Episode 17: A Break in the Clouds

The twelve ran down the tunnel as though their lives depended on it. The madcap nature of the rush surprised all of nobody. Faris had once again grabbed Delfinimon to make sure she kept with them; Julian saw it fit to help so as to make sure the extra weight didn't incapacitate his brother in the frantic run.

They ran as though their lives depended on it-- it was a long run, farther even than the walk had been to the first chamber, what seemed so far back. They trusted their instincts at any forks, and they seemed to lead true, insofar that they didn't reach any dead-ends. They didn't so much as talk-- other things were more important. They had to save their breaths.

Their breaths caught, almost as one, when -- who knew how long later -- they saw a light at the end of the tunnel, a light that was quickly turning the yellow-orange of a sunset. There was a silhouette, standing stark against the light, just about as tall as Simon, with a shape curled around its shoulders.

Finally, Simon thought to himself, a ragged grin growing on his features. But the closer they got...

The black shape began to flicker, as though smoke or steam were drifting away from it and taking the indvidiual's substance with it. The kids slowed down, and in place of the sense of victory and hope, a seed of doubt -- of dread -- was planted.

That seed grew to tremendous proportions as the shape split into two, a large black shape with four legs drifting out of the human-esque one. The one with four legs was far too large, too thin.
The human-like one left behind? Was far too tall. One arm was far too long. The kids and digimon stumbled to a very swift stop.

"Hello again, kids!" Forbidramon's sneering voice echoed impressively in the narrow cave. He turned around, and in the fading light, they could see a glint in his eyes and a mocking smile on his face as he spread his mismatched arms wide. Simon mumbled something that was probably uncouth, clenching his fists tight. Nimon, standing behind Forbidramon, blocked all but the slightest of the outside light with its large black body.

"Great," Egakumon spat, gripping his paintbrush tight. "Senor Psychopath again." The little bunny looked almost prepared to rush their adversary, his tail twitching with anxious energy.

Forbidramon took a step forward. The group, to their credit, stood their ground, unmoving, prepared to defend themselves at the slightest provocation. It took a second, thus, for them to notice something important.

"Look what he's holding!" Emily yelped, pointing.
Indeed, in his robotic hand, there was a device that looked very familiar, and the digimon visibly bristled. There, clutched so casually, was a purple and black D-GEAR unit, its screen flashing on and off with a faint light. Another nasty smile pulled at Forbidramon's lips.

"Looking for something?" he drawled, shaking the D-GEAR a couple times for emphasis, and looked at the device impassively. "Pity, I don't know how to work this thing," he said, and shrugged, still smiling.

"Where did you get that!?" Kamomon demanded in a squawky voice, flapping his wings and ruffling his feathers.

Forbidramon looked over his shoulder at Nimon, and smiled. "Foooound it," he said as though he were a five-year-old. "Doesn't matter, though. Seventh brat ain't gonna need it."

The kids looked at eachother, quizzical, confused, and most of all, irritated.
Somehow, in some deep part of their minds, they knew something like this would happen-- nothing had gone right since they had arrived, it seemed like.

"What do you mean?" Julian demanded in a surprisingly even tone, though he was giving a stony-cold glare to their enemy as he looked back. The dragon-like humanoid raised an eyebrow under his mask, and chuckled.

"And you're supposed to be the smart one. I was speaking English, boy, you understood me. I said he won't need it anymore. Kind of hard to use it when you're, ah, indisposed?" Forbidramon paused, for dramatic effect.
As he expected, the group at large seemed to lock up-- Kamomon squawked and Lammon let out a little squeaking noise while the other six digimon simply curled their lips and snarled, and the humans... well...

It looked as though Andrea had to try very hard not to drop Sinjmon on the ground and rush at Forbidramon again.
Forbidramon took noted of this, and nodded his head towards her, as though in acknowledgement.

"You really need to learn to control your temper more," he said with no small amount of condescention, idly reaching back and stroking Nimon's bandaged-shut muzzle, looking then at Sinjmon. "Especially when you don't have a digimon that can, you know, lose his mind on your account to fight for y--"

"Shut up!" Andrea and Sinjmon yelled in unison.

