Government Confines

Chapter VI

Marcus's Misadventure

Marcus had fallen asleep fairly easily that night after Darius had declared lights-out, despite the cacophonous snoring of his Digimon in the cot next to him. He had developed a pension for sleeping in uncomfortable situations—something he had regularly been admonished for in school and at home. But it served him well here, and he woke refreshed, ready for anything.

Nothing but the deafening roar of a MetalGreymon could have roused him. And the shouting, as if it had come from a bullhorn, shook him to the point where he rolled out of the cot and onto a cold, hard floor. When he opened his eyes, Pat stood over him, a giant claw extended to help him to his feet.

"You snore," Marcus said, typically flippant. The ExVeemon snorted once and yanked Marcus off the ground. The others stood around in various stages of waking up, save Michael, who's partner stood guard making sure the child still rested.

Marcus sighed. The kid had been exhausted. After their brief conversation, he and his wolf had stalked off to find a place to lie down. He seemed so fragile. But the conversation, after they had departed, turned toward their collective assignment in the Digital World and the circumstances leading to their arrivals. The talk turned dark as he gathered that Alice had come from a situation nearly as hopeless as his own.

She was a spirited girl, he decided, taking a liking to her almost instantly. Pat suggested privately that it was more his pants than his head that liked her, to which Marcus replied by giving him a good slug in the arm. She was attractive, for certain, but she was so similar to him in so many ways. Alice came from a wrecked family, ruined by alcohol, and had worked hard to come out of it on the better end.

That was their only dissimilarity, he reckoned. She was ambitious and motivated enough to get out of that lethargy that claimed Marcus. "Do think I've got a shot at least," he asked Pat in the dark later. The Digimon replied ambiguously that he was not familiar with the mating customs of Humans. Marcus had rolled his eyes and turned his thoughts elsewhere.

Jerry… He was young, well-to-do and talented in ways Marcus could never hope to match. How had he been chosen to become digi-destined in the first place? From their discussion, his life had been going along just fine. Jerry had made top grades in school, was on track to go to a high-priced, fancy college, and take over his father's business. The only thing Marcus could detect wrong with the situation was a small hint of dissatisfaction in the way he told it.

To him, it sounded as if the kid were just complaining. What did he know of hardship, turmoil and broken families? Marcus had said as much, earning the ire of walking dictionary. Some of those words, he had never heard in conversation before. He used the kind million-dollar jargon that was on school exams. And to Marcus' dismay, he never once raised his voice.

It only infuriated the eighteen-year-old even more. His first inclination had been to start on a tirade of his own, using all the four-letter words in his vocabulary. Yet as soon as he opened his mouth, something happened which had not happened to him before. He thought before he spoke, and ended up grumbling a mess of gibberish, at a loss for words that would make him sound at least as intelligent as Jerry.

In the end, he had come out looking a fool anyway. Pat had looked on amusedly, as well as the other Digimon, at his fumbling, halting use of syllables. Marcus stomped away impotently, soundly beaten.

Now there they stood, yawning. Jerry and his partner were off on one side of the room, discussing something while Alice looked for someplace to wash. Marcus approached the MetalGreymon in the midst of an argument with a growling Garth as to whether or not Michael should be treated differently from the rest because of his age.

"Hey, big guy!" he interrupted, drawing an irritated glance from the helmeted visage. Darius ignored him, continuing his discussion with the wolfish Digimon. Marcus shouted again, receiving a pointed stare, but nothing more. The irksome expression rapidly began to frustrate him.

"You might try 'sir,'" Mason said, coming up behind the human. He had long since known the value of manners, even if he was a brute in most respects. "Darius was a military officer. He commands respect and ignores punks like you."

A punk? Did he seriously just say that? He had to be kidding. Marcus had been called a lot of things. He remembered fondly a dozen or so lectures and some four-letter words interlaced with them like poetry. But he had not been called a punk by anyone since he was twelve. "And you're nothing but a big housecat," he said irately.

Mason snickered at his pathetic attempt at a comeback. "You don't have to be the sharpest knife in the block, human," he said. "Just try to know your own strengths and play to those." Though his temper was bound to get them into trouble somehow. Even Mason knew when to keep his cool—most of the time.

"Whatever," said he, and folded his arms.

"There's something to be said for politeness," the Leomon told him. Just look at his brother, for example. Years of quiescent politeness had buried him deep into the government, able to subvert them without raising any suspicions. "You just have to know how to talk to people."

