Episode 13: Unlucky Thirteen

"Crap crap crap crap crap."
Simon muttered the word, looking at the sky and clutching the sides of his head like they were halves of a coconut that he was trying to keep from falling apart.

"Did I miss something?" Denimon asked, tilting his head.

"You guys," Lammon said, quietly.

"Yeah, we're kind of two members short of a team, yeom," Delfinimon, still being held by Faris, answered, her brow furrowed. She looked up at Faris.

"There's another... pair of partners," Julian said, having to search for the proper way to put it, and he frowned a little bit. "And they apparently they ran off. Why am I not surprised?"

"Or..." Faris said, but trailed off; he shook his head.

Indeed, Emily too shook her head, and looked down at her feet. "Let's try to be optimistic?" he tried, looking down at Kammon, whose expression was clearly dismayed.

"You guys?" Toby tried, as the group began to talk all at once; he was lost under the chatter.

For about thirty seconds, there was mass chaos throughout the little makeshift camp, until...
"You guys!" Toby and Lammon up and yelled togther; considering both of their usually-quiet tempraments, the rest turned to look immediately. (Except Denimon, who was busy watching a bird digimon fly by, far overhead; he looked after a short delay, when he realized that the group had turned attentions.)

Once the group's eyes were on them, Toby sighed and returned to his usual lower volume. "Don't our D-GEAR things--"

"D-GEAR units," Lammon corrected quietly, but she let her partner continue.

The short boy held up his black D-GEAR, and pointed to it, a bit exasperated. "They have a radar, remember? Unless Andrea dropped it, I mean, we should be able to... right?"
There was a moment of silence-- and then a group face-palm and an unspoken duh.

"We... haven't had to use it before now," Emily admitted a bit sheepishly, rubbing her upper arm.

"Well, let's not waste time!" Kamomon half-yelped, flapping his arms. "Who knows what could've happened to her already?"

"Can I help?" Denimon asked cheerfully, sitting up straight.

The humans and digimon looked at eachother for a moment; he probably couldn't digivolve, but another set of eyes couldn't hurt, could it?

***

The beast roared, rearing its head back and snarling. Andrea could feel its hot breath from where she stood, even as it towered over her.

"I see y'got a bit of a problem!" Forbidramon's sneering voice drawled from behind; Andrea tightened her fist, instinctively whipping around as though the imposing, skull-faced digimon weren't there.

"We've got this under control!" the girl snapped. "Rajamon, help me out, here!"

***

The remaining five kids and digimon, followed closely by Denimon, took off through the sandy scrub and thin grass. They bumped into trees and even saw evidence of life, other digimon, popping their heads out to see what was the matter. They paid them no need, a flurry of feet kicking up debris, eyes on the lookout for girl or tiger, following the blinking dot on the map.

They ran towards it, full-tilt, for almost twenty minutes, and though they were almost there it felt like no headway had been made. Stitches in their sides and breathing heavily-- even the digimon seemed to have lost their fuel -- they slowly came to a stop.
"How'd she get this far away?" Egakumon panted, shaking his head, his ears flopping around him.

"I don't know," Delfinimon groaned, flopping into the sand-- she had refused to let Faris carry her all this way, and had lolloped the entire way. Her fins hurt like no other. "Maybe she turned into some sort of mach-speed digimon."

Denimon blinked. "You things can do that?" he asked cheekily, looking between the humans.

"No," Julian replied dryly-- literally, it seemed, as he began to cough. His mouth felt like sandpaper after all that running.

Simon frowned, looking at his D-GEAR-- the dot that he assumed signified Andrea hadn't moved; that much concerned him.
"C'mon, guys," he said, adjusting his hat. "Not too much farther?" the boy tried, looking up.

They went as fast as they could, closing in on the signal; when the dots almost overlapped, they found themselves in a little thicket.

And then, from behind the harried group, was a familiar voice.
"Having fun?"

The kids almost instantly snapped around; there, standing between a pair of trees, with arms folded, was a tall, purple-skinned digimon with a dark figure curled around his neck.
"What did you--" Iguamon began, his eyes narrowing and pupils contracting.

"Do?" Forbidramon asked. He was smiling-- which was never, ever a good sign. "Oh, hello kiddies. Nice to see you again!"

"You know this loser?" Denimon asked to whoever was nearest-- this time, that being Kamomon. The bird nodded once, but didn't take his gaze off of Forbidramon.

