Hello! Oh God, where has the year gone? I am SOOOO sorry that I have failed to update in all that time. But hey! Bright side! Today marks 15 years of Digimon (anime) from 1999-2014! YAY! And you know what that's always meant! SUPER MASSIVE DIGIMON FAN FIC UPDATE! So I hope you can forgive me for the year long hiatus and enjoy new chapters for Ultimate Gathering, Parent Worries, and Drowning Memories! Ok, enough of that, you've waited a YEAR, so go ahead and read! Enjoy and review!

I DO NOT OWN DIGIMON ADVENTURE, 02, TAMERS, FRONTIER OR ANY IT'S CHARACTERS!


Chapter 48: Getting In Motion

The Digital World: Location: Seidou Temple

Matt sighed as he set down the loaded food tray by the kitchen sink and began to do the dishes. The mood at the temple had dimmed greatly after the fight with the Scavengers. While Matt was glad that they'd found a couple more of the others, he wasn't quite sure how he felt about being with Koichi without TK or Koji around. The kid kinda creeped him out, if he were to be honest. Sure, he liked Koichi better than he did Koji, but there was something unsettling about the Warrior DigiDestined of Darkness. What he'd been able to do to get Boogeymon to Digivolve…

"Are you worried?"

Matt looked up and saw Cody standing in the doorway.

"About what?" he asked.

"I know that look," Cody huffed, walking in and began drying the dishes Matt had washed. "TK gets it whenever anything concerning the forces of darkness come up. I have to admit though… to be able to trigger a DigiVolution like that… and for it to result in something so… sinister looking…"

"Yeah. NeoDevimon," Matt mused. "Can't say I'm fond of any Digimon with Devimon, in it's name. They usually never mean anything good."

"I think he scared Ai," Cody said softly. "She hasn't said a word since her partner reverted back into Yaamon."

Matt nodded. "And Mako?"

"He thinks it was cool," Cody shrugged. "Both Yaamon and Koichi are still asleep though, so Babamon and Jijimon are trying to keep Ai and Mako preoccupied."

Matt nodded again.

"…So what are we going to do now?" Cody asked.

"Honestly? I don't know," Matt sighed. "We should be looking for the others, but where do we even start to look? More Digimon are making their way here, though, so maybe some of the others will show up if we wait long enough."

"I suppose," Cody nodded. "Besides… the Digimon here could use our help and protection. If they keep gathering here, then it'll attract the attention of Kushyamon's forces."

"Who says it hasn't already?" Matt scowled. "Those Scavengers followed your refugee group here. We don't know how they operated. Destroying them the way we did… who says that the enemy isn't aware of our presence here now because those Scavengers won't report back? We don't know how Kushyamon and the Zaigou keep tabs on them."

"You're right, of course," Cody sighed. "But still… do we stay? Or do we all leave and go somewhere safer?"

"Kid, there's no such thing as a safe place anymore."

Matt and Cody looked up as Babamon entered the kitchen with another tray of dirty dishes.

"This place is just as safe than any other, except for perhaps one of tha Four Lord's Cities, but now that Shinrin has fallen… maybe they can't be considered safe anymore. We live in a world that is ever shrinkin'. Kushyamon's reach stretches far these days. Tha best we can do is hold out here until we're forced ta move elsewhere."

"So you're all going to stay?" Cody asked.

"What else can we do?" Babamon shrugged. "There are still refugees trickling in every couple of hours and many here aren't fighters. Most of these Digimon are peaceful folk. But I'll tell ya what. This temple is not without its defenses, and Jijimon and I still have some fight left in us. If you DigiDestined want to leave, I suggest you and any Digimon here that want to fight in the rebel army take the underground tunnels northwest and get to Himizu City. It's the closest relatively safe location I know of and if none of your friends are there, I'm sure Lord Genbumon could point ya in tha right direction."

"We can't just leave you all here," Cody protested. "What if more Scavengers show up?"

"Then Jijimon and I'll deal with 'em," Babamon said, stamping the end of her broom on the floor.

"How about this," Matt said, holding his hands up in a placating gesture. "We remain here for a few more days and as soon as the income of refugees decreases or stops altogether, we all leave as a group and head to Himizu together. There is strength in numbers and with enemy territory to the south, and ravaged land to our east, I doubt that there will be many more refugees left to make it here alive."

Babamon pursed her lips. "Make it a week and you have a deal."

Matt nodded, not sure if they could afford to wait a whole week, but if that's what it took to get every Digimon left in this place to move to a more fortified location, then that's the way it had to be.

Meanwhile, in the main room/hall of the temple, Ai and Mako were busy helping Jijimon and Gabumon tend to the injured Digimon. Ai was in charge of emptying and refilling the fresh water buckets, and Mako was tasked with making sure Jijimon had charged healing crystals available. Gabumon himself was making sure everyone was comfortable and let Jijimon know if any of them were in any pain. In the corner of the large room, Koichi and Yaamon were still passed out, sleeping off the fatigue brought on by the Scavenger attack.

Mako was just finishing up restocking Jijimon's crystal supply when he noticed how sad his sister looked. He went over to her and tugged on her sleeve.

"Ai? Are you ok?"

Ai looked up from the bucket she was emptying and shook her head.

"What's wrong?"

"Impmon… he was scary," Ai whispered.

"What?" Mako frowned.

"When he's Boogeymon and NeoDevimon… he scares me," Ai shivered. "I know he'll always be Impmon, but… he just looks so mean…"

"I think he looks cool," Mako pouted. "He beat the bad Digimon."

"I know…" Ai said, hugging herself, "But he still scares me."

Mako frowned, tilting his head. He didn't understand.

"But Impmon is a good guy. Good guys aren't scary."

Ai huffed, shaking her head. "Stupid," she muttered before refilling the bucket and took it over to Gabumon and an injured Warumonzaemon.

"Girls are weird," Mako pouted, watching his big sister.

He looked around and noticed that the Koichi guy was moving. He glanced over at Jijimon and saw that he still had enough of those magic crystals, so he went over to join the older boy.

"Are you ok?" Mako asked.

The older boy blinked sleepily up at Mako, smiling slightly when he saw him.

"I'm fine. A bit tired still, but fine."

"Good," Mako nodded before plopping down next to him.

Koichi chuckled in amusement before yawning. Damn, that energy transfer thing was a lot more draining than he'd thought it'd be. Was this how TK or Tai felt after sharing their energies with him and Takuya?

He looked around and spotted Ai and Gabumon a little ways away. He noticed how subdued the little girl looked and frowned.

"Is your sister ok?" he asked.

"She thinks Impmon is scary," Mako pouted, resting his chin on his raised knees.

"When he became NeoDevimon?" Koichi asked.

"Yeah. And when he's Boogeymon. She say they look mean."

Koichi hummed, leaning back against the wall behind them for support, considering what Mako had told him.

"They can look intimidating," Koichi mused.

"What's that mean?" Mako asked.

"It means that Boogeymon and NeoDevimon look tough and sometimes scary. They look like Digimon you don't want to get mad."

Mako nodded. "And that scares Ai?"

"I believe so. They aren't cute and cuddly like Yaamon or Impmon."

"But he is strong and beats the bad guys," Mako said. "Impmon's good."

"I know that, you know that, and our friends know that," Koichi smiled. "But because he's so tough looking others might not agree. It's not easy when you look like the bad guy."

"But Impmon's good!" Mako protested. "Ai's just being silly.

"I know, Mako," Koichi sighed. "I know."

Oh, how do you explain to a four year old that everyone sees things differently?

"Oh good. You're awake."

Koichi looked up and saw Cody and Matt coming over to join them.

"How are you feeling?" Cody asked.

"Tired," Koichi huffed. "That took more out of me than I thought. I'm used to being on the receiving end of energy transfers, not the giving."

"I can imagine," Matt muttered.

Koichi blinked up at the older teen in confusion.

Cody shot Matt a disapproving glare, but it went ignored.

"So what's going on?" Koichi asked, looking between the two.

"Right now, nothing," Matt sighed, taking a seat opposite Koichi, Cody sitting to the side between them forming a kind of semi-circle. "Just a lot of recovering from the Scavenger attack. We're going to stick around for a few more days though, before moving on to Himizu City."

"Babamon said a week," Cody frowned.

