A strange fury had overtaken Agumon, turning him hostile. He ignores Taichi's voice, telling him to stop and so Taichi is made to take off after him with Sora following close behind.
"Agumon! Get back here, you idiot!" Taichi yells. Alas, his partner continues to run wildly throughout the maze of corridors, paying no heed to Taichi's words. As he chases him, Taichi can hear Agumon snarling like a rabid dog. Taichi's mind races for an explanation
What's gotten into him!? What happened to his skin?
For a moment, Taichi and Sora see him, speeding headway down a long hallway. Agumon then turns a corner, out of Taichi's line of sight! Then, Taichi hears a collision of bodies followed by the sounds of scuffling.
"Hey!" shouts a voice. "Get off me!"
"It's Elecmon!" cries Sora.
When Taichi and Sora turn the corner, they find Agumon rolling about the floor with Elecmon. In the distance, a small group of Tsnunomon are huddled together, cowering in fear as the two child Digimon fight. Elecmon maintains a tight grip on Agumon's wrists as the reptile tries to claw at his face. Quickly, Taichi takes action, grabbing Agumon about his waist in an attempt to pry him from Elecmon. Anxiously, Sora joins in, taking hold of and tugging Agumon's foot and pulling back with all her might.
"Stop Agumon! He's our friend!" Taichi shouts.
However, Agumon shows a strange resistance, surprising Taichi. The reptile then flails about in a rage, taking both Taichi and Sora by surprise. He shakes both of the children from his body, causing them to fall onto the floor behind him. The distraction is enough for Elecmon to break free, and he leaps back, assuming a combat posture. Agumon ignores him, turning round to face Taichi and Sora. As he does so, he gazes at his prey with two glowing red eyes, lit like two smoldering embers. From Agumon's jaws, blue flames begin to seethe. He looked as if he was prepared to incinerate them.
He wouldn't…would he?
Without thinking, Taichi dives atop Sora, shielding her from the attack. Holding her body tightly in his arms, he squints his eyes, preparing himself as best he to be engulfed in fire.
Fortunately, Taichi remains unscathed. A resounding ZAP! rings out throughout the corridor as Elecmon sends a bolt of lightning straight into Agumon's body, striking him from behind. Agumon cries out in pain and his body thrown forwards into a wall. Scorched, the reptile then falls into heap. Slowly, Taichi lifts himself from Sora. The two exchange a look of embarrassment.
"Are you two okay?" Elecmon asks.
Both Taich and Sora nod at him.
"What's the matter with him?!" Elecmon demands, poised for another attack as he watches Agumon's wriggling body.
"I…I don't know," Taichi replies, still somewhat stunned. "I've never seen him like this before."
Of course, that isn't entirely true, Taichi had to admit to himself, given the SkullGreymon incident. Still, Taichi knows he hadn't abused Agumon nor pushed him into this evolution. This affair is entirely new.
Taichi gets up, also helping Sora to her feet. He then approaches Agumon, cautiously checking him: "Agumon…are you…okay?"
Agumon twitches but doesn't reply. Taichi looks at Sora desperately, only to see her face is marked with fear. His heart sinks. Considering her memory loss, Agumon's nearly incinerating both of them is far from the kind of impression he'd ever wanted Sora to receive upon meeting him.
As everyone collects their bearings, the sounds of marching feet can be heard in the distance. Taichi looks over his shoulder and behold, from the around the same corner they had arrived, two Commandramon appear. Taichi notes they are about Agumon's size and stature, but dressed head-to-toe in combat gear and wielding assault rifles. Taichi notes that their camoflaged skin shimmers and changes ever so slightly to keep in tune with their surroundings.
"Halt!" One of the Commandramon orders. Two Commandramon immediately take up firing positions before three more of them rush from around the corner.
One of them addresses Taichi and Sora: "There's nowhere to run, now, Chosen Children! Now, surrender yourselves to the Metal Empire and—"
"Sir, Look!" Another of the Commandramon interrupts, pointing at Agumon. All five of them then look at Taichi's partner in collective shock "It's him!"
