Episode 2: Sleipmon of the North, and Lonely Protector
With Hackmon's sudden arrival, needless to say, Taiki and Shoutmon were relatively confused. However, Wisemon was an entirely different story.
"Gankūmon of the Royal Knights?" Wisemon said in amazement, hovering over Hackmon in the same manner he had done to both Taiki and Shoutmon. "You speak of the Wandering Knight of the West!?"
"My grandfather." Hackmon nodded. "Or guardian! Whatever you prefer. He was also called the Wandering Champion, too."
"You have a grandfather?" Taiki blurted out.
"What?" Hackmon turned around with an inquisitive expression. "Didn't think that Digimon had families too, Taiki?"
Taiki shook his head. "No, that's not it... It's something else, Hackmon."
"Really?" Hackmon chimed curiously. "What is it then?"
"Y'know, I get the feeling you're gonna be reaaaaaaally chatty." Shoutmon grumbled with a visibly annoyed expression.
"Is it because I eavesdropped before?" Hackmon asked. "Well, I couldn't really find a good place to jump in the conversation, if you know what I mean—"
"No, I mean— You seriously didn't have to attack me!" Shoutmon retorted, folding his arms. "That was completely unnecessary."
"Oh. That. That's an old instinct of mine. And I'm a man of instinct." He beamed, puffing up with pride. A moment after staring at Shoutmon, he tilted his head. "You know, Shoutmon? That line's something Omegamon would have said to Grandpa."
"But you know, when we met Omegamon before..." Taiki trailed off with a thoughtful expression. "He seemed like a very serene Digimon."
"If I am to believe anything Taiki says in addition to my own observations on the subject, Shoutmon is the complete opposite of 'serene'."
"Well, yeah! Omegamon was always super serious, too."
"I can be serious when it counts!" Shoutmon protested.
"I don't doubt that." The scion snickered. "It's just... He was the guy always directing everyone else in the Royal Knights when Alphamon was away. Not that they were a rowdy bunch, but... he was kind of awe-inspiring. If you had known him, you would have thought so too." Hackmon nodded to himself, before pausing again in realization. "...Wait, you guys have met Omegamon!?"
"Yeah." Taiki nodded "He's the one who saved Shoutmon and brought me and my friends to the Digital World years ago."
"I thought he disappeared after the Digital World broke apart!" Hackmon exclaimed. "So he's back? Where is he?"
"He became a DigiMemory because he expended all his power..." Taiki began, scratching his head awkwardly with a puzzled expression. "Ah, wait. Before I explain things, how much do you know, Hackmon?"
"Enough to know about Bagramon and what you guys did for the Digital World, definitely." He nodded. His expression became somewhat doleful as he continued. "Though... I wasn't one of the Digimon around at the time."
"Then what the hell were you doing?" Shoutmon snipped. "On a side note, I can't believe this KID is older than I am!"
"Aww, age doesn't have to do much with anything, Shoutmon. Not since evolution is all weird now." Hackmon laughed. "And well, Taiki, Shoutmon... I'm never around headquarters. Usually." He shrugged his shoulders briefly before going on to explain. "Grandpa would always take me and the Sistermon with him whenever he went out on a mission— heck, most of the time we never went back unless Grandpa was being debriefed. He always was out and about."
"Hence his title." Wisemon nodded to himself.
"Yup." Hackmon grinned. "Although... Taiki, if it's not too much trouble, do you mind telling me what happened to Omegamon? And, what's a DigiMemory?"
"Allow me to explain." Wisemon spoke up, raising a hand. "The form of a DigiMemory is what a Digimon within the Chivalric Order took after stopping the Digital World and Human World from colliding into each other. They were scattered, and as you can infer, were collected by Taiki and Shoutmon."
"So then, all fifteen of them turned into DigiMemories, right?" The caped digimon paused. "Is there any way to turn them back?"
"I'm not sure if that's possible." Wisemon sighed. "According to Taiki, twelve of them disappeared, while the three that remain have been depowered into a dormant state. While it would be helpful if we knew which ones we were still in possession of, we can't do anything until that Digimon's power recharges. I assume that it never recharged in the human world because there wasn't adequate Digital Power to siphon energy from— but of course, that's merely speculation."
"That sucks." Hackmon frowned.
"Wait, you understood all of that?" Shoutmon blinked, before shaking his head.
"Not really, no."