Forbidramon smiled yet again, and continued: "... to fight for you." He looked at the D-GEAR in his hand. "Begged for mercy, he did. Really cliche. The snake didn't do much for him. Couldn't even reach perfect-level when Lord Era found them. Wouldn't have changed a thing, of course."
Toby and Lammon exchanged looks, eyes wide; the others simply became more enraged.
"But it's no matter, yeah?" Forbidramon said casually.

What he did next made the group at large jump. Forbidramon shifted the digivice into his red, monstrous hand, and in one smooth motion... crushed it.
The red hand began to glow bright, and he held it open, as though bragging-- on the palm of his hand, they could see the shining tag of the Virtue talisman.

"You've got questions, don't you," he said, turning the tag over in his hand. "Especially you." He pointed at Andrea. "Why I helped you when you forced your digimon, right?" Forbidramon's tone was mocking and snide, and Andrea began to shake with rage. "Lord Era gave us specific orders. Don't let anything else destroy you. Only the Era Corps. Because if anything else gets to you..."
He held up the tag, held gingerly between two of his red hand's claws.

"Then we lose these. The keys to Yggdrasil."

Before they could say another word, he covered the Virtue with his hand, and the appendage began to glow. He opened his hand again, and the team could plainly see the talisman begin to fuse into him. After a second, all that was left was a glowing symbol-- the same insginia the kids had seen on the snake's statue back at Wisemon's castle. And then... his entire arm began to glow. It crept up, spreading across his body, until he was bathed in white light. Nimon turned its head away, as though it found the light unbearable.

When the light faded, there were a number (three) things different about their best buddy.
The first: From his shoulderblades and ripping through his jacket, all but filling the entire path of the cave, were two jet-black, tattered-looking feather-like wings-- not so much feathers, but like ripped fabric cut into feathered shapes.
The second: from the back of his helmet-like mask, there was now a spiky mass of blonde hair, sticking out at angles, like a wild mane.
The third and final: where his eyes had been yellow just before, they were now an uncanny, vivid red, with pupils contracted.

They were small changes, but paired with the newly deranged expression on Forbidramon's face and the shock of what they had just seen...

They barely had a moment to react, before Forbidramon spoke, looking at Nimon.

"Take care of them," he said simply.

In a fraction of a second, the strange black digimon was rushing at the group. Black smoke trailing off its body, it hissed:
"Dark Area..."

The black shape and the one vivid-yellow eye on Nimon's chest was the last thing the kids and digimon alike saw before everything went black.


"Emily! Wake up! Please wake up!"
Kamomon's voice cut through the fuzzy dark haze that seemed to be surrounding Emily's mind, as did the feeling of his feathered hands jostling her arm.

The girl cracked an eye open. The last thing she had seen was the piercing yellow eye of Nimon-- and now, the first thing she saw was the big, earnest yellow eyes of her avian partner, with tears gathering in the corners near his beak.

"Oh, geeze, thank god you're okay," she heard Faris say from about three feet away, and Delfinimon gave a little 'yeom' of assent. "Didn't wanna be stuck out here, y'know. Alone. ... 'cept for the digimon, so not alone at all, but you know what I mean."

Emily groaned, pushing herself up into a sitting position-- she couldn't remember anything for the life of her, and more importantly, she didn't recognize her surroundings at all.
She, Faris, Kamomon, and Delfinimon were located in a shallow little cave-- more of an alcove in rock than anything, really. All around outside was an amazingly dense amount of exotic foliage and flowers-- vines, bizarrely-coloured trees, the sound of insects and frogs and life. It was humid and hot, and a bright sun hung overhead. The sky, vivid blue, was cut with streams of data every so often, and bird-like digimon crossing overhead.

"Welcome to the Deep Jungle," Delfinimon said, spreading her fins wide as Emily came to realize her surroundings. "... yeom."

"Uhhhh," Emily said, putting a thumb to her chin, and she looked at the gratefully-smiling seagull. "... whaaat happened?"

Kamomon sighed, and ruffled his feathers, sitting down next to his human partner. "... I am of the believe that that Nimon creature teleported us."