All five of the Commandramon stare at Agumon for a good long moment before one of them, apparently the leader, taps another on the shoulder and whispers something to him. Taichi cannot hear what he says. However, Elecmon's ears twitch and cocks his head to the side, intrigued. The Commandramon being whispered to acknowledges the leader and takes off back down the corridor from whence he came, leaving the rest behind. Then, the those four advance, leveling their rifles at their adversaries.
"Get down on the ground!" one of them barks. "Do it now!"
However, Elecmon holds his ground and doesn't budge. He smiles slyly. Meanwhile, Taichi tries to think of some way out of this. He looks down at Agumon again, and is startled when the black reptile's eyes snap open. That same red glow Taichi had seen earlier once again emanates from Agumon's pupils. Without warning, Agumon leaps his feet and faces the Commandramon.
The Commandramon all point their rifles at Agumon. Taichi freezes and watches horror, expecting shots to ring out in that instant. To his surprise, however, the Commandramon all hold their fire.
"On the ground, we said!" The lead Commandramon repeats. "I won't say it again!"
"Are you sure about that?" Elecmon asks sarcastically. The lead Commandramon then Elecmon, aiming his rifle at him.
"Shut it, fool!" the leader shouts at Elecmon. "You will comply, or—"
"Or what?" Elecmon says defiantly. The lead Commandramon stutters incomprehensibly but looks at Elecmon crossly. Elecmon just continues talking, "You know, I heard what you told with your buddy. You need that Agumon, don't you?—" Elecmon points to Agumon, "—and you need him alive."
All at once, the Commandramon break their composure. However, almost as quickly, they recollect their bearing, taking aim at Elecmon. Time seems to stop within that moment. Once again, Taichi holds his breath as he waits for gunshots to fill the air.
Suddenly, Agumon opens his mouth and releases a torrent of blue fire at the Commandramon squad. Taichi and Sora shield their faces as the heat fills the hallway. The flames completely engulf the Commandramon, leaving nothing behind but ash. The Commandramon had fired their weapons, even as Agumon blasted them, but the bullets were also completely vaporized. Taichi gives an audible gasp. Never before had he seen Agumon's fire have such a devastating effect.
As the fires die down, Agumon is left panting heavily. However, as he recovers himself, he looks to Elecmon, Sora, and Taichi again. The eerie red glow had not left his eyes. Elecmon readies himself, guarding Sora. Unwilling to allow his partner to do any harm to his friends, Taichi places himself in directly in front of Elecmon and Sora. He puts his arms out and faces down his partner.
"Agumon, snap out of it!" Taichi demands. "I don't know what's gotten into you, but I won't let you harm our friends."
Agumon hesitates and snarls, cocking his head to the side as if looking at Taichi curiously. Taichi's ears begin to ring slightly and his heart begins to beat faster with each passing moment.
"T-Taichi…" Sora whispers to him.
Taichi looks over his should at Sora. Her hand shaking, Sora points to Taichi's waist where his Digivice is latched onto his belt. Looking down, Taichi sees it has begun to glow-not with its familiar golden glow, but now with a red light. Keeping a steady on on Agumon, Taichi slowly reaches his hand to his belt and unhitches his Digivice.
"Easy there, Agumon..." Taichi says.
Agumon continues to watche Taichi with feral intent, but doesn't do anything else.
Taichi then looks at his Digivice, trying his best not to make any sudden movements. On the miniature screen, small red letters appear amidst a blinking hazard symbol. The word "danger" appears a few times followed by the word "leash."
"Leash…?" Taichi whispers to himself. As soon the words have left his mouth, a crimson tether issues from the Digivice, rapidly making its way towards Agumon. Before Agumon can do anything, the red tendril wrap thens itself about the reptile's neck, causing him to gag and fall backwards. Angrily, Agumon claws at the ghostly chain in vain, but is eventually made to submit to it. However, as soon as Agumon is calmed, Taichi feels an intense tugging at his hand as if the Digivice is becoming heavier. Automatically, he clenches his Digivice, disallowing it fall from his hand. His hand is then enveloped in the red light, causing his glove to catch fire. Taichi cries out, grasping at wrist and falling to his knees!
