Chapter 24

A Day in the Digital World: Four

The group of partner digimon so far-

Agumon, Biyomon, Gabumon, Palmon, Patamon, Tentomon, Wormmon, Armadillomon, and Veemon.

The group of nine partner digimon had already been on the road for a few days now. Like in Green Heaven before they had been too late in the Port of Waves. The village chief of Desert Fire, Leomon, possibly the Leomon they knew, had moved on days before they had arrived. Heading for a town at the foot of the distant mountain range called Stone Edge.

"Leomon really gets around doesn't he?" Agumon attempted to bring up a subject they had brought up multiple times since leaving the port. When they had run out of stories of wandering the new Digital World, things had progressed back to constant talks of their mission to pass the time.

"At this point he might be heading to every village in the area." Gabumon glanced to his friend as they considered the possibility.

"I wonder why he's doing this? Why would a village chief leave his town for so long to just travel like this?" Tentomon added his own two cents to the discussion. In all of the towns and city he had come across he had only heard of a few rare cases of a village chief leaving his people, but in those cases it was only for a day, three at most. However, if he had his timing right Leomon had been on the move for a month now. It was strange indeed.

"Yeah, that last village chief wasn't much help in that area. Actually, she wasn't any help at all." Palmon groaned at the memory of being pretty much brushed off in the Port of Waves.

The village chief in the Port of Waves hadn't been able to tell them why Leomon had come to visit her or the village before him. They could tell that the digimon had some idea as to why, but something made her keep it secret. Or it could have just been the fact that they were strangers, not members of the city government, and in her opinion, it was none of their business. All she would tell them was where he had gone and wish them luck.

"Though, if you think about it, none of the village chiefs have been of any real help. None of them have told us anything beyond where Leomon was heading next. No one seems to want to talk about why he had come to see them or what they talked about." Biyomon took a moment to contemplate her claim with a glance towards the distant mountain range before continuing. "It's like they're trying to keep some big secret."

"But they keep pointing us in the right direction..." Tentomon noted, "so at least we can assume that they're not trying to cover it up, just keep it secret."

"It's weird all the same." Agumon added as he glanced towards the back of the group. At the very back, trailing behind and lost in thought was the small blue dino of the ragtag band of digimon. "You've been pretty quiet since we left the Port of Waves, Veemon."

Hearing his name spoken seemed to enough to shake him from his thoughts but not enough to allow him to form an answer.

"Agumon's right," Wormmon chimed in with a concerned look to his friend. "The only time you've really talked is when we stop for the night. Are you okay? You're not feeling sick or dehydrated are you? We could stop for a bit and take a break." He had been waiting for someone to broach the subject of Veemons mood and now that someone had he couldn't stop the questions from coming.

"No..." Veemon stopped walking and looked into the morning sky, thinking carefully about what he was going to say next. "I've just been trying to think..."

"Think about what?" Patamon circled him in the air a few times before landing in the sand a few feet from him beside the other's who had stopped to listen.

"I guess thinking isn't the right term... I think... I think recall would be better to say..." Veemon respond, his eyes still turned to the sky.

"Recall..." A whispered thought ran through the group, questioning it's meaning.

"You mean about what happened with that Moosemon?" Agumon picked up on his meaning quickly. How could he not. Ever since Veemon had told them that he thought he had seen Tai the whole thing had always been on his mind, making it more and more difficult to keep up with their journey. He eventually had to block the thoughts and questions out so that he could keep up his role as pack leader.

"Yeah," Veemon finally brought his vision back down to earth to look at Agumon. "I mean... I was there. He spoke to me and I couldn't do anything... I couldn't talk or ask any questions... I couldn't even tell him it was me... All I could do was lay there uselessly. I couldn't even come out of it with anything that might be useful to us and our search."

"..." The group remained silent as the blue dino vented his feelings.

"Years... Years we've all been searching for answers and they were within our grasp... and I failed..." self-pity sounded strange coming from the usually happy and energetic digimon, but the searching had been rough on them all so they could understand the moments of weakness. "And I just thought that if I concentrated, really concentrated, maybe I'd be able to remember something else."

