Episode 24: Artful War

“What do you think of this one?” Maya held out yet another shirt in front of Phoebe, seeking her approval.

Phoebe raised her eyebrow, “Really, Maya? It’s a date, not a basketball game.”

“Is it really considered a date if we’re only going to the movie theater?” Maya was clearly nervous. After a week she and Alex had finally decided on a movie they were both excited to see; a re-imagined story of one of the world’s most popular comic book super-heroes.

“I am so out of the game…” Maya waved her hands in defeat and threw herself onto her bed.

“Come on, there’s absolutely nothing to worry about. This is Alex. He actually wouldn’t care if you showed up in your sweats and sneakers.” Phoebe stood up and began browsing through Maya’s wardrobe.

“Then I could just-“

“Out of the question.” After a moment of examining Maya’s cupboard, Phoebe then said, “Do you own anything other than t-shirts and skinny jeans?”

“That’s all the clothing I have.” Maya sat up.

“Well then, I guess we’re just gonna have to borrow that cute little black dress from Viola-“

“Absolutely not!” Maya stood up in protest. Phoebe grinned. After realizing Phoebe was just teasing she sat back on the bed.

“Okay then, guess we’re gonna have to work with what we got. Let’s see…” After a moment Phoebe tossed a pair of jeans at Maya, followed by a grey t-shirt and a black leather jacket.

“That should work.” Phoebe dusted her hands off in triumph.

“You sure?”

“Oh yea. It’s a timeless look. Now, on to the shoes…”

“You don’t seem too happy about this whole date thing, Rockymon.” Maaumon and her feline comrade sat on the sofa in the living room. Rockymon was trying to distract himself by watching some cartoons. “Would you be?” Rockymon asked, “If it were Phoebe going out with some…guy?”

“Some guy? This is Alex we’re talking about. He’s not a stranger.” Maaumon raised an eyebrow.

Rockymon’s expression was stern, “Doesn’t matter.”

“Yes it does. Alex isn’t a stranger. He’s part of the team.”

“Yea, so is Max.”

Maaumon looked at him for a moment, “That’s it then. You’re upset about what happened between them? And because Max is also part of the team their history can’t be ignored, you can’t help but think about every time you see him…”

Rockymon grunted, “It’s not that…” He took a moment. Finally he sighed and turned to the other feline, “I just…don’t think any guy would be…good enough…for Maya…”

Maaumon looked at him for the longest time, a silence settling over the two cats. “ Then I…guess in that sense I would feel the same way with Phoebe…” Maaumon admitted.

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A little after seven o’clock and there was a knock at the door. Maya shot up from her bed and quickly checked herself over in the mirror before heading out of her room to answer. Quickly confirming through the peephole Maya open the door and greeted Alex cheerfully, “Hi”. He was shifting with his pockets, something he usually did when anxious. Once Maya answered he quickly removed his hands and gave a short and unnerving wave, “Hey. You look-“ words seemed to have escape him for the moment due to his anxiousness, “-Nice…” Vulpemon nudged him on the leg. “Uh…I mean great. Erhem..You look great.”

“Thanks. You think its okay?”

“Of course.” Alex smiled widely. He wasn’t one to dress up. He was dressed in his usual modest attire; jeans and a shirt with a hoodie over which he wore a dark brown jacket. He had, however, taken his brand new black converse sneakers out for the occasion.

“Are we all ready then?” Alex asked, unaware that his hands were once again in the pockets of his jeans.

“Yea, lemme just grab my bag.” Maya quickly stepped back into the apartment for a moment and returned with a small shoulder bag and Rockymon in her arms.

The theater was a few blocks from Maya’s apartment and the movie wasn’t due to start for another hour, so they opted to walk the distance. Alex felt nervous that night. He was usually as calm as he could be when he was around Maya, conversing about something or the other with her broke the awkward silence and made him feel calmer. But tonight was different. Tonight was a date, a date with Maya, that concept alone made him all nervous and he tried his best to keep his composure.

Earlier that day Vulpemon had offered him some female advice whilst Trask had given him a pep talk over the phone.

“Dude, there is absolutely no possible way you can blow this.” Trask had said.

There was a bit of silence in between the small talk on the way to the theatre. Alex cursed himself when he had given one word answers to Maya’s questions. When he wanted to say more nothing seemed to come out of his mouth. So he thought hard on a subject to bring into conversation.

“It’s a good thing the footage on that news program the other day was pretty bad.” He said finally.

