Angel Cross: Binding Darkness
Chapter 1.3: Monster March
The headache pounced on her, leaving her to rub her temples and mumbling to herself about their increasing frequency. While the shouting of names of day-trip locations and the scratching of chalk against a board didn't help with her head, it at least gave her cover to fetch a small container of pain medication from the bag at her feet. Even though neither the lid nor the contents rattled as she opened it, all eyes turned to scrutinize her.
"I-I did clear it with the school nurse." The brunette flushed before tucking it back into her bag. "Can I open a window? It's kind of stuffy in here."
The club leader nodded before ordering the rest of the club to return to the original task so they could move to the computer lab down the hall. Hikari picked her way over to the window before hesitantly turning the locked clasp and open the windows. Cold air seeped into the room, making Hikari sigh slightly and shiver with a sudden wish to leave. "It...I must be over thinking it," she whispered to herself. But her mind raced to wonder if something was wrong; wrong in Odaiba, in the Digital World...or possibly coming from the—
"Yagami, close the damn window or you're going to give us all colds. But I bet that really doesn't matter to you since you're probably already sick." Hikari glanced at the speaker. He cocked an eyebrow and rested his chin on his hand. "Did you see the boogieman or something?"
"No, no." Hikari forced a smile. "I j-just thought it was your mother, Yori. I think she can scare even the boogieman into hiding under his bed."
Yori turned beat red as he turned away. "Yeah, yeah; don't remind me how she's the devil incarnate, Yagami." The club leader called for everyone to move to the computer lab to back-up all photographs from previous outings.
Hikari's stomach quivered. Her eyes studied the outer world: dead grass, leafless trees, the occasional passing car. She frowned.
A flash of white and yellow dash up the tree and halted on a higher branch. Yellow paws waved at her. Hikari blinked, then nodded. As the rest of the club began readying their move to the computer lab, Hikari grabbed her things and rushed out the door. As she raced to the school yard, the brunette mentally went over old psychology information to redirect her attention away from the spinning thoughts in her mind. Just in the middle of quizzing herself on the old theory of hearts and emotions, a kitten digimon leaped down from the branch and closed the remaining distance between them.
"Hikari, did you feel it?" asked the cat.
The brunette's lips thinned and gripped her bag's handle. "You-you mean...? Do you know anything about it, Gatomon?"
Gatomon shook her head. "It might be a good idea to see if anyone else knows."
Hikari nodded before rummaging through her bag for her D-terminal and phone. The girl quickly typed in a phone number, and waited for the other end to pick up.
Rather than her red-haired friend, his mother picked up with a shaky voice. "H-Hikari?"
Hikari cradled the speaker end of her cell phone as she asked, "Mrs. Izumi? Is something wrong? I need to talk to Izzy."
"You won't know where he is either." Mrs. Izumi's voice softened. Before Hikari could open her mouth to ask what the woman meant, Mrs. Izumi continued. "Koushirou's been sick all day. He was just in his bed when I checked in on him last, then the next he was gone...I w-was afraid he went to the Digital World."
Hikari lightened her voice. "I'm sure he's all right. He's with Tentomon, after all." In the back of her mind, the thought of how quick Izzy left without taking his phone or telling his mother he was leaving buzzed in her mind. As Mrs. Izumi mumbled about him being too sick to save the world, Hikari chimed in. "Mrs. Izumi, I can go to the Digital World to see if he's all right." Hikari looked to Gatomon, who studied the girl with a worried expression.
"Th-thank you, Hikari," said Mrs. Izumi. The brunette could almost picture the mother with a wispy smile.
"Don't worry, Mrs. Izumi, everything will be all right." With that, Mrs. Izumi hung up. Hikari's plastered smile faded away before she turned to Gatomon. "We need to get to the Digital World."
Gatomon nodded. The two raced off into the school. By the time she came to the staircase on the first floor, her phone shrilled. She picked it up with a quick breathe before it buzzed a second time. "Tai!"
"Hikari, where are you?" His voice rushed the ragged words, almost as if he had just ran a mile in five minutes.
"I'm still at school." Hikari pressed a hand on the staircase's railing and continued her race up the stairs. "I...Izzy's missing. I was going to go to the Digital World to—"
"Hikari, don't. Stay away from the computers!"
The brunette stopped her climb on the landing between the two floors. "What?" Gatomon looked back at her, urging her to continue. Tai swore and muttered something under his breathe. Thunder boomed on the other end of the phone. "Tai! What was—?"
"Hikari, turn off all the computers you can. Turn off breakers if you have to! Just make sure there aren't more creatures coming through the compu—Shit!" There was another bombing of thunder, followed by a screaming chorus of car alarms.
Hikari's breathe caught. Where was he?
"Hikari, take care of stuff there. I'll meet you at your school; just hang tight. We'll find another way to get Izzy." His phone then clicked off, sending the girl into silence.
The brunette took slow breathes. Her eyes flickered between the second-floor staircase and the hallway leading to the school entrance.
Hikari bit her lip. "I...I know. But Tai needs our help too..."