The idea of encouraging him to try harder, even stopping their journey to concentrate on that fleeting moment, crossed Agumon's mind. He could justify it by saying it was important to their mission, which wasn't a lie, but at the same time he knew the driving force behind that choice was that it involved his partner. He wasn't even sure if the person Veemon had seen was Tai, he wasn't exactly in the clearest of mindsets when he had seen him. It all could have been a hallucination brought on by getting knocked in the head a few too many times. No, he couldn't pull them off their mission for a momentary interaction. He had to do what Tai would do and keep the group moving.

"It's okay Veemon. Obsessing over it won't do anything other than give you a headache, just relax and maybe someday it'll all comeback to you, but for now let's just worry about getting to Stone Edge safely and finding Leomon." Agumon gave him a big toothy grin, trying his best to keep moral high.

"Okay..." Veemon was hesitant to accept his statement so easily since he felt like he was failing Agumon the most. If the situation were reversed and he'd seen Davis back in the Port of Waves, Veemon was pretty sure he'd constantly bug Agumon about it until he got some answers. The drive to reconnect with them was so strong and it only grew with each passing day.

"It looks like we'll reach the village by night fall." Gabumon did his best to help Agumon get everyone back on track. He recognized the need to keep moving forward and respected Agumon for being able to push past the revelation from a few days ago to look after everyone. He was turning out to be as good of a leader and his partner.

"Hopefully they're as welcoming of travelers as the citizen of the Village of Desert Fire were because we could use a good meal and a place to sleep tonight." Biyomon glanced back at the bag strapped to Agumon's back. They had originally filled it and three more like it with food and water before leaving the Port of Waves, but the last couple of days of travel had whittled it down to one sack with only a few meat apples left rolling around in the bottom. She knew they were going to be really hungry by the time they reached the village.

"And the water will be just as pure and cool." Palmon relished at the idea that the village ahead, nestled in the stone of foot hills, would have ponds and streams feed by mountain springs. While tolerable, the water in the Port of Waves had small hints of salt in it due to the proximity to the ocean which ruined the taste for Palmon.

"Maybe." Biyomon chuckled at the wishful look on the plant digimons face. They really needed to stop crossing this desert before it fried her brain.

In the shack, hidden deep within the woods that skirted the Dark Area, the cloaked figure sat at their kitchen table. On their left a laptop quietly hummed along, waiting for its owner to return to working on whatever they had stop a few minutes ago, and on the right was an open cell phone. Their eyes were transfixed on the tiny screen as they contemplated making a call; a very specific call.

"Nothing's happened recently... but they did go to see Lady Ophanimon today... I wonder why?" The figure questioned themselves, maybe thinking it would help them think of an answer.

It would appear they weren't aware of what had happened in Odiaba the day before...or maybe they didn't see a connection between it and their sudden visit to the digital angel.

"Hmmm..."With a sad sigh they seemed to have given up on the call and erased the number in the display before powering it down and setting it aside. For a moment they contemplated returning to the laptop, but decided against it as well and instead stood up from the table and walked out the front door.

Outside, they were greeted by the last few rays of the setting sun as it crested the distant mountain range. Following the fleeting light they made their way through the woods and after a minute found themselves standing at the edge of a cliff overlooking a forest and river below. Leaning up against one of the trees near the edge they let out a tired sigh and slide down it until they were seated on the grass, leisurely watching the sun set, possibly letting some of their tension and concern ease with the act and the dying light.

After about ten minutes the sun sank beneath the mountains and they were left in the lingering orange and purple light of twilight. Without the sun to concentrate on anymore they reached into their cloak and removed a small LED flashlight/lantern and set it down beside them before going back in and pulling out a small glossy piece of paper. They stared at the paper for a few minutes before whispering, "Good night," and tucking it back into their cloak pocket.

Getting back onto their feet and flipping the lantern on they turned from the cliff and began making their way back through the woods, guided back to their small home by the ghostly light of lantern.

