Hawk: Like a good sauce...
Kumo: The plot thickens!
Tammy's groans filled the air as they walked across the grassy field. "It's too warm," she whined. "I wish I hadn't worn a dress.
"You do go on a bit, don't you?" Cayden said, wiping sweat from his forehead.
"How much longer, Cayden? I'm bored," Liomon purred, padding along next to him.
"I don't think he will have gotten far," Faeremon said, leaning back to look at the sky from Tammy's shoulder.
"At times like this I wonder what it would be like to be made from jelly," Spiritmon said, walking along the ground as the heat had made her too tired to fly.
"Tell me if you find out," Faeremon grumbled wearily.
"I love the sun!" Holly chimed as Iontramon sprayed water in her face.
"Me too," Aiden said, completely relaxed as he, Holly and their Digimon walked behind the others.
"They wouldn't love it so much if you didn't keep spraying them," Blackmon whispered to Iontramon.
"Let them have their fun." Iontramon smiled as Holly made jokes and Aiden laughed.
"Oh, I almost forgot!" Holly reached into her pocket.
Aiden looked at her, cocking his head. "What?"
"That man gave me your Digivice!" she exclaimed, smiling broadly as she produced the red Digivice. Aiden took it slowly, looking it over. "Sorry I didn't give you it sooner," she said, becoming sullen.
"Thanks!" Aiden beamed, hugging her suddenly.
Cayden grumbled, "Glad to hear they're enjoying it."
"Just keep going; if he has a Digivice we can find him once we're in range," said Agumon perkily.
Tammy groaned. "How are you so happy?"
"I don't feel heat!" Agumon chimed as he sauntered along.
"Give me your body!" Tammy growled, her eyes crazed.
"Calm down," Faeremon chided his partner gently. Tammy sighed and continued to plod along.
"How is it hotter than the desert was?" Jade asked, leaning back to look at the sky.
"Who cares? I need some sunblock!" Tammy wailed.
"The coding for the Digital World isn't based on logic," Agumon explained with a shrug.
"Of course it isn't," Cayden grumbled with an eyeroll. He pinched his nose and then wiped the sweat from his forehead. "Let's just keep going."
Aiden looked Holly up and down as Iontramon sprayed her with water. "Why did Cubmon get smaller again?"
"I-" Holly faltered as she looked down at Blackmon. The water continued to spray on her but the glee had vanished from her face so Iontramon stopped the flow. A tear fell from her eye, and Blackmon's eyes lowered in shame.
"Why don't you just make him Cubmon again?"
"Come on Holly," He pressed, chuckling slightly.
"Aiden," she began.
"What? It's easy, isn't it?"
Holly's clenched her eyes shut and shoved Aiden away, almost over, and walked off ahead.
Aiden stood still, watching her walk away and feeling a mixture of hurt and guilt. "Holly?" he muttered weakly. "Did I say something wrong?"
Hawke coughed hoarsely as he lay on Howlmon's back, the wolf Digimon rushing across the landscape as quickly as he could manage without Hawke falling. "That man..." Hawke muttered, his voice raspy.
"I warned you. You're not well," Howlmon growled at his partner. "You shouldn't have pushed yourself so much."
"That man's a lot better than me, isn't he?" Hawke spoke, coughing again.
"You've been ill since the cave," Howlmon scolded. "You're not leaving my sight until I can get you somewhere warm."
Hawke coughed again, and Howlmon sped up. "There's somewhere we need to go," he muttered, his eyes drooping slightly.
"Not yet. I won't have you dying on my watch. You're going to get back home. If you weren't so stubborn about it, I'd have turned around and gone back to the others."
Hawke laughed, beginning to cough halfway through and ending up shuddering against Howlmon's back. "That sounds familiar..." he muttered, his voice dark.
"Just hold on Hawke." Howlmon growled, quickly turning left.
Hawke's body was flung right, his grip on Howlmon's fur being the only thing stopping him from rolling off. He was dragged along the ground for a few metres, then Howlmon noticed and came to a stop, Hawke letting go and falling to the ground. "Let's find somewhere to rest." The Digimon said.
He looked around as Hawke pulled himself to his feet, leaning heavily on Howlmon and breathing heavily. "It's still light." Hawke objected.
