The kids went on for several days, making almost no progress. Oh, of course, they wandered around the island, having fights and encountering digimon, both friend and foe, taking advice and direction from the more amicable ones, but they found themselves no closer to finding the seventh child. By the time a week had passed since they had last seen Forbidramon, they had made several discoveries.
One: They were on an island. This realization came about when, heading inland, they found themselves... on a beach facing what they assumed was east (providing that the sun still rose in the east in the Digital World; Julian pointed out that it might have not been so when this idea was put forth).
Two: food was scarce, and when they fell upon any of it -- mostly Terrafruit, which the kids were suspecting could grow anywhere. Also of note was that it seemed to grow back immediately once picked; regardless, the group could only carry so much, and after they had eaten what they could they rationed what they brought away, unsure of when they'd find more.
Three: They were trouble-magnets. Not a day passed that they didn't get attacked once or twice. Their digimon were growing more confident in their abilities, but never once did a digimon appear that made their D-GEARS use the term 'perfect'-- the level of their beloved Forbidramon. They counted themselves lucky for this much.
"Paint Blast!" Shokunimon yelled, holding his paintbrush out like a shotgun as he nailed a large shrimp-like dragon (dragon-like shrimp?) that their D-GEARs had declared to be Ebidramon.
"Vanish Strike!" Ariamon followed up, fading into smoke and smashing her entire body into Ebidramon's side as he was blinded by the corrosive paint that felt to be melting his face.
With a howl and a roar, Ebidramon turned tail and fled into the surf.
With a flash of light, both Adult digimon returned to their Child forms; Egakumon grinned. "What's the score now? Two to one?" He looked to Iguamon for confirmation.
"I can't believe you two are still counting this," the dinosaur replied cooly, shaking his head. "I refuse to be an accessory to it."
"It doesn't count, anyway," Rajamon said airily, flicking his tail. "Lammon was the one who got the last hit in. So it's still one to one."
The little sheep blinked a couple times. "... you two realize this isn't a game of tennis, right? You're not competing..."
Her meek voice was overridden by Egakumon hopping in to reply to the tiger.
"Pfff, fine, one to one. You just don't wanna lose!"
Simon laughed, shaking his head; the past couple of days, the rabbit and the tiger had decided that they wanted to turn it into a game of who could defeat more attackers.
"They act like a couple bratty twins," Simon remarked, looking over at Andrea; she had her arms folded, looking impassive.
The older girl looked over at Simon after a second, and smirked. "Yeah, but Rajamon's right. That didn't count, Lammon had to help out."
"Oh, not you two now," Faris groaned, cupping his hands over his ears.
"Like digimon, like partner, yeom," Delfinimon chirruped, smiling.
"Ain't that the truth," Faris said right back, rolling his eyes.
That was yet another thing they had discovered over the past week; the partnerships were remarkable, even more than they might have noticed in the first couple of days. Faris and Delfinimon bounced off eachother from time to time like a comedy duo, whilst Julian and Iguamon worked in an almost-creepily-perfect sort of tandem; why, even Rajamon seemed willing to follow directions if they came from Andrea.
The digimon had said (or, rather, Egakumon said that Deekamon had said) something about the Sovereigns and Yggdrasil, but for the most part it had gone entirely over the kids' heads. The names still didn't mean much of anything to them, honestly.
"So where do we go from here?" Kamomon asked, flapping his wings and flying in place near Emily. The bird cast a look around; they were a short ways away from the beach proper, and Ebidramon's tracks were still in the sand. Both up and down the beach, it was an expanse of white sand and seaweed. There were clouds creeping in over the surf again, but the sky above was clear; the sun hung overhead, giving the impression that it was around noon.
"I propose," Emily said, looking at her avian companion, "that we give it a rest for a little bit, yeah?" When the others (and digimon) looked at her quizically, she continued. "We've been walking around for, what, ten days? We just stop for the nights, and... I donno. Y'know what I mean?" she said, shrugging apologetically.
"I think she has a point," Julian said, to the surprise of just about everyone except Iguamon. "We've been wandering around on wild goose chases since we got here."
"And 'sides that," Faris cut in cheerfully, "this beach is rockin'."
There was a bit of apprehension, but Toby spoke up. "If the digimon think they can be ready if something happens..."