"… Y'know, I wouldn't put it past the Code Crown being able to do the trick." The king said, humming thoughtfully as he glanced to Wisemon. "I mean, in the last battle with Bagramon, it temporarily resurrected all of them, right?"
"So there's hope!" Hackmon practically shouted.
"Hackmon, if you don't mind me asking... what happened to Gankūmon and... the Sistermon?" Taiki asked with an inquisitive expression. "And what have you been doing for all this time? I mean, the Xros Wars are already long over..."
Hackmon's expression sobered.
"Yeah, there's two Sistermon. Sistermon Noir, and Sistermon Blanc. And me? I've been camping out with Sleipmon..." He trailed off, briefly humming to himself in contemplation as if trying to recall something. "See, a long time ago, Grandpa took in the Sistermon when they were in trouble, and started looking after them. Because of that, the both of them decided to pay their debt to him by doing what he asked- well, which was to train and chaperone me."
"So then they were your babysitters." Shoutmon smirked.
"You don't have to put it that way, Shoutmon." Hackmon shoved him playfully with a paw, earning a light tap back from the Digimon King. Grinning briefly, he continued. "So basically, Grandpa took me and the Sistermon everywhere where he went. 'Cept on the missions he was specifically told not to- but on certain occasions, he'd bring only me along. On the other times where he couldn't, he'd leave the Sistermon to train me." He nodded, a fond smile still present on his features. "Grandpa was one of the strongest Digimon out there! He might have been the Twelfth of the Royal Knights, but he could hold his own against any of them!"
"But," Taiki paused reluctantly. "What happened to Gankūmon?"
"... Bagramon happened."
"A Royal Knight fell to the Bagra Army?"
Hackmon nodded reluctantly.
"It was shortly after UlforceVeedramon and Duftmon disappeared— Um, that's to say, the Fifth and the Fourth. Several other Royal Knights had disappeared at the time too, which was why a meeting was being called. Grandpa didn't want to leave us back at our home in the West, but before we could make it to headquarters, everything went to hell."
"What do you mean?"
"Two things happened." Hackmon explained. "First, Breakdramon appeared out of nowhere, and I can guess that you guys already know what happened, so I'll skip over that. Two: I don't know if you know this part, but in addition to Breakdramon, Bagramon and his army launched a full scale attack against us at the exact same time."
Again, Hackmon's expression fell for the second time, as he looked away from the others. It was clear to both Taiki and Shoutmon that he was having difficulty in recalling the event– and neither of them could blame him for it. "Tactimon and his army isolated the four of us. Gankūmon... Grandpa... he..."
"Gankūmon protected you." Shoutmon murmured, tone serious since the moment Hackmon had arrived.
"Yeah. He did." Hackmon swallowed hard, trying his best to continue. "Tactimon would have killed us too, but Grandpa's Hinakamui took us and protected us – until, everything started to break apart and reformat. It included.
"I got separated from the Sistermon during that time, and got stuck in this nasty place— Blizzard Zone, or whatever. I definitely wouldn't recommend that place for a vacation." Hackmon sighed. "That aside, it was a pretty lucky break for me, because I found Sleipmon underneath the ice."
"Sleipmon?" Taiki parroted, with a questioning look. "You've mentioned that Digimon several times, but who is he?"
"Sleipmon is the Tenth Royal Knight." Wisemon provided. "From what I recall about him, he was the Guardian of the North and protector of valuable information. It's rather ironic that Bagramon froze him under the ice—"
"So you think!" Hackmon interrupted. "… Well, you're not that far off, actually. What Sleipmon did was that he created a second tundra to hide himself and the Temple of Creation from the Bagra Army. When he saw me out and about, he took me in and told me that we wouldn't confront the Bagra Army." Hackmon shook his head distastefully. "Of course, that meant Bagramon ended up getting the Code Crown from that zone… but they never found the temple, thanks to Sleipmon. Man, I really wanted to fight back during that time!"
"In the long run, it was probably for the best that you and Sleipmon remained hidden from Bagramon." Wisemon commented. "If he had found and subdued you both, you wouldn't be here to tell us this story."
"True." Hackmon conceded. "Besides, it was thanks to you guys that Bagramon was defeated and the world was brought back to normal— Well, as normal as things are to this point. Things are still waaaaaay different from what I remember, haha." The scion grinned at Shoutmon. "So I guess I have to thank you for doing what the Royal Knights couldn't, Digimon King."
"You're welcome." Shoutmon said as he puffed out his chest proudly. Taiki couldn't help but chuckle at the display for a moment, before he went to look at Hackmon.
