A/N: Sorry this chapter took even longer than the last! Exams were this month, and I had a ton of schoolwork to do in between studying.
I'm not sure if this chapter is worth the wait, but I believe to be better than Chapter 3 at least. Hope you guys enjoy!
Level 4 – Encounter
"Digimon... You two are Digimon."
"That's right!" Coronamon smiled at Masaru. "You sure know tons about us already, guy."
Haruko, who still stood away from Aruraumon cautiously, was reminded of Lunamon upon hearing Masaru's declaration. "So that means... you two are like her?" She pointed at the bag Masaru held in his arm, which was now empty. "Huh?"
Lunamon had already hopped out of her bag, scurrying over to Coronamon. "Lunamon!" The two Digimon shared a high-five. "Fancy seein' you here, Luna."
"I could say the same thing!"
"Cool, so you two know each other?" Shibutoi bent down to their level. He smiled heartily, obviously no longer afraid of the creatures at his feet. "Guess even little things like you have pals." He pet Coronamon's furry head, much to the Digimon's chagrin. "Not the 'do! We may be partners, but you're gettin' a little too comfortable, guy."
Shibutoi brought his hand back. "Partners?"
Coronamon pointed to the device the boy held in his other hand. "You're the one with my Digivice, right? That means I've been paired up with ya for a big adventure!"
Lunamon put a paw to her mouth. "Digi-vice? I wasn't told anything like that when I came here."
"Actually," Coronamon rubbed his head. "I got no clue either. Musta been embedded into my mind or somethin'. Who knows who put us inside those things, anyway?"
"Digivice..." Masaru examined his own blue gadget. The name was very fitting, though he did not know why. He brought his hand back down to see Coronamon looking straight up at him, and then Haruko.
"Look, those two've got Digivices, too!" The blue guy's you're partner, ain't he, Luna?" She gave a small nod and smiled at her partner.
Meanwhile, Aruraumon's attention was trained on Haruko's hand, spotting the yellow Digivice it held. "What luck! Turns out we're partners after all."
She advanced closer to the girl. Haruko continued to back away from the Digimon, but soon tripped and fell hard on the grass. She saw Aururaumon nearing her, her crooked smile lined with little green fangs. Frozen with fear, Haruko raised her arms up over her face. "Stay away! Please... don't hurt me!"
Her yells of terror rang through Masaru's ears. He recalled his initial reaction to Lunamon, the way he had nearly abandoned her. The guilt still pulled at his heart, whenever he saw his partner smile at him... "Haruko!" he called out to her. She put her arms back down, staring wide-eyed at Masaru as he went on. "Don't be afraid. She won't hurt you."
His voice was strong and sure, different from the timid boy Haruko had known from her class. Heeding his words, she looked up at Aruraumon, who extended a leafy arm. She slowly reached out and grabbed it. With her and the Digimon's strength, she was pulled up off the grass. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, Har, Haru..."
"Haruko..." Aruraumon thought the name over, before smiling. "That's a pretty name." The petals on her head waved in the wind, a stray leaf landing on one of them.
Brushing the leaf off, Haruko felt the leathery yet smooth surface of the petal. Aruraumon truly resembled a violet flower, which Haruko found pretty as well.
"See, they're nothing to be afraid of! " Shibutoi lay on the grass, having been tackled to the ground by the playful Lunamon and Coronamon.
"You're way too trusting, you know?," Haruko commented. The boy just smiled and laughed a little in response.
Masaru smiled as well, pleased to see everyone getting along. Another breeze blew through the empty street, a leaf sailing over his head toward Shibutoi and the two Digimon.
Coronamon, who had been chasing Lunamon around his partner, stopped to see the orange foliage fly through the air. "Hey, betcha I can catch that killer leaf before you do!" The excited Digimon began running down the street, his old friend tagging along. "Not if I beat you to it!"
"Wait! Stop!" Masaru called out to the two creatures, but the distance and wind growing harsher by the second obscured his message.
"What's the matter, Seishuku?" Shibutoi, with hands behind his head, was indifferent to the situation. "When you get back together with old friends, the first thing you do is have fun! Just kick back, relax, and... Ow!"
He rubbed his head, which had been given a good kick by Haruko. The unamused girl gave him a cold look. "Idiot, they might get seen by someone else!" She started running down the sidewalk with Aruraumon close behind. "Use your head!"