The leonine Digimon cleared his throat once, immediately arresting Darius' attention. "Excuse me, sir?" he said quietly, unusually submissive. "Would you be so kind as to tell me where I might rustle up some grub?" He shot a knowing look at Marcus, who looked at him dumbfounded.

"I don't keep the cupboards stocked, Mason," the MetalGreymon said, still ignoring Marcus. "You'll have to go into town and bring back supplies." Mason smiled, thanked him and turned back to the human.

"Just have to know how to talk."

DoyenGreymon's yellow eyes reflected a single monitor among the rows and columns of unlit displays. He stared, interested in only one. An image of the ExVeemon breaking through his patrol unit stood frozen on the screen. That particular Digimon had been in the financial division of his bureaucracy.

At first glance, his work proved satisfactory, hiding slush funds among official-sounding project titles. Supposedly it had gone to the creation of his Shutzdramon army and policing of the Digital World. But upon closer inspection—a scrutiny he had personally overseen—the treachery became apparent. All of it had gone into the resistance movement.

DoyenGreymon had almost been impressed. Were it not for the fury he felt against the traitorous Digimon, he might have utilized those skills more fully to his advantage. He still might have. But that human—he clenched his fists. How clever he had been until that point.

A second display lit with rows of writing scrawling across the screen. Ah, yes. He grinned maliciously. The report was excellent—the ExVeemon and the wild Leomon from the resistance had been spotted in District Twelve. Where they were, that human was sure to be as well.

He toggled a switch. "Dispatch patrols to District Twelve and prepare my transport," he said, his deep voice menacing. Another thought crossed his mind that made his grin grow wider. Oh, this would be a good jaunt for him. He would make a holiday of it. Capture a human, a traitor, and then set his sights on his most elusive target.

The Baron of the West would be there. He knew the real reason for his visits to the slave auctions, but he had never been able to catch the Baron in the act. The auctioneers and sellers would not care if he were setting slaves free, so long as the money he paid with lined their pockets. Without caution, it could cause a riot. Those involved would be displeased if he were to disrupt their lucrative, if only barely legal, dealings with the Baron.

He only needed to know who this Digimon was. What was his name, his species? Where did he come from? The information on him was scarce at best, even with DoyenGreymon's resources. That he was heir to a mining fortune, and traveled in caravans, was all any file could ever tell him.

Plenty of eye-witnesses would tell him, but no two sources ever agreed. Reports ranged from rookies to mega Digimon of unimaginable size. It seemed he sent representatives for himself instead of showing in person. Oh, he was clever. But he was not as clever as DoyenGreymon, not by any means. He would be there within a few hours to oversee the extermination of these rebels once and for all.

Pat knew this place. He had grown up in these parts, near this neighborhood. Nothing looked the same, though, and the smell had changed. Empty crates and dark shops lined each path, punctuated here or there by piles of refuse. At one point, District Twelve had been a clean-cut farming district, not yet under the full control of DoyenGreymon.

Had that much really changed since then? It had been more than twenty years ago, of course, since he had left home. Too much time, he supposed. Still, the sight of the earth-colored buildings and timber frames brought back to him memories of his childhood. He and Mason had spent hours running down these streets, just for the fun of it. He turned a corner, wondering aimlessly.

Mason, next to him, did not seem so nostalgic. What had happened, he wondered? Of course it had been the slave industry. No longer was District Twelve for cultivating crops of grains and vegetables. Now it was for cultivating crops of Digimon.

Are you okay? Marcus asked from within him.

Pat shook his head. He had almost forgotten that the human was inside him again. They had left the Kellogg little more than an hour ago in search of supplies. Coupled again in their symbiotic state, Marcus had been unusually quiet. Pat, much like the human, had also retained an air of silence about him. He doubted if it was the tranquil morning that had produced the affect.

Fine, he replied, lying. He knew the human knew better. But Marcus, much to his relief, had decided not to press the subject. I have an idea of where we can pick up some supplies, he continued. It should have been around this area. But all he saw were more empty or boarded up windows. It was as if the entire town was deserted. He hoped that was not the case.

There should have been at least one Digimon who had not abandoned his livelihood. Mason and he knew the man well enough. "You don't suppose he's gone too," Pat asked, distractedly. He had been stubborn.

"Him?" Mason laughed. It was forced, though. The Leomon had seen this coming even from childhood. The government had seized control of district by district, consolidating its power and then stretching its tendrils into the outermost reaches of the Digital World. "He would never leave."