"No." Hawke coughed, and started to walk forwards.
"Yes," Howlmon growled, suddenly moving away from his partner. Hawke fell quickly, coughing loudly. "You need to rest."
Hawke didn't reply, instead just pulling himself from the ground and beginning to slowly stagger forwards.
Holwmon sighed, walking over to his partner. "You're stubborn."
"Maybe..." Hawke coughed.
"Look, see those rocks over there?" Howlmon turned Hawke gently, pointing towards a cluster of grey boulders. "We'll head that way. When we get there, we rest."
"That might not work..." Hawke muttered.
"Why wouldn't it?" Howlmon asked, turning his head towards his partner.
Howlmon turned his head quickly, looking in the same direction as Hawke. Sure enough, there was the whirling hurricane of data heading towards them now. "Great." Howlmon turned back to Hawke. "Shall we run?"
Hawke didn't move for several seconds. The Digital Spiral slowly grew closer. They could soon hear the spiralling data.
"Hawke!" Howlmon snapped
Hawke took Howlmon my surprise, pushing the Digimon away and into the path of the Digital Spiral. The Digimon went flying upwards, and Hawke was glad that he couldn't see his partner's face. "Sorry..." He sighed as he turned away from the spiral, avoiding it as it rolled along. Slowly walking away, he stumbled slightly. He exhaled exhaustedly. "Stupid frost..." he muttered, coughing harshly. "Hope I can make it in time..."
"It's so dark I can't even see my hands!" Tammy whined.
Cayden replied, "It's not that dark, Tammy." He glanced at her briefly with a mix of derision and exhaustion before continuing to walk.
Tammy snapped back, "Of course not, you have Liomon next to you!"
Jade looked back at Aiden and Holly, who were walking in tandem with their partners but separately to each other and then back to the others. "I think we all need some rest," she suggested perkily. "Let's make camp!"
"I don't sleep on dirt," Tammy stated with disgust.
"Then you don't sleep," Cayden said, laughing. He hated to admit it but he agreed with her, however giving her any inkling of this would only make convincing her to rest more difficult.
"Fine, let's stop here," said Tammy, sitting down in the grass.
"Here?" The older male looked around at the trees that flanked them on all sides and let very little light in. It certainly wasn't a clearing like he'd always seen in the movies.
"I'm tired, problem?" Tammy said defiantly, locking her gaze with his.
"Be nice, Tammy," Faeremon said, nuzzling up next to her.
"Here it is, then!" Jade chimed, interrupting the staring contest. "Come on, Aiden, Holly, we're making camp!"
Cayden knelt down to pick up some logs for the fire but heard a branch snap behind him. "Liomon?"
"Try again," Jade teased as she walked towards him. Suddenly she stumbled and flew into Cayden, knocking him over and causing the both of them to roll down the hill in each other's embrace. They landed at the bottom with a thump but it was a fairly soft landing.
Jade opened her eyes to see Cayden looking down on top of her, their faces almost touching.
Cayden's face contorted awkwardly but Jade's eyes lingered on his lips. "Jade," he muttered, almost afraid to talk loudly for some reason unbeknownst to him. Jade's face moved forwards quickly and Cayden didn't know quite what to do as her lips touched his. They both lingered briefly, the taste and the scent consuming their other senses, before she pulled away and thumped the ground angrily. Cayden rolled off and lay on the ground, not speaking or moving.
"Sorry," Jade said finally, looking away from Cayden to hide the scarlet tint on her face. She tugged a handful of grass from the ground, rubbing some of the blades between her fingers."I have no idea what I was thinking."
"You've never kissed anyone before, have you?"
Jade turned to look at Cayden. She looked at him for a while, taking in his appearance. He was almost adult-like. "I didn't mean to-"
"It's okay." Cayden looked up at the canopy of trees as the moonlight trickled through and felt almost detached from his body. "It's just-"
Jade smiled knowingly as Cayden turned to look at her. "I understand."
Jade laughed a little. She whispered, "We've come heel face turn on this conversation." Their eyes traced each other's faces slowly.
"Yeah," Cayden said, laughing a little.
"So you've never been with anyone?" Jade asked, smiling as she broke up the quiet melodic sounds of the forest.
