CHAPTER 52

UP IN THE AIR

The bright winter sun finally pushed its way under Davis's eyelids, making him open them to the startling revelation that the bed and the room were not his own. An odd series of smells made his nose twitch, and a noise like a sputtering boat motor rumbled alongside a shuddering pressure on his stomach, but somehow these sensations made him feel warm and extremely comfortable. He lay there drinking it in for a few moments, but then he grew curious about that noise and lifted his head a little. Yolei lay curled up with her head on his belly, snoring quietly as shining drool oozed from her lower lip to his shirt. One of her arms had found its way under the small of his back, and her other hand tightly clasped his leg.

Poromon beamed at him from his perch on her thigh. "Good morning, Davis!" he said, fluttering his little wings.

Davis blinked a few times and sat up, rubbing at his eyes. "Uh… mornin'?" he asked, wondering if he was dreaming. Had he really spent the whole night in Yolei's apartment… in her room… on her bed… with her on it?

Another snore came from below. "Hey," he said, grabbing her shoulder and giving a little shake, but she stayed adhered to him. "C'mon, wake up!" he huffed, shaking harder.

Yolei snorted once, then her eyes fluttered open. They looked down at what they rested on, then up at Davis, and the pupils shrank down to pinpricks. "What the—AGH!" she yelled, shooting up and shoving him off the bed before he could react. He hit the floor with a dazed clunk. "What the hell?!" she demanded, reaching to cover herself before noticing she still had her clothes on, then crossly wiping her mouth clean. "Why didn't you go home?!"

Davis scowled at her. "It was kinda hard to move," he snapped. "There was a damn bowling ball on my guts!"

The two glared at each other for a moment, but then Yolei's mouth cracked and she gave a weak chuckle. Davis's brow unfurled too, and they shared a quiet laugh, their cheeks flushing.

A door opened somewhere in the apartment, and Yolei's amused face froze in terror. "Oh, God! Mom and Dad!" she gasped, turning on her door. "They can't find you! They'll think something happened!"

"Somethin'? Whaddya mean—" Davis began to ask, then he realized what she was getting at and his face went white. "Aww, shit!"

"Well, I thought you were really nice, Davis," Poromon said, "not like Yolei's books at all. You didn't once try to… um… what was the word?"

"You can't read! Be quiet!" Yolei shouted, then she clamped her hands over her mouth as her face burned. The floorboards outside creaked; someone was coming closer to her door. "You've gotta get outta here!" she hissed.

Davis didn't question that. He scrambled for his coat as Yolei scoured her room for a way to get rid of him. Shove him in the closet and sneak him out later? No, it was too full of junk. Under her desk? No, anyone could see under there! Out on the balcony? Her eyes flashed. "Balcony!" she said, pulling the door open. "The fire escape! Quick!"

Even Davis could hear the creaking outside her door now. "R-right," he said, running for the improvised exit. The cold breath of January stung his face for a moment, but he shook it off and kept moving. "Later!" He said, and rushed down the metal steps.

"Later!" she replied, then shut the window just as she heard the latch give way. She turned around to see her three siblings tumble onto the floor. "Wha… what're you guys doing?!" she demanded.

"Um… would you believe we thought the doorknob was loose?" Momoe asked with a sheepish grin. "All of us?... At the… same time?"

Yolei groaned loudly and put a hand over her face. False alarm.

"Mom and Dad came and went already," Mantarou said, hoping she was wondering about the bigger threat. "We didn't say anything."

"Yeah, we just wanted to make sure you were OK in here!" Chizuru said. "You know, since he was here all night, and… uh…"

Yolei scowled at her sisters and brother, her face looking like she had been pelted with strawberries. "Get the hell outta here!" she roared.

Her siblings scrambled away like roaches from a flame. She slammed the door and fumed. If they wanted gossip, why didn't they stick to the crapazines?!


As he clambered down the steps, it occurred to Davis that nobody really maintained fire escapes in the winter… and almost as soon as he noticed that, his foot hit a slick bar and he flipped over the barrier, dangling about ten feet above the white ground. "Dammit, Yolei!" he huffed.

The cold railing stung his hands so much that he had to let go. He plummeted into a heap of shoveled snow, crashing in up to his chest. As he felt the cold fluff beneath his clothes, he suddenly missed Yolei's sour-smelling room. "Son of a bitch!" he yelled, "I didn't wanna be Snowmanmon!"

He kicked and rolled his way out of the pile and shook himself off, then checked his pockets to make sure he hadn't dropped his D3. However, he only found Ken's Digivice. He swore and dug around in the snow, but then he remembered the events of yesterday. Had he ever picked his D3 back up after Jachomon knocked him over? His eyes widened; no, he hadn't! He had to go get it! Ignoring the cold water in his pants, he took off down the street towards the ruined flower shop.


"Aww, do we have to?" Patamon complained, looking out the window at the snow.

TK zipped up his jacket and put his hat on, then put Davis's D3 in his pocket alongside his own. "C'mon, you know Davis needs this," he said.

"But it's too cold and wet out, TK!" his partner protested. "I'll turn into a pigcicle!"

"I'll get you a scarf, then," TK said, turning and opening the closet. "…And I thought you said you weren't a pig?"

Just as TK picked out a candy-stripe scarf for his partner, the apartment door opened and his brother walked in with Gabumon. "Oh, hey," he greeted them. "How're you guys doing?"

Matt shrugged. "Fine," he said. "Could've skipped the two hours at the hospital last night, but Sora's dad wouldn't let me leave."

"Huh… weird," TK said; it did seem strange that Mr. Takenouchi had dragged Matt to the hospital along with his wife and daughter. "But you're OK, right?"

"Of course I am," Matt muttered. "I wasn't anywhere near the fire."

"Have you heard from Davis today?" Gabumon asked.

"No," TK said, "but I was just about to take his D3 back; he dropped it yesterday and forgot to pick it up."

"Seriously?" Matt grunted, shaking his head. "Fine… we'd better go, then."

TK blinked a few times. "But you just got here," he said.

"Actually, why DID you come over?" Patamon asked.

"Yeah, did you want to talk to Mom, or…?" TK began.

"The city's still dangerous," Matt pointed out quickly, "and those digital creeps are still out there somewhere. It would be safer with two of us."

TK scratched his head. His brother had been very overprotective on their first adventure, but had soon mellowed out… but that hasty excuse made it sound like he was lapsing back into that personality. He looked at Gabumon, who just shrugged. "Well, uh…" he said.

"Is that all?" Patamon asked, raising a little eyebrow in suspicion. "TK doesn't need a chaperone, Matt. He's got me!"

Matt ignored him and looked sideways at his brother. TK noticed his cheeks were a bit pink. Maybe there was something more to it than looking out for him. TK smiled awkwardly. "Uh… well, if you insist," he surrendered.

"I do," Matt said with a nod. "Let's go."


Haruhiko looked over the computer equipment on the desk, then around at the spacious circular office and its panoramic view. "You've certainly done well for yourself," he said. "Thanks for seeing me during work…"

"No problem," Hiroaki muttered. He took a cigarette out of his pack, jammed it between his teeth and lit it, then looked over at the gray-haired man. "Matt told me about yesterday; thanks for looking out for him," he said. "Is Toshiko all right?"

"Smoke inhalation and some minor burns, but she'll be all right," Haruhiko said with a relieved sigh. "I can't say the same about her store, though… but I've made enough that we'll be all right until we can rebuild it."

"Good," Hiroaki said, clenching the cigarette between his fingers. "She's lucky you were here."

Haruhiko sighed. "I'm just happy I can be there for Sora and her now," he said.

"Keep that mindset," Hiroaki said. "At least you've still got a wife to be there for."

The two were silent for a few moments before Hiroaki coughed. "So, that monster yesterday," he started. "Do you think it was…?"

"No, that was something different," Haruhiko replied, then sighed and shook his head as he stared out the window. "They're in so much danger… I wish we could do more."

Hiroaki pushed himself out of his chair and stood beside the professor, putting a hand on his shoulder. "We just have to do what we can, Harry," he said.

Haruhiko nodded. "Indeed," he said. "So… have you found anything yet?"

Hiroaki went back to his desk, opened a drawer and pulled out a thick wad of papers. "I know you like it all in your hands," he said with a wry smile. "The inventory guy's gonna wonder where a whole ink cartridge went."

Haruhiko looked over the papers and nodded. "I'll pay you back," he promised.

"Forget about it; you've got bigger things to spend your money on," Hiroaki replied, taking another puff. "Now go take care of your wife."

Professor Takenouchi managed a smile. "Thanks, Hiro," he said.


Her fingers digging into the stone of the building she peered around, Arukenimon's eyes narrowed on the two blonde boys and their partners heading up the steps of the building across the street. Her lips peeled into a triumphant sneer. The brat who used to have goggles was without both his Digivice and his Digimon… and Mummymon wasn't there to hassle her about "the plan," either. Now was her chance to clip that new dragon's wings.


"Oh, hi, there!" Mrs. Motomiya bubbled as she saw the Ishida boys on her doorstep. "It's TJ, right? Come on in!"

TK began to correct her, but remembered Davis had never gotten the hang of his name either and decided it wasn't worth it. "Uh, thanks," he said as he took his shoes off.

She led the brothers into the living room, where they came upon an interesting show: Davis's laughing father tossed peanuts into the air and Demiveemon leaped up and caught them in his mouth. "Another one! Do it again!" the little blue guy chirped, waving his arms. Mr. Motomiya flicked another peanut and Demiveemon spun in the air and swallowed it.

Davis's mom beamed. "Who knew he did tricks?" she asked.

"This guy's the best pet in the world!" Mr. Motomiya laughed. "And he doesn't make me sneeze, either!"

"C'mon, Davis's dad, throw another one!" Demiveemon urged, hopping up and down. Mr. Motomiya obliged, and Demiveemon did a backflip before catching it in his mouth, earning wild applause from both parents.

"Hey, how come you never ask me to do tricks, TK?" Patamon asked, looking up sadly. "That looks like fun."

