Ever since the Chosen Children had come into the Digital World, it had been a common occurrence for them to have encounter hostilities on a daily basis. So, it is with great exuberance that Yamato and the others are able to maintain an otherwise peaceful journey towards the Cluster Mountains. In fact, the walk itself has proved rather pleasant as well. The air is cool and a nice breeze passes through the forest trees, rustling the leaves. Along the way the children notice the sounds of trickling water and happen upon a large river flowing from the nearby mountain range. Koushiro suggests they following the river given the possibility it might lead to an accessible canyon.
As had long been the case throughout the Digital World, a series of signposts are found jutting out at various locations throughout the forest alongside the trees. Stranger still is the presence of microwave ovens lying about the edges of the river, scattered amidst the stones. Investigating the machines reveals none are plugged into any nearby outlets and yet, every now and then, a resonating *DING* can be heard from any one of them at random. As a general rule, the children against using or even touching any of the ovens given the wonkiness of other technologies they'd found in the past.
For a couple of hours now, the children had been traveling, although they weren't aware of how much time exactly had passed since Sora left them that morning. Yamato continues to lead the way with Garurumon striding nobly at his side. The great wolf still comfortably maintains his Adult form, all the while carrying Mimi, Takeru, Palmon and Tokomon upon his back. Koushiro and Jyou take up the rear with Tentomon fluttering about overhead while Gomamon lazily take a nap atop Jyou's head. Everyone except Yamato is talkative; his mind is still set on Sora. Before long, Mimi addresses him thoughtfully:
"Yamatu-kun," She says.
"Huh?" Yamato looks up to see Mimi smiling winsomely back at him.
"Y'know, I was just thinking about Sora..." she says, "I realize now that her heart just wasn't in it. She had her mind made up before we'd even left the desert."
"Oh…" Yamato nods, but his face remains sour.
"Don't be so hard on yourself," Mimi insists. "After all, It's not your fault that she left. And…well I'm glad about your decision; and so are the rest of us. I think it was right for us to continue on." She then looks around at everyone else, "Does everyone else think so as well?"
Almost in unison, the others voice their agreement, leaving Yamato almost speechless. This kind of attention and respect was completely foreign to him.
"You guys…" He says, trying to rub off the beads the sweat clinging to his neck. Encouragingly, Jyou comes up beside Yamato and places a hand on his shoulder.
"If you ever need any senior advice," Jyou says, "Don't hesitate to ask me." Gomamon, still resting on Jyou's back, begins to snicker at his partner's words. "What's so funny?" says Jyou, annoyedly.
"Oh, nothing," Gomamon says, chuckling to himself. "Just a…a dream I had."
"What kind of dream?" Jyou asks sardonically.
"One where you're less uptight about everything," Gomamon replies. In response, Jyou straightens his back, causing Gomamon to fall the ground. "Ouch!" says Gomamon, rubbing a sore spot on the back of his head. "What was that for?"
"You're the one who said I was uptight," says Jyou.
"Well, yeah," Gomamon replies, rolling his eyes, "But you don't have to prove me right…"
The trek goes on. The forest eventually gives way to a rocky terrain. Boulders large and small now scatter the landscape, signaling their proximity to the mountain range ahead. Koushiro looks upward, shielding his eyes from the rays of the sun, which rests about the middle of the sky.
"It's about noon," he remarks, wipes a sheet of sweat from his forehead. "I'd say we've been traveling for about four hours by now."
"That long? Really?" Yamato says, clearing the moisture from his own brow. He surveys the rest of the group, deciding what to do. "I think we're getting pretty close," he says. "Just a little further and then we can rest."
Everyone complies. Mimi then tosses them all some of the fruit that had been gifted to them by the Koemon the night before—a light snack as they continue moving.
"You know," Jyou says, biting into an apple, "If we're just data right now, I wonder: why do we still need to eat and sleep?"
"And go to the bathroom?" Takeru adds with a snicker. Mimi giggles as well, much to Jyou's chagrin.
"I've been wondering that myself," Koushiro replies. "More importantly, how susceptible are we to the manipulation of data?"
"Susceptible to the…the what now?" Jyou asks.
"Do you remember when we fought Monzaemon?" Koushiro asks him. Jyou nods, taking another bite out of his apple and Koushiro continues: "When Monzaemon imprisoned us, we weren't ourselves."
"I don't even remember what happened," Jyou says, thinking back to that time.
"I don't either," says Koushiro, "None of us do...except Mimi, of course. But from what Mimi said, we were all acting like zombies."