"Finally...!" A collective happy, but exhausted sigh, rose up from the pack of partner digimon upon reaching the village entrance.

The village sign, an old style Shinto archway carved out of a red tinted stone, hung high over their heads and predominately displayed the settlements name, STONE EDGE. Beyond it a pathway of hewn tan stone slabs ran down a small hill and feed into a village of grey granite buildings covered in rich green vines and moss. There were no seams or joints visible on any of the buildings, suggesting that each of them might have been carved out of a singular larger stone. There was also the possibility that the digimon that lived there might have chiseled out a large section of the foot of the mountain to build their homes.

"I wonder where we should start...?" Patamon couldn't decided what he or anyone else should do. They had come across a lot of villages in their travels over the years, but despite that they felt awkward every time they entered them. They were treated nicely in most villages and no one ever really bothered them, however, it wasn't until they stepped into them that they noticed how weird the Digital World around them felt. While out in the wilds of the world everything seemed like how it once was, but entering a place like this quickly reminded them of how much everything had changed... and how out of place they felt...

"Let's start out by looking for Leomon right away. He might actually still be here this time." Already Agumon felt disheartened with their chances, which was reflected in his words despite his best efforts to sound positive.

"I guess that means we need to figure out which of buildings is the town hall." Gabumon had already been trying to locate a structure that stood out, which was proving very difficult since each building looked like the one beside it. Each home was cut uniformly in height and shape with the only differences being in the size of the doors and windows, probably to accommodate the different sizes of the digimon dwelling within.

"How about Biyomon and I give the city a fly over and see if we can find anything." Tentomon quickly figured out that they weren't going to get much of a view from the top of the hill and volunteered the fliers to get an aerial view.

"Good idea. While you do that we'll see if we can find someone to ask in town." Normally Agumon would have run up to the first digimon they came across and asked them, but arriving in the middle of the night made that difficult. In most villages one would be able to find a few digimon wondering around at night, either those that were nocturnal in nature or part of the night patrols, but here the streets were empty. The only sign of life in the village were the burning torches hanging on posts lining the road, casting off flickering light on the brown stones below.

Tentomon and Biyomon eventually took off into the air while the others walked the empty streets, looking for any sign of life stirring either in the streets or one of the homes. As fifteen passed without any results or sign of the digimon citizens they began considering knocking on one of the doors, hoping that whatever digimon answered wasn't angry about being woken up in the dead of night.

"Let's pick one of the smaller doors..." Armadillomon suggested with the hope that if they did make the occupant angry that at least if they were smaller like them they'd be more civil and less likely to violence.

"Yeah..." Agumon had to agree and his eyes eventually landed on one a block down from them with a red wooden door that was only about twice their size. "That one should work."

It was a short quiet walk to the door where Agumon knocked on it twice with one of his claws. The door let out dull thuds with each gentle impact and then they waited to see who would answer. On the other side of the door no sound arose or light turned on, they were just left on the walkway in silence. After a minute with no response the group turned to Agumon and waited for him to make the next move.

"Maybe they didn't hear you?" Gabumon suggested, knowing that his friend would understand to try again.

"Right." Agumon nodded in agreement as he raised his hand back up to the door. This time he knocked harder and even called out. "We're sorry to wake you but we've traveled a long way and we're new to your village and hoped that you could help us."

Again no response came and Agumon prepared to knock for a third time, but before he could the door jiggled slightly and the lock turned. "Finally~" Palmon sighed in relief as the door began to pull open.

"VEEMON!" A sudden cry arose from the group at the sight of blue digimon standing on the other side of the door. The first thought that crossed their minds was how had he gotten inside the house, but the second one was that it was most likely just another Veemon. To check their conclusion they turned to the back where the rambunctious digimon had been standing with Wormmon, only to find he was gone to the surprise of the little insect digimon.

"Uh, guys..." Veemon called their attention back to him in the doorway.