TK couldn't help but smile. After everything that had happened in the city, it was good to see people who weren't afraid of Digimon.

Jun sat watching on the couch, then beamed at the boys. "Hi, Matt!" she gushed, leaping up. "Hi, Gabumon! Hi, Matt's brother and his Digimon!"

Matt looked away awkwardly, his cheeks turning the color of cinnamon candies. Gabumon scratched his head. TK wondered if anyone in the Motomiya family actually knew what his name was. "Um, well, we just came to give Davis his D3 back," he said, pulling out the device and offering it. "Could you…?"

She took the Digivice, but then she shook her head and motioned for the boys to follow her. She led them to the entryway, looked back at her parents again, then spoke quietly. "He's not here," she said. "His coach's sister said he was taking care of Momoe's sister, and he never came home last night."

"Really?" Patamon asked, his ears perking up. "Wow, Yolei must've really been sick!"

"She turned into Jachomon," Gabumon said. "I'd say so."

TK scratched his chin. "I guess he's still at her place, then," he said.

"Right back where we started," Matt said sourly. "Typical."

TK began to say they should go, but then he felt something tug on his pant leg. Demiveemon looked up at him curiously; apparently he'd had his fill of peanuts. "Are you gonna go see Davis an' Yolei?" he asked, mimicking the others' quiet voices. "I wanna come!"

Jun scooped him up. "We'll both go," she said, then smiled at Matt. "Is that OK?"

"Oh, yes!" Gabumon spoke up cheerfully. "Matt was just saying he was starting toOOOOOOAAAAUGH!"

Matt's fingers had clamped around Gabumon's horn. "OK, OK, you can come!" he said, his face starting to glisten. "Geez…"

Jun blinked a few times, then grinned. TK just chuckled awkwardly and went for his shoes.


What had been an ordinary city street the day before was now a sad line of blackened geometric skeletons flanked by rubble, construction crews and police officers, censored to the public by rivers of yellow tape. Davis finally let his angry huffs escape; getting his D3 had just become way more annoying. Why did cops block things off after everything was over?!

He looked left and right for any watching police, then slipped under the tape and started to retrace his steps. The flower shop was that really burned building, he thought, and Imperialdramon had fallen over there, and he had yelled at Yolei there, so…

As he stepped behind a wrecked car, a rough hand grabbed his shoulder and made him shout in alarm. "Hey!" a gruff old police officer snapped, "what're you doing? Didn't you see the tape?!"

Davis thought fast as the cop pulled him back towards the boundary. "Yeah, but I lost my, uh, my phone yesterday!" he said quickly. "Just lemme find it, and I'll—"

"Forget it, kid," the officer said, lifting the tape and pushing him past it. "It's too dangerous in there. Go home!"

Davis started walking, then turned back hoping the cop had left, but the man stayed there with his arms folded. He said something nasty under his breath and stormed off. The stupid cops didn't understand anything. How was he going to fight if Dagomon showed up now?!

He suddenly stopped, remembering he hadn't seen Chibomon since yesterday, either… but then he remembered asking Kari to watch him while he took care of Yolei. At least he knew where he was. He had better go get the little guy. He tapped out a note to Kari on his D-Terminal to let her know he was coming, then changed directions and headed for the Yagami apartment.


Even the wind felt grainy as dust clouds rode across the spire-strewn landscape. Mummymon stabbed at the ground with his cane, and it sank so far in that he almost stumbled. "Oh, it's lost a lot already," he said, looking over his shoulder. "At the earliest… perhaps another two weeks, I'd say."

His smirk persisting, Yukio Oikawa looked around at the brownish-gray expanse, then up at a sky turned faded pink from the blowing earth. "Good. That should be time enough," he said. "We don't need to waste any more energy on spires." He watched the sky a moment longer, then looked back at Mummymon. "Now, it's time for you to prepare for your journey," he said. "It won't be an easy transportation—those so-called higher beings have stronger encryption than usual—but I'm confident you'll be able to accomplish your task."

Mummymon yanked his cane out of the crumbly dirt and coughed. "I have to admit," he said, "I'm not very keen on being an e-mail attachment. Are you sure all of me will end up in the right place?"

"Relax," Oikawa said with a wave. "Have you ever had reason to doubt me?"

"Err, well, no, but…" Mummymon mumbled, glancing down at his legs.

Oikawa shook his head. "Yes, yes," he said. "Rest assured, I'll fix those when the time comes."

A wild cry came from behind him, and he turned to see a group of assorted Digimon charging at them. "Filthy humans!" a Gazimon shouted. "Get out of our world!"

Oikawa's smirk twisted even further. So the Resistance was still kicking; what an amusing diversion. "Take care of them," he said to his assistant.

Mummymon sneered and transformed into his bandaged battle mode. "About time; I was getting rusty!" he cackled, bracing his legs and raising Obelisk.

The Resistance Digimon froze in shock and never had time to recover. The white arcing blasts tore through them like tissue paper, destroyed pixels intermingling with the blowing dust. Oikawa watched the colored specks dance around as they vaporized, then nodded. "Be at ease," he said to the wind, "you will be reborn into a better world."


"We'll be back later!" Jun called to her parents, closing the apartment door and following the Ishidas down the steps. "So, what happened yesterday?" she asked as they reached the sidewalk. "How come Demiveemon came back so beat up?... and how come Daisuke went with Miyako instead of him?" She leaned in close to Matt with a mischievous smile. "C'mon, gimme all the juicy details!"

Matt bit his lip and stayed quiet. "They're more like 'extra-crispy' details, really…" Patamon admitted.

Jun looked over at the winged pig. "What's that mean?" she asked.

TK chuckled as they started down the street. "Well, it's like this," he said as they started down the street. "Yesterday Yolei got possessed by this monster called—"

Gabumon suddenly stopped. "Matt!" he yelped.

Matt looked up, and so did the others. TK clenched his teeth. Blocking their way with a hand on her hip and a venomous smile on her face was the red-cloaked, silver-haired Arukenimon. "Well, children, you seem to have had quite an ordeal," she purred. "I figured I would come by and make things worse."

Jun recognized the woman immediately. "Hey!" she shouted, "you almost ran me over last week!"

"How lucky for you," Arukenimon sneered, then thrust out her arm. "Now give me that creature and the Digivice, or I'll finish you less cleanly than a car would."

"What?!" Demiveemon asked, squirming angrily. "You try to hurt Davis, now you wanna hurt Jun too?! No way!"

Patamon and Gabumon rushed in front of her, and Matt and TK produced their Digivices. "Get away, Jun!" TK said. "She's dangerous!"

Demiveemon tried to get free of Jun's grip, but she held him fast, scowling at the woman. "You think I'll just hand him over?!" she asked. "Bite me!"

"What are you doing?!" Matt hissed. "Run!"

Arukenimon's smile turned even wickeder. "You want me to bite you, hmm?" she mused. "Have it your way!" She doubled over and strained, bursting from her clothes in her true spidery form. Jun reeled back in horror; maybe she should have used a different retort.

Any onlookers tore off screaming, as they often did lately. The boys bared their teeth. "Gabumon!" Matt snarled, raising his Digivice.

"You too!" TK said to Patamon, lifting his D3. "DigiArmor Energize!"

"Got it!" Patamon chirped. Gabumon and he glowed brightly, then transformed into Garurumon and Pegasusmon. Jun's eyes almost popped out of their sockets. Those cute little guys could get really big!

"You're not biting her today!" the horse thundered.

"Fine," Arukenimon hissed, "then you'll make a worthy substitute!"

Garurumon lunged at the spider woman, but she bounded over his bite and came down hard on his back, then kicked him across the street. Pegasusmon flew overhead and sprayed her with stars, but she shrugged them off and lashed him away with her tentacle-like whips. Garurumon got back up and spat his Howling Blaster, but Arukenimon just cackled as the blast fizzled on her abdomen.

"Dammit!" Matt snarled.

"She's an Ultimate, Matt!" TK said. "She's never gone down easily…"

Jun squeezed Demiveemon tightly as she watched the monsters fight. Now she saw why Matt had sent her away when the Christmas concert fell apart; hearing about the violence on the news and seeing it up close were two different things. At the same time, though, watching her friends' Digimon get clobbered made her angry; she wanted to help somehow. Demiveemon watched from his perch with frustration. He wished Davis were there so he could Digivolve and help fight. If Arukenimon got her hands on Jun, well… he didn't even want to think about it!

Arukenimon punched Garurumon's fangs away, then snared Pegasusmon with her threads and hurled him into the wolf, splattering both of them on the concrete. "I was nice before," she said, skittering towards Jun and Demiveemon, "now give them to me!"

Jun whimpered and squeezed Demiveemon tightly. Demiveemon screwed up his face at the incoming spider. He was all they had left! He had to do something!

Suddenly, the screen on Davis's D3 flashed, and Demiveemon felt a familiar sensation coming on. Jun dropped him in surprise as he started to glow, and he landed on the ground as a very surprised Veemon. "What the nuts?" he asked, looking himself over.

"De… Demiveemon?!" Jun asked breathlessly, trying to wrap her brain around what had happened. Her brother's gizmo started flashing, and then the little guy had gotten bigger… just like Gabumon!

The others looked at him in shock, even Arukenimon. Matt's mouth hung open alongside Garurumon's. TK rubbed his eyes, then looked again. "That's… not supposed to happen, is it?!" he asked.

Pegasusmon looked up and down the street, but Davis was nowhere in sight. "No, it's not," he agreed. "What in the world…?"

Arukenimon shook off the amazement and clenched her fists. "That won't help you!" she huffed. "You're still too weak to—"

Veemon's skull connected with her face, knocking her flat on her back before she could finish. "NOBODY hurts Davith's sister!" he shouted, balling his fists.

Arukenimon scrambled to right herself, her eyes throbbing hatefully. "That does it!" she said. "You brats are dead!"

Garurumon and Pegasusmon again assumed combat stances. Jun gaped at her little grown friend for a moment, then at the glowing device in her hand, and then she gave Arukenimon an unpleasant smile of her own. "Get her!" she shouted.