Father... Where are you? The shop should have been around the last corner, unless he had moved it. That was more likely than him giving up. But where had it—oh! There! Mason breathed a sigh of relief as he spotted the brightly painted storefront. The door stood wide open, welcoming anyone who happened to venture by.

He vaulted up the front steps, landing with a thud on the rickety floorboards. Pat joined him, more sedate, but still glad to see the shop still up and running. To Marcus, it resembled any other convenience store that he had seen, save for not a word was written in English, but a strange script of wobbly lines and arrows. The shelves, fully stocked, held all manners of things, from foodstuffs to seed stock. A pyramid of canned goods took up a portion of the floor with a sign next to it.

"Apparently," Mason remarked, smiling broadly, "the old man still has his wits about him if he can make this place a success with all that's going on in the world." Even with the farms abandoned and the shops closing, this was a bastion of good, honest work and fair dealing. "It looks like new, doesn't it?"

"I work hard to maintain it," a grizzled voice said. A tall, wiry frame lifted itself from behind the counter, his head nearly scraping the ceiling. His thin limbs were encased in glossy armor and the added bulk produced the effect of something like a boxer and a martial arts master combined into one person. "I didn't expect to see you again."

"We weren't sure if you were still around either," Pat said. He had never gotten along with the man. But still, it was his father. He had to be aware of the resistance movement. He knew Pat and Mason had gone to try and help. The Paildramon had also disapproved of it. "We need your help, father."

Father? Marcus asked, incredulously. This geezer? You're going to ask him for help? He sounded more like an executioner than a parent. Marcus could sense his partner's trepidation—the Digimon obviously made him uncomfortable. It reminded him of his own family. Big Digimon must have even bigger problems, he supposed.

Yes, Pat told him, trying to clamp down on the involuntary contortions Marcus had caused. He must have looked strange, and it would certainly not help their situation. He may not like my choice, but he is my family. He might help. But even he doubted it. The Digimon always said not to rock the boat. You could live in the world without being a part of it, he said. He's a good man…

"What mess have you gotten yourselves into," the Paildramon demanded. Pat winced. He felt like he was being lectured again. Indeed, he was, and this time for doing nothing at all. He raised a finger to try and interject, but was promptly cut off. "You went off to join that bloody fifth column and now you're in a situation. So you decided to come back here and get me involved?"

He told us, Mason thought.

"You don't understand, though," Pat said weakly, feeling his voice trail off into a pathetic whimper. "We're actually making a—" He told us so. His father's eyes glared daggers at him, deflating any further protests. Why did he think this would work? The man was unreasonable. He was always unreasonable!

Marcus gawked from inside his partner. Even Mason dared not raise a single protest. How was it that these two Digimon, whom had fought their way out of the enemy's stronghold, were reduced to such weakness?

"No, go on! Get out of here. I don't want anything to do with this," their father said, showing them the door. Now wait a minute! Marcus and his father argued all the time. Usually Marcus had caused it with some wanton act of stupidity on his part. They fought, but he had never been thrown out. Pat had begun to turn.


Their shared body came to a grounding halt and Marcus turned on one foot to face the Paildramon. "Now you wait just a minute before throwing us out," the human said. Admittedly, he hardly qualified as an expert in the field of family counseling, but he knew better than this. "I don't know what is going on with the three of you, but you can't just throw your sons out when they need help!"

Mason turned and clamped a furred hand firmly over their mouth. What was he thinking? It was obviously that human again, making a pest of himself again. Despite their need for supplies, neither Pat nor Mason would have shared that information with their father. They would not have exposed him to that sort of danger.

Marcus elbowed him once in the ribs, then turned on his heel and backhanded the lion Digimon good and hard. "Get off of me. You can't just sit there and take this either, Mason. I know exactly why we're here. Those patrols in the capital caught sight of all three of us and anyone with half a brain would turn us in for the reward. You came here in hope that your father would help and then keep his mouth shut."

The ExVeemon's mouth snapped shut as suddenly as it had begun talking, leaving Mason speechless and their father looking at them with a single eyebrow raised. "Since when did you grow a backbone?" he asked derisively. "As a matter of fact, human, I did know about your adventure in District One. I refuse to help you, but I won't turn you in either. That is all you're going to get out of me."

He pointed to the door. Pat and Mason had already given up, and Marcus, frustrated and disillusioned, let Pat take them outside. There was no help there, nor was there help to be given. What had happened, he wondered?

