started to flee when the first wave of attacks started and became pretty intense, pretty quickly. The military never stood a chance.” Blaire folded her arms and leaned back against the counter.

“Anything else?” Rose prompted.

“Not a lot.” Blaire flicked her hair. “Downtown was cut off, and anything out of a like… fifteen mile radius was cut off too. No one’s allowed in or out of the city until the threat has been contained.”

“And that threat is Mukademon,” Hatimon murmured.

“Not exactly something that can be ‘contained,’” Odocomon added.

“By-the-way,” Blaire turned to Reyez, “McTyre came searching for you, I forgot to say.”

“What did he want?” her brother asked.

“Wanted to know where you were. He didn’t believe me when I told him I didn’t know. I think he wanted you to take Ailurmon and join in the fight.”

Ailurmon smirked. “I intend to. But my way. The right way. Shooting the crystal Digimon with guns, hell, shooting Mukademon with guns, is just going to make him mad.”

“There’s a pattern, did you notice?” Rose spoke up. “Atlas Corp is at the center of everything.”

“Thank you, Captain Obvious,” Rubimon sighed.

Rose ignored the little dragon. “I think we should go there. Go straight for the heart of the problem and launch an attack.”

“I don’t know if that’s such a good idea,” Eva said, getting to her feet. Rose looked at her.

“Why?”

“We’d have to get through walls of military that would see our Digimon and only see a threat. Plus we don’t know what, or whom we’re going to meet on the way there, and we should do our best to conserve not only our energy but the Digimon’s as well,” Eva explained.

“I… actually agree with Rose,” Piper said softly from her stool. She raised her gaze from Caesarmon, looking at her friends and the Digimon around her. “Atlas Corp is in the middle of everything that’s been happening. The crystal Digimon are coming from there, that’s where their main power is. You can bet that’s where Bella will be. And Mukademon. They are our main priority, surely. We should hit them hard and fast, I think it would be our best option.”

Rose blinked at the blonde in surprise. “… Thank you.”

“Crystalline Digimon are hard to take down. If we go after the Atlas Corp building you can be sure we’ll be met with resistance,” James reasoned.

“But you have the Gods on your side,” Corneliamon enthused, slipping to the ground from Eleanor’s lap. “I don’t know what crystalline Digimon are, but Caesarmon, you told me you’ve defeated them before in weaker forms. What do you think you could do to them as the Gods of old now?”

“I don’t know if us being Gods will be enough,” Caesarmon explained. “Facing Mukademon maybe. If it was only Mukademon. But crystalline Digimon aren’t like normal Digimon. They’re stronger, and Bella has had plenty of time to make them even more difficult to defeat than before. Plus I’m sure she’ll have something else up her sleeve.”

“So you’re planning on giving up before the fight?” asked Corneliamon.

Irbimon’s ears flattened. “No. We’re not giving up. We just have to be logical.”

“I don’t hear anyone else coming up with any other plans,” Rose said, placing her hands on her hips. “If there are any, I’m all ears for them.”

She surveyed everyone around her, waiting to hear something from them: a rebuttal, a new idea, another suggestion, anything. She could see them all thinking, the cogs turning as they tried to come up with other plans, but came up empty. She understood their trepidation, she really did. Going in and taking Bella and Mukademon on head first was probably not the wisest of moves, but it was the only one she could see open to them. They didn’t know enough to be sneaky, and asking the military to help them was positively out of the question.

“How do you propose we get into the Atlas Corp building?” Reyez asked.

Rose hid her smile. “Eleanor,” the other woman raised her head, “do you still have your card key?”

“It burnt up in the fire at Ryudamon’s house,” Eleanor explained.

“How fortunate,” Frankie sighed.

“Never-the-less,” Rose said briskly, “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

“So… it’s decided then?” Eva asked uneasily. “We’re going to go and face this head on at the Atlas Corp building?”

“Looks that way.” Frankie smiled, getting to her feet. She picked up Siberimon. “Better get going… no time like the present, right?”

Eric stood up, closed his laptop, and hooked it beneath his arm. “I’ll drive ahead with Ryudamon, Rubimon, Ellie, and Corneliamon. I’ll find a safe place for the cars to be parked and we’ll wait there for the rest of you,” he said, taking the lead of the others and climbing out of the broken window.