"Taichi!" Sora shouts, rushing to his aid. She reaches out to his hand, but flinches at fire it radiates. Thinking fast, she removes her helmet and attempt to smother the flames. However, her helmet is immediatly consumed. Sora jumps back in surprised, watching in fear and helplessness as Taichi howls in pain. However, a few second later, flame dies. Taichi has fallen to his knees, his face contorted in pain. His righ hand is completely black. Quickly, Sora approaches Taichi, readying her first aid kit.
"Here, Taichi!" Sora says, reaching out, taking his hands into hers as gently as possible. As he applyies an ointment to Taichi's hand, she is surprised to see Taichi unfurl his fingers, revealing his Digivice. Sora gasps! The gadget had sunk itself within Taichi's palm, fusing itself into his skin! Even as she inspects the wound, Agumon lifts himself from the ground, having ceased his previous wrangling with the red tendril. Fortunately, the red glow in his eyes has faded, replaced now with a pained expression.
"No!" He says, looking about him. He spots and rushes over to him. "Taichi! I'm so sorry, I-"
"Get back!" Elecmon stops him in his tracks, becoming electric.
Agumon stops himself short at Elecmon's bequest.
"I...I'm sorry!" Agumon says, pleadingly, "I lost control-"
"Damn right you did!" Elecmon scolds him. "What's the matter with you?!"
"Elecmon, please," Sora admonishes.
Elecmon snorts frustratedly and looks at her.
"He wasn't himself," says Sora, "Taichi noticed that as soon as he evolved."
"You think so, huh?" Elecmon replies, rolling his eyes. He too investigates Taichi's condition, continuing to keep an eye on Agumon.
Given the pain on Taichi's face and the gravity of the situation, Elecmon's previous sternness softens. Gently, Elecmon puts his paw on Taichi's shoulder. "Taichi, look at me," he says.
Taichis stop wincing for a moment and looks at Elecmon, his eyes filled with water and fear.
"The D-Brigade will have reinforcements show up at any moment," Elecmon tells him. "If they find us, it's over. We can't just sit here."
Taichi hesitates for a moment, but then nods at Elecmon.
"Good," says Elecmon. "Can you stand?"
"Can you walk?"
Taichi nods again.
"Taichi, I…I'll carry you if you want," Sora offers. Her face turns slightly red as she she reaches out her arms to him, almost like a mother would a small child. However, Taichi springs to his feet in protest.
"No, that's—I mean…I'll manage," He says awkwardly. He grimaces again, however, continuing to grip his wrist.
"Good," Elecmon says, relieved. "Now, if we're spared any more drama—" he shoots a glance at Agumon who turns his head away sheepishly, "—then let's be on our way."
The group hurries along the seemingly endless corridors and hallways of the facility. The Tsunomon are glued to Elecmon's tail while Taichi, Sora, and Agumon take up the rear. Even so, Taichi continues to hold his wrist as endless pain hammers his right hand. His is face is pale and wet, his breathing becoming more and more labored as time goes on. Sora looks at Taichi, worriedly and helplessly. Nevertheless, they press on.
Eventually the group arrives at a huge stairwell leading downward. Their current source of light with the hallway would not avail them heading that way. Below they would soon reach a place where no light would be available, and they'd be left in utter darkness. A collective feeling of dread falls over the party. Everyone looks to Elecmon.
"There's no light beyond this point," Elecmon explains, feeling the eyes of the group upon him. "I've only been down there once and I…I didn't get too far..."
"There's nothing for us to use? No flashlights or anything like that?" Sora asks.
"Nothing that works," Elecmon replies frustratedly.
"So, we wander around in the dark, then..." Sora shudders as she peers down the winding staircase.
"Just stick close together," Elecmon orders. "Huddle. Keep everyone in reach. Meanwhile I'll...I guess I'll zap the air in front of me every now and then. That'll give us an idea as to where to go."