“Yeah. Good luck I guess.” Maya was by nature a shy person, but she really opened up to those she had become close with, namely the other tamers. She eased into conversation easily with Alex, even though she didn’t want to admit the connection between them since the day they had first met. She always dismissed the thought of getting involved with a guy again, always pondering about possible –no- inevitable disappointment. She had, after all, just now begun to get over her past with Max, a past that had left her distrustful of men. She was beginning to get over all that now, and when Alex had become Ranamon’s zombie of a puppet it had brought Maya out of it even more. She couldn’t ignore the feelings that she’d been dismissing for months any longer, nor did she want to. She felt like taking this chance, and it was she that suggested going to the movies in the first place.

Thirty minutes later and they had reached the theatre complex, finding a rather long line of people waiting to buy tickets for the same movie. It was the opening weekend, and the amount of people waiting in line stretched out almost till the end of the street. Some hardcore fans dressed up as the lead character, wearing blue spandex with red capes.

Rockymon had climbed up onto the roof to join Vulpemon. They would sit and wait for their tamers.

Maya examined the long line and sighed, “We’re never gonna make it in.” Disappointment quickly painted on her face. Alex smiled slyly and ran his hand along the inside of his jacket, searching for the hidden pocket. He found it, pulled out two tickets and showed them to Maya. She smiled widely at seeing them.

“We better go in. I hope there aren’t many people in line for popcorn.” Alex said.

They made their way into the complex. Throngs of people had emerged from their respective theatres and headed back towards the entrance. Alex felt Maya grab onto his arm as they made their way through the crowd. The line at the concession stand had consisted of only seven people. The two tamers promptly got in line as they knew more people would arrive soon.

Fifteen minutes had passed and Alex and Maya were now second in line. Only two attendants were on duty at the counters, which frustrated just about everyone waiting in the ever elongating queue. What made things worse was that one of the three popcorn makers had stopped working. “For opening night they sure are disorganized!” Maya heard someone comment behind her.

The tamers finally purchased their popcorn, drinks and snacks and made their way into the theatre. Alex had chosen seats that were in the middle of the last row, right in front of the projection room. He had argued that the back rows gave the best view of the movie and the fact that they didn’t have to worry about some kids throwing popcorn at them from behind or kicking the back of the seats.

In the five minutes before screening time the theatre had filled up completely. The sounds of people chatting away softly but audibly echoed throughout, along with the sounds of popcorn being munched and drinks being slurped through straws which where followed by the occasional burp. Trailers of up and coming movies began to show and comments where heard. As the production companies’ logos began to show the noises within the theatre died down to utter silence. Immediately the audience’s attention was captivated as the movies opening sequence began; A human-like couple standing in a sci-fi inspired setting wished their baby farewell as they placed him inside a capsule and sent it flying off-screen moments before they were engulfed in an explosion that, in the next scene, destroyed their planet…

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“You’re quite glum this evening.” Vulpemon finally commented after a long silence which she was not used to when around the energetic, black feline.

“Hmph.” Rockymon rested his head on his arms as he leaned over the ledge of the rooftop and looked down on the dwindling line of movie-goers who where disappointed at being turned away due to the theatre being full.

“What’s up with you?” the fox asked.

“Nothing.” Rockymon replied monotonously.

A pause. Vulpemon understood right then, “It’s this date, isn’t it?”

Silence.

“Why are you so upset about it?”

Again Rockymon ignored her. “Rockymon…”

“Would you just drop it?!” He turned to the fox Digimon so suddenly that she took a step back. Vulpemon turned around, calmly crossed over to the other side of the roof and knelt down in a meditating position. She thought she would give him some time to himself. He had been upset since much earlier in the day, Vulpemon had assumed. But what could be the reason for it? She needed to know. After a few moments, Vulpemon stood back up, charged over to Rockymon, grabbed him and turned him to face her, “Actually, no. I won’t drop it! And I ask you again; Why are you so upset about this date?”

Rockymon pulled his arms free of Vulpemon’s grasp without replying. Vulpemon looked at him. “Are you…Are you jealous or something?”

“Me? Jealous? Get real!” Rockymon turned away.

“That’s it. You’re jealous…Jealous of Alex, right?”

Making a growling noise, Rockymon turned back to face the fox Digimon, “Alright! Yes! Maybe I’m a little jealous, okay? Happy now?!”

Vulpemon smiled slightly in amusement, “Why would you be jealous? And of Alex?”

“I don’t know,” the feline repositioned himself on the ledge and laid his head on his arms. “I didn’t think I would feel like this…over Alex of all people.” The feline sighed deeply before continuing, “When Maya told me about the whole deal with Max, it made me mad, real mad.”

Vulpemon sat and listened. “After the confrontation in the Digital World, there’s been a change in her. She’s become more…open towards other humans. You understand?”