Masaru gave an apologetic smile. "She is right."
Shibutoi stood up, still rubbing his aching head. "Aw man, why'd she have to- Hey!" Masaru had already broke off into a sprint toward Haruko. Shibutoi dusted off his pants and chased after them. "You can't just leave a guy behind!"
The area was eerily empty, something Masaru noted as he dashed through the street. Good thing no one's here... Although, Shibutoi's yelling could have fooled me. After making this wry comment in his head, Haruko stopped dead in her tracks before him, searching the vicinity. "Did you lose them?"
"There they are!" Haruko and Aruraumon ran west, into a dense grove of trees. Masaru stopped to catch his breath.
"Worn out already?" Shibutoi had already caught up to him and rounded the bend. "I thought you were stronger than that, Seishuku!"
Remembering their talk about his potential earlier, Masaru took a deep breath before running after him. I'm not done yet.
He soon stopped in front of a large oak tree, where the other five had gathered. Lunamon held up the leaf triumphantly, while Coronamon looked away and pouted. "I just got new world lag, that's all."
Shibutoi bent down to pet his partner. "Come on, it was totally fair. You even got a head-start! If we're going to be partners, you have to get stronger and win no matter what!."
"Hmph, I still say it was rigged." The orange Digimon fixed his fur and adjusted his goggles. "And didn't I tell you to stop with that messin' with the 'do?"
"How else am I supposed to show you some brotherly love?"
"Well, pettin' me like a dog ain't brotherly!"
"Oh, then you'd prefer a nice, brotherly bear hug? Come here!"
"Stay away, ya big lug!"
Around the tree, Coronamon ran from a open-armed Shibutoi, much to the others' amusement. Among the fiery Digimon's yelps and his partner's insistence, Masaru could hear Haruko and Aruraumon giggling as they exchanged looks. Looks like they've found out the mind link.
That makes one less thing to explain, Lunamon added.
After several more minutes of the hot pursuit, Shibutoi emerged form behind the tree, carrying a sheepishly smiling Coronamon in his arms. "Heheh... you put up a good chase."
"Are you two finished?" Haruko interjected. "It's getting late, and I don't to be stuck babysitting you two idiots."
Indeed, the sun had already begun to set, tinting the sky an orange hue and casting great shadows from the trees around them. Masaru feared what his parents would think of him, after he'd already came home late the day before.
"Yeah, I guess we got a little carried away." Shibutoi set Coronamon down on the ground. "You ready to go, Seishuku? ...Seishuku?"
His message was muffled by a loud rustling from the bushes. An onslaught of thick green vines emerged from the clusters of leaves, grabbing the closest target it could find – Lunamon. "Eeeeeek!" The white Digimon flailed her arms around helplessly as she was carried away from Masaru's side.
"What was that?" Haruko asked incredulously.
"A Digimon!" claimed Shibutoi. "It's gotta be a Digimon!"
"How would you know that?"
"Whatever! It doesn't matter! We should be going after it!"
"Oh, uh, right!" She and Aruraumon started in the direction Lunamon had disappeared to, soon vanishing into the haze of greenery.
Masaru still stood in place awkwardly with a dumbfound continued to stare into the endless vegetation, recounting his carelessness. Staring down at the bag he held, Masaru blamed himself for not keeping her closer to him. I... I never should have let her out. No, I shouldn't have brought her with me in the first place...
"Seishuku!" Shibutoi yelled angrily, shocking Masaru who was used to hearing more upbeat shouts from him. "Quit wasting time and go after Iyoku!"
Masaru gave a weak nod before the two boys and Coronamon ran through where Haruko had passed moments ago. The grove was thick, dense with overhanging branches and shrubbery slowing their progress. With the sun setting in the distance, the whole area was enveloped in twisting, almost sinister shadows.
After a seemingly endless trek, the three reached a small clearing. The trees grew more compact further on, with only several paths that they might be able to traverse.
"Which way do we go?" Shibutoi asked.
Masaru looked through their available choices. The paths seemed to twist and turn, and with night approaching, the three didn't have time to spare checking all of them out. Uncertainty took hold of Masaru's mind, his fear of losing Lunamon, and perhaps even Haruko and Aruraumon, growing.
"Shibutoi," he called out lightly, "Maybe we should just go back. We can't find them now, and it's already-" Turning around, he found the duo had vanished.