"Very childish zombies!" Mimi pipes in.
"Right," says Koushiro, "Anyway, I'm thinking that whatever Monzaemon did to us, it reprogrammed us for a brief period of time."
"Re programed?" Yamato asks.
"Correct," answers Koushiro, "our minds, our bodies, everything was completely at Monzaemon's mercy and then forced into a role."
"You mean…we were like a video game character?" asks Yamato.
Koushiro shrugs, "Sort of?"
"It sounds so dreadful!" Mimi remarks, shuddering, "I'm glad I didn't have to go through any of that."
"But if there are Digimon out there who can do that…" says Jyou. Then, he loses his appetite and gives Gomamon the remainder of his apple.
"You know, Jyou," says Gomamon, taking the fruit gleefully, "maybe I've been secretly controlling you the whole time and you never realized it."
"That's not even funny!" Jyou says grumpily.
"If you say so," says Gomamon. "But you did just hand me your food just now. You wanna tell me that was completely voluntary?"
Jyou's face turns red, but he crosses his arms and doesn't say anything. Gomamon just chuckles and bites into the apple.
Meanwhile, Yamato tries to set his mind on other things, not at all willing to conceive of the thought that he could be turned against anyone—least of all his younger brother. But could that really happen? He trembles uncontrollably for a second, trying to focus his thoughts on looming obstacle in front of them: Cluster Mountains.
Reaching them would be the easy part, it seems. Flying or climbing over them would be impossible, given electrical barrier that Hanumon had warned them about. Yamato considers whether or not they would have to travel the perimeter of the mountain range until some kind of passageway presented itself to them. But how long would that take? From their current perspective, the mountain range seems to stretch endlessly from one end to the next. Given the ever-present oddities of the Digital World, Yamato imagines the entire range stretching infinitely both left and right. Perhaps they can just dig their way through?
Yamato's thoughts are interrupted when the formerly cool breeze begins to pick up-ever so slightly. The shadow of Cluster Mountains begins to rise as the sun moves overhead, eventually overtaking them. Looking up, at the mountains, Yamato cannot tell where the peaks end and where the sky begins. The group continues forward regardless.
Upon reaching the divide between forest and mountain, the group is surprised to discover a clear line of grass. No trees or boulders can be seen along this divide and the mountains themselves are like a stone wall—completely impassable. The river they'd been following also before the divide, revealed to be sourced by a large metal pipe running underground. Although the pipe appears large enough to accommodate their bodies if they chose to walk through, gallons upon gallons of water forcefully issue from it. Gomamon determines fighting the stream would be impossible.
"It definitely leads into the mountains," says Gomamon, "But I couldn't even fight the current-and I'm aquatic!"
"Aqua-what?" Takeru asks.
"Aquatic!" Gomamon replies proudly. "It means I…I'm a…err…"
"It means he's good at swimming," Jyou replies sardonically.
"So, that's what that means?" Gomamon remarks in genuine realization. "Well, I knew there was a reason I liked that word!"
Jyou gives an exasperated sigh.
The group then decides to approach the divide to examine it further.
"Doe anyone see a way in?" Mimi asks.
"Not yet.." Yamato replies. Cautiously, he approaches the edge of the divide, about to step onto the clear line of grass. However, Garurumon gently stops him.
"Wait," says the wolf.
"What is it?" Yamato asks him. The rest of the group halts as well. Everyone goes quiet as Garurumon lifts his nose into the air and sniffs.
"Something about this is…wrong," Garurumon growls.
Yamato looks around and listens intently. He can hear the rushing river, the breeze rustling through the grass. Then, very faintly, Yamato's ears pick up the distant, whining hum of static-like one would hear in close proximity to a transformer tower.
"There's a power source nearby," says Yamato. Garurumon nods. Looking carefully about the grass, Yamato spots tiny sparks of electricity flitting amidst the green blades. What was that all about? He then warns everyone to stay where they are while he investigates further. In the back of his mind Yamato imagines of Taichi striding across the grass unharmed and making everyone look like a fool as he locates some convenient doorway into the mountains. Earnestly, however, Yamato would have given anything to have Taichi back and leading everyone instead of him right now.
Yamato then takes up a stone from the ground and tosses it towards the mountains. To his surprise, the rock impacts with some invisible barrier. A loud ZAP is emitted along with a flash of light, causing Yamato to jump back. In that instant, the rock is completely vaporized, turning to ash.
"There's your answer," says Garurumon.
"An invisible wall protecting a natural wall?" Tentomon inquires, "That seems redundant."
