Episode 3: Breathe
Life into Stone

  dark                              light

By the time Biyomon had led the six of them out of the forest and into open ground, it was dark. A full yellow moon hung in the sky, big and bright, giving illumination enough to see the ground they walked on.

In celebration of no longer being in the cramped and tightly-packed trees, Anzumon took off straight into the air and circled several times. Stretching his wings, flapping them hard in an attempt to get rid of the woodland smell and what debris was left on his feathers.

Biyomon walked with them, and had made their remaining time in the forest much more straightforward. She told them where to step and what to watch out for. Having a guide made the trek much easier and less fraught, and even put an end to any further arguing or bickering between the three.

Katrina carried with her the six maps they had found, while between them Blaire, Ryan, and Muertomon carried the other items the skeletal Rookie had discovered hidden in the Gazimon's hiding spot. Though most of it Blaire had declared was junk, Muertomon did not wish to dispose of it until he and the others had had a much better look.

Out in the open, without the cover of the trees or bushes and with no cloud cover, the group felt the cold more now than they had before. The small breeze they had been able to feel in the woods was a strong, almost constant wind. They also felt extremely exposed. Even with Biyomon – a friendly Digimon – leading them, they were acutely aware of just how easy to attack they would have been.

Here there was nowhere to hide. They could only run back into the forest if they had to escape danger. The area was so sparse of bushes, trees, and anything else it was a stark contrast to the woodland.

Biyomon spoke only occasionally, answering the odd question that she was asked. About how far her home was from the forest, and how big the village was. Aside from that she kept quiet, and to herself. She was constantly alert.

If she stopped walking for whatever reason, the others stopped and did not so much as blink until Biyomon began moving again. She had told them flying was always the safer option, but as the majority of the group did not have that luxury, she walked with them instead.

The open ground could not have been more unlike the forest. The grass on the ground was thick and soft underfoot. There was the occasional small shrub that could be seen, not much taller than Anzumon. There were no trees to speak of, and no harsh, unforgiving smell or overturned tree trunks. Just open land as far as could be seen in all directions, except from where they had come from. There, it was just the forest, which in the darkness looked sinister and foreboding.

There was also the sound of a running stream or river that could be heard, but without better light there was no way to see where that was.

They had to trust Biyomon to get them to her home safely.

Her village appeared over the brow of a small hill she had led them up, a symbol of refuge in the night. It was visible from their distance due to a fire that had been built in the centre of it. Biyomon informed them it was there to draw the villagers home if they found themselves out of the boundaries in the dark.

It also acted as a centre point in the village where the Biyomon and Yokomon would meet, talk, and sleep huddled together around the dying flames.

“We hold on to the thought of safety in numbers,” Biyomon explained. “We take it in turns to be on the look-out for potential attackers. A precaution we never had to take until a few years ago.”

“We... won't be expected to snuggle up with each other... will we?” asked Ryan, swallowing something imaginary in his throat and hoping neither Blaire nor Katrina had noticed.

Biyomon turned her head and looked at him for a moment. “Not if you don't want to. We have a meeting hut where we sleep when it's too cold or wet or snowing. You can all fit in there without any problem, I would imagine.”

Relieved, Ryan smiled. “Well, that's good then. Not that I'm ungrateful, I am. I'm sure we all are, that you are offering your hospitality to us.”

“It's really no trouble at all,” Biyomon told him cheerfully. “As I said, it's a thank you to you all for ridding us of part of the Gazimon gang.”

“Will the one remaining come back?” inquired Muertomon. “We could stick around and dispose of him if he does.”

“I wouldn't have thought he would be returning,” Biyomon replied with a small smile. “He looked terrified. He's probably halfway across the land by now.”

“Well...,” sighed Katrina, “that's a promising thought.”

As the village grew closer it was clear to see the size of it and the shape. The village was circular, surrounded by a wall about four feet high, which appeared to be constructed from mud and clay. There was one way in, which also acted as the only exit of the area. Within the walls were smaller structures, circular in shape, made out of the same material with thick straw and grass lined with leaves to make the roofing. Each of the huts had an open archway door and stood about two or three feet in height at most.

In the centre was the fire they had been able to see on their approach. Furthest away from the entrance was the biggest building. This one was a large hut with a flat roof. It was much taller than the walls and the other buildings around it.

Bustling about on the ground were small pink creatures, round in shape with blue flowers sticking out of their heads, along with a handful of other Biyomon wandering around, carrying things and talking over one another.

“Those must be Yokomon.” Grindymon supposed, looking at the round Digimon as their group paused at the entrance. The village inhabitants all stopped what they were doing, silencing their conversations and halting as they walked across the village from one hut to the other. They all turned to face the newcomers while their Biyomon guide led them in calmly.

Ryan was reluctant to enter. “Why are they staring...?”

“You're not like any Digimon we've ever seen before,” Biyomon explained. “And we don't get many visitors anymore. They're just curious.”

Blaire brushed past Ryan, eager to get into the village and closer to the warmth of the fire, and also to have her belly filled. As they had walked, her hunger had only become more apparent. She strode through the throngs of small pink Digimon quickly, they in turn hopped or rolled out of the way of her feet. “I'm starving, when do we eat?”

“Shortly...,” said Biyomon. “Please, let me at least introduce you properly to the villagers.”

Blaire stopped and turned towards Biyomon, she sighed softly. “Fine, whatever.”

Biyomon beckoned to Katrina, Ryan, and their Digimon with her wing. “This way, please.”

Grindymon floated over the heads of the Yokomon and other Biyomon, drifting towards where Blaire stood. Anzumon flew, drawing up an echo of 'oooh' from the spectators on the ground. Muertomon, Katrina, and Ryan stepped carefully through the congregating Digimon.

“I feel like I'm going to step on one...,” muttered Ryan, placing his feet down carefully.

“Don't worry, we'll move before your feet have a chance to squish us!” one Yokomon told him, its voice high-pitched and lively.

Ryan's mouth twisted into an uneasy smile as he set his foot down. “Good to know.”

“These are those to whom we should be grateful to for the removal of the Gazimon gang,” Biyomon announced, her voice clear. She indicated to each of them in turn. “This is Grindymon, Muertomon, Anzumon... Ryan, Blaire, and Katrina. They are our honored guests and will be dining and sheltering with us tonight as thanks for their good deed.”

Cheers and shouts of jubilation ebbed up from the balls of pink and the other Biyomon, some of the Yokomon bouncing up-and-down excitedly at their visitors.

Anzumon spread his wings, lapping up the adoration and enjoying the attention, while the others looked on, a little bemused by their behavior.