"Veemon! You can't just go into other digimons homes like that!" After realizing that the Veemon in the house was in fact their friend, Armadillomon was quick to chastise him for what he had done.

"How did you even get in there?" Palmon added while at the same time wondering when he had snuck off.

"Hold on." Veemon defensively lifted his hands hoping to stop the reprimands and get a word in edgewise. "You all need to see this..."

Veemon stepped back into the house and pulled the door open all the way. If his words hadn't sent a chill through the group yet the sight inside the residence did the trick. Upon entering the house the most obvious thing was the gaping hole in the back wall which moonlight leaked into the home, bathing the room with a pale blue light.

"PEPPER BREATH" Agumon barked as he sent a ball of flame into the fire place, igniting the wooden logs and filling the room with light.

Shadows arose on the walls as the dancing light of the fire crawled across overturned furniture and broken chunks of wall. Food had been spilled on the floor with no attempt to clean it up while other bits had been crush and smear beneath feet. Something bad, a struggle maybe, had occurred in this home; and it gave the partner digimon a sinking feeling.

"Since no one was answering I thought I'd take a look around back and see if I could see anything... and then I found this..." Veemon pointed to the gaping hole, unsure of what else to say about his find.

"There's no one upstairs!" Palmon seemed concerned about her discovery. The moment she had seem the damage to the house she had instantly shot up the stairs to check on the homes occupants. "There's also a large hole in one of the rooms up there, but other than that the other rooms are untouched."

"There's a hole in this house as well." Gabumon's voice came from somewhere back outside in the night.

Ducking their heads out through the hole they found the partner digimon two houses down staring up at another gaping hole that feed into a home.

"Same thing over here." Armadillomon's voice came from the opposite direction of Gabumons.

Since their first step into the village a worrisome feeling had been slowly creeping over them and for a while they had been able to ignore it, calling it anxiety over their normal concerns when entering a village. Now, the feeling was impossible to ignore. They had now been swallowed by it. The empty streets and noiseless night now fueled their fears and made every shadow appear as a deadly apparition.

"You don't think every homes like this... I mean there's no way that everyone's gone..." Palmon trembled at the idea of having wandered into a ghost town... a recently made one at that.

"I think so... It would explain why we haven't seen anybody yet..." Patamon didn't like thinking about it either. An empty city or town wasn't a strange occurrence to them, they had run into plenty during their lifetime, but that was in the Digital World before they had fallen asleep. In the world they had awoken to an empty village was very strange and a reason to be concerned.

"Do you think it was always like this? Like back when we were traveling with the children?" Gabumon wasn't one to panic, so he was trying his best to rationalize what was happening because he knew if that wasn't the case they had just walked into a very dangerous situation.

"I don't think so... The food in the house is still fresh and someone was taking care of these homes." Patamon floated near the hole making observations about the mess that lay scattered about the floor. The food on the floor, which he assumed had been on the table, a meal maybe, before something came crashing through the wall and threw the table, was still fresh. While it was fresh it had been cold to the touch, meaning it hadn't been spilled recently. Besides from the area around the hole the house was in pretty good shape. Things had obviously been dusted and polished carefully; there were even signs that furniture and objects had been repaired in the past; but been made meaningless now.

"Something must have been attacked in their homes." Agumon tried not to imagine how terrifying it must have been for the residences of the house to have some large digimon burst into their home as they were sitting down to eat. It must have been horrible to be cornered with nowhere to go as the enemy crept towards them and... and did what? "How did this end? Were they killed?" He didn't want to think about the worse outcome, but this world wasn't as gentle as it once was.

"I hope not? What could be so horrible as to do that?" Patamon felt his stomach turn at the idea. It was a feeling shared by all the group.

"...web..." Wormmon's quiet voice cut into the tension, drawing all eyes to him.

"What?" A few voiced in hopes that he would speak again.

"Over here." Wormmon nicked his head towards some white fabric billowing from a broken segment of wall in front of him. "It's spider web. I'm sure of it."