"Do you really think we're going to be able to stay here that long?" Matt asked. "The enemy likely knows that this temple is here and that it is a sanctuary. I don't mean to be Johnny Rain Cloud here, but I don't think we have that long before another attack."

"He's right," Koichi sighed. "Kushyamon's forces are on the move. With how quickly and effectively they took out the Eastern seaboard, this little temple doesn't stand a chance. We'll be lucky if Scavengers are the only things they send in at first. If we keep fending off attacks here, they'll send in larger forces to neutralize the threat."

Mako frowned, looking back and forth between the older boys as they continued talking, knowing that what they were saying was serious, but it all just went over his head. He did understand that they could be in danger if they stayed here, however. He looked down at Yaamon and petted his head.

"But you'll keep us safe, right Impmon?" Mako whispered. "You're the good guy and good guys always win."


The Digital World: Location: Shinrin City Palace

When Tai, Takuya and Mai woke the next morning, Renemon was there to inform them that Seiryuumon would be ready to see them this morning. After a quick refresher and breakfast, the trio and their Digimon companions made their way to the throne room where Seiryuumon was finishing up a conversation with a Knightmon whom she dismissed before they got into hearing range. Not even Takuya with his enhanced hearing had been able to pick up the tail end of the conversation.

"It is good to see you well," Seiryuumon said, addressing Takuya specifically. "Are you well enough for travel?"

Tai and Mai both glanced over Takuya, worried about his condition, but Takuya himself nodded.

"Travel, yes. Fighting? Maybe not so much," Takuya sighed.

"I'd prefer it if you rested a few more days before traveling," Mai scowled.

"We could always carry him," SilverEmbermon grinned, nudging Salandermon who nodded, his own expression more composed, but amused all the same.

Takuya made a face at that, making Tai laugh and Mai huff, rolling her eyes.

"Take the ride or wait a few more days, Takuya," Mai said, putting her foot down.

"Fine," Takuya huffed. "I'll let your oversized Digimon friends carry me. I seriously doubt we have time to sit around and wait for a few days. Where are we going?"

"To Netsusa," Seiryuumon said, her own smile ghosting at the corners of her lips. "Lord Suzakumon is expecting us. I'm evacuating the rest of the city and it's troops and we're heading south to join with his forces. I've been informed that the DigiDestined, Henry and Yolei and their partners are already there and will be waiting for you."

"Netsusa? Do you know where any of the others are?" Tai asked.

"Jervmon has scattered your friends well across the continent with his teleportation abilities," Seiryuumon said. "Though many are unaccounted for, I have heard that two are in Himizu with Lord Genbumon, and that there are now four in Sekizou with Lord Byakkomon. Forgive me, but do not know who. All my information comes second hand from Suzakumon. He's the only one of the other three Lords that I am able to communicate with at the moment."

They nodded in understanding.

"So that's eight accounted for," Tai nodded.

"And twenty that are who knows where," Takuya sighed.

"Eighteen unaccounted for," Mai corrected. "We know that Ryo was taken by Garbamon and he told us that Netamashiimon had taken Davis."

"Right," Takuya frowned.

SilverEmbermon growled at the mention of the Digimon that had taken his slot in the Zaigou lineup.

"When do we leave?" Tai asked.

"We're setting out tonight under the cover of darkness," Seiryuumon said. "The B and C-Class Jetakumon will carry those unable to fly out of the city, the D-Class Jetakumon will act as a guard to those that can, and the A-Class Jetakumon will fly ahead and behind to cover our evacuation. It'll be a long flight, but not as long as it would take if we all went on foot, like you did on your way here."

"That's true," Takuya agreed before grinning at his companions. "Looks like I won't need that ride from you two after all."

"We can still carry you onto the Jetakumon," SilverEmbermon smirked.

"And off," Salandermon added.

Tai and Agumon snickered.

"Traitors," Takuya scowled at them.

"Children," Mai huffed.


The Digital World: Location: The Guest Room in the Zaigou Lair

Ryo waited impatiently in his and Davis' guest room in the Zaigou's base. Garbamon had been kind enough to inform him what had happened before he'd woken up. He and Davis and their Digimon partners had been fighting a squadron of Digimon sent by Millenniummon to attack them while they were trying to navigate through Netsusa's desert. One of the enemy Digimon had used a spore attack that manipulated them into attacking their allies and confused them as to who their true enemies were. And if that weren't bad enough it turns out that Millenniummon had managed to find and recruit his own teams of DigiDestined to fight them.

Garbamon and his little brother, Netamashiimon had shown up just in time to save Ryo and Davis from the enemy and brought them back to their base. The Zaigou were a group of powerful Digimon that served Kushyamon, one of the Five Lords of the Digital World, and were trying to fend off the misguided DigiDestined Millenniummon had manipulated into working for him under the ruse that they were working for the Digimon Sovereign. According to Garbamon, Millenniummon's manipulations ran so deep that the other Four Lords and most of the civilian Digimon believed them to be the enemy and had sided with the wrong force and now the Digital World was in the middle of a civil war.

Unfortunately during their latest encounter with Millenniummon's forces, Davis had been hit with a very potent dosage of the spore attack and was still confused. Garbamon was doing his best to heal him, but Ryo wondered how badly his friend had been affected. Veemon and Hopmon were still recovering from their battle wounds too in the infirmary, so Ryo was all alone waiting for some bit of news on his friends.

KNOCK! KNOCK!

"Can I come in?"

Garbamon.

"Yes," Ryo said, jumping to his feet as he watched the neat and collected Digimon man enter the room.

"You'll be happy to know that Veemon and Hopmon have recovered. My brother will be checking them over one last time before sending them here," Garbamon announced.

Ryo let out a breath of relief. "And Davis?"

"Unfortunately," Garbamon sighed, with a grimace, "your friend is still struggling against the effects of the spore. I'm doing my best, but it's going to be a while yet before he can make a full recovery. I hope to break through to him soon, however, so don't despair. I think he's just started to see through the lies planted by the spores."

Ryo nodded. "Thank you for letting me know."

"I hope I can give you better news soon," Garbamon smiled sympathetically before leaving Ryo along once again.

Ryo huffed, running a hand agitatedly through his hair. Davis had always been a stubborn one. He supposed that though weakened, a confused Davis would be no different. He could only hope, at least for Veemon's sake, that Davis would snap out of it soon.

The Digital World: Location: Zaigou Lair's Lab

Netamashiimon huffed in frustration as he tried once again to alter Davis' memories. The DigiDestined was so stubborn and had a strong will, making it hard for the little Zaigou to do what he wanted. Ryo's mind had been so easy to alter, and the implanted idea of Millenniummon as the enemy had taken root so easily.

"Damn it!" Netamashiimon huffed.

"Need a hand?"

"Shut up!"

Garbamon chuckled as he approached the table where the DigiDestined of Miracles lay.

"How are Veemon and Hopmon?"

"Done," Netamashiimon growled. "Been done. Could have sent them back to Ryo ages ago done."

"And how is our prize?"

"Being difficult," Netamashiimon pouted. "I've been able to alter most of his memories to sync with Ryo's, but erasing those of his friends is proving to be a challenge. Especially those concerning Courage and Light."

"Hmm…" Garbamon mused, placing his own hands over the boy's temples. "Lets see if we can shake his faith in them, then, shall we? He loves the girl, yes?"

"What? Oh!" Netamashiimon smacked his forehead. "Of course!"

Netamashiimon placed his hands over the others' and together they probed Davis' mind. The boy was still resistant to the intrusion, but with their combined efforts, it was child's play to close off certain memories and warp and darken others to the point that Davis wanted to forget them, so they made him forget, molding his mind and memories to their designs, even though some memories of his friends couldn't be erased completely. The girl's memory was easy enough to taint when one twisted and warped her rejections towards Davis' advances for her affection. Garbamon even went a step further and made her out to be one of the DigiDestined betrayers. The memories of the boy of Courage (the boy's idol apparently) were harder to taint, but together, Netamashiimon and Garbamon managed, warping him into another traitor DigiDestined.

After an hour of ripping apart the boy's mind and putting it back together again, Garbamon and Netamashiimon finally let the boy's mind go.

"That should do it," Garbamon said. "I'll just have to be sure to make a few alterations to Ryo's about the others so that neither of them suspects anything wrong."

"The mind part is done anyway," Netamashiimon huffed before scampering over to the two sleeping Digimon. "We can let these guys go back to Ryo now. They'll remember what their partners remember."