Reyez had been adamant about taking Blaire home, though she protested to stay; he didn’t need to worry about Blaire too, when he would be focused on saving his own skin and making sure his own Digimon didn’t perish in this foolhardy plan of theirs. There was no chance of her coming close to the Atlas Corp building, and if she went straight home, he knew she’d be safe there and could watch everything unfold from the television like she had been doing.

Once he had returned, no less than twenty minutes later, everyone was ready to depart. In minutes Eric and those he had selected to come with him had piled into his car and they were disappearing into the distance down the broken road.

Frankie climbed into the passenger seat of James’ jeep. Piper was already sitting in Hunter’s car, though she hadn’t yet closed the door, and Eva and Tom waited by Reyez’s car for him to unlock it, with Rose and Hatimon.

“You really think you’ll win?”

Irbimon and Hatimon growled instantly, hearing the voice that called from above them. Irbimon turned his eyes upwards, and saw the shape of a black feline, stark against the grey of the clouds above them. Hatimon growled and stepped up beside Irbimon. The other Digimon were confused, but joined the two ice-Digimon regardless.

“Should have known you’d turn up,” Irbimon snapped.

“Temper, temper,” BlackGatomon retorted, safe up on the roof of Excellent Bean.

“So much for that hideout,” James sighed.

“You think an all out charge at Lord Mukademon will do you any good? Or even get you close enough to make an impact? Those silly humans with their guns and bombs couldn’t make a dent – what makes you think you can?” BlackGatomon sneered at them, sitting back on her haunches.

“Because we outnumber you. We out strengthen you, and we’re the Gods,” Irbimon snapped back.

“I’m quivering with fear,” BlackGatomon rolled her eyes. “Mercy, please.”

“Come down here and we’ll show you how merciful we can be…” Hatimon’s tone was warning, and she snarled, exposing her jaws to the feline Digimon who stared at her unperturbed.

“You’re awfully ready to fight, aren’t you?” BlackGatomon said, sneering a little. “It’s very unbecoming.”

“Says the coward sitting on a roof,” Skollmon called. “Instead of throwing pointless taunts, why don’t you come down here and fight?”

BlackGatomon giggled. “Oh right. Like I’m going to do that. That’ll be fair, eight of you, one of me.  Do I look like I was born yesterday?”

Poemon folded her wings. “Do you want an honest answer to that?”

BlackGatomon growled. “I hope Lord Mukademon rips you all apart, one by one”

“If that happens then I hope you'll be destroyed beforehand!” Hatimon growled.

“HA! Tough chance! As long as I serve Lord Mukad-” 

“Shut up about your damned lord!” Poemon lashed out, releasing her 'Black Magic' attack out of frustration.


BlackGatomon dodged the attack with moments to spare; she growled fiercely at Poemon before sprinting off in the direction that Eric and the others had taken off.

“After her!” Irbimon yelled, running a few feet. He stopped when he realized he was running alone. He turned and saw the other Rookies and Tom staring at him. “She’s getting away, what are you all waiting for?!”

“She’s not worth it,” Eva explained from the backseat of Reyez’s car where she sat with Rose.

“But-”

“You’ll get your chance to put her in her place,” Siberimon nudged his brother as he walked past him to James’ jeep. “I’m sure.”

“Besides, we should be concentrating at the issue at hand right now,” Skollmon added. He hopped into the backseat of Hunter’s car, and Caesarmon followed him.

Irbimon grumbled under his breath but begrudgingly did as the others were doing and climbed into the back seat of Reyez’s car, sitting on Eva’s lap. He spied through the mirror the black speck that sat on a building a little further off than Excellent Bean, with eyes staring at them. There was no way the little black cat would leave them alone.

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

James took the lead in his jeep. It was the most high tech of the vehicles they had, and because it was high off the ground, it gave James and Frankie a good vantage point to see what was coming up. It was slow going; most roads they tried to go down were too badly damaged or full of glass statues for them to risk traveling down. As a lucky break, they found one road that had been cleared. The ground and the glass that covered it had the impressions of other vehicle wheels, obviously meaning the road had been used by the military.

Irbimon continued to insist that BlackGatomon was following them, but found he was shushed and his warnings were not listened to.

