Chapter 2: Digital Connection

"Gennai, do you think these things might have something to do with each other?" Ken asked. His partner, Wormmon looked up with fright as he asked.

The old man though, shook his head wearily. "I don't know what to think. But the monsters are nothing to wave your hand at. As you've seen, they have already proven to be more than a match for even Ultimate Level digimon."

At this, the sight of all those Mammothmon getting wiped out really began to sink in. All those things with that kind of power were indeed intimidating.

Davis, however, as the only one who didn't seem immediately fazed quickly managed to break the ensuing silence. "So what if they're strong? We can take those things. It's not like they stood up to that freaky Daemon or MaloMyotismon." Ken looked like he was about to speak up in rebuttal, but he was stopped when Davis then looked to Gennai with eyes burning with strength. "If those things are gonna start trouble, we'll give it to 'em!"

"YEAH!" All the digimon partners cheered. Even Wormmon got caught up in the excitement and Ken couldn't help but smile.

Then Gennai took another moment to speak. "Thank you." He said. "I appreciate the cooperation of you all. But please, be careful. The most dangerous enemy is an unknown one." The old man turned back to face the darker edges of the cave. He walked to them, and vanished within. But before he was completely gone, an echo of his voice lingered. "We're all grateful."

The group stood in silence once more as they watched for a moment. Once again, it was Davis to speak first. "Well, let's get cracking shells." He said as he was about to race back out into the snow bank. But before he reached the mouth of the cave, he was yanked back by Ken.

"And where do you think you're going while Veemon is still exhausted?" he asked, which brought Davis' attention to his partner, now awake, but still noticeably fatigued.

"I'll…be alright!" the miniature blue dinosaur said between panting breaths. "WOO!" he called out invigoratively before he dropped onto his face pathetically.

Davis winced. "Yeah, I see what you mean." But then he got a smug, competitive look on his face as he backed up to take a quick peek out the mouth. "Alright then, you guys can go ahead, but you can bet we'll be right there if things start to look sticky."

T.K. patted a hand on Davis' shoulder. "We'll be counting on you." He said confidently. After which, he looked to the rest. "Is everyone ready?" he asked them, to which they all nodded. "Alright, let's get started! Digi-Armor Energize!" he called out upon whipping out his D-Terminal. In tandem, they all did likewise and a brilliant, character-decorated light engulfed all their digimon. One-by-one, they all transformed into bigger, stronger forms adorned in wondrous armor.

"Patamon Armor Digivolve to…" the little bat-wing-eared creature from T.K.'s head called. When the transformation was complete, he now appeared more as a gold-lined horse with a pair of shining wings. "…Pegasusmon, Flying Hope!"

"Hawkmon Armor Digivolve to…" Yolei's miniature bird companion announced, once again assuming the form of a large, helmeted, quadropedal bird. "…Halsemon, the Wings of Love!"

"Armadillomon Armor Digivolve to…" came the resounding echo of Cody's yellow, armadillo-like partner as he took to walking on two legs and grew sets of drills extending from both his hands and his face. As well as achieving insectoid wings visible from underneath the armor on his back. "…Digmon, the Drill of Knowledge!"

"Gatomon Armor Digivolve to…" cried the white catlike digimon at Kari's side as it became an ivory adorned sphinx-like creature. "…Nefertimon, the Angel of Light!"

"Wormmon Armor Digivolve to…" the dog-sized worm creature called as a pink, lotus flower-shaped egg merged with his body. "…Bucchiemon, the Heart of Kindness!" And from the sphere of light, the green insectoid creature had emerged as a vaguely human-esque rabbit with a pink and white body. His "ears" extended from his head all the way to his ankles and were tipped with hearts. The pink part of his body resembled something akin to a space suit, giving the appearance of his being some kind of cute alien.

