In the depths of the city-- no, strike that. Under the depths of the city, feet beat hard on the ground, echoing through the sewer tunnels, a startling change from the otherwise (relative) silence.
"They have to be close," one whispered in a hushed, but urgent, tone to the other digimon riding on his back.
"Are you sure?"
There was a pause. "I hope you're right. ... You don't suppose Era has--"
"Don't even think about it," the first said back before she could even finish her thought. "We're here on a mission, and if we have to go in to get them ourselves, we're going to. The sovereigns chose them. Yggdrasil summoned them. If Era had already gotten them, we'd know."
The female digimon's eyes closed, and she sighed out deeply. "I know, I know. Let's go, then." Even as she said that, the sound of approaching footsteps echoed towards them from behind. "Run!" she hissed; her carrier needed no second bidding, taking off like a shot through the sewer tunnel.
"So, uh, this a surprise?" Simon asked a bit sarcastically, shading his eyes as he looked over the skyline, and put his arms akimbo. It was still morning-- if they could surmise the sun's vague position through the thick white clouds, it'd be perhaps ten, eleven in the morning. The sound of the ocean behind them and the city in front mingled into a wall of sound from every direction.
"We've never been out of the Wide Forest, yeom," Delfinimon pointed out, "and things like this... don't exist there, yet. This is an Era city, I'd bet anything."
"So I don't think it existed before he appeared," Iguamon concurred, shaking his head.
However, Emily blinked a few times, and pointed towards the city. "... incoming," she said in a sort of flighty tone; they turned to look, and indeed, a figure was coming towards them, slowly. It looked... honestly, like a five-pointed star with legs and arms, with boots and gloves and a scarf trailing behind it.
The kids took it as a bad sign indeed their D-GEAR units already lit up.
"I'm learning to hate these things," Faris said in only a half-joking tone before they began to speak-- but not in the same voice as usual.
"Is this thing workin'?"
The digimon nearly fell over themselves. "Deekamon!" was muttered here and there, and Egakumon personally went over and shoved his nose at the D-GEAR clipped to his partner's belt.
"That chip thing he put in," Toby reasoned, blinking a couple times. "Uh... ... do we just talk back?"
"Y'there?" Kamomon tried, jumping into the air as Emily held her D-GEAR nearer her face.
"Ah!" Deekamon's voice crackled through, and they could almost see the little weirdo smiling. "Good! It's working as planned, then."
Even Rajamon smiled a little, despite himself. Andrea was the next to talk, however. "We've only got a little bit of time, something's getting near--"
Deekamon seemed to take the short time to heart, and outright cut her off. "Then I'll be quick. You've reached the Great Ocean, I assume? Good." (They noticed he didn't even wait for a response.) "I've got a couple friends that should be coming to help you, to get you to where you'll need to submerge."
"Neither of them looks like a star, do they?" Faris cut in.
"No-- a big dog and a cat. Why?"
"Because we're kind of busy," Lammon said, turning her attentions. The star-like digimon had gotten within ten meters; before anything more could happen, the D-GEARs all beeped as one. Their screens flickered-- turned off for just a second, before they began to glow again. This time, the now-familiar digital voice started up.
Starmon. Adult-level mutant digimon. Borne of the data of a space exploration program, it is said to fight only for what it thinks is just, using its Meteor Shower attack.
"'Just', huh?" Andrea remarked snidely.
"Wonder what they're calling 'justice' nowadays," Julian added, putting his hands in his pockets.
More comments couldn't be made, however, as Starmon came within earshot. "Look natural," Iguamon advised in a whisper; they took it to heart, and stood fast, looking at the approaching digimon.
"Well ain't y'all a bunch of funny-lookin' digimon," Starmon drawled, putting his hands on what could be assumed to be his hips. Julian's eye twitched a little bit at his accent.
"Well, we're n--" Toby began to say-- he was going to say 'not digimon', presumably, before Delfinimon hopped in, sensing an impending disaster.
"Don't give us away," Rajamon said in as quiet a voice as he could muster, before he smiled at Starmon. "We just got here."
"I can tell that," Starmon said; he was acting friendly. Why, then, had their D-GEAR units come to life? The kids began to get confused, but the Digimon seemed to be letting their guards down-- which served just to confuse the kids further. "So why're y'all here?"