The perfect-level shrugged. "I've got to tell y'eh the truth--"

Egakumon gave a cough that sounded remarkably like 'for once'; though Forbidramon's eyes fell on the little bunny, just for a split second, he didn't stop.

"I didn't do anything." He made a show of turning over a little shining orb in his hand. "But I really must thank you, by the way. You make it so much easier, I barely even have to put effort into getting these..." he looked at what he held and smirked. It began to glow, and in a flash, it was gone; in turn, Forbidramon pulsed with a strange glow for a second, and he smiled again.

The kids stood fast, but the digimon looked away and covered their eyes; it was hard for them to watch.

Simon grit his teeth. "You had to have something to do with--"

"Your little friend going missing?" Forbidramon finished for him, and sounded very mock-offended. "Why, I'm hurt. The insinuation gets me, right here." He patted with his robotic hand over where his heart would have been.

"Don't attack," Julian whispered. "He's just trying to bait us. ... again."

Forbidramon's long, pointed ears perked up, and he grinned. "Clever boy! You're getting savvy! I'll have to change up my methods. ... but more importantly, I've got a job to do."
Forbidramon snapped his fingers, and the dark shape around his neck unfurled. The three yellow eyes of his little minion seemed to materialize out of the dark, but they realized that it was just opening its eyes. (This did not make it any less creepy.)

"Now, Ichimon," the dragon said, inspecting the nails of his monstrous red hand casually, "you know what you're doing, yes?"

"Yes, Forbidramon," the little black creature said, and without another motion it spread its mouth wide. From its mouth was dripping some kind of viscous black bile; with no hesitation, it let out a cry. "Black Shot!"
The substance suddenly began to congeal into a blob, accumulating rapidly, until the black little digimon leapt forward, and it was expelled from its mouth, flying straight at Egakumon.

"Holy crap!" the little bunny yelped as it hit him-- and threw him tumbling heels-over-head backwards.

"Egakumon!" Simon yelled, running to his partner; Egakumon lifted his head and groaned, wiping the awful substance off his face.

"If that's what my paint feels like, yeesh, I'm just gonna start relying on beating th' crap out of people the old fashioned way," the rabbit groaned; there was a sinister hissing sound coming off of the black gunk, as though it were sizzling away.

"Holy crap!" Simon repeated, stumbling backwards; as soon as it was off of his partner's face, where the attack had hit was a nasty purplish-red burn; it looked like some infected, festering wound, according to the human's experience. The rabbit began groaning and whining in pain.

"That thing can't be a normal child-level," Iguamon said, casting a look quickly at Egakumon; Forbidramon began clapping sarcastically.

"Only took you that long to figure that out? Geeze. You're no threat to Lord Era at all!"

"It feels like my face is on fire!" Egakumon whined, pawing desperately at the affected area. Ichimon looked at him, and then at the five remaining digi-- wait. Five? It laid eyes on Denimon; it gave a look to Forbidramon, and gestured its head.

The large digimon raised his eyebrow, and a smirk formed on his lips. "Y'got a new one? Geeze, that chick's not gonna be happy you replaced her so soon!" he chuckled, but only for a second. "Fitting. Don't suspect any less of that lunatic's lot..." he muttered, hard to hear.
Regardless, he took a step backwards, as though to remove himself from the situation.

To the surprise of the kids and digimon alike, it was the newcomer, Denimon, who leapt forward first. He reared one hand back, rushing at Ichimon, yelling: "Abyssal Claw!"
He struck out with his clawed hand... and did nothing. Ichimon faded into shadows, nothing more than a smoky figure. Denimon stood confused for a second, but not for long. Ichimon rammed its head straight into Denimon's stomach, sending the reptillian digimon sprawling on his back.

"Look at the pretty biyomon," he groaned, waving his arm above his head. Faris quickly ran in and dragged the blue digimon away, out of the line of fire at least.

"Y'er gonna get turned into canned tuna," the green-haired boy muttered, shaking his head.

"Physical attacks aren't going to do anything to it," Iguamon quickly surmised, thrashing his tail in irritation. It was clear why-- he couldn't do anything. This didn't seem to stop Delfinimon at all; gathering light in her mouth, she rushed at the black digimon.