James followed the roads, keeping to a slow pace, but one that was at least getting them from A-to-B. He and the others noticed that the further into town they traveled, the more regular the helicopters and air craft overhead became.

“I’m not sure if traveling by car was such a good idea,” Siberimon murmured from Frankie’s lap, peering out of the windshield. “We’re awfully big targets.”

“Walking would have taken too long,” Tom explained through the speaker phone. Frankie had insisted at least one person in each car keep on a joint call with the other cars so they could continue to communicate easily and without interruption.

“I think it would have been safer,” Siberimon said, “that’s all. I don’t like all the activity. The planes and helicopters. Something is obviously happening very nearby.”

“Maybe we’re near the base of military operations?” suggested Piper.

“Fat chance,” Reyez snorted. “It would be a much bigger presence than a few helicopters and planes. There would be soldiers popping up everywhere on patrol.”

“You’d think… if what Eric said is right and the Atlas Corp building is the center of everything, they would have their main military front at the building…” Rose’s voice came through Tom’s D-Touch, “but we’re miles away from it. It doesn’t make sense for them to have any foot soldiers or anything out this way, unless there was an aggressive force.”

“Say like… a crystalline Digimon?” Hunter said slowly.

“Can you see one?” James asked.

"No. But Skollmon’s got a bad feeling.”

“Skollmon always has bad feelings,” Ailurmon snapped. “If we paid attention to every bad feeling we ever got, we’d never get anywhere.”

“Thank you for that wonderful bit of insight,” Siberimon said sarcastically. He sighed and rubbed his forehead. “I just think walking would have been a much safer-”

“-Slower,” Ailurmon interjected.

Siberimon growled at the D-Touch. “Option.”

“Well, we’re making pretty good headway in the cars… Though if I can’t find any other roads that are blockaded or full of frozen people, we probably are going to have to walk,” James explained, turning the jeep down another clear road. He drove slightly up onto the curb to avoid a car sitting three-quarters of the way across the road, but aside from that, the way was clear for the most part.

The three cars of people and Digimon were quiet for a while, allowing James time and silence in which to concentrate and navigate. Roads narrowed, opened up, and more than once James cursed and informed the others to reverse because there was a dead end or no way through because of a blanket of glass or a pileup of cars.

About fifteen minutes more of driving, and a ring tone blared through the speaker phone of James’ D-Touch, coming from one of the other cars.

“That’s me,” Piper informed them. “It’s Eleanor…” She sounded worried immediately and put the incoming call in with the collective call she was already on. The first noise they heard was a far off roaring, and Ryudamon telling them to hide and stay down.

“Piper?!”

“What’s happening?” Frankie demanded.

Eleanor’s voice was crackled, and she spoke quickly. “We were attacked. The outskirts of the Atlas Corp Building are an insane level of activity. There are crystalline Digimon and real ones.”

“Oh God…” Eva murmured. “Are you okay?!”

“We’re okay, Ryudamon got us out before we got hit, but the car has been totaled. You guys need to get here now!”

“Are the military down there? McTyre?” Reyez inquired gruffly.

“There are trucks, tanks… I don’t know who’s here. Only that there’s a military host.” The signal crackled badly. “Get here as soon as you can!”

Eleanor’s voice clicked off and there was a dead dialing tone.

James’ skin had gone pale, and he gripped the steering wheel tightly. “I suggest walking the rest of the way.” He didn’t wait for a response from the others, instead he put the brakes on and left his jeep parked in the middle of the road. Frankie climbed out of the passenger side, watching as the others did the same, and left their cars parked randomly in the road.

They congregated in a small group, and started to walk quickly. “How far are we from the Atlas Corp building?” Tom asked, peering upwards the buildings and skyscrapers to get an idea of where in the city they were. With the glass and crystal covering everything – it all looked the same, there was very little to tell one skyscraper apart from another.

“At a guess, about ten minutes,” Hunter said. “That’s if we keep up a fast pace and don’t get stopped along the way.”

“We should hurry then,” Odocomon said sharply. She paused mid-step, her ears pricking up. Some distance away the sound of crashes and screeching could be heard. It was chilling, and no one aired their worry for Eric, Ryudamon, and the others in the middle of it all. All they could do was hope they’d found a safe place to hide for the moment, and that whatever was attacking, was something they could deal with.