After the introductions, Biyomon instructed them to sit by the fire to keep warm and that their food would be brought to them shortly. When she hurried off to join the other Biyomon and deal with preparations, she blended in so well it was impossible to tell her from the others.

The Yokomon bustled around them all, chattering busily as they went from one hut to another in small groups or pairs.

Blaire sat down and stretched her legs out, releasing a contented sigh. “It is so nice to sit down!” she announced, raising her hands and arms above her in a stretch. “I have never walked so much in my life!”

Muertomon sat beside her and mimicked her stance, pushing his arms up as far as he could.

Both Ryan and Katrina sat. Katrina crossed her legs and immediately pulled out the curious black device from her pocket. She left the six pieces of old paper beside her, set to examine them later on or in the morning if sleep took her. Ryan sat with one knee bent and the other stretched out in front of him. He was surprised when Anzumon came and lay down beside him without a grumble and without grouching, but decided not to make anything of it. Grindymon hovered by Katrina's shoulder.

“Can you sit?” Katrina asked Grindymon, tilting an eyebrow as the teal Digimon drifted around her, looking at the black digital item with interest.

Grindymon frowned, looked down at her tail and then at her flippers. “I'm sorry...” She drifted down in altitude. “Am I bothering you?”

“No, not at all,” Katrina assured her. “I was just asking in case the floating made you tired.”

“It doesn't really,” Grindymon explained, her tone brightening. “It's no effort at all in fact.” As if to make her point, she swam gracefully through the air around Katrina.

Katrina half-smiled as she watched. “Well, if you need a rest you tell me.”

“Okay.”

“So...,” Ryan said, after a few minutes of dragging silence. This was really the first time since they had all met that the three of them had sat down together, and now he found himself without anything to say, despite spending much of the day bickering back and forth with Blaire.

“Where did you guys come from?” Blaire asked suddenly, turning her attention to Muertomon who had his eyes shut.

“Hm?” The skeletal Digimon's eyes opened and he focused on Blaire. “What?”

Blaire was frowning, and fiddled with the tips of her hair, checking for split ends. “It's been bothering me a bit. You guys were like... pulled out of our chests.” The three Digimon stared at her with confusion. “So... where did you come from? Are you manifestations of our inner psyche?”

“That's a lot of big words,” Katrina breathed softly under her breath, missing the vicious look from Blaire.

Anzumon stretched his wings. “What do ‘manifestation’ and ‘psyche’ mean?” he inquired, sounding somewhat belligerent.

“It means–”

“I don't care,” Anzumon interjected, cutting Blaire off. “I'll tell you what I remember. One minute I'm drifting through the sky. Free and calm, just going where the wind takes me. Next minute I'm being drawn into some painful enclosed space with information being imprinted on me.”

“Drifting?” Ryan repeated. “You mean flying?”

“No. I mean drifting,” snapped Anzumon. “Before I became this form, I was just... data. Floating through the air, minding my own business. We all were.”

Ryan looked at both Grindymon and Muertomon, who nodded at him. Blaire was looking at each of the Digimon too, her expression confused.

“How... how does that work?” Blaire asked, her eyebrows furrowed. “I mean... how were you data one minute, then being pulled out of our chests the next?”

Muertomon shrugged. “Not a clue,” he admitted with a small smile. “It just happened.”

“You think it was random?” queried Katrina, taking her attention off the black device for a moment. “Like if it had been some other data strand, you would have been some other Digimon?”

Again Muertomon simply shrugged. “Really, we have no idea.”

“Maybe the Biyomon know?” Ryan suggested, leaning forward on his knee.

“Doubt it,” snorted Anzumon.

Katrina promptly changed the subject when the device in her hand whirred and a large holographic image rose above it, showing a small area of land and a flashing blue spot in the same area.

“What did you do?” Blaire demanded, staring at the picture.

“Think I found a map. Sort of,” Katrina admitted. She pointed at the picture. “This area is where we've just been. See? I think this is the clearing in the wood where you met me. I'm not one hundred percent certain but I think this thing is tracking our movements, and is making a map based on them. That... is really interesting.”

Blaire raised her eyebrows and rolled her eyes. “How is that interesting? It's not helpful. If it was a fully complete map then perhaps I would share your sentiment.”

“Just because you're hungry doesn't mean you should get stroppy,” Katrina told her without a glance. “It's interesting because it's like when you play a video game. Often the maps are things you collect, or they become clear the more you travel. Same thing here.”

“I still fail to see how it's helpful,” Blaire growled, rubbing her fingers across her temple.

Katrina's mouth drew down at the corner as she looked at Blaire through the hologram world. “Think outside the box. Maybe it isn't a full map, but it tells us where we've been. That, to me, is helpful.”

“About as helpful as a hole in the head,” Blaire huffed, folding her arms.

Sensing rising tension, Ryan tried to move their conversation onto a more peaceful topic, and removed his own black device from his pocket. “What... are these things anyway?” Anzumon sniffed at the item in Ryan's hand.

Blaire explained. “My brother had one... not exactly like this, but I guess it might be a similar sort of thing.” She traced the pink lines with her fingertips and turned the item over in her hands. “I think he called it a... a D-Touch? It was touch screen... and Digital. Not the most imaginative name in the world.”

“Well, this isn't touch screen,” Katrina advised her. She tapped a button and caused the map to vanish. “But it's a digital piece of kit. Maybe we should give them a new name?”

Ryan smirked. “Like what? Mary?”

Blaire chuckled while Katrina looked at him disdainfully.

“More along the lines of... Digital Extractor or Digimon Extractor. Or D-Ex for short,” she said, turning hers over. She turned her head to face Ryan. “Of course if you'd like to call yours Mary, I'm sure we'll all understand.”

“Digital Extractor...?” Ryan repeated slowly. “Why Digital Extractor?”

“It makes sense to me. They seem to extract the information on Digimon we've met and store it. It goes pretty in-depth,” Katrina told him. “However, I would guess there's some information we have to find out for ourselves, as there is some data missing.”

Ryan's mouth quirked into an amused smile. “You’ve been thinking about the name for this thing for a while, haven't you?”

“An hour or so,” Katrina admitted with a small shrug. “Kept my mind occupied.”

“It gives us something to refer to them by I guess,” agreed Blaire, her tone bored. Her D-Ex lay on the ground beside her, and Muertomon picked it up to examine it further.

As he did, one of the Biyomon approached them with two wooden bowls.

“Dinner is ready!” she announced happily, and handed one bowl to Blaire and one to Muertomon.

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

Their meal had consisted of a bowl of grains similar to couscous, green leaves, berries, and water. Ultimately the food had been pleasant, if plain, and had at least meant everyone had been fed and was full after not eating the rest of the day.