"Blast Bite!" she cried, and clamped down her jaws into Ichimon's body. Unsurprisingly, her teeth passed through without harming it; however, the light seemed to seep into Ichimon's body. Quickly, their opponent phased into shadow once more, and backed away; however, it hissed. For just a second, the light stayed on its body, and seemed to... burn it, almost.
It did not last long; within perhaps two seconds, the light was overtaken by shadow, and it looked as though Ichimon had been unharmed, as though it had regenerated.

Delfinimon quickly retreated, but she lowered her head and frowned.

"So what do we do?" Lammon asked, frowning. She got her answer quickly; Egakumon leapt closer, holding his brush out.

"Magic Brush!" he yelled, holding his brush out with one hand and holding his face with the other. A shining symbol was painted in the air, and flew at Ichimon; the dark digimon didn't have a chance to dodge before it was hit. It tumbled backwards, landing near Forbidramon's feet; it slunk up the dragon's leg, slinking like liquid up to his shoulder.
It began to whisper into Forbidramon's ear; the large digimon's eyes narrowed, but then he chuckled.

"I take it that the fight with Deltamon took it out of you, hmm?" he inquired. "I mean, that's the only reason that you'd not digivolve to adult, yes?"

"No," Simon muttered, clenching his fist; the kids looked at him.

"Simon, it's true, though," Toby said, frowning. "Lammon's the only one who didn't... you know, kind of get the brunt of Deltamon..."

The be-goggled boy shook his head, frowning. "No! It's because even if that thing is... whatever it is, it's not fair, it wouldn't stand a chance against an adult-form digimon!"

Forbidramon raised both eyebrows, smirking. "I take it you're the holder of," and he paused here, making sure that his voice dripped with disdain, "honor." He didn't wait for affirmation. "Well, kiddo, those little things are only going to get you so far. Call it want you want, but your lot is too tired to fight."

As though on some horrific cue, there was the noise of crunching through the brush. The group turned to look-- but they didn't have to.

The air grew warm and smelled like rotting flesh.
They heard the sound of staggered, rattling breath and crackling fire, and then... a roar.

Towering over the small trees was a great creature. It stood at well over fifteen feet tall; it was built like a centaur, with a human-like torso on top of a quadruped's body, covered with red-violet and cream fur... mostly. There were huge chunks of flesh missing from its upper torso, revealing purplish flesh and cracked, fractured ribs curled around a pulsating orb.
Long belted gloves... boots? Covered its forelegs, while belts were lashed around its hindlegs. A belt was around its midsection, with belts around its neck, and both a necklace and a belt adorned with small skulls hung around where both its torso's neck and what would have been its quadruped neck were. It had no arms, instead with pinkish orbs where it shoulders were. Unnatural purple flames crackled constantly at the top of its tail and out of the back of its head.

None of this is what made them freeze.

What made them freeze was that its face and tail had no flesh at all, made entirely of bone. Huge fangs were bared in a permanent horrible grin, with beady little yellow lights inside of otherwise-empty eye-sockets, staring blankly at the children and their partners.

It roared,and a fresh blast of horrible hot breath and the smell of rotting flesh permeated the area.

The kids' D-GEAR units began to glow.

Narakamon. Perfect-level Undead digimon. A horrifying digimon, Narakamon is merciless and cannot distinguish friend from foe. It has no insticts aside from to battle, and with not even the faintest survival instinct, it will fight until it literally falls to pieces. Beware its Judgment Fire and Shadow Claw attacks.

Forbidramon silently took a few more steps back, a smile playing on his face.

Julian spat an obscenity, clenching his hands into fists. "It's perfect-level. We're screwed," he muttered, shaking his head.

"Don't say that, Jules," Faris cut in immediately, trying to hide the fact that he was starting to tremble.

"We got this, yeom!" Delfinimon added, nodding decisively-- despite the fact that she wasn't exactly in battle condition after the run-in with Deltamon and all the running.

What they hadn't noticed was a flash of light from very nearby-- and then a shape moved past the group, and straight at the giant centaur-like digimon. "Breaker Blade!"
What appeared to be Denimon, though taller and equipped with armor (and pants), slashing at the huge digimon's legs with a a guan dao, was now before them.

It had no effect.

The blue digimon growled and leapt back, holding his bladed weapon tightly.