Collectively, their quick walking steps turned into the running, Hunter recognized the area more than anyone else, even with the buildings all looking the same, so he led, with Skollmon and Hatimon close with him, using their sensitive hearing to get a feel of how close they were.

It became clear very quickly that the route they were on had been a main route for the military, because of how clear it was. No frozen cars or people, though doors hung open from houses, and a lot of the windows on the sky scrapers had been blown out, but it seemed this area had been one of the first evacuated from when the attacks first began.

“Ho—shit!!” Hunter stopped and grabbed Skollmon before he bounded off in front of him.

The others stopped too, following his line of sight. Before them were two ruby-red Digimon, semi-see through and huge.

“Great,” Ailurmon huffed, “crystalline Digimon on steroids.” She made to move forward but Reyez grabbed her by the scruff of the neck, yanking her back. Ailurmon yelped, but Reyez covered her mouth. The two stationary crystal Digimon stayed in place, apparently oblivious to the group.

Hunter made a motion with his hands and backed everyone up, hiding them behind a building and out of the crystalline Digimon’s line of sight should they look the wrong way.

“OW!” Ailurmon snapped, and thumped Reyez on the arm.

Reyez glared at her. “Running into battle without thinking – not a good idea right now,” he told her harshly.

“Now what?” Rose asked. “Which way?”

Hunter rubbed the back of his neck. “There’s another route… we’ll have to backtrack.”

They took off, moving quickly but silently so as not to draw attention. They went back the way they came and then through a side alley that took them straight behind the pair of Digimon.

Several times they came across one or two Digimon, crystal and real, and were forced to stop and wait for them to pass, or re-think their direction, backtrack, and try another route. Luckily the Atlas Corp building was at the center of six or seven main roads, and even more small streets and alleys, so that any time they did have to stop, all Hunter needed was to get his bearings again for everyone to get moving.

They were all Mukademon’s followers, the real ones more so than the crystal. The crystal were created, brainless. Just there to fill up the hole in Mukademon’s army. All the real ones had been followers in the Digital World and took orders only from Mukademon. Despite their ability to now become their God forms, no one wanted to risk it. There was no way to tell how strong the crystalline Digimon were, and also no way to tell if the real Digimon didn’t also have an army or following of their own at their call.

When the Atlas Corp building finally came into view, no one had known what to expect. The photos Eric had shown them on his laptop, taken by aircraft and inhabitants of the city, were days old. So what it had been and what it was now, could have been very different.

The building itself still stood tall, towering above everything, and seemed to have taken very little damage. The outside of it was covered in the same crystal and glass that covered three-quarters of the city. The only place that was exposed was at the very top of the building where Bella’s office must have been, and where Mukademon was probably watching everything unfold.

The windows had been damaged in places; there were grooves where things had exploded against it and done no damage, and other marks like burns or smears of blood.

All in front of the building was the main military force. Men in uniforms ran from place to place in full kit, equipped with automatic machine guns, and a multitude of other hidden weapons that Reyez listed off on his fingers. Automatic pistols, plus back up blades, grenades, and dynamite. Each solider was armed to the teeth, and there were some barking out orders.

Beyond the main encampment were vehicles, and further afield it was possible to see they had created landing spots for helicopters on the flat roofs of smaller surrounding buildings.

“This is insane,” Tom muttered.

Reyez squinted. “They don’t have a damn clue what they’re doing. All the Digimon we saw, they’re look outs, and they’re surrounding the military… And McTyre and his guys don’t even know it. They’re focused on the building.”

“Sitting ducks,” Irbimon said.

“We need to get closer,” Eva said urgently. “There’s no telling what’s happened to Eleanor and the others.”

Hunter ran his fingers through his hair. “Okay…” he let out a long breath, looking skyward, “follow me.”

He ran, and the others followed. The noises of screeching and yelling were louder here, giving them impression there was definitely a fight going on.

The street they were on was wide; it had been a delivery route for large lorries and trucks to deliver supplies to the building. At the end they would have to turn right, and the route they had come would require them to run straight through or straight past the military outpost.

Something thundered behind them with a roaring bellow, followed by heavy foot falls. They kept running, heading for their ultimate destination, until a Digimon, large and with glowing red eyes, stood before them, blocking the path. It was elephant-shaped with a long golden trunk, the rest of its body made up of large bones and innards, reminiscent of SkullSkadimon.