Davis grumbled as he read Kari's response and changed directions again. He wasn't mad that she had taken Chibomon back to his apartment, but now he would have to wrestle him away from Jun… and not only that, his sister would totally take what happened between Yolei and him the wrong way. Why did Jun have to be friends with one of Yolei's dumb sisters? Now he would never hear the end of—

The sound of glass shattering around the corner made him jump, and a wolf's angry howl made him start running. That sounded like Matt's partner having a fight near his place! He raced around the side of the building and saw Arukenimon angrily flinging her whips around, fending off attacks from Garurumon and Pegasusmon as Matt and TK guarded his sister… and then something small and blue rammed the spider in the back with its head. His spine almost broke from leaping up. "VEEMON?!" he yelled.

TK looked over and waved. "Davis! Over here!" he shouted.

Suddenly blind to the danger, Davis ran to his friends. "What the…?! How…?!" he spluttered at the boys, then he noticed Jun holding his glowing Digivice. "What'd you do?!" he shouted.

"Nothing! He just got bigger!" Jun said, watching the blue lizard dash under Arukenimon's scrambling legs. She didn't know how Veemon did it, but she was sure glad he had; he was running circles around that spider woman and keeping her distracted while the others attacked. As she twisted and turned, Pegasusmon's and Garurumon's blasts found their marks again and again.

Veemon climbed up Arukenimon's leg, leaped over her claws and onto her abdomen, then rammed her face again, making webs of spittle fly from her maw. "How d'ya like that?!" he asked. "I could do this all—"

Arukenimon's whip caught his tail and flipped him upside-down, and he crashed to the ground. Garurumon leaped at her with his mouth ablaze, but she snared him and twisted him so he fired at Pegasusmon instead, blowing him into a streetlight. Then she threw Garurumon at Veemon, who just barely managed to roll away.

"This isn't working," TK said. "She's too strong!"

Jun scrambled to think, looking down at the D3. Maybe she could make Veemon turn into something else, something bigger like Matt's and TK's Digimon. What had TK's brother said right before his pig became a horse?

Matt saw her face and knew what was going through her head. "Get back," he warned, "it doesn't work that way!"

TK wanted to say the same, but after seeing Demiveemon Digivolve without Davis, he wasn't so sure... and he wondered if it would happen again. Besides, he noted as Arukenimon lashed at Veemon again, they needed all the power they could get.

"Yeah, c'mon, Jun!" Davis said, grabbing for his Digivice. "It's mine!"

Jun pulled away from her brother and raised the D3, bravely shouting what she thought TK had said: "Digi-Armor Enerrrrrgize!"

The Digivice's screen gleamed, and Veemon felt power surging through him again. Davis recoiled as the familiar ray of light shot from the D-Terminal in his hand into the D3 in his sister's. Arukenimon leaped back with a snarl as the light of Digivolution blinded her, and then Raidramon charged at her in Veemon's place.

"No way!" Jun shrieked with delight.

"No way!" Davis shrieked with disbelief.

Matt angrily chewed his lip. Garurumon righted himself, his eyes wide and unbelieving. "What's going on here?!" he demanded.

"Now you're gonna get it!" Raidramon said, then arched his back and let his sparking spikes unleash their payload.

Arukenimon bounded away from the blue blasts only to land right between Garurumon and Pegasusmon. They rushed and pinned her down for a moment, but she slapped them away and got back on her six legs, glaring daggers at Raidramon. Seeing that blue lizard Digivolve with someone besides the foul-mouthed brat had really rattled her, and now she realized she was outnumbered. Even though she was an Ultimate, the three of them were fast and could whittle her down, and she couldn't afford to let that happen now! "Well, children, it's your lucky day!" she declared.

The three Digimon closed in, but she leaped over them, snared a lamppost with her whips and swung herself onto the side of a building, scuttling up and away before they could give chase. TK, Matt and Davis watched her disappear with confusion, but Jun danced up and down like an over-cranked wind-up toy. "Yeah! We did it!" she laughed. "Spider bitch, spider bitch!~ Nasty, cranky old spider witch!~"

"She's Davis's sister, all right…" Pegasusmon said, shaking his head.

The Digimon shimmered, then shrank back down to their Rookie forms. Davis looked from Veemon to his sister, still unable to process what had happened. "How the hell did you DO that?!" he demanded.

Jun grinned at him. "Looks like Demiveemon likes me now!" she said.

He turned furious eyes on the blue lizard, who frantically shook his head. "I don't know, Davith!" Veemon spluttered. "I didn't do anything!"

"Well, SOMEONE did SOMETHING!" Davis yelled.

As Veemon tried (and failed) to calm Davis down, Jun looked at Matt and flashed her brightest smile. "So, can I be on the team, Matt?!" she asked hopefully. "I bet I'll be way more fun than 'Davith!'"

A bolt of lightning shot through Matt's teeth as he imagined her tagging along, and he scrambled to keep from screaming. "Uh, w-well…" he began through clenched teeth.

Suddenly he noticed how much she was leaning forward. "Are you—" he began, then forgot words and raced to catch her as she fell. She landed in his arms and sagged like a sack of wet potatoes. "Hey!" he barked. "What's wrong?!"

"C'mon, knock it off!" Davis huffed, slapping at her side… but when she didn't respond, his back stiffened. "Jun?!" he asked.

"Oh, no!" Gabumon said. "Is she OK?"

TK ran up and looked her over. She was limp all over, but she was still breathing. He remembered when fatigue would incapacitate his friends just like that. It must have been from the Digivolving; his friends and he had gotten used to it, but this had been Jun's first time. ""I think she's just tired… Let's get her back inside," he said.

Matt grunted and started to push the limp form at Davis. "Take her," he said.

"No way, she fell on you!" Davis retorted. He almost said he had just gotten out from under a girl, but he stopped himself; that really would be putting his foot in his mouth. He decided to help Matt to keep himself quiet. "Veemon, help me!"

He grabbed Jun's other arm, and Veemon nervously lifted her legs so she wouldn't drag, and the boys wrestled her back towards the apartment. TK, Patamon and Gabumon watched them go. "OK, so what just happened?" Patamon asked. "Anybody know yet?"

"No…" Gabumon said. "I've got no ideas at all."

TK pulled out his D-Terminal and started tapping out a message to Izzy. The boy genius would definitely want to hear about this.


"Here we go, Izzy!" Tentomon said as he buzzed into the room balancing a tray of fruit on his feeler arms. "Whew! Who knew apples were so heavy?"

"Thanks, Tentomon," Izzy said, though his attention was mostly on the autopsy reports Joe gave him. He had read through the papers half a dozen times since he had got them, his mind grinding through both his friend's explanation and his own interpretation. If these reports were true, then that meant…

His computer screen flashed and he looked up to see there was a new e-mail from TK. As he moved to open it, though, Gennai appeared over the rest of the screen. "Good morning, Izzy," the old man said.

"Oh, Gennai, good timing," Izzy said, growing grave; it was time to get some questions answered. He lifted the reports for the old man to see. "Maybe you can explain to me why the Order let Ken die."

Gennai stayed quiet. "Why didn't you intervene?" Izzy asked. "I know he started off corrupted, but he was a Digidestined like the rest of us."

The old man looked somber, then shook his head. "That must wait for later," he said. "For now, I have to speak to all of you. Please assemble the others."

Izzy's usually calm forehead wrinkled with anger. "Gennai, you keep telling me to do things, but you won't answer my questions," he said, his irritation coming through in his voice. "You explained everything during our first adventure, but now you're so tight-lipped! The others are scared; they want answers… and so do I!"

"Yeah, come on, Gennai!" Tentomon urged. "Can't you give us some kind of clue?"

Gennai stared at the floor for a moment, then gave Izzy an apologetic look. "Izzy, please assemble the Digidestined," he repeated. "I promise, when the time is right…" With that, he disappeared.

Izzy slapped the desk with his palms, making an orange roll off the tray. "Son of a bitch!" he shouted.

"Good grief, Izzy!" Tentomon exclaimed. "I know it's just us in here, but…!"

Izzy bared his teeth for a moment, then grabbed his forehead. "…Sorry," he said. "I just can't stand having my hands tied like this."

"I know…" Tentomon said. "But… it has to be important if he's asking us to call everyone, right? We'd better do it."

Izzy sighed angrily, but he knew his partner was right. Forgetting the e-mail for the moment, he picked up his phone and dialed Tai's number.


Davis's parents thought the kids had just forgotten something when they came back in ten minutes later, but when they saw Matt and Davis dragging Jun like a floppy scarecrow, and a bigger creature in place of Demiveemon, they hit the roof. "What just happened?!" Mr. Motomiya shouted.

"Daisuke! What's wrong with Jun?!" Mrs. Motomiya cried, forgetting to demand where her son had been.

"Later, Mom!" Davis said. "Just get her door open!"

She bit her fingernails, a sign that she was flustered, but quickly scooted to Jun's room and pulled the door open.

"Is she gonna be OK, Davith?" Veemon asked as they stumbled into the room. "I didn't mean ta hurt her, honest!"

"She'll be fine, Veemon," TK promised from behind, "she just needs to rest. Remember how Davis needed to before?"

"Oh, yeah…" Patamon said.

"U-um, I'll go make tea," Mrs. Motomiya said, scooting out of the room; after biting her nails, that was her second reaction to crises.

With what felt like a monumental effort, Davis and Matt hauled Jun onto her bed. She was limp and saggy, but she seemed to just be tired like TK had said. Davis watched her stomach rise and fall, still mentally in shock at the events. How did Jun make HIS partner Digivolve with HIS Digivice? Was it a glitch? Or because Veemon liked her too? Or just because she was his sister? None of his answers made sense, even to him.

Jun's eyes slid half-open and uncertainly picked Davis out of the blobs surrounding her bed. "So… that's what you've been doing all year?…" she asked, glancing at him and smiling weakly. "Sure takes a lot out of you..."

Davis just couldn't stay confused and angry when she looked at him like that. When had he become such a soft touch? "Yeah… all hop, skip an' jump til ya drop," he said quietly.