"How were things different from before, Hackmon?"
"Well, Digimon could instantly Digivolve for one, Taiki."
"How is that any different?" Shoutmon asked. "A bunch of Digimon can do that kind of thing now, myself included!"
"Well, yeah." Hackmon said matter-of-factly. "I've seen you do it."
Before Shoutmon could demand an answer for that, Wisemon butted in, and shoved his face right in front of Hackmon's. There was a gleam in his eyes that Taiki knew all too well.
"What is the Temple of Creation?" Wisemon asked, eyes glowing.
"Wouldn't you like to know." Hackmon snickered. "Too bad I'm not going to tell you, because that's not what I'm here for. I'm on official Royal Knight business."
Wisemon clicked his tongue.
"You aren't a Royal Knight."
"Not yet I'm not!" Hackmon yelled defensively. "Anyway, about that business I was sent here for… Well, Sleipmon sent me to get into contact with you guys!"
"What would a Royal Knight want with Xros Heart?" Taiki asked with a questioning expression.
"Well, who wouldn't want to meet the heroes who saved the Digital World?" Hackmon asked in response, causing Taiki to scratch his cheek. "Well, he mostly wants to meet you and Shoutmon." The scion glanced to Wisemon. "Definitely not that guy."
"Didn't you say you had a machine to fix?" Hackmon asked as he prodded Wisemon's robes.
"Just how much were you listening in, Hackmon?" Taiki spoke up, hoping to draw their attention away from each other.
"After Shoutmon SH nuked your base with sparkles."
"THE WAY YOU PUT THAT MAKES US SOUND LAME!"
"Yeah! What do you have against stars and glittering!?" Starmon piped up behind Shoutmon, as all the other Pickmons began bouncing in dismay.
"No, no, no offense to you guys." Hackmon waved dismissively. "It was really showy, but nowhere near those guys' level…"
"Who now?" Shoutmon asked, folding his arms.
"Hey, can we get back on topic?" Taiki interrupted, sighing as he glanced at everyone. "Hackmon, telling us why Sleipmon wants to meet Shoutmon and I would be pretty helpful."
"Well, he has a request for you two." Hackmon informed. "The two of us have been keeping quiet since the Xros Wars have ended, and since the two of you have been gone from the Digital World for a really long time because of that DigiQuartz thing, neither of us knew how to really get into contact with both of you." The caped scion sighed. "But it looks like it's back now, isn't it? Quartzmon?"
"Unfortunately." Wisemon murmured. "Which is why, as you overheard, we are attempting to mobilize the rest of Xros Heart by repairing the machine he destroyed."
"Well… it would be really great if you both could come with me to meet him." Hackmon murmured. "I swear, it probably won't take all that long!"
"Well…" Shoutmon scratched his cheek, before glancing up at Taiki. "What do you think, Taiki? Our base is kind of wrecked right now, but a lot of our members are unharmed. Quartzmon is running free, and there's no telling what he'll do— but like you said, we can't go after him unless we have everyone else back."
With a contemplative expression, Taiki glanced towards Hackmon. "How long do you suppose it'll take, Hackmon? Is he all the way where the Blizzard Zone would be?"
"Thankfully, no. He came with me this time— but he's not here, of course." Hackmon murmured. "We've been laying low in the outskirts of some village. He said he found something he wanted to keep an eye on."
"The Village of Smiles?" Shoutmon asked.
"Naaaah. You'll see soon enough— If you follow me, that is." The scion nodded. "What'll it be, Taiki? Shoutmon?"
Ultimately, Taiki has ended up agreeing to Hackmon's request. After informing Wisemon to keep the base on high alert, as well as storing the Code Crown into his Xros Loader to charge the DigiMemories as of Shoutmon's request, he super evolved Shoutmon to OmegaShoutmon to reach their destination quickly.
As Hackmon described, up north, there was a small settlement of a town that straddled on the dividing line between a mountainous wasteland, and a verdant forest. As OmegaShoutmon landed and reverted back into Shoutmon, Hackmon began to guide them into the forest.
"This isn't going to be a trap of some kind, isn't it?" Shoutmon asked rather suspiciously. "Now that I think about it, you appearing out of nowhere right after Quartzmon attacked is kinda shady."
"Well, I was camping outside your base and waiting for some kind of indication that you two were back." Hackmon supplied as he cast a glance back to Shoutmon. "Looks like that patience paid off, didn't it?"