"If you say so," Garbamon said complacently, tracing Davis' profile with an elegant pale finger.

"I do," Netamashiimon nodded, snapping his fingers to wake Hopmon and Veemon up.

"Where are we?" Veemon groaned, sitting up.

"Safe," Garbamon smiled. "Do you remember what happened?"

"I remember fightin' in the desert," Veemon said, frowning. "We were attacked."

"Millenniummon's goons," Hopmon moaned. "They hit you and Davis with a spore attack of some kind and we fought."

"I don' remember that," Veemon frowned. "I remember Davish got hurt though… Davish! Ish he alright?!"

"He's fine," Garbamon said, waving his hand to said boy. "He's just resting. Now that you two are awake, why don't you rejoin Ryo? I'm sure he's worried about you all. I can show you where you're staying."

"Who are you?" Veemon frowned, picking Hopmon up as they followed the tall humanoid Digimon out.

"Garbamon. And the other was my brother, Netamashiimon. We managed to get to you before you hurt yourselves. Your friend Davis is still suffering from the spore attacks, but he's making a speedy recovery. He should be able to rejoin you later tonight.

Veemon let out a sigh of relief.

Garbamon led them down a few corridors until coming to a door at the end, opening it up and giving them a view of a swanky set of rooms.

"Ryo!" Hopmon cried in delight upon seeing his human partner.

"Hopmon!" Ryo grinned, getting up from the table where he'd been having lunch and hugged his Digimon partner. "Thank goodness! Are you two alright?"

"We're fine," Veemon smiled.

"Great," Ryo breathed in relief before addressing Garbamon. "And Davis?"

"Finally made a breakthrough," Garbamon smiled. "He'll be weak for a few days yet, but he should recover enough by tonight to rejoin you here."

Ryo nodded his thanks before returning his attentions to Veemon and Hopmon.

Garbamon smiled, watching the three titter on, unaware that they were under his and Netamashiimon's – and by extension the Zaigou's – control. Human minds were so easy to manipulate. Everyone had their weak spot and could be pushed past the breaking point. Davis had been harder than Ryo had, but if Garbamon had to guess, that was because the boy hadn't been nearly as wrecked physically as Ryo had been.

The Zaigou of Pride excused himself from the happily reunited group and returned to the laboratory/infirmary where Netamashiimon was still messing around with Davis.

"If you play too much with his mind, he'll break," he warned.

"I know that!" Netamashiimon snapped. "I'm just putting in some fail-safes. Can't be too careful with this one."

"No. You can't," Garbamon mused, as he looked the boy over. The human was stronger than he seemed. Though his mind had been in turmoil, he still possessed a surprisingly strong will. "We'll have to be careful about who this one sees and interacts with until we can be sure that the new memories will hold and take root."

Netamashiimon nodded absently.

"I mean it, Netamashiimon," Garbamon said lowly, gripping his brother's chin and forced him to face him. "We've gone through a lot of trouble to get him, so lets not waste the opportunities that this presents us with to devastate the DigiDestined on a large scale. You've found the stone and crystal, I trust?"

"Yes," Netamashiimon scowled, jerking his face out of Garbamon's grasp. "The Virtuous Crystal engraved with the Crest of Miracles and the Harmony Stone of Intuitive Experience that we believe is destined for that Ryo guy are over there. They weren't easy to find you know. That Harmony Stone especially. I hope it's the right one. It matches the dark blue color of his digivice at least."

Garbamon hummed and turned his attention to said items. The small clear golden colored crystal sat shining dully on a leather cord. It was engraved with the Crest of Miracles. In comparison, the round dark cobalt blue Harmony stone glistened in the low lighting of the lab and had a spiraled flame engraved in it. It too was also attached to a sturdy leather cord. Garbamon picked up the stone and weighed it in his hand.

"Intuitive Experience… Out of all the Stones this one has the most ridiculous title. Compassion, Ambition, Logic, Perception, Passion, Caution, Empathy, Vigilance, Trust… Who on earth names these things? I suppose that out of all of the Tamer Chosen Children, Ryo would have the most experience, given what we know after rummaging around in his mind… but intuitive? The boy was easy to mold, and has no idea that he's being manipulated. It doesn't matter, though. So long as the Harmony Stone works to unlock his Digimon partner's DigiVolution powers, it is of no concern of ours."

"What are those stupid things for anyway?" Netamashiimon asked.

"They are essentially miniature digi-matrixes. They were designed to aid the DigiDestined in helping their partner Digimon digivolve in our world. Unlike the Warrior Children, there is only so much natural ability the other two groups of DigiDestined have that allows their Digimon to reach certain levels. In one world, they used Crests of Virtue. In the other, they had these ridiculous cards. Neither crests nor cards can aid them in this world, however, so the ancients who foretold their coming had these made. Funny how accurate a little prophesy can be."

"Bored now," Netamashiimon huffed. "Lets get something to eat. I'm hungry."

"I'm sure Jervmon will have something for you," Garbamon huffed, waving the little pest away. "I have other things to tend to."

"Whatever."


The Digital World: Location: Unknown Forest

Koji stretched while they took a break from traveling. He had the sinking feeling that they were just wandering in circles. Everything looked the same and it was starting to annoy him. He supposed he could have had worse traveling companions to be lost with though. Kari and Gatomon weren't so bad. Kari's occasional peppiness that morning had grated on his nerves, but she was easy to talk to and even reminded him of Zoe a bit. Gatomon was another matter though. The way she'd been glaring at him all day made him wonder what he was doing wrong. Maybe she was just overly suspicious. Koji didn't know and he wasn't sure he wanted to. He'd thought that they were all getting along well enough after last night, but now he wasn't so sure.

"Gatomon, stop it," Kari hissed at her partner.

"What?" Gatomon said, eyes shining innocently.

"Quite making him uncomfortable with your glaring," Kari huffed, watching Koji as he scaled another tree to see if their surroundings had changed within the last hour of hiking. Their compasses still weren't working so they couldn't be sure where they were or where they were going.

"He was rude to you this morning," Gatomon retorted.

"Oh for… So he's not a morning person," Kari scoffed. "Back off."

"All he did was grunt and growl at us all morning," Gatomon sniffed.

"If you recall, he did that even when we were all together with the group too. Koichi or one of the others were always there to translate and make small talk in his place," Kari giggled. "Tai is the same way if he doesn't get enough sleep after a long day of soccer practice. Just leave him be, Gatomon. He's not that bad."

"That remains to be seen," Gatomon said snidely.

"Gatomon…"

"Hey! I think I see some mountains!" Koji's voice called down from the trees.

"Really?" Kari gasped excitedly.

"Yeah. If I had to guess, I think we're in the western woods north of Sekizou City," Koji grunted as he jumped out of the tree. "If we keep heading in the direction we have been and check the tree line every hour or so, we should be able to get really close by sundown.

"That's a relief," Kari sighed.

"Then lets go!" Gatomon cheered, jumping down from Kari's shoulder to travel on ahead, making a point to bump against Koji as she passed him.

Koji raised an eyebrow at Kari, but she could only shrug and giggle nervously in reply.

"I don't think your partner likes me," Koji scowled as they followed the cat Digimon.

Kari grinned. "I think your morning grumpiness offended her."

Koji's scowl grew more pronounced, making Kari laugh.

"She doesn't hate you or anything," Kari was quick to reassure him, "She just never understands those who aren't very verbal in that first hour after waking up."

Koji huffed, but nodded his head. "Koichi liked to joke about my morning grumpiness when we first met. He found it amusing and Takuya's teasing was no help."

Kari nodded. "Normally Tai's not much of a morning person either. I don't know how he's able to just shake that off though when we're in the Digital World, but at home he'll sleep in until noon if he can and he's so groggy when he wakes up I'm surprised he doesn't kill himself bumping and tripping over things. Maybe he just knows our apartment's layout well enough to move around without opening his eyes."

Koji smiled a bit, trying to picture Tai Kamiya – courageous and great leader and spokes person for the DigiDestined – stumbling around and rubbing his eyes sleepily like a little kid.

"What about Koichi?" Kari asked. "What's he like most mornings?"

"Oh, he's a morning person," Koji huffed, but his lips twitched up in a fond smile. "All smiles and chipper-ness. …He has to be in order to make sure our mother comes home from the overnight shift at the clinic she volunteers at and gets some sleep before having to go work afternoons at the grocery store."

