- Disclaimer and Author's Notes: Most characters, places, and things belong to and/or were inspired by the Digimon TV show, which is, of course, owned by the almighty Saban. This story takes place directly after "Wizardmon's Gift," and is out of continuity beyond that point. Thanks for reading!
Sweet, dark, shielding night, had finally come, and Myotismon couldn't help but give a sigh of relief. Even now, he was in pain from the bolt fired by Angewomon, a ray of pure light ripping through is heart, threatening to tear him to shreds, and it had been all he could do to hold himself together against the power and pain. He had fallen back on his last defense, turning himself to fog and fading away, fleeing back for his hidden lair beneath the earth, out of the reach of the great star's rays. Here, he would be safe. He could recover his powers here, and make plans for how to defeat the Digidestined once and for all. They would think he was dead, of course. It would never enter their minds that he could have survived their attacks, the arrogant brats. Well, let them think he was gone; it could only serve his purposes in the long run. They would go about their day-to-day business, never dreaming that he might still be plotting against them, and then, in the dark of the night, out of the shadows, their doom would come. It was fated. Myotismon could only become master of both this world and the Digiworld, and the human children and their digi-pets would be crushed by him and his legions. As for that traitor Gatomon... he should have known better to trust her. After all those years of seemingly loyal service, it had been she who had put the bolt in him that had nearly brought his downfall! Well, she would be the first to be crushed, starting with that which had caused her change of loyalties in the first place... her heart.
"I can count on you, I hope," he said to the figure that lurked in the shadows.
"Of course, Lord Myotismon," answered the creature in a soft, dry, faintly accented voice. It was an unimpressive looking thing, a faintly humanoid being that looked more like a child in a Halloween costume than the monster who would bring about Gatomon's destruction. His skin, what could be seen of it, was greyish, but most of it was covered by a kind of pale cream-colored suit, a red vest, brown gloves and boots. Covering the upper half of his face and sweeping down to his ankles was a long, grey-black cape, embroidered with silver sorcerous markings and held in place by a skull pin. A peaked cap of matching material covered his head, and it, too, was marked with a stylized skull. Wisps of straw-yellow hair peeked out below the brim, short and spiky in front and long in back, held in a loose ponytail. The only other features that could be distinguished were a pair of pointed ears and a pair of eyes. They were cold, calculating, and an eerie shade of magenta-red.
"Very good," Myotismon replied, smiling faintly. "We will not make our first attack just yet, I think. It would be better if the Digidestined had time to let down their guard. Then, when they least expect it, we will begin to move. Even if they realize what we're doing, it will be too late."
"I will not fail you, my lord," answered the shadowy monster. "I shall not rest until Gatomon is destroyed."
Myotismon smiled, letting his fangs glimmer in the dim light. "Thank you, Wizardmon. I'll enjoy watching that."
Gatomon sat atop the railing of the balcony outside Kari's room, watching the stars peek out one by one, reflecting in her shining blue eyes. A gentle breeze ruffled her fur, stroking her whiskers and playfully tossing her long tail. Kari lay in bed, watching her companion through the thin curtains.
"Aren't you going to sleep, Gatomon?" she asked.
"Hmm? Of, I'm sorry, Kari," said Gatomon. "I was just... thinking."
"You miss your friend, don't you, Gatomon?" asked Kari sympathetically.
"Yes," Gatomon replied, letting her ears hang sadly. "He was the first person who ever really cared about me."
"I care about you, Gatomon," Kari replied. "We all do. We're your friends now."
"I know," said Gatomon, jumping down from the railing. "I care about you too, Kari. It's just that Wizardmon was special. I'll miss him."
"I know," said Kari. "Here, Gatomon. You can come sleep in my bed with me, like a regular kitty-cat. When I'm not happy, sometimes Mom and Dad will let me sleep with them. It makes me feel better."
Gatomon considered a moment. Then, with a pair of graceful leaps, she bounded from the balcony to Kari's room and onto her pillow, curling up into a cozy ball of white fur. Kari giggled and hugged her, and she sighed and decided she did feel a little better.
"Are you going to be okay, Gatomon?" asked Kari.
"I think so. Thanks, Kari," Gatomon replied. For a moment, she was quiet, thinking. Then she asked, "Kari, what's an angel?"
"An angel?" Kari repeated, caught off guard.
"Mmm-hmm," said Gatomon, nodding. "I think that's the word. When I transformed into Angewomon, you asked if I was an angel. I want to know what an angel is, so I know if I am one or not."
"Of course you're an angel!" Kari replied. "Angels are special things that look after people and protect them, just like you do for me. Here, let me show you."
Kari hopped out of bed and ran to her bookshelf. After scanning the titles, she returned carrying a picture book. She flipped open to a certain page and clicked on a bedside lamp so Gatomon could see it. The picture showed a beautiful winged woman with long golden hair and a flowing white gown. Gatomon's eyes widened in wonder.
"That is me!" she said. "The picture looks like Angewomon!"
"See? I told you that you were an angel," Kari replied.
"And Patamon? Is he an angel, too?" Gatomon persisted.
"Yes, he's one, too," said Kari. "But it isn't what you look like that makes you an angel. It's what you do."
"Are you sure? I wasn't always a very good Digimon..." said Gatomon sadly.
"That's okay. It's all over now," Kari replied. "Now you're here with me, and everything's gonna be different. We're going to be best friends forever!"
"I think you're an angel," said Gatomon.
"Aw, thanks, Gatomon. That's sweet," said Kari, smiling.
Gatomon settled down more comfortably on the pillow, closing her eyes with a soft sigh of contentment. Kari set her book aside, turned off the lamp, and settled down next to her friend. She was lulled to sleep by the gentle sound of Gatomon's purring.
"Faster, Gabumon! You're going to miss it!" Agumon shouted.
"I'm going as fast as I can!" Gabumon shouted back.
"I've got it! I've got it!" cheered Tentomon.
"Hey, no fair! He's got wings!" Gomamon complained.
"I've got it," Palmon corrected. "Poison Ivy!"
Palmon lashed out her long, purple-green vines, wrapping them around a frisbee and pulling it back to her. The other Digimon moaned, and Mimi cheered.