Jun blinked a few times, then looked up at the ceiling. "And that… that was one of the smaller bad guys, wasn't it?..." she asked.

"Um, well, no," Patamon said, "but she's… well, she runs a lot."

"I don't understand," Gabumon said. "If she's an Ultimate, why does she hardly fight herself? She makes monsters out of spires instead, right?"

"Yeah, it's weird," TK said, "but Myotismon had minions too, right? So maybe…"

As the others discussed why Arukenimon always seemed to bail on them, Matt's cell phone rang. He quietly moved away and answered it, then came back. "That was Izzy," he said.

TK looked at his brother expectantly. "Did he get my e-mail?" he asked.

"He didn't say," Matt said, "but Gennai wants to see everyone at his place."

"That's gotta be important," Patamon said. "Let's go!"

"What?! But what about Jun?" Veemon objected, looking back at the girl.

Jun weakly pushed up into a sitting position. "Don't worry… I'm fine," she promised him with a smile.

"Yeah, relax," Davis said. "Trust me, she's looked worse than this. Like that one time with the—"

She shook her head and grimaced. "Daisuke, no!" she pleaded. "Not in front of Matt!"

Davis stopped talking and grinned. "Awright, we're going," he said to her. "You just chill, OK?"

Davis, TK and the Digimon filed out of the room. Matt lingered for a moment, staring at Jun with a darkened expression. She found herself feeling a little scared. "Matt?..." she asked. "What's wrong?"

He looked away and shook his head, then glanced back at her. "Take it easy," he mumbled.

He disappeared and the door slammed shut. Jun gave an enthusiastic squeal and fell back on the bed. She felt better already.


Having treated her empty guts to four blueberry toaster pastries and two orange pops, Yolei tightly pulled the corners of the blanket and put the pillow back in its usual spot. She stepped back and looked the bed over, satisfied; now her parents would never think Davis had spent the night. Then again, she worried, maybe her tidying up would give them a reason to ask… but on a third hand, what did she have to hide? It's not like he had done anything besides console her, and then... well, that was nothing to feel ashamed of, was it?... but how would her siblings spin it? That could really mess things up, too…

Poromon watched her fuss and pace around with a smile on his beak. In addition to her glasses, Yolei had changed into clothing she wore before Mimi appeared: her red blazer and red undershirt, and a clashing pair of baggy blue sweatpants. He didn't know what she was fretting about, but he didn't really mind; his partner was back to her old self.

The phone in the living room rang twice. After a pause, three sharp bangs on the door made Yolei flinch. "Miyako!" Chizuru's voice pierced the door.

Yolei opened the door and her sister beamed at her craftily. "Aren't you popular today?" she mused, and handed her the phone.

Yolei lifted the phone to her ear. Who could be calling? Was it Davis again? "…Hello?" she asked.

"Hi, Yolei, it's me," Sora's voice came. "How're you feeling?"

"Sora… hi," she replied hesitantly, walking back into her room and shutting the door. "I'm, uh… I'm fine."

"Uh, good," Sora said, sounding a bit awkward herself. "Hey, uh, there's a meeting at Izzy's; Gennai needs to talk to everyone."

"Everyone?..." Yolei asked, yesterday's events rushing back to her. Her face burned with shame and the fear of retribution churned her stomach. "Er… maybe I shouldn't," she muttered.

"But Yolei, it's important, and you've missed a lot of stuff lately. You really should come," Sora said. Then in a softer tone, she added: "it'll be fine. They're all your friends, remember?"

Yolei bit her lip, then sighed. It wasn't like she could put off seeing the other Digidestined forever… and Sora had to be right. She had to believe what they said before was true. "…All right, I'll come," she surrendered.

"That's the spirit," Sora said. "See you there."

Yolei hung up. "What's going on?" Poromon asked.

She was quiet for a moment, then nodded. "C'mon, we're going to Izzy's," she told him.


The clock struck 11, but nobody could hear it over the pushing and complaining. Izzy's room had always been pretty packed for meetings, but the re-additions of Mimi and Palmon filled it to capacity. Masami saw Tai and Agumon squeezing through the door as Joe sucked in his gut and tried to become even skinnier. "Izzy, don't make everyone sit in there; it's just too small," he said. "Why don't you all use the living room?"

Izzy's head popped out of the crowd. "Oh. Uh… Good idea," he said, a little ashamed he hadn't thought of it himself. "All right, everyone, to the living room!"

"Thank goodness!" Gatomon huffed, scrambling out between legs. "That's no place for a long tail!"

"No kiddin'!" Veemon said, grabbing his own.

"How'd you Digivolve, anyway?" Upamon asked.

"Ask later," Cody huffed. "Somewhere we can actually breathe."

The kids untangled themselves and reconvened around the coffee table. "Well, that was… something," Kari muttered.

"Do you guys always pile in like that?" Palmon asked. "I thought I was gonna turn into aloe gel!"

"Seriously!" Mimi fussed. "Nobody thought of meeting in here before?!"

Joe had to smile. He had kind of missed that complaining.

"So, is everyone here?" Tentomon asked. "I couldn't tell."

"I think so…" Izzy said.

Davis looked around, but he didn't see Yolei. "Wait a sec…" he began.

The apartment door opened and Yolei came in with Poromon in tow, quietly kicking her shoes off. "Hi, Yolei!" Veemon said with a cheerful wave.

Everyone turned and looked at her. Matt's eyes narrowed. Her face went white. The awkward silence made her feel like crawling under a rock. She almost reached for the door to leave, but she saw Sora shake her head and motion for her to come. She looked at Davis, who balled his fists and nodded. She hesitated, then looked down at Poromon. "It's OK, Yolei," he said.

She took a deep breath, then slowly took a few steps forward. "Hi… everyone…" she mumbled, then bit her lip. "I, um… yesterday… I'm…" She tried to go on, but her voice failed her and she just stared at the ground.

Davis sighed, then walked over. "C'mon already!" he said, taking her arm and pulling her over to the group.

"I, b-but… hey!" she objected, but did not resist his tugging.

She ended up beside Sora, who gave her a warm smile. "You got here just in time," she said. "Izzy's about to start."

Yolei felt like she should say more, but the fact nobody was telling her to beat it was enough for the moment. She would wait until later.

"What did Gennai say, Izzy?" Tai asked.

Izzy put his old laptop on the table. "Your guess is as good as mine," he sighed.

He opened the device and Gennai's aged image appeared to the party. "Ah, it looks like you're all here… good," he said with a toothless smile. "I heard from the digital grapevine that you've got yourselves a new dragon."

"Already?!" Kari asked. "That was just yesterday! And here!"

Veemon beamed. "Yeah!" he said, pumping his fists. "I turned inta Imperialdramon!"

"Oh, yeah!" Davis said with bright eyes. "I forgot!"

The others looked at him in shock. "You forgot he Digivolved?!" Tai asked. "Seriously, Davis?!"

Davis's smile fell off as everyone's eyes turned on him, especially Matt's icy glare. "W-well… other stuff was happening, y'know?" he tried, scratching his head and glancing towards Yolei.

She blinked, then smiled wryly. "You're freaking hopeless," she said with a snicker.

"Wait, you heard about it?" Tentomon asked. "This wasn't from some super convenient prophecy, like when you told us about Wargreymon and Metalgarurumon?"

Gennai shrugged. "It's not like we've foreseen everything, you know," he replied. "Whatever the case, it was an impressive form, and also timely; Imperialdramon will be essential to reaching the four temples."

"Wait, how?" Agumon asked, scratching his head. "Not to insult Veemon, but when he fought Jachomon, Imperialdramon got, well… creamed."

"Yeah, it was pretty underwhelming," Gomamon agreed.

"Hey, c'mon!" Veemon huffed. "I was stuck between buildings! Wait'll I stretch my wings out someplace else! An' don't forget, I took Jachomon out, too!"

"Didn't Birdramon stamp him out with her—" Upamon began, but Veemon's angry face made him bite his tongue.

"Erm, regardless of combat ability," Gennai continued, "Imperialdramon should be large enough and fast enough to carry all of you around your world to the entrances of the temples."

"Around the world? Really?" Palmon asked.

"Yeah, they're all on other continents," Joe said.

"Looks like we're all taking a vacation!" Gomamon laughed.

"No, it will be far from a vacation," Gennai said. "Finding the temples is the easy part. What awaits inside are trials for the holders of the Crests, set up by the four Digimon Gods themselves. They are challenging and dangerous, and only once they are completed will the gods bless you and renew your powers."

"Really?!" Patamon huffed. "Ugh, why can't we just plug 'em into a recharger or something? We're in a hurry!"

TK sighed. Of course it wouldn't be easy to regain their lost power; gods wouldn't just bless anybody, after all.

"We already have a plan to approach the temples, Gennai," Izzy reported. "One of the new Digidestined will accompany the two older ones to the gates and open them." He looked at Davis, Yolei and Cody. "So, do you have preferences?" he asked.

Cody blinked, caught off guard. "I hadn't thought about it," he said. "Things were so insane yesterday…"

Davis looked at Tai and grinned. "Hey, count me in with Coach!" he said.

Tai smiled, relieved to know it would not just be Sora and him wandering a dangerous place in their awkwardness. "Thanks, Davis," he said.

"I can't wait until you see my Mega form!" Agumon said to Veemon.

"I think I've seen enough of him…" Veemon admitted. "But I bet you're nicer."

Someone poked Yolei's shoulder, and she turned to see Mimi smiling hopefully. "Would you come with Izzy and me, Mi—Yolei?" she asked nervously. "I, um… I want to, um…."

Yolei looked at Izzy, who nodded in agreement. "S-sure," she stammered.

"You can count on us!" Poromon added more confidently.

Having not thought quickly enough, Cody glanced at the remaining older kids. "Looks like we're the leftovers," he said to Upamon.

"Hey, don't think of it like that," Joe said, putting a hand on the boy's shoulder.

"Yeah, leftovers are delicious!" Upamon interjected.

"No argument there," Gomamon chuckled.

"We'll be glad to have you along," Gabumon agreed.