"This way!" Shibutoi's voice beckoned him from the east.
Instinctively, Masaru ran in that direction. Through more trees and branches he found a tuft of fur of a familiar orange colour. It turned out to be Coronamon, riding atop Shibutoi's head precariously. "Took you long enough! Man, do you usually space out like that?"
Coronamon pointed a finger behind Shibutoi. "It's comin' from over there, boss." Shibutoi started walking briskly in the direction he described, Masaru following along beside the two.
"Um..." Masaru pointed at the orange beast perched on the other boy's head.
"Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you! Turns out Digimon can sense other Digimon if they're in close range! Comes in kinda handy, huh?"
"I guess so."
"Well, you better stop guessing, 'cause this is our ticket to finding that Digimon!"
Only a short moment later, the three stumbled upon a figure enveloped in the shadows of the trees. Masaru, fearing the silhouette he could slightly make out, stopped abrupty. Shibutoi continued going on, hardly noticing his comrade disappearing from his side.
"Uh boss... Are you sure 'bout goin' up to that thing?" Coronamon tugged at the boy's hair more tightly, agitated as well.
"Why wouldn't we? We're here to give it a good beating and save Lunamon! Isn't that right, Seishuku?" Shibutoi now noticed Masaru's absence, looking behind him to find the other boy frozen in place.
"You okay, bro?"
Masaru didn't respond, though he shivered ever so slightly.
"C'mon! There's nothing to be afraid of! Just keep going and we'll find our target soon enough and get Lunamon back!" Shibutoi walked forward to demonstrate his point. "See, nothing scary here. Just like walking through the park, eh?"
After a small contemplation, Masaru decided to go on. If we are close to finding Lunamon, I may as well. No sooner had he taken five steps before Shibutoi bumped into something before him, the figure letting out a shriek.
Shibutoi ran back toward Masaru screaming, Coronamon nearly falling off his from a combination of speed and surprise. Masaru felt the need to flee as well, before the mysterious figure emerged from the darkness.
Out of the cascading branches and their shadows, came a familiar girl with chestnut hair, alongside a green Digimon. "Haruko!" Masaru ran over to her.
"Where... were... you?" Haruko said through pants. "We've been looking for Lunamon and you guys for ten minutes!"
Shibutoi came up and smiled cheekily. "Ah, it's just you, Iyoku! Seishuku and I were just finding our way through like real bros! ...We probably shouldn't have left you there, but it all worked out!"
"'All worked out?'" Haruko balled her fists, her fury having alleviated her exhaustion. "We nearly get lost inside some crazy forest, and you're acting like this isn't a big deal? It's getting late, we could die, and even if we survive, we probably won't even find our way back!" She closed her eyes and furrowed her brow. "Sheesh... I wouldn't have gone on this 'journey' if it meant partnering up with idiots like you!"
Shibutoi prepared for a rebuttal, but ended up looking away angrily. Haruko looked away as well, with a "Hmph" for emphasis as she crossed her arms. Aruraumon looked up at her partner sincerely, but was only ignored. Coronamon hopped off Shibutoi's head, walking over to Masaru's side.
"Psst, blue guy," he whispered, "The Digimon we're after... he's here somewhere."
Masaru stared at him wide-eyed. "Right here, right now?"
"Yeah, should be a couple feet away. I'd tell the boss, but that girl's worked him up somethin' fierce." He paused as the two glanced at the other two students, who were still silently furious. "See what I mean?"
Guilt hit Masaru hard, feeling responsible for his and Shibutoi's lateness. Swallowing his shame, he instead focused on the task at hand. "So it's around here... Where, exactly?"
"Over there." Coronamon gestured in a direction packed with trees. "Ain't too far out from here. I can lead ya there!" With that, he jumped up and grabbed a low branch and began swinging from tree to tree. Masaru went after him, wary of the hazards in his way.
The sound of crushing leaves and soft footsteps alarmed Haruko and Shibutoi, who turned to see Masaru's blue sweater sinking into the endless green. They called out his name, and when he didn't respond, they started on their way. Shibutoi paused for a moment. "Ladies first."
"Grr, whatever! We don't have time for this!" Haruko continued trotting down the overgrown grass with Aruarumon in hand, Shibutoi following suit.