"Yay! You show 'em, Palmon!" she whooped, waving her trademark cowgirl hat in jubilation.
"Hey, that's not fair!" Matt complained. "There ought to be a rule against using your attacks during the game."
The eight Digidestined kids were relaxing in the park, the events of the past few days already put out of mind in the excitement of a frisbee game. All of their Digimon were fascinated with the ways of humans, and the idea of competitive sports was one they found entertaining. They were all enjoying a chance to show off their skills without the threat of one of Myotismon's monsters looming over them.
"Hey, Sora, do you want to play, too?" asked Biyomon. "You never got to teach us to play soccer. You ought to play frisbee with us."
"Sounds like a great idea to me!" Tai enthused. "Kids against Digimon?"
"Or guys against girls," suggested Matt.
"But there are more of you guys than there are of us girls," Kari protested.
"Hey, Joe can play on your team," laughed Tai. "He almost counts as a girl!"
"That's not funny, Tai," Matt said.
"Hey, I was just kidding! Sheesh!"
"I'll play on your team if you want, Kari," said T.K. "Patomon will help, too, won't you, Patomon?"
"Sure will!" Patomon agreed.
"Count me out. I'm not athletic," said Joe. "I'd just trip over my feet or something."
"I don't really feel like playing sports," Mimi agreed. "It's been so long since we had a chance to relax, and I'm going to enjoy it!"
"What do you think, Izzy?" asked Tai. "You want to play frisbee with us?"
"Hmm?" said Izzy distractedly. As usual, he was hunched over his laptop, tapping frantically away at the keys. "Were you guys talking about something? Can it wait?"
"Izzy, what are you doing?" asked Tentomon, touching down to earth so he could peer at his companion's technical endeavors. "Myotismon and his monsters are gone. What could you possibly be doing now?"
"Um, well... It's probably nothing," Izzy prevaricated. "Just something I've been working on. I started it yesterday, after the fight."
"Well, don't keep us in the dark! What are you up to?" asked Tai.
"Searching," Izzy answered cryptically. "I've been doing some experiments in Digimon- tracking. Because they're digital in nature, theoretically, I ought to be able to track them with my computer by tracking their digital codes - a little like the way we identify people by their DNA. See, here are all our Digimon."
He clicked away at his keyboard, and the screen suddenly became a pattern of pale blue lines against a black background. A circle of multicolored dots hovered in the center of the grid.
"Ooh, that's kinda pretty," said Mimi. "If we connect the dots, do we get a picture?"
"You've got to be kidding me," Joe muttered.
Izzy gave Mimi a sharp look. "Weren't you paying attention? Each of those points on the grid represent one of our Digimon: green for Palmon, white for Gatomon, yellow for Agumon, orange for Patomon, purple for Gomamon, blue for Gabumon, pink for Biyomon, and red for Tentomon."
"Why can't I have pink?" Mimi complained.
"That's pretty cool," said Tai. "Can you track all Digimon like that?"
"Not yet. Only the ones whose codes I've been able to enter into my computer," Izzy replied. "I've been going through all my files, downloading the information, but it's taking a while. Once I'm done, though, we'll be able to find just about any Digimon that wanders into our world."
"What good will that do us?" asked Matt. "All the monsters are gone, remember?"
"Correction," Izzy replied. "Myotismon is gone. We don't know what happened to his henchmen. It's possible that they're still out there, hiding."
"That's kind of creepy," said Sora with a shiver. Biyomon pressed closer to her protectively. "But you'll be able to find them with that computer of yours, right?"
"Hopefully," said Izzy.
"Hopefully?" Joe repeated. "You mean there might possibly be monsters lurking around out there, and we won't know about it until they come to eat us?"
"Well, it is a possibility," said Izzy with a shrug.
"That's real encouraging," said Tai. "You might as well tell us that maybe we didn't zap Myotismon, after all, and that he'll be after us again."
"Hold that thought!" said Izzy. "I just got an e-mail!"
"Is this really the time to be attending to your personal life?" asked Matt. "If there are monsters out there, shouldn't we be concentrating on looking for them?"
"You guys!" Sora protested. "We don't have anything to worry about yet. Izzy only said there might be monsters. If there are, he'll find them, and if there aren't, we've got nothing to worry about. Besides, the chances are good that we won't have any more monster trouble now that Myotismon is gone."
"I'm not afraid of monsters!" T.K. said. "If we meet any monsters, Patomon will just turn into Angemon and blast 'em, won't you, Patamon?"
"Of course! That's what I'm here for," Patomon agreed.
"I'm scared of monsters," said Gatomon quietly. "I know what they're like."
"It's okay, Gatomon," said Kari. "I'm here for you. Besides, you can beat anything when you turn into Angewomon."
"You guys argue if you want to," said Izzy. "I'm going to open my mail."
He clicked a few keys, and the grid on his screen vanished, only to be replaced by a digitized image of a familiar face.
"Greetings!" said a voice.
"It's an e-mail from Gennai!" Izzy exclaimed.
"You were expecting, maybe, Elvis?" asked Tai.
"Who's that weird guy?" asked Kari.
"That's Gennai," Sora explained. "Don't worry, he's a friend."
The face in the computer ignored all of them. "Congratulations to you all! You've located the eighth Digidestined. Welcome to you both, Kari and Gatomon."
"Thanks!" they said in unison.
"Your arrival and joining with the others will be a serious obstacle for Myotismon in times to come," Gennai continued. "Remember, as long as all eight of you are working together, you will be able to stand up against his evil."
"Hey, wait a minute!" Tai protested. "Myotismon's gone! Angewomon put a hole right through him!"
"I know you all are thinking that Mytismon is gone," said Gennai. "I'm afraid it won't be so easy to defeat him. Myotismon is a very ancient and powerful type of Digimon, and it will take something special to defeat him. In the event that even your Ultimate Digimon aren't enough to destroy him entirely, I'm arranging to send you some help. He'll be there if you need him. In the meantime, be very careful! There's no telling what Myotismon will do now. Good luck, Digidestined!" The image blinked out.