"How'd that get there?" Agumon questioned. The piece slowly shifting in the night breeze didn't look like the normal webs they saw, spun by spiders they never saw, no this was of a much bigger and thicker quality. This piece had been torn from a much bigger part.

"Could it have been-?" Wormmon was formulating some kind of hypothesis before being cut off by a call from above.

"We finally found you!" Biyomon came swooping down from above and came to a rest on the building ledge over the group. Beside her Tentomon set down as well, a little out of breath and obviously a bit anxious. "We have a problem!"

"Yeah, we know." Gabumon responded directing their eyes towards the holes in the buildings.

"You don't know the half of it." Tentomon saw the hole but didn't react with the same concern and shock as they had. No, he seemed much more worried about something else. "You all need to follow us and see this for yourselves."

The ten minutes it took to walk along the dark streets to where ever the two fliers was a stress filled endeavor. Each shadow seemed to morph into enemies and every sound the deadly groan of some horrific creature sneaking up on them. It was times like these that the partner digimon felt their limitation. Without their human partners they couldn't digivolve beyond their rookie forms, which allowed them to easily deal with other rookie threats and even champions though the use of their teamwork and combat experience, they were often left helpless against ultimates and megas; even groups of champions. The best strategy they found for deal with those two levels was to avoid angering them or just staying clear of the meaner looking ones.

Eventually Biyomon and Tentomon lead them to a building with a set of winding stone stairs that lead three stories up to a square rooftop. In one of the corners a hole around the size of the one they had found earlier had been punch into the roof and the furniture inside had been scattered about, but this apparently wasn't what they had brought them to see. The two quickly dropped the rooftop and signaled for the others to quickly cross it, but to keep low at the same time.

Unsure of what they'd find when they reached the raised lip of the building they slinked across the cold surface, keeping each foot fall to a hushed thud so as to remain silent and stealthy so not to give whatever awaited them a hint of their presence. Their backs pressed up against the cool stone of the small wall they began to raise up their heads, peeking over and coming to understand Biyomon and Tentomon's concern.

Across the road in front of the building a small courtyard ran up to a stone castle carved into the side of the mountain. Well, it was more like the front of a castle since the other four walls were either buried beneath the mountain or had never been crafted to begin with. The walls of the keep ran up twice the height of the tallest building in the village with wide windows without glass and a large door of meticulously chiseled patterns left fully open. However, none of the amazing craftsmanship and effort that went into its creation stood out compared to the thick layers of white webbing that covered it. Web stretched from multiple attachments across the structure and down to the ground and surrounding homes while over parts had been wrapped up, as if placed inside cocoons and waiting to hatch someday. Each window had also been filled with the thickest of webbing, preventing anyone from seeing inside to what horrors might await.

"It's more of that spider web..." Agumon tried not to let the sight shake his confidence, but something about the cocooned castle filled everyone with dread. As if something horrible awaited within, wanting to gobble down any who foolishly entered.

Before anymore could be said on the subject Patamon let out a self muffled yelp of, "Over there!"

It took the group a moment to notice the black mass of fur and legs crawling through the shadows of the street. In the silence of the city they could hear its many legs clattering across the stone pathway, scratching and cracking rocks as it hastily made its way along.

"Dokugumon..." Gabumon growled when it came into reach of the light of the torches. They had had a few encounters with the large spider digimon in the past, none of them good, and this time didn't appear like it was going to be any different. Dokugumon weren't what one would call smart, but they were deviously tricky, with their stick and poisons webs, and vicious natures. They were the rare digimon in the Digital World that would feed on other digimon if given the chance.

"There's more of them." Biyomon pointed a pink wing up the mountain side where others were skittering about, crawling down through a hole in the roof and disappearing into the castle only to have others slip out of the front gate and silently creep back into the village under the cover of night.

"What are they all doing here? And why are there so many of them?" Eventually the chilling senstation crawling over Palmon's body grew too great, forcing her to ask her question in an attempt to distract herself.

"It's a nest." Instantly all eyes were on Wormmon after his proclamation. "I know insect digimon. And that is most definitely a spiders nest."