"Just traveling," Egakumon threw out immediately, shrugging. Starmon gave them a suspicious look up and down.
"Really, then?" he said, and folded his arms. "'Cause I've heard word that some suspicious sorts were comin' through the caves. Attacked an innocent Drimogemon, I reckon." The kids froze. "Y'all wouldn't'a heard of anythin' like that while you were passin' through?"
Before he even waited for an answer -- before anyone could even start to attack he threw out his arms and began to yell: "Meteor Sho--!" whumph!
The kids had thrown up their arms to protect their faces, and the digimon were on the defensive-- but all twelve gradually relaxed as they realized no attack was coming.They could only stare, dumbstruck, at what had happened.
Starmon was now on the ground-- and looming over him, pinning him down, was a great black dog, with another creature sitting on his back, holding tight. The dog opened his mouth and bellowed, "Schwartz Strahl!" From his opened, roaring mouth he fired a blast of black energy, which smashed straight into Starmon. Starmon couldn't even get another attack out; he was rendered unconscious.
"Heel, boy," the digimon on the dog's back said, a bit sarcastically. "We don't need to haul around another digitama. We're good for now."
Now that the sudden scene had ended, the kids got a better look. The dog was big, and bony; really bony. His fur was black, with a brown underside; His spine and ribs stood out as though there were nothing between them and the skin. Red orbs seemed stuck into each of his limbs, and in place of dewclaws he had great razor-blades. A big, shining spiked collar settled around his neck, and all-too-long claws tipped each toe.
On his back was a much smaller digimon, much like a cat. Her colours were like a calico cat's; her eyes were bright yellow, and her hands (forepaws?) were covered with big brown gloves. Each big ear ended in a tuft of brown fur, as did her tail.
"Looks like we found Deekamon's friends," Emily remarked, smiling a bit. The dog and cat both smiled; Dobermon kneeled his front legs down.
"My name is Dobermon," he said, and tilted his head. "And this is Mikemon. I see you knew we were coming?"
"... kind of," Simon said. "Didn't know you were going to come like a bolt out of nowhere."
"That was pretty neat, though," Rajamon said, grinning at Dobermon. Dobermon smiled thinly back.
"You guys were Deekamon's charges?" Mikemon asked, hopping off of Dobermon's back-- she was just about the size of all the partners. She stuck her hip out at an angle, hands on her hips.
"Yep!" Egakumon said enthusiastically, pumping his fist.
"Sadly," Rajamon added.
"... yes," Iguamon said, looking between the others as though asking if they had anything else they wanted to add. "We were with Deekamon until just a couple days ago."
"And then the children arrived," Lammon motioned her head towards the humans.
Delfinimon grinned a bit sheepishly, and nodded. "It's been kinda crazy ever since, yeom."
"We can assume," Dobermon said, paused, and then explained: "The news is spreading quickly. If I were you, I would stay on your guards."
"... what news, that we're going around getting attacked by agents?" Kamomon asked, tilting his head; Mikemon looked prepared to answer, before her ears perked up.
The cat's head snapped around in the direction from whence they had come. Dobermon followed her gaze, and so did the group-- a wide, tall sewer pipe draining out into the ocean. A low, droning buzz escaped the pipe, the very sound causing ripples in the water.
"We'll be right back," Mikemon said, clambering onto Dobermon's back. They didn't say anything more as the pair took off, Mikemon holding on to one of Dobermon's nigh-exposed vertebrae as though she were on a bucking bronco.
"..." Toby stared after as the dog and cat leapt into the shallow water and dashed into the pipe. "... those guys are kinda weird." The others seemed to agree.
"No freakin' kidding."
"Well, if they're friends of Deekamon..."
There was a sort of uneasy silence for a few minutes; the group shuffled and tried to get a better bearing on their surroundings. They cast cautious looks around and in towards the buildings, as though waiting for another to come. Starmon showed no signs of stirring. "I hope those guys weren't just a distraction or something," Andrea remarked, "to get us to wait here while something else--"
Julian stepped over to Andrea, cutting her off, and looked her dead in the eye. "Do you ever stop thinking the world is against you?" he said in a completely flat voice, folding his arms.
"Excuse us for being cautious!" Rajamon chimed in, looking suspiciously up at Julian as he curled around Andrea's legs.