Joe turned to Tai. "There! See what you just did!"
"Me? What did I do?" Tai protested. "I didn't do anything!"
"Yes you did! You started talking about Myotismon coming back and jinxed us!" said Joe.
"Hey, that wasn't my fault! How was I supposed to know?"
"Would you two stop that?" asked Sora. "Its nobody's fault, okay? Why don't we stop arguing and start thinking about what to do now?"
"Well, for starters," Izzy replied, "I can get to work downloading all the codes for Myotismon's henchmen, so we can keep track of them... not to mention Myotismon himself. Once I have that information, it's possible I can program your Digivices to give us a warning when the monsters get too close."
"That's a start," said Matt, "but it sure won't be any fun hanging around and waiting to see what Myotismon's going to do next."
"I know what he's going to do next," said Gatomon. "He's going to come after me. I'm the one who hurt him last time. He always hated me, and now that I've left him, he's going to hate me even more because I've betrayed him. He's going to come after me... and you too, Kari." Her ears drooped in shame. "I'm going to be putting you all in danger. Maybe it would have been better if you hadn't met me."
"Don't say that, Gatomon," said Kari, hugging her companion. "We were meant to be together. You know that. As long as we stay together, everything will be all right."
"I hope so," said Gatomon. She sighed. "I wish... I wish we hadn't lost Wizardmon. He was my best friend. He always looked after me when I was in trouble..."
"We're all your friends now, Gatomon," said Agumon. "We all look after each other. We'll keep you safe."
Gatomon managed a small smile. "Thanks, Agumon."
"I guess this means our vacation is over?" asked Mimi wistfully. "I didn't even have time for any shopping!"
"The fun is definitely over," said Matt.
Unseen by any of the kids or their Digimon, a small, dark shape peered down on them from his perch in the fork of a tree. His golden eyes glittered maliciously, and he chuckled to himself.
"You're wrong about that, Digidestined!" he laughed. "The fun is just beginning!"
Wizardmon paced the floor of Myotismon's lair impatiently, his long cloak flapping behind him, as if in imitation of the bats that served his master. In the thick shadows that permeated Myotismon's lair, all that could be seen of him were his eyes, shining like two red stars beneath the brim of his hat. In his weakened state, the vampire Digimon found sunlight intolerable, but even when he was at full strength, it was still eternally night in Myotismon's domain. As for Wizardmon, he cared little about the lighting - let it be lit or shadowed, he could find his way easily enough, or conjure a light if he needed it. However, time did matter, and he was getting tired of waiting. He swept across the length of the chamber and back again like a frustrated storm cloud looking for a place to dispense with its rain and lightning.
Within moments, there was a faint rushing sound, the distinct noise of someone using the elevator to enter from the outside world. It was soon replaced by the fluttering of wings, and Wizardmon turned to see DemiDevimon returning from his reconnaissance mission. Judging by the wicked grin plastered across his face, he had heard something of interest.
"Well?" blurted Wizardmon impatiently. "What did you hear?"
"None of your business, scarecrow," answered DemiDevimon impudently. "The only one who needs to hear this is the boss."
"Listen here, you poor excuse for a feather duster, in case you haven't noticed, Lord Myotismon has entrusted me with the destruction of the Digidestined. All you are is a convenient means of gathering information. I am the master's right-hand Digimon, and don't you ever forget that. Furthermore, I could turn you into a Numemon if I felt like it, so start talking."
"Sheesh! All right, already! You don't have to get violent," DemiDevimon protested. "For your information, Myotismon told me I was supposed to report directly to him, and he didn't say anything about you. So there!" DemiDevimon stuck his tongue out at Wizardmon.
In reply, the wizard made a casual gesture with one hand, and DemiDevimon suddenly found himself flying upside-down. The moment he realized he was defying gravity, he fell to the floor with a loud thump.
"Ouch," he said dazedly.
The room suddenly grew colder, and even what little light there was seemed to diminish, all of it being sucked into a patch of absolute black that was forming in midair. In a swirl of fluttering bats, Myotismon entered the chamber and surveyed the situation with an icy stare.
"And just what, may I ask, is going on here?" he asked with deadly calmness.
"DemiDevimon has returned from his scouting expedition, Lord Myotismon," said Wizardmon. "Give your report, DemiDevimon."
"Huh? Just who do you think you are, bossing me around like that?" DemiDevimon growled, attempting to right himself. His wings were getting in his way, but he persisted. Wizardmon rolled his magenta eyes heavenward in vexation and turned the batlike creature right side up.
"Quit fooling around!" Myotismon snapped. "You heard Wizardmon! Report!"
DemiDevimon growled softly and shot a look of death at Wizardmon, but he straightened his feathers and began making his report.
"Those pesky kids are up there goofing off in the park, and the brainiac is messing with his computer," he said. "He's got it rigged so he can track us wherever we go!"
"Hmm. That could be problematic," Myotismon mused, "but not fatal. Not yet, anyway. In the future, though, it could become dangerous..."
"If I may put in a word, Lord Myotismon?" asked Wizardmon.
"Make it good."
"A computer is a powerful tool for manipulating digital matter," Wizardmon replied. "Used properly, it could not only track us and our kind, but be used to alter Digimon in certain ways. Make them digivolve, for example, or pull them in and out of existence. I would say this computer could be dangerous right now."
"Unless they should happen to... mislay it somehow," said Myotismon. His teeth glittered in a slow, deadly smile. "I think it would be in my best interests to send someone to relieve him of it. I'm sure I could put it to better use."
"I'm sure you could," Wizardmon agreed. "Would you like me to lead the attack? I'm looking forward to seeing Gatomon's reaction when she meets me."
"No. Not yet," Myotismon replied. "I don't want anyone seeing you yet. Wait until later, after they've lost any chance of early warning. I'm not taking any more chances."
"As you wish," said Wizardmon reluctantly.
"It is decided," Myotismon said. "Once these inconveniences are dealt with, the Digidestined will never know what hit them."