With nothing else to say, Shoutmon fell silent.
Night fell with their arrival. As the three of them navigated through the woods, the deeper they went, frost began to gather and cling to the trunks of trees and crunch underfoot. Eventually, they came across a clearing where it became cold enough for breath to condensate— and there, they were met.
In the midst of the clearing, a bizarre, bestial figure stood in the moonlit frost. It was nothing like Taiki had ever seen. Despite that, this Digimon was completely armored in red with a fuchsia mane— bringing a striking contrast to the whiteness of the frozen forest. Like how Omegamon towered over Taiki and Shoutmon, this Royal Knight was equally regal, in every sense of the word.
"It's pleasure to meet you at last, Xros Heart General and Digimon King." He spoke coolly, as Hackmon hopped over to his side. "I am Sleipmon, Guardian of the North, and Tenth of the Royal Knights."
"Sorry for taking so long." Hackmon chimed to Sleipmon, as he raised a paw in greeting.
"It's fine. I understand the King had far more pressing matters to attend to." Sleipmon nodded in acknowledgement. Pausing, he approached Taiki and Shoutmon before bowing his head out of respect. "I apologize for being unable to aid you in the Xros Wars. Keeping the Temple of Creation hidden from the Bagra Army was a far more pressing matter."
"Judging by the name, I can tell it was." Taiki murmured.
"Excuses aside, it was my wish to meet you both to confirm something." The Knight went on to say. Attentively, Sleipmon turned towards Shoutmon, and stared rather intently. "I wish to see the worth of the Kings the Code Crown has chosen."
"We saved the Digital World." Shoutmon stated, looking back at Sleipmon almost challengingly. "What more do you want?"
"The measure of a King does not lie in the weight of the deeds they've done." Sleipmon said icily. "Fame is a double-edged sword, King. I would be wary to flaunt status, if I were you."
At Sleipmon's words, Shoutmon refused to back down.
"Says the guy clinging to a title. What do I have to prove to you?" He retorted, glaring at the Royal Knight. "I did what I did to protect the smiles of the Digital World, and I'll keep doing that as their King!"
"Which is why I have a request for you, Digimon King."
"What if I refuse?"
"You would fail to protect someone you've declared to be a part of your protectorate."
"I doubt you're in serious need of my help." Shoutmon snorted.
"Who said I was the one in need of your assistance?"
A chilling silence fell. Taiki, during this time, had his curiosity piqued— but he had a feeling that there was something more to Sleipmon's words than what the Royal Knight was letting on.
"What are you asking us to do, Sleipmon?" Taiki spoke up, standing now at Shoutmon's side. Though Shoutmon cast Taiki a glance, the Xros Heart General remained undeterred. "You waited for all this time to talk to us, and I don't think you called us here just to provoke Shoutmon."
"Perceptive. I came here to confirm something other than your worth." Sleipmon murmured. "Previous times, it has escaped my notice, but this time is different. Before, I merely wished to talk, but a more pressing matter has made itself apparent to me."
"And what would that be?" Taiki asked. "If it's so pressing, I have to ask, why wouldn't you take care of it yourself?"
"I request this of you, because it is not my place to intervene." Sleipmon stated. "In the village you passed before, a Digimon with a dangerous existence has been growing in rapidly strength."
"And what else?" Shoutmon cut in. "Did you want us to save the village from it, or—?"
"I request you to save that Digimon."
"It's settled then." Taiki said instantly, without hesitation. Almost immediately, Shoutmon let out a strangled sound, before pinching the bridge of his nose.
"Taiki, are you sure about this?" The young King protested. "We barely know what's going on, and the guy's being vague as hell!"
"I'm still here."
"Well, you know, Shoutmon." Taiki chuckled awkwardly. "When I hear something like that, I can't turn my back on them."
"… Goddamn it Taiki."
For all the time Shoutmon had known Taiki, he knew it was impossible to talk him out of something once he had decided not to turn his back. With a sigh of defeat, Shoutmon briefly shook his head disapprovingly before glancing back up at Sleipmon. Before he could say anything, Hackmon bounded up to him, stood of his hind legs, and put Shoutmon into a friendly headlock.
"Looks like you guys are doing it." Hackmon chimed. "Since Sleipmon can't move freely, I'll be keeping you guys company. Just in case if you need the extra help."