Carefully, Mimi and Takeru dismount from Garurumon while Koushiro gets as close to the divide as he can to observe their surroundings.
"I agree," Koushiro says, answering Tentomon. "This divide wasn't formed naturally. It's probably artificial."
"What does that mean?" Takeru asks him.
"You're learning all sorts of new words today, aren't you?" Koushiro laughs. "'Artificial' means that someone made it."
Takeru still looks confused, but he nods at Koushiro regardless.
"I don't see any way we can get through it..." Jyou ponders.
"That noise is driving me nuts!" whines Tentomon, pulling his antenna to his sides in semblance of someone covering their ears. Yamato thinks for a moment and then snaps his fingers, "Koushiro! We're probably near a power source. Wanna see if your computer is working?"
"Ah!" Koushiro nods at him and quickly un-holsters his laptop and opens it. However, as he peers at the monitor, his face goes askew.
"What's the matter?" Yamato asks, approaching and looking over Koushiro's shoulder. Everyone crows around, witnessing a series of strange green letters skitter across the screen. Of them, Yamato recognizes only a few of the symbols from what he'd read in Koushiro's notes the day before.
"Digital code?" Yamato asks.
Koushiro nods and taps the "Enter" key. The computer reacts and the digital code aligns itself in new patterns. "We're definitely close to a power source of some kind," he observes.
"Are you connect to anything?" Jyou asks.
"Not at the moment, it seems," Koushiro replies. "And…I'm not sure…but, I think someone else is trying to interface with my computer."
"Is that bad?" asks Mimi.
"I hope not," Koushiro says before focusing all his attention on the screen before him. Soon, he's off typing, matching the green text with text of his own. His eyes rapidly dart about his monitor, attempting to decipher every line and match it with his own. Yamato can only begin to understand the depth of what is going on.
"It's some kind of security system," Koushiro comments. "I'm attempting a bypass."
"First the mountains, then an electrical barrier, and now this?" Mimi whines. "Why can't anything be simple for once?"
"Everything should be fine, Mimi, don't worry," Koushiro reassures her, "I just have to-" Suddenly the text fades and vanishes altogether, leaving the screen completely blank. "H-hey!" Koushiro stammers in frustration.
"Where'd it go?" Yamato asks.
Koushiro taps a few keys and presses the "Power" button a number of times. To no avail—the computer remains unresponsive. However, the wind about them picks up again, enough that Mimi has to hold her for fear of it blowing away. Then, just quickly, the wind dies. Everyone goes quiet, tuning their ears to any new changes. Yet nothing stirs. The sound of the babbling river is all that can be heard.
Shrugging, Koushiro holsters his laptop again. "We'll have to try something else," he suggests.
The group then sets up a makeshift camp near the river, talking among themselves about the best course of action to take next. As they eat and drink, Koushiro confirms the presence of an invisible barrier.
"I'm not sure why it's set up here," he says. "My guess is that this section of the mountain is accessible and whomever is inside wants to keep intruders out."
"Can we contact whomever is inside?" Yamato suggests.
"I already tried," Koushiro says, shaking his head. Sheepishly, he adds, "I think they purposely denied my computer access after I bypassed their security."
"Can we try 'knocking on the door'?" asks Takeru.
The others look at him curiously.
"What do you mean?" inquires Yamato.
"Our Digimon can attack the mountain," Takeru suggests. "If we make enough noise, then maybe someone will notice."
"Or, we might breach the barrier," Koushiro says, rubbing his chin with his thumb and forefinger. "I suppose it's worth a try."
Yamato nods and gives his younger brother a thumb's up. Takeru returns the gesture gladly.
Within the next few minutes, Palmon, Gomamon, and Tentomon evolve and ready themselves. On Yamato's signal, each of them fires at the barrier. The impacts cause the barrier to light up and shimmer like the surface of a pond being struck. To the group's collective surprise, the shimmering reveals itself to be some kind of illusory wall. Behind it, the children catch a glimpse of a wide-open space beyond.
"It's just a hologram, after all!" Koushiro exclaims. "This section of the mountains isn't real!"
The illusory barrier continues to shimmer as the Digimon attack it. But then, a glint of metal is seen briefly protruding from one section. Before Yamato can make sense of what it is—
"MAGNETIC BEAM!" Shouts a voice.
Without warning, a red beam is fired at Garurumon's mouth. The wolf howls in pain before collapsing in a heap and reverting back to Gabumon.
"Gabumon!" Yamato cries out, running to his partner's aid, finding his partner scorched and unconscious.