Now you know our family secret, Pat told him in a huff. All because he had decided to do something for to help his fellow Digimon, he and his brother were outcasts. He refuses for the sake of his own hide, Marcus. He's stubborn, arrogant… He finished with an incoherent growl, startling his human partner.

Marcus had never seen him angry before. Annoyed, yes, easily, and the Digimon was mostly annoyed with him. It affected him, and he felt the urge to punch something. The need for some sort of release welled in him and his partner, and they only just managed to subdue it. They could take out their frustrations back at the Kellogg, they knew. There had been ample room underground for a ruckus like that.

"Come on, Mason," they said in unison.

The leonine Digimon did not come, however. He stopped and craned his ears toward the alley which they had previously come through. "Quick, get down!" he whispered, and then ducked down a side street just as two units in white, plastic armor came marching up the street followed by another Digimon of mechanical design.

Pat was quick enough to hide himself as well, and he peered out from his hiding place as they strode toward the storefront. "An Oswemon," he said, more to Marcus than himself. There had been one present at the skirmish in District One. Shutzdramon never acted without orders. "There's always one nearby. They're manufactured just like the others, but they have an artificial intelligence that lets them make tactical decisions."

Mason shushed him. The troupe ripped the hinges off the front door and went in, pistols charged and trained on the proprietor. Without announcement or ceremony they drug the Paildramon out at gunpoint and hauled him off.

"Stay down," Mason whispered again. Pat had almost leapt to his feet in protest. He fought the urge himself, shuddering at the thought of what sort of fate awaited his father. They would torture him until he gave up any information he had, then he would be confined in a cell barely large enough for him to stoop in.

"You can't just leave him," Marcus replied, louder than he intended. The Paildramon caught sight of them as he passed, his guards still looking straight ahead. He could not tell if the look in his eyes was resignation, anger or malignance. "He'll give us up for sure. We can take the guards down and then bring him back to the Kellogg."

"No," Pat interjected, fighting to suppress his own desire. "He won't give us up," the Digimon said confidently. But there were still eyes watching, even if the patrol had missed them. "We'll wait until they leave, then loot what supplies we can."

"I'll grab the supplies," Mason told them. He could handle that. Whatever eyes were watching them, though, they would certainly find the location of their allies if either of them returned. They had to work in a duel fashion, he decided. "You two follow them and rescue him. They'll know where we're hiding anyway. I'll prepare the others to move out. We'll rendezvous at the city gate at sundown."

Out of the two Digimon, Pat was the least recognizable. His unassuming nature and submissive posture gave him the benefit of a curious form of stealth. He was not invisible, or even in hiding. But no one ever noticed the dragon-like Digimon as he passed by. He could follow unnoticed, he knew, if he could keep his human from jumping the gun.

"It's a good plan," he said. But you have to keep quiet, Marcus, he told his partner. Let me do the following and don't talk. They would split up, the three of them. Pat and Marcus would follow the patrol as covertly as possible and try and rescue their father. "You stay hidden for an hour or two and then come back here for the supplies."

"Right. Good luck." They were going to need it.

So the fools thought they were sneaky? DoyenGreymon watched the scene unfold, idly stirring a drink with one long claw. They played right into his trap. Of course he had known where they would go. He knew everything. Their father, the grizzled, weak excuse for an ultimate had been a target as soon as he knew their whereabouts. Then the two brothers would undoubtedly rescue him.

He knew the Leomon to be somewhat intelligent. A leader of their sorry band of rebels, he had some skill in planning a tactical assault or black-bag operation. DoyenGreymon had foreseen this. Their plan to split up was laughable at best. Not only would he get the human, but he would find the location of the rebel base.

They have no idea what is about to happen to them. Those poor, hapless souls. They had such talent. Both of the might have been useful to him. But they had chosen their side, and now it was theirs to face the consequences. Dire consequences.

He held a button, and the com switched on with a faint click and the flashing of a red light. "Have two patrols stationed outside the prison in stealth position. Tell them to engage on sight of an ExVeemon or a Leomon." He released the switch, and then thought again. How much more fun would it be to toy with them first? He held the button again. "I want them captured alive and taken down to the interrogation level."

It would have helped to know the layout better, Marcus grumbled, eyeing the high, barbed-wire fence surrounding the prison. He knew the building, Pat said. He had been there plenty of times before they repurposed it. If he could have, the human would have rolled his eyes. Nothing was as his partner explained. How long ago was it?