"Admittedly, I think we'll need all the help we can get." Taiki smiled. "Aside from what Sleipmon's told us, we still have no idea what we'll be up against." He murmured, looking at the Royal Knight from the corner of his eye. "I assume that's all a part of your request to test us. Even still… I'm more concerned over this Digimon you want us to save."
Sleipmon didn't say anything in response. Still, Taiki glanced over to where Shoutmon and Hackmon were. The King seemed to be mildly exasperated with how jovial Hackmon seemed to be.
"You seem waaay too eager for this."
"Aren't you, Shoutmon? I'm always in the mood for a bit of adventure. It's all part about being a man of instinct." Hackmon grinned. "Let's work well together!"
"And, if I may, Xros Heart General." Sleipmon spoke up.
"That Digimon… it refuses to act in the day. If you head back to that village, you will see that Digimon on this very night." He said enigmatically, as he bowed his head and began to retreat back into the woods. "Best of luck to you."
"I still have no idea what we're supposed to be waiting for." The caped scion yawned. At this point, Hackmon had curled under his own cape and was using it as a blanket. "He never said there was a guarantee we'd see what we're looking for, so can't we just get some shut eye or something? And then we can go looking for this Digimon in the morning?"
"… And you said you would be helpful. No wonder you had babysitters." Shoutmon muttered chidingly, as he overlooked the village from a nearby hill. "Are you sure you don't know anything, Hackmon?"
"Believe me, if I knew any hints, I would have already told 'em to you guys." Hackmon sighed tiredly. "Do we have to camp up here, Taiki?"
"You're welcome to sleep inside the Xros Loader if you want, Hackmon." Taiki suggested. "You too, Shoutmon."
"Naaah, I'm fine. I've pulled all-nighters before." Shoutmon waved off. "You can go to sleep if you want, Taiki."
"Thanks for the offer, but I want to keep my eyes open."
"Well, I'm gonna nab some shut eye. Wake me up if you need me." Hackmon yawned again, rather politely holding a paw over his maw as he did so. After he finished, Taiki obliged and loaded him into the Xros Loader.
Despite his words, Taiki was undoubtedly tired. It had been a long, and increasingly eventful day.
Yet, it ultimately was Taiki's suggestion that had brought them up here, to the bluffs of the mountain to watch the village. Despite it being chilling like the forest they had left hours before, Taiki found it was the best way to overlook the village without intruding and alerting of whoever they were supposed to find.
At least, Taiki had the impression that he and Shoutmon's fame would be detrimental towards catching their target. Sleipmon certainly seemed to imply it, if his words were any indication.
Taiki wondered. What was it that only he and Shoutmon could do, that a Royal Knight couldn't? Not after hearing so much praise about them and their heroism from Wisemon and Hackmon… there had to be something more. Why would Sleipmon— A Digimon called a Guardian Deity by Wisemon and someone who was supposed to be on par with Omegamon— want an allegedly dangerous Digimon to be saved?
How dangerous could this Digimon be, if a Royal Knight acknowledged that?
Why would Sleipmon choose to do nothing, and instead test Taiki and Shoutmon by having them deal with it?
Despite all of Taiki's questions, a noise below caught his attention. Rather… it was a sound that seemed to come from far away from the Northern Desert. As the moments passed, it became progressively louder; Shoutmon immediately took notice, glancing to Taiki as if waiting for orders. Taiki merely held finger to his lips, and quickly ushered Shoutmon away from the edge of the bluff to remain out of sight.
As the uniform sound drew near, despite the cover of night, Shoutmon and Taiki identified it as the unmistakable sound of marching. With the sudden intensity in the air, both the King and his General no longer had the desire to sleep. Instead, they watched the silhouettes come closer, until their shapes became identifiable in the moonlight.
"The D-Brigade." Shoutmon hissed, baring his teeth as he dug his hands into the stone underneath them. "If this is what Sleipmon was talking about saving these guys, this has to be the dumbest joke I've ever heard."
"What's the D-Brigade?" Taiki whispered quietly, without taking his eyes off the platoon of Digimon; enemies, he presumed.
"They're a bunch of war nuts who haven't registered that the Xros Wars are over." Shoutmon shook his head disapprovingly, twitching in place as if he wanted to apprehend them all right there and then. To steady his partner, Taiki placed a hand on Shoutmon's shoulder, and again eased him away from the edge. "They cause trouble for everyone by raiding and seizing small villages like these for their "base of operations". To give you an idea of how bad these guys are, they say that they willingly joined up with Bagramon when he was still around."