Gatomon padded her way over to Hikari before sitting on her haunches. "But," said the cat, dipping her head.
Nodding, the brunette turned her head up. "But my club mates need me more. They're...they're in the computer lab." Her eyes went wide. "Gatomon, the breaker room—"
"There's another way; after all, we can't just let the cat hang on the wire." Gatomon's blue eyes glanced to the window.
Hikari followed her gaze then frowned. "That's..."
Flicking her tail, Gatomon said, "We gotta do what we gotta do." She slipped off the tail ring and handed it to her partner. "I'll take care of the power while you take care of your club mates. I'm sure Izzy will be fine for a few more hours."
Reluctantly, Hikari nodded and slipped three of her fingers through it. After stuffing her phone into her jacket pocket, she retrieved her digivice and D-terminal. In a flash of light and sparkles of data, the cat digimon transformed into a large white sphinx wearing silver armor. The two went their separate ways, the sphinx digimon through the way they came and Hikari up the stairs to the computer room.
With every other step, Hikari thought of the possibilities. Could it really be digimon? And why now? Or was it the Dark Ocean's inhabitants, finally coming to claim her? Her stomach churned and her legs became wobbly as she remembered the cold and slimy hands gripping her arm, threatening to drown her in the murky waters to fight their war...or was it to mate with her?
She stopped to lean against the wall, fighting the urge to vomit. No, I can't...not now. So, she gritted her teeth and raced the rest of the way. The computer room, being at the end of the hall wasn't too far, she told herself. Half way down the hallway, a loud explosion rattled the building. Every light flickered out, sending the hallways into darkness. Hikari gasped before taking a series of shallow breathes to calm her heart. Farther down the hall, she heard shrieks. Hikari pushed herself from the wall and raced down the hallway, ignoring the beeping from her bag.
When she arrived, her club mates were sticking her heads out the window. "What the hell was that?"
"And I lost all my data!" exclaimed another club mate, who sat hunched over in defeat at one of the computers.
"Wow, be worried about losing all your data and not a terrorist attack!"
"Are you kidding me? You honestly believe all the TV's said? It's totally aliens! Or monsters!"
"Yeah, right. You're looney."
"No, it's totally—!"
"Guys," Hikari shouted, "Are you all right?"
The club leader and the rest of the club turned towards her, all alarmed. "Hikari, what are you doing here?" The club leader walked over to the door to get a better view of the brunette in the twilight of the computer room. "I thought you left?"
"No, I...I just needed to go to the bathroom," she said. "I heard the shriek and raced here. I don't think it's safe. We should get out of here as quickly as we can." Hikari gripped her partner's tail ring.
"Why did you hesitate there?" Even with Yori's face hidden by shadows, his flat voice made Hikari think he was scowling at her through the strange twilight.
"Yori, what are you suggesting? Hikari's behind all of this?"
"Of course not," he said, his own voice rising. "But she probably knows more—"
One of the other club mates groaned. "You watch too many of those supernatural dramas."
Hikari waved a hand down the hall. "Either way, it might be best we go. They probably won't have the lights fixed—"
Someone shrieked and backed up into Yori. Another shouted, "What the hell is that?"
"I told you they were monsters!"
A new wave of panic washed over Hikari. "Guys, we need to get going!" She backed away a step, making room for the rest of her club mates as they all raced out the door. Hikari didn't dare peak into the room to catch whatever had startled her club mates.
Yori hustled out of the room last and slammed the door shut behind him. "Wh-what the hell is going on, Yagami?"
Something in the back of her brain buzzed and her legs felt wobbly. "I-I don't know." Hikari's eyes flickered to the door's unusable lock.
"Well, whatever it was, it's a monster for sure! There's no way a giant rat can have yellow eyes like that!" one of the other girls cried.
"Yagami, you know something, don't you?" Yori jabbing a finger at the brunette. She stumbled back a few steps and looked up at him with furrowed brows. "People have been saying you've had so-called 'breakdowns' for no apparent reason. You know something!"
"How does spazzing equal knowing something, you doofus?" shouted the club leader. She placed a hand on Hikari's shoulder, but the brunette just felt like she felt a little smaller under the comfort. "Do you really think any of that stuff is real? Are you really suffering second-year syndrome?"
"W-we really need—" Hikari stammered.
Yori waved her quiet. "Yagami, you know-!" He froze as if he had been placed on pause. Hikari's eyes squinted for a second, but when a heart-shaped light floated from his chest and into the hands of something behind him, her breathe caught. Hikari's club mates had bolted down the hallway just as Yori's body dissolved into wisps of darkness. The buzzing strengthened in the back of her mind, accompanied with an ache and a lump in her throat. The smoke faded away to show a dark blue creature with hungry yellow eyes. It twitched, rattling it's armor.
Hikari scrambled away, her heart beating in her throat and hands gripping the tail ring tight in her hands. She screamed for Nefertimon. She screamed for Takeru, for Miyako, for Davis. She screamed for Tai. She closed in on the staircase, only a few feet from it when a spiraling orb of purple, blue, and yellow appeared in the stairway. When it faded away, it revealed a cartoon-dog creature and a ghost-like one.