"Ah…" Kari nodded.

"Yeah," Koji huffed. "She tends to overwork herself to support herself and Koichi. She's sickly so she has a lot of medical bills to pay for on top of other things. When I found out, I tried to help Koichi take some of the stress off of her. She's doing a lot better these days, or at least that's what Koichi tells me, compared to how she was before."

Kari didn't know what to say about that. She'd heard Koji, Zoe and JP explain during that fight with Duskmon that Koji and Koichi had been raised apart, their parents being divorced, but talking about their families wasn't something that really came up in their conversations often. At least nothing like what he'd just told her.

"…My dad works a lot too," Kari said, feeling like she should share something personal about her family as well. "Especially during the summer. He's a travel agent, so he's busy helping people put together their vacation plans. Mom's a stay at home mom, though, so she's always around, but between the three of us, I think we drive her a little crazy at times. Especially after she found out about Digimon."

"What's that like?" Koji asked. "To have parents that know about Digimon and the Digital World?"

"It doesn't make things easier if that's what you're wondering," Kari frowned. "Mom worries a lot whenever anything concerning the Digital World comes up and Dad gets all tense. They don't mind Agumon and Gatomon, but because they worry so much, we tend to not tell them when we go to the Digital World. They may know about Digimon, but they know about the dangers surrounding them as well and, like any good parent, they don't want us getting hurt. They're supportive when it really counts though."

Koji nodded.

"Come on you two! Shake some Digi-tail!" Gatomon hollered from up ahead.

They traveled for hours before they finally started to see the mountains in the distance without having to climb up a tree to look for them.

"Well we can't be that far from the city now," Kari grinned. "We should be there soon."

Koji nodded.

"Too bad you'll never make it there," a voice cackled.

Koji and Kari jumped, both falling into defensive positions when they spotted a group of Ogremon that were swinging their clubs menacingly.

"Oh yeah?" Koji growled, snatching up his D-Tector and Spirit Evolved into Lobomon. "Wanna bet? Kari, you and Gatomon get airborne. Now!"

"Right. Ready Gatomon? DIGIARMOR ENERGIZE!"

Lobomon took up a defensive position while Kari climbed aboard her Digimon's back.

"Pummel Whack!" The Ogremon shouted as they attacked Lobomon.

Lobomon easily held his own with Nefertimon's aid from the air, the occasional Cat's Eye Beam keeping Ogremon from ganging up too much on the Warrior of Light.

"I could do this all day!" Lobomon growled, knocking three back into a few more Ogremon that had been behind them.

"We'll see," the lead Ogremon sneered before smashing at the ground in an attempt to compromise Lobomon's footing.

Then a trio of SkullSatamon emerged from the woods and drove Lobomon back.

"Damn it!" Lobomon grunted, trying to fend off the speedy Digimon's attacks as well as the Ogremon's.

They knocked him back and just as he felt himself start to stumble head over heels down hill, a hand grabbed his and hoisted him up. He used the new momentum to swing up and sit himself behind Kari on Nefertimon's back as they bid a hasty retreat. Lobomon tried his best to fire off his Howling Lasers to give them cover against the attacking Digimon, but unfortunately the SkullSatamon were keeping up, zipping around, following them from the ground.

"This is getting really old," Lobomon huffed.

"I can see Sekizou!" Kari cried excitedly. "Faster Nefertimon, we're almost there!"

Just as Kari and Koji were nearing the outer wall to the West City, one of the SkullSatamon got off a lucky shot that hit Nefertimon's wing. Lobomon gathered Kari into his arms and jumped just before they hit the ground, keeping the girl from harm. Once he set her down, he slid into KendoGarurumon, taking up a defensive stance in front of her and her fallen partner, who'd reverted back into Gatomon.

"Hello doggie boy," one of the SkullSatamon cackled. "Ready to play fetch?"

KendoGarurumon did his best to fight them off, barely managing to keep them away from Kari and Gatomon, but there were three of them and only one of him. He was getting his ass handed to him big time.

"Thunder Fist!"

"Electro Shocker!"

What?!

"Koji! Kari!"

KendoGarurumon managed to get back up on his feet in time to see Beetlemon and Kabuterimon fly overhead while Izzi wrapped an arm around Kari, who was holding Gatomon.

KendoGarurumon did his best to help in the fight, but it was clear that Beetlemon didn't need any, taking on two of the SkullSatamon all on his own. The Medallion of the West was giving JP enough of a power boost that he overpowered the evil Digimon. KendoGarurumon did aid Kabuterimon in cornering and ran off the third SkullSatamon, however. When the enemy Digimon were gone Koji broke his Spirit Evolution and fell back onto his haunches.

"Boy and I glad to see you," he groaned, taking JP's hand when it was offered.

"Me too," JP grinned as he pulled Koji to his feet. "You're lucky Izzi was checking digivice readings and noticed a D-Tector signal approaching at a rapid rate. We figured whoever it was, was being chased."

"Are you two alright?" Koji asked as they approached Kari, Gatomon and Izzi.

"A little shaken, but not too worse for wear," Kari smiled. "Gatomon's a little out of it though. I think she hit her head when she crashed."

Gatomon groaned in Kari's arms.

"Well we're just glad you three are safe," Izzi smiled. "Lets head inside. Suzie and Michael are here as well."


The Digital World: A Ravine Somewhere in the North East

Rika groaned as she finally returned to consciousness, coughing from the dirt and dust that coated her.

"Rika?"

"Renamon?" Rika moaned as she pulled herself up into a sitting position.

"Are you alright?" her partner asked.

"Let me get back to you on that?" Rika grunted as she got to her feet and took stock of her condition and their surroundings. She felt sore and bruised and had a few new scrapes and scratches, but nothing was broken, remarkably. They appeared to be in a steep craggy ravine, and if the sun was any indication, it was early to mid afternoon again, which meant she'd been unconscious for at least twelve hours. It had been around sunset when the Scavengers had attacked.

"Where's TK?" Rika asked when she realized that she didn't see the blond boy.

"…He's been seriously injured," Renamon said grimly, leading Rika into a shadowy overhang where Rika could now see TK's limp form sprawled over an improvised bed of brush and blankets. Patamon was resting near the boy's head, which was bloody, hair matted to his forehead over a gash there.

"TK, you sure have some bad luck with falls, don't you?" Rika sighed as she crouched beside the unconscious blond, thinking back to when she'd first met TK, after they'd fallen into the that cylindrical chamber in the cave maze. TK had hit his head and was rendered unconscious then too.

"He's still breathing, but because I don't know much about how to treat human injuries, I'm afraid that I've been at a loss as to what to do," Renamon admitted.

"Has he woken up at all?" Rika asked.

"A few times, but only for a few seconds," Renamon frowned.

"He probably has a concussion," Rika frowned, biting her lower lip. "He looks like he hit his head hard."

Rika pried one of TK's eyes open and saw how big the pupil was.

"Crap. What do I do?" Rika fretted. "It could be serious. I wish that Joe guy was here. Or JP. At least they knew how to use those healing crystals."

Rika shifted agitatedly before reaching into her pack for the mini first aid kit. She could at least clean up the head wound. With careful motions she cleaned away the blood and tapped a thing of gauze over the gash. She wasn't sure if it needed stitches or if the blow to the head from the fall was bad enough to cause swelling in the brain, but she knew that they couldn't stay here. It was a miracle that the Scavengers hadn't pursued them down into the ravine to finish them off.

"Renamon, are you up to digivolving? We need to get out of here and try to find someplace safe," she said.

"I'm well enough," Renamon nodded.

Once the fox Digimon was Kyubimon again, Rika and Patamon carefully slung TK over Kyubimon's neck, Rika behind him to keep him steady. She was pretty sure you weren't supposed to move someone who had a head injury, but staying wouldn't help TK any more than moving did.

The next few hours seemed to drag on as they slowly made their way out of the ravine and into a valley of some kind. There were a few of Digimon traveling through too, and Rika figured that they were refugees judging by their roughened appearance. No doubt from Shinrin or somewhere close by.

When they caught up to a pair of Lillymon, Rika asked where they were headed.

"Seidou Temple is near by," one of them told her. "It's a place of sanctuary. Everyone who made it out of the attacks on the coast is headed there. The Jijimon and Babamon that maintain it will be able to provide us with shelter and treat any injured."