Cody glanced over at Matt, who didn't look glad about anything. He wondered what the trouble was this time.

TK looked at Kari. "Well, it's just us," he said, "but I know we'll be fine!"

Kari's was silent, her eyes cast on the floor. Gatomon looked at her worriedly, then shrugged at him. His confidence deflated like a balloon; that wasn't the reaction he had hoped for.

"It sounds like you're organized; that's good," Gennai said. "You had better leave on your journey soon; there's no telling when the forces of the Dark World will reappear."

The new kids' spines stiffened. "Dark World?!" Yolei objected. "But… no way!"

"How?" Cody asked. "We destroyed all of their spires!"

Gennai shook his head sadly. "I'm afraid you didn't," he said. "You went to the Dark World to destroy the spires, but the evil remained intact. Also…" he coughed and looked pained, "when I re-checked the data readings, I found that the energy signal of one spire remained unaccounted for."

"What?!" Veemon asked. "We did all that an' it still wasn't enough?!"

"Dagomon must have hidden one from you," Gennai reasoned, "and one is enough for him to bring more evil into your world. That's why you must work quickly now."

Matt folded his arms. "Sloppy work," he said, "as usual."

"Matt…" Gabumon sighed.

Davis bared his teeth at the older boy. "How the hell did we know he didn't use 'em all?!" he asked.

"Yeah, he turned 'em into a giant tentacle thing!" Veemon objected. "We couldn't count 'em!"

"This is exactly what I've been saying from the start," Matt went on stonily, ignoring Davis's complaining. "These idiots couldn't find a Whamon in a goldfish bowl. They do everything half-assed!"

"You weren't there!" Yolei argued. "You don't know what happened!"

"I know what didn't happen," he said. "You didn't do your damn job! And now we're all paying for it!"

"Come on, Matt, don't do this now," Tai tried. "We need their help on this one."

"Why?!" Matt snapped at him, his face going from pink to red. "When did we ever need their help?!" He turned and scowled at the rest of his friends. "Eight of us were enough before," he said, "but all of you have just sat back and let these losers do the work! Hell, even Gennai is putting more on them than us now!"

Izzy hesitated for a moment before trying to speak. "Matt, consider the circumstances," he said. "With the Digital Gate in place, only Davis and the others can enter the Digital World, so—"

"And why is that there?!" Matt shouted. "That thing's a giant middle finger to us, just like the spires… and none of you care! You're all fine with letting them mess things up instead!" He turned his rage on the laptop, glaring daggers at Gennai. "What have they got that we don't?!" he demanded.

The other Digidestined and their partners stood in stunned silence; nobody knew how to calm Matt down when he got as angry as this. Gennai just pulled at his moustache.

Matt glared at each person and creature in the room before finally shaking his head. "I don't trust their new Digimon, and I don't trust them," he announced. "I'm not going."

A gasp of disbelief sucked all the air out of the room. Davis ground his teeth. Yolei sagged. Cody stared at his gray socks.

"No, Matt!" Biyomon squawked. "You have to come!"

"We can't do this without you!" Joe argued.

"This isn't the time, Matt," Izzy said. "Don't hold the mission hostage like this."

"The new kids can do it!" Agumon said. "Haven't they proven themselves yet?"

"All they've proven is they can't handle the job," Matt said. "Look how they've messed up everything so far! Now the Digital World hates humans, and our world's been torn up by Deadmon… and on top of that, they've only ever thought about themselves, not about what being a Digidestined means!" He threw another glare towards Yolei, who bit her lip and also stared at Cody's socks. "We didn't need them before, and we don't need them now!"

Davis's thin tether of patience finally snapped. "Ourselves?!" he roared, pushing through the crowd and getting in Matt's face. "After what we went through?! You shithead! Were you fucking asleep yesterday?! Or since fall?! We've worked our asses off!" He gestured back at Yolei and Cody, then jabbed Matt's chest with his finger. "And you oughta be glad your whole group came back alive," he snarled, "'cuz we can't say that!"

"That's your own fault!" Matt snapped. "If you had been better, Ken wouldn't—"

"Shut yer mouth!" Davis cut him off. "Like YOU coulda stopped a guy who kills by snappin' his fingers!"

"Yeah, we couldn't do nothin'!" Veemon said, getting in on the fight.

"All you ever do is make excuses!" Matt retorted.

"And you never listen!" Yolei shouted. "You never gave us a chance, even from the start!"

"Seriously, what's your beef?!" Upamon asked. "It's like you hate us just for being here!"

"Upamon!" Cody scolded.

"Come on, you're thinkin' it too, Cody!" Upamon said.

As Matt and the new Digidestined hurled insults at each other, the others hung back, not knowing who to side with, or whether they should take sides at all. TK felt especially torn; he knew exactly what the new kids had gone through, but he also understood what his brother was feeling. Tears sprang to Kari's eyes as she watched her friends spewing venom at each other. "Davis… Matt… stop!" she pleaded.

Suddenly, a noise from outside flew into her ear and froze her blood. "Davis! Matt! Stop!" she said loudly.

"Quiet!" Matt snapped.

"Yeah, don't—" Davis began, but when he saw she had gone white as a sheet, he lost his volume. "What's wrong?" he asked.

Kari ran to the window and pulled it open. "Listen!" she whispered.

The cold breeze blew over the group as they waited, and then came a high-pitched, roaring shriek. The new Digidestined froze in place, their eyes bulging. "Oh, God…" TK gulped.

"It can't be!" Poromon said. "It just can't be!"

The older kids looked alarmed, but also confused. "What is it?" Sora asked, looking between the window and her freaked-out friends. "Do you know?"

The new kids didn't answer; they raced for their shoes and burst out of the apartment. "Hey, wait!" Mimi yelled.

"I think they know," Joe said nervously.

"Outside! Now!" Tai said.

The other kids and their partners rushed after the first set. Izzy's parents were left alone in the room with the chilly wind and Gennai's face on the laptop. "This can't be good," Masami said.

"What's going on?" Yoshie asked the face on the screen. "What's happening?"

Gennai shook his head sadly. "Forgive us, humans," he muttered. "This has gone beyond our control…"


The Digidestined raced into the street and looked up to see exactly what they feared: tearing through the sky—their sky—was the ray-devil Kokytomon. It flew back and forth over the buildings shrieking, its black vapor trail connecting their tops like poisonous stitches. The populace was already in high panic, with civilians fleeing inside and news crews jockeying for footage while police sirens wailed.

As the monster flew over again, Mimi gave a whimpering wail. "What is THAT?!" Palmon asked.

"This guy again?!" Davis yelled. "No way!"

Kari clamped her hands around her brother's arm. "I knew I heard it before!" she gulped.

"How did it get here?!" Cody asked.

TK was about to say he didn't know when his mind jumped back to their last day in the Dark World: Kokytomon had chased them into the cathedral, but they had never heard it fly away from there. "It must have come back here before we did," he said, "through the spires!"

"Seriously?!" Yolei asked. "How come no one's seen it?!"

"I heard it at night before…" Kari mumbled.

"Maybe it's been flying around the world, keeping pace with the darkness so it stayed hidden," Izzy reasoned.

"Good grief…" was all Sora could say.

Matt just stared up at the nightmarish creature, his mouth hanging open for the second time that day.

Kokytomon flew overhead once again, then its burning eyes locked onto Poromon. "Oh, no!" the bird said with a jump.

Everyone braced for it to dive. Instead, the winged terror whirled around and flew away, shrieking wildly. "Or… not 'oh no?'" Poromon asked.

"Where's it going?" Gomamon asked. "And why's it screaming like that?"

"It could be giving off an alarm…" Gatomon said, then her eyes widened in horror. "Or a signal."

"Shit! You think it's gonna call Deadmon?!" Davis asked.

"Or worse," Cody growled.

"We gotta stop it!" Patamon urged his partner. "C'mon, TK!"

Yolei shook her head vigorously, remembering the terrible visions Jachomon had pumped into her head. "No, don't!" she objected. "It's too strong!"

TK swallowed. Kokytomon had been too powerful for them in the Dark World… but there were more of them now, and Patamon was right; if that thing was about to bring more Deadmon into their city, they had to try. "Everyone!" he urged both old friends and new, "we're going after it!"

"C'mon, Davith!" Veemon said. "Let's get this guy!"

"Got it!" Davis said, yanking out his reclaimed D3 as the others produced theirs.

The flying partners were the first to appear. Veemon, Biyomon and Tentomon Digivolved into their champion forms, and Patamon and Gatomon Armor Digivolved to Pegasusmon and Nefertimon. "Hurry, before he gets too far away!" Kabuterimon barked, and they took off after the pestilence-spewing monster.

Poromon, surprisingly, remained Poromon. "Yolei!" he yelped. "We have to help, don't we?!"

Yolei set her jaw. Fighting Kokytomon over the city, or anywhere for that matter, was a terrible idea… but nobody seemed to agree with her. Maybe it was because of yesterday.

"I hope they can do something…" Kari said quietly.

"We'd better go after them," Tai said. "They might need support from—"

One more flash of Digivolution caught everyone by surprise, and then Matt jumped onto Garurumon's back. "Matt?! Wait!" Sora objected.

Matt didn't respond, and Garurumon tore down the street. "Why does he have to be like that?" Agumon asked.

Tai shook his head and grabbed his partner with a hurried "come on."

Running as fast as their legs could carry them, the kids and the remaining Digimon chased after their flying friends, ignoring the red lights, honking cars and wailing sirens as they went. "Which way… we headed?!" Izzy asked, straining at the back of the pack alongside Joe and Yolei.

"Towards… harbor… I think!" Joe gasped.

"What?!" Izzy swallowed. "Urgh… Not good!..."

"Why?" Yolei panted.

"We can't chase him over the ocean, Yolei," Poromon said from her hands. "He'll get away!"

At first she thought that was a good thing, but then she realized that Exveemon and the others would probably engage it before it got away, and then it might double back over the city and… even her spine was sweating now. She had to stop them! "Poromon! Digivolve!" she insisted.