As soon as they'd taken off, the metal sphere-creatures were immediately on them. At least four had already started firing those enormous round lasers, cutting the snow and air right for the Digidestined and their partners. Yolei, Kari and T.K., whose partners could fly, were able to dodge easily enough, but Cody, Ken and their partners were driven right into another set of monsters, already charging up their centers for an annihilation shot. Kari and Nefertimon were rushing to their aid when the creatures were about to fire, but were filled with relief when she saw Bucchiemon fire a pink energy beam at the creature's side, redirecting its attack to just between the two boys. Kari didn't have time to relax, though, as two more shots were coming up fast behind her.

"Star Shower!" Pegasusmon called, raining a flurry of dazzling star attacks on the monsters' iron shells. The attacks, unfortunately only bounced off with enough force to tilt their direction slightly.

"These things are like tanks!" T.K. yelled out from the flying horse's back. "We're barely slowing them down!" His report was cut before he could say anything else as another elliptical laser beam sliced at the air where the armored steed was only a millisecond prior.

By then, Ken and Cody had escaped being surrounded; Cody by means of having Digmon burrow underground and Ken by means of quick-paced hopping while on Bucchiemon's back. "T.K., Kari, you two try lining them up! Yolei, keep to the edge of the battlefield! We're gonna try hitting them all at once!"

Without questioning, each of the Digidestined nodded to the plan."Golden Noose!" Pegasusmon and Nefertimon called in unison. As they danced in midair, a rope of pure golden light appeared between them, which they used to round up the twelve machine-things in a tight crowd. The creatures didn't wait for themselves to get caught before they started firing on the noose and breaking it instantly. But their work was done just well enough that Ken and Bucchiemon were able to prevent immediate scatter with well-aimed shots at the edges of the group.

One managed to get out however, and did not hesitate to circle around the dark blue-haired boy, aiming a shot straight for his back. But Ken was counting on this. Just as the creature opened its edges and exposed its insides, Digmon and Cody popped out from underneath it with force enough to send it into a high lob in the air. When it reached its peak, Ken gave a sharp cry of "NOW!" to Yolei, who with her partner, had then spun-dove headfirst at the creature, knocking it like a pool cue into the group of others.

…Or at least that's what would have happened. "Tempest Wing!" Halsemon cried as he spun and charged with Yolei on his back into the creature. But in doing so, he had in fact entered the monster's direct line of fire. The monster almost seemed to have been waiting for it when it shot the giant bird right in the crested center of its helmet, knocking it from the sky. Yolei screamed as she fell, "HALSEMON!" Enough of her partner's consciousness remained that his impact was swerved mid-fall so as not to crush the girl on his back. Once he landed, he immediately de-digivolved back to his tiny, Rookie form. He groaned as the girl rushed to hold him close.

The creature they'd intended to strike did indeed land upon one of its fellows, and in doing so, caused them both to burst in a second-long flash of shrapnel light. Unfortunately, this did not impede the group. Already it had broken free of Bucchiemon's confining Love Lazer attacks and scattered every which way. Once more, they spread like cockroaches, searching out the Digidestined children and loading their shots aimed straight for the kill. About three of them went for Yolei. Unable to fight back and not fast enough to run away, she tried desperately to carry her friend to safety, but the tanks persisted. Just as one was about to run straight over her, Digmon and Cody appeared from underground again, this time causing the creature it tripped to lob straight over Yolei. The other two stopped and aimed their lasers at the insectoid tunneler. When they fired, Digmon used his armor and drilled to hold off the attacks. It only lasted a moment before they threatened to cut into the creature under the armor. But Digmon held strong as he was pushed back. Eventually he was forced to stand directly over his partner and the older girl. His staunch defense was holding until Yolei looked behind at the one that had been tripped just before. It was charging its laser at Digmon's back. She barely managed to let out a hastened "Look out!" before it was fired and sliced clear into the digimon's back, causing him to cry out in surprise, pain and finally de-digivolving him back to his Rookie state.