The atmosphere in the park was generally tense. The Digimon had abandoned their game, and were now hovering silently around their companions, attempting to be supportive. The humans fidgeted, staring off into space or watching Izzy, who was completely absorbed in his computing, keeping up a constant staccato tapping of keys. Gatomon looked particularly nervous, prowling restlessly and frequently scanning the sky. The sun was beginning to sink, and the sky was already beginning to pale with the onset of twilight.
"We shouldn't be here," she said abruptly. "This place is going to be dangerous soon."
"What do you mean?" asked Sora.
"Myotismon's hideout is here in the park," Gatomon explained. "He'll be hiding underground, now, out of the sun, but when it gets dark..."
"Then I guess we'd better go find somewhere safer, right?" Joe suggested.
"We should be going home, anyway, or we'll be late for dinner," Tai replied.
"Same here," said Matt.
"And I've got all kinds of homework to catch up on," added Joe.
In ones and twos, the Digidestined began saying their goodbyes and wandering away. However, trailing behind her new friend, Gatomon couldn't help but notice that someone was missing. Casting a look over her shoulder, she saw that Izzy was still rooted in place, his eyes fastened on the screen in front of him, while Tentomon hummed nervously above his head. Brimming with catly curiosity, the feline bounded to his side to take a closer look.
"Aren't you going to leave, too?" she asked.
"Not yet. Just give me a few more minutes," Izzy replied, never looking away from the pattern of images and lights. "I've almost got this thing finished. I don't want to shut down when I'm so close to finishing!"
"But Izzy, it's not safe!" Tentomon protested. "Can't you wait until you get home... say, maybe, after dinner?"
"Just a nano. We can go as soon as I'm done."
"Izzy..." Tentomon begged.
"Gatomon! Gatomon, where are you?" called Kari's voice.
"I've got to go," said Gatomon. "Promise me you'll get out of here as soon as you're done, all right?"
"Sure, fine," Izzy replied. "Nothing to worry about."
Gatomon nodded resignedly, knowing that was the best she was going to get from him, and then bounded off to rejoin her companion.
"There you are!" Kari said. "Where did you go?"
"Just checking on your friend," Gatomon replied. "I'm worried about him. I think he's more worried about his computer than he is about Myotismon."
"Hey, don't worry!" said Tai. "Izzy can take care of himself. Besides, he's got Tentomon to protect him, right?"
"One Digimon isn't much good against Myotismon or one of his monsters, though," Agumon pointed out. "Maybe we should stay here and keep an eye on him."
"I think that would be a good idea," Kari agreed. "You can't be too careful when there's monsters around."
Tai looked down at the three pairs of determined eyes staring up at him, and he sighed. "Oh, okay. I guess it won't matter much if we're a little late... but this better not take too long. I'm starved!"
With that, the two humans and two Digimon settled in to watch and wait.
Izzy gave a small sigh as the final set of information loaded itself into place. He closed his eyes and stretched, feeling a bit stiff after sitting still for so long. Clicking a few buttons made the computer shut down, and the sudden lack of light made Izzy realize how late it was - the sun had already set, and the shadows had fallen heavily around him, making it almost too dark to see. Next to him, Tentomon was curled up a ball, dozing.
"Man, that took longer than I thought," he muttered. "Wake up, Tentomon! It's time to get going."
"Hmm? What?" said Tentomon, shaking himself awake. "Oh, no, is it nighttime already? We were supposed to be home a long time ago!"
"Sorry, lost track of time," Izzy muttered. "We'll just have to hurry, that's all. Nobody could have found us yet, could they?"
Just then, there was a rushing noise. Tentomon dove at Izzy, making them both go tumbling across the grass. In the same instant, a nearby tree dropped to earth with a loud crash and the snap of breaking branches.
"Come out of hiding, Digidestined! I know you're around here somewhere!" boomed a voice.
"That answer your question?" asked Tentomon.
"Um, yeah, I'd say that was a yes," Izzy replied. "What in the Digiworld is that thing?"
The creature that was lumbering towards them was an enormous musclebound brute, the classic grunt fighter with heavy limbs and sharp claws. It was armored in places, with metal plates covering its tail and spiked armor on one shoulder, but it was otherwise covered mainly just by its wrinkled yellow skin. Its head was covered with a rust-brown helmet with a horn in the center, like a parody of Greymon's mask. From within the mask came a glitter of red and blue, a single wicked eye.
"That's Cyclomon!" Tentomon replied. "He's bad news!"
"Well, don't just stand there!" said Izzy. "Digivolve!"
"Right. Tentomon digivolve to... Kabuterimon!"
Cyclomon's attention was caught by the resulting flash. Turning toward the flash, he was suddenly bowled over as a gigantic winged insect suddenly shot out of the trees. The cyclops monster staggered backwards in surprise but steadied itself with its tail.
"There you are!" it snarled. "Prepare to be destroyed!"
"I don't think so!" Kabuterimon replied. "Electro Shocker!"
"Evil Eye!" Cyclomon shouted back. Red light shot from the hole in his mask, striking the ball of blue-lilac lightning Kabuterimon had fired and reducing it to a rain of harmless sparks. The evil monster roared with laughter as it leaped into the air, preparing to slash at Kabuterimon with his two oversized talons.
Meanwhile, Kari was shaking her brother's shoulder vigorously.
"Tai! Tai, wake up! Izzy's in trouble!"
"Huh? What?" muttered Tai sleepily.
"Tai, Izzy's being attacked by a monster! We've gotta help him!" Kari said.
"Guess you were right after all," Tai admitted. "Good work, little sis. Agumon, get digivolving!"
"You got it, Tai! Agumon digivolve to... Greymon!"
In the next instant, Cyclomon was distracted from his struggles with Kabuterimon by a scorching fireball smashing into its unprotected back. It screamed in anger and pain, whirling in place to see what was attacking it. Kabuterimon took the opportunity to fire another Super Shocker attack in the beast's direction, but missed as it sprang at Greymon, who beat it off with his tail.
"Nice to see you, Greymon!" said Kabuterimon.
"You looked like you could use some help," Greymon replied while dodging swipes from Cyclomon's claws.