"Fighting isn't going to get us anywhere," Iguamon snapped straight back, stepping beside his partner, "especially if you keep trying to start it."
"Is this normal?" Emily whispered to Kamomon, who sighed and nodded, looking up at his parter.
"Those two have never gotten along. ... those two, and Egakumon. None of them have ever really gotten along too well, really..."
"Like, a Mexican standoff?" the girl with bleached-blond bangs asked, putting a thumb to her chin in thought. The seagull cocked an eyebrow.
"You're weird, Emily," Kamomon said, but a smile was plastered on his face, and Emily smiled back. He then looked over at the pipe; he looked just in time. Almost as suddenly as they had gone, Dobermon and Mikemon broke into view again, looking a bit battered and beaten as they stopped in front of the group again.
"Welcome back?" Faris tried, raising an eyebrow. Dobermon was breathing heavily, and bared his teeth as he shook his head.
"Water's not safe," he said, still shaking his head. "Got Agents in the sewers. Lots of 'em... so they're probably in the water too."
"We gotta find somewhere to hide," Mikemon continued, casting a suspicious look over her shoulder. She gritted her teeth, and looked at the city. "Think we can make it to...?"
Dobermon nodded. "Yes. Of course we can." He looked now to the group. "Follow me. We'll... go slowly. So you can follow on foot."
"Wait!" Kamomon said, holding up a hand. He turned his attention to Rajamon, Iguamon, and Lammon. "... you guys think you can carry us?"
Kamomon's suggestion wasn't as bad as it suggested-- within a moment or two, the three whose attention the bird had gotten now stood in their Adult forms. Andrea, Julian, and Toby each sat on their respective partner's backs. As for the others? Simon (with Egakumon piggybacking) managed to fit on Velocimon's back along with Julian; Emily, Kamomon, all fit on the large Baghamon's back. Only Delfinimon went along with Toby, as the sheep didn't think she could carry altogether too many. Faris, meanwhile, managed to make himself relatively comfortably -- for both parties -- on Dobermon's back, though his protruding spine bothered him just a titch.
"We good to go?" Mikemon asked, crawling up Faris' back. With a nod from Dobermon and the three Adult-level partners, they took off with Dobermon in the lead.
Even with their weighty loads, they moved far faster than human feet (and the stubbly legs of the Digimons' child levels) could carry them. Following after the dog, they shot straight into the belly of the beast-- or, the buildings, as it were. Dobermon led them through a wild set of alleyways-- such to the point that they scarcely saw another soul, despite hearing quite enough of them.
"Geeze!" Faris exclaimed, holding on tight to Dobermon's collar. "You're fast for such a skinny pup, ain't you?" The dog digimon merely threw a smirk over his shoulder and continued running.
Before long, they reached another sewer opening-- this one was quite dry. The wide pipe opening led under a road and, it seemed, further underground-- perhaps it had been a river in days past, and came out at some other part of the city, or into the ocean.
"Go quickly," Dobermon said, kneeling to let Faris off of his back. The partners followed suit, and almost immediately turned back into their child-level forms. It was no surprise-- they were tired.
"No more digivolving today," Lammon said, stretching her legs out. Mikemon hopped off of Dobermon's back, and took the lead. Into the wide pipe they went; it was only about ten feet long, and just as wide across.
Inside was a room-- rectangular, perhaps ten by twenty feet; and sparsely decorated. There was room, at any rate, for the six partner-pairings, Dobermon, and Mikemon. Though it was a bit cramped, there was not much in the way of furniture to get in the way. A single lantern -- this one actual normal light, not the eery red light of the caverns -- hung from the ceiling. Between that and what light came in from outside, it was dark but easy enough to see one another.
"Swanky, yeom," Delfinimon remarked in jest, laughing a little.
The partner digimon sat themselevs down first; the humans followed suit, and lastly Dobermon lay down with Mikemon at his side.
"The news has been spreading," the dog said, "as we said earlier."
"What news?" Toby inquired, blinking.
"That you're here!" Mikemon said, holding her hands out palms-up. "We've heard about it for years, y'know. Waiting." The kids seemed... confused at best, and the digimon seemed curious-- perhaps they had heard some permutation of this before, but wanted to hear of it from another party.