Cody and Yolei clutched their injured partners as they were surrounded three ways by the monsters. Cody remained stern and defiant in the face of the unknown enemy, but Yolei wasn't quite so well reserved. Neither her pride nor her confidence allowed her to avoid calling "HELP!" to the skies when she had no idea what else to do. The metal spheres opened to reveal their charging laser fire only to be shot in the center of the eye-like insignia by an unknown projectile, causing the creature to explode. Before they could register what happened, the same occurred in rapid succession to the other two open spheres.

"Did someone call for help?" asked a boy strangely dressed in a cat costume in the direction from which the shots had flown from.

-Moments before the battle-

Odd skidded to a halt as he approached the mountainside. From his viewpoint, just around the corner of the frozen wasteland, there was a forest as vibrant as in spring. On top of that, the mountainside connected to it turned from a sleet-covered cliff to a rocky plateau. The whole area reminded him of a patchwork quilt made of 2 maps. "Jeremie, this place is weird." He simply said to his friend.

"Weird how?" Jeremie requested in return, to which Odd described the area as well as he could.

In the midst of his description, Odd's eye managed to catch something moving in the opposite direction: a pair of Megatanks, unmistakable signs of X.A.N.A.'s presence. He stopped talking and braced himself for battle. But it didn't come. Upon closer inspection, the Megatanks were not moving or even seemed to care that Odd was there. But they were moving fast down the mountain. "Jeremie, did you see that?" he asked his friend back at the factory.

"No, what is it?"

"Megatanks at two o' clock!" the cat boy called.

Jeremie scanned his screen in distress. When he found the enemies rolling away from his friend on the grid lines, he seemed a tad relieved. "Okay, I'm pulling you out." He said.

"Wait. They're running away." Odd responded in confusion.

Jeremie shook his head at the main monitor. "I promised to bring you back at the slightest sign of trouble. X.A.N.A.'s monsters are always trouble. You know that, Odd."

"I know, but-" Odd couldn't put his finger on it, but he felt something was really wrong. "I'm gonna check it out." He declared.

"Odd wait!" Jeremie tried. But Odd wouldn't listen.

"Odd, stop being stubborn and get back here!" Ulrich beckoned from behind Jeremie.

"This isn't Lyoko, it's probably a trap." Yumi stated with justifiable worry.

Truth be told, Jeremie actually believed the opposite. The fact that this wasn't Lyoko raised a lot of questions. What WAS this place? What were X.A.N.A.'s monsters doing there? Did X.A.N.A. make this? If it was a trap, wouldn't X.A.N.A. have attacked the moment Odd arrived? None of them really knew anything except that X.A.N.A. was here. What's more, he had no idea how he even got Odd here or if he'd be able to find it again after devirtualizing him. But he did promise to get Odd out to Aelita and even if he hadn't, there was no way he'd just sit back and allow anything to happen to his friend. "Odd, I'm getting you out of there."

"Jeremie, there're kids here!" Odd exclaimed just before the boy at the monitor activated the exit program.

Jeremie immediately hesitated. "What are you talking about?"

"The Megatanks! They're attacking a bunch of kids and other monsters!"

Jeremie zoomed out his grid-lined map of the virtual plane and discovered indeed that there were anomalous residents in battle formation opposing X.A.N.A.'s forces. Using the supercomputer's scanning functions, he identified the identities of six human children only a few years their juniors. It only looked vaguely different from an I.D. for one of them, and the supercomputer didn't recognize them as having any affiliation with X.A.N.A. However, while the humans were recognizable, the creatures paired up with them were completely alien to even the supercomputer.

Jeremie found himself struggling to make a decision, but Odd didn't. Odd saw that by the time he was able to get a clear view of the battle between the kids and the Megatanks, the kids were being completely overrun. A girl on an armored bird and a boy with a big, drill-covered bug had already been brought to their knees and were surrounded. X.A.N.A.'s forces would have annihilated them all if not for Odd having leapt into their rescue. The first went down without even noticing Odd. And even when the others figured out where his arrow had come from and spotted him, he already had his aim pegged on their Eyes of X.A.N.A. They were gone the moment they faced him.