Vulpemon nodded. “Before, she guarded herself against others. But now, it’s like she’s opened up. I know it’s a good thing…but…”

“You think she’ll get hurt like she did before…”

Rockymon’s silence was confirmation to the fox Digimon. She sighed and continued, “Rockymon, Maya’s become stronger since the Digital World. We can all tell. And from what I’ve come to learn, disappointment and heartbreak is all part of life for the humans. Besides, Alex would never do anything to hurt her. I know that for a fact and I know you do too.”

————————————-

From a few rows before them, the two tamers could hear someone complain about a woman who wore a rather large hat in the seat in front of him which obscured his view of the screen. He bickered for a few good moments before the woman stood up and loudly reprimanded him. The man fell silent as the woman took her seat once more. People here and there snickered to themselves whilst others just shushed them.

The sound effects of crashes and explosions roared throughout the theatre. The audience was enthralled, cheering on the super-hero lead. With all the noise, Alex and Maya hadn’t noticed their D-Arks beeping wildly where they were stored; in Alex’s jeans pocket and Maya’s handbag which sat on the floor by her feet. They noticed the silhouette of the woman with the large hat stand up and head out of the theatre, much to the relief of the man who had sat in the seat behind her.

————————————-

“Do you smell that?” Vulpemon asked her feline comrade.

“Smell what?” Rockymon turned to her. He sniffed the air, analyzing the scents. “I can’t smell anything over the smell of all that popcorn.”

“Concentrate!” Vulpemon leapt from the roof where they sat and shimmied down a drain gutter on the side of the building, landing in the alleyway, where the fire escape to the theatre was. She stood perfectly still and sniffed in the air once more.

“What is it?” Rockymon called out to her from the rooftop.

Vulpemon touched a finger to her mouth, a gesture to shush the feline while she concentrated. After a moment she looked up at the feline, “Get down here, now!”

————————————-

“What the hell?” Alex stood up slowly as the silhouette of a rather large spider lowered itself down from the ceiling in front of the screen. Screams erupted from the first few rows as people shot out of their seats and stampeded towards the doors, popcorn and half drunken sodas flung wildly in all directions. Alex grabbed the D-Ark out of his jeans pocket, finding it beeping incessantly. Maya retrieved her device from her bag and analyzed the creature before them; “Dokugumon, Champion level, Insectoid Digimon… Did I mention how much I hate spiders?”

“We’ve got to get the Digimon in here.” Alex said sternly. Just as he did his fox Digimon shot forth from the fire escape entrance, leaping with flaming paws at the giant spider who was still suspended in the air by its thick web. The small, black feline followed with paws engulfed in black energy. Both rookies slashed and clawed at the champion.

“Poison Cobweb!” Dokugumon launched a blast of green liquid towards the rookies. Leaping nimbly out of the way their tamers activated their devices.

“Evolution!”

“Rockymon evolve to…Manxmon!”

“Vulpemon evolve to…Youkomon!”

The two humans and the three Digimon were the only ones in the theatre now. Manxmon swung his arms in a windmill motion, stretching his muscles, taunting the spider Digimon. Youkomon readied herself for attack.

“Flaming Dragons!”

The nine tips of the fox’s tail were emblazed. She launched them at her foe. They struck home. One of the flames had caught Dokugumon’s web, incinerating it and causing the spider to crash into the floor.

“Shadow Punch!”

Disappearing into darkness Manxmon began to rain invisible blows on the injured Digimon. It wailed and groaned at the assault. Manxmon reappeared above the creature.

“Panthera Punch!”

Allowing himself to fall, Manxmon’s fist connected with Dokugumon’s chin, instantly causing him to burst into data.

Maya sat back in her seat, sighing with relief. “The movie’s still on.” She pointed out.

“The guy from the projection room probably ran out with everyone.” Alex said.

“Ha! Too easy!” Manxmon raised his arms in triumph.

“I don’t think we’re done yet.” Youkomon said. Her attention was directed at the doors of the theatre, where a moment later more screams were heard. The tamers and their Digimon shot out of the theater and back into the lobby of the building, where they noticed people scattered all over, sitting on the floor, panic stricken.

“Oh my God! A woman yelled, pointing her finger at the large, purple fox and bipedal panther with boxing gloves. She fainted.

Alex looked around, noticing the entrance doors of the building were sealed up by some sort of stringy material.

“Where is it?” Manxmon asked, pondering on the location of another spider Digimon, which was nowhere to be seen, and yet people sat in groups all over, huddled against each other as fear was evident on their faces. Like some sort of hostage scene from one of the action movies her had seen recently. And yet there seemed to be no hostage taker.

Youkomon lowered her head and growled as a woman approached them. The same woman who wore the bizarre large hat inside the theatre. She wore a red dress with purple gloves, boots and sunglasses. She also had long, white hair.