Hikari raced into the classroom to her left and slammed the door shut. She shoved aside desks to get to the window before she opened it. Cold air stung her face with prickly fingers. What were those things? The creatures were not even scary, she knew that. Yet, when she opened the window, her partner's name tore from her lips. She wanted to run from the shaking door, from whatever they were. They weren't digimon, she told herself. Not with those dead yellow eyes.
The sliding door flew open and crashed into the frame. The rattling metal clawed at her ears. Tears formed into her eyes as she remembered Yori. "Nefertimon! Hurry!" she screamed.
The ghost-like creature flew at her, extending pale and gnarled fingers towards her. Hikari ducked and scrambled from the window. She grabbed a light-weight chair and pulled it with her she backed closer to the window. She picked it up as the armored humanoid and the cartoon dog raced through the desks to her. She did her best to pick up the chair and raise the legs into the air, but the tail ring suddenly burned. Hikari shouted tossing both the chair at the dog and the metal ring.
As soon as the golden ring hit the ground, a ring of golden light erupted from it, knocking away the creatures. The girl backed away a few steps as her eyes flickered between the ring and the creatures. A warmth tickled her fingers, and both her breathing and her heartbeat slowed to normal intervals. The buzzing in the back of her mind quieted down enough for her to focus on other things besides fighting or fleeing, allowing Hikari to momentarily inspect the glowing runes on the golden ring."It's capable of more things...?"
A pink beam shot through the window. It pierced both glass and the ghost that hovered at the magical barrier. It rolled away and disappeared into shadows. Nefertimon hovered by the open window. "Kari! Hurry!"
The brunette raced to the open window, grabbing the ring on her way. The light and the warmth in her fingers disappeared as she crossed the broken glass and climbed through the window. Her ears rung slightly again. A creature reached out for her foot, and Hikari kicked at it before Nefertimon rose into the air. The sphinx banked around the building. She adjusted her course as the swirling balls of color appeared around them to reveal more of the creatures.
The girl noticed strange heart-shaped emblems on some of them. "Those thing's aren't digimon..." Hikari's voice trailed off as she gripped the ring tighter between her fingers.
"No, they're not. They reek of darkness unlike any digimon I've faced." Nefertimon paused before adding, "I'll bet any of my nine lives they're the same creatures we saw in the Dark Ocean..."
Hikari's blood ran cold. She swallowed back some bile and buried her face in Nefertimon's short fur. The giant cat purred.
As they finished their circle around the school, a shout of "Nova blast" echoed into Hikari's ears.
Her head flew up. "Tai! Greymon!"
Nefertimon flew in between balls of what-ever-it-was. More of the creatures floated about, firing a wide variety of elemental attacks at the two. Hikari rubbed the tail ring with her thumbs, hoping it would unleash the protective circle again. But, it remained cold in her fingers.
When there was only a few yards between the two digimon, a small triad of blue mage-like creatures appeared. All of three fired orbs of what looked like water at the sphinx and her rider; Nefertimon lowered her altitude to avoid the orbs. When she came back up, she fired Isis Beams at the middle one while the other two were taken care of by a fireball from behind.
With the threat out of the way, the sphinx closed the distance between her and the dinosaur digimon. Hikari waved at her brother, a smile breaking out on her face, but slowly waned at the sight of a bald, dark-skinned man with a strange weapon in his hand. As she got closer, Hikari noticed the weapon he had rested against against Greymon's hard skull was a sword with key teeth on the edge of it. She widened her smile a little and hesitantly waved. In turn, he nodded back at her with a half-smile.
Somehow, Tai had kept himself from leaning too far over the digimon's head as he shouted, "Hikari, thank God you're okay! Did the other students get out?"
His sister paused and looked down to avoid seeing him blur before her. "I...I don't..." She took in a sharp breathe.
"You did all you could, miss," said the man with a gruff voice. Hikari looked at him, as he again, gave a silent nod. Hikari mimicked it. The man smiled sullenly before turning his eyes forward. "It would be best to get all of us to a safe location." He tightened his grip on the handle of his blade.
Tai nodded. "TK's is the closest place we can get to. It's just across the rainbow bridge."
The foreigner blinked, deep-set eyes wide. "As in Takaishi?"
The brown-haired siblings exchanged confused glances. "You know TK?" asked Hikari.
For a second, the man sat with his arms folded, only as best one could do with a large weapon with key teeth at the end of it. He then looked down at the school. "All right, then. Nancy will be more than happy to see me." He let out a heavy breathe.
Tai shrugged. "Let's go, Greymon."
"On it." The dinosaur marched off towards the Rainbow Bridge with Nefertimon and Hikari following behind them.
This chapter covers a hole in my previous version of my chapter, centering on how Hikari had been shown to meet Torstein. The original scene was rather short (only a about 200 words), and now her scene is her own part. Sorry for the lateness of this chapter. And fixing formatting on fanfiction sucks, oh wow.