The kids merely stared at him at first, but in no time at all, the girl with the eagle-creature spoke with renewed vigor. "Whoa, thanks for saving us!" she said.

Odd smiled his usual charming grin upon hearing her thanks. For a moment, he completely forgot that there were still almost ten Megatanks left attacking the other 3 pairs. "No problem! I'd never ignore a lady in need."

The younger girl became slightly flustered, but Odd's attention snapped to the boy when he spoke. "Our friends are still fighting. Please help, they're outnumbered!"

"Don't worry," Odd quipped reassuringly. "I can take care of these mean ol' Megatanks. You guys should find some cover." And with that, he darted towards the next group of monsters.

Things were looking grim. As soon as Digmon and Halsemon had gone down, the creatures had taken the offensive. Within moments, each of the Digidestined were being driven like cattle by a pair of these creatures each. While one of the things would try from the flank of its partner to fire shots at the kids, the partner would be keeping right on their tails, threatening to steamroll any hesitated movements. Nefertimon and Pegasusmon at least had the advantage of flight, but Bucchiemon was only able to hover a few feet off the ground. The monsters driving them seemed to know it too. Every time Ken and his partner tried to slip by them, they were cut off with ridiculous ease. Left, right, forward, flip back around, every evasive maneuver just put them either in the firing range of one or in the roll path of another. Ken at once thought he saw an opening on the far side close to where T.K. and Pegasusmon were being pursued, but when they took it, there was a monster already ready with its weapon charged, but right before it fired, it exploded in a shrapnel of light and what appeared to be a purple cat-boy stood just behind it; a smile and thumbs up decorating his attitude.

Ken didn't have time to ask who he was, but all the same he was glad for the backup. With a nod of silent approval of the aid, he gestured to circle around the other two monsters, now giving directions that mimicked and even out-maneuvered the creatures' own previous strategy. In a matter of moments, the other firing monster was surrounded on both sides by Bucchiemon and the cat-boy.

"Laser Arrow!" the cat-boy called, firing a series of darts from his wrist.

"Heart Beam!" Bucchiemon pointed and fired a pink, heart-shaped energy beam from his finger.

The creature closed its body, shielding its weak points, but that was when Ken, who'd broken away from his partner a moment ago had taken a third side, counting on the second monster to follow him, the weakest of the three. His hopes were answered and just before he was run over, he leapt out of the way. The monster didn't collide with its fellow, however. Instead, it stopped on a dime, turned with relative ease to fire its laser at Ken, but in doing so, left it wide open to attack from Bucchiemon, who fired a Heart Beam straight at its weak point the second it opened its body. The explosion also served to knock the other over to the cat-boy, who casually leaned against it like a wall and knocked his fist on the casing like a door.

"Hello?" he said jokingly. The creature opened its body with intent to fire immediately, but the boy's dart was already poised and expectant. "Package for ya!" he said when the thing blew up.

While all this had been going on, T.K. and Kari had been relentlessly attacking the creatures on their tails in the hopes of stalling them, to no avail. The hard outer shell of the monsters made them completely invulnerable when closed. Due to this, attacking relentlessly had only served to make them into immobile targets for one to circle around while the other simply stood and took the assault. Unfortunately for the Digidestined using this tactic simultaneously, they both fell simultaneously.

"T.K.! Kari!" Ken cried out to his friends. Now they were down two more fighters and up against even more than they'd just defeated. The four monsters all aimed their bodies at Ken and the cat-boy.

"Umm…Jeremie?" The cat-boy stammered. "We could use a little help here."

Bucchiemon swung Ken over his shoulder as he and the cat-boy prepared to make a run for it. All four monsters bolted for them, ready to squash them all, when a series of fireballs barreled between them, creating a steam-smokescreen. Ken recognized this tactic immediately and raced to get out of the no visibility zone. The strange boy followed close behind and, just as he thought; there, outside the cloud of steam were Davis and Flamedramon looking prepped and ready for battle. "Davis! Glad to see you." Ken admitted.