“How nice of you to join us.” She said in a sultry voice. Alex raised his device to analyze the woman, “I knew it. She’s a Digimon. Arukenimon, an Ultimate level Digimon.”

Arukenimon smiled, “Oh boo. Looks like my little secret is out.” She pranced a few steps in front of a group of kneeling teenagers, who shook with fear, fear of being in a situation where they knew nothing about who or what was holding them captive. They feared the large purple fox and panther who stood glaring at the mysterious woman.

Arukenimon placed a hand on her hip as she examined each of the teenagers before turning to the two tamers, “But then again, your little secrets out too now, isn’t it?”

“This doesn’t concern any of these people!” Alex yelled at her.

“Let them go!” Maya shouted. Manxmon and Youkomon’s fur bristled. The sounds of their combined growls echoed through the lobby, making hostages even more nervous.

“What is this?” A man stood up from a small group who was forced into a corner. “What are these creatures?” His question was directed at the two standing tamers.

Alex turned to him, pointing at the two champions who stood before them. “These are Digimon, Youkomon and Manxmon. They’re our Digimon. Our partners.” He gestured to himself and Maya. “They’re here to protect us and to protect you…from her!” He pointed accusingly at Arukenimon, who simply cackled in response.

“Creatures…the creatures that were on the news!” a woman said.

“Creatures that have been destroying things!” another shouted.

“They’ll kill us! They’ll kill all of us!”

“No, no. Please listen!” Maya tried to explain as murmurs spread throughout the groups of people.

“They’re siding with these…these things!” another man stood, pointing accusingly at Alex and Maya.

“Things?!” Manxmon’s voice seemed to boom throughout the lobby, causing people to become silent, some of them cowered behind others.

“They’re called Digimon.” Alex clenched his fists. He stood facing Arukenimon, but addressed the crowd, “These two Digimon will never, ever hurt any human.”

“There are more of us, with Digimon. But there are more Digimon like her too.” Maya spoke. “Our Digimon are here to rid our world of the evil ones. You have to believe us.”

The people were still silent as they distrustfully examined their so-called captor, who looked every bit like an ordinary woman, and the two unnaturally bizarre creatures who opposed her.

Arukenimon gave an exaggerated yawn, “Are you two done yet?” She turned to face a potted plant that stood towards the far end of the lobby. She plucked a single white hair from her head.

“Spirit Needle”

The hair flew gracefully from Arukenimon’s hand towards the plant. As it did, she turned around to face the other plant that stood on the opposite side end of the lobby and did the same.

The pin-straight hairs seemed to penetrate the pots like they were made of butter. Then, slowly the plants began to warp. Three large flowers began to sprout from each pot, the centre flower grew bigger than the other two. All at once the plant jumped out of the pot, revealing bright red, traditional Japanese attire. The large, central flower formed a mask in its centre, which served as a head, whilst the other two flowers, both with miniature masks, were the arms. Thick, orange hair grew from the back of the flower head.

“Kabukimon, Mutant type, Champion level.” Maya examined her device.

Whimpers murmured throughout the groups of people and they huddled even closer together, hardly believing what they had just witnessed.

“Alright. We just need Manxmon to evolve and take her out.” Alex said.

“But, Pantheromon will bring down the building with his size alone. He’s too big. We can’t risk all these people by having him evolve.” Maya argued.

“She’s right.” Youkomon agreed. “We’ll get rid of these two, then focus on the main problem.”

“Time to whack some weeds…” Manxmon sung his arms once more.

“Cherry Blossom Storm!”

The bright pink flowers on the hands of the Kabukimon simultaneously released a flurry of pink petals towards the two champions.

“Blazing Sphere!”

Youkomon’s body ignited into a beautiful golden flame as she somersaulted forwards, her flames incinerating the sharp petals, some of which made their way towards a wall, ripping and tearing at the tiled surface, causing pieces of tiles to crash into a pile on the floor.

“Get these people to safety!” Manxmon shouted as he dodged another flurry of sharp petals from the other Kabukimon.

“Everyone back into the theatre! Now!” Maya yelled, ushering people towards the theatre they had come from. Alex did the same.

Arukenimon rubbed the space between her eyes and sighed. “These humans really don’t learn.” She said to herself.

All of a sudden her arms elongated to well over twice their length, the gloves tearing off of her now pale white skin. Her dress was ripped off of her as a massive sphere of a red and purple abdomen formed and sprouted six long, red legs. Her luscious hair shortened into a disheveled do as a red mask with horns formed on her face. Arukenimon now stood at more than double the height of her ‘human’ form.

Screams echoed throughout the lobby once more as the frantic groups of people witnessed the Ultimate’s true form.

“Spider Thread!”