With all eyes fixed on the battle, no one was noticing a small dark shape flitting through the treetops. DemiDevimon looked down on Izzy and his unattended laptop, thinking, *This is going to be too easy! The boss is gonna be real proud of me. Ha, here I am winning all the glory, and Wizardmon is stuck twiddling his thumbs! I love it!*
Cyclomon was too busy with mortal combat to notice or care about the presence of his ally. It turned on Greymon and Kabuterimon with its one eye blazing.
"The two of you together aren't enough to stop me!" it boasted. "I'll destroy you both, and your Digidestined friends, too!"
"I don't think so!" said a voice. A white blur launched itself through the air, screaming a battle cry: "Lightning Claw!"
"Way to go, Gatomon!" Kari cheered.
Gatomon landed on Cyclomon's snout, ramming her small paw through the one hole in the creature's helmet, slashing viciously at its unprotected eye. It roared and clawed at her, but it was too late - she had already leapt to safety, and her work was done. Blinded now, Cyclomon was bereft of both attack and defense, it could only stand petrified as Kabuterimon and Greymon launched their attacks.
"Aaaarrrgh!" screamed Cyclomon. The scream grew fainter and fainter as the creature was broken down into digital bits, and finally, it vaporized altogether, leaving only the echo of its cry hanging in the air.
Mission completed, Greymon and Kabuterimon reverted to their more comfortable forms of Agumon and Tentomon, and Tai, Kari, and Gatomon went to congratulate them.
"You guys were awesome," said Tai. "Way to go, you two!"
"Thanks, but we couldn't have done it without Gatomon," Agumon replied.
Gatomon smiled bashfully. "Aw, it was nothing."
Suddenly, the air was filled once again with the sound of screaming - a human scream, this time. All heads turned toward the sound as they realized whose voice it was.
"That sounded like Izzy!" said Tai.
The humans and Digimon hurried toward the source of the cry. They found Izzy on his hands and knees, breathing hard, as if he'd just recently made a lunge for something and missed. His face was white from shock.
"Izzy, what's wrong?" asked Tentomon anxiously.
Izzy looked up at his friends with a stricken expression. "DemiDevimon... he stole my laptop!"
"Is that all?" asked Tai. "I mean, I know that computer's your favorite toy, but was it really worth screaming over? It sounded like someone was trying to kill you!"
"Don't you get it?" Izzy snapped. "Every bit of information on every Digimon we've ever met is in that computer. That includes all our Digimon - their strengths, their weaknesses, their attacks, everything! It tells where they are at all times. It tells where we are at all times! If Myotismon figures out how to use it, we don't stand a chance!"
"All right, all right, I see your point!" Tai replied. "What are we going to do about it, though? Just walk up to Myotismon and ask him nicely to give it back?"
"Of course not; that would be preposterous," said Izzy. He was beginning to recover from his shock and was starting to think logically again. "Our only option is to sneak into Myotismon's hideout and steal it."
"Are you crazy?" asked Tentomon. "You can't go in there! You'll be eaten alive!"
"That's not true," Gatomon said. "Wizardmon and I tried it once. We would have made it if Myotismon hadn't seen us."
"And how are we supposed to make sure he doesn't see us?" asked Agumon.
"Well, it's nighttime now," said Gatomon thoughtfully. "If I know Myotismon, he'll be going out into the city soon, to feed and start regaining his strength. If we can get in and get out before daybreak, we should be safe."
"Should be?" repeated Tentomon dubiously. "May I point out that 'should be' doesn't necessarily mean 'will be'?"
"We'll have to chance it," said Izzy. "Otherwise, we might not all make it to morning! Gatomon, can you show me where the entrance to Myotismon's lair is?"
Gatomon nodded solemnly. "Are you want to go? It might be safer if I went by myself. I know my way around, and I would blend in more easily than you would."
"Thanks, Gatomon, but this is my computer we're talking about," Izzy answered. "I let DemiDevimon steal it, and I'm going to be the one who gets it back. I'll take Tentomon for protection, though, and I'd appreciate it if you'd come along to guide me."
"If she goes, I go," Kari said stubbornly.
"No way!" said Tai. "I'm not letting Myotismon get you again!"
"But Gatomon can't digivolve to Angewomon without me!" Kari protested. "You might need her if you run into Myotismon."
"The whole idea is not to run into Myotismon," said Izzy. "You'll be better off staying behind with Tai and Agumon."
"Huh? Why do we have to stay behind?" Tai complained.
Izzy gave his friend a hard look. "We want to sneak in, not invade the place. The fewer people the better. Besides, somebody's got to stand guard."
"Well, okay," said Tai reluctantly. "When do we start?"
"The sooner, the better," Izzy answered.
Gatomon nodded. "Follow me, then."
They moved silently and determinedly through the park, single file. Izzy looked up at the night sky, thinking of what he was about to do and watching a faint mist blow in, and he shivered...
DemiDevimon fluttered into the subterranean chamber, struggling with the weight of the laptop - it was almost as large as he was and nearly as heavy, and he was having difficulty staying aloft with the cumbersome box in his claws. Puffing and panting from the unaccustomed labor, he made it halfway across the room before his energy ran out, and the computer slipped from his grasp.
"Oops," he said.
"Careful!" Wizardmon gasped.
A green light flared, and the laptop halted its descent in midair. It drifted weightlessly downwards to land lightly in Wizardmon's hands. He turned his piercing gaze to DemiDevimon.
"You bungling bat! You could have destroyed this thing," he said, clutching the computer protectively. "It's no good to us in a dozen pieces. I don't know why Myotismon didn't let me do the job."
"Humph. At least I got it here," DemiDevimon muttered. "You wouldn't be talking like that if you were the one who had to lug the thing all the way down here."
"Both of you be quiet," said Myotismon, emerging from the shadows. "I see you've got the computer. Excellent work, DeimiDevimon. It appears you're good for something after all."
DemiDevimon shot a smug look to Wizardmon, who countered with a silent glare.
"I am going out now," Myotismon continued. "You, Wizardmon, will examine our new tool while I am away. See if you can put it some good use."
"Me?" Wizardmon repeated, taken off guard. "But I thought-"
"What you think is of no consequence," said Myotismon. "This computer business was your idea, so you will be the one to figure out how it works, since you claim to know so much. Is that clear?"