At least a couple of the kids made a mental note to ask how what they assumed was Denimon had reached his adult form again, but he headed them off:
"Wasn't s'posed to degenerate back, there, I think," he said, "and, well, danger lends the digimon the power to get really big again, right? ... name's Marinemon, by the by."

"It's 'fear lends the feet wings'," Iguamon coughed, but he tensed, holding his claw-gloved hands at the ready.

"Judgment Fire!" the huge, imposing digimon roared, barely coherent between the rattling breath and aimless hissing it made. It opened its mouth wide, its jaw nearly falling off, and out spewed a river of black and purple flames.

Almost instantly, the kids d-gears sprang to life again. In a flast of light, each of the five partners standing here were replaced with their adult forms, who instantly leapt towards their human compatriots.

The kids threw their arms in front of their faces, but no flames came; were they to look, each of the five would see their digimon shielding them, gritting their teeth as the flames licked at them. The flames lasted perhaps five seconds, but it seemed to last far longer-- especially to the digimon taking the brunt of the attack.
"Are you okay!?" Toby yelped, looking at the smoky sheep half-curled around him; Ariamon bowed her head, even as she trembled on her feet.

Shokunimon and Kaizokumon were the worst off, having had to all but wrap their entire bodies around their human partners to protect them; Shayumon, protecting Faris, seemed to have fared best, if the fact that the ground around her was now soaked with water was any indication.

Narakamon padded at the ground, treading closer to the group where they stood.
"Shadow Claw!" it hissed, and from the orbs at its shoulders, there suddenly sprang forth shadowy arms, segmented and bizarre-looking, almost seeming two-dimensional as they twisted. One of its arms extended out, and grabbed...

Forbidramon.

Ichimon slunk to the ground while Forbidramon was lifted above Narakamon's head, snarling; the strange digimon breathed heavily, while Forbidramon growled, held fast by the shadowy fingers. The five sets of partners hurried, moving just barely outside of the halo of charred dirt.

"It's not an Agent?" Emily whispered, looking at Kaizokumon; the pirate bird stretched out his arms, and set his jaw.

"I don't know, Emily," he admitted, gaze fixed on the scene before them.

"Dark Wave!" Forbidramon growled, a blast of dark energy escaping his robotic arm and surging into Narakamon. The skeletal-faced digimon dropped his prey, and Forbidramon fell to the ground.
Forbidramon snarled, and leapt backwards; he didn't seem willing to leave yet, but his focus had changed from the kids to keeping a eye on the new opponent-- and avoiding it. Ichimon slid onto his shoulders again, and whispered.

"... Forbidramon's afraid of it," Simon breathed, frowning deeply.

"... we're screwed," Velocimon said simply, flexing his claws.

"No we're not!" Emily snapped back, frowning and shaking her head. "We'll-- figure it out!"

"He's not afraid of it," Lammon said suddenly, frowning. "He just didn't want to face anything that could actually get any hit on him."

Suddenly, a twig snapped behind them. The kids turned; Narakamon snarled, beady yellow eyes scanning. For a second, as they turned around, their hearts leapt into their throats...

But it was Marinemon. The aquan digimon had apparently slunk off, and he was gesturing. "C'mon!" he said in a hushed voice, beckoning with his weapon.
There was a pause; the digimon decided that they would stay, the kids would inspect whatever it was they were being shown.
He led them maybe fifteen feet away-- not enough for the horrid stench to clear away, and the yells and sounds of battle were all too loud, but they were infinitely glad that Marinemon had left without warning.

"Andrea!" Simon yelled; huddled into a ball of dark hair and red jacket, head on her knees, Andrea indeed was sitting against a nearby tree.

"She looked all weird like you guys, not like any digimon I'd ever seen," Marinemon admitted, shrugging.

"What did you--" Julian said, frozen to the spot, shaking his head. "Are you trying to get killed!?" the eldest boy growled, massaging his temple.

"Shut up, Jules," Faris muttered, elbowing his brother hard. Emily crept up closer to the seated girl.

"Andrea!" Emily said, worry clear in her voice; Andrea only at her voice looked up, with an uncharacteristic sort of uncertainty on her face. "What happened?" the younger girl asked, frowning.

***

"Andrea!" Rajamon said sharply, in a low voice, turning his attention away from the battle with Deltamon. He jerked his head. "Forbidramon went that way!"