The teens and their Digimon stopped at a familiar clearing, governed by a tall oak tree. "Aw man," Shibutoi said, "We didn't just go in circles, did we?"
"Only 'cause the Digimon did, boss." Coronamon added, his head raised high.
High up within the branches was a faint white figure. It was entangled in coiling green vines, with a pained expression and downed ears expressing the pain of its captivity.
"Lunamon!" Masaru called out. "Are you...?"
She opened her beady eyes, hearing Masaru's voice and sensing his unmistakeable aura. Feeling slightly relieved, she opened her mouth to respond before the vines of her captor tightened, letting out a high-pitched scream of pain instead.
"What are you two standing around for?" Shibutoi scoffed. "Let's get our Digimon up on that tree and smash the thing to oblivion!" He signalled to Coronamon.
"No!" Haruko disagreed. "Attacking something you don't even know is not a good plan! Think for a second!"
"What should we do instead then? Wait for the Digimon to poke its head out and say 'Hi?'"
The two continued to bicker for some few seconds. Aruraumon eventually intervened, with a worried look on her face. "Haruko, there's something you should know about that Digimon..." Both her partner and Shibutoi stopped, staring at the flowery creature.
"You know who it is?"
"He's one of the forest cultists back in our world. They would kidnap other Digimon as a sacrifice to a god or something like that. Usually they did it through... suffocation."
The last word had Masaru look back up at a helpless Lunamon, the vines ensnaring her body looking ever so tight. He balled his shaking hands into fists, trying to keep his lip from quivering. "Shibutoi's right, Haruko. We need to save Lunamon, fast."
Haruko, seeing the Digimon's face twisted in agony, agreed. "But what should we do?" Her words were panic-stricken, afraid they were too late to do anything now.
"Weedmon!" Aruraumon shouted up the oak. "Let go of her!"
On cue, the vines wrapped about Lunamon slowly loosened. Upon realizing this, Masaru quickly ran to the spot under her, arms outstretched. "Lunamon!" She fell into his arms abruptly, her once-flawless white fur ridden with bruises and marks. Her eyes were screwed shut as well, deeply worrying Masaru.
Leaves rustled overhead as a gruesome face emerged from their depths. A crooked grin complimented its cruel, slitted eyes. Atop its head was a feathery headdress, waving in the wind as it suspended from the branches using its vines.
"You remember me, weedling?" Its cackling voice caused the younger Digimon to cringe. "And here I was going to use that white rodent pest! Lord Pan will be delighted to have me offer the last of your lot."
Wasting no time, one of its vines lashed forth and snatched Aruraumon from Haruko's side. Aruarumon tried her best to wriggle free, but Weedmon's grasp only tightened.
"Let go of me!" She continued to squirm about. "I won't let you kill me... the same way you did with my family!"
Weedmon only laughed at the demand. "Oh, my little weedling, but that is why you must be offered! For unto the great Pan are all of you worthless pests to be exterminated!"
Down below, Haruko turned to the two other boys with a look of desperation. "That-that-that thing's going to squeeze her to death!" With Masaru still tending to Lunamon, she focused her attention on Shibutoi. "Do something about it!"
The boy just grinned. "Now you're starting to see things my way." He beckoned toward Coronamon. "Up for this?"
"You betcha, boss!" The excited Digimon rushed up to the front of the tree. "Hey! You're the one who hurt Luna, and now you plan on killin' Aru too?" He balled one of his fists, setting it ablaze. "For that, I can't forgive ya!"
Coronamon ran a short distance before leaping up at a great height. He held his right fist up toward Weedmon, the flame surrounding it lighting up the darkening sky like a firework. "Take this! Coro-Knuckle!"
Just short of the assault's impact, Weedmon lashed the vine holding Aruarumon, hitting Coronamon back the way he came. The orange Digimon screamed in surprise, landing with a thud in front of his human partner.
"Ahoohoohoo!" Weedmon cackled. "You worthless bug! You don't even deserve the honour of being offered to Pan!" It tightened its grip on Aruaumon once more, eliciting a groan of pain.
Shibutoi and Haruko bent down by Coronamon, who got up slowly and rubbed his arm.
"Are you hurt?" Haruko asked.
"What happened there?" asked Shibutoi, more disappointedly.
"Forgot... The Weedmon guy's Champion level, meaning he's actually stronger than even me. Hard to believe, I know."