"Booyah!" Egakumon blurted, sticking a fist in the air.
"I'm gonna take that one as a yes," Simon laughed.
Even those who were less ready to let down their guard (read: Andrea and Rajamon) loosened up very quickly when they got down to it, plopped down the warm sand. It felt like they hadn't sat down proper in days; Simon promptly flopped onto his back, soaking in the sun rays.
"Feels great, ma-- whoof!"
That last bit was on account of Egakumon belly-flopping onto his partner's stomach, grinning.
"Y'make a good beach towel, Si."
Simon gave the rabbit a look and shoved him off, sitting up. He took a look around.
Delfinimon and Faris had taken off for the water immediately. Andrea sat a little ways away, her little mp3 player in her hand; one of her earbuds was in her ear, and the other rested in Rajamon's. Toby had shed his large hoodie for the first time, and revealed a plain black t-shirt underneath; Lammon used the discarded sweater as a sort of beach-towel, settling down on it. Julian and Iguamon took up a place underneath a nearby palm-tree, while Emily and Kamomon followed Simon's example and promptly collapsed into the sand.
The be-goggled boy pondered for a second, then stretched out, lying down again. "We should do something as a group, I think," he mused.
"Instead of just wandering around?" Toby said with a little smile.
"Well, yeah!" Simon replied, looking up at the sky. "I mean, we've been wandering around for a week and a half, and I can't remember half of your last names."
"That may not be because of unfamiliarity," Iguamon pointed out, his hands behind his head as he reclined on the tree. Julian smirked. It took a moment for Simon to catch on, but then...
"... hey!" he said, huffing a little bit.
"But what do you suggest?" Emily said before he could continue; she was still laying down, smiling serenely, her eyes closed.
"What, sit around and talk about all of our hopes and dreams?" Andrea asked, pulling out her one earbud; her voice was dripping with sarcasm.
Simon rolled his eyes. "Yeah, no. We all know already that your dream is to become grand dictator of the world."
"Wrong!" Andrea said, smirking. "I want to be grand dictator of the universe." With that she put her earbud back in, but kept talking. "So what do you propose?"
Far away from where the kids and their partners mused, a piering wind howled and ripping over a sandy, barren landscape, while perpetually purple-red clouds swirled overhead.
Inside, it was dark, except for a single halo of light where a familiar figure stood. He cast a look around himself, flicked his tail, and gave a look to the black creature curled around his shoulders. He nodded once; Ichimon disappeared into a puff of black smoke, and then reappeared, standing behind him.
"You beckoned, Lord Era?" Forbidramon said, now, lowering himself onto one knee and bowing his head.
There was nobody else visible in the room; the voice that replied seemed to echo off of every wall, coming from nowhere and everywhere. "Why haven't they been handled yet?" it asked, a very even-toned voice with a distinct sneering inflection.
Forbidramon was unfazed, and stood up straight again. "I believe there's something to be gained from prolonging it, Lord Era. All they are doing is eliminating weak and stupid Agents, in the meantime." He paused, and the corner of his mouth curled up, baring bright-white teeth so sharp they would have seemed filed. "And beside that, it's more fun. ... sir."
There was a pause.
"I advise you don't wait until they can fight back."
Forbidramon snorted; if there were any other members of the Era Corps present somewhere hidden in the darkness, they would have been aghast. "As though there's any risk of that, Lord," he replied, putting his arms akimbo.
"If you put it off for too long, there will be consequences. You know this?"
"Yes, Lord Era," the digimon replied in a measured tone, nodding once. A second later: "Do you need me further?"
Forbidramon dropped to his knee again and bowed his head once more. "Thank you, Lord Era."
With that, Ichimon reappeared on his shoulders; the light shut off, and Forbidramon walked through the darkness out of the room. One, two, three steps-- and they were abruptly outside, standing in the sand of an unfamiliar beach.
"Thank you, Ichimon," Forbidramon said; the little black digimon nodded. He looked up and down the length of the beach; there was no sign of the children anywhere, but more importantly, no sign of their scent. He shrugged, and began to walk.
"Why are you so nonchalant, Forbidramon?" Ichimon asked quietly, adjusting its position.