From her large claws Arukenimon shot long strands of thin threads that blocked off the doors to each theatre, denying anyone any escape. Upon close inspection, the threads were found to be razor sharp.

“Still don’t think you should have Manxmon evolve?” Alex said sarcastically.

Maya held up her device, ready to activate. In a split second the device was snatched up by a sharp, thin thread that slashed across the palm of Maya’s hand. She screamed in pain.

“Maya!” Manxmon turned as he heard his tamer’s cry. He was immediately struck by a blow from the Kabukimon he faced and fell backwards.

Alex ran up to the other tamer, examining the wound as blood began to seep from it. Maya held her hand up instinctively, and moaned from the pain. Alex helped her keep her hand in the air as he looked around the lobby for any sign of a first-aid kit. A man came up behind him, unbuttoned his shirt and handed it to Alex. Alex took it gratefully, tore a long strip of the material and wrapped it carefully around Maya’s hand. She winced.

Kabukimon was a tad more agile on its feet than the larger Youkomon. It parried the fox’s attacks and leapt over her, releasing a vortex of the sharp petals down upon her. Youkomon yelled as she was struck, feeling sharp cuts pierce her skin in multiple places. She knelt down as the petals pierced her ankles.

“Youkomon…” Alex said. He watched from Maya’s side as their Digimon were struck over and over by the razor sharp petals that rained down on them, denying them any chance at a counter, piercing their limbs and tendons. Despair began to well up in the two tamers.

Just then there was a faint zapping sound coming from the lobby entrance. Arukenimon, a grin of triumph across her hideous face, turned towards the noise. A thud, like something ramming into the doors which were sealed shut by Arukenimon’s webs. Another thud; louder then the last. Something was trying to make its way in. Arukenimon’s eyes narrowed in suspicion.

A roar, then a bang as the webs stretched and tore and something came crashing through the doors. More screaming from the surprised captives.

A large red wolf-like creature stood up, shaking the debris off of its body. It had brown, skull-like armor on its head, adorned with two long, yellow horns. On its large paws were bright green claws, with green spikes and a set of dark purple bat-like wings on its shoulders and back legs. It swished its long red and purple tail as its body gave off a faint, dark aura. It growled low and viciously at Arukenimon, who didn’t realize she had taken a few steps back. The Kabukimon were also distracted by the arrival of the wolf Digimon. Like the captives, the two tamers were frozen with both surprise and confusion.

From the open entrance a young man made his way through, coughing at the dust he breathed in. He noticed the ripped web-like threads on the floor, figuring that was what bound up the doors so tightly. He looked up and paused for a moment, absorbing everything he was seeing, people held against their will by a large spider-woman thing of a Digimon, with two Digimon laying before a couple of standing flowers.

“Another tamer?…” the tamer duo enquired simultaneously.

“Uh…Okay…” the man cleared his throat, “Who’s the host of this little party then?”

A few people pointed at Arukenimon, who took offence by it and snarled at them. “Got it. Take her, Maugrimon!”

The wolf snarled and leapt forwards. Petals flew from both the Kabukimon, cutting off the wolf Digimon’s attack. Arukenimon ducked out of the way as the wolf flew over her, regaining his composure and landing behind her. Youkomon winced as she tried to push to her feet, feeling the small cuts all over her body.

Alex felt the sudden warmth of his D-Ark as it began to emit a blinding yellow glow, the same kind that began enveloping his fallen Digimon.

“Matrix Evolution!”

“Youkomon Matrix evolve to…”

The large fox rose into the air as her body morphed and shrank slightly, taking on a womanly figure. Her nine tails disintegrated into one. The yellow light faded, revealing a tall, purple skinned Digimon wearing a pale grey kimono with a grey tech designed sash.  Her face was very much like Vulpemon’s. The collar of the kimono slipped beneath her shoulders, revealing the yin-yang symbols on each of her shoulders. He wore a fox-like mask over her head. On her left hand and around her neck were two long strings of golden beads.

“Zerdamon!”

The new ultimate held up a human-like hand, a piece of paper of some sort began to form between her index and middle finger. She murmured something inaudible before releasing the piece of paper, which began to emit a faint yellow glow as it drifted through the air, navigated by Zerdamon’s mind towards her fallen comrade. The paper absorbed into Manxmon and a moment later he jumped to his feet, his energy fully restored.

“Alright. Now it gets interesting!” Maugrimon’s tamer said from where he stood.

“I’ll handle this pest…” Zerdamon said with a soothing, feminine voice. She addressed Manxmon and Maugrimon, who nodded and backed away, turning their attention towards the two Kabukimon while she took on Arukenimon.