“SkullMammothmon,” Odocomon said slowly, the group had stopped running, and were now stuck between one skeletal Digimon, and behind them another crystalline Digimon in the shape of Phelesmon, a humanoid, demon-esque type Digimon with bat wings.

Towering above them, SkullMammothmon advanced. “Kind of you to join us…” He spoke low, his voice more like a rumble. Appearing around his feet was a group of other crystalline Digimon, not the same level as either SkullMammothmon or Phelesmon, but enough to get in the way and definitely overpower the group.

“Now what?” Eva asked, trying to hide the panic in her voice.

“Let us handle it,” Hatimon stated stepping away from Rose towards SkullMammothmon.

The small Rookies were each engulfed in bright lights.

“Hatimon, Reboot Evolve to… Selenemon!”

“Skollmon, Reboot Evolve to… Heliomon!”

“Odocomon, Reboot Evolve to… Ceryneiamon!”

“Siberimon, Reboot Evolve to… Vayumon!”

“Poemon, Reboot Evolve to… Morrigamon!”

“Irbimon, Reboot Evolve to… Ymirmon!”

“Ailurmon, Reboot Evolve to… Marquismon!”

“Caesarmon, Reboot Evolve to… Gaiusmon!”

The eight Megas stood in place, surrounding their partners protectively, each one sizing up the larger and smaller Digimon, weighing up which ones would be easier to destroy and which would take a longer time.

The bright lights of the evolving Digimon had attracted the attention of nearby foot soldiers; some had their guns aimed at the Gods, others at SkullMammothmon and his own troops. SkullMammothmon ignored the humans, ignored everything except the eight Megas before him.

“Our Master will be so pleased to watch your demise,” SkullMammothmon mocked.

Ymirmon snorted. “He’ll see the power we possess. That is all.”

SkullMammothmon growled, and drew his large feet back against the glassy ground, readying a charge.

“As soon as you see an opportunity,” Gaiusmon said gruffly, “you run.”

The ginormous elephant Digimon trumpeted loudly, the noise forcing the humans nearby to cover their ears. Immediately, the Gods were set upon from behind by Phelesmon, the small crystalline Digimon all around SkullMammothmon’s feet, and SkullMammothmon himself.

“Let's make this quick...” Heliomon said impatiently, rushing towards the massive SkullMammothmon. “Solar Lashing!” he shouted. Heliomon's baton burst into flames as he thrashed out with the flaming whip.
SkullMammothmon took a large step back to avoid the attack, crushing some of the smaller crystalline Digimon beneath his huge feet.

“Spiral Bone Crusher!” The giant elephant spun, releasing one of the sharp bones from its back.

Vayumon jumped in front of Heliomon, slicing the bone clean in half with a swift slash of his blade. Immediately after finishing the attack, he charged towards the elephant with Heliomon following behind.

“Tiger Clutch God Fists!”

“Scorching Rush!”

Vayumon's giant wind claw brought itself up from the ground in a powerful uppercut, knocking the undead mega into the air.

Heliomon, whose entire body had burst into flames, used Vayumon's wind as leverage to leap skywards, punching the elephant in the gut then grabbing his golden metal trunk. Like a child with a stuffed animal, Heliomon spun in the air with SkullMammothmon, lifting the larger Digimon with ease.

As the flaming wolf-man’s spinning increased, the flames of his body did too, with Vayumon’s wind providing additional air and allowing the flames to grow  wilder and more frantic. The flames spread along Heliomon’s limbs, engulfing SkullMammothmon, making him a blazing behemoth.

Heliomon released the mammoth Digimon, sending him crashing into the tenth floor of a nearby building. SkullMammothmon recovered quickly, leaping out of his crater and onto the streets below with a giant quake that shook the entire area.

Enraged, SkullMammothmon charged. He knocked away cars, soldiers, and crystalline and real Digimon alike with his tusks and trunk. If it was in his way, it was tossed or crushed.

He raised his front end, smashing his tusks down into the ground and trumpeting, causing another earthquake.

Regaining their footing, Ymirmon and Gaiusmon charged towards SkullMammothmon. They circled each other as they approached; Gaiusmon threw handfuls of water at the mammoth’s feet, and Ymirmon chased them with blasts of ice, allowing the attacks to mix.