"Err, right!" Poromon gulped, leaping out of her grip and flapping alongside her. She raised her D3 and he changed into Hawkmon. "Halsemon's a bit faster," he suggested, pumping his wings harder. "Let's use him!"

"Digi… Armor… Ener… (COUGH) …gize!" Yolei wheezed, holding the D3 up again, vowing to take more walks when the danger was through. Hawkmon shimmered and became the bullet-headed Halsemon, and Yolei grabbed onto him and sped ahead of the rest.

"Halsemon! Don't take Yolei to the fight!" Gatomon shouted.

"Hey! What about us, ya bum?!" Davis yelled after her.

Yolei didn't even have time to enjoy Davis's good-natured complaining. "C'mon, we've gotta hurry," she urged Halsemon.

"I'm not going to fight with you on my back, Yolei," Halsemon said. "Kokytomon's too dangerous."

"You're not gonna fight at all," she replied. "We have to make the others let Kokytomon go!"

"What?!" Halsemon asked, looking up at her. "But he'll call more Deadmon if we do that!"

"He'll wreck this place himself if we attack him," Yolei rebuked. "We can get the Crests back; let's do that first so we have a chance!"

Halsemon thought for a moment. Letting Kokytomon flee was risky, but she had a point; the devil ray had burned a whole forest down just to get to the kids before; having it unload on Tokyo would be much, much worse. Yolei was right. "…Got it," he agreed. "Now hold on tight!"

Yolei smiled. "Thanks," she said. "Get me to Garurumon, then go talk to the others!"

Halsemon sped over the traffic snarls, reached the speeding Garurumon and tilted so Yolei rolled onto his back behind Matt. The blonde boy turned and glared at his unwanted passenger. She froze beneath the look, but then noticed Kokytomon and the others flying over the harbor, headed out to sea. The flying Digimon shot their best attacks at it, filling the sky with a rainbow of energy blasts, but it weaved around and over them, not seeming to care. Then Halsemon flew up and around the others, and they stopped firing. Kokytomon continued on his way out over the water. "What the hell?!" Matt demanded.

"He's getting away!" Garurumon said. "What do we do?!"

Yolei shook herself out of her fear; even after the hatred he had spewed at the new kids, she had to convince him. "Matt, we've gotta let him go!" she urged him.

Matt's glare darkened even more. "Get lost," he snapped, and turned away.

"I'm serious!" she pressed. "If he turns and starts shooting, the city's—"

"I don't listen to traitors!" he shouted. "Garurumon! FIRE!"

"No, wait!" Yolei panicked. "DON'T!"

Garurumon belched his Howling Blaster ahead of Kokytomon… and several moments later the blue fireball found its mark on the monster's wing. Yolei felt her throat collapse. Kokytomon turned on the others with a scream of blind rage. Showers of skull-fish missiles flew from its wings, blowing almost every Digimon out of the air and exploding along the docks and street. Exveemon managed to kick away the missile meant for him, but Kokytomon went after him with its blazing laser eyes, completely without mercy.

Garurumon gasped and jerked back as a flaming car exploded. "I think we screwed up, Matt," he said.

"Matt! That thing's Blackwargreymon strong!" Yolei shouted.

Matt's eyes went wide and horrified as Kokytomon rammed Exveemon and then sprayed more missiles at its assailants, most of them flying into the street and nearby buildings, sending up geysers of fire, concrete and glass. The rest of the Digidestined arrived just as a manhole erupted. "We're here! We're—" TK panted, then gaped at the destruction. "What happened?!" he asked.

"Nefertimon!" Kari shouted at the rubble. "Where are you?!"

"Where's… everybody?!" Sora demanded. "Matt, what happened?!"

Matt clenched his teeth and angrily stared at Garurumon's neck. Yolei just shook her head.

Exveemon flew out of the smoke clouds with Kokytomon hot on his tail. "Davis!" he yelled as he narrowly dodged another missile. "Gimme a hand, here!"

Davis pulled out his D3 and held it up, sparks beginning to fly from its screen. "Hang in there, buddy!" he shouted. "This ain't over yet!"

Exveemon shimmered and Paildramon flashed into existence, making Kokytomon briefly veer away. He spread his wings with a metallic click, grabbed his Desperado Blasters and emptied round after round into the sky. Just like Garurumon's fireball, though, the bullets bounced off Kokytomon's slick flesh without any effect. As Kokytomon dove at him, he tried to stab it with his pikes, but the hellish manta flew up at the last second, somersaulted and came straight down, loosing another barrage of missiles. Paildramon caught one in his back and crashed down through the docks into the water, which erupted in a depth charge that destroyed three piers and sent a miniature tidal wave in all directions. Mimi screamed and covered her head as it rained water, stone and wood. "It's too much!" she cried.

Palmon growled, feeling as helpless as ever. If she could have turned into Lillymon, she would have taught that monster a thing or two!

Paildramon crawled out of the flotsam, exhausted and disoriented. Kokytomon shrieked and flew back towards the downtown area, more missiles appearing beneath its wings. "Oh, God, it's mad now!" TK gulped.

Davis gnashed his teeth. There was no way he was going to let that thing fly back over town when it was so pissed off. He pulled out Ken's Digivice with his free hand, squeezing both machines like he wanted to turn them into diamonds. "Paildramon!" he shouted at the top of his lungs. "Stop it!"

Both Digivices sprayed sparks and belched white smoke, and Paildramon was enveloped in golden light. He flew straight upwards and, in a sudden explosion of wind, the lofty Imperialdramon appeared. Tai and Izzy both looked the mammoth dragon over with awe and confusion. When Davis was furious, Paildramon became Imperialdramon, but when he wanted to protect the city, Paildramon also became Imperialdramon. How did Davis get the same Digivolution when he was in such different mindsets?

Imperialdramon shot forward and around, and Kokytomon screeched as he intercepted it over the first block. "You shall not harm the people of this city," the dragon rumbled, its humming cannon drowning out the police sirens below. "To the sea with you!"

Kokytomon's answer was a salvo of missiles. Imperialdramon opened his mouth and belched a great black sphere, which pulled the projectiles in and destroyed them. Kokytomon shrieked and dove to collide with him, but the dragon opened his mouth again and unleashed waves of fire, forcing it to sail over him instead. From their place by the ravaged docks, the kids watched with slack jaws. "He makes black holes?!" Tai yelled. "He makes black holes!"

"He's more impressive in the sky, for certain," Izzy remarked.

"Yeah, get 'im, Imperialdramon!" Davis yelled, punching the air. "Blow 'im to bits!"

Yolei clenched and unclenched her hands, a sudden wave of hope welling up inside her. Maybe now they could chase that thing away… or maybe even defeat it. Matt watched silently and sourly from atop Garurumon.

As the others watched Imperialdramon thwart Kokytomon's attacks, Kari frantically looked around in the water for Nefertimon and the other Digimon. Finally her eyes spied ripples beneath the rubble, and then Gatomon spluttered into view, her fur dripping and droopy. "Ugh… Ack!" she coughed, looking up. "Kari! Help! The others are trapped in there!"

"Hang on!" she called, then turned to Gomamon. "Can you get them out?"

"Leave it to me!" Gomamon said with a salute, and leaped into the water. He came back up on a raft of tuna; his Marching Fishes attack worked in their world too. "I'm coming, Gatomon! Just don't eat the boat!"

Kokytomon became fed up with its attacks getting neutralized, and shot past Imperialdramon, moving too quick for its opponent's eyes to follow before darting 90 degrees in the other direction. Although Imperialdramon had both speed and mass on his side, it quickly became obvious that Kokytomon outclassed him as a flier; it was like watching a rocket try to track a vulture. Kokytomon soared over and around its foe before he knew it was above him, pummeling him in the side with another slew of explosives as it screamed with delight. The dragon spiraled out of control towards the ground, his engines firing madly to slow himself down. Mimi screamed and grabbed Joe, who was too terrified to even notice. With a great thundering of rockets, Imperialdramon threw up a great wind that almost blew the kids over, but managed to stop before he landed on anything. He hovered above the Digidestined and panted darkly.

"Dammit! Don't take that!" Davis yelled at the top of his lungs. "Kick his ass!"

Imperialdramon shook his great shaggy head. "I cannot defeat such a fast enemy alone," he said. "Davis, lend me your aid!"

Davis scratched his head. Hadn't he been doing that already? "Uh… sure," he said. "What do ya want me to—"

Before he could finish, a green beam of light shot down from Imperialdramon's belly and surrounded him, and he went flying up towards the dragon. "HOLY SHIIIIIIT!" he yelled as he disappeared into the Digimon's gut.

"Wha… NOW what just happened?!" Sora asked, unable to look away.

"I think Imperialdramon just abducted him," Izzy said.

"This is no time to get probed!" Agumon huffed.


Davis's vision was bright green as he flailed and spun in the air, but suddenly his feet were on solid ground again. He pulled his arm away from his eyes and found himself staring at scale-like carpeting on a floor. He looked up to find he was in a large chamber with a panoramic view of the sky behind him and a seat and a collection of video screens in front, showing different angles of the city. His head jerked back and forth wildly like it was trying to snap itself off. "What the… where the hell am I?!" he asked.

"You are on my bridge," Imperialdramon's voice rumbled around him.

Davis blinked. "You've got a bridge?" he asked.

"We must protect the city from Kokytomon, but I cannot keep track of its movements," Imperialdramon continued. "Davis… you must guide my flight and my actions from that seat. I am certain your skills will bring us victory."

Davis looked at the seat like it was the goddess of flight herself, slowly realizing just what kind of power had been dropped in his lap. The floor crackling beneath his feet, he went and sat down in the seat; it felt like a cross between leather and plush, not unpleasant but not comfortable enough to feel lazy in. As soon as his bottom was on the cushion, the screens closed in around him, showing everything around Imperialdramon: the city buildings, his friends standing below, the sky above, and Kokytomon, who zipped between screens daring Imperialdramon to try and strike again. A control panel rose from the floor in front of him, presenting him with a colorful array of flashing lights, levers and buttons, and also a shining black control stick. He could almost hear Yolei saying it looked like a video game, but he knew it was much more than that; he knew the power Imperialdramon had. "…You sure this is OK?" he asked, looking around.