"You don't think they were planning to take this village to use it as a base to attack Xros Heart, do you, Shoutmon?" Taiki asked warily.
"It wouldn't surprise me if that was the case. We've had to chase 'em out of other villages before, so it wouldn't surprise me if they had a vendetta of some kind." Shoutmon glared, clearly tense. "I thought their numbers had thinned out, but I guess I was wrong."
"Let's hope you aren't too wrong."
Thanks to the cover of night, Taiki could only count ten small figures— He assumed there were more, but their camouflage blended well in the darkness to the point where he couldn't see much of anything. Already, with a glance to his partner, he could tell that Shoutmon was seething on the spot.
"Taiki, I don't like this."
"I can tell."
"I know you can, and I'm gonna tell you right now you're not gonna like this either." Shoutmon snapped. "If what I'm thinking is right, they're going to raid that village and kill everyone there."
"Kill?" Taiki parroted, this time with a startled expression. "But why would they—"
"Just look at how many of them there are!" He nearly shouted, but quieted back down seconds after as a beam of light shone in their direction. Immediately, Taiki forcefully pulled Shoutmon down to stay hidden, before shooting a questioning expression over to his partner.
After a moment, Shoutmon spoke again—this time, with a hushed whisper despite his obvious aggravation. "I can see 30-something of those bastards. For a village this small, why else would they possibly bring a goddamn platoon of Commandramon? Let me step in before this gets ugly!" Shoutmon shook Taiki's shoulder, almost demandingly. Still, the expression on his partner's face threw him off-guard. By now, Taiki should have set up for him to Super Evolve, and yet—
As the Commandramon edged closer to the village, panic easily began to grip at Shoutmon. Insistently, he shook his partner's shoulder– what was Taiki waiting for?! Was he hesitating?
"Taiki!" Shoutmon called out his name. "TAIKI—"
"Do you hear that?" Taiki asked abruptly, pointing to the outskirts below. "Shoutmon, look!"
Initially, the sound had been so faint he hadn't caught it— it was a hum, almost. A hum that roared to life. As Shoutmon's attention shifted back to the village, he could clearly see it.
A large, imposing figure had intercepted the D-Brigade and began fighting them on the outskirts of the village. It was still far too dark for Taiki and Shoutmon to properly see what was happening at this distance, but the both of them knew that a fight had begun.
At the same moment, the sound of footsteps drew near to both Taiki and Shoutmon. Without batting an eye, Shoutmon materialized his microphone and slammed it into the face of a Commandramon with enough force to knock it over the cliff.
"Taiki, they know we're here too now!" Shoutmon took a fighting stance as four more Commandramon began opening fire on them. Without hesitation, Shoutmon picked up Taiki and moved to a place that provided solace from the gunfire. Once clear, Taiki put his back against the wall and readied his Xros Loader.
"Not only that, but I think the Digimon that we're supposed to save is down there." Taiki said, tone urgent. "And if we're supposed to save him, that's where we're supposed to be! Hackmon, are you awake?!"
"Now I am!" Hackmon chimed from the Xros Loader. "Is there a fight going on? Do you need my help? Are you gonna Xros me with Shoutmon?!"
"YOU TALK TOO MUCH!" Shoutmon roared, as he threw a fireball at one of the Commandramon and ducked back for cover. "ARE WE GONNA DO THIS OR WHAT, TAIKI!?"
The Xros Loader shone.
"Shoutmon! Hackmon!" Taiki called. "DIGIXROS!"
Instantaneously, scion's shape changed. Tough claws fit over Shoutmon's hands, almost like spiked gauntlets, as Hackmon's metallic hide became prominent over where Shoutmon was already armored. Lastly, Hackmon's iconic cape settled over Shoutmon's shoulders as he grinned, jabbing into the air before settling down.
"HackShoutmon!" He announced confidently.
"HackShoutmon," Taiki started. "There are four—"
"FOUR!" The Xrosed Digimon called shouted. "I GOT THIS!"
At the same moment, he darted out from behind the wall, screaming loudly to the point where even Taiki was caught off guard.
The Xros Heart General wasn't the only one taken aback, however. The Commandramon were equally started by the sudden gung-ho display to the point where they were too shocked to fire. Taking advantage of this, HackShoutmon slammed a fist into the nearest one, thus knocking them out and over the edge with an undignified yelp.
As the others regained their composure and began shooting again, HackShoutmon brought his arms up to guard his face from the bullets— all of which ricocheted off of his gloves harmlessly as he dashed towards them.