"You don't think Deekamon was the only one who knew, right?" Dobermon said, smiling thinly again. "There may not be a digimon alive who doesn't know about it... Era's made sure of that." His red eyes narrowed. "That's why the Agents have been attacking you."
"... because people knew about us?" Andrea said, raising an eyebrow. "Explain what you mean."
"You hold the Virtues," the dog said. "The sovereigns chose you to protect the Digital World from what threatens it... and Era knows they mean him. He knew this would happen." He paused for dramatic effect, then motioned to the digimon. "You twelve are the only ones that can do it. It is the will of Yggdrasil."
"So," Mikemon picked up. "For years he's been spreading lies-- propaganda -- that it's you who are the threat. All across the Digital World, you're going to run into digimon who are going to want to help you..." she motioned to herself and Dobermon, who nodded his head. "And Agents. And... digimon who aren't Agents, but buy the hype... or just want to stop fighting Era."
The kids sat in stunned silence, looking between eachother and their partners; their partners were looking, one and all, at Dobermon with determined expressions.
"There were supposed to be fourteen," Dobermon remarked in a somber tone. "What happened to Sampamon?"
"... we don't know," Lammon admitted, hanging her head. "We're looking for her almost as much as we're trying to find Wisemon."
"We'll find her!" Simon said suddenly, pumping his fist. "And her partner, too, whoever he-- she-- ... they are!"
Dobermon scrutinized the boy, before he nodded. "I believe you, and I wish you luck. You are going to need Sampamon and her partner."
"Wait," Iguamon spoke up, folding his arms. "Wisemon should be able to help us with that, shouldn't he?" he asked, looking around; Mikemon nodded.
"If nothing else, he can tell you where to begin to look," the cat mused, nodding thoughtfully. "... we still need to tell you where to go, unless you want to dive into the water and knock on doors until you find him."
Delfinimon and Faris smiled; the others sighed.
"Well, hooowdy," a voice from the pipe said, drawling much the same as Starmon had. The group turned to look.
In the light stood a silhouette; they could make out glowing yellow eyes on an all-black face, a big cowboy hat and a tattered scarf. Cowboy boots, complete with spurs, were on the newcomer's feet, and he held a revolver pistol in each hand.
However, most remarkable was that his entire torso seemed to be one collossal revolver in and of itself.
In the dark room, the D-GEAR units beeped and began to speak again.
Deputymon, adult-level mutant digimon. It always upholds justice with its partner Starmon, but it has a carefree side that loves to gamble-- especially Russian Roulette. Beware its Justice Bullet-- the gun on its torso isn't just for show.
"Oh, no," Rajamon groaned. "Another country bumpkin."
"Y'all are the ones who attacked my deputy," Deputymon drawled at Dobermon as he stepped further into the room, twirling one of the guns he held and keeping the other one trained on the group at large. "And y'er harborin' enemies of Era, ain't'cha?" That's treason."
Dobermon snarled and reared down as though to strike; before he could, Deputymon whipped his sights onto the dog pulled the trigger. "Down, puppy!" The bullet from his gun burst on impact, but it laid the dog down on the ground. He was still breathing, and showed no sign of reverting to an egg, but Mikemon yelped and ran to his side immediately.
The cowboy digimon's eyes lit up with mirth. as he entered the room proper, pacing in front of the group of digidestined and their partners.
"Ain't it funny that I'm the sheriff 'round here? What with my name and all. And this place-- seaside, y'all. Ain't no place for a digimon like me, but I ain't gonna complain."
They didn't seem amused.
"Y'all are all enemies of Era, ain'tcha?" he asked, looking over them and continuing to twirl his guns. He didn't wait for an answer. "I'd know it anywhere. Ain't no humans 'round these parts, and we all know what humans in the area means."
Egakumon growled and began to move towards Deputymon, but Simon grabbed his tail. When the rabbit turned to look in amazement, Simon shook his head. "You're going to burn yourself out," the boy whispered, "if you keep trying to get into every fight in front of you."
"So, what?" Delfinimon said urgently, frowning.
"Panic?" Rajamon replied with a roll of his eyes. He glared out at Deputymon, but said nothing higher than a whisper.
"Everyone who can do that... digivolve thing is at their limits," Toby said, frowning, and then added with a look at Egakumon, "or going to get himself hurt. We can't exactly fight."