"No." Cayden rolled over onto his back, placing his hands onto his stomach and clasping them. "I never really thought about it 'til now."
"It's not all it's cracked up to be, you know," muttered Jade, her eyes glazing over a little.
"How do you figure?"
"I've dated a lot of guys," she admitted, looking to the ground. "Some were nice guys, but we just never properly hit it off and we broke up. Some were really hot, but they've turned out to be jerks so far, so I dumped them." She sighed. "I've lost a lot of my good opinions of guys, at least for dating. And I still haven't learned..."
"Ever thought you might be..."
"My dad would kill me if I dated a girl. Even once." She smiled slightly. "Shame though. I've met a lot more nice girls than nice guys."
"I don't know how to take that..." Cayden muttered, and Jade laughed.
They lay for a little while, looking at each other. "So your dad's a rather old fashioned guy?"
"You could say that, but I think that might be a little kind..." She muttered with a smile. "What about you?"
Cayden's face dropped. "My parents… they're dead."
"I'm sorry..." Jade looked down, feeling guilty.
"I barely remember them," Cayden said dismissively. "I was left at an orphanage in the UK when I was about four. All I know about them is that they're American."
"So they might not be dead?"
"I've accepted they are. I've left my name around a fair bit in the real world, but I've not heard anything from them."
"Maybe they gave you a different name?"
"Maybe..." Cayden sighed.
"Well, you'll never find out if we stay here moping." Jade smiled. "C'mon! Let's get this firewood together and get back to camp." She quickly climbed back to her feet, holding her hand out to Cayden. He took it and pulled himself up. They looked at each other awkwardly for a moment, then turned away, picking up the log Cayden had dropped before beginning to look around for more.
Tammy sat against the tree looking into the fire and rubbing her arms. "It's so cold, I miss my Aloe Reed fur coat," Tammy said, shivering.
"What does it look like?" Spiritmon asked, flying down in front of her.
"It's beautiful!" Tammy exclaimed excitedly, her eyes sparkling. "It's got these beautiful buttons down the front that are, like, here and here," Tammy said indicating the spots that the buttons would be. "And the fur is magnificent! It's so simple and yet so fabulous. I think it's polar bear and the white is the whitest you've ever seen."
"It sounds so nice," Spiritmon said, almost drooling.
"It is," Tammy muttered, coming out of her daydream. "Where's Jade?"
"She walked off somewhere and told me to keep you company," Spiritmon replied nonchalantly. "Now, tell me about some really nice dresses!"
"Okay!" Tammy exclaimed excitedly.
Tammy ranted for over ten minutes on her favourite items of clothing but suddenly she stopped. "What? What? What colour is the dress?" Spiritmon asked, with a sense of urgency.
"I miss my dog," Tammy said, her face drooping a little.
"What's a dog?"
"It's a little like a Digimon that can't talk, I guess," Tammy replied.
"It sounds boring," Spiritmon said, leaning back and yawning. "Tell me more about your wardrobe."
"I miss my bed too," Tammy muttered, not seeming to notice her companion's response.
"Are the sheets silk?"
"Obviously!" She scoffed but then her face changed to one of sadness. "But I just miss it, I don't miss the design or the style. I miss home."
"I miss my home too," Spiritmon admitted.
"I didn't know you guys had a home?" Tammy said, garnering a look of thought from Spiritmon.
Eventually Spiritmon seemed to be out of her inner memories and looked back at Tammy. "Yeah, I used to live with all the other Faymon in a little village! There was one Spiritmon who was like a father to us all, but he was always busy defending us from attackers so I didn't speak to him much but I still loved him."
"That sounds like my dad," Tammy muttered, looking at the fire.
"You must miss him a lot."
"Honestly, I didn't when I first came here. I was glad I was finally away from him controlling me and telling me what to do but now… I miss that feeling that he would always be there to look after me. There's no one to look after me now and it's scary." She paused, her eyes watering. "He'd never let me wear anything that wasn't designer and he used to take holidays with me every year when I was little."
"Why doesn't he anymore?"
"I guess he got too busy." Tammy swallowed the frog in her throat, trying to ignore the feeling of the scratching at her eyes and the dripping of her nose. "But whenever I'm sad, I think about those holidays and everything becomes alright-" Tammy bit her lip, a tear slipping past her ironclad ocular defense. "I miss you, dad," she whispered as the tear rolled into her mouth and she tasted the familiar salty taste.