Scrambling, one of them pulled a pin and yelled, "D-DCD Bomb!"
An object— a grenade— was thrown right as HackShoutmon's face. Unable to stop himself completely, he used his running momentum to deliver an uppercut right to the grenade— hitting the canister into the air where it exploded harmlessly.
As the Commandramon floundered, HackShoutmon took the opportunity to punch him right in the face, thus incapacitating him. Without further warning, he hauled the unconscious body and threw it off the cliff.
With a sidestep, HackShoutmon began to duck and weave through another wave of bullets, building momentum as he darted to one of the two remaining units. Alarmed, they began to back off and retreat down the bluff— However, HackShoutmon proved too fast to flee from. In an instant, he struck the second Commandramon into the ground, leaving a crater-like impression of the Digimon before it vanished into gold specks.
As he charged forward to the last one, his armored fists began to burn hot red, before igniting in a furious blaze.
Shouting now, HackShoutmon released a flurry of punches against the last Commandramon, before a torrent of fire shot out of his fist. As the Commandramon was launched into the air and split apart into golden sparks, HackShoutmon seemed startled by his own attack. With an exhilarated expression, he glanced back to Taiki and shook his fists.
"Did you see that, Taiki!?"
Speechless, Taiki only nodded before running out of his hiding spot to where HackShoutmon was. It was clear for now, but still… this Xros seemed too wild for Taiki to keep track of. If he kept running off like that, there would be no telling what would happen— therefore…
"Xros Open!" Taiki said commandingly.
Immediately, both Hackmon and Shoutmon split apart. The former looked as if he had the time of his life, while the latter was looked considerably winded.
"Wow, that felt great! Don't you think so?" Hackmon said with a pleasant expression, laughing as he nudged Shoutmon.
"… I've never xrossed with someone so enthusiastic for battle." Shoutmon groaned.
"Save it for later you two, we've still got work to do." Taiki chided, directing the both of them to take the lead as they ran down the mountainside post-haste. "We still haven't found the Digimon Sleipmon mentioned! Hackmon, you take the front while Shoutmon guards our backs!"
"Got it!" Shoutmon responded. Hackmon on the other hand, let out a low whistle as his gaze trailed to the village outskirts.
"I don't think there'll be much for us to do if we don't get there faster, guys." The scion commented as he ran down. "It looks like the guy we're supposed to be saving is already saving the village."
It was true. As Taiki looked on, he could easily see a flare of golden specks— whoever was fighting the D-Brigade was scarily skilled in fighting them… Without stopping for anything, when the three of them finally reached the bottom and began running towards the fray, they found that the fighting had come to a complete standstill. Both parties stood in opposition of each other, waiting.
Now that Taiki had a better view, he could see that his Digimon had a dragon-like appearance; he was armored red, and had gold eyes with pupils narrowed into slits. His attention was trained on those in front of him. Before him, appeared to be the leader of the Commandramon— like them, he was armored in military-like gear. At the commanding officer's sides, stood five Commandramon— rifles pointed, and fingers on the trigger and sights aimed at the gargantuan Digimon.
"You've taken out many of us in these passing months. I'm not sure if I should commend you, or be insulted," The Officer spoke, rifle poised. "MegaloGrowlmon."
"You picked the wrong neighborhood, Sealsdramon." The Digimon growled menacingly, glowering down at the remaining members of the platoon. The ground shook as he advanced farther from the village, his body emitting a faint red glow. "This place is not for you to have!"
"You heard him." Sealsdramon laughed. "TAKE IT BY FORCE, BOYS!"
As gunfire broke out, Taiki, Shoutmon, and Hackmon sprinted forward again— this time, Taiki's Xros Loader was emitting a golden shine. At the same time, while the Commandramon charged forward, MegaloGrowlmon made his move without advancing a single step.
MegaloGrowlmon pivoted on his heel. The faint red glow that enveloped him grew, before concentrating on his chest and unleashing two massive energy beams. In a single sweep, he annihilated everything in his path. Where the Commandramon had once been, naught but golden flecks of data remained as the beam melted through the land itself. As the blast subsided, WarGrowlmon's body lapsed into a state of cooldown… it was there, he realized his mistake.
Sealsdramon had evaded his attack.
He had sacrificed his men and was now making a mad dash towards MegaloGrowlmon with knife poised— aimed for the mark on his chest. In his giddy glee that he would finally be rid of his opposition, Sealsdramon began to laugh, just as the knife struck.