Almost straight after their meal one of the Biyomon led the group of six through the village and into the largest hut. A small fire was set in the very middle, filling the hut with warmth. Smoke generated by the fire escaped through a small hole in the roof. There was no door, just an archway.

Laid out around the fire were three mats made of leaves and grasses as a kind of blanket against the ground.

“Why do you have a place so big in a village where you're all so... small? I know you said you snuggle up in here when it's cold but... even so, the roof is really high when none of you could be over four feet,” Ryan asked, sitting down on one of the natural blankets.

Biyomon smiled. “We used to have many visitors coming this way before... and many were much bigger than we are, so it made sense for them to have somewhere to stay that could accommodate them. We're always willing to offer shelter to weary travelers.”

Ryan nodded, appreciating the logic. “That makes sense.”

“I'll leave you to sleep,” Biyomon said. “Please call one of us if you need anything.”

“Thank you!” Grindymon called, watching as Biyomon departed, moving back towards the huddled Yokomon and other Biyomon.

“It's not exactly a five-star all-inclusive resort, but at least it's a shelter and somewhere to sleep,” Blaire said, lying back on the blankets with her hands behind her head. “I'm not tired though, do they think we're little kids?”

“We're human,” Katrina murmured. “We're probably something they have never ever dealt with before. Biyomon even said that the others have never seen Digimon like us. Makes me wonder if the villagers think we're Digimon.”

“Does it really matter?” Blaire sighed. She rolled onto her front. “Now what?”

Ryan scratched his head with both hands before running them back through his hair. “We could play twenty questions,” he suggested, leaning against the wall of the hut.

“What's that?” Muertomon asked.

“A game,” Blaire told him. “You think of something, the other people ask you yes and no questions to discern what you are thinking of.”

“Oh,” muttered Muertomon. “That sounds dull.”

“Agreed.” Blaire sat up. “Let's have a look at these.” She snatched the pieces of paper from Katrina, who had been looking over them quietly.

“Excuse me!” snapped Katrina, scowling.

“You're excused,” Blaire replied, smiling sweetly.

Ryan laughed to himself, while Katrina's eyes narrowed. “I was looking at those. You could have asked instead of snatching them like a four-year-old.”

In return, Blaire shrugged one shoulder and looked over the pieces of paper one-by-one. The light of the fire helped her get a better look at them, compared to when they had first glimpsed the maps in the forest as it was getting dark.

“I wonder what this language is,” Blaire said aloud, turning one page to a portrait orientation and examining the words closely.

With the firelight the ink on the pages was more pronounced, and it was easier to make out some of the faded areas that had been damaged by time or water. While the language was one that was foreign, it was not difficult to understand what each of the different line strokes or groups of lines meant.

Large expanses of rounded lines appeared to mean a wood, or forest. Lines running parallel to one another were a river. Singular outlines seemed to mean the edge of an area-like landmass. Sharply drawn triangular lines in a cluster indicated mountain ranges. And there were large areas with no discerning features which Blaire assumed meant they were open ground. Other blank areas between landmasses were decorated with fish, showing open water, like the ocean. There were some markings that were not as clear in what they meant. Wavy lines drawn vertically down, and lots of small dots drawn close together, spreading over a few areas.

“The edges have been singed here,” Blaire pointed out, running her finger along the broken edge. “Must have been in a fire.”

“Sure you're not holding it too close to the flames?” Katrina asked shortly from across the hut.

Blaire ignored her. “Ryan come and have a look at these.” She shifted over a little, allowing Ryan to sit beside her as he closed the space between them. Anzumon and Muertomon looked on with interest, peering over each other to get a better look at the papers.

“I think the compass on this page was added later,” said Ryan slowly, taking the page away from Blaire. “The ink is a different colour, it's darker than it is here... Maybe it was added in afterwards? Check the other pages.”

“Don't boss me around,” Blaire told him, her tone saccharine with a warning edge to it. Regardless of her words, she did as he said and held each page up to the light. Only one page had a compass that was the same color ink as the rest of the ink on the paper; all the others had discrepancies and discolorations.

Ryan held two pages one in either hand. “I'm pretty sure this must have been one map at some point.”

“Why say that?” Muertomon held another page, and was turning it over and over, unable to make sense of the drawings or the words.

“Well, there are six pieces here, and the lines on each page carry on, like they were joined up once and torn apart,” Ryan explained. “I'm guessing that the compasses were added to the other pieces of paper when the map was torn up originally. Perhaps so that if they got lost or separated, anyone who found a piece could still tell the direction?”

“That's possible... I guess. Certainly a theory,” Blaire admitted, resting her hands in her lap and watching as Ryan laid one piece of paper on the ground, and grabbed a stone to hold it down so it didn't fly away in the wind.

“Pass me another piece,” Ryan held his hand out, and Muertomon passed him a second sheet.

Blaire shuffled across the ground towards him. She stood and started to examine the pages she held in her hands, understanding that Ryan was trying to put them together like a jigsaw.

Ryan rose to his feet and looked over Blaire's shoulders at the paper she held. Being higher gave them both a better view of the pages on the ground. “Try that one,” he pointed, “underneath the first.”

“No...” Blaire shook her head. “The lines wouldn't match up, there's no river.” She shuffled the pages, looking at each of them closely. “I think... this one.”

Ryan frowned. “That makes no sense. If anything it's upside down.” He turned it.

“No.” Blaire pursed her lips together tightly. “The compass was the correct way up, so it is right.”

“So you're an expert cartographer now too?” Ryan asked argumentatively. “The compasses could have been drawn on the papers the wrong way up,” he explained roughly. He held his foot down on the paper as Blaire went to turn it around.

“Move your foot!” ordered Blaire, trying to peel Ryan's foot off of the map page.

“No!” Ryan growled. “Pass me another piece of the map.”

Katrina groaned from the other side of the hut, resting her head in her hands, unnoticed by the others. Grindymon floated by her, looking between the arguing pair and Katrina. Both Anzumon and Muertomon sat to the side, away from Blaire and Ryan. Muertomon was now more interested in the other treasure he had retrieved from the Gazimon's hiding place, while Anzumon simply stared at the bickering two.

“You're going to rip it!” Blaire snapped.

Ryan put his foot down harder. “No, you're going to tear it if you keep pulling.”

“Ryan!” Blaire shouted. “Lift your stupid foot up!”

“Stop taking over, I'm the one who worked out this was all one map!” Ryan barked. “We can work together.”

“FINE!” Blaire released a feral growl as she shoved the other pages into Ryan's chest roughly and he stumbled back a little, not expecting her to push him, let alone push him hard.

He turned the pages over in his hands. “Was that so hard?”