"You are my partner," Imperialdramon replied. "I believe in you."

Davis breathed a few times, then reached out and grabbed the stick. It felt warm and firm in his hand, not a perfect fit but pretty close. His brow furrowed and determination coursed through his bladder. "All right," he said, "let's do this."

Imperialdramon's engines revved and he took off, the sudden G-forces mashing Davis into the seat like a rag doll with its hands taped to the controls. Davis's lungs couldn't decide whether to gasp or groan at the pressure, so they made a noise halfway between the two inside his clenched teeth.

Imperialdramon flew towards Kokytomon, who screamed and dove at him, firing another stream of missiles. As the projectiles closed in, however, Imperialdramon dove straight down, scraping his wings against two buildings and almost burying his face in the road. Davis yelped as he slammed down onto the control panel and smashed his cheek into the monitor; he had meant to pull up, but he had pushed the stick forwards. "Whoops!" he said, pushing himself up. "Can you reverse engines?!"

"There should be buttons," Imperialdramon said, his voice a little strained. "Hurry!"

Davis's eyes fell on three circular buttons lined up near the stick: orange, black and white. The white button had a green meter next to it that looked about half full. Thinking them to be the engine controls, he pressed the orange one. Imperialdramon sprayed fire all over the street, making nearby cars melt and explode. However, the force of the flames pushed the dragon back into the sky and righted him. "OK… so those're the weapons," Davis groaned, again pulling his face off the screen. Maybe he'd better try to turn around.

He tried a green button below the weapon buttons and Imperialdramon's engines flared, pushing him forward and back in the seat again. Davis yanked the stick to the right to make his dragon turn around, but the force of the turn threw him out of the seat. The stick stuck, and Imperialdramon flew in circles. "Davis, please steer me properly," Imperialdramon gurgled. "I'm starting to feel sick."

He wasn't the only one; on the third spin Davis lost what was left of yesterday's breakfast all over the floor. "Son of a bitch!..." he coughed, crawling back towards the seat. This was nowhere near as easy as the magazines made it out to be!

Outside, the Digidestined watched Imperialdramon, unsure whether to be amused or horrified. "What the hell?!" Tai asked, grabbing at his goggles.

"Maybe eating Davis made him goofy," Upamon said.

Cody grimaced. Kokytomon might not have to destroy the city; the way things were going, Davis and Imperialdramon might do it themselves.

Kokytomon saw its chance and charged Imperialdramon again. Davis saw it coming on the corner monitor and yanked the stick as hard as he could, and Imperialdramon stopped spinning with the flying demon right in its sights. Kokytomon fired another round of missiles and Davis slammed his hand down on the black button. Just like before, Imperialdramon spat a black hole and engulfed the shots. Then Davis hit the orange button and Imperialdramon belched fire. Kokytomon shrieked and flew over the dragon, but Davis watched it and turned his partner accordingly, spitting more fire and making the winged horror veer away; now that he had the hang of things, he knew what he had to do. "OK, Imperialdramon," he said, shoving the control stick, "let's run this shit outta town!"

Imperialdramon went on the offensive, chasing Kokytomon around and corralling it with fire. Kokytomon screamed and dove around, but every direction it turned, it almost got fricasseed. Finally it lost its temper, flew over the fire above its opponent and dove straight down, firing missiles like before. Davis yanked back on the stick and slammed his hand on the white button. The green meter drained away to black, and the cannon on Imperialdramon's back shot the white laser that had bested Jachomon. The blinding beam hit Kokytomon and the creature spun and twisted around in the air like a kite that snapped its string, black smoke pouring from a hole in its wing. Davis gave a war-whoop and hit the accelerator. They were actually making headway on the monster; maybe they could finish it now!

Kokytomon screamed again, flapped once and turned itself away from the city, shooting over the ocean like a panicked pigeon. "Oh, no, you don't!" Davis laughed. "Imperialdramon, let's take him down!"

Davis hit the green button, but instead of the smooth rush of wind he heard the engines sputter and hiccup, and then he noticed the sky was disappearing from the screens. "Imperialdramon?!" he asked, looking around nervously. "Did you run outta gas?!"

"Sorry, Davis…" Imperialdramon said, "but my energy is depleted… We have to land."

"Dammit!" Davis cursed. "We were so close!"

"We did what we meant to do; we drove it away," Imperialdramon said as his claws touched down on the concrete. "That's enough for now."

Davis's vision went green, and the next thing he knew he was sitting on the pavement with Chibomon staring tiredly up at him. He looked down at his hands and watched them tremble.

The other Digidestined came running his way, their recovered partners in tow. The street looked like a war zone, just like near the flower shop; shrapnel lay everywhere, skeletons of cars reeked of burnt oil and rubber, and streetlights hung cracked and limp from their posts. "Davis!" Tai called. "Are you OK?"

Davis said nothing; he just sat on the ground shaking and staring at his hands, his eyes wide and glassy. "Davis?" TK asked, running up. "Hey, what's wrong?"

"You look like you saw a ghost!" Patamon said.

Yolei grabbed his shoulders and shook him. "Hey! Wake up!" she demanded. "What's wrong with you?!"

Davis's open mouth erupted in an ecstatic shriek, sending her tumbling backwards. He sprang up feeling like he would burst into a million sparks. "I FLEW him!" he announced. "I FLEW him! Like an AIRPLANE!"

"Really?!" Izzy asked. "He let you control him?"

"Yeah, I did!" Chibomon said. "It was like we were the same person!"

"Wow…" Biyomon said. "What was that like?"

"First it was kinda bumpy, and I think Davis threw up," Chibomon said, "but then we started working together!"

"It was… so frickin'… AWESOME!" Davis finished.

"Awesome?!" Matt's voice broke through his joy. The blonde boy stomped up to Davis with clenched fists and furious teeth. "You let it get away!" he shouted, jabbing the boy in the chest with a sharp finger. "No matter how many breaks you catch, you still screw up!"

Almost immediately Davis's smile contorted into a hateful snarl. "Shut your damn mouth!" he returned. "We kept it from wreckin' the city… and YOUR Digimon's the one who pissed it off!"

"Yeah!" Yolei added, "YOU told him to attack when I said DON'T!"

"So this?" Davis asked, sweeping his hand around at the destruction, "this's on YOU, dumbass!"

Matt's face glowed the color of a stop sign, his chest heaved and his arms trembled. Gabumon nervously scratched at his fur. "Um, Matt… they're kind of right," he said quietly.

"Don't make excuses for them! That monster got away!" Matt yelled. "This is what I've been saying all along! They never do the job right!"

"You don't either!" Yolei shot back. "You never help! All you do is bitch about us, then you say it's OUR fault when YOU don't listen!"

"I have to admit, you are the rudest boy I have ever met," Hawkmon said.

"I am so damn sick of your shit," Davis said, making a fist with one hand. "So put up or shut up!"

"You… little…" Matt's words squeezed out between clenched jaws, his fists shaking like he was rolling four dice. His teeth flashed for one moment more before the angry words erupted: "There's no way in Hell I'd EVER let you replace me!"

Shocked silence fell over the party. Davis jerked back and lowered his fist. "…What?" he asked.

"We're supposed to replace you guys?" Upamon asked. "I didn't hear anything about it."

Cody shook his head. "Nobody ever said that," he said.

"Seriously?!" Matt went on wildly. "Only YOUR Digivices get into the Digital World, YOU get DigiEggs with OUR Crests on them, YOU can break the spires! Well, I don't know what Gennai's thinking, and I don't care! You're NOT like us, and you NEVER WILL BE!"

Matt's shouting descended into heavy huffs; Chibomon could swear there were flecks of foam at the corners of his mouth.

Yolei looked at Sora, Mimi and the rest of the older set of Digidestined. "Do… you all think that?" she asked.

The older kids and their Digimon reacted awkwardly, making weird faces and giving mumbled non-phrases like "um, well" and "err." Tai pulled at his goggle strap. Mimi stared at her shoes. Agumon scratched at his head. Sora looked away. Even TK, Kari, Patamon and Gatomon looked ashamed.

Davis grimaced. "You too, Coach?!" he said, sounding almost hurt.

"Well…" Tai tried, "it's not like we've been very useful since you guys came along…"

"Yeah, and now Veemon can get all the way to Mega…" Agumon said, "so…"

Davis shook his head. "We're not tryin' to replace anyone!" he argued. "And we don't want to, either!"

"We know you don't," Izzy said, "but it's more about what the Digital World seems to want…"

Davis, Cody, Yolei and their Digimon exchanged troubled glances. Finally they understood why Matt didn't like them, and why some of the others had been so distant at the start. After all, if they had access to a secret world, and then that privilege was suddenly yanked away and given to others, wouldn't they be upset too?

Gabumon put his claw on Matt's still trembling hand. "Matt… please calm down," he said. "We can't just run off on our own this time."

"Yeah…" TK said, coming up beside his brother, "remember how things are right now. We have to—"

"No!" Matt snapped. "I'm NOT going anywhere with THEM!"

TK bit his lip, then frowned. "Now you're just being selfish, Matt," he spoke sternly.

Matt looked at his little brother with both shock and anger, but before he could say anything, Joe spoke. "We're going to need Metalgarurumon to fight whatever's coming," he said. "And for that, we need Imperialdramon."

"Yeah, c'mon, Matt," Chibomon said. "Can't we work together?"

Matt's anger flared up again. "Why'd we need new Digidestined in the first place?!" he demanded, still fixed on Davis. "Why did they pick YOU?! You weren't stranded in the Digital World! You didn't have to fend for your life! You didn't have to learn to make a Crest glow while evil Digimon jumped you left and right! Everything was just HANDED to you! You have NO RIGHT to take OUR responsibilities!"

Davis's rage rekindled, too; he'd had enough of Matt's insults and comparisons. "I'm not taking that shit from the guy who got talked into beating up Coach by a fucking TREE!" he yelled.