"You're not of the belief, you know it's true~," Delfinimon pointed out.

"... but you and Faris were, ahhh... incapacitated," the bird continued, gesturing with his hand. "For... quite some time."

"Define 'quite some time'?" the girl asked, blinking a couple times; it was obviously a while after they had encountered Forbidramon, she realized-- it had been sunset, as best they could tell, when they had met him, but...

"Tuna-fish, here," Faris said, gesturing his thumb at Delfinimon, pulling his kneeds up to his chest, "said it was two days. But I just woke up a couple hours ago, m'self, so don't worry, you're not too far behind."

"Delfinimon and I did our best to keep the two of you safe," Kamomon continued, and puffed out his chest with pride. "And we did so quite well, I should think!"

"Well, then merits all around," Emily replied with a smile, virtually hopping to her feet and looking around. "Buuuut..." She furrowed her brow a little bit, chewing on her bottom lip. She still spoke very fast, her mind apparently tossing ten thoughts around at once. "... uhm, any clue of where the others got off to?"

The three who were not Emily exchanged looks; Kamomon and Delfinimon shook their heads, and Faris shrugged. "No," the seagull admitted, kicking off the ground and flapping his wings to stay roughly on-level with his partner. "Not a sign of them. I suppose you could try your D-GEAR units?"

"Because that worked so well last time," Delfinimon chimed in.

Emily shook her head at the dolphin, but she was smiling. She pulled her D-GEAR out, turning the device -- blue and white, for her -- over in her hand. "I guess we were assuming it read more than just the other unit-thingies, huh?"

"Something like that," Faris said with a wave of his hand, standing up and breathing out heavily. He put his hands in his pockets, looking around. For a moment, it was relatively still, except for the distant sound of anima-- digimon life stirring around them.

"I guess this really is one of the places that's held out from Era," Delfinimon said, lolloping up alongside the boy. "'Cause, I mean, we didn't get attacked by Agents once while we were waiting for you to wake up. A few digimon even helped us move you here, out of the open. Yeom."

Emily paused, nodding, and smiled. "Well, count our blessings then, mmhm?" she said with the slightest little lilt in her voice. However, she trailed off a little bit, looking at her D-GEAR again; she was lost in thought, trying to make sense of... well, anything Forbidramon had said or done. Though she was loathe to admit it, she found herself just the slightest bit unnerved by the way he had changed-- but far more so by the way he had talked about the seventh child. Some part of her refused to believe it, she realized.

Some other part of her mind lit up, and she made an internal declaration to herself; whatever Forbidramon had said, that didn't mean the search was off.
It was just that it might be a good idea to find the others, first.

She didn't realize how long she had been lost in her mind, until Faris coughed.
"You gonna be okay there, Em, or should I call a medic?"

The girl brushed her bleached bangs out of her face, and tilted her head just slightly while she smiled.
Faris could almost imagine a little 'adorable' sound effect with the gesture.

"Yeah!" Emily said, giving a thumbs-up. "Let's go try to find the others, so we can find the seventh, yeah?"

"Or, alternatively, what's left of him," Faris said very quietly as he picked up Delfinimon, a sort of dry smirk on his face. However, he grinned right back up at Emily-- his snide little comments aside, he had a hard time arguing with the intent.
"Aw yeahs."


"Why do you keep waiting?" Nimon said in its low hiss of a voice, cocking its blind head towards Forbidramon. The two stood on a large outcropping of rock, high above most of the foliage of this part of the Deep Jungle; all they could see was a roof of dense trees. The humid air lingered even here, amplified by the unhindered sun.

One red eye slid over to the side to look at his partner of sorts. "I could ask you the same thing."
There was a momentary pause, and Forbidramon folded his mismatched arms, his tail swaying as he looked out. "I am doing what Lord Era told me to do, and Lord Era will tell us when to act."

Nimon nodded once. Forbidramon's new tattered wings, which he didn't seem yet accustomed to, extended and folded, as though he were stretching them. There was a faint buzzing noise that grew louder by the second.