"Yes, Lord Myotismon," answered Wizardmon obediently.
"Very well. I will return at sunrise to see what progress you have made," said Myotismon. "If there is any trouble while I'm gone, eliminate it, or the penalty will be severe." So saying, he vanished in his customary swirl of bats.
Wizardmon gave a small sigh and went to find a quiet place to work. His knowledge of computers was little better than anyone else's, but there was no arguing with Myotismon. He would just have to rely on his own intelligence and some trial-and-error. Fortunately for him, he did have a few wits at his disposal... unlike some.
"Hey, Wizardmon, can I look at the computer?" begged DemiDevimon, fluttering along beside him.
"Absolutely not," Wizardmon answered curtly. "I wouldn't let you touch this with a ten- foot pole."
"Why not? I stole it, so I should get to look at it," DemiDevimon persisted.
"I said no. Myotismon was very clear that I should be the only one to use this. I don't want to get in trouble because you pushed the wrong button or something. Now, go make yourself useful somewhere, if you can."
"Humph. I get no respect around here," DemiDevimon muttered. Grumbling and complaining to himself, he flapped back to the entrance chamber and hung upside-down from the ceiling, standing guard. Within moments, he was sound asleep.
"Are we there yet?" Tai complained, stumbling over a tree root. A fog had rolled in, compounding the darkness of an already black night.
"Almost," Gatomon assured him. "It's just up ahead, so be very quiet! We don't want anyone to hear us."
Soon, they reached the edge of a clearing, and Gatomon beckoned for them to duck behind a group of bushes. With one claw pressed to her mouth in a gesture for silence, she used the other to point out into the center of the glen. A shadowy shape was drifting back and forth in silent watchfulness.
"Bakemon," Izzy whispered. "Well, no one said this would be easy."
"Are you sure this is a good idea, Izzy?" Tentomon asked. "Maybe we could just go home and forget about it, huh?"
"No. I need that computer back," said Izzy determinedly.
"Shh!" Gatomon hissed. "Look! Someone's coming!"
The Digidestined ducked into the shadows, peering anxiously through the foliage and mist at the shifting shapes in front of them. A looming silhouette rose up from the earth, a shape that could be distinguished as an antique carriage with neither horses nor even tracers. The Bakemon snapped to attention before it. There were sounds of muffled conversation before the ghostly chariot creaked off into the night.
"That's Myotismon going out for the night," Gatomon explained. "Now's our chance."
"I still think you should let us come with you," said Tai. "What good are we going to be doing hanging around out here?"
"Somebody's got to watch for Myotismon coming back," Izzy replied. "If he does, stall him."
*Boy, do I wish I had my computer back,* he thought to himself. *I could use it to open a communications channel using our Digivices, like I did with Mimi in Centarumon's temple. Then I could let him know if I got in trouble... one more reason why I have to get it back!*
"You sure are pushy tonight," Tai muttered. "Maybe we should take your computer away more often. You don't get this worked up when one of us is in trouble."
Izzy ignored the comment. "I'm ready. How about you, Tentomon? Gatomon?"
"Ready as I'll ever be," said Tentomon.
Gatomon nodded. "Let's move."
"Be careful, Gatomon!" Kari cautioned. "All of you be careful!"
On hands and knees, on all fours, and even on all sixes, Izzy and his digital companions crept along the perimeter of the clearing, partially hidden by the fog and shadows. The Bakemon continued sweeping back and forth in search of intruders. He made no sound as he moved, and the mist-muffled stillness was oppressive. Suddenly, Izzy's knee snapped a twig. The Bakemon looked up in alarm.
"What was that?" it demanded. "Who goes there?"
The mist shifted, revealing a pair of glittering blue eyes. Gatomon stepped gradually into view on feet as silent as the fog itself.
"You again!" said the Bakemon. "You have a lot of nerve coming back here, Gatomon. Myotismon has given orders for you to be destroyed!"
"I'd worry about saving yourself, if I were you," Gatomon answered calmly.
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Nothing," said Gatomon. "Just that there's another Digimon sneaking up behind you."
"What? You think I'm going to fall for that old-"
The rest of whatever the creature was going to say was cut off by a sudden burst of crackling electricity, and the ghost let out a final yelp before vanishing in a flash of light and digital sparks. Tentomon buzzed out of the fog, looking pleased with himself.
"Way to go, Tentomon!" said Izzy.
"Not so loud!" Gatomon hissed. "Someone might have heard that explosion. Do you want the rest of Myotismon's monsters out here next?"
Izzy blushed. "Oops."
Gatomon shook her head and stepped into the exact center of the clearing, beckoning for Izzy and Tentomon to come stand next to her. As soon as they were all together, a square patch of earth suddenly began sliding straight down into the ground, smoothly and silently, lowering them into darkness. Without Gatomon's night-vision, Izzy found himself almost totally blinded. All he could see were indefinite shadows, a low grey mist, and the beginnings of a floor stretching off to invisibility. There was a growling, grinding noise coming from somewhere up above.
"What's that? An evil Digimon guard beast?" asked Tentomon, peering timidly around Izzy's legs.
"No, it's just DemiDevimon snoring," said Gatomon. "Let's get out of here before he wakes up."
"Right," Izzy agreed. "You're going to have to lead the way, Gatomon. I admit, I don't even know where to begin looking."
"You've come to the right cat burglar," Gatomon replied. "Just follow me, and stay quiet! One wrong move and Myotismon's henchmen will be all over us."
Following Gatomon's lead, they tiptoed across the room and into a hallway beyond. Looking around at the maze of halls and doorways, Izzy was astonished at how much Myotismon had been able to do. He had to be incredibly powerful to construct all this!
*I want all this to be over with so I can get out of here,* he thought. *I'm just not cut out for this adventuring stuff. I don't know what I can do without my computer...*
The hallways went on and on, diving down staircases and winding through shadowed passageways until Izzy felt completely lost, but Gatomon seemed to know where she was going, and she made each change in direction without hesitation. Then, without any warning, she froze, and Izzy nearly tripped over her, regaining his balance at the last instant.
"What's up?" asked Tentomon.