Or would have.
With a flash of gold, OmegaShoutmon dropkicked him out of the way. Relentlessly, the Digimon King launched Sealsdramon in the air before striking him down into the ground with a Beat Slash. Upon impact, Sealsdramon's scouter broke, as he clawed his way out of the crater. Before he could, OmegaShoutmon landed in front of him, kicking away his knife before shortly stomping his untouched rifle into pieces with a glowering expression.
"You've got some nerve, you bastard." OmegaShoutmon spat.
MegaloGrowlmon, on the other hand, looked stunned as he laid eyes on the king, but furthermore… Taiki and Hackmon had now run to his side too. Sealsdramon seemed unsurprised by OmegaShoutmon's appearance.
"Xros Heart?" MegaloGrowlmon's voice no longer sounded menacing in the slightest. Rather, his eyes had dilated back to normal, and he seemed to be looking on at OmegaShoutmon in awe.
"That's them!" Hackmon chimed happily as Taiki strode close to OmegaShoutmon and Sealsdramon, who was now being detained by the former. "Pretty cool, aren't they?"
"How long have you been attacking this village?" Taiki asked, not paying attention to Hackmon and MegaloGrowlmon's idle conversation. Instead, he had folded his arms and was staring at Sealsdramon with a hard gaze. Instead of answering, Sealsdramon merely laughed, which prompted OmegaShoutmon to speak up.
"If you don't answer to him, you're going to answer to ME." OmegaShoutmon said harshly. Still, while he had ceased his laughter, Sealdramon gave them both a lopsided smile. It was off-putting to them both, to say in the least.
"He's been attacking this village for several months now." MegaloGrowlmon answered, almost meekly, as he tread over to where both Taiki and OmegaShoutmon were. "I've been fighting him and his men off for that time."
"Is that true?" Taiki asked again, more insistently.
"Yeah it is. And what're ya gonna do about it, General of Xros Heart?" Sealsdramon simpered in a mocking tone.
"OmegaShoutmon, did you disarm him?" Taiki said, glancing at his partner.
"Already done." The Digimon King said smoothly. "Anything else, Taiki?"
"Let him go."
At that moment, everyone, including Sealsdramon stared at Taiki with varying degrees of confusion, with the most confused one being MegaloGrowlmon. While OmegaShoutmon made a face of disapproval, ultimately, after destroying all of Sealsdramon's weapons, he released him from his grasp.
"—And don't even think about turning around." OmegaShoutmon said threateningly as he shoved Sealsdramon forward.
"Sir, yes sir." Rather mockingly, Sealsdramon made an overdramatic salute before running off into the desert.
"That guy's annoying." Hackmon chimed, after Sealsdramon was no longer in view.
"Thank you, for stating the obvious." MegaloGrowlmon said exasperatedly. As OmegaShoutmon turned back to look at him, it wasn't lost to the Digimon King that the Digimon was rather displeased with his general's decision. Oddly enough, as soon as MegaloGrowlmon realized that OmegaShoutmon was looking at him, he began fidgeting in place.
Still, moments later, with nothing else to be done, OmegaShoutmon's evolution wore off— as he reverted to Shoutmon, he sighed and nudged Taiki's arm.
"Was that really a good idea? Letting that guy go like that?" Shoutmon questioned. Even as he continued to stare at Taiki, expectant for an answer to his question, he was rather irked when his general turned his attention to MegaloGrowlmon.
"So, MegaloGrowlmon, was it?" Taiki asked with a friendly tone. Again, though not to the degree he was doing earlier, the cyborg Digimon nodded nervously.
"Ah, yes." His tone was a little awkward, but polite. It was almost comical to see a huge Digimon look so nervous, but regardless, he seemed to be hanging on Taiki's every word. "If I'm allowed to ask, General—"
"Huh?" Taiki blinked, almost surprised at the formality. "Just call me Taiki."
"U-Um." MegaloGrowlmon stuttered, fidgeting in place again. "I was w-wondering…"
"Yeah?" Shoutmon stepped forward, looking on in mild confusion. Taiki, in turn, tilted his head with curiosity.
For several moments, MegaloGrowlmon seemed to be at odds with himself. Between stammering incoherently and opening his jaw to speak without saying anything, he seemed… flustered.
"MegaloGrowlmon?" Taiki asked questioning, staring with vague concern.
"C—" He stumbled, seemingly trying his best not to flail on the spot. "Can I-I have your autographs?!"