"What do I have to fear?" the dragon-man digimon replied, raising an eyebrow under his face mask. "Lord Era isn't going to get rid of me any time soon, I have faith in that. Above all, I am loyal." For once, there was a sort of strange sincerity in his voice; he smirked, however, as he continued. "And moreover, none of the brats or their pets stand a chance, nor will they. I just don't want to end it just yet."
Ichimon nodded once, but said nothing, laying its head down.
The kids and digimon, meanwhile, had seemed to relax considerably, through a series of whatever parlor-games they could think of after they managed to drag Faris and Delfinimon out of the water. The kids taught the digimon the rules of games like Mafia, and Emily was a veritable fountain of silly little tongue-twister games (she said something about 'drama warm-up exercises'), while the digimon provided games of their own.
(Needless to say, Egakumon and Rajamon quickly devolved into keeping fastidious score.)
The afternoon began to wane as the sun went down, and the combined forces of Kamomon and Lammon found a veritable bounty of Terrafruit trees barely a hop and a skip away from their location. After a wood-gathering excursion up and down the beach, Rajamon was kind enough to help them light a small fire, around which the twelve individuals huddled.
"We should be careful not to let it get big enough to attract attention," Iguamon remarked on the subject of the fire, but he seemed to welcome it.
Honestly, this was the first proper "camp" they had made-- the past week had been characterized by sleeping under trees when they got tired, while someone stayed up on guard-duty.
It was a refreshing change.
Seated in the sand around the little fire, the group leisurely eating whatever Terrafruit they fancied, Egakumon looked over at his partner. "Hey, Si."
"What's it like where you're from? Like, not the real world, y'told us all about that back at Piximon's, but... like, where you specifically are from."
Simon paused, and looked at his rabbit partner. "... oh! Yeah... man, being out here's all kinds of weird to me." When Egakumon looked confused, he elaborated: "I'm a city kid, y'know? Like that place back when we came into this Area, 'cept, like, fifty times bigger." He cast a look up to the sky, as stars began to dot it.
"So being out here in the middle of nowhere's kind of a shock, huh?" Faris picked up; when attention turned to him, he rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
"Whaddaya mean, Far?" Delfinimon asked, placing her head on her partner's lap and looking up at him, smiling serenely; he put a head on one of her headfins.
Faris motioned to Julian with one thumb, then to himself. "We're from kind of a middle-of-nowhere sorta place. Jules still lives there, but..." he paused, and trailed off, smiling.
"I refuse to believe that," Delfinimon commented, smirking, "as that would imply that the population in that kinda place ever exceeded three, yeom." Even Julian smiled thinly at that.
Faris chuckled, and cleared his throat. "Just mean that when my pa and I moved to the city, it was kinda the same thing, in reverse... so it's kind of a shock now to be back to this. 'Cept there weren't psycho monsters running around trying to kill me in the ci-- wait a second. Inner city drivers. Strike that, it's exactly like adjusting to the city."
There was a collective groan.
"What city, exactly?" Kamomon piped up, fluffing his feathers up, the picture of curiosity. "Like, what's it called?"
"Capital City," Julian said, sitting back. "I visit Faris and my father there a couple times a year. 'Round holidays."
As soon as this was stated, there was a clamor from the other children; apparently, Emily had visited, despite living halfway across the country (she had family there); Toby remarked quietly that he had been through the city once or twice, but had never really stayed. Andrea, meanwhile, lived in the suburbs of the city as well.
"Do you think it has anything to do with...?" Toby asked, then, folding his legs and sitting tailor-style. Lammon looked up at him, and predicted what he was going to say.
"Why you're here?" the sheep asked, and paused. She thought for a moment, and then shrugged. "Possibly."
"Sounds like the premise for a kids' show," Julian remarked; nobody seemed to have heard him except for Iguamon.
Rajamon paused, and flicked his tail back and forth. "We'll have to ask Captain Craz--" he paused, and looked at Egakumon, before he ammended, "... Deekamon, next time we talk to him."
Andrea sighed, but nodded at the tiger. "Worth a shot."
What the group, caught up in conversation, did not notice was the dark figure suddenly standing in the sparing trees not far away.
They did, however, notice what accompanied the unannounced figure.