Admittedly, sometime ago, the Digimon had confessed. It had been a few years, maybe a decade or two, since he had last been in District Twelve. The Kellogg had not been established, nor had the slave trade taken such an uncompromising hold on the local economy. The building had once been a processing plant for the farmers.

Since then, however, DoyenGreymon had gutted the machinery and had entirely demolished the old factory. Now a looming complex, reminiscent of the dark tower in District One, stood in its place, a sinister shadow dominating the once prosperous community. The fence around it rose twice as high as Pat could jump, and judging by the low hum they heard, both he and Marcus would have guessed it was electrified.

One thing that they never do wrong is security, Pat told his partner. Touch that fence and you'll be electrocuted for sure. I'd wager attacking it would only make the current stronger, too. Once you went in, you never came out. It would be a miracle of the most divine variety for anyone to escape, even with help from the outside.

From their hiding place, the two had watched as the patrol took in Pat's father and closed the gate behind them. We do have one advantage, Marcus remarked. They could fly. Pat's powerful wings could carry them over the electrified wall and out again. But as for the Digimon they came to rescue, it would be a long shot at best to reach him successfully. We also have surprise on our side.

They could bust in pretty easily. And with their combined strength, they could cause enough chaos and confusion to pull it off. They might even succeed in setting some of the other captives free. Yes, they could do it; they could pull off a miracle. A few well-placed V-lasers and a couple of explosions should do the trick. Pat was worried for nothing. They could do this.

We can't just go busting in. We have no idea where they keep the prisoners, Pat interjected, trying to sound reasonable rather than afraid. His father would not have wanted him to take that risk anyway. But how could he just leave him? They only way to save him would be to defeat DoyenGreymon and the entire military-industrial complex that supported him. Who knew how long that would take, or even if it were possible?

What was he doing? DoyenGreymon sat at the top of his tower, eyes intently set on a magnified view of the ExVeemon and his contemptible attempt at stealth. There it sat, almost motionless, like a statue, staring at the gate. He had been doing so since he arrived, nearly an hour ago.

Blast that Digimon! He had hoped for a little resistance from his prey. Then again, if he moved in on them now, he might yet get to toy with them some. His units were in position, ready to pounce on the draconic Digimon at his command. Ah, he blinked once. That would make it more interesting. He messaged the command unit. One of the patrols withdrew back into the prison. He always enjoyed a challenge.

The ease with which he had broken through the patrol in District One intrigued him. He could gauge the potential of this Digimon better that way. And the human had to be nearby, he remembered. That, after all, was his partner down there.

He felt utter disgust for him at that thought. The weakness of a human, and a child no less, would do nothing but contaminate the Digital World. He had worked hard, for decades upon decades, to eradicate such weaknesses from his world. The feeblest of Digimon he destroyed—they were unworthy to bear the name Digimon. Those with modicum of strength he had turned over to slave holders. They would at least be useful in some capacity. But humans—He wondered what strength that Digimon might have possessed were it not for the human whom he had bonded with. Maybe now he would find out.

"Move in on them now," he ordered.

We let ourselves get captured, the human suggested.

That would not be a problem, Pat decided quickly. That patrol that just went through the gate came from right behind us, he replied. He could hear a second squad closing in on their position. It would be upon them in only moments. It was then or never. Do you really think we can pull this off, Marcus?

Do you want to save your dad or not? the human replied, also hearing the detachment bearing down on them. We'll get the layout of the prison on the way in, then once they leave us, we'll bust ourselves and your dad out. Of course this was all in theory. He had never tried to break into anywhere before, despite the numerous accusations against him.

He almost laughed. He was finally doing it. Marcus had always appreciated a good joke, and the irony of his plan brought him a profound sense of joy. Not only was he breaking the law of the land in an attempt to do some good (for a change, he thought), but he had endeavored to force his entry into a prison of all places.

I think we can, he told his partner. He had been in tougher scrapes than this. And he had his partner's strength to rely on. Just let me do the punching and you supply the muscle. The Shutzdramon were close now, a few paces away. Then two paces. Marcus felt the cold tip of the Digmon's barrel against their back.

Not once had they attempted to engage the patrol. Without a moment's hesitation, they turned with the unit and were escorted into the facility. DoyenGreymon furrowed his brow under his silvery helmet. Had the Digimon just decided he was too weak to fight another set of guards? Or did he have an ulterior motive? The game had changed. Now it was a battle of wits as well. No matter. He merely had to wait for his will to give out. Under the right pressure, information was easy to be had.

