Digimon: The Nail
Part 7
by Christian "Sid" Lang

"When I give the signal, I'll charge in, grab the fox and run for it."
Ruki nods, but frowns.
"You'll wait here. If something happens to me, looks for John."
"But what will you do about those other two?" she asks.
Dieter holds up a grenade, making Ruki gasp.
"It's a flashbang." Dieter assures her.
Looking at Davis, Ruki finally nods.
"OK, look at the wall and cover your eyes." Dieter orders them.
Oh please let this work! Dieter prays and pulls the pin.
Then he throws the grenade into the room and instantly turns away.
He can hear some sounds of confusion, then the grenade explodes with a sharp bang.
"Now!" Dieter shouts and charges into the room.
To his confusion, the man is gone.
But some bats are flwying through a small opening in the ceiling.
The cat screams in terror, holding its eyes.
Dieter runs to the fox, which is now unconscious, and touches it.
The creatures breathing is slow, but the heart is beating wildly.
Just like a wounded animal. Dieter thinks.
Then he places it over his shoulder.
The fox is not too heavy, but Dieter knows he can't run too much with it.
"Got the objective, but they know I'm here!" he shouts.
Then he runs out of the room and to the stairs.

Gatomon hisses madly, trying to get rid of the pulsating lights she sees.
They were under attack, Master may be hurt, and she can't see a thing!
"Phantomon!" she shouts.
Seconds later, the scythe-swinging ghost appears next to her.
"There are intruders! Kill them! All of them!" she hisses.
"As you wish." the Phantomon replies and flies out of the room.
"Bakemon! Sweep the castle!" she hears him order.

"Okay, tell me who we're going to rescue." John demands.
He and the others are running behind Ken, who leads them deeper into the dungeons.
"Other kids. They have landed here a good while ago."
John blinks. Could that boy be talking about the first children sent here?
"Dieter, we'll need one more minute. We've got a new objective."
Then hurry up! I think we insulted the big boss around here!
"We'll meet you outside."
I hope.

One floor above the ground, Dieter meets the first enemies.
He almost falls when he sees who faces them.
Ghosts! his mind screams.
But the trained soldier levels the rifle and pulls the trigger.
The weapon jerks up from the recoil since he is holding it with one hand only.
But it doesn't matter at this range.
Dieter is amazed to see that his bullets seem to hurt the ghosts.
He fires another 3-shot-burst and some ghosts vanish.
But there are still more.
"Davis? Time for your little magic trick!" he yells.
The boy stands next to him and raises his DigiVice.
The ghosts slowly come closer.
"Errr... Davis?" Dieter whispers.
"I don't know! It should work!" Davis hisses.
Cursing, Dieter decides to get rid of the enemies the old-fashioned way.
He shoots and kicks at some closer enemies and continues his descent.

Finally Ken stops at one door and starts to unlock it.
"Incoming!" John yells when he sees a trio of ghosts coming their way.
"Wait!" Ken whispers and puts on his weird goggles again.
"Bakemon! Stop!" the boy shouts, this time sounding like a commander.
John gasps when the ghosts stand still.
"I'm locking in more prisoners. Everything is all right down here." Ken says.
The ghosts blink, then turn around.
Ken sighs when they are out of sight.
"That has bought us time. But it won't last forever." the boy whispers.
He unlocks the door and opens it.
In the dark cell, John can make out the shapes of three children.
They look older than the others. John thinks he remembers the faces from the files.
"Izzy, Mimi and Sora. Right?" he asks and the kids look up.
"No time! Come on out!" Ken urges them.
Cheering, the three children come out of the cell.
"Are there any more?" John asks.
"No. Those were the only ones." Ken tells him.
John sighs and leads the group to the next staircase.

Dieter curses and slowly reloads his rifle.
It is a hard task with the dead weight of the fox on his left shoulder.
But he can't afford to drop her.
He runs over the grassland and checks his back again.
The ghosts are still following them, and some of them are armed with scythes.
With a grunt, Dieter slams the new clip in and readies the rifle.
"Davis! Take Ruki and bring her home!" he shouts before firing.
"No! I'll stay with her!" Ruki shouts back.
Dieter realizes that she is talking about the fox and curses silently.
Then he sees John exit the castle.
He is followed by a whole bunch of children and two Digimon.

"Okay, as soon as I fire, you run around that bunch of ghosts!"
John looks at the kids and sees that they understand.
Ken seems to know that he couldn't fool the ghosts out here so easily.
"No!" a childish voice protests suddenly.
John looks around and sees that Guilmon shakes his big red head.
"We help!" the dino tells him.
Terriermon, who is carried by Lee, also nods.
"No! We should run for it!" Lee tells the small Digimon.
"Trust me." the bunnydog whispers.
"Whatever! But the rest runs!" John barks.
The children nod and start to run.
Lee and Takato look back at them before joining up with Ken and the three others.
"Okay, lemme see what you've got!" John shouts at the Digimon as he raises his rifle.
By now some of the ghosts turn to chase the children running past them.
John takes careful aim and shoots down one of these ghosts.
John jumps when he sees the large fireball fly past him.
It slams into the group of ghosts, destroying 3 at once.
"Petit Twister!"
The tornado that has once been Terriermon flies into another ghost, sending it away.
"Wow." John mutters when he sees the destructive force of these friendly creatures.