"Sure we can."
It was an unexpected statement from Emily; the entire group turned to look at her. Her eyebrows were knitted in concentration, and she cast a look at her D-GEAR.
Kamomon nodded and stood up.
"One'a y'all's fightin' back!" Deputymon chuckled. "Well, don't worry, kiddies, I'll only give this one what's comin' to him. The rest'a y'all can come peacefully."
Kamomon, if he had teeth, would have gritted them as he darted forward and across the room. "Seagull Strike!" he exclaimed, holding his hands up above his head and preparing to hit Deputymon.
"Justice Bullet!" Deputymon called out, and from the gun barrel on his chest there fired a massive bullet on a crash-course with Kamomon. It struck true, and threw the seagull almost all the way back to the group.
What they didn't expect was that he got right the heck back up without even giving himself a second to rest, and opened his beak as he rushed. "Ocean Blast!"
This time, he fired a shot of water; and this time, the attack actually connected. However, Deputymon leapt out of the way of the seagull's charge, leading Kamomon to barely avoid running into the wall.
"Yeh've got some life in 'yeh, don't yeh?"
"He's lost it, yeom," Delfinimon remarked to anyone that could hear her. Even as she said so, however, it seemed that it was Kamomon's time to shine -- pardon the expression-- as he was encased in the white light that signalled only one thing.
Kickstart Digivolution, begin.
"Kamomon, kick-start digivolve to..." Mid-stride, Kamomon's legs grew longer and his body altogether taller. All of the weight in his upper arms seemed to move to his forearms, until his upper arms were thin and his forewarms were nearly ovals tipped with claws; tufty feathers sprouted on his elbows. His tail grew longer, and split down the middle; the feathers seemed to bend at two places. The toes of his boots covered his feet; pants and a vest appeared to cover his body. A red bandana tied around his head, and a ponytail-like trio of feathers were tied behind his head. Last of all, a flintlock pistol, complete with holster, attached itself to a newly-formed belt. "Kaizokumon!"
"Fancy tricks y'got, pardner," Deputymon drawled, twirling his pistols again and looking smug. "But y'ain't got nothin' on me."
Almost instantly, Kaizokumon drew his pistol. "Flintlock Shock!" He pulled the trigger; a blindingly-bright bullet flew at Deputymon, and -- as though just to prove a point, went straight down the cowboy's torso-gun's barrel.
Deputymon stumbled backwards with a 'whoof!', and his eyes narrowed. "Y'er just doin' that to taunt me, ain't'cha?" he spat, and pointed both of his revolvers at the bird.
"Aye, matey," Kaizokumon replied-- and the distinct piratey accent in his voice was evident. He presumably had too much dignity to stoop to saying 'arr'.
Deputymon glared, and one of his bright yellow eyes twitched visibly.
"Y'er just playin' with me, pardner."
"Aye." The bird smiled.
Kaizokumon then rushed at Deputymon, stopping only so short of crashing into him. "Kaizoku Kick!" the be-feathered pirate yelled, one foot glowing with energy as he delivered a sound, solid, high roundhouse kick to his opponent.
This sent Deputymon flying into the wall behind him. His hat fell off, and-- bam. Out like a light.
Kaizokumon frowned and looked at the cowboy digimon for a moment, before he turned to the group-- and grinned. "I donno, mateys," he said, obviously quite amused by the excuse to say that, "I kinda like this. Bein' tall's fun."
Even as he said that, however, his body was covered with bright light. It dispersed, little orbs that drifted away, leaving only the pronouncedly pants-devoid Kamomon in its wake. He sighed dramatically, but good-naturedly, and walked over to the group again, where he found himself pulled into a hug from his partner.
Emily grinned. "Cool. My partner is a pirate. I always did like them."
"Looks like I'm the only one left, yeom," Delfinimon said, rolling her eyes, but smiling regardless. "Aw, no problem, I'm gonna be more awesome than all y'all, anyway."
"That's the spirit," Faris said, smiling.
"Are you okay?" Lammon asked as she crept over to Dobermon. The dog sort of rolled over to be more on his feet, growled a bit-- Lammon took a step back, just in case.
Dobermon shook his head, and opened one eye to look at the lamb. "I'm fine." As though to demonstrate his point, he stood up-- a bit shakily. Mikemon put one of her hands on his side, as though for support.