From beyond the barrier, this new adversary appears, revealing itself to be a small, robotic ball-shaped Digimon with an arm cannon and a metal claw. Kabuterimon quickly identifies the Digimon as Metal Mamemon.
"He may be small, but don't misjudged him,"
"Damn right," Metal Mamemon says in response to Kabuterimon. Then, addressing everyone, he says, "You're all trespassing! Beat it or I'll turn the lot of you into piles of ash!"
Mimi, however, overlooks the damage sustained by Garurumon and steps forward, not at all afraid of Metal Mamemon's diminutive stature.
"Why are you doing this?!" She yells at him, stubbornly crossing her arms. Metal Mamemon looks at Mimi and, for a moment is taken aback by her brazen attitude. He looks her over for a moment before replying:
"What is it to you, anyway? You don't belong here," He raises his arm cannon menacingly, "No scram or pay the consequences!"
Surprisingly, Mimi doesn't budge. Rather, her face turns red with rage and she continues to mouth off:
"Why does everyone in this world have to be so rude all the time!?" She stomps her feet in frustration. Then, clenching her fists, she shouts: "You…you jerk!" Trembling slightly, she point an angry finger in Meta lMamemon's direction. Surprisingly, he lowers his weapon, a look of curiosity coloring his eyes. Mimi continues: "We're the Chosen Children! We're here to save you! And this is how you repay us?!"
"You're…who?" Metal Mamemon asks, completely befuddled.
Mimi takes a deep breath and begins speaking. Without seeming to take any breaths in-between, she extemporarily recounts all their adventures to Metal Mamemon. Needless to say, everyone including their new adversary listen in surprise as Mimi goes on and on about their journey ever since they landed on File Island. She seemingly leaves out no details, much to the chagrin of the boys as she uncaringly cites her frustrations with Takeru's crybaby antics, Jyou's timidity, Koushiro's constant obliviousness, and Yamato's lack of confidence. She goes on talking for about fifteen minutes straight.
Metal Mamemon can only stare at Mimi in disbelief and confusion as she continues her rant. Meanwhile, the boys listen with mild embarrassment at Mimi's brutal honesty, having been completely unaware of all these feelings she'd been harboring against them. Moreover, Mimi insists how much she misses Sora's company and Taichi's leadership.
However, Mimi's rage soon turns into melancholy. Tears fill her eyes and she openly admits that she's grown attached to everyone given the time they've spent together in the Digital World. She then praises the tenacity and bravery of each of the boys, in spite of what she'd said earlier, furthermore berates Sora and Taichi for their absence. Finally, after having unloaded everything to this stranger she'd only just met, Mimi takes a long, deep breathe and sits down, burying her face hugging her knees as she cries her eyes out.
"I just want to go home…" Mimi whispers to herself, "I just want to see my parents again…"
Everyone, including Metal Mamemon, just looks at Mimi, astonished by this entire display. Normally she'd have Sora to comfort her whenever she was about to go off the rails about any given predicament. Now, however, given a distinct lack of another female presence, the others were witness to a side of Mimi they hadn't been aware of before.
Thankfully, Takeru approaches her, gently placing a hand on her shoulder but saying nothing. Togemon also joins in and, very awkwardly, lays a large red glove about Mimi, doing her best to console her partner.
"Ahem…" Metal Mamemon stutters, trying to recover himself, "Anyways…regardless of…all of that. We…we simply cannot allow you inside! It's not allowed. Plus, you've already nearly jeopardized our security anyway."
At this, Yamato and Koushiro exchange embarrassed glances.
"Mimi is right!" Togemon shouts at Metal Mamemon. "You're nothing but a big meanie!"
"I'm not petty enough to exchange insults with the likes of you, plant," replies Metal Mamemon, replacing his earlier confusion with a look of scorn. He places special emphasis on the word, "plant" when addressing Togemon.
"'Plant'?" says Togemon, "What exactly do you mean by that?"
"It's just as I said," he replies presumptively. "The Metal Empire will never abide the intrusion of plants by any means."
Before anyone can inquire about what the 'Metal Empire' even is, a miracle occurs. Mimi gets up, her face is streaked with tears, but illuminated by a green glow emanating from her body. As she rises to her feet, Takeru eagerly points at her crest!
"Mimi!" Takeru shouts. "Your crest is glowing!"
"What is that?!" Metal Mamemon raises his arm cannon once more.
A bit startled, Mimi lifts her tag and crest and confirms that the latter is indeed glowing with an emerald light!