"I said we'd be right behind ya, didn't I?" Davis' usual attitude was as confident as ever. "What say we DNA Digivolve and show these things what they're really up against?"

Ken nodded in agreement, but before he could even touch his digivice, four laser attacks pierced through the steam behind them and collided right against Bucchiemon, de-digivolving him instantly. "Wormmon, NO!"

Once again, it was down to three against four. The other kid Odd had been fighting with up until now having been reduced to tending to a small creature he didn't recognize. Jeremie was close to pulling his hair out in anxiety. Against his orders, Odd had insisted on staying behind to help the kids and now it looked like he might not make it back. All the while he had no idea what to do. He couldn't even send a vehicle, what was he supposed to do to help?

Behind Jeremie, Ulrich had opened the hatch for the elevator, grabbing everyone's attention. "Send me in, Jeremie. Odd can't do this alone."

"Ulrich, that's crazy. I don't even know how I got Odd there in the first place. If I send you in, it might just make things worse. We could lose you without so much as a fight."

"We've gotta do SOMEthing!" he persisted.

"Ulrich's right, we have to help Odd. If he won't come back on his own we can at least try what we can."

"It's too risky-" Jeremie was about to argue, but at this point Aelita had had enough.

"Jeremie, do it." She commanded in her most stern voice.

Jeremie stopped and looked with wavering eyes at Aelita. "Alright." He finally conceded. His uneasy expression never left his face as he typed in the commands to send Ulrich the same way he'd sent Odd. Just as he did, however, something else strange happened. The screen showing Odd's position began to light up with a flickering signal.

"Jeremie, what's going on?"

"I…I don't know." Terror filled his voice; already more anomalies? It appeared as if another new program were trying to activate on its own. But something was keeping this one. The code for the program filled the screen for Jeremie to see and a little tension left his body. His glasses drooped, but with a slight adjustment and a reclamation of his nerve, he went right to studying it.

"Well?" the others asked continuously. "What's going on? Tell us!"

For a time, the young genius drowned out his ears so as to better concentrate. Once he fully understood the nature of this program, he nodded slightly and murmured with an unsteady certainty. "I get it…" With newfound determination, Jeremie furiously began typing, filling in blank spaces of code and thus, completing the program. It didn't take too long to come close to finishing, but before he reached that part, he started talking to Odd again. "Odd, I think I might be able to help."

Odd, the big lizard thing and the boy ran for their lives, all the while desperately trying to protect the others from harm. Through sheer luck they'd managed to take out one of the Megatanks as it targeted Yolei and Hawkmon. Things started looking good again, but then something happened that made everyone's hearts drop into their stomachs: From the top of the mountain, a huge black cloud circled an area around the summit and from that point, a beam of red light pierced the cloud. Even the Megatanks stopped. Once the light faded, four more Megatanks could be seen rolling their way down the mountain, clearly heading to join the fray.

For a moment, Odd was seriously reconsidering taking Jeremie up on his offer to get the heck out of there. As if on cue, Einstein's voice filled his ears. "Odd, I think I may be able to help."

Meanwhile, the boy Odd was fighting alongside looked unwaveringly at the new arrivals. "Bringing some friends huh? I don't care, bring your whole family! We'll take you all!" As he said so, the device at his side began beeping so annoyingly Odd was amazed the boy didn't seem to even notice.

"Davis," Jeremie said, much to both of their surprise when they found Jeremie was communicating with them.

"WHA-?" he yelped in surprise. "Who said that?"

"No time to explain, Davis. You should have something called a 'digivice' on you." Jeremie claimed.

"Y-Yeah, what about it?" he asked. As if to answer, a kind of computer chip manifested itself from the screen and presented itself in a small glowing bubble to the boy. "What…is this?" he questioned in awe.

"Don't worry. It's meant to help. There should be a connection port at the top of your digivice. I'm not sure how exactly, but you need to use that to activate the program I just sent you. Do it."