Blaire had her arms folded tight to her chest, her eyebrows furrowed, and the look in her narrowed green eyes could have curdled milk. She stepped away from the page already on the ground and watched as Ryan deliberated over the pages and laid them down one after the other, keeping them each in place with stones.

Anzumon watched from the ground curiously.

“That's wrong,” Blaire told him at once. She bent to her knees as Ryan stood back to admire his work.

“You didn't even look properly,” Ryan complained. “It’s right!”

Blaire growled rounding on him as she knelt on the floor. “You have a landmass here,” she pointed, “and have attached it to a sea. This is a mountain range, and for some reason, you have a river going up to it. Water flows down pulled by gravity. Not up. Water cannot flow upwards unless given assistance!”

“It is right,” Ryan stated defiantly, folding his arms.

“Move,” Blaire ordered and shoved him.

Ready for her this time, Ryan did not budge. Blaire began to rearrange the pages; the only one she left alone was the original piece that had been laid on the floor. Once she had finished, she stood up.

“That's wrong,” Ryan mimicked her.

“It's RIGHT!” shouted Blaire. “You're being too pig-headed to see it!”

“STOP,” Katrina shouted suddenly, scrapping her hands back through her hair, her eyes wide. Grindymon flew back in surprise and Muertomon dropped the pocket watch he was examining. “Just stop. Please. I am literally begging you to shut your mouths and give it a rest for five minutes.”

“Well, maybe it wouldn't bother you so much if you would help!” Blaire replied loudly.

Katrina got to her feet. “I was going through the map pages before you snatched them away from me, if you happen to remember!”

“And when we figured out it was a map, you could have joined us in working it all out!” Blaire yelled back. “But no! You choose to be a self-important, antisocial, unhelpful, spiteful bitch!”

“Why would I want to join in your...,” Katrina lifted her hands helplessly and looked between Blaire and Ryan, “your twisted battle of who can shout over the other the loudest?! No, thank you. I like to have quiet when I'm trying to figure out a problem!”

Blaire placed her hands on her hips. “If you're not going to help us then you shouldn't complain.”

For a moment, Katrina's mouth was open, as she tried to comprehend what Blaire had said. Grindymon hovered at her side, her expression worried, mouth covered with her fins, while Muertomon and Anzumon watched, and Ryan stood towards the back of the hut awkwardly.

“WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?!” Katrina screamed. Digging her fingernails into her hair, Katrina sighed loudly. “That's it, I am done. Finished. You two can tear each other to pieces. I really couldn't care less.” She marched towards Blaire purposefully.

For a moment, Ryan thought Katrina might slap Blaire and readied himself to get in between the two women. Blaire was standing proudly in place, her chin high and her eyes burning into Katrina. Ryan held his breath as Katrina reached Blaire and paused.

Luckily, Katrina proved to be in control of herself enough to simply shove past Blaire. She stalked out of the hut, into the village and the darkness.

“Wait Katrina! Wait!” Grindymon flew after her swiftly, leaving Blaire, Ryan, Anzumon, and Muertomon in a stunned and heavy silence.

“Should...,” Muertomon spoke first, “should we go after them?”

“No,” Blaire said breezily, pushing a few straying strands of hair back over her shoulder. She kneeled and adjusted one of the map pages that had been dislodged by Katrina's feet. “Let's try to work this out.”

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

For some time, Blaire and Ryan worked solidly together in puzzling out the six pages to create the full map, only speaking when they needed to move the pages, or if they agreed or disagreed with the placement of one of them.

The atmosphere was uncomfortable after Katrina left. Even the Digimon noticed it, and neither Muertomon nor Anzumon said anything while Ryan and Blaire toiled over the map pages. They kept themselves occupied with Muertomon's trinkets instead.

Once Blaire and Ryan were in agreement that the pieces were where they should be, and the map made sense, Blaire asked one of the Biyomon for something to fasten the pieces of paper together so they didn't get out of order again. Biyomon returned with a ball of twine, made from grasses and stripped vines, and a crude wooden needle. The same kind of materials they used to make the leaf and grass blankets.

Blaire quickly set to work, sewing the pages together carefully, while Ryan struggled to settle, and seemed agitated, much to Blaire's chagrin.

“She wandered off, if she gets into trouble it's her own fault,” Blaire told him, when Ryan had sat down only to stand up and pace again for the umpteenth time. His pacing was annoying and also off-putting for her. Sewing the pages together wasn't exactly an easy task.

“You don't have to be callous,” Ryan told her, leaning on the wall, peering out of the open door into the village. The fire in the centre of the village was still burning, and it gave plenty of light. The Yokomon and Biyomon crowded around it, some of them asleep, others wide awake on watch. He was hoping to spot Grindymon's light somewhere in the gloom. “There's no telling what's outside in the dark.”

“Probably nothing,” Blaire replied indifferently. “I don't see why she got so pissed.”

“You were arguing. Again,” Anzumon pointed out. “And you've been arguing almost all day. Anyone would get annoyed. I know I lost my patience with the two of you bickering much sooner than Katrina did.”

“People argue,” Blaire retorted, looking up from the pages. “You deal with it. You don't throw a hissy fit.”

“Katrina isn't used to people fighting like we are...” Ryan folded his arms. “You and I have brothers and sisters. We've grown up with that kind of atmosphere. Katrina is an only child. It's probably hard for her to listen to.”

Blaire rolled her eyes. “Boo-hoo.” She put the maps in her lap for a moment and rolled her head around to ease out some ache in her neck, before she returned her attention to the delicate work at hand. “If she can't deal with people arguing and fighting and, you know, being human beings, that is her problem. Not mine or yours.”

“We're all in a difficult and unusual situation,” reasoned Ryan. “Maybe we should try and make things easier for each other by listening and talking. Instead of fighting.”

“Whatever,” Blaire sighed, continuing to sew. “Do whatever you think will make everyone happy. I don't care.”

“Well that's helpful,” replied Ryan.

“If you want to be the peacekeeper, then be my guest. I'm not going to stop you. But you might have to accept that sometimes some people just don't get on with other people,” Blaire explained offhandedly. “And there's nothing to be done about it.”

Ryan made no attempt to answer and decided to simply think on Blaire's words.

More time passed in relative quiet where Blaire grafted the six pieces of map together diligently and Ryan tried to settle, leaning against the wall of the hut, watching his companion work. Despite all their walking that day, he didn't feel tired. Similarly, when they had eaten earlier, Ryan had been hungry to begin with. After only a few mouthfuls he had felt full and eaten the rest only because he felt obligated to and had not wanted to insult their hosts.

Outside the wind had died down considerably and the once-clear sky was now filled with clouds, which obscured the full moon as they travelled slowly. Time seemed to drag in the hut with nothing to read or do, and with sleep not coming upon him, Ryan could only stare at the ceiling or out into the night. Both choices were preferable to his own thoughts, which only made him worry about home.