The ghosts are now trying to focus on three groups at once.
John can see that they are lacking a clear leader and sees his chance.
He keeps firing, attempting to demoralize them further.
Dieter, Ruki and Davis are inside the forest now.
A lone scythe-swinging ghost is following them.
Dieter smiles when he sees where the ghost is heading at.
He quickly takes out the remote control and triggers it.
The earth under the ghost explodes, leaving only a crater.
"Charge!" he shouts at Guilmon and starts to run.

Dieter falls down to his knees when he reaches the TV set.
Carefully he unloads the fox and checks her condition.
The trip certainly hadn't helped, but the creature is still alive.
Ruki kneels next to him, stroking the golden and white fur.
He can see tears in her eyes and knows that this part of the mission has been a success.
Moments later, six children arrive at the clearing. Takato and Lee are among them.
Dieter recognizes three faces from the files. But the boy in the cape is a stranger.
"Good. Now only John and those two Digimon are missing." Dieter mutters.
The seconds seem to last hours.
But finally the unlikely trio charges onto the clearing.
"Okay, big group hug and HURRY!" he shouts.
Everybody huddles together, making sure nobody remains isolated.
Quickly Davis lifts his DigiVice.
"RETURN!" he shouts.

Once he can see again, Dieter looks around.
John is there, and all children seem to be present, too.
Plus three Digimon. he reminds himself.
"Thank God." he mutters.
"Okay, who's in for seconds?" John asks and smiles.
Dieter just groans. Most children are just lying on the floor, exhausted by this trip.
Takato and Lee are hugging their new friends Guilmon and Terriermon.
Ruki simply strokes the fox's fur.
Dieter joins her and carefully picks the fox up.
Then he places it on the couch, taking care not to squeeze the tail.
"Okay. Listen up everyone. Just find a place to sleep. But don't leave the house!"
The children look up at John and nod.
"Boys can sleep in my apartment." John offers and gestures towards the corridor.
"Make sure nobody can look in through the windows." Dieter advises them.

As expected, the children don't really sleep this night.
They rest themselves, but throughout the night they chat and sometimes cry.
John stays in his apartment, looking after the boys.
Dieter watches Ruki, Mimi and Sora, who look after the poor fox.
In the morning, the fox has still not woken up, but it looks as if it is merely sleeping now.
One by one, the girls visit the bathroom.
Dieter sits on the floor in front of the couch and thinks about last night.
Mimi and Sora are now sitting at the table and talk while Ruki is in the bath.
Just then, Dieter feels the fox stir behind him.
Before he even manages to turn around, a three-fingered paw is at his neck.
Acting too quickly for his reflexes, the fox throws Dieter against the opposing wall.
Mimi and Sora shriek in alarm while the fox checks its surroundings.
Dieter recognizes the typical signs of the Flight-or-fight reflex and stands up.
He raises his arms to show he is unarmed, but the Digimon doesn't seem to care.
It dashes around, looking for an exit, when suddenly Dieter hears a door open next to him.

"Yeah, yeah. I'm coming. Don't rush me." Ruki mumbles.
She has just been finished in the bath when somebody has roughly pounded against the door.
At least that's what it sounded like.
Frowning, Ruki opens the door - and gasps.
The fox, the creature that has somehow called her, is awake and in panic.
Obviously the Digimon is not too happy about company since it dashes towards her, claws flexed.
She hears Dieter shout something next to her, but she doesn't pay him any attention.
Her senses are focused on the fox. She has almost given her sanity to rescue it - her.
And now I'm going to die for this creature?
The left paw grabs her shirt while the right one prepares to strike her down.
Ruki yelps and closes her eyes, waiting for the inevitable.
But the pain never comes.
Instead, Ruki can feel the fox's snout near her face.
She slowly opens her eyes and looks into the fox's eyes.
"R-Ruki?" the creature asks, and Ruki slowly nods.
She doesn't even ask how this creature knows her name.
Before she can say anything, the fox embraces her tightly.
"You have come! It's really you!" the fox cries into her shoulder.

Dieter sighs and slowly sinks to the floor.
It really seems as if these Digimon have waited for a special human to meet.
John now enters the apartment and frowns.
"What happened?" he asks.
"Happy reunion." Dieter sighs and gestures at Ruki and the fox.
"Oh. I just ordered breakfast for all of us." John tells him.
Dieter nods and knows that after breakfast they'd have to ask the kids some questions.
But not now.
For now he simply enjoys the sight of this girl and her Digimon partner.
Digimon partner? Hm. Sounds right somehow...