"I can help too!" says Agumon.
"No!" Elecmon gives Agumon a stern look.
Elecmon gets serious: "Until we figure out what's going on with you, you'll do absolutely nothing! Understand?"
Agumon frowns and opens his mouth to protest, but he's interrupted:
"Just do as he says, Agumon," Taichi says. His voice is apologetic , but firm. Agumon closes his mouth and nods in submission.
For a good, long moment, Elecmon stares into the abyss beyond the stairwell. They all wait in vain, as if in hope for some alternate route to present itself by magic. However, noises echo throughout the facility, reminding the party of their current peril. More Commandramon are on their way. With but one way to go, Elecmon marches into the darkness below. The rest follow close behind him...
With great care, each step down that dark stair is measured. Constantly feeling about the walls is also made a necessity as they journey onward. Everyone takes great care to maintain close proximity to one another at all times. The fuzzy bodies of the Tsunomon are gathered close about everyone's ankles as well, giving cause to worry about tripping them up. Thankfully, the slow pace ensures everyone remains upright and stable as they continue.
In any other situation, being this close to Sora would have made Taichi feel self-conscious. However, the only thing on his mind at this time is the ongoing sting of his wounded hand. Moreover, an intense headache had been brought to bear as well, causing Taichi to become dizzy. Even as they descend into an absolute blackness, Taichi questions whether or not he would even notice if he had passed out during the trek. Sora, sensing Taichi's shakiness, helps to steady him, asking every now and again if he's okay. Although Taichi would tell her everything is fine, deep down she knows it's bravado.
"I think I'm beginning to understand you more and more," Sora mentions.
"Huh?" ask Taichi.
"I'm still trying to remember who you are," Sora explains. She smiles and says, "From what I've gather, you're pretty sure of yourself."
Taichi blushes, but says nothing in response.
On and on they go, for what amount of time was anyone's guess. Eventually, Elecmon halts the group and they all stand still for a moment. Everything becomes quiet, safe for the faint rustling of surrounding Tsunomon, nervously bustling about.
"Do you hear that...?" Elecmon whispers, doing his best to calm the baby Digimon. The Tsunomon relax after a few moments, allowing everyone to crane their ears at whatever Elecmon had drawn their attention to. Soon, they all hear it: a faint but present thumping noise and the sound of flowing water. The monotonous tone is like the beating of giant drum.
"What is that sound?" Agumon asks.
"I…I'm not sure," Elecmon admits. "I only ever explored the surface portion of this facility."
They continue down. However, the sound doesn't let up, but seems to grow ever louder. For whatever reason, Taichi imagines an enormous heart embedded within the walls of the facility, pumping blood throughout its corners. He is then reminded of their encounter with Whamon as they crossed the ocean. When Whamon had allowed them to take refuge within his stomach, a similar resonance could be heard from within the creature's interior. Back then, being surrounded by the flesh of another much larger creature was an incredibly frightening ordeal and Taichi remembers how grateful he was to know that Whamon was friendly. Even so, the entire idea of being consumed and digested by a large creature is still terrifying to imagine; and now, for whatever reason, that same fear envelopes Taichi at this moment. Taichi shudders. However, Sora tenderly takes his uninjured arm into hers arms. She shivers, much like Taichi himself is shivering. Seeming to forget himself in that moment, Taichi gratefully draws Sora closer to himself. The pain in his arm seems to subside for that brief moment.
His mind a bit clearer now, Taichi stops in his tracks, suddenly considering what Elecmon had just said.
"We can't stop now," urges Elecmon, "We need to-"
"Elecmon, earlier you talked about the Metal Empire," says Taichi. "What exactly do you know?"
At first, Taichi thinks to accuse him of hiding something. However, given their present circumstances, aggravating Elecmon was the last thing he wanted to do.
"The...the Metal Empire..." Elecmon's reply comes shakily, "I...I don't know much about them other than bits and pieces I've picked up since living here..."