It was hard to miss the latter because it made itself known in the least subtle way possible.
A giant swirling black portal appeared, for just a moment. From it, stepped a digimon. It was a gigantic blue dinosaur; a ridge of dulled spikes ran down its back, and it had two full tails dragging behind. That was not what was impressive. What was impressive that it did not have hands, but rather one arm turned into a skull with fearsome teeth, while the other was long and half-robotic, bifurcating into yet another mouth from which drool ran freely.
"Meet Deltamon!" yelled a familiar voice; when the kids turned to look, however, they found themselves with a giant skull-hand smashing their fire, and the entire group scattered at only the last second.
"Crap!" Egakumon growled, gripping his paintbrush tight as he tumbled into the sand.
The kids D-GEARs sprang to life.
Deltamon. Adult-level Composition digimon. A brutal digimon, with a mind only for destruction, created by a computer bug's forcing three separate digimon to fuse, it can attack multiple enemies with ease with its Triple Force.
"Long time no see, kiddos!" Forbidramon's voice drifted over, though they couldn't see him; they could just see the smile on his face.
"Not long enough, yeom," Delfinimon muttered under her breath.
"Get over here and fight!" Rajamon snarled at Forbidramon, wherever eh was; the fact that it was unwise to do so was totally lost on him.
"I think we have bigger problems," Emily said with a bit of a waver in her voice, as Deltamon opened all three of its mouths at once.
As energy began to gather in its mouths, so did energy on their D-GEAR units.
"Egakumon, kickstart digivolve to... Shokunimon!"
"Kamomon, kickstart digivolve to... Kaizokumon!"
"Iguamon, kickstart digivolve to... Velocimon!"
"Delfinimon, kickstart digivolve to... Shayumon!"
The four adult-level digimon leapt out of the way just in time; Deltamon cried out "Triple Force!" and fired the a beam of energy from all three mouths, the force combinining into one beam. Meanwhile, Lammon was preoccupied with shooing noncombattants out of the way, away from the ocean itself, further back up the beach.
"It can attack three of us at once," Velocimon said as those fighting came to a rest, speaking very rapidly, keeping on his toes. "That obviously means that..."
"One has to actually attack while the other three dodge?" Shokunimon filled in; the friendlier dinosaur nodded once.
"I will," Shayumon offered quickly. "Kind of hard to dodge when y'ain't got legs, y'know, yeom?"
They didn't have a moment to spare; the four had to jump out of the way immediately as Deltamon lunged forward, holding its skull-adorned arm forward. "Serpent Bite!" it bellowed, and the arm began to glow with data. Shayumon didn't get her bulky tail-end out of the way fast enough; trying to wriggle free, she found quickly that it was pinning her, by her tail, into the sand.
"Tumble Kick!" Shokunimon yelled quickly, somersaulting forward and smashing his foot into the arm-- to little avail. That is to say, he hopped away quickly, holding his now-throbbing foot.
Instead, however, Velocimon rushed in. "Fast Strike!" he growled, putting his head down. One second, he was a short distance away; the next, he was smashing straight into their enemy's limb. It didn't seem to hurt the other dinosaur at all, but it achieved what it was meant to do-- Deltamon's skull arm moved enough for Shayumon to wriggle free.
Of course, wriggle free meant tumble forward, head-over-tail, but she quickly regained her composure.
"Aye, lad, get movin'! Now!" Kaizokumon yelled as Deltamon began to gather energy in its mouths again. With that, Velocimon, Kaizokumon, and Shokunimon (admittedly, the last of which who still had an aching foot) broke in three different directions.
Shokunimon rushed forward at Deltamon, and only at the last second did he put forth a tremendous effort and leapt straight over the dinosaur's head. He didn't clear him, instead having to do a quick landing and jump off of Deltamon's tail, landing on the sand behind; Velocimon ran to the left and Kaizokumon to the right, both circling around.
"Shayumon!" Shokunimon yelled at the top of his little rabbit-y lungs, just before Deltamon turned to those who had run behind it, and roared again.
The three beams of energy, this time, did not combine; instead, one was aimed directly at each of the three. Each landed soundly; Velocimon, Kaizokumon, and Shokunimon were all blasted backwards with a mighty force.