Anzumon was up on his feet suddenly, alerting Blaire and Ryan with his quick movements. The griffin was at the door of the hut, peering out into the darkness with his wings spread.

“What?” Muertomon followed the other Digimon and Ryan approached the door behind him. Blaire remained sitting, looking without moving.

It was clear to see what had caught Anzumon's attention. Ryan could see a light in the darkness that did not come from the fire. It was in mid-air, floating and bobbing up and down. The closer it came the clearer its owner appeared.

“Katrina's back,” Ryan announced, looking back at Blaire.

Blaire finished her stitch. “Great,” she said, without enthusiasm.

“We were getting worried,” Ryan told the orange-haired woman as she stopped a few feet from the doorway. “You alright?”

“Fine,” Katrina replied curtly. “My D-Ex started going off while I was walking. Kind of beeping, or something, and it showed something on the screen. I didn't think investigating it myself would be the smart thing to do, so I came back to get the two of you. It might be important.”

Ryan nodded. “Okay, well... maybe we should check it out in the morning?”

“No, now,” answered Katrina.

“It's not very far...,” Grindymon added gently.

“I assume the two of you aren't doing anything particularly important,” said Katrina.

“Just fixing the map together,” Blaire informed her, rising to her feet. “Not that you care.”

Katrina toyed with her earring. “You're right. I don't.” She turned on the spot and started walking again with Grindymon in tow. “This way.”

Ryan was first to follow, not wanting to let Katrina leave alone again as she insisted on going on this mission now, rather than waiting for daylight. Muertomon waited with Blaire as she decided what to do, her own curiosity being what pushed her to follow them. Not wanting to be left out, Anzumon followed after the five of them, taking off into the air and flying above them.

At Katrina's insistence Grindymon kept about a foot in front of the group, lighting the way. She looked back at them all every-so-often to ensure no one was falling behind. The humans all congregated together to not lose one another, while Anzumon kept airborne and Muertomon brought up the rear to protect them if need be, and make sure they were not followed.

They walked in silence, Katrina keeping her eyes on her D-Ex as she retraced the steps she had taken after she had left the village. She had gone straight and then curved right, following the sound of the running water. That had led her up a slowly inclining hill.

Almost as soon as they began to walk up the slope, her D-Ex started to squeal and flash with a green light. Slowly at first, maybe twice a minute. The further up the hill they walked, the more regular the noise and light both became.

“What is that?” Anzumon's question caught everyone by surprise and the grouped stopped. He hovered above them, wings flapping slowly.

“What is what?” Muertomon squinted, looking in the direction that Anzumon was staring unable to see anything.

“There's something glowing on the crest of the hill,” stated Anzumon, pointing with one of his front legs. “Over there.”

“Did you see anything glowing when you got here the first time?” Ryan asked Katrina.

“No. But then, as soon as my D-Ex started making noise I went back to the village,” she explained, peering at the readings on the screen. “I think whatever is glowing is what is making it react.”

Blaire continued walking, brushing past Katrina and Ryan. “Let's go and have a closer look then.”

“I...,” Grindymon hesitated, “I don't know if it's wise to just head straight towards it...”

“We've come all the way out here on a whim,” Blaire stated, stopping and crossing her arms as she faced the others. “Might as well see what all the fuss is about.”

“As it's my D-Ex that's reacting, I'll go first,” Katrina informed her, pacing past Blaire and carrying on up the hill with Grindymon beside her.

“Fine,” Blaire sighed, following. Ryan rubbed his hands over his face, suddenly feeling worn out by the two women he was with. The icy atmosphere was bad and he was beginning to see where Katrina's frustration with himself and Blaire had come from. Listening to other people bickering was draining.

As they drew nearer, they noticed that the glowing was coming from within a hole on a stone. This one stone was the largest of seven, sat in the middle of six smaller ones, three on either side. The others were not glowing, though they also had holes carved out of them. On the approach, Katrina's D-Ex ceased to complain, and seemed to go into an automatic mode, beeping quietly with the screen still showing nothing but a green glow.

“So what is it?” Ryan asked, as Katrina peered into the small space, squinting at the shining within.

“It's a vial. Like the one Blaire has,” Katrina explained. “Only it's green, not blue.”

Anzumon pawed the ground, somewhat agitated. “Can you remove it?”

Katrina pushed her hands through the small space, scraping her fingers and knuckles on the rough rock. Her fingers clasped around the cylinder, and she pulled. “It won't budge. I don't want to pull to hard and risk breaking it.”

Beneath them the ground shook suddenly, Blaire fell back and Anzumon took off from the ground. As the trembling stopped, Katrina's grip on the vial tightened and she tried to pull again.

“Why is this hill covered with moss?” Blaire questioned, speaking mostly to herself as she brushed her fingers over the ground, surprised not to feel grass. Muertomon helped her to her feet.

Again the ground quaked, more vigorously this time, and from beneath them a rumbling growl echoed up. The ground beneath their feet shuddered tremendously, and the area around them was suddenly rising from its place, the moss breaking away from the soil of the hill, revealing glowing shapes.

“Oh my God...,” Blaire breathed, trying to keep her balance.

They were standing on the back of something that was slowly waking up.

There was a quake, as if the mass they stood on had shaken itself like an animal. The three humans and Muertomon lost their footing and were suddenly rolling down the sides of the creature, Anzumon and Grindymon following them at speed in the air until the four of them hit the ground of the hill where a huge hole now was.

The creature they had awakened towered above them. It appeared to have a body made of stone, aside from the moss covering its back and one of its front legs. Its shape was four-legged, each foot with massive claws, a tail with a blade attached to the end, and metal bangles around the front two legs. Its lower jaw was metal too, with sharp serrated teeth. In the claws of its left front foot there was a club, which had a glowing green pattern covering the end of it. Similarly, there were other areas of it glowing: symbols on its legs, over its back, and curved lines across its ankles and sides. The symbols were all the same, a glowing infinity loop.

“What the Hell is that?!” Ryan yelled, pushing himself to his feet, frozen in place by the sight of the stone marvel.

Katrina's D-Ex was showing a fuzzy image of it as she stood up. It crackled with static, and aside from the image and the name there was no other information. “Behemon Shade... or Behemon-SHD,” Katrina replied, looking up from the image to the real thing as it stretched its club, holding an arm above its head, waking slowly. “I don't...”

“What do we do?!” shouted Blaire. “We can't leave it! What if it squashes the Biyomon village?!”

“Leave it to us!” Muertomon told her, hurrying past Blaire. “It’s slow, but keep at a distance! Skull Grenade!” He launched his head at the side of Behemon's neck, grabbing the goliath Digimon's attention.