"Tammy?" Spiritmon muttered, getting the blonde's attention. "We'll look after each other until we get back, I promise. You aren't alone here, you've never been less alone."
"Thank you," Tammy whispered, smiling and wiping her eyes as they began to feel heavy. "Night, Spiritmon."
Holly looked down at her partner and Liomon from a small cliff as the former watched the latter play in the lake.
"Hey, Holly," a voice called from behind. She turned to see Aiden and looked back out across the sparkling lake. It was really pretty. "Wanna play catch? I found this ball when I was walking up here."
Holly looked at him as he tossed the ball in his hand and then looked down at her feet guiltily.
"I'm not mad or anything, you know?" Aiden called, walking forwards a little.
"Well, I am!" Holly yelled, breaking her silence and usual happy persona.
"I- I'm sorry," Aiden muttered, dropping the ball in shock. "Agumon told me what happened-"
"Then you know why you were mean!"
"I do," Aiden admitted, shuffling his feet. "And I'm sorry, I didn't think."
Holly couldn't stay mad at him, it went against everything her father taught her not to accept a sincere apology. "No... I'm sorry." Holly's vision blurred slightly as she began to cry.
"What for?" Aiden asked, walking over to sit next to Holly.
"I shouted at you... I'm sorry." She looked up at Aiden and her face was stuck between a smile and tears. "I just got so sad when he nearly hit me, I never thought Blackmon would do that…"
"It doesn't matter, let's play catch!" Aiden said, smiling broadly.
Holly looked at him with a mixture of surprise and happiness as he walked over to the ball and picked it up. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, catch!" Aiden called, throwing it to her gently.
Holly reached up and caught the ball. "Aiden…"
"Throw it back!" he cheered with a grin.
"O- okay," she said, standing up and tossing it back.
Aiden caught it with ease. "Come on, this cliff isn't very safe, Cayden would have a fit if he saw us up here!" he joked, walking down the cliff a little.
Holly smiled as she looked back at Blackmon and Liomon playing in the water. "Coming," she called, running down next to him and stopping as she reached him. She looked up at him and smiled and he smiled back. "You're not very good at catching," she said with a cheeky grin, running off.
"Hey," Aiden called, waving after her. "Neither are you!" He chased after the brunette.
Faeremon sat on a high branch of a tree above the campfire with Iontramon facing him. The two had been meditating peacefully but Tammy's words had woken them. "Your partner is certainly emotional," Iontramon commented.
"More so than the others at least," Faeremon muttered in agreement.
"It's strange to think their intelligence scale is similar to our own in the digital world," Iontramon muttered, looking down at Tammy and Spiritmon as they slept.
Faeremon replied, "Although I would say that the age factor does come into play: Holly and Aiden are only in-training." He watched Iontramon closely as the latter chewed on some berries.
"And it's for that reason I believe we need to send them home," announced Iontramon boldly.
"Their skills are required in order for you and Cubmon to reach your final stage," Faeremon reminded the otter Digimon.
"I think we should get them home before anything bad happens to them."
"Too strong, they're headstrong and they and the others put themselves in danger."
Faeremon sighed and looked down at Tammy and Spiritmon. "Whatever happens, wouldn't you rather you were by their side than separated?" he muttered.
"I'm not sure how to respond to that…"
"Do the smart thing; protect them but don't try and get rid of them, you're partners," Faeremon said.
"I can't protect Aiden from everything."
"You can try."
"Goodnight, Faeremon," Iontramon said, closing his eyes.
"Stay strong, Iontramon."
"Come on in, the waters fine!" Liomon called from the edge of the pool as she splashed about.
"Won't your tail go out?" Blackmon asked from the edge of the pool. He was looking around nervously but Liomon didn't seem to notice.
"Nah, I keep it above the water, like this." She demonstrated by wagging her tail like a propeller as she paddled through the water.
"I'm worried about Holly," Blackmon grumbled. "She would never normally ask to be alone."
"Don't worry about her, she's fine. I'm watching all the enemies from here," Liomon said, clawing at an imaginary enemy in the air.