Taichi feels Sora tense up at his arm. She says nothing, however.
"Elecmon, what's going on? How much do you know?" Taichi is blunt.
At length, Elecmon doesn't reply. Taichi can still feel Sora's tenseness and he wishes he could read the expression on her face.
"There's a lot going on, Taichi," Elecmon finally answers, "but, much of it I'm not certain about right now. Besides, now is not the time or the place to talk." He pauses again and the steady beating is allowed to continues about them, adding to the dread they all felt. In earnest, Elecmon tells him, "I promise I'll lay everything out we're safe. For now, just...just trust me."
So, they move on; Elecmon proceeds forward without waiting for a response. Taichi thinks that he ought to have put his foot down and demanded some answers. Yet, considering their current predicament, he thinks better of it. Elecmon is indeed correct; this isn't the time or place to have an argument. So, reluctantly, he continues to follow.
The dark descent continues on for what feels like hours before a familiar but unwelcome smell permeates throughout the air. It's an odor that Taichi had become all too familiar with back when they were traveling about the sewers on File Island.
"Numemon?" Taichi asks.
"Geremon," Elecmon corrects him. "I was afraid that we'd run into them sooner or later."
"You said they're more…dangerous, right?" Taichi tries to recall what he'd been told.
"Dangerous?" Elecmon chuckles. "Hardly. They're just more aggressive."
"Can they see in the dark?" Sora asks.
"I'm not sure," Elecmon replies. "But they do hate bright light."
"Are we going to fight them?" Agumon asks.
"Hopefully not," answers Elecmon. "I'd rather not poop thrown at me if at all possible."
Even as they speak, the group discovers that the staircase has lead them to a wide expanse of floor. Had they reached the bottom at last?
"Stand back for a moment," Elecmon separates himself from the group. They all wait. Within seconds, a few sparks surround Elecmon's body, dimly lighting up the area around him. Then, a quick bolt of lighting is fired into the ceiling above. The boom echoes loudly, scaring everyone. Yet, the light from the electricity briefly bathes the entire area with light. A few seconds afterwards, the group is allowed to take a vague afterimage of their current location.
They had arrived in what appears to be a huge tunnel. A huge set of train tracks lead down the middle of the tunnel, like those of a colossal subway.
"A train?" asks Taichi.
"Yeah," Elecmon says. "Let's keep moving. Stay close to the wall."
Elecmon's curtness rubs Taichi the wrong way once again.
Did he know about this too?
Nevertheless, the trek continues. Before long, the distinct sounds of wet bodies scooting about the area can be heard. The Geremon are there, lurking about the tunnels, doing who-knows-what as this group of adventurers passes them by. Every few minutes Elecmon would zap the ceiling again. The echoing boom and bright light would summarily cause the Geremon to scatter in every direction. Poop would be tossed in retaliation. Fortunately, the Geremon are horrible aim, impacting the surrounding walls but never hitting their marks. Elecmon does the whole lightning strike routine sparingly as they moved forward, thereby mitigating the risk that at least one of the Geremon might not miss. In spite of Elecmon's assertions, the group is left completely unmolested by the mollusk-like creatures. At best, Taichi hears the Digimon swear and curse, using words he'd often been admonished by his parents against using.
As even more time passes, Taichi feels weaker than ever. The pain in his hand was dull now, but still present.
Sora takes note that Taichi's breathing is becoming more and more labored. "How much longer, Elecmon?" She whispers. "The Tsunomon are getting tired and Taichi is still wounded."
Sora wouldn't admit it, but she was also growing tired.
"I'm well aware," Elecmon replies, somewhat exasperatedly. "But we just can't let up. Not now and definitely not here."
"How would they even find us now?" asks Taichi.
"The D-Brigade have plenty of tech," Elecmon explains. "Commandramon have flashlights and Sealsdramon have night-vision."
"Sealsdramon?" Taichi asks.
"Yeah," Elecmon replies.