But where was the human? His men had searched over the grounds a mile in each direction and come up empty-handed. It was as if the child had disappeared entirely. He would wring that information out of the traitor as well. It was only a matter of time. If the sight of the prison's insides did not turn his fortitude to jelly, then the inquisitors certainly would.

Marcus resisted the urge to hug himself, partially helped by Pat's unwillingness to indulge in such an idiotic display. He had imagined something like a human prison, with inmates in orange jumpers lined up behind rows of barred rooms—small, but humane. Now he wondered if his plan had been such a good idea. The inside was as dank and damp as any dungeon he had heard of. Only a small slit in metal doors allowed any light into the interiors. And from how closely spaced each door was, and how low to the ground they were, he imagined there was barely enough room for a human.

Let alone someone as comparatively large as Pat. He was thankful for the keen vision of his Digimon partner—the lights were far too low for him to see alone. It seemed the whole of the ground floor was devoted to cages. He guessed there were at least two or three basement levels as well. More prisoner cages, undoubtedly.

They reached the end of a long corridor and a metal door hissed open. The air inside was stagnant and sterile, much the opposite of the stink of decay rampant in the cellblock. It bode very badly for them as they were forced into the elevator. Then down they went. One level passed them, then another, and a third. Finally they reached the bottom.

Pat shuddered, now thoroughly wishing he had not gone along with his human's foolhardy plan. He knew this place, even if only by rumor. It was stained with the invisible, but unmistakable blood of countless innocents. Surgical tools, syringes and vials of colored fluids line the walls of a sterile, chrome chamber.

That was far enough, the decided. Marcus, recognizing the same chamber of horrors as his partner, heartily agreed. Pat wheeled around and Marcus threw a fist at the nearest plastic mask. It crunched, crumpled and gave way as he wrapped their tail around a second and threw him into one wall. Both suits fell to the floor in pieces.

"They're… empty!" Marcus said in surprise, staring at the riddled suit. What were they? He had assumed they were mechanical at least. But to be totally empty, devoid of any sort of life, artificial or otherwise, was beyond his comprehension. "Pat, what are…" He felt his jaw clamp shut as the butt of a rifle was shoved into their muzzle, then felt a searing, electric pain as one of them was discharged into his back.

Their head swam and Marcus suddenly felt smaller, weaker. Pat loomed above him, swaying unsteadily on his feet. The Digimon collapsed into an unmoving hulk on the floor before him. An electric crackling alerted him to the presence of a live weapon next to his head and a pair of large hands grabbed him.

"Pat!" he shouted, trying to gain a free hand to strike back with. He managed a kick in one of the kneecaps of his assailant and its leg crumpled like an empty egg shell, its hand releasing him long enough to give another guard a punch in the gut. "Pat! Get up! You have to fight!" His red eyes opened once, drowsily, with only a hint of recognition, and then closed again. Marcus kicked him once, hard in the shin. The Digimon groaned but did not move.

"Subdue him," a voice commanded, accented by a low hum and a burst of static. It sounded like it came from an overhead address system. Subdue him, it had said. It meant him! The elevator door opened again and a swarm of white plastic suits surged from it. "Subdue him now, and bring him to me."

A hand grabbed him. Marcus wrenched it from his shoulder, tearing the empty cuff from the arm it belonged to. He rammed the Shutzdramon, toppling it, then threw his momentum into a haymaker targeting another of the guards. A third caught his arm, twisting it once, leaving Marcus screaming in agony as his shoulder dislocated from its socket. He cradled his limp arm, looking at the expressionless masks.

"End it quickly," the voice said.

"You can try!" he shouted, balling up his other fist. He threw the off-hand punch, taking down the nearest of the remaining Digimon. He had to fight, to defend his partner. He had to do something. He punched again, meeting the resistance of another hand grabbing his in mid throw. It squeezed, bringing Marcus to his knees in pain before it let go of him. He dropped to the floor, his hand burning with pain, but still functional.

Two more pairs of hands tried to grab him. One grabbed his good shoulder and he tried to elbow it in the chest. The second grabbed his other shoulder with a crushing grip, sapping him of any strength he might have had left. "We aren't done yet!" he shouted. "I'm not done yet! I promised I would help him!" A blow racked his head and he saw stars, then he saw black as he fell to unconsciousness.