“Pest?!” Arukenimon cheeks turned a bright red. “Acid Mist!” She breathed in deeply. Upon exhaling she released a spray of green, foul smelling acid from her mouth. Zerdamon raised a hand in front of her, murmuring once more to herself. The acid evaporated upon reaching her outstretched arm. Arukenimon stood bewildered for a moment.

“My turn.” Zerdamon said. She summoned more pieces of paper between her fingers, this time they were bright red in color, white symbols began to appear on each piece, symbols Alex thought looked oddly familiar.

“Kitsune Spells!”

Zerdamon flung the papers towards the other ultimate. Half way they pieces seemed to morph and twitch, turning into fiery little fox silhouettes of different colors that sought out Arukenimon, flowing past her, circling back and finally striking her from all directions. They each exploded on impact. Arukenimon yelped and waved her arms in an effort to fend off the little fox spirits.

“Panthera Pounder!”

Large boxing glove silhouettes appeared above Manxmon’s head. He lunged forwards, commanding them to strike Kabukimon, whose attempt at parrying or fleeing was futile against the shadows that followed it.

“Cherry Bloss-“

Another blow from Manxmon’s puppets struck Kabukimon as it was about to fire off more deadly petals.

“I’m sorry. Did you say something?” An amused and energetic Manxmon toyed with the plant Digimon.

“Ashen Claws!”

Maugrimon leapt, claws and fangs barred. Kabukimon underestimated his speed and was struck with the full force of the wolf Digimon as it tried to jump out of the way. The plant Digimon screeched and squealed as Maugrimon’s claws dug into it.

“Panthera Punch!”

Manxmon advanced on the dazed Kabukimon he faced. With one deadly uppercut, the Kabukimon burst into data fragments. Manxmon absorbed them before running up beside Maya out of concern.

“Maya! Are you alright?”

Maya smiled, “Of course.”

“Black Death!”

Maugrimon’s eyes began to emit a dark glow. Without warning he shot forth, the wings on his back aiding his phenomenal speed. He tackled the remaining Kabukimon head first, sending it crashing into a nearby pillar, bursting into data upon impact.

Arukenimon gasped. The tables had indeed turned on her. Now she faced another ultimate Digimon, who had parried her previous attacks without even breaking a sweat. Sweat dripped down the sides of her face, however.

“Predation Spider!”

A slit formed down Arukenimon’s massive abdomen. Cracking sounds were heard as it began to slowly open. People gasped and turned away at the sight, but turned back out of sheer curiosity. Maugrimon’s tamer’s face contorted into one of disgust. Two long, spider legs protruded from the gape in the ultimate’s abdomen clearly covered in some sort of purple slime. Maugrimon’s tamer felt his stomach turn and held a hand over his mouth. He turned away from the sight. Maya covered her mouth with her unharmed hand as her face contorted with the same disgust. “Is that…natural?” Alex asked rhetorically as he turned away.

From Arukenimon sprouted a Dokugumon, half covered in purple slime. Just as it was out, Arukenimon birthed another spider Digimon. Then another. Soon, half a dozen Dokugumon surrounded their ‘mother’. Arukenimon’s abdomen sealed itself up, but she visibly showed signs of fatigue now. She would need a few moments to regain some strength. Her minions would distract the three opponents.

“Waste no time!” Maugrimon’s deep, gruff voice reached Manxmon in his stupor of what he had just seen. Manxmon shook his head and nodded. The Dokugumon rushed forwards, two each taking on one of the tamers Digimon. Manxmon leapt and dodged as much as he could, trying to parry blows from the sixteen legs that kicked in his direction. Maugrimon leapt on top of one of the Dokugumon he faced and bit down on the back of what would be the spider’s neck. Dokugumon spun this way and that to try and rid himself of the wolf Digimon. His fellow Dokugumon raised one of his eight legs in an attempt to kick the wolf off of his brother. As soon as the leg came down Maugrimon withdrew, allowing the leg to impacts with Dokugumon’s head.

“Alex! Pay attention to your device!” Zerdamon urged her tamer.

“What? But nothings happening.” Alex held his D-Ark in front of him.

“I think she’s got some sort of plan.” Maya said.

Zerdamon waited where she stood, calm and collected. She did have a plan, one that would no doubt catch Arukenimon and her minions off guard, of not destroy them all. The two Dokugumon advanced on her, but she remained motionless. They hesitated for a few moments, debating between themselves as to why the ultimate was doing nothing.

“What are you waiting for, you idiots! Get her!” Arukenimon’s voice urged them on.

“Poison Cobweb!” The spider duo each released green acid from their mouths. Zerdamon stood, not attempting to parry or counter the attack. Instead, she tensed up her body and closed her eyes, preparing for the impact of the acid.

“What?! What is she doing?!” Alex stepped forward. “She’ll be killed! Zerdamon!”