The ice solidified, keeping SkullMammothmon’s feet firmly in place, making the giant elephant immobile. Lashing out at the two nimble Megas with his trunk and tusks, SkullMammothmon bellowed his outrage. He was unable to reach the two Digimon who circled him, as more water soaked his bones and the ice provided by Ymirmon crawled up over his body, freezing SkullMammothmon in place.

“Allow me,” Ymirmon spoke his words to Gaiusmon, jumping back and summoning Rimefang in his grasp, twisting the handle of the blade within his palms.

With a mighty grunt, the humanoid Digimon swung his sword, slicing through the frozen SkullMammothmon with ease, splintering and shattering the ice prison and the bones within. SkullMammothmon released a strangled yell as he was carved in two, and his data began to disperse.

Gaiusmon spun on his back leg, turning to see an incoming horde of smaller crystalline Digimon, all armed and savage. Bringing his hands together, he created a broadsword as tall as himself and drew it across him in an arc, releasing a wave of water at the oncoming Digimon.

“Now to take care of the rest of these pests...” he said gruffly, launching into the fray with Ymirmon.

Heliomon and Vayumon had already taken it upon themselves to battle the other crystalline Digimon. Ymirmon readied his sword, watching as a small army of artificial Digimon approached at rapid speed.

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

For only an Ultimate level, Phelesmon was quick and annoyingly crafty.

The black stone statue of Selenemon, who had fallen victim to Phelesmon's attack, was haunting to stare at. Marquismon's vines kept the statue safe from any straying attacks.

Ceryneiamon poised her bow. “Shooting Star!” she shouted, releasing an arrow straight for the demon Digimon.

“Black Statue!” Phelesmon called out, waving his red pitchfork and releasing a blast that Ceryneiamon barely dodged, rolling out of the way. The attack landed on an overturned car, turning it into stone.

“Witch Spear!” Morrigamon launched her weapon.

Phelesmon tried to deflect the weapon and dodged it at the very last second as it flew past him. The spear disappeared in a puff of smoke, returning back to Morrigamon's hands, who smirked with satisfaction.

Phelesmon turned his attention to the witch Digimon, preparing another attack.

“Gaia's Seduction~!” Marquismon's soothing voice hummed in his ears.


Phelesmon whipped around at the direction of her voice.

He was struck by a strong beam of light before he could react to the incoming blast. The pain was intense and caused his body to go stiff and tight, as if he had been hit with his own statue attack.

Phelesmon could hear her soft laughter, as if Marquismon was in his head and only he could hear her voice. In a matter of moments a sharper pain pulsed through his body.

Phelesmon stared directly at Morrigamon, who had impaled him with her spear.

“You were no match to begin with...” She yanked her spear back roughly, causing Phelesmon to cry out in pain as his data began disintegrating from the wound and spreading through his entire body.

The vines around Selenemon's statue withered away as she returned to normal. The she-wolf gathered up her scythe with no time to thank Marquismon for her protection.

With a quick spin and a slice of her scythe, she beheaded an oncoming crystalline Meramon who was moments away from finishing her off.

She huffed, examining the battlefield, taking measure of what she had missed.

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

Over the cries of the Digimon and their attacks and the sounds of gunfire, it was almost impossible to hear one another, or to even think. The noise was overwhelming, deafening, and so disorientating it was easy to get turned around.

No one knew if the soldiers were friend or foe, or even if their gunfire was landing on the actual enemy, or their own Digimon. The fight was raging, the hordes of crystalline Digimon and eight Megas, who fought back, and tried their hardest to ensure their attacks only landed on their Digimon enemies, and not the humans.

Piper grabbed Hunter’s arm, pulling him aside before SkullMammothmon’s trunk smashed the wall, cracking the glass. They exchanged looks, and started moving again. Across from them they could see Tom, James, and Rose. Eva, Reyez, and Frankie were all separated in their own hiding spaces.

In the pandemonium they could move, get away, and watch the fight from a safe distance. Piper had spotted Eleanor and Eric not far away with Ryudamon. They had found a hiding place in an abandoned house, and Rubimon had come out to show their location. The battle was no place for them.

The loud noises and explosions, the cries and roars, made it difficult to hear any shouted instructions for where they should go or what direction. Instead, Piper waved her arms wildly, grabbing the attention of Frankie and pointing to the building in question. Beside her, Hunter did the same, indicating to Tom and the others where they needed to go to be safe.