It turned out fairly quickly that that neither Emily nor Faris' D-GEARs managed to pick up any signals outside of their own; this initially discouraged the duo, but their digimon were quick to interject. "It only picks up for a couple miles around," Kamomon had elaborated, gesturing with a hand at the area around them as they trundled through the damp vegetation. "They could well just be out of its range."

Faris, Emily, Kamomon, and Delfinimon wandered through the trees and the leaves and the giant flowers until the sun began to sink, hiding behind the thick canopy of trees. It wasn't as long as they thought-- it had apparently been quite late in the afternoon when the two humans had finally stirred. It seemed that the darker it got, the louder the sounds of all kinds of life grew.

"You are looking for something?"

The sound made the small group jump in surprise, looking around for the source. They heard a chuckle, and then a thud and dust rising off the ground. Instinctively, the digimon tensed as though to prepare for battle, the kids reaching for their D-GEARs. With a shine and a shimmer, the newcomer faded into view-- he had been cloaked, invisible to the kids.

He was tall, and human-like... somewhat. He was human in shape, but his entire body was covered by what seemed to be armor-- armor-like exosekeleton, with segments that looked like giant rubies and strange yellow crystals. This was accentuated by big red insect eyes, long clear dragonfly wings that shone and changed colour as they moved in the fading light, bent and crooked antennae, and a mass of white... hair-like substance; it was hard to tell. Huge clawed arm-guard-like protrusions covered its forearms, and in one hand, he gripped a long javelin with a five-pointed tip made of red jewel. It was all very striking.

"Well, if we're gonna die, at least our killer's pretty," Delfinimon remarked, looking at Faris; he nodded in assent.

"You're Virtue Warriors, aren't you?" the insect-man asked suddenly, stepping closer. They stayed tense, but there was something about the way he stepped forward that seemed as though it weren't a threat. Emily and Faris looked at eachother, as though not sure what to say.
"You have D-GEAR units," the bug continued, sounding hopeful. "The, ah, Deep Jungle-- it is not under Era's control."

"Uh, yes?" Faris tried, coughing nervously.

The bug-man's eyes lit up. "Ah! Allow me to, introduce myself," he said with a flourish of his spear. "I am JewelBeemon, chieftain of the eastern-Deep-Jungle Hive. A resistance force."

"Thought hives usually had queens," Faris remarked, putting his arms akimbo with a smile.

"It's not really a hive," JewelBeemon said with a gesture of his hand, "so much as a colony. Legacy name, you know. ... but I do digress. You are indeed Virtue Warriors? Asking to make sure, you see."

Kamomon looked between Emily and JewelBeemon, and his beak split into a little smile. "You're going to ask a favor of us, aren't you?" he said after a moment, chuckling.

"Is it that obvious?"


JewelBeemon led the group of four further into the woods; as they walked, led by the insect, they came to an agreement. They could put their efforts into whatever it was that he wanted, if he would -- after the fact -- assist them in trying to find their teammates the next day.
Why, Emily thought optimistically, there might even be a chance of information -- if not more -- regarding the seventh child.

... a girl could dream.

By the time they reached their apparent destination, the numerous moons of the Digital World had already begun their gliding trek across the sky
"Never gonna get used to that," Emily remarked, surprisingly cheerful, as they approached. It was another cave, set in another big outcrop of rock; this one had the lights inside, and a tunnel seemed to trail off upwards into the cliff.

"Certainly a darn lot of cliffs in this place," Faris said, pulling one side of his mouth into a sort of smirking, thoughtful expression. Emily nodded, looking up.
Kamomon did the same. The bird narrowed his eyes as he looked up the wall. He shook his head, and before he knew it, the other three were being lead by JewelBeemon into the cave. Kamomon took another look before he followed.

It was too steep and too tall to see all the way to the the top, but for just a second, Kamomon could have sworn he had seen two dark shapes.

"You coming, Kamomon?" Emily said from the mouth of the cave. Kamomon nodded his head, made a little 'Mm!' noise, and scurried up alongside.

JewelBeemon was talking as they walked, but it got drowned out by a low, loud, droning buzz the closer and further they went. They had been tuning him out a lot of the time -- he had a knack for repeating himself and digressing -- and it was harder than ever to pay attention over the noise.
Even though it was a bit of an uphill climb, and it took a while for that, the walk itself wasn't long-- and they quickly found out what it was that made the noise.