“You cannot be serious!” protested Ryan. “It'll flatten you!”

“Spark Javelin!” Anzumon flew above him, the white lighting shooting from between his horns and running across Behemon's back.

Behemon turned its head slowly, its tail lashing back and forth, already growing irritated by the attacks of the much smaller Digimon. Anzumon dodged once, rolling in midair as Behemon's tail came across him.

“Aqua Needle!” Grindymon cried, releasing a series of small shots from her antenna straight into Behemon's face. Behemon roared at her.

“Soul Launcher!!” bellowed Muertomon, withdrawing the flamethrower and releasing a long blast of flaming butterflies.

Behemon bellowed, swinging its club up above its head. Unnoticed by the Rookie Digimon, Behemon's club was surrounded with a black aura, which followed it like a blanket of vapor as he swung the weapon down to the ground.

“Look out!” shrieked Blaire, as she watched as Muertomon leapt out of the way with a moment to spare. Both Grindymon and Anzumon dodged from the air, swirling uneasily in the updraft of the swing.

“Skull Grenade!” Another skull exploded on impact with Behemon's side.

“Volt Blitz!” Anzumon's electricity spread across his wings. He charged along Behemon's back, crashing his antlers into the back of the stone Digimon's head before taking off into the air again, speeding upwards.

Grindymon charged towards Behemon, her fins and tail engulfed in black water. “Nether Splash!” she exclaimed, spinning to land punches across Behemon's face.

Roaring, Behemon's club came hurtling down to the ground again, causing a crater where it landed. Muertomon rolled into it, avoiding the club as it came down a second time against the ground, creating another crevice in its place.

Behemon was flailing with its club hand, distracted by Grindymon's unrelenting punches and unable to focus on Muertomon on the ground or Anzumon in the air, who continued to bombard the stone giant with flaming skulls and blasts of white lightning.

“Their attacks aren't doing anything...,” Katrina realized, bringing her hands up to her mouth, the severity of the situation dawning on her.

Despite how well the small Rookies were fighting, Behemon didn't seem to be tiring or even losing power. In fact it seemed to be speeding up. It was distracted and had no precision on its club attacks, but it was no longer sluggish and sloth-like in its movements. It was fully awake now after its slumber, and had something focus on.

Their Digimon.

“What do we do, Blaire?” Ryan asked frantically, turning towards her.

“Why are you asking me?!” Blaire replied, her voice raised in panic.

“You're the one who knows more about Digimon than we do! You said so yourself!!” Ryan told her, his hands clenching into fists. “So what do we do?!”

“You want me to be in charge now when it suits you, is that it?!” Blaire snapped.

“You're going to start arguing now!?” shouted Katrina, glancing back at the two of them. “There are much bigger problems to deal with right now if it had escaped your notice!!”

Above them a low, eerie howl erupted from Behemon's throat, releasing a black cloud around its head at the same time. More gas escaped as the deafening noise continued and it spread fast around Behemon's head, into the air and covering the ground. Grindymon hovered above the cloud, panting. Anzumon was still on Behemon's back, safe from the gas, and Muertomon had run around to the back of the creature to escape it.

“Soul Launcher!” More flaming butterflies blasted from Muertomon's flamethrower, burning against Behemon's back legs. The skeleton Digimon was shaking, the exertion of the fight beginning to take its toll. Even Anzumon could barely keep airborne for more than about thirty seconds.

“Nether Splash!” Grindymon yelled, moving in as fast as she could at Behemon's face.

“Volt Blitz!” Anzumon joined her, charging along the rock Digimon's back towards its head.

Anzumon's horns smacked against the hard stone of Behemon's neck, sending the electricity between the two antlers across its body. Behemon grumbled loudly, sounding more annoyed than anything, and rose up slowly onto its back legs. It plummeted swiftly to the ground, knocking Anzumon from its back and making the ground shake under the heavy footfall.

The black gas had been spewing from Behemon's mouth all the while, and had swallowed Grindymon in its choking embrace as Behemon had ridded itself of Anzumon.

“I can't see!” Grindymon announced, her panic-stricken voice rising up from the cloud of black smog. She rubbed her eyes and floated around blindly. “I can't see!!”

“Grindymon!!” Katrina shouted after her, running along the ground, following the shape of the small teal Digimon. “GRINDYMON!”

“Help me!” Grindymon wailed. The light at the end of her antenna was out completely in the panic; her voice was filled with terror.

“Follow my voice!” called Katrina desperately, trying to get close enough that Grindymon could hear her.

“Soul Launcher!”

“Spark Javelin!”

“Watch out for the smoke!” shouted Ryan, keeping his gaze trained on Anzumon, who seemed to have thrown all caution to the wind and was picking up the slack for the incapacitated Grindymon. He was firing one blast of lightning after another at the stone giant with no care for himself, completely focused on Behemon below him.

“Skull Grenade!” Muertomon's head exploded against Behemon's underbelly, and Muertomon dashed to one side, avoiding its feet as Behemon stamped them and roared.

Behemon rose his club as he bellowed, spinning quickly and slamming it down into the ground. Muertomon dodged the huge feet, narrowly avoiding being stepped on.

“Katrina, be careful!” Blaire screamed, watching at the redhead leapt out of the way, rolling across the ground with Grindymon cradled in her arms, barely avoiding the club as it came down and left a gaping hole in the ground.

“Spark Javelin!”

“Skull Grenade!”

Another war cry filled the air, echoing up from Behemon's throat. It swung again blindly with its club, waving it madly through the air, trying to strike whatever it could. Anzumon went careening through the sky, affected by the sudden and conflicting air currents and unable to right himself for a moment.

Ryan ran, following the griffin with his eyes.

As Anzumon recovered he flapped his wings wildly, speeding through the air like a torpedo. “SPARK JAVELIN!”

Behemon rounded on him, hearing the cry of the small griffin. Black gas sprayed from his mouth at the oncoming Rookie, who didn't notice until the smoke had engulfed him. The white lighting was just visible through the smog, but it missed Behemon completely and Anzumon was suddenly flying blind, unable to tell one way from the other.

“Muertomon is the only one left able to attack...,” Blaire realized, gritting her teeth hard.

She could see the skeletal Digimon beneath Behemon's massive body, avoiding its feet and the club when it came hurtling towards the ground, getting off attacks when he could but mostly trying to avoid being stepped on, crushed, or located by the huge creature.

Digging around in her back pocket, Blaire pulled out the glowing blue vial that Dalimon had given her and her D-Ex, staring at the both. “What am I supposed to do?” she said aloud, knowing she would get no answer.