"I'm sure you can't see them all from there," Blackmon said, rolling his eyes.
"You don't know me well enough," Liomon replied, swimming right up to the edge and walking up next to her friend.
She looked down at him and then shook herself dry, laughing.
"Hey, stop that!" he yelled, bouncing away.
"Why?" she teased. "You don't like the water?"
Blackmon didn't respond so she lay down next to him and stayed silent for what seemed like forever but it was less than a few seconds. "Holly's really lucky to have you as a friend," Liomon said, looking out across the water as the moonlight bounced across it.
"A friend?" Blackmon stammered. His mind flitted back to the moment he had nearly hit Holly. "I'm not her friend."
"Sure you are!" Liomon chirped, bouncing up and bounding round to face the smaller Digimon. "Holly cares about you so much and you care about her too; that's what friends are! They care for each other."
"I do care but-" Blackmon paused. Liomon probably wasn't mature enough to deal with him nearly hitting Holly. After all she had been focussed on the fight.
"There isn't a but, butt's are for sitting." Liomon smiled sweetly, lying down to face Blackmon. "Like this."
Blackmon furrowed his brow. "Liomon-"
"You didn't know what you were doing," Liomon said, wagging her tail slightly and then letting it rest.
Blackmon looked at the lion Digimon with astonishment, he didn't know what to say. "I-"
"Holly isn't mad, you just need to start focussing on protecting her again, don't be all sad," Liomon purred, tapping him on the head with her paw and then standing up. "Now, how about that dip in the pool?"
"So they reset Naklimon, did they?" Richard's body was translucent, but him being a hologram didn't surprise Agumon at all.
"Not exactly," Agumon said, slightly awkwardly.
"What do you mean?" Richard paced back and forth. "They ran away?"
"She was frozen by one of her subordinates. Without that chance happening they would've lost. Well that, and-"
"That strange intruder? You agree that his presence denotes Hawke's involvement?"
"Yes," Agumon said. "Without their assistance we would've lost at this early battle."
Richard summoned a chair and sat down, flicking a pack of cards from one hand to the other without moving. "How are the Chosen doing?"
"Not well," Agumon admitted. "Cayden and Aiden are not doing too badly, all things considered. Jade seems like she's trying to hide her dislike of the situation. Tammy's complaining a lot, but I think you expected that."
"Well I did forget to supply her with insect repellant, I guess it's my fault," Richard said with a shrug.
"She's having trouble with her partner due to his attribute?" Richard interrupted knowingly.
"Y- Yes, how did you know?"
"He's a virus type and her heart is pure. There was bound to be issues," Richard said with a shrug. "I trust you sorted the situation?"
"Actually, she managed to stop his rampage herself."
"And when he reaches Ultimate?"
"I'm hoping that I'll be able to help everyone retreat in time."
"Make sure you do, our survival rests on their young shoulders."
"On that note…" Richard muttered, getting up and looking at something out of the camera's sight.
"He's gone another way but I have confidence that he'll survive and meet back up with us in time to meet with the resistance forces."
Richard looked back at Agumon, seeming preoccupied. "Have you located them yet?"
"I haven't, but I think it's important that they be united before we head that way anyway."
"You may not have an option, time is running out."
"You really believe in Hawke?"
"Yes, he's got the tenacity of a Centaurmon, and the inner strength of a Piximon. He'll be fine."
Hawke staggered forwards, his hand reaching around to find something to rest against. His hand met a tree, and he leaned heavily on it. "Great..." he muttered, slumping down and pressing his back against the tree. Coughing heavily, he felt his entire body shaking each time. When he finished coughing, he shivered. "Stupid frost," he muttered, coughing again. Blinking slowly, his vision began to darken, and he coughed again. "Sorry guys..." he muttered, smiling grimly as his eyes fell closed. "I couldn't do it..." He coughed once more, and passed out.
A shadow passed over the body of the sleeping boy, growing slowly larger as the figure approached. The figure scooped up the boy, then turning and carrying him away.
Hawke shuddered in the figure's arms, his body growing cold, like ice.
Hawk: Well this was one revealing chapter. What was Hawke thinking?!
Kumo: What's gunna happen to Hawke? Find out in the next chapter!