"Whoa, yeom."

At the top of the incline, it opened to a vast room-- the size of a football field and half again over, the domed ceiling reaching up to a hundred feet above. There were the same lights as ever, except... grouped together in strange, bunched shapes, like clutches of the circular little light-soruces sticking to the floor and the walls at random places, flooding the room with the strange red light.
That wasn't what made the noise.

What made the noise was more every kind of giant bug the four could care to imagine. Giant beetles, giant spiders and caterpillars and dragonflies, and more creatures that looked like insects deformed to human proportions. Some were nestled into alcoves all along the walls and even the ceiling. They were eating massive amounts of fruit and what looked like honey and flowers and leaves.
But what most of them were doing was attending to wounds and injuries, putting on hasty plant poultices and using vines and leaves to tie things up. Despite how many it looked like to start with, it felt like there were huge open spaces, places where perhaps something was supposed to be, but wasn't.

"We were, attacked today," JewelBeemon explained as soon as he noticed the group's awed silence. "A mob of digimon, led by a big black digimon with a bandaged face."

"Nimon," Emily and Kamomon said as one, looking at eachother.

"It's the first we've had any trouble from what we assume is Era," JewelBeemon continued; it was unclear if he had heard their remark at all. "The Hive is..." He paused, as though searching for words that never came.

"Uneasy?" Emily provided, bouncing uneasily on the balls of her feet.

JewelBeemon nodded his head. "A number of our, ah, number... have been talking of surrender."

"That easily!?" Faris yelped, cocking an eyebrow and almost scowling in disbelief.

Their new ally sighed, shaking his head. "We suffered major damages. More than half of the Hive has been injured. And another quarter..." With his jewel spear, the leader bug gestured towards a somewhat distant little alcove. The kids and partner digimon had to crane their necks to see properly, but when they did, they understood; guarded carefully was a huge pile of digitama.

"They are losing hope. They are, ah, starting to believe that..." he paused, and sighed. "That the Virtue Warriors do not exist."
Then, JewelBeemon stepped in front of the small group. He suddenly slammed the bottom of his spear onto the rocky ground, and his dragonfly-like wings began to vibrate. This created a buzzing so loud, it made everyone else in the room silence immediately; if they didn't hear it, the brilliant colours of the translucent wings shifting in the light would catch their attention just as well.
With a clack and a clatter, countless insect heads turned to look.

In a surprisingly booming voice for one of his stature -- Emily could plainly see bugs the size of a truck, and momentarily wondered why this was their leader -- JewelBeemon began to speak.
"I know we have suffered a great loss today. Regardless, the Deep Jungle is one of the only Areas that remains in this world, free of Era's influence. We cannot surrender it this easily. We have protected it for a hundred years, ever since the one named Era appeared in our world."

Suddenly, a tremendous grey stag beetle, with black hair and red markings, and tremendous tusk-like protrusions near its mouth, stepped forward.
"Yeah, but we've never suffered so great a loss at once!" it snarled, clacking together its huge claws.

JewelBeemon gripped his spear with both hands, and shook his head. "But we are not alone. With great threats come great allies. I understand that some of you have doubted the existence of the Virtue Warriors." He now stepped aside, and gestured to Faris and Emily; Faris had picked Delfinimon into his arms, and Kamomon flapped his arms idly, all but hovering next to Emily.
There was a buzz and a lot of hushed (and not so hushed) talking amongst themselves, almost immediately. They silenced themselves when their leader began to speak again.

"They are not a full group. They have been separated from the rest of their party by an enemy, and they are still missing their final member entirely. If you are expecting them to come in and protect the entire Digital World from Era in a day, you're mistaken."

"Obviously," the grey beetle from before spat contemptuously.

"Make us sound real good, yeah," Faris mumbled; Emily giggled at her teammate's remark.