Andrea nodded. She cast a look at the group, fixated on watching their digimon be pummeled into the dust; she looked at Rajamon and nodded again, just once. Quietly, as discreetly as possible, the two broke away from the group, following their persistent (and deeply annoying) enemy into the trees. Only as soon as they were well away did Rajamon digivolve into Baghamon, for Andrea to ride on his back.

They constantly caught sight of him-- always just a burst of purple skin or the tip of his tail, Ichimon curled around his shoulder.
After perhaps ten minutes, they reached a clearing, where Forbidramon stood, facing the two.

"You're persistent," Forbidramon remarked, sounding mildly impressed, but the smile on his lips made Andrea and Baghamon distinctly uneasy. "Too bad I'm really not interested in fighting you alone. It's too... easy," he said with a flourish of his hand; Ichimon nodded.

"Stand and fight for once!" Andrea snapped, clenching her fists and her jaw.

"Why?" Forbidramon drawled, putting his hands on his hips. "You know I'm going to win. Your little kitty can't even reach Perfect yet. But if you insist!"
He smiled nastily all of a sudden.
"Claw Crusher!" He quickly extended out his red hand, grabbing Baghamon and lifting, holding him on his hind legs; Andrea tumbled off, landing on the ground with a dull thud. The cat cried out, fire gathering in his mouth and light in the gem, until the red hand tightened; Forbidramon dropped him, then, and Baghamon fell to the ground as well.

"No," Baghamon snarled, his lip curling back. "I'm not afraid of you," the tiger growled, pushing himself to his feet. "And I never will be."

"You don't know when to give up, do you?" Forbidramon said in a mildly amused tone, before he simply grabbed Baghamon by the face. "Dark Wave!" he declared, and the pulse of energy flowed straight into the cat, who fell to the ground again.

"No!" Andrea yelled, shaking her head. "We're not going to let him get away!"
And with that, she threw herself straight forward at the tall perfect-level.

She did not notice that her digivice began to glow. It was not like any of the other times thus far hers, or any other, had glowed. The device itself began to rattle-- Andrea didn't notice, chalking it up to her own movement.
She did stop, feet away from Forbidramon, when her D-GEAR began to glow.

Virtuous Digivolution, be--
The voice from her digivice ended like a TV being powered off. Had she looked, she would notice that it, too, completely powered down.
A blast of... data? Energy? Shot from the device and into Baghamon.

The tiger let out an unearthly roar that didn't stop as he began to change form. Bones began to spring out of his back. The front part of his body began to shake violently, and there was a horrible cracking noise as it extended into a human-like torso atop his body, like bones breaking and being rearranged far too fast. Orbs formed, snapping into place as flesh ripped away from his new torso. Belts and necklaces appeared, tight enough to cut off circulation.

First, his tail caught fire; the fur and skin and muscle were gone, instantly, and the flames remained only at the tip of his tail. After that, his entire head burst into purple flames, and he screamed -- roared -- in agony. The flesh outright melted away from his face as the fire consumed it, leaving only bone, and huge fangs began to grow. The fire remained at the back of his head, crackling with some unknown source at the base of his skull. One small yellow light appeared in each eye. He reared back onto his hind legs, slashing wildly at the air.
"Narakamon..." he said in a low hiss, breathing out with a rattling soud.

The beast roared, rearing its head back and snarling. Andrea could feel its hot, putrid breath from where she stood, even as it towered over her.

"I see y'got a bit of a problem!" Forbidramon's sneering voice drawled from behind; Andrea tightened her fist, instinctively whipping around as though the imposing, skull-faced digimon weren't there.

"We've got this under control!" the girl snapped. "Rajamon, help me out, here!" But... her voice wavered. She looked up at Narakamon's eyes, and saw nothing.

"Rajamon!" she yelled again.

"Get out of here!" Forbidramon yelled suddenly, gritting his teeth. Andrea stared at him -- confused wasn't even the word -- and he snarled. "Do you want to die!? GO!" and with that he leapt at the monster. Andrea wasted no time, taking off-- but she didn't get far. Perhaps five minutes away she sat down by a tree and had remained there-- and hadn't seen her teammates run by not entirely too long afterwards.

***

Andrea looked up at Emily, and then at the others. She looked in the direction of where Narakamon now fought against the five digimon, and her breath hitched.
"You guys," she said, trying to sound collected (and failing), "that thing is Rajamon."

[Chapter 13: End]