"We had better move before he comes to," Rajamon provided, looking cautiously at the unconscious cowboy. "Don't think I can handle any more of that accent."
"Likewise," Andrea said, nodding, then looked at Dobermon and Mikemon. "Deekamon said you would help us find where to go?"
Mikemon nodded her head. "Wisemon's base can be a bit tricky to find, especially if you submerge at the wrong point." She looked at Dobermon; he nodded, and she gingerly climbed up onto his back again. She cast a look to the others. "Do you guys think you can follow? It's not far, and I don't think Dobermon will be going as fast as he may like."
Simon looked at the others, who were nodding and shrugging with a chorus of 'sure's and 'whatever's. He looked at Egakumon, who gave him a thumbs-up. "We're good to go."
Even in his injured state, it was a bit hard to keep up with Dobermon. Only through periodic tugs on his collar from Mikemon would he allow the kids to catch up. It didn't seem intentional, even, but...
He led them through a few more back alleys-- further down from where they had emerged from the Proxy Caves, and further back out towards the beach. They could hear a murmur of digimon here and there, perhaps who had caught a glance, but the six digimon and six humans were surprisingly stealthy. (Except for when Simon paused to admire a bit of spraypainted art on the wall.)
It was a good fifteen to twenty-minute run of trying to avoid being seen, avoiding hitting anything, and keeping Dobermon in sight. The kids suspected they took a longer route than they needed to in the name of chasing off any potential followers, but eventually they emerged onto the beach.
"Hate doing that," Faris groaned, nearly doubling over, one hand on his knees and the other on his side. "There's too much running around in this place."
Julian looked as though he were going to make a comment, but even he was winded. Instead, he turned to Iguamon. "You good?"
Iguamon nodded. "You forget, we're practically made for this." He paused, and coughed, and looked up and to his left-- away from Julian. "But that would have been much easier if I were Velocimon." Julian smirked a bit.
"I'm good to go!" Egakumon said, jumping into the air-- and spectacularly failing to land, instead face-planting into the sand. Simon bust out laughing. "Or not," he added sheepishly.
Rajamon and Lammon stretched their legs out, while Delfinimon groaned and flopped over, saying, "Never again. My fins are gonna have callouses on them forever."
Dobermon smirked, and sat down on the sand. He turned his head to the water. "Here," he said, looking out. It was hard to tell how he knew, as it was an unremarkable stretch of beach like any other. "Wisemon's base is out in the ocean here."
"Uh," Toby said slowly. "... we can't breathe underwater."
Mikemon spoke up, now. "So?" she said, her tail twitching; the kids stared, but the digimon seemed unfazed.
"Digial world works differently," Delfinimon provided, smiling a bit. "You can't breathe water in your world, right?" The humans nodded.
"But do you remember when we got reformatted?" Rajamon asked, looking up at the partners. "One of the Great Ocean's format changes-- it mixes your data around, I mean. so you can, too."
Lammon nodded. "The Proxy areas move data from one place to another, but also optimize it for where they're going, if it needs it. If we went back to the Wide Forest, we wouldn't need the ability anymore, so..."
When the kids looked at eachother and blinked, likely wondering how they knew this, Kamomon filled in. "Deekamon."
"Figures," Andrea said, but looked cautiously at the water. "You're sure about this?"
"Absolutely," Dobermon said, nodding his head. He looked back down the beach towards the entrance to the proxy caves, which was farther away than they perhaps thought it was. "We should go, Mikemon. We've done more than we planned to, already."
"Keep in touch," Emily said with a little wave, smiling. Mikemon smiled.
"Deekamon's got that covered. We'll get to you if we ever need you 'round here, y'know. If we get arrested and need someone to pay bail or something."
"Good luck. It's cliche to say, but we're all counting on you," Dobermon said with a bow of his head. Mikemon waved. Just like that, Dobermon took off like a bullet, kicking up sand as he did.
The kids and digimon alike watched him leave, until he was nothing but a little black dot rushing off down the beach, with a little orange-ish speck on his back.
Simon was the first to look back to the ocean.
It was steel grey-blue, and the clouds overhead made it look forboding, but the water was smooth except for the gentle lapping of waves on the beach.
"So. Last one in's a rotten egg?"