"Look! On its back!" Gabumon had expected the first thing out of his mouth to have been a question about the nest, but that idea quickly vanished when the first Dokugumon that had spotted crawled right past their building.

Two balls of webbing, more like cocoons of the sticky substance, sat attached to the back of the spider digimons abdomen. At first sight one would believe that it was some that had just managed to stick to it by accident, but upon further inspection darker shapes could be seen mixed within the white webs.

Palmon squinted her eyes and got closer to the edge, anything to get a little better look at the sacks. "Are those digimon in there?"

"Looks like it... They're probably some of the digimon that live in this village." Tentomon logically looked at the facts and came to only one conclusion. "The Dokugumon must be grabbing everyone in the village..." Before he finished his statement he watched as the spider digimon turn and entered stone fort, vanishing into the dark corridor, "...and brining them here. At least it seems that way."

Having seen enough the partner digimon snuck away from the rooftop and found refuge in a building a distance away. One that was far enough that they shouldn't have to fear being discovered by a passing enemy while not being too far from the enemy base.

"So what do we do?" Biyomon questioned the group once they were settled in and the door was closed and secured. Locking the door might not do them much good since the Dokugumon were bursting through walls apparently, but doing it brought a mild sense of comfort.

"We help the captured digimon of course!" Veemon was quick to volunteer with excitement and a bit too much volume considering they were supposed to be in hiding.

"It's not that simple Veemon." Tentomon didn't like it, but he knew someone had to be the voice of reason in all of this. "We have no idea what's inside the nest or how many Dokugumon there are. We'd be walking in completely blind. Besides, we can't even be sure that they're in fact being stored in there. For all we know they might not be keeping them alive once they take them inside."

"Let's hope that's not the case. They did go through all of the trouble of capturing them alive and transporting them to the nest, so they're probably not doing anything to them right away." Agumon wanted to dispel that kind of thinking right away. He could see that this situation was already scary enough without thinking about a innocent digimon massacre.

"Good point... but a rescue might still be difficult... if not impossible..." Gabumon hated how cowardly those words felt as they left his mouth, but he also knew he wasn't alone in that thinking. They were all afraid, and for good reason. Cut off from their partners there was no digivolving or armoring up, no, there was just them in their rookie forms and a whole bunch of hostile Dokugumon. That fact was already bad enough, but when one factored in the fact that they were most likely outnumber and the Dokugumon had the home field advantage, everything was against them.

"That might be true..." Agumon paused for a second to look over the faces gathered around him in the shadows of the house, "...but we also know none of us are capable of just walking away and abandoning whatever digimon are trapped inside."

Despite all of their talk, dancing around the words of escape or live to fight another day, none of them ever had any intention of walking away from those in need. They were all heroes and heroines, each and every one of them, so even if it was impossible they'd rather go down trying than running away. They weren't going to let this new Digital World scare or change them. They would maintain the honor and strength they gained in the past and the powers that be willing save some innocent digimon in the process.

"Okay!" The group nodded in agreement, trying to psych themselves up for one dangerous and terrifying mission.

"Now to figure out how we're going to get inside without being seen." Wormmon knew none of them was thinking of a direct assault, that was suicide. " Dokugumon have poor vision, especially at night, but thanks to their compound eyes they don't have any blind spots. They mostly see by feeling, especially when something touches their webs. We might be able to sneak past them if we stick to the shadows and don't get to close to them."

Wormmon was proving to be a good resource of insect digimon related information. Maybe he had taken an interest in other digimon like him at some point or maybe it had something with him being a silk spinning digimon himself. Either way, his information was invaluable.

"They're also not that bright, so sneaking past them shouldn't be too difficult." Tentomon laughed. Dokugumon in most cases were digimon driven by animal, or insect, instinct, meaning that while they were vicious and strong they could be tricked easily by a crafty digimon.

Whatever planning might have gone on beyond that would remain incomplete for a while when a sudden impact rocked the house. Before they even knew what happened a second impact fractured the back wall and a third one blew it into the room.