Beginning to tap buttons on her D-Ex furiously, Blaire brought up images of Muertomon, and the other Rookies. The small area that she and the others had covered, a compass. Nothing useful.

“Reyez would know what to do...,” she muttered softly to herself. But Reyez wasn't there to help her or tell her what to do. And if she wanted to reach the Circle and rescue him, she would have to figure things out herself.

Blaire's hand clenched around the vial as she held it against the D-Ex, the contents glowing prettily. She noticed the substance inside was full of bubbles, and that now she was looking more closely, the vial itself had a circuit-like sheen to it.
“None of this helps me!” she raged, tightening her grip on both the vial and D-Ex, fighting the urge to throw them both to the ground. “What the Hell do I do?!”

Suddenly her hand gave way and liquid was dripping through her fingers. Something sharp was sticking into her palm, spreading a pinching pain across Blaire's hand.

“No... no, no, no!” Blaire breathed, holding her bleeding hand up, staring desperately at the escaping vial contents as they dripped down her skin. The vial had shattered in to two halves, and the liquid had almost entirely spilled out of the glass onto her hand and onto her D-Ex, smeared across the screen and the main body.

“This can't be happening!” Blaire cried, desperately trying to scoop up the contents with her other hand before they dripped to the ground.

The D-Ex burst to life without warning, wailing, and the screen was suddenly glowing a mixture of bright pink and blue.

Underneath Behemon, Muertomon was swallowed by a light of the same color.

“Muertomon, Plasma Evolve to...”

His whole shape changed. Muertomon's body and head merged, elongating into two parts: a large rounded thorax and a smaller head with fangs. From each side of the body, four long bony legs sprouted, each leg ending with a long pointed claw. Two smaller skeletal arms sprouted from the front part of the body, and flowers grew between the head and thorax. As the light dispersed it was clear to see that between the joints of the thin skeletal legs were orange tufts, the left arm was wrapped with a large leather bangle with a gold buckle. The main body was black; the thorax decorated with an intricate skull design, and the ornate marking was both orange and yellow in places with beautifully detailed patterns all over it. Both the fangs and the back end of the thorax had the black coloration descending into a more pink-mauve color. Around the whole body were butterflies of all shapes and colors, attracted to the blooms about its abdomen.

“Pelmamon!”

Blaire stared, her eyes wide, trying to comprehend what had just happened. She glanced between the remains of the glass vial in her hand, her D-Ex – on which the pink lines were glowing brightly, and a knotted heart symbol had appeared in the previously-blank lower circular space – and Pelmamon.

“What happened!?” exclaimed Ryan, running towards Blaire with Anzumon kicking and squirming in his arms, still unable to see.

Blaire was shaking, unable to speak.

Katrina approached from the other side carrying Grindymon. “How did Muertomon do that?”

“He...,” Blaire found her voice and managed to choke out a few words, “he evolved...”

Attracted by Pelmamon's shining light, Behemon moved its huge legs, revealing the giant spider beneath it.

The club was raised, engulfed in black smog as it came hurtling down towards the ground.

Pelmamon skittered quickly to one side, moving swiftly across the uneven surface, the butterflies trailing him.

The skull decoration on Pelmamon's thorax began to glow, joined by his fangs as a ball of pink energy was formed in front of them. Butterflies swarmed around it while it grew, as Pelmamon continued to move, avoiding Behemon's feet and the club as it came crashing down a second time.

“Venom Cannon!” Pelmamon hissed, shooting a powerful beam up at Behemon's club arm. On impact, Behemon roared and the club dropped from his hand, denting the ground where it lay and began to roll down the slope.

Behemon growled and roared, struggling with its injured arm as it tried to catch the club before it was too far out of reach. It missed and lost its balance, toppling uneasily onto its side.

Black smog bellowed out of Behemon's mouth, covering the ground and the air around his body thickly. Pelmamon was swallowed up by the cloud too, as Behemon growled, pushing itself to its feet using its remaining good arm.

“Where did Pelmamon go...?” asked Ryan, looking blindly into the cloud of blackness. “That stuff blinds!”

“I know,” Blaire snapped, not angry with Ryan, more worried for her Digimon.

In the past Reyez had explained to her the evolution of Digimon. How when he had been in need of her help or protection, Ailurmon had evolved to Bambusmon and beyond. Blaire had even seen it occur firsthand, but it hadn't been like the evolution of Muertomon to Pelmamon.

There had been no need for additional things to trigger the evolution, like the contents of the vial, it had all been gut instinct for Ailurmon. “Come on...,” Blaire breathed, unconsciously pushing the glass in her hand further into her palm.

Behemon was stomping on the ground, bucking and whirling like an out of control bull, growling and grunting, throwing its head manically from side to side, roaring in outrage as if trying to summon a challenger. The smog was clearing, rising up into the sky, and still Pelmamon was nowhere to be seen.

Blaire was beginning to fear the worst.

What if Pelmamon had been caught underneath Behemon when it fell? He was certainly bigger than Muertomon, but Behemon was huge and by comparison Pelmamon was still relatively small. It wasn't an impossible thought that he could have been crushed beneath the stone giant’s bulk.

“Primal Executioner!” Pelmamon's voice seemed to come from nowhere as he sprang up from under the ground, fissures erupting across the soil, generating from where Pelmamon had appeared. The earth beneath Behemon's bulk began to crumble under the stone monster’s weight.

The skull on Pelmamon's thorax was glowing again as Behemon tumbled into a deep hole, flailing and roaring as it did. The giant's forelegs and tail thrashed and grabbed wildly for the edge, in an attempt to climb out as Pelmamon scuttled towards the trap.

“Venom Cannon!” The pink beam fired from Pelmamon's pincers, aimed for Behemon's head.

Black smog blew up from within the snare, causing Pelmamon to back away a little, preparing another attack.

“That thing has a weak spot,” Katrina informed Blaire as she examined the fuzzy image of Behemon on her D-Touch. She had not noticed before, but through the static there were details all around the image, pointing things out. Power levels and strengths, just the same as on the images of Grindymon and the others.

Blaire looked at her. “All ears.”

The image of Behemon was badly distorted, but it was possible to see a power indicator, focusing in on the seven stone spines that had been exposed top-side from Behemon's back. “I think he needs to attack the area where the vial is. Not the vial itself, otherwise it will break.”

“Alright... It's worth a try,” Blaire murmured. “Pelmamon! Aim for the rock spine things! On its back!” she shouted, cupping her hands around her mouth and hoping the spider Digimon had heard her.