"It's like she said," Koushiro shouts, addressing Metal Mamemon, "We're the Chosen Children!"
Mimi's light is then projected towards Togemon, causing her to be surrounded in a green silhouette. The entire group watches in astonishment as Togemon evolves. The green aura then reshapes itself in a smaller, humanoid shape. The next moment, the silhouette disappears and a pixie-like creature is revealed, hair made of vines, and wearing a pink flower for a dress. The newcomer stands just a head shorter than Mimi herself.
Mimi gasps at her newly-evolved partner who then exuberantly takes Mimi's hands into hers and gives them a gentle squeeze, "You did it, Mimi!" the newcomer says, happily. "I knew you could do it!"
"Who…who are you?" Mim asks.
"I'm Lilimon!" The newcomer says, winking. Daintily, Lilimon wipes the tears from Mimi's face and embraces her.
"She's much smaller than Togemon," says Jyou in astonishment.
"You're so beautiful!" Mimi says in admiration. Shyly, she adds "…and cute."
Lilimon giggles and then takes flight, flitting about like a dragonfly. "Look Mimi!" She laughs, "I can fly! I can fly!"
"Surely, you'll let us inside now!" says Koushiro. "This is proof that we're the Chosen Children. Spontaneous evolution! No other Digimon can evolve like that."
"I—" Metal Mamemon begins to say. But then, Lilimon flies up to his face, startling him and causing him to fall backwards. She smiles and giggles at him.
"You can't possibly say 'no' to me, little guy," she says, giving a mischievous wink. "I'm far too cute to resist!"
Metal Mamemon grunts in aggravation and retaliates, firing his weapon at Lilimon. However, Lilimon proves too quick for him and evades every attack, laughing continually at his expense.
"You...!" Metal Mamemon shouts angrily, "I specifically said, no plants!" He continues to shoot fruitlessly at the dexterous pixie, not realizing that as Lilimon continues to zip around him, a strange powder issues from her body. Soon, her opponent is covered by a the pollen and he stops his attacks, sneezing uncontrollably. Lilimon then descends behind her adversary. The moment Metal Mamemon recovers, he looks all around, trying to spot Lilimon. She taps him lightly from behind.
"I'm right here, you silly," she says mockingly.
Unwittingly, Metal Mamemon turns and fires his cannon, completely missing his target and accidentally blowing a large hole through the barrier.
"What?!" He says, looking in disbelief at what he's done.
"Much appreciated, little guy," says Lilimon, laughing with delight in the air above him. "Looks like you opened the door for us after all."
In a rage, Metal Mamemon attempts to blast her again. Lilimon, seemingly forgetting herself for a moment, is hit! She falls from the sky, landing just a few feet away from her adversary.
"Finally got you!" he announces. Seemingly triumphant, Meta lMamemon approaches Lilimon's fallen form and prepares his claws for another attack. "You'll pay for that, plant. You…you…" Her opponent then begins to stumble about woozily, unable to maintain his balance.
"I got you!" Lilimon says, lifting herself from the ground. Although still somewhat scorched, she manages to work in a mischievous smile as her adversary falls to the ground. "Temptation," she explains, "I've sapped your energy with my pollen."
"Damn…you..." Metal Mamemon coughs, right before he loses consciousness.
Lilimon's evolution then reverts itself, and she becomes Tanemon. Hurriedly, Mimi retrieves her partner and assess the damage done to her. "Are you alright?" She inquires. Gratefully, Tanemon nods and motions towards the open barrier.
Quickly, Mimi motions to the others to follow her through. Not wasting any time, everyone crosses over, leaving Metal Mamemon behind. Gabumon, still unconscious, is slung across Yamato's back. Meanwhile Kabuterimon and Ikkakumon take up the rear.
After crossing over, the group takes in their new surroundings and are amazed to discover what's beyond. Stretched out before them is a canyon delving deeper inside the cluster mountains. Paving the way forward is an asphalt road lined with lampposts.
"Are those…buildings?" Jyou asks, adjusting his glasses to get a better look. Yamato's eyes look beyond the road and confirm some kind of metropolitan landscape in the distance.
"Hanumon was right," says Yamato, "There's an entire city in here!"
"What's that?" asks Mimi, motioning in the distance. "Something is coming to meet us!"
Indeed, a squad of reptilian Digimon approaches. Their scales colored in digital camouflage, bodies clad in combat gear and wielding assault rifles-these are the Commandramon, the elite foot soldiers of the D-Brigade. The children and their Digimon partners brace themselves for an inevitable encounter…