"But if he's that much stronger, what are we going to do?" Haruko yelped in panic.
"We need to find another way to bring him down." The suggestion came from Masaru, who was still holding Lunamon in his arms sincerely. "If attacking him head-on doesn't work, there has to be another way."
"What do you mean?"
High above, Aruarumon was held firmly up to the sky, still in Weedmon's grasp. She had stopped struggling only moments ago, the impact with Coronamon having injured her as well. Weedmon noticed the lack of wriggling and grinned with his full set of fangs. "Oho, looks like you're almost ready!"
"No... I'm not." His captive tried her best to resist, but could only wheeze and cough.
"What a great day! I've managed to hunt down the last of you ivy pests! The Lord will surely be pleased." With that, he squeezed down even harder, evoking a scream. "Oh, may Pan have mercy on this soul!"
"Yeah, and the offerin' today is you."
Sensing the taunt from below, Weedmon loosened his grip as he focused his gaze on the orange Digimon glaring up at him.
"Ohohoho! This again? I wasn't planning on offering up worthless trash like you, but I can once I'm done with this little one."
"Too bad ya won't live long enough to accomplish that!"
Coronamon's fist flickered to life as he launched up toward his adversary. Weedmon tried swatting him back, but was a split second too late. His once-condescending face lit up in terror as the flaming Digimon flew up toward him... And passed by, missing its impact, landing on the other side of the oak tree.
Weedmon was hysterical. "Bwahahaha! You can't aim to save your life! Or rather, your good friend here!"
"Think again, chump."
Suddenly, a burning sensation appeared at the tip of Weedmon's other vine. He looked behind him to see the branch he held engulfed in flames, slowly deteriorating. "No! Y-you...!" In a desperate attempt to find a new place to hang onto, he released his hold on Aruarumon, who fell soundly on the grass below.
"Aruarumon!" Haruko prepared to run, but Shibutoi held her back.
"Stop! The big guy's coming down!"
Immediately after saying that, there was a loud snap. Tumbling out of the leaves with much rustling, Weedmon fell to the ground with a loud thud, landing on top of his own two vines. He tried shifting up and down to get up, but without anything to support him and his rotund body, it was impossible.
A small figure emerged from the tree's shadows, grinning profusely. "That's what ya get for hurtin' Luna," Coronamon said.
"You!" Weedmon hollered out desperately. "H-help me up! Now! Pan commands you!"
"Oh, I'll help ya get up." Even in the darkness, the three teens could see Coronamon's almost devilish grin. "I'll send ya straight up to the great beyond!"
A bright flash filled the area as Coronamon looked up to the sky and focused, the visor on his forehead surging with power. "Corona Flame!" A great fireball grew out from the visor, flying out to a helpless Weedmon.
"Aaaaaargh!" The vegetation Digimon was immediately caught up in the flames. "Lord Pan, help me! Help meee!" His cries of agony and horror filled the grove as he roasted in the fire. The painful screams mixed with the wind's howl and charred, black silhouette they could make out before Weedmon was reduced to ashes and binary code sent shivers down Masaru's spine. Haruko stepped back, almost dropping her Digivice.
At last, the flame died, and all of the binary code floated up and disappeared into the darkening sky. The place where Weedmon had lain was charred black, only a few feet away from another green Digimon.
"Aruraumon!" Haruko went over to where her partner lay motionless, examining her with a worried expression. She cradled the creature in her arms, letting out a sigh upon seeing the slow rise and fall of her chest.
Coronamon rushed over to Shibutoi, the two sharing a high-five. "We did, it boss! We really did it!"
Shibutoi rubbed his noise and chuckled. "Heheh, I guess we did! ...But could you stop calling me "Boss?" It's too stuffy and boring."
"Fine! Then whaddaya want me to call you?"
Shibutoi tapped his chin in wonder. "Hm, we're definitely closer than just partners, and I'm not gonna be your superior or anything..." He clapped his hands together. "That means we're brothers! So just 'Bro' will do. Okay, bro?"
"Got it, bro!"
The two laughed heartily, before being interrupted by a low voice. "Could you two shut up?"
Haruko got up, giving the two a fierce glare. "I told you two to shut up! Lunamon and Aruarumon almost died, and here you guys are laughing it off like it was nothing! Especially after the way you burned the weed monster to death!" There was a glint in her eyes, and her shrill voice sounded as if she were about to cry. "You... you almost burned her along with it!"