Maya grabbed his arm, “She’ll be fine. I know she will.”

Alex bit his lip as he witnessed his Digimon being hit by the joint force of the Dokugumon attack. He heard her groan at the burning sensation of the acid that dripped down her body, but she remained stoic. A faint beep sounded on Alex’s device. Looking at it, he saw that Zerdamon’s health gauge had drained by only a little, but the Limit gauge was a quarter full. He felt relieved immediately at seeing it. That’s her plan, he thought. She’s going to use her Limit attack, that’s why she’s allowing herself to be hit by their attacks.

Again the Dokugumon unleashed their green mist on the fox Digimon, seemingly thinking that they were winning the battle. Zerdamon’s Limit gauge was now filled halfway, but she lost a little more on her health gauge. “Almost there, Zerdamon. Almost there.” Alex murmured.

Manxmon and Maugrimon were both being slashed and thrown by the tag teaming of Dokugumon. They were tiring fast. Zerdamon’s Limit gauge could not have been filled faster. Alex pushed the button that gave the order. “Limit Activated”

Zerdamon’s hea;th restored instantly, her kimono renewed to its silvery shine, free from the muck of the acid attacks.

“Shinigami Kitsune!”

Zerdamon closed her glowing blue eyes as her form slipped into the ground. Arukenimon muttered something as she looked around frantically in an effort to spot the other ultimate. She cursed the Dokugumon and flailed her arms in the air. One of the Dokugumon ignored the reprimand when he noticed his shadow twitching on the floor beneath him. At first he was unsure whether it was his, so he raised one of his legs. The shadow mirrored him. It twitched again, then, slowly, began to grow a little bit. The spider nudged his brother next to him, drawing his attention to his shadow. The other Dokugumon noticed his own shadow behaving in the same way. Soon, all the spider Digimon and Arukenimon herself was drawn to her own shadows odd twitching.

The shadows grew ever so slowly. After a moment they had all seemed to stop growing and were perfectly still, even though their owners were moving. There was utter silence. One of the Dokugumon gulped. All of a sudden, the Dokugumon seemed to slip beneath the grounds surface, swallowed by their own shadows. Arukenimon was pulled in slowly. She tried with all the strength she had to free herself, but it was futile. One by one the Dokugumon’s screams were drowned out as they were fully engulfed, data fragments floating almost merrily in the air. Zerdamon reappeared just as all the Dokugumon were finished off. Arukenimon shot her a deadly glare before her head was swallowed by the darkness, bursting into data, Maya’s D-Ark dropping down onto the floor.

Alex breathed a heavy sigh of relief, as did Maya. Maugrimon’s tamer made his way towards the two, picking up Maya’s device and handing it to her. “Thanks.” She said.

“No problem. Oh, I’m Bryan. Bryan Summers.”

“Maya. This is Alex.”

The two men shook hands.

Bryan looked around, “And here I thought I was the only one.”

“With a Digimon?” Alex asked. The new tamer nodded. “There are apparently more of us than we realized.” Alex looked at Maya, who nodded in agreement.

“Uh, guys…” Manxmon stood behind the group, gesturing to the people who began to stand up and dust themselves off, hoping their ordeal was all over. They did, however, stare at the three Digimon with distrust. They looked at the wolf Digimon with suspicion, as he seemed the most horrifying of the three, almost demonic-like.

In a bright red flash Manxmon reverted back into Rockymon, and he nudged his way towards the middle of the little circle of tamers, escaping the stares. Maugrimon glowed a dark purple before his large form was replaced by a rookie Digimon a little bigger than Rockymon. He was a little red reptilian Digimon wearing a fur cloak of sorts that covered his head, giving him a bit of a canine appearance. The fur was pale blue with purple stripes. His claws and the symbol on his belly were bright green in color. He also had a horn on the centre of his head.

“Oh, this is Psychemon.” Bryan introduced his Digimon as he nudged his way through to stand next to Rockymon.

“Zerdamon?” Alex turned to see his Digimon standing where she had been all along. She was murmuring, no, chanting something it seemed. She held a handful of paper tags, like the ones she used in her attacks. They glowed with a warm yellow light the more she chanted. Once satisfied she opened her hands and slowly the tags dispersed gently into the air and all over the lobby. The people were unaware of the tags until just before it reached them. The tags were absorbed into each person. One by one, they smiled, completely forgetting the fear they felt moments ago. They were each imbued with Zerdamon’s calm and contentment. They made their way out of the cinema, not noticing the dust, debris and destroyed entrance doors. As soon as the last person walked out Zerdamon was replaced by Vulpemon.