JewelBeemon ignored all comments, but held his tongue until they had silenced themselves. Once there was an anticipating silence over the room again:
"But they are the greatest defense the Digital World has to offer. We will help them find their teammates and comrades tomorrow, as soon as the sun comes up. We have seen that we cannot fight Era's forces by ourselves. They cannot do it themselves, as well."
Another pause. There was no sound, but JewelBeemon turned his attention. Though they didn't physically see any evidence of it, the group could almost sense JewelBeemon's eyes narrowing. "Okuwamon?

The giant grey beetle stepped closer. "I don't buy it. I think," he said, his voice throaty and wet and awful, "if they're the Virtue Warriors, we should let them handle it. Spare ourselves any more casualties and just surrender."

There was a gasp and a hushed whisper throughout the huge cavern; JewelBeemon's wings began to vibrate again, and he flew over to Okuwamon. He was dwarfed in comparison, but the huge bug took a step back.

"You can leave the Hive," the humanoid insect said in what was both a very loud voice and a deathly quiet tone, "if you don't want to support it."
Okuwamon said nothing. Perhaps if he'd had visible eyes, he'd have death-glared at his colony's leader. He simply bared his rows of sharp teeth, spread large bug wings, and made for the exit. A small number of smaller digimon looked at eachother, then followed.

Jewelbeemon looked after them, then to the still-vast number of bugs remaining. He nodded once, then looked to the humans and their digimon. "I apologize. Okuwamon has never exactly played well with the rest of the Hive. Perhaps now would be a good time to sleep?"

"Sure," Kamomon said quickly, nodding his head. The four were lead into one of the smaller alcoves. There was a mass of bedding made of leaves and grasses, and while it wasn't the most civilized of beds...

"Beats sleeping on dirt," Faris reasoned.

The group of four sat on the ground for a while, listening to the droning hum around them. Emily pulled her knees up to her chest anad sat, seemingly engrossed with listening to all the things around her. Kamomon struck up a conversation with a passing digimon -- a Wormmon, it was called -- while Faris and Delfinimon made their usual brand of comments about everything.

It was hard to tell how long it was, but eventually, it seemed that most of the room had gone to sleep. A few remaining lights stayed on, but the huge clusters of the red lights died off. Emily was lost in thought wondering how they controlled such things, but Kamomon tugged on her sleeve.
"I think it's probably a good idea to go to sleep," he suggested. "They said as soon as the sun comes up, we'd search."

"Huh?" the girl said, shaking her head to bring herself out of her reverie. "Oh! Yeah."

"I feel like we just got ourselves involved in something, yeom," Delfinimon said after a moment. "Again. Yeom."

"Yes, well," Kamomon said, shrugging his shoulders and smiling. "We at least have some support in getting the group back together come tomorrow."

That was good enough for the boy and his dolphin, and they were quickly out like lights. Regardless... while Faris and Delfinimon slept, Kamomon and Emily sat up for a little while, talking in hushed whispers.

"I don't get it," the girl said, shaking her head. "I don't get why that beetle-thing would..."

"Some digimon don't have as strong of... morals as others," Kamomon said, but his eyelids drooped. "Some have no loyalty." He seemed downright indignant as he said that, clenching his hands into fists.

"Not you, though," Emily said after a second, smiling at the seagull. He smiled back.

"Or you."

Emily laughed, shaking her head. "Me? Nah." The bird looked at her, his big yellow eyes scrutinizing his partner.


Delfinimon had been right. They had gotten themselves into something.

A great crashing and rumbling woke the entire cavern up. Echoing through the cave was drone and a buzz and yells of surprise.
And of pain.
If one moved quickly from inside the cavern to just outside, they would see a tremendous chaotic battle. The sun had only just barely begun to rise, casting only the palest of light. Almost all of its combatants were bugs of all sizes-- except for two.

"Flintlock Shock!"

"Tail Saw!"

Of course, Kamomon and Delfinimon had almost instantly risen to their Adult forms to manage it-- it was only a few, a handful of adult-levels, and between themselves and the bugs of the Hive, it was hardly much to worry about, but it was chaos. It was almost impossible to tell which digimon were attacking and which weren't. The bugs that had left with Okuwamon, it seemed, had come back with a few reinforcements.