Blinded by debris and stone dust the digimon tired their best to sort out what had happened. "What happened? Did they find us?" One of them shouted to the others through the cloud cover.

Agumon's mind raced for some answer, some plan to offer his team that would allow them to fend off the Dokugumon that was probably at the hole in the wall ready to pounce on them when it could see them. However, before something could come to him a fourth hit rocked the building and sent him stumbling forward and out of the debris cloud.

Once his vision was no longer obscured by the dust he came face to face with the eight red compound eyes of a Dokugumon. His body grinded to a halt for only a second before his fighting instincts kicked in and his lungs began to fill with hot flames in preparation for his Pepper Breath attack. However, the few seconds it took for him to prepared was enough time for him to make an important observation. The Dokugumon, while angrily clicking is mandibles and scarping it's hairy feet against the stone was being pressed into the floor.

Tracking his eyes up he spotted a long, strong looking, light brown arm pinning the spider to the ground while another extended a feet few over his head held another Dokugumon against the wall. Letting the flames die in his lungs Agumon watched as the muscles in the arms bulged and applied more pressure on the enemies, eliciting loud cracks as the insect digimon's exoskeletons shattered under the increased force. With mirrored painful spasms the two Dokugumon stopped moving and a moment afterward they burst into data and fractal code. The arms then pulled back out of the building as the fractal code grew dimmer and vanished with no one to scan it or caring to absorb it.

Having been so lost in awe of the strange development Agumon hadn't noticed that the other partner digimon had stepped in beside him and been witness to the same event, only becoming aware of them after Veemon spoke up. "Wow! That was lucky... I think...?"

Ignoring Veemon's comment Agumon stepped closer to the hole and tried to see what digimon had killed the two Dokugumon so easily. Moving a bit more to the side he finally spotted a tall shadow silhouetted against the moon light. It's legs and feet were hidden behind what still remained of the houses back wall, but what he could see was a thin waist, a thicker chest, the long powerful arms from before, and a head adorned with two long twitching bunny ears.

Agumon thought about whether calling out to the large digimon was a good idea for a few seconds. For all he knew the digimon was another enemy with their own reason for wanting the Dokugumon dead, and had coincidently just happened to have come across their hiding spot during the fighting. They might not have even been aware that they were hiding in there. The debris cloud had been thick and the scare reactions of the spider digimon possibly loud enough to obscure their voices and movements from someone outside the building.

However, another thought crossed his mind, one that if it was true they had just gained an advantage in the horrible situation they faced. So gathering his courage he called out, "Hello...?"

The digimon made no sign that it had heard him and instead just continued to stare out over the buildings.

"Hello?" Agumon tried again, this time a bit louder and closer.

"Quiet... I heard you the first time." A hushed, but harsh, feminine voice leaked forth from the lips of the digimon. "I'm listening for more of them."

The partner digimon glanced at each other at that declaration. While it wasn't the friendliest of responses it at least suggested that they were enemies of the Dokugumon and considering they were looking for more it was better to let them finish. A full minute passed in silence until the larger digimons frame relaxed and turned back towards the hole and the digimon within.

"I don't hear any of them coming to investigate. They must think it was more of their kind attacking another house." The voice while relieved, sounded angry and worried beneath its tone. "Are you nine really all that managed to escape capture?"

"We don't know." Agumon was quick to speak on the behalf of his group. "We don't live here."

"What?" The digimon sounded surprised at that news.

"We just arrived a short time ago and found the village overrun with Dokugumon." Gabumon took a spot beside Agumon so that they could present a united front to the digimon.

"Besides from you we haven't seen any other digimon but the Dokugumon and some digimon they carried into their nest." Biyomon landed on the other side of Agumon so she could see who they were talking to.

"Yet more unfortunate news for all of us. But having found you nine might be a bit of luck on such a ill-fated night. " The digimon took and knee and leaned forward, brining it's head in through the hole to get a good look at the group. "The names Antylamon, the village chief of Stone Edge."

"We have some things to discuss..."

To be continued...