Rika looked down at TK, making sure he was still breathing.

"How far?" she asked.

"Shouldn't been more than a few kilometers now," the second one said. "It's on the edge of the valley before the mountains that go all the way to Himizu."

"Good," Rika nodded, determined to reach the sanctuary. "Lets go, Kyubimon."

Kyubimon picked up the pace and soon they were approaching the temple the Lillymon had told them about. Rika looked grimly at the overturned earth and signs of a battle. Hopefully there were still Digimon at this temple and that Scavengers hadn't succeeded in picking them all off.

"Hello?!" Rika called out as Kyubimon pulled up to the temple's entrance.

"Rika! TK!"

Rika was surprised and relieved to see Matt and his Gabumon rush out.

"TK?!"

"Careful, he hit his head," Rika said grimly as she gently handed the younger blond over to his older brother. "We were pursued by Scavengers and they knocked us off a plateau and into a ravine. It knocked us both out."

"Gabumon, get Jijimon," Matt ordered as he hefted his brother with care and brought him inside the temple.

Rika followed and watched as a Jijimon and Babamon appeared and began to fuss over TK, gathering healing crystals and starting treatment even while Matt lowered TK onto a futon that had been hurried over by a Lalamon.

"Rika! Renamon!"

Rika was nearly knocked off her feet when little Ai and Mako attacked, each latching onto a leg.

"It's good to see you safe," she smiled down that them.

Rika looked up from the little kids and saw Cody and Koichi approach her.

"So you guys are here too, huh?" Rika smiled, patting Ai and Mako's heads.

"What happened?" Cody asked, looking worriedly at TK as Jijimon healed the gash on the blond's head.

"Scavengers," Rika shuddered and proceeded to tell them about how she and TK had ended up in an abandoned town and were chased by the three Scavengers.

"What about you guys? Koichi, you look loopier than usual."

"Loopy?" Koichi frowned.

"Out of it," Rika smirked. "Dazed. Not all there. Take your pick."

Koichi frowned, but Cody chuckled softly before sobering his expression.

"We were attacked by Scavengers too. Koichi and I ended up traveling with a group of refugees from one of the coastal towns. Five Scavengers attacked us almost the moment we left the tunnels and made a break for it here to Seidou Temple. Jijimon and Babamon and a group of Digimon were able to kill three of them, but the last two combined to become one powerful Scavenger. We only beat it because Koichi purified and transferred some of the dark energy emanating from the Scavenger into Ai and Mako's digivice, allowing Boogiemen to digivolve into NeoDevimon."

"You can do that?" Rika frowned at Koichi.

"Apparently," Koichi shrugged, sighing tiredly. "It worked at any rate."

"Yeah, and drained you and Yaamon both," Cody huffed, looking over at a corner of the room.

Rika followed his line of sight and noticed the sleeping In-Training version of Impmon.

"Well this is just great," she sighed. "At least we're together now."

"Yeah," Cody nodded. "I hope the others are finding each other as well."

"I'm sure they are," Koichi nodded, gaze wandering over to TK and Matt. "If we've managed to find each other, I'm sure the others have started coming together as well. Hopefully a few of them will be in Himizu."

"Why there?" Rika asked.

"It's where we're heading in a few days," Cody explained. "Jijimon and Babamon want to stay here for a little while longer to make sure that any Digimon that are coming from the East seeking shelter will find it before we all retreat to safer territories."

"A couple of Lillymon and some others are coming," Rika mused, "We passed them on our way here. They're the ones that told us about the temple."

Cody and Koichi nodded.

"Rika?" Mako piped up. "Are we safe here?"

"I think we're good for now," Rika mused. "We have a defendable shelter and with a larger group of us here, more fighter power. I think you guys can rest easy. I'll take care of you."

Ai and Mako smiled up at her before going back to their partner's side.

Rika frowned after them when she noticed how subdued Ai was.

"What's wrong with Ai?" she demanded, eyes narrowing at the two boys.

"She didn't react well to Impmon's Ultimate form," Koichi sighed. "NeoDevimon looks rather intimidating and scared her."

"Ai? Scared of her own partner?" Rika frowned.

"She is just a little girl, and Impmon's hardly the cuddly looking type when he Digivolves to his higher levels," Cody pointed out reasonably.

Rika nodded sadly, watching Ai as she sat beside Yaamon.

After a while, Jijimon and Babamon left TK alone, so Rika thought it was safe to approach Matt.

"How is he?" Rika asked.

"…I'm not sure," Matt sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Jijimon and Babamon say he should be fine. They healed the gash on his forehead quickly enough, but we won't know if there was any damage done to the brain until he wakes up."

"We don't have to wait that long," Koichi said as he kneeled beside TK, a hand ghosting over TK's face. "His energies are regular at least."

Rika watched as Koichi gently placed a hand on TK's head opposite of where the gash had been, noticing the little tattoo symbol of hope glowing slightly on the back of Koichi's neck. Matt was watching apprehensively too, fidgeting next to Rika. She wanted to kick him in the shin to make him stop, but she supposed that if she were in his position, she'd be fidgety too. The guy clearly didn't trust Koichi any better than he did Koji. Rika herself had no problem with the Yin Yang twins, bust she had to admit that Koichi did creep her out from time to time when he did things like this.

"…He's fine," Koichi sighed, pulling out of whatever trance thing he'd zoned out into.

Rika let out a breath she hadn't realized she'd been holding. She couldn't help but be relieved. Even though she knew it hadn't been her fault, she couldn't help but feel guilty that she'd gotten out of their fall with only a few scrapes, bumps, and a few bad looking bruises while TK had been knocked about and injured badly again. The kid just didn't have good luck in this world, it seemed. Something was always happening to him.


The Digital World: Location: Enemy Prison Cell

"I'm getting rather sick of waiting," Takato sighed. "When can we leave?"

Joe sighed, rubbing the bridge of his nose, making his ruined glasses wobble.

"We have to be patient and wait for the opportune moment," Joe reasoned. "From the sounds of it, they have troops getting ready to move out. Once they leave we'll have a better opportunity for escape. All we can do right now is conserve our strength and keep sneaking out to feed our Digimon so that we at least have a chance to escape."

"Sorry. I know all that," Takato sighed. "It's just…"

"You're antsy. I know," Joe smiled sympathetically. "I want to get out of here too, but if we leave right now the chances of getting caught are very high."

Takato was about to say something in reply but paused, cocking his head to the side.

"Do you hear that?"

Joe quieted and listened intently for a moment before he heard it too. A march. The enemy's troops were on the move. It was getting louder too until it sounded like they were marching overhead. They probably were. Joe also thought he could hear the hum of grunts that sounded hauntingly familiar.

"Those sound like Tankmon," Joe shivered.

"Yeah? How do you know? Where have you encounter Tankmon?" Takato frowned.

"…Back when Ken was the Digimon Emperor, there was a coastal town with a Control Spire in it that Gomamon and I went to with Cody and Armadillomon to destroy. I don't know what the Tankmon were doing there, they usually stick to more modern cities and towns, but they were patrolling ruthlessly. Gomamon and I provided the distraction so that Cody and Digmon could destroy the spire. You can never forget their grunting hum when they're hunting a target. Gomamon and I got cornered. It was a close thing, but thankfully Cody and Digmon managed to destroy the Control Spire and free the Tankmon from its control. But even then they were disagreeable Digimon and we nearly got blasted anyway."

"Yikes," Takato shuddered. "I've never encountered one before, but they sound mean."

"They are," Joe frowned. "And they love a good battle. They're war machine Digimon after all."

For the next hour Joe and Takato listened as the machine Digimon moved out, grunt-humming their haunting march song. When things finally quieted down again, Joe and Takato settled down to wait for their dinner to arrive.

"Well, now that the troops have moved out, are we leaving?" Takato asked.

"I suppose there's no better time," Joe sighed. "We'll make our move at midnight after they bring our fresh water. That late, they'll only have a skeleton crew so we should be able to move around easier. From what we observed last night they'll only have the one guard outside the door. Lets just hope it will sleep on the job like the Bakemon did last night."

Takato nodded. The previous night after visiting their Digimon with most of their supper, Takato and Joe had slipped further out of the dungeons to see how far security went. The enemy was obviously unconcerned with them and they hadn't run into a guard until they reached the exit to the dungeons and entrance into the main part of the enemy's base. The lone guard had been a Bakemon sleeping where it hovered just outside the door. Takato had been so tempted to leave then, but when a patrol of Andromon passed by, the Bakemon had snapped to attention.