Now it was Matt's turn to jerk back. He looked at his friends for some sort of support, but they only shrugged and looked away; Davis had him on that one. "You don't understand what happened!" he said quickly.

"I don't WANT to!" Davis returned, getting in Matt's face. "You talk about us bein' losers?! How the hell're YOU still a Digidestined after the shit you pulled?!" He glanced at Cody, and then at Yolei. "Yolei got possessed! Cody stopped himself BEFORE he hurt anyone! I fuck up plenty, but at least I don't turn on my friends over stupid little things! But YOU!... You're just a big damn hyper-crit!"

Matt chewed on his lower lip and clenched and unclenched his fists, verbally disarmed past a sweaty groan. Anything else he could have said felt invalid and weak when faced with the facts of his own betrayal.

A hand came down on Matt's shoulder and he turned to see Sora, the one other Digidestined who would back him up. He looked at her hopefully, but she shook her head. "I don't want to be replaced either, Matt," she said, "but right now we don't have a choice. If we want our Crests back, we have to work with the new kids."

Matt gaped at her like she had stuck a knife in his back. "But you said…" he began to splutter. "What about?!..."

"Look, Matt, we get it; you don't like it," Tai said. "But the truth is, we need Davis and the others, and their Digimon's powers."

"Unless we have all eight Crests active again, the world's going to be endangered," Izzy said. "Right now your liking them is irrelevant."

"What we saw in the Dark World… you do NOT want to see it here," Gatomon said, clenching her claws.

Kari had her hands clasped, shivering despite her coat. "Please, Matt?…" she asked.

The others made similar statements, but they came into Matt's ears muffled and mashed like an underwater radio. He stood there glaring at Davis, his jaw locked and his chest ready to burst with helplessness and rage, but the rest of him paralyzed. How had those inept morons won everyone over, even Sora?! How was he alone in his thinking again?! He looked down at Gabumon, the only person who had never failed him. "Gabumon…" he said through strained teeth.

Gabumon looked at the others, then at Davis and the new kids, then gave him a sad look. "They've… they've worked really hard, Matt," he said. "Can't we give them one more chance?"

Matt's eyes throbbed with shock and despair, then squeezed shut with fury. "All right! ALL RIGHT! GOD DAMN IT!" he shouted, then put a clenched hand over his face, looking bitterly defeated. TK put a hand on his other shoulder. Depressing silence fell; though Matt had agreed and peace had returned to the city, it didn't feel like a victory for anybody. Davis, however, had a hard time feeling bad; Matt's sharp-fanged attitude had finally bit him in the rear.

Tentomon finally broke in with a cough. "Um, Izzy, maybe we should go back and hear what else Gennai had to say?" he asked.

"Uh, yes," Izzy agreed. "That sounds like a good idea. Shall we, everyone?"

The Digidestined and their creatures started slowly back towards the Izumi apartment, letting the ravaged port be drowned in flashing police lights.


They filed back into the living room to find Izzy's parents and Gennai still waiting for them. "Sorry, Gennai," Tai apologized, "it was too strong. We had to let it get away."

"The important thing is that you're all safe," Yoshie said.

"Yes," Gennai agreed, "that's incredibly important… However, Kokytomon's discovering your location isn't going to help you; it will surely speed along Dagomon's appearance in your world. You must hurry to the temples."

"We'd love to, but, well…" Davis said, holding Chibomon up, "we kinda ran out of juice."

"Oh, no!" Chibomon gulped, looking back at Davis. "Not just gas, but juice too?!"

"I see…" Gennai said, shaking his head. "Then rest tonight, but leave tomorrow morning. Remember, time is precious."

"OK, we get that," Mimi huffed, "but why can't you—"

Gennai disappeared and the screen went black. "Boy, he doesn't have time to talk anymore, does he?" Palmon asked.

"Why do I feel like we're just being pulled around by our noses?" Gatomon muttered.

"I hope not," Agumon said, rubbing at his nostrils, "that hurts!"

"We'd better pack up and get ready," Tai said, looking at the others. "It's not just Davis and the others going on this trip."

"Yeah…" Joe agreed. "But where should we meet tomorrow? Imperialdramon needs room to take off."

"What about the lot outside the TV station?" Patamon asked. "That's big enough."

"OK, but what do we pack?" Sora asked. "How long will we be gone?"

"I can go really, really fast!" Chibomon boasted. "Like, pshooooo!" He swung his head-tail around to emphasize something nobody could figure out.

"It better be bigger than Izzy's room," Gomamon said. "I know we're squishy, but there're some ways even we're not supposed to bend!"

"Yeah, an' he's pretty big inside, but don't pack a ton," Davis said, glancing at the others. "This ain't no vacation."

Mimi huffed and put her hands on her hips, but didn't retort.

"All right, then," Joe said, picking Gomamon up, "we'd better get home. See you tomorrow."

"So, how many barf bags?" Gomamon asked. "Ten? Thirty? Whole pack?"

Joe shushed his partner and went out the door. With his departure, the rest of the group began to disperse too. Mimi said goodbye and left with Palmon. As Tai and Kari went to the door to get their shoes, Davis approached them. "Hey, uh, thanks for taking Chibomon home yesterday," he said to Kari.

Kari was still pale, but she managed a smile. In spite of everything that had happened since they got home, at least Davis sounded back to normal. "You're welcome," she said. "See you later."

The brother and sister headed out the door with their Digimon. Davis had just stuffed his feet into his shoes when he noticed Yolei's yellow socks standing nearby, along with Hawkmon's talons. He looked up at her and she stared at the wall. "Well, Yolei?" Hawkmon asked, patting her leg with a wing. "Go ahead."

Yolei swallowed, her cheeks turning a little pink. "Thanks for… uh, well…" she mumbled, then grew quiet.

Davis scratched at his head, awkwardly shifting his weight. "Uh… no problem," he said quickly.

Chibomon looked up at his partner, unsure what was going on… but then he looked sadly at Yolei. "Do you still think I'm stupid?" he asked, "like what you said yesterday?"

Yolei's mouth fell open, and she grabbed the little guy away from Davis and squeezed him tightly. "I never really thought that!" she blurted with a smile. "I was… well… you know… I'm sorry!"

Chibomon beamed at her. "I know," he said. "Just making sure."

"Well, good," Davis said, taking the blue ball back. "Awright, we're out. See you tomorrow."

Yolei gave a small wave as Davis opened the door and started out. "Hey, Davis?" Chibomon asked. "How come Yolei smells like you?"

Both kids' faces went from pink bright red, and Davis threw a hand over his partner's mouth. "Ixnay on the ell-smay!" he huffed, quickly scooting out the door.

Yolei looked at her arm and nervously sniffed at it… and then she noticed Sora and Biyomon behind her and put her arm down. "Uh… s-so how's your mom doing?" she asked quickly.

"Oh… uh, she's fine," Sora said, scratching at her head and staring at the same wall Yolei had. "Well, I mean, she will be…"

Yolei hesitated, then turned to her; just like she had with Davis, she had to start rebuilding her bridges. "Can I… come visit her?" she asked.

Sora looked surprised, then smiled a little. "Sure," she agreed. "C'mon."

Matt watched the girls put their shoes on and depart, his arms limp at his shoulders. TK coughed awkwardly. "Matt, how about we go to the store and—" he began, but Matt silently jammed his feet into his shoes and stormed off alone. Gabumon threw a nervous look back at the others, then hurried after his partner.

"Well, you tried," Patamon said.

TK sighed and shook his head. He knew how much his brother was hurting, but he also knew that Cody, Yolei and Davis were worthwhile additions to the team. He could only hope that Matt would come around. "Well… see you tomorrow," he said to Cody and Izzy, then got his shoes and left.

As soon as both Ishida brothers were gone, Upamon gave a frustrated growl. "Boy! How did he get the Crest of Friendship?!" he asked. "He's such a meanie!"

Cody shook his head. "I don't know," he said, a pang of worry in his stomach. He knew he had to work with Matt in the upcoming challenge, and the boy's outbursts today didn't inspire confidence… but he decided not to cement his opinion of the musician just yet. As unpleasant and cold as he was, Matt was still a Digidestined, and there had to be a reason; Cody just had yet to discover it.

"Cody?" Izzy broke in. "Did you want me to walk you home?"

Cody shook himself out of his thoughts. "Oh, uh… thanks, Izzy, but I can get back myself," he said, starting for the door. "Goodnight."

The door closed behind them, and Izzy was alone with Tentomon and his parents. "Well, uh… I guess you heard all that," Tentomon said to the somber adults.

Izzy swallowed and looked a little ashamed. "Mom, Dad, I'm afraid I have to leave town for a while," he began. "You see…"

Yoshie and Masami both shook their heads. "It's all right, Koushiro," Masami said. "We figured as much when the Digimon started appearing again."

"I guess it's kind of your job to deal with them, isn't it…" Yoshie said with a sad smile. "Well, you'd better go and pack."

Izzy managed to smile back. "Come on, Tentomon," he said to his partner as he grabbed his laptop, "we'd better give this a charge."

"That?!" Tentomon asked. "What about food? What's gonna keep ME charged, Izzy?!"

Izzy returned to his room, plugged his laptop into an outlet, found an old backpack and began to gather travel necessities, remembering what he lacked on his previous adventure: a toothbrush, spare socks and underpants, cooking tools and some money. He was about to close the bag when he remembered the poker chip tin and quickly snatched it; it wouldn't do to arrive at the temples with no Crests to recharge. "There," he said, stuffing the container into the bag, "we're set."

"You might be set," Tentomon complained, "but the only storage I've got is my tummy, and it's totally empty!"

Izzy chuckled. "All right, I hear you," he said. "Let's make a nice, big dinner for the both of us."

"Now you're speaking my language!" Tentomon said. "I'll start cracking eggs, and we can make a Kabuterimon-sized omelet!"

Tentomon cheerfully buzzed out of the room. Izzy started to follow, but stopped and looked out his window at the deep blue sky. Between Kokytomon lurking somewhere in the clouds and Matt's almost-mutiny, he knew disaster could strike the team from more than one direction. How much time did they have?