There's a terseness to Elecmon's words. Although Taichi is in no condition to stop him, a feeling in his gut tells him Elecmon's is being far from truthful. Yet, within that doubt, Taichi senses there's reason behind Elecmon's deceptions. Taichi is resolved to confront him about this later on-it would happen. Yet, even as Taichi thinks about this, his head begins to spin. Sora, whose arms still locked about his feels his body go limp.
"Taichi?!" She whispers desperately.
Taichi doesn't stir.
Immediately, she hoists him over her shoulders in a fireman's carry position. His body is far lighter than she'd expected, although now show wonders how far she could carry him before she herself would succumb to fatigue.
"What is it?" Elecmon asks, hearing the scuffling of bodies.
"Taichi passed out," Sora explains. "Don't worry, I've got him."
"We need to help him!" Agumon insists.
"Sora has him, Agumon," Elecmon tells him. "Right now, we-"
At that moment, Elecmon goes quiet. Although the others can't see, his ears twitch. The slurping sounds of the surrounding Geremon have gone dead as well. Craning her ear forward, Sora can faintly make out a distant metallic rumbling, echoing about the tunnel.
"What is it?" Sora asks.
Elecmon doesn't say anything, but continues to listen. As he rumbling increases in volume, he gasps in realization:
As if in response, the sound of a great horn blasts throughout the chamber, startling them.
"We need to move! Fast!" Elecmon shouts. Everyone else sticks to him as closely as possible, moving forward. Beneath her feet, Sora can feel the tunnel vibrating. In the distance, far down the tunnel, lights appear. Their brightness agitates the surrounding Geremon, of which hundreds can now be seen. The Geremon scatter, taking to a distant break in the wall of the tunnel, far from their current location and situated upon the other side of the tracks. Upon seeing the break, Elecmon urges them all group to take refuge there.
"Follow them," says Elecmon. "It's our only chance!"
Easier said than done. Weaving through the Geremon proves to be more difficult that wading through sludge. The distinct sound of wheels chugging fills Sora with terror. Dust and rubble begin pouring down from the ceiling as well. Even as they close in on the breach, a few of the Tsunomon are separated from the main group. Elecmon reacts immediately.
"Sora! Get everyone inside!" he yells as he goes to retrieve the babies. Sora complies, adjusting Taichi as best she can as she pressed onward. Eventually, she, Agumon and the bulk of the Tsunomon make it to the breach. On the other side, Sore gently lays Taichi against the inner wall. More and more Geremon pour in, but Sora is dismayed when Elecmon is not among them. Sora peers out towards the tunnel and sees Elecmon fumbling about the fleeing Geremon, attempting to retrieve the displaced Tsunomon. Anxiously, Sora looks towards the oncoming lights, able to see what's coming. A huge spiked wheel barrels forward, carving the floor like a gigantic circular saw. Behind it, is a massive train with a large face-plate attached to front of it. Sora notices that he train's headlights are a pair of glowing eyes, glaring angrily. The train itself was a Digimon!
Hundreds of unlucky Geremon are plowed over as the great metal beast barrels forward, killing or wounding them. However, Gran Locomon doesn't stop.
Meanwhile, Elecmon has located the displaced Tsunomon, carrying them with him upon his back. However, to his distress, the a sea of Geremon have blocked all access to the breach, leaving no room for Elecmon maneuver about them. With no alternatives in sight, Gran Locomon would be upon him in mere seconds.
"Fight your way through!" Sora shouts to him. Even as she says it, she knows Elecmon would never harm innocents just to save himself, even if they are just a bunch of slimy Geremon. Instead, Elecmon resorts to taking each of the Tsunomon and tossing them like footballs towards the breach. One by one he does this and each Tsunomon is left to happily rejoin his brothers. When all the Tsunomon are thrown to safety, Elecmon takes a deep breath and squeezes his way through the mass of bodies as best he can.
"You can do it!" Sora shouts from the breach. Yet, even as she yells, she his horrified as his furry red body fades and eventually disappears entirely amidst the flood of Geremon.
"Elecmon!" she yells again, watching in horror as Gran Locomon closes in...