They ran through the mess of equipment the soldiers had left unattended as they all tended to the battle; they were able to move freely and easily through the trucks and cars, always keeping an eye on the battle they were leaving behind, and the soldiers. There was a nagging feeling each of them had – when SkullMammothmon was done with, what would the soldiers do with their own Digimon…?

But those same Digimon had ordered them to run, they had to have faith they knew what they were doing. They weren’t the inexperienced and foolhardy Digimon they had once been. They had their memories, they were Gods now: battle ready, seasoned Gods. Faith and hope was all they had to get them through this final fight; they would need it in spades to even convince themselves that they would and could defeat Mukademon. If they didn’t have that then… well, it didn’t bare thinking about.

The eight of them swarmed around a truck, taking a moment to hide and congregate together. The hiding spot Eric and the others had found wasn’t far off, and they could make it if they ran.

Wordlessly, they readied themselves, took checks of where soldiers were, and if they would be spotted. From their vantage point they couldn’t see anything, just a clear run to safety where they could watch and regroup.

Reyez moved first, followed by James and everyone else one at a time.

Tom came last, bringing up the rear. He was halfway there, a few paces behind Frankie when something flashed in front of him and he began falling, landing on his back on the hard ground. The impact knocked the wind from him and he heaved a little as he sat up.

At first he had believed he had seen something from his peripheral vision that had surprised him, making him trip. But what he saw standing above him on top of a small compact car, was the shape of BlackGatomon, paws on her hips and smirking.

“Not you again,” Tom grumbled. He got to his feet, drawing air into his lungs. He could see the others, they’d reached safety. “I have bigger things to deal with than you and your crushed ego.” He started walking.

“No, you don’t!” BlackGatomon launched herself off the car roof, one paw extended. “Lightning Paw!”

“TOM!” Eva screeched.

Tom reeled back, dodging the attack and landing on the ground again, hard. He glowered at the small feline. “You’re really annoying.”

“So are you and your friends,” BlackGatomon hissed. “While SkullMammothmon deals with your Digimon, I’m going to get rid of you. After all, they get their power from you and the other humans.”

Tom arched an eyebrow. “You certain of that?”

His cockiness and self-assured speech seemed to confuse BlackGatomon. Her eyes narrowed. “Yes. And once you’re gone, there’ll be no one to stand in the way of Lord Mukademon. Lightning Paw!” BlackGatomon launched herself from the ground, speeding towards Tom. He clenched his eyes shut, and waited.

“I really have had enough of you!” Morrigamon snapped. BlackGatomon released a strangled, hissing squeal. Morrigamon had her by the tail, dangling upside down, her own hands out of reach of BlackGatomon’s paws. “Don’t you ever get tired of being… you?” Without warning, the crow warrior swung the black feline over her shoulder and slammed the small body into the car she had been standing on. BlackGatomon hit the ground with a thump, while Morrigamon gave Tom a gentle shove towards the others.

“Stay safe,” Morrigamon told him, her eyes never leaving BlackGatomon.

Slowly the little cat stirred, staring up at Morrigamon who stood above her.

She was engulfed suddenly in a dark cloud that covered her entire body. Morrigamon guarded her face from the vapors, and from within could hear BlackGatomon screeching and mewling in pain. The cloud expanded, and BlackGatomon’s voice deepened a little, becoming more womanly. When the blackness had dispersed, Malkimon stood in BlackGatomon’s stead, with her cauldron beside her.

“Who do you think will win, if we have a game of cat and crow?” Malkimon teased, shifting her arms and shoulders, loosening her muscles. “Now we’re more-or-less on even terms.”

Morrigamon grasped her spear. “Perhaps we should find out.”

“Perhaps…” Malkimon paused, her voice trailed.

Morrigamon felt the coolness of Selenemon’s vapors before the she-wolf Digimon stood beside her. The golden scythe rested easily on the floor, as Selenemon’s tail whipped back and forth behind her. She showed no indications of the previous battle; she looked unharmed and completely unfazed, ready for another bout.

Malkimon looked between the other two Digimon, slow, unimpressed glances.

She smirked, and licked her lower lip.

“I will enjoy this.”

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