Behemon roared, slamming its right foreleg down on the ground, the reverberations sending Pelmamon skittering back a few feet and toppling onto his back. He wriggled his legs in the air as he rocked back and forth to gain momentum before righting himself after a few seconds. The orange skull was glowing once more, the butterflies fluttering madly around Pelmamon's blooms. The pink energy formed in front of Pelmamon's fangs as the big spider snarled.

He ran, scurrying close to the open-ground trap, avoiding the huge stone feet that threatened to flatten him, dodging one way and then the other as he approached on swift spindly legs.

“Venom Cannon!” The pink beam was aimed for Behemon's back, and ran all the way along its spine, smashing the stones it hit and burning up the moss that surrounded them.

Behemon's movements slowed, becoming sluggish and deliberate. The thrashing stopped and the glowing markings across its body were extinguished as a low, weak growl escaped from its mouth.

Pelmamon skittered back from the golem, as Blaire and the others ran towards him across the grass.

“Are you all alright?” Pelmamon asked, as Blaire approached him. His voice was deep and held a tinge of concern. It sounded like it should have come from a gentleman in a suit, rather than a larger-than-life spider.

“I think so...,” Blaire murmured, her eyes wide as she tried to drink in every detail of the huge arachnid before her. From the size to the colors, the flowers and the markings, Pelmamon was, in a word, magnificent.

Pelmamon pointed to Blaire's hand with his own. “You are bleeding.”

She shook her head. “It's nothing.”

“Oh!” Grindymon gasped, drawing looks from those around her. “Oh... I think my vision is coming back...”

“Good!” Katrina enthused, holding the small creature up. “You had me worried for a minute.”

Grindymon snuggled into Katrina's arms. “I'm sorry... Thank you for catching me...,” she said softly.

Anzumon grumbled quietly in Ryan's arms, no longer squirming but eager for his own sight to return so he could fly again.

“How you doing, Anzumon?” Ryan asked the griffin, shifting the creature in his arms a little to be more comfortable.

“Okay. I guess,” Anzumon replied shortly.

Aware that was all the response he would receive, Ryan smiled. “Good,” he said, and then turned to Katrina. “You should go and get that vial, Kat.”

“You think it's safe?” murmured Katrina, peering at the stationary goliath, expecting it to wake up and roar at them any second.

“It is no longer functioning,” Pelmamon told her, and scurried towards the edge, turning so his abdomen hung from the side a little. He began to produce silk, weaving strands together and dangling them over the edge of the earth until the line was long enough to reach the Behemon below. “You can climb down... it is safe. I assure you.”

Katrina looked skeptical. “You expect to me to climb down something that you just produced from your butt?”

Blaire managed to hide a smile, and Ryan snorted.

“It is safe,” Pelmamon repeated, his tone a touch annoyed.

“...Okay...,” Katrina murmured, stepping towards the giant spider and grabbing a hold of the string of silk he handed to her. “Climbing down a giant spider's silk. Definitely not something I would ever find myself doing...”

Within a few minutes she had returned with the vial that had started the whole mess in hand, glowing green and unharmed despite Pelmamon's attack on Behemon's spine. As she clambered up over the edge of the spider's trap, Pelmamon shone a brilliant pink and shrank, returning to the size and form of Muertomon, who flopped back onto the ground, holding his skull once the light had faded.

“Wow! What a rush!” Muertomon stated, taking Blaire's good hand as she helped him to his feet.

Grindymon's light flickered and she hovered amongst the three humans and the Digimon. “I think we should get back now,” she suggested, and was pleased when no one argued with her.

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

Elsewhere, far from the safety of the Biyomon village, the Gazimon who had escaped the attack on his gang was being led through an underground tunnel, frightened, cold, and hungry. His terror was justified as he was only too aware that those who entered these catacombs were rarely seen again.

The tunnel opened into a hexagonal room, with a high ceiling and a single throne in the middle. The setup was rather provincial. The throne was raised above the ground, above anyone else standing, and was the centerpiece of the room. The ceiling buzzed and bustled with activity, unseen Digimon moving and scurrying across each other above. There was no real light to speak of, the only illumination came from a hexagonal hole in the ceiling, not very wide but it allowed the moonlight in.

The noise was enough to fill the room and drown out any other sound, something Gazimon was grateful for as he tried to swallow his fear. He crossed the floor slowly, his fur on end as the noise increased as he neared the throne. He knew to stop and kneeled. Those occupying the royal seat were in shadow.

Gazimon saw one of the figures raise a hand, and the whole room became silent in moments.

He heard his breathing and tried to calm it

“What do you come–”

“–to report?”

The first voice was female: deep, commanding, well-spoken. The second was male, gruff and to the point with a certain edge of warning to it that Gazimon knew to fear.

He knew to fear both.

“My brothers and I... were attacked,” Gazimon explained. “The treasures and valuables we were collecting for you... lost.” He kept his eyes down, not daring to look up. He did not want to see even a glimmer of their expressions.

“Lost?”

“Lost?”

Both voices were displeased, their quietly bubbling anger coming through in the short word. Gazimon trembled on the ground.

“My brothers were killed,” Gazimon explained.

“A minor–”

“–loss... You should have been–”

“–more careful.” The female voice sounded angrier now than the male.

“It was an accident,” Gazimon told them, his tone desperate. “Allow me to make amends to both of you. I will retrieve the most valuable piece, the map I stole–”

“The map was lost as well?!” the female voice screamed. “You did not think to keep it elsewhere?!”

“Ignorant fool.” Male this time. “You have no clue of the value that map holds!”

“I will get it back for you, from those that took it!” Gazimon begged.

The female growled softly. “You know who–”

“–took it?!”

Gazimon faltered, his voice catching in his throat for a moment as he made the mistake of looking at the shadows of those he spoke to. “Yes... I can remember them. Three Digimon, and they were t-travelling with...”

“With?!”

“With?!”

“...With humans,” said Gazimon slowly.

The ceiling was alive with sound again, angry buzzing that grew louder and louder, like thunder, until they were silenced with a small gesture from those enthroned.

“Humans?” the female voice repeated.

“That treacherous little chameleon...,” the male hissed. “Getting in our way.”

“Hush, my love.” The female. “Do not anger yourself. We will trap him soon enough, and he will give us the information we require.”

“If you say so,” the male spoke, he seemed calmer immediately.

“And you,” the woman's voice. Gazimon saw her rise from the throne, just the outline of her. “You have proven yourself utterly worthless. It is a mercy that others destroyed your kin as it saved me the trouble...”

“Bu-but... I can get the items back!” Gazimon pleaded, his eyes wide. “I can. I will!”

She wasn't listening. “We have no more use of you.” She turned her back, and the buzzing began again, rising in a cacophony of noise, as if it were a drum beat. Gazimon turned his head upwards in time to see a horde of bees diving down from the height of the ceiling.


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