"Listen! Something's coming!" she said.
Izzy listened, hearing a sound of soft thumping coming from somewhere down a side passage.
"What are we going to do?" asked Izzy.
"You two keep going," Gatomon replied. "I'll lure the monsters away. Follow this hallway to the end and turn left, and hide in the first room you come to. I'll meet you there!"
With that, she turned and darted off into the shadows. Izzy and Tentomon watched her until she vanished into the all-pervasive darkness.
"I don't like this, I don't like this at all," Tentomon complained. "We shouldn't be splitting up!"
"Just be quiet and keep walking," snapped Izzy. "I don't like this any better than you do, but we don't have any choice."
Tentomon ignored him. "These hallways are too small! There's no room to Digivolve! Why did we have to come here, anyway? Let Myotismon keep the computer and let's get out of here!"
"Stop panicking!" Izzy said. "We've come this far, and there's no way we could turn back now, so we've got to keep going. We are getting my computer back, and we are not leaving without it!"
"Um, Izzy," said Tentomon, "maybe you should yell a little quieter?"
"I am not yelling!"
"You're yelling," said a raspy voice behind him, "and now we have you, Digdestined!"
Izzy turned around and found himself faced by a group of yellow and orange, horned, froglike creatures. They stared at him with unblinking, malevolent eyes and shuffled closer to him on their clawed feet.
"Gizamon," Tentomon muttered. "Just what we didn't need!"
"Well, don't just stand there, Tentomon! Shock them!"
"Oh, no you don't!" hissed one of the Gizamon. "Tongue Lashing!"
"Yikes!" cried Tentomon, and he swooped out of the way, just barely avoiding the Gizamon's long tongue.
"Whoa!" Izzy exclaimed, diving in the other direction. He ran into the wall... and the wall gave way, dumping him down a long chute. He spun head over heels into the pitch blackness before being deposited roughly on a hard stone floor. Stars whirled in front of his eyes for a moment, and then his world was plunged into utter darkness. He didn't even feel it when something came out of that darkness to drag him away.
Gatomon had taken to all fours, leaping down Myotismon's hallways with her ears pinned back and her tail streaming out behind her. A crowd of Gizamon followed in hot pursuit, but the toadlike creature's couldn't match her for speed and agility as she sped along, using her claws to gain extra purchase on the rough stone, sometimes even springing onto the walls and ricocheting around corners. All the while, she shouted taunts at them, trying to keep their attention on her so that they wouldn't be tempted to turn back and look for Izzy and Tentomon. She had a sneaking suspicion that a few of them might have, anyway, but there was no real way to go back and check. She could only hope that Tentomon would be able to handle the few that were left. In the meantime, she had her paws full keeping these under control. They might have been ordinary Rookie Digimon, easy enough to beat individually, but a dozen Gizamon was out of the league of even a Champion like Gatomon. Well, she would keep them busy as long as she could and hope that would buy Izzy all the time he needed. There wasn't much more she could do.
Rounding a corner, she glanced over her shoulder to see what the Gizamon were doing. They were still making steady progress, an undulating wave of orange-furred frog backs. She turned around, preparing to put on an extra burst of speed, hoping to lose them around the next corner - and she ran painfully into a wall. The impact was so great that she actually bounced backwards a few feet before landing in a dazed heap of pale fur, and stars spun before her eyes. She sat up and shook herself, trying to clear her vision. Even the ringing in her ears wasn't enough to drown out the sound of laughter as the Gizamon closed in. Could she fight them? Probably not; there were too many in too small a space. She backed up instinctively, all the while casting desperate looks in search of an escape, and she ran into the wall again. Her paw struck a projection, and she glanced down in surprise. She was holding a doorknob. Where had that come from? She was almost certain that what she had just run into had been solid stone, but now she was touching the handle of a wooden door. Well, this was no time to ponder pointless mysteries! She turned the knob and slipped gratefully through the doorway, not caring where it took her, as long as it was away from the Gizamon. As soon as the tip of her tail had passed through, she slammed the door behind her, and the Gizamon blinked in surprise as it vanished in a swirl of green lights.
Looking around, Gatomon found herself standing in a short hallway, well lit by torches on the walls. It was about as clean and bright as an underground passage could be, in drastic contrast to the rest of Myotismon's complex, and she stared at it in total confusion.
"Where am I?" she wondered. "I've never seen this place before..."
Just then, her sharp eyes picked up a flit of movement as something dark-colored slipped around a corner, gliding around a corner before she had a chance to discern what it was. All she could make out was something flapping - a tail, a cloak, maybe even wings.
"Hey, you, wait up!" she called, hurrying after the whatever it was.
There was a sound of footsteps hurrying away, beating off into the distance. By the time Gatomon had rounded the corner, the creature, person, or thing had vanished entirely. Gatomon sighed. It would have been nice, she mused, to have someone who could at least tell her where she was and help her find her way around. She turned, preparing to check and see if the Gizamon were gone yet, and was amazed to find herself staring down a dead-end tunnel. She blinked and looked again, but the door was definitely gone. Like it or not, she was stuck in whatever this place was. No place to go but straight ahead, she told herself... so that's where she went.
Wizardmon yawned and stretched, and then paused to peer at his work. This computer business was tedious enough to make him wish he'd kept his mouth shut, but he was making progress. Already, he'd learned a few interesting things concerning the nature of the Digidestined and their companions, and he was just getting started. Myotismon would be pleased with his work. He clicked a button and stared at the image it created, a picture of Gatomon, her gleaming blue eyes peering out at him so brightly that the picture almost looked alive. He shivered a little. It was no wonder Myotismon had never liked looking directly into them...
His ruminations were shattered by a sudden explosion and a flash of green light. Wizardmon's head snapped around, looking for the cause of the noise. Something was happening out in the hallway.
"Bother, I don't have time for this," he muttered. Leaving the computer behind, he walked out of the room and hurried off in the direction the noise had come from.
As soon as he was gone, someone else came in from the other direction, chuckling quietly. There was nothing quite like a well-used red herring. Very calmly, the someone turned off the laptop, and folded it up. With the computer tucked under its arm, the figure strode up to the nearest wall and tapped it lightly with the staff it carried. A door immediately appeared and swung obligingly open. When it closed again, the room was completely empty.