Confused, Davis hesitated, but then looked to his partner, fighting arduously to protect everyone from the growing number of monsters. Then, with steeled eyes, he took the ship and slammed it into the port Jeremie mentioned. There was a quick flash of light and characters began flooding the screen of the little machine. Four words in particular seemed to burst from the digivice. Astonishment lacing his voice, he could only read it out quietly: "Odd Code: Flamedramon – Diginection Activate." At the utterance of this phrase, the device began to glow brightly.

"Wh-What's this?" asked Flamedramon, to which Davis immediately directed his attention to upon hearing his friend's voice. It was then he saw that in perfect synchrony with his digivice, Flamedramon's body was beginning to light up with a fiery red light. In their distraction, a Megatank fired its laser, piercing the digimon.

"NO!" Davis screamed as it passed through his digimon, leaving only a transparent image behind. Tears began welling up in his eyes before he realized that where Flamedramon had been less than a second before, there was now a flaming orb or light that only stood in place for a second before flying straight into Odd's body.

The light encompassed and engulfed the cat-boy, stopping enemy, Digidestined, and screen capturing Lyoko Warrior alike. When the light died, Odd remained; standing with a low, fiery outline around his body, draconian features like a short, fanged muzzle, bluish armoring scales lining his arms and body and flame designs on his clothes adding to his other, now slightly more pronounced feline features. Upon opening his eyes anew, Odd's voice whispered through the wind: "Flame Dragon Mode."

Everyone was struck dumb. The moment broke only when Odd took aim for a lone Megatank and fired. "Rocket Arrow!" he called. His usual Laser Arrow had been altered as well. It now resembled a small missile coated in flame. The creature closed its body to protect itself. The arrow struck the monster, but did not recoil or bounce off. Rather, it pierced through the armor that had previously been proven invulnerable and then struck a second immediately behind it. Both blew up spectacularly a second later. Even Odd himself was awed for a moment, standing in mild disbelief with slack in his new mouth-nose. This only lasted a moment before another Megatank took the opportunity to fire at the unsuspecting Lyoko Warrior. As if seeing it a mile away, Odd raised one of his flame decorated legs in a shin-block. Once again, this reaction was new to even Odd as his expression hadn't changed. But once he realized his advantage, the slack was replaced with a confidence, vigorous smirk. He kicked his leg holding back the laser attack and the beam shattered as if it were made of glass. Then he fired two more attacks: one at the Megatank that he just rendered laserless and another that he felt was a little too close in proximity to the other kids. Both blew up without so much as a fight.

The remaining Megatanks all rolled back a half-inch, seemingly in fear, before all rolling into position to surround the dragon-cat-boy. Odd didn't let them get the chance. Once they opened their hatched for a shot at him, he raced out of the way faster than any of them could even turn, leaving only a trail of melted snow. Each of the Megatanks searched furiously for where he'd gone, but in trying to follow his trail, he'd made a perfect circle around his enemies, firing directly at their weak spots point blank as he passed them. "Rocket Arrow! Rocket Arrow! Rocket Arrow! Rocket Arrow!" he called. When he was done, he stylishly returned to the very center; the exact same spot from which they intended to strike him down just seconds before. From there, he got a front row seat of their seemingly simultaneous explosions.

When all was said and done, everyone was still staring in absolute shock at what Odd had just accomplished. The silence was only broken when Odd's body lit up again; this time two orbs of light appearing from his body. One, the Digi-Egg of Courage returning to Davis' D-Terminal, and the other, Veemon who popped back into existence right beside Davis shouting with joy. "Wow! That was SO COOL!" he yelled and cheered in excitement.

Odd meanwhile, had returned to his original state, no worse for wear. "Jeremie?" was all he said at first.

Back behind the screen of the supercomputer, Jeremie had to take a moment to pull himself together after seeing what had just transpired. "Y-Yes, Odd?" he asked.

"Next time, let's skip straight to that part."