"What's going on!?" Emily called to Kaizokumon, cupping her hands over her mouth.

"I dannae know!" the pirate bird yelled back, solidly shoving his foot into the back of a giant spider digimon as Shayumon slammed her body into what seemed to be a tremendous bee.

"Traitors!" JewelBeemon's voice cried out over the cacaphony, but he was cut off quickly.
One giant grey foot stepped down on the leader of the hive, the rest of the giant bug following to the ground with a dull thud that shook the earth.

Okuwamon stood, bearing down on JewelBeemon, clacking his claws together menacingly.
Emily and Faris' D-GEAR units began to glow.

Okuwamon. Perfect-level Insect digimon. It attacks with great accuracy, and its claws can cut through diamonds with its Double Scissor Claw attack. Incredibly destructive, its other combat move is its Beetle Horn Attack, attacking with no rhyme or reason.

"Sounds like a real charmer to have 'round the home," Faris mumbled, looking around the cave.

Okuwamon turned its head to look at the children and their partners, who came to rest near their respective humans. "And the so-called Virtue Warriors," the great beetle said with no small amount of disdain in his voice. He lifted his foot off of JewelBeemon, who didn't exactly seem to be in great shape to be getting up, and stepped towards the four. All other digimon seemed perfectly willing to clear out of the way to make way.
"I don't know where you were when we were having half our colony destroyed," Okuwamon growled, and then smiled, "but I've been waiting for an opportunity to do this for a while."

"Y'eh're a mutineer, then?" Kaizokumon growled, grabbing his pistol. "I dannae take kindly to that, y'know. A 'mon stays loyal to his crew, no matter what, aye."

"Shayumon!" Faris yelled, suddenly. The shark looked around, and snarled as another humanoid bug was bearing down on her. She whipped herself around, her tail-blade glowing, to deflect the attack, but she began to breathe heavily.

"Faris, I don't think I can go Perfect," she said, shaking her head. "There's too many of them. We should just... book it, yeom."

The boy with green hair groaned, massaging his temples. It made sense, but... he cast a look at Emily, a look fairly plainly reading what-do?.

"We can't!" Emily said suddenly, clenching her hands into fists. Her voice was wavering. She looked at Faris. "I mean, we can't-- they asked for our help, right? So we've gotta see it through. You can't just..." she paused, looking to the side, "let someone down like that." She looked back up, at Kaizokumon, who was slowly backing away from the oncoming Okuwamon.

"Double Scissor Claw!" the giant beetle announced, suddenly flinging one arm forth and clamping his claw around the pirate bird. Kaizokumon began to squawk with pain, the tight claw constricting his breathing-- and felt like it was crushing his body.

"Kaizokumon!" Shayumon yelled, throwing herself at the beetle's arm.

"Do you wanna be made into shark steak!?" Faris yelped the second he saw his partner moving to attack.

Okuwamon growled, looking at the boy. "No comments from the peanut gallery, please?"
And then Shayumon connected, and he promptly dropped Kaizokumon.

The bird tumbled out of the way, breathing heavy and labored, eyes closed. Emily frowned, rushing to his side.
"Are you okay?" she asked quickly, chewing on her lip. "I mean-- we can leave if you--"

"Never, Emmy," Kaizokumon replied, cracking one eye open and a smile pulling at his beak. "We're going to see it to the end, aye? The proper thing to do?" He tilted his head to be able to look at his partner straight. "I mean, yeh cannae let someone down."

The girl paused for a moment, and then grinned.
"To the end," she confirmed.

It was at that moment that like the others before her, her D-GEAR began to rattle, hard. The plume of light burst from the little device and into the bird, who actually squawked with surprise as it did so. The symbol shining in bright blue sunk into him, encasing him in the same brilliant glow. Okuwamon even stopped, seeming awed.

Virtuous Digivolution, begin.

"Kaizokumon, virtuous digivolve to..." Kaizokumon quickly became quite a bit larger than before-- quite to match the size of the beetle. His human-like stature was quickly lost, deformed until he took on the form of an actual bird. His attire all vanished, as feathers sprouted out of arms that were twisting and turning to be proper wings. His bent tailfeathers straightened out, lengthened, like a banner behind him. Golden rings inscribed with odd lettering appeared around his ankles, feet, and neck, and the base of his tail; Long feathers grew on the sides of his face.
In the pirate-like bird's wake was a tremendous great, shockingly-white bird, tailfeathers swaying as though there was an ocean breeze. He let out a loud kreeaw.