It was hard to say who was most surprised when Izzy disappeared. Tentomon nearly fell to the floor in shock, and the Gizamon stared at the place where the boy had been a moment ago in utter bafflement.
"Where did he go?" asked one.
"I don't know! He was here a minute ago," a second replied.
"Who cares where he went?" asked the third. "He's gone, and that's one less intruder we have to deal with! Now all we have to do is-"
"Super Shocker!" interjected Tentomon.
One of the Gizamon yelped in pain before evaporating. The others stared at the place where it had been, and then looked up at Tentomon. Tentomon stared back at the Gizamon.
"Um... Boo!" he said.
The Gizamon turned tail and ran, while the insect Digimon watched them bemusedly.
"Well, now, that was easier than I thought," he said. "Now to look for Izzy... Where did he go, anyway?"
Curiously, Tentomon buzzed over to the wall where Izzy had last been seen. It looked solid enough, but that didn't necessarily imply that it was - Tentomon still remembered the episode in Etemon's pyramid when he and his friend had spent quite a bit of time walking through walls that weren't there. He gave the wall an experimental tap with one foreleg, and it passed through the stone as if it wasn't even there. Slowly, he flew all the way through to see what lay beyond the illusion.
The first thing he did was bump his head. The ceiling, too low for his tastes already, had slanted suddenly downwards, and he had flown right into it. Shaking himself, he continued to look around, noting that the floor was performing a similar feat, plunging into obscurity. Tentomon eyed it with distrust.
"Izzy? Are you down there?" he called.
He received no answer, save for echoes. Still, there was really no other way Izzy could have gone, so Tentomon resigned himself to a long flight downwards and began his descent.
Flying downwards at an angle in total darkness wasn't the easiest thing in the world, but he managed it without doing more than bumping his head a few more times. At last, he was able to see the light at the end of the tunnel - a flickering orange light, like fire, and he hurried gratefully toward it. Soon, he was in a comfortably large and illuminated hallway. He rubbed his eyes against the sudden brightness.
"This is not my night," he said. "I'm starting to understand why Izzy would rather play with his computer than have adventures. This is not entertaining."
Glancing around nervously, Tentomon began to hover down the hallway, keeping his faceted eyes peeled for monsters. However, there didn't seem to be any monsters... or anything else, for that matter. The corridor was straight and empty, with no doors or decoration. It was almost boring. Then, just as he was starting to think he was going to be traveling along this straight line forever, he noticed a shape moving along in the distance, a pale figure that traveled rapidly toward him. He picked up his own pace as he recognized who it was.
"Gatomon, over here!" he called.
"Tentomon!" she shouted back happily. They hurried toward each other, meeting at a place where the hallway met a second perpendicular hall. "I was worried that the Gizamon got you! Where's Izzy?"
"I don't know. I thought you might have seen him," Tentomon admitted.
"Well, if he's not with you, and he's not with me, then where...?"
"If I didn't see him and you didn't see him, he probably went that way," said Tentomon, pointing down the second hall.
"This is a strange place," Gatomon said. "Doors appearing in walls, and these strange hallways... I hope we can find Izzy soon so we can get out of here. I don't even know where the way out is anymore."
"I thought you said you knew your way around Myotismon's place," said Tentomon.
"I did! This isn't part of it! I don't know what it is."
"Well, at least we aren't alone anymore," said Tentomon consolingly, "and we're bound to find Izzy sooner or later."
"You're right. There's nothing worse than being alone," Gatomon agreed. "Come on, then. Let's get going."
Together, they made their way down the newly-discovered passage. It was darker than the others, but Gatomon's night vision showed them the way. Soon, they came to a flight of stairs. At the top, they could just barely make out cracks of faint light around the edges of a pair of doors. More important, however, was the hunched shape that leaned against a wall next to them.
"Izzy!" Tentomon cried joyfully. He hadn't realized, until then, how incomplete he felt without his human partner. "Izzy, are you okay?"
Izzy didn't move. He was slumped against the wall, evidently sound asleep, and his computer rested in its accustomed place on his lap. In other circumstances, one would have guessed that he had dozed off over his homework. When Tentomon shook him, he opened his eyes and blinked dazedly.
"Oh, my head," he said with a wince. "Tentomon? Gatomon? Is that you?"
"Izzy! You're okay!" Tentomon cried.
"I'm fine," Izzy answered. "How did I get up here?"
"I have no idea," admitted Tentomon. "Didn't you walk, or did you learn to fly like I do?"
"Never mind that!" said Gatomon. "We can talk later. Right now, I want to get out of this creepy place before anything else happens."
So saying, she gave the double doors a push, and they swung silently open, revealing the fog-swept nightscape outside. Everyone hurried outside, so grateful to see the real, dependable world again that they didn't notice when the doors vanished silently behind them.
"Hey, guys!" called Tai, as his friends appeared out of the fog. "You're finally back! We were starting to get worried about you."
"We had some pretty close escapes," Izzy admitted. "Myotismon's hideout is totally irrational, almost as bad as his castle."
"Well, at least you found your computer again," said Kari, scooping Gatomon into her arms.
"I didn't find it," said Izzy. "Someone else did."
"Well, it wasn't me," Tentomon said.
"Me either," Gatomon added. "I thought you found it. You had it with you when we found you."
"But I didn't find it!" Izzy repeated. "And if it wasn't one of you guys, who was it?"
Gennai's student stepped through a door and into the old man's parlor, and his teacher came out to meet him.
"I did as you asked," said the Digimon to Gennai.
"So I saw. You've mastered your new powers very well indeed," said Gennai approvingly. "Did anyone see you?"
"No one," the Digimon replied. "I was very careful... but I still don't understand why I have to hide from them."
"Patience," Gennai replied. "It's not safe yet. If they discover you, Myotismon will learn of you as well. Wait until your powers are fully developed, and then you may reveal yourself."
"If you say so," answered the Digimon reluctantly, "but it won't be easy."
He sighed, and a tear slid down his face from one weary green eye.