Shibutoi looked at the Digimon she cradled in her arms. Aruarumon had almost been suffocated to death by Weedmon, and recklessly attacking him while she was in close proximity wasn't the wisest decision. "Okay, okay," the boy grumbled. "It won't happen again."
"You better hope so!"
They both shot each other a sharp look, before looking away. Shibutoi spotted Masaru still kneeling down on the grass, still tending to an unconscious Lunamon. Shibutoi walked over to him with Coronamon, trying his best to wear a warm smile.
"Hey, quick thinking back there, Seishuku. The thing with the branch really saved our hides."
"Thanks." Masaru barely looked up, his dark hair and goggles masking his face in shadow.
Coronamon could see Lunamon's chest slowly rising and falling, but he was still worried nonetheless. He'd seen her get beaten up back in their own world, but never this badly.
Masaru pulled the white Digimon up, holding her cautiously in his arms. In the last few traces of daylight, Shibutoi could see deeply distraught eyes plastered onto a worn out face.
"I think I'll head home now," Masaru said weakly.
"Oh, sure. Just gimme a sec and we'll come with you."
"...Actually, I sort of wanted to go now... alone."
"Alone?" The day had already gone by, and the sky was turning a dark shade of blue, becoming a rich velvet as evening descended. "But it's getting late, and like I told you earlier..."
A firm hand grabbed Shibutoi's shoulder. He looked behind him to see a solemn Haruko, slumping Aruarumon over he shoulder. She shook her head at the boy, before looking over to Masaru. "You can go on ahead, Masaru."
Masaru nodded weakly. "Thanks. Goodbye."
The other two wished him a quiet farewell as he tread back past the endless trees, finding his way back to the sidewalk. He looked down at Lunamon once more before continuing down toward the urban sprawl.
It was the early hours of the night when Masaru arrived at his floor. He had made his trip a short one, keeping to himself and looking away from others on the street and on the subway. Still, the moon was already shining through the small windows in the hallway when he raised a hand and knocked softly on his door.
The door opened slowly as his mother came into view. She was more distressed than the day before, her face twisted in worry. "Ma-Masaru...?" She reached out and hugged her son, sobbing into his shoulder. After several seconds, she let go and stared at him intently, brushing the tears from her eyes. "Where were you all this time? It's almost seven! And you wouldn't answer your cellphone!"
Masaru tried his best to come up with an excuse, but the day's hardships had worn him out more than he thought. He simply walked past her into the living room, his father looking up from the TV. Entering the room, he locked the door with a sharp click.
"Masaru!" His mother yelled. "Come back here! You need to..."
"Hold on, dear." Mr. Seishuku looked up at his wife, sincere eyes visible through his glasses. "He's tired, and something's sure to be bugging him. Whatever happened, he'll tell us later, when he wants to."
Ms. Seishuku sniffled as she sat down on a kitchen chair. "I hope you're right, dear."
Within his room, Masaru set down his schoolbag on his bed. He had carefully placed Lunamon back inside the sports bag before knocking on the apartment door, and now took her out just as gently. She was set down on the window sill, the full radiance of the moon enveloping her.
Masaru looked at his defeated partner mournfully. "I'm sorry. I... I never should have brought you to school today." After a short moment, he left the room, knowing he couldn't keep his parents waiting for long.
Lunamon awoke only a few hours later. Her bruises still stung, but the moonlight eased the pain greatly as she stood up. She hopped down quietly onto Masaru's bed, where the boy slept soundly.
Feeling a slight tinge of sorrow coming from their mind link, Lunamon touched Masaru's face lightly, feeling the moisture still fresh on his cheeks.
A/N: These chapters just get longer and longer, don't they?
As promised, the first proper battle was included here, although it was over a little too soon. However, I will try to incorporate more strategic elements in the series, as exemplified by Masaru's little tactic here.
The next chapter will take a deviation from Masaru. I feel I've given him the focus long enough, even though this chapter ends quite sadly for him. But it's probably for the best that I flesh out the other two Tamers. In particular, I don't want to leave you guys thinking Haruko's just a whiny Team Mom :P
Well, the next chapter will be started on, and I'll do my best to make sure it's up sooner.