"I guess all we can do is wait," Takato sighed.


The Digital World: Location: Underground Tunnels in the Mid-Northwest

"Well this has been fun," Zoe huffed. "I feel like we're going in circles down here."

Ken nodded in agreement. Ever since they'd fallen into the underground network of tunnels, it was nearly impossible to tell where they were going. But the way Ken was keeping track of their progress on his compass they appeared to be heading in a more northern direction then the western one they'd intended to go.

"Are you alright, Kenta?" Zoe asked worriedly.

"Still a little out of it from the fall, but I'm fine," the boy grumbled, rubbing his head. He'd hit if falling, knocking him out for the rest of the day – or what they could figure was day from the way the torches down in the tunnels brightened and dimmed.

"Wish Tai was here with that orb thing of his," Ken sighed.

"That thing led us to Netsusa," Zoe pointed out. "It wouldn't do us much good since we're trying to make it to Sekizou."

"I suppose," Ken sighed. "But with the way we've been going, I'd say that Himizu is a more likely destination."

"Then lets just get there already," Zoe huffed, setting off down the tunnel once again.

"Girls can be scary when they're cranky," Kenta grumbled.

"That's nothing," Ken chuckled. "You should see Yolei when she's having a bad day. She'll go stomping around muttering under her breath all day until something goes her way."

"Sounds like Rika," Kenta smiled.

"Come on you two! I'd like to get somewhere today!" Zoe called from up ahead.

Ken and Kenta chuckled before hurrying to catch up with their high-spirited lady companion. Marineangemon was twittering happily, whirling around their heads, zooming back and forth between Zoe and the boys a few paces behind her. Wormmon was remaining resolutely by Ken's side, occasionally casting an annoyed glance up at the peppy little mega when he zoomed to close to him.

"I wish I had his energy," Ken smiled as he watched the little puffball zip around Zoe.

"Me too," Kenta sighed.

"He's a mega level, right?" Ken asked.

"That's right," Kenta nodded.

"I guess I'm just wondering what he can do. I don't think I've ever seen him attack before. He maintained that protection shield during the fight with Netamashiimon and Jervmon, but that's about all I've seen him do."

"Ah… Yeah, well… MarineAngemon is more of a pacifist Digimon," Kenta smiled sadly. "He's more defense than he is offense, but he does have this attack that takes all of the fighting spirit out of his opponent, allowing him to win by default. He's more of a white mage kind of Digimon. Not amazing when it comes to offensive power, but supplies great defense and support. He's got some power and energy restorative abilities too, but we haven't seen much action in battle, so I couldn't really tell you what he's capable of when he has to fight on his own. The only reason I'm feeling better right now is because of one of those restorative abilities of his."

Ken nodded, smiling as the little mega zoomed back towards them and landed on Kenta's shoulder, nuzzling under his chin.

"You know," Zoe said, allowing the boys to catch up so that they could walk beside her, "it's kinda strange. We were warned that these tunnels could be crawling with enemy Digimon, but we've hardly run into anything at all during all the times we've traveled down here."

"I'm starting to wonder about that too," Ken frowned. "The only real attack we've had down here was when Mai was Paressemon and kidnapped TK and Koichi."

The other two nodded.

"Why do you think that is?" Kenta asked. "If Kushyamon is supposed to have his evil minions running about down here, why haven't we run into any? Especially after the attack on Shinrin City. I've just been waiting for some baddy to jump out and attack us every time we come to an intersection in the tunnels."

"Maybe it's because of the attack on Shinrin that we haven't had an encounter down here," Ken mused.

"Makes sense," Zoe nodded. "Kushyamon probably pulled his forces together to concentrate a focused attack on the city. With how tight the city's defenses were, he'd have to. Takuya had said that it was the safest and most secure of the cities under the Four Digimon Lord's dominion."

"Bring down the boasted best and devastate them and you create a sever dent in this world's hope," Ken nodded.

"Scattering us was probably their plan all along," Kenta said grimly. "Divide and conquer, as they say."

"Divide, yes, but I'm not seeing much of the conquering going on," Zoe frowned.

"We don't know that," Ken sighed. "Just because we've managed to avoid attack, aside from Kenta's run in with a Mihiramon, doesn't mean that the others haven't run into any troubles."

"I guess you're right," Zoe frowned. "I hope everyone's ok."

"I'm sure they are," Ken smiled, trying to mask the unease he felt. As much as he wanted to reassure Zoe and Kenta that their friends were all right, he couldn't help but worry about Davis. Who knew what Netamashiimon was doing to him and Veemon?

"I'm sure Davis will be fine too, Ken," Zoe said softly.

Ken glanced at her, seeing a sad smile.

"He's a strong guy. I'm sure he can make it through whatever those Zaigou dish out," she said, smile growing more firm and genuine. "He's your best friend, right? You know him better than anyone else. Have faith."

Ken smiled, nodding at her in thanks.

"I'm sure Ryo's fine too," Kenta murmured. "He survived living in the Digital World for a whole year on his own with Cyberdramon before we found him and brought him back to our world."

"That's right, Netamashiimon mentioned that Ryo was taken too," Zoe frowned. "I wonder how many of the others have fallen into enemy hands."

"Hopefully not too many or none at all," Ken said grimly. "And that those that have, can escape."

Suddenly Marineangemon began to pip up, squealing excitedly before darting off ahead.

"Marineangemon?!" Kenta cried, racing after his partner. "What is it?"

Ken, Wormmon and Zoe hurried after them, wondering what had the little guy so excited when they reached a familiar slide.

"This is the entrance chamber from Himizu City!" Zoe cried excitedly, looking around and spotting the Warrior's symbol of flame that now decorated the holders for the torches lining the walls.

"Great!" Ken sighed. "But how do we get up?"

"What? Never climbed up a slide before as a child?" Zoe grinned.

Ken shrugged. He'd honestly never been much of an outdoors person aside from playing soccer. He'd been the quiet kind of kid that had preferred playing inside with his army men and blowing bubbles on the terrace with his brother, Sam.

Just to be sure that they wouldn't end up sliding back down again, Wormmon shot some stings of web out for them as they progressed up the slide. When they finally reached the trap door, Kenta tried to push it open, but it didn't want to budge.

"Move over," Zoe huffed, shuffling the boy over and behind her.

She closed her eyes, feeling the air currents that shifted and moved around and through the tiny cracks sealing the door shut. With a little focus, she found that she could move them. Koichi and Koji had their psychic mojo, and JP and his energy sensing and manipulating thing, but Zoe was wind. After receiving the Medallion of the East, she knew that she would gain some kind of power, and manipulating air currents was coming naturally to her.

Finding the latch, with her new abilities, she forced the air to condense and put pressure on the latch until the door swung inwards and opened for her.

"How'd you do that?" Ken asked.

"Air currents," Zoe grinned, shooting them the peace sign. "I'm the Warrior of Wind, remember? The Medallion gives my human form abilities as well as a power boost for my Digimon forms.

"Welcome, DigiDestined."

Zoe gave a surprised yelp, almost falling back down the slide and would have too if it weren't for Ken and Kenta supporting her.

"Lord Genbumon!" Ken gasped when he spotted the amused looking elder Digimon Lord.

"Why don't you lot climb out of there and join us," Genbumon smiled. "I'm sure Sora and Kazu will be happy to see you."


The Digital World: Location: Sekizou Palace

Michael sat with Betamon watching Suzie and Lopmon play with a group of Tanemon that were giggling away playing tag. He hoped that Izzi and JP would return soon. The two had just taken off in a real hurry, not explaining where they were going. Michael had wanted to follow them, but someone had to stay behind and watch Suzie. The little girl had been napping at the time they'd left and he didn't want her to wake up and find no one familiar there. She was nervous and scared enough as it was without her brother around. It had been a relief to hear that there were some DigiDestined in the other Digimon Lord cities, though. Thanks to Lord Byakkomon, they knew that Henry and Yolei were safe in Netsusa and Sora and Kazu were in Himizu.

Sadly, when Izzi had taken Suzie's D-Power, he'd confirmed that it was not only likely that Ryo was being held by the Zaigou like Netamashiimon had claimed back in the tunnels, but that there was another Tamer D-Power signal there with one of the digivice signals similar to Izzi's model. But now they also knew where most of the other DigiDestined were located. Tai's digivice signal was still in Shinrin, so they had to figure that Mai and Takuya were still there as well, but other than that all other signals were either in the north, south or west.