Almost before there was any time to respond, the now-large bird rushed at Okuwamon, letting out a seagull-cry screech.

"Beetle Horn Attack!" Okuwamon snarled, and began thrashing his head and claws about wildly; the attack rang true, throwing Ospreymon off of his course and into the air.
The nice thing was that he was, in fact, a bird. A few beats of his large wings were all it took to stabilize him in the air, higher than most of the digimon around them were scuffling and fighting.

"Get back here," Okuwamon spat, not really meant to be heard, as he began to beat his giant wings and rose into the air after Ospreymon.
The bird was ready.

"Gale Storm!" Ospreymon cawed, flapping his wings hard. From all around him, in the trees and from the ground below, debris began to pick up as his wings beat up a small twister, waiting for Okuwamon to reach his level. When the bug had gotten close enough, Ospreymon opened his mouth once more and breathed out what appeared to be a flurry of ice and snow, and then... Okuwamon got soundly blind-sided by the whirlwind, straight into a tree.
The tree snapped straight in half, but Okuwamon seemed a tad dazed-- or at least irate.

"There's y'er problem, laddie," Ospreymon taunted, clawing at the air. "Y'eh can't attack from a distance."

Emily yelled something from below about "KICK HIS" something. It was indistinct, but Faris and Shayumon both turned to look at her and snorted with laughter. She seemed not to notice.

"Seagull Dive!" Ospreymon yelled, and suddenly threw himself at Okuwamon. A glowing aura surrounded him a moment before he connected with the beetle, and with the satisfying sound of contact, he bowed his head back and lifted the beetle with him into the air.

"Incoming!" Shayumon yelled, smirking, to any digimon who happened to be right under the aerial fight-- and a second or two later, Okuwamon fell to the ground with a tremendous thud and the breaking of trees. Even through the foliage, they could see the brilliant shine of the insect turning to a digitama once again.

"I'd make a joke about size and falling harder," Faris said, smiling, "but I'll refrain."

"Thanks," Emily said, but she couldn't stop herself grinning, as Ospreymon lowered himself as gingerly as he could to the ground again. She placed a hand on the bird's wing.


Before entirely too long, the Okuwamon's egg had been retrieved, and brought back to the mouth of the cave. A number of small caterpillar-like digimon were aiding JewelBeemon.

"Uhm, are you... still okay to help us?" Shayumon asked, looking at the bug.

"Shayumon!" Ospreymon hissed out of the side of his beak (it was hard to be subtle at his size), shaking his head; JewelBeemon laughed.

"It's just a little injury, nothing major," the humanoid bug said, shaking his body. "If you'll just, ahm..." he looked at the bugs around himself. "Give us a moment?"

"Oh! Oh, of course," Emily said chipperly, nodding; the insects huddled back into the cave briefly.


Ten minutes after, there was a small air force moving through the sky of the Deep Jungle. Faris, Delfinimon (who had degenerated to child form, naturally), and Emily all piled on to Ospreymon's back with room to spare; any digimon of the Hive who hadn't been too injured (and there were not many, at this point) flew alongside, keeping eyes on the ground, occasionally dipping into the canopy of trees, scouring.

Perhaps a half-hour passed this way; Emily and Faris were making idle chit-chat, while Delfinimon was asleep like a bag of potatoes. Suddenly, a digimon (whom the kids had been told was called a Stingmon) made a deep thrumming, buzzing noise, and then cried out:
"Over here!"

Wasting no time at all, the group -- with Ospreymon and his cargo in the lead -- lowered themselves into the trees. And indeed-- in a small clearing, wide awake and staring up through the trees, stood Julian, Toby, Iguamon, and Lammon.

"Hey!" Emily called from atop Ospreymon's back as they landed, followed by a number of insects. "Where you guys been?"

[Chapter 17: End]