————————————-

It was nearing midnight when Alex and Maya walked through the door of Maya’s apartment. Her hand was bandaged up after having been given stitches at the nearby hospital. Rockymon and Vulpemon were up on the rooftop. “Why are we here again?” Rockymon asked.

“To give them some time to talk. Their whole night was interrupted by those pestilent Digimon.” Vulpemon explained.

“So once again I’m stuck on the roof of a building, with you.”

Vulpemon glared at the feline.

“Don’t get me wrong, it’s just that. Well you’re no fun to hang around with.”

Vulpemon huffed.

“Come on, admit it.” Rockymon placed his paws on his hips. Vulpemon looked away.

“Alright. Which would you rather do? Run around playing tag or sitting and meditating?”

Vulpemon thought for a moment, before admitting defeat.

Maya threw her jacket over the sofa and leaned with her back against the kitchen counter, the events of the night fresh in her mind. “What a night!” She sighed.

“Yea.” Alex took off his jacket and hoodie, hanging them up on the hooks behind the front door. He then leaned backwards on the counter opposite Maya. There was a moment of silence which was slightly awkward. Maya fidgeted with the bandage as a distraction.

“Maya-“

“Alex-“

They began simultaneously.

“You first.” Alex smiled.

“Well, I..uh…I wanted to tell you…for a while now…” She looked at the floor. “The thing with Max…”

Alex stepped towards her as she tried to continue, “Well it was a long time ago…and…”

Alex slid his hand across the small of her back, slowly pulling her close to him. Her eyes drifted upwards, over his neck, passing the stubble growing on his chin, until her eyes met his. “It doesn’t matter.” he said in a soft voice.

Maya felt Alex’s heartbeat quicken against hers and she slowly leaned in, touching her lips to his slightly before kissing him fully. Their eyes closed. Her hand reached for his hair as both of his arms were wrapped around her waist. She held the last bit of the hair on the back of his neck, eyes tightly shut in the intensity of the kiss.

Finally they parted slowly, both panting lightly. Their arms were still wrapped around one another as they stared at each other for a moment. Alex slid his hands underneath Maya’s shirt, feeling the skin of her back while raising them higher up her back. She lifted her arms, allowing him to pull the shirt off of her before she did the same with his.

They threw their arms around each other and locked lips once more. Slowly they staggered through the apartment, blindly making their way to Maya’s bedroom without releasing each other. They managed to reach the bedroom before Alex kicked the door shut behind him.

————————————-

The bright rays of the early morning sun breached the crack in the curtains of Maya’s room, shining over Alex’s face; the brightness seemed to pierce through his eyelids, causing him to stir. He raised his hand over his face to block out the light and slowly opened his eyes. He took a moment to fully awaken, blinking a few times before his eyes fully adjusted to the light of day. He raised himself up on his right elbow, turning his head to see Maya sleeping peacefully beside him.

Alex leaned in slowly, planting a kiss on her shoulder before slowly shifting himself under the sheets to the edge of the bed so as not to wake her. He slipped on his jeans before heading to the door, turning the handle ever so quietly and closing it just as carefully behind him.

Vulpemon and Rockymon lay fast asleep across the sofa, both covered with a knitted blanket, Rockymon’s tongue sticking out slightly. Alex brushed his hands through his hair, making his way around the counter to the refrigerator.

The door to Sasha’s room swung open. Sasha stood, leaning against the doorframe, playing with a lock of her hair playfully, examining the half naked man bent over the refrigerator. “Eggs?”

Her voice surprised Alex and he raised his head quickly, bumping into the top shelf before slowly retracting his head from the fridge and turned to her. “Oh, Sasha. Didn’t realize you were home.” Alex rubbed his aching head. He glanced at the sofa quickly, noticing the two Digimon leap behind it, hiding from the flatmate.

Sasha giggled to herself, “Where’s Maya?”

“Oh, uh. Still sleeping.” Alex blushed at suddenly realizing he had no shirt on. He turned his head, trying to find some kind of distraction.

“Scrambled.” Sasha said finally before she turned around and walked back into her room. “Huh?” Alex looked at her in confusion, still holding his head.

“I like my eggs scrambled,” she winked before closing the door behind her.

Alex did a face palm and leaned on the counter, supported by his other arm. He ran his hand through his hair once more, stopping where he felt the ache of impacting with the fridge shelf.

The bedroom door opened and Maya stood in the doorway, one of the bed sheets wrapped around her. She held her phone in her hand and had a look of worry on her face.

“Hey” Alex said, as he rubbed his head. Maya said nothing; she stared in front of her, her hand mildly shaking. Alex looked at her, realizing something was wrong. He walked over to her and grabbed her by the shoulders, “Maya, what’s wrong. Something happen?”

She looked at him with glazed eyes, “Trask’s been in an accident.”

To be continued…

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