Finally the doors to the room opened and JP, Izzi and Tentomon walked back in with Kari, Gatomon and Koji.

"Hey!" Michael greeted, coming up to join them.

"Michael!" Kari grinned, coming forward to hug the American. "Boy, am I glad to see you guys."

"Good to see you too," Michael nodded. "How are you, Koji?"

"I'll live," Koji sighed, collapsing into the chair that Michael had vacated.

"Hello!" Suzie cried, racing forward to greet the new comers.

"Hi, Suzie," Kari smiled crouching down to the little girl's level.

Michael watched JP carry Gatomon off to a table where he got out his healing crystals.

"What happened?" he asked Koji.

"Ogremon and SkullSatamon," Koji huffed. "The Ogremon weren't a problem, but the SkullSatamon had us on the ropes and chased us to just outside Sekizou's boarders. If Izzi and JP hadn't shown up, we'd be in even worse shape than we are. Gatomon got clipped in the wings as Nefertimon and crashed pretty badly. I tried to hold them off, but three against one isn't my kind of odds."

Michael nodded.

"What about you guys?" Koji asked.

"Izzi and JP apparently ended up here right off the bat. Suzie and I spent our first day in the mountains with some of Sekizou's citizens before JP and Izzi showed up to convince everyone to retreat into the palace strong hold. Now we're just waiting for an attack. Some troops were sent out two days ago apparently to back up the rebel army in the South so that they could help their allies in the East. Things don't seem to be going well, all things considered. Kushyamon's moving his forces fast. The East is nothing but ruins from what I've heard."

Koji nodded grimly.

"Any news about where the others might be?"

Michael told Koji what he knew when Izzi came up with his computer.

"Actually I can give you a better update on that," the computer tech said. "With Kari's digivice I can pin point basically everyone's location now."

"Basically?" Koji repeated.

"Well I don't have Mai's digivice signature programmed into my computer so I can't say where she is, and Takuya doesn't have a digivice any more, so I can't track him either."

Koji nodded.

"Anyway, since the last time I checked this morning, it appears that we have three new readings in Himizu with Sora and Kazu's – one D-Power, one D-3 and one D-Tector; it's still just Henry and Yolei in Netsusa; there's a D-3 – Davis' I'm assuming, two D-Powers, and one digivice signals in enemy territory in the center of the continent, one pair of signals – a digivice and a D-Tector – that were between Sekizou and Netsusa, are now just a little ways north of Netsusa and heading East where there is a D-Power and digivice signals. If I had to make a guess those two pairs of signals are with factions of the rebel army. They are getting closer to each other in the southeast, where I assume reinforcements are needed. And now there's a good bunch of signals in what I've determined to be a temple sanctuary of some sort in the North East: two D-Powers, two D-3s, one digivice, and one D-Tector. With the six of us, that's everyone's digivices accounted for."

"Ok, so we know roughly where everyone is," Koji mused. "What now?"

"For now, we recover," Izzi said firmly, eyeing Koji's roughed up condition. "Even JP is still recovering from the fight two days ago with Netamashiimon. Once we know more about what's going on, we'll decide what to do then, but for now we stay put. It's not ideal, but right now we don't know where the enemy is or where it's focused. I don't want us walking into a trap that might endanger us or any of our friends that we might be trying to reach."

Michael noted that Koji didn't seem to be too thrilled with that, but was too tired to protest.

Suzie wasn't too sure that the older kids were talking so seriously about, but she was happy that she'd managed to drag the nice Kari lady with her to play with the Tanemon. Kari wasn't Miss Jeri, but she was nice and fun to play with.

JP watched the girls play with the Tanemon while he finished up Gatomon's treatment. The cat Digimon was sleeping peacefully now so he let her be and took his collection of healing crystals over to Koji.

"Your turn," he announced.

Koji made a face, but allowed JP to examine him and use those strange crystals.

"You're exhausted," JP frowned, muttering lowly so that no one else could hear. His friend's energy levels were nearly depleted, absorbing the healing energies that the crystals had to offer. "I'm surprised you're still conscious."

"You try fighting three SkullSatamon on your own without the power boost and see how you feel afterwards," Koji huffed. "They were fast, ok? Even as KendoGarurumon I had some trouble keeping them in my sights. With Nefertimon down I didn't have any backup."

"Relax, Koji, I didn't mean anything by it," JP sighed. "You should rest. I've got things covered here."

"If you say so," Koji grumbled before he conked out right where he sat.

JP chuckled as he continued to heal his friend. There really wasn't much to do. Koji didn't have many physical injuries aside from a lot of scrapes and bruises, and the crystals healed those right up. What Koji needed was rest, and a lot of it.

"Hey, Michael," JP said softly, getting the blond's attention. "Help me carry him."

Michael nodded and supported one side, while JP got the other so that they could heft the sleeping Warrior of Light to JP's room.

"Is he alright?" Kari asked Izzi worriedly when she saw them carry Koji out.

"He's just tired, Kari," Izzi smiled comfortingly. "JP's taken care of all his physical injuries, so I'm sure Koji's just tired like Gatomon. Taking on a SkullSatamon sure can take it out of you, and Koji fought three! I'm sure he'll be just fine after he gets some sleep."

Kari nodded and watched Suzie play.

"…Has there been any word from Tai?" she asked.

"Lord Byakkomon hasn't been able to establish any contact with Shinrin," Izzi frowned, "so we don't know the situation up there. He said that Suzakumon was going to try reaching out though, so who knows? We haven't received word yet."

Kari nodded.

"I'm sure he's fine, Kari," Izzi smiled. "This is Tai we're talking about. And he's got Agumon, Takuya, Mai, and Salandermon with him."

"I know," Kari sighed. "It's just that he always seems to get into trouble."

"I think Davis and Ryo have that unfortunate luck this go round," Izzi frowned. "It's those two I'm worried about. Them and whoever else is stuck behind enemy lines."

"It feels like the calm before the storm," Kari whispered. "We've been hit with the first warning wave, but now I can't help but feel like something bigger is about to happen."

"You and me both," Izzi muttered. "Which is why we have to be careful with how we wish to proceed. As far as I understand it we have two main options. We can head north and try to find those in Himizu and at that sanctuary, or we can head south and try to join up with those in Netsusa and in the southeast. Either way we're kind of in the middle ground and can go either way. Or we can stay here and see if any of the groups try to reach us here."

Kari nodded. "So we wait?"

"We wait."


The Digital World: Location: Shinrin City Palace

That night SilverEmbermon made good on his word and carried the protesting Takuya out of the palace and to the Jetakumon hangers where all of the remaining Digimon in Shinrin were gathered and ready for boarding. Tai was amazed at the sheer number of the scary machine bird Digimon. The Zaigou had managed to make it past all of these guys?"

"Believe it or not, there used to be many more," Mai said softly. "This isn't even half of the fleet. This is only what's left of the B and C-Class squadrons. The A and D-Class Jetakumon live in a hanger on the other side of the palace. It looks like they've suffered substantial losses."

Tai and Agumon stared at her wide-eyed.

"Substantial?" Tai gaped. "But there looks to be over a two hundred of them here!"

"And there were roughly three hundred in each class squadron," Takuya said from his position in SilverEmbermon's arms. "Now can you put me down?"

"Nope," SilverEmbermon grinned. "Deal with it, kid."

Takuya huffed in annoyance, but didn't argue further with the former Zaigou.

"There you are," Renamon said as she appeared out of the flurry of activity. "This way. We're almost ready to depart. The Onnamon are just checking to make sure everyone is present and accounted for before we leave."

They followed the fox Digimon towards the closest hanger bay and saw Seiryuumon speaking with the resident Jetakumon. She gave them a nod in greeting before gesturing for them to board the bird Digimon's back behind her. They did and only then did SilverEmbermon set Takuya down.

"I can't believe you were serious," Takuya grumbled.

"I never joke," the dragon Digimon said with an absolutely straight face.

"I'll remember that," Takuya grumbled.

"I nearly forgot about that special brand of humor of yours," Mai smiled at her fellow former Zaigou.

SilverEmbermon sent her a cocky grin before schooling his features into a more serious mask of focus.