"Wavebreak Crash!" Shayumon roared, and straight into Deltamon's back she crashed, indeed, propelled by a powerful jet of water.
Deltamon was not happy about this.
In a way far too fast for how large he was, Deltamon whipped around and in its drooling, half-mechanical arm-mouth, it suddenly grabbed Shayumon. The shark let out a cry of pain; around the points where the teeth were cutting into her body, she was starting to glow white, her body preparing to de-digivolve her to preserve what energy she had.
"Flintlock Shock!" Kaizokumon yelled urgently, firing three shots quickly at the lower jaw of the mouth; one hit true, while the other two struck its body. Much to the dismay of those watching, and especially Shayumon herself, this only seemed to cause Deltamon's grip on her to tighten.
In a surge of white light, Shayumon had degenerated back into Shayumon. There was one upside to this; Deltamon's arm-jaw did not snap shut in time, and Delfinimon tumbled to the ground.
In a flash, Shokunimon darted in, scooping the dolphin up into his arms, and kicking his way out of Deltamon's range as quickly as he could, only barely escaping being smashed. He rushed for where the kids had retreated to, just off of the beach and nearer the trees, and set the dolphin down. The rabbit stayed there; he prepared to run if Deltamon turned attentions, but...
"We can't get close enough to hit anything other'n its arms!" Kaizokumon growled, clutching his pistol tightly; immediately after speaking, he began firing it again. "Flintlock Shock!"
Once again, the shots had little affect-- this time because Deltamon held up his bony arm to shield himself.
All of a sudden, though, there was a great splash of water. A humanoid figure rushed close; it was holding a staff in one hand, tipped with a blade on one end.
In the blink of an eye, it had leapt into the air and smashed back down near Deltamon from behind, before it could even respond.
The figure slashed its blade across Deltamon's back.
It seemed to have struck a weak point-- or, more accurately, the one place that Shayumon had struck before. It wasn't without a cost-- as Deltamon began to glow white, as though bleeding data from the cut, it whirled around and let out one last attack:
As its skull-like hand began to glow, it managed to catch the newcomer and close it-- just for a second. That same newcomer began to glow, too... but as an egg fell to the ground, so fell a smaller digimon. A whirl of data off of the stranger combined with the shot of light off of what was once Deltamon, as though the streams had been metaphorically crossed, temporarily, with Deltamon's attack.
Or at least, that was the best guess that anyone had.
Immediately, the kids (and Lammon) rushed forward; Faris held Delfinimon in his arms, of course. Those remaining in adult form began to shine and they, too, returned to child form. All present craned their necks to look at the creature alongside the egg.
It was small, and looked like some sort of cross between a dinosaur, a shark, and a reptile. It was denim-blue, with a a white underside, and a sort of sail-like fin on the back of its head. Its eyes were closed...
Until they weren't. One big cyan eye slid open, and a grin spread across its face.
"Blue ranger at your service!" the strange digimon said with a grin, still lying on its side.
"Not much of a ranger anymore," Delfinimon said, smiling a little bit, sounding out of breath and harried. "You're a lot smaller than you were before, yeom."
The digimon paused and looked at himself, sitting up but not yet standing. There was a pause, and then "... where did my pants goooo!?!"
The group at large couldn't keep themselves from chuckling, before Iguamon stepped forward, and coughed. "Thank you," he said in a tone that was cordial but confused-at-best.
"We'd be kinda, y'know, doomed," Kamomon said, but then paused. "... or, well, we could have managed, but..."
"No problem!" the little blue digimon chirruped, smiling. They found it hard to suspect the little digimon-- Andrea made no cynical comments, even! His sunniness was already nothing short of infectious.
Toby smiled, and picked up his half-buried-in-the-sand hoodie and dusted it off. "Um, and your name is?"
The blue digimon grinned. "I'm Denimon!"
"I like'im," Delfinimon said decisively, smiling and nodding once at Faris, who smiled back, though there was a level of worry on his face-- not about the newcomer, but residual from what had happened to the little dolphin just before.
Greetings were exchanged and names were given.
It was then that another problem presented itself.
"Hey, guys?" Simon said, looking around, his brows furrowing. When attention has turned to him, he looked at the group.
"... where did Andrea and Rajamon go?"