"I forgot that you do that too," Mai muttered.

"Do what?" Tai asked softly.

"Switch his emotions on and off," she whispered back.

"I can hear you, you know," SilverEmbermon said, sotto voice.

Mai rolled her eyes, but Tai and Takuya chuckled, glad to see their two former enemies bantering and acting normal in their presence.

Finally the Jetakumon moved out of the hanger and took a lead position at the front of a long line of its fellows, all carrying their own clutch of passengers. Again, the sheer number of them, each carrying a full load of Digimon passengers, impressed Tai. When they took to the sky even more Jetakumon joined them, escorting a sizable number of flying Digimon. Then there was the advanced and rearguard of just over fifty Jetakumon each. Their numbers might have been reduced by two thirds, but the fleet of Jetakumon was still impressive.

"We should reach Netsusa by sunrise," Renamon informed them, yelling so that she could be heard over the wind.

"If we don't encounter any enemy interference," Salandermon said grimly. "The Zaigou have a hold on the East now. As far as they're concerned, this is their territory now."

"Which is why we're taking the Jetakumon as a guard," Seiryuumon said serenely. "They are masters of the sky and fly silently on the wind. Coupled with the night, I doubt we'll be spotted. And if we are, the front and rear guard will supply sufficient protection.

"We'll take your word for it," Tai smiled, shivering as they flew up further above the clouds.

"If we have consistent cloud cover we should be fine," Mai mused, looking around at the fluffy carpet expanding below them. "It's also close to the night of a new moon, so there's little light to see by. This is practically the ideal night to leave Shinrin."

"If you say so," Takuya yawned before lying down in his spot on the Jetakumon's passenger carriage.

Mai and Tai exchanged an amused glance at each other before settling down themselves, hoping that their flight would be a peaceful one.


The Digital World: Location: Enemy Prison Cell

Takato and Joe lay, hands loosely cuffed in their chains, feigning sleep when the night guard – a Goblimon this time – brought them fresh water at midnight like it's predecessors had done the two nights before. Once he was gone, Joe and Takato slipped free of their shackles and left their cell, heading towards the back where Gomamon and Guilmon were waiting for them. Tonight, Joe and Takato had forgone all of their supper so that their Digimon could have it and regain some strength for their escape attempt tonight.

"Keep it down you two," Joe hissed as he unlocked the Digimon's cell with his glasses wire.

"Free at last!" Gomamon whispered jubilantly.

"Not quite," Takato said grimly. "We still have to get out of here."

"Right," Joe nodded. "Lets get started on that, shall we?"

Quietly, they made their way through the empty dungeon until they reached the final door. The Goblimon was standing guard, pacing back and forth in front of the door, but it looked more like an attempt to stay awake than it was at remaining vigilant. They waited a while, but finally the Goblimon took a seat on it's stool and fell asleep. As much as they wanted to get out and leave, Joe made them wait a few more minutes to make sure that their guard was really asleep before easing the door open. It creaked a bit on it's rusted hinges, but the Goblimon hardly stirred.

With soft sighs of relief the four of them eased out of the dungeon and quietly hurried off down the corridor in the direction they'd seen the Andromon patrol come from the previous night.

Joe was having some rather nerve wracking flashbacks to Myotismon's castle the further they ventured into the enemy base, occasionally darting into crevices and other nooks and crannies to avoid detection by the occasional patrol. Joe was just starting to suspect that they'd picked the wrong direction to go in when they came across a large storage room. To Joe's relief they found their packs and digivices as well as a few other items including food supplies. Joe examined the obviously confiscated items, stowing away those he deemed useful into his pack, and grabbing another just for food to give Guilmon to carry.

"Hey Joe," Takato whispered from where he was rummaging. "I think I found a map of this place!"

"Map?" Joe frowned. "You mean blueprints?"

"Yeah, those," Takato grinned, pointing to the old looking parchment. "It looks like this place used to be a fifth city or something."

Joe came over and saw that Takato was right. The parchment showed the layout of what used to be a city, complete with palace blueprints.

"And look," Joe grinned, pointing to faint lines running along the city. "Tunnels. That's our way out."

"Great! How do we get to them?" Gomamon asked.

Takato and Joe perused the blueprints for a few minutes before determining that an entrance was nearby through the basement level. They just had to find a staircase that would take them down.

"If this palace hasn't changed much since this was made," Takato mused, "it looks like there should be a staircase a few corridors down."

"Lets move, then," Joe frowned. "It's been three hours since the guard gave us fresh water. That means we've only got three hours at most before we're discovered missing."

"Right," Takato swallowed nervously. "Lets move."

Thankfully they didn't run into another patrol on their way to and down the staircase, but once they reached the basement level of the enemy base, it became apparent that reaching the tunnels might be tricky. This was obviously a living space of some kind. While no one was roaming the halls just yet, this part of the base was better maintained showing signs of frequent use and wasn't dimly lit like the other corridors upstairs.

The escapees tried their best to hurry quietly towards where the entrance to the underground tunnels was. They'd almost reached their destination when one of the doors ahead of them started to open. Fearing being caught, Joe grabbed Takato's arm and hauled him into one of the rooms next to their current position, praying that it was unoccupied. Guilmon and Gomamon darted inside as well. Thankfully no one was in the room, though Joe was kinda creeped out by the mad scientist theme that it had going on. A shiver ran down their spines when they heard Netamashiimon's voice cackle gleefully.

"It's working!" the little demon as saying. "Oh, this is going to be so much fun! Those Digi-pests won't know what hit them, Garbamon!"

"Indeed," a more mature and cultured voice said, sounding amused. "I look forward to seeing their faces."

Netamashiimon let out another delighted cackle just before their voices faded into the distance.

"That didn't sound good," Takato grumbled.

"No, it didn't," Joe agreed. "Lets get out of here."

"Right behind you."

They peeked out of their hiding spot to make sure that the coast was clear before hurrying down to the end of the corridor that came to a dead end.

"Now what, Takato?" Guilmon asked. "No door."

Joe hummed nervously as he ran a hand over the wall that should have been an entrance to the tunnels underground. Takato kept sending anxious glances over his shoulder, afraid that Netamashiimon and whomever he'd been with were going to come back.

"Ah!" Joe breathed a sigh of relief. "Here."

Joe pressed on one of the flagstones that made up the wall and stepped back as the wall silently dropped into the floor and revealed a stone staircase leading downward.

"Thank the Sovereign," Takato breathed.

"Now lets get out of here," Gomamon huffed. "This place gives me the creeps."

"Agreed," Joe smiled just as the last door in the corridor behind them opened.

They all tensed, ready to flee when someone stepped out. Two someones. Two very familiar someones.

"Davis?"

"Ryo?"


Oh dear... Will Joe and Takato be able to escape? Will Ryo and Davis be able to overcome the Zaigou's meddling? And how will the others fair? Find out next time on Digimon: Digital Monsters!


Oh man... This was another long one. Sorry that there was no Sora & Kazu, Jeri & Willace, Mimi & Tommy, and Henry and Yolei, but all that Willace, Sora, Kazu, Henry and Yolei are doing at this point are recovering and Jeri, Mimi and Tommy are doing what they can to aid the rebel troops and it would have been more of the same pondering where the others are that I already had a few times in this chapter already and didn't want that to get too repetative. We'll get around to them next chapter. Promise. In this chapter, I focused on the top 8 groups that you guys voted for in my poll. The action should start up again real soon now that our groups have started to come together again, but I think you see the three main areas that I'm concentrating on.

Sorry, but this fic is still on hiatus and I feel REALLY bad about that, but I really want to catch Parent Worries up to this point because this is around the point in the story that I wanted to intersect the two story lines and cross them over (not saying any more than that because SPOILERS!).

I hope you enjoyed this chapter though. Next one will go up next year for the next anniversary even if I don't catch PW up by then, but I AM trying. I swear. Life is just being distracting and my mind wanders.

Like on Tumblr. Yeah, I've gotten a Tumblr account now (I'm digidetective-shararaizel and my page is called Fandom Crossover Mania) and it's F***ing addictive! Feel free to follow me, though I gotta warn you that half the crap I reblog is Supernatural, and 1/4 is Marvel's Avengers and things, but when i do complete my artworks for any of my fics, I post them there. I'm reposting a whole bunch of my digimon stuff later today, so go check it out! :)

Thanks for reading! Please review! :)