A shadow passed over the forest, as the light from the setting sun was blocked by an immense figure. Standing atop the cliff was a Digimon; his armoured body glittering, his great shield mounted on his back and his gauntlets poised for attack. WarGreymon let back his head and bellowed. This would have been a majestic sight, but the pained, bestial sound that escaped his jaws, combined with the menacing aura around his eyes, made it clear that everybody near was in danger. WarGreymon leapt high into the air, his claws gathering energy.
Beneath him, the forest lay, already wilted and charred from various fires. Digimon within it tried to flee, leaving their homes and their belongings in a desperate bid to save their own lives. WarGreymon's eyes burned with a greater fury, his gauntlets glowing white from the growing sphere. As he lifted it high above his head, it grew to the size of a small house, pulsating with atomic energy.
An alarm pierced through the silence. From beneath the covers came a moan, followed by a hand. After waving about, it clapped down on top of the clock, but only succeeded in knocking it off the bedside table. The clock carried on beeping.
Slowly the person beneath the covers lifted himself up, stopped the persistent clock, and forced himself out of bed. He was a moderately tall youth, about fifteen years old, with aqua blue eyes and sandy coloured hair that pointed every which way.
Aaron dragged himself into the bathroom, rubbing sleep from his eyes. Nights of online gaming and Facebook were doing him no favours, he decided. He brushed his teeth, before stumbling back to his room and changing into a T-shirt and shorts.
Something wasn't quite right. He looked at the clock, which, being a cheap plastic contraption, was sporting a slight crack on one side. Ten to seven. His alarm had gone off as normal… except it was a Saturday. He'd got up for nothing. Aaron let out a sigh. Well, now that I'm up, he thought, may as well do something productive.
A few minutes later he had gone back to sleep. Being productive could wait a couple of hours.
The forest was beginning to heat up, as the flames from WarGreymon's attack began to spread. A couple of Woodmon were trying to escape the oncoming blaze, but with one of them missing a leg it was hard work. His companion was urging him on, supporting him with his strong, wooden arms.
Suddenly, a flaming gauntlet smashed through the injured Woodmon's face. The second one shrieked, before he was impaled on a gauntlet of his own. Their horrifying screams faded into electronic noise, and their bodies disintegrated into iridescent particles. WarGreymon roared, and spun round looking for more runaway Digimon.
The beast looked up to where the voice came from. Standing atop the cliff was a shadowed shape, staring down WarGreymon with three, glowing green eyes. Behind him, and all along the cliff, were countless other fire Digimon: Boarmon, Lynxmon, Shadramon, Tyrannomon; all with the same wild eyes and dangerous aura of WarGreymon. Only the shadowy figure remained unaffected by the apparent madness.
"You were given your orders. Find and destroy the targets. Now go."
Despite his limited cognition, WarGreymon growled in acknowledgement, and the shadowed figure watched him sprint off into the woods, the faint glow betraying his location. The figure smiled. It would soon be all over, and he and his colleagues could put this little issue behind them. Turning around, he addressed the Digimon behind him, who were all baying for blood and destruction, "As for the rest of you, I don't want to see a single leaf from this forest left intact."
He slowly walked away from the cliff edge, back through the bloodthirsty crowd, as the real devastation began.
The small Digimon ran through the forest, his feet breaking twigs on the forest floor. He needed to hurry; it wouldn't be long before either the flames caught up with him, or WarGreymon did.
The Digimon was called Velocimon; a bright yellow-green, two-legged lizard, with metallic bands around his arms, legs and tail. A large green crest adorned his head, and blue-tipped feathers stuck out from his elbows and the back of his head. His claws were clenched, in what would have been a fist if they were more flexible, and on his forearms were two gauntlets, on each of which were mounted two, faintly glowing gun barrels. His eyes contained the kind of determination seen only in those of soldiers.
Velocimon powered through the forest, his muscular legs carrying him over the rough ground with ease. Behind him he could hear the cries of anguished Digimon, and looked back despite himself. He stumbled, cursing as he tried to get back on his feet. His voice, quiet as it may have been, alerted something nearby. Before he could escape the area, a huge creature thundered towards him, slicing through trees as it came. It burst out from the undergrowth and stood, tall and imposing, before the much smaller Rookie level.
It was like a purple-skinned human, wearing various pieces of cloth and leather. Across its shoulders and arms it wore brick-red armour, square plates tied on with rope, and its face was obscured by a red samurai helmet. Like the rest of the possessed Digimon, it had blank, distorted eyes, and in its hand it held a huge, flaming sword.
Velocimon tensed himself, aware he couldn't outrun it now.
Musyamon released a feral growl. Suddenly it ran towards him, its flaming sword held high.
"Shogun Sword!" Velocimon leapt out of the way as a dragon-shaped flame crashed down where he was standing, turning the leaf litter into ash. He raised his arms, his clenched hands pointing towards Musyamon.
"Spark Shooter!" A flurry of sparks erupted from the gun-barrels on his knuckles, tearing into Musyamon's lower arm. It flinched, before turning and slashing at Velocimon. The lizard leapt back again, firing another shower of sparks.
The ground underneath Musyamon suddenly gave, making it stumble and flail wildly. At the same time, a shape flew out of a nearby tree, holding what looked like an oversized handgun with seven barrels.
"Bracken Helix!" it cried, firing a miniature vortex of seeds from its weapon. The seeds impacted on Musyamon's sword-arm, where they sprouted roots and formed a thorny binding. Musyamon howled and dropped his own weapon, giving Velocimon the time to get to his feet. He knew the drill from here. Running towards the samurai, he leapt onto its chest, impaling his claws through the cloth armour and purple flesh.
"Spark Shooter!" he cried, his teeth gritted, while sparks flew out of his hands and straight into Musyamon. The beast gave one last roar before disintegrating.
The shape that had saved Velocimon landed alongside him. The newcomer wore a helmet and armour, but strangely enough it was made out of smooth, hard wood. It had small ears and a rodent-like face, and it carried its oversized gun holstered on its back. That gun was made of wood as well.
"Thanks for that, Pikamon, he caught me off guard," Velocimon said, giving the rodent a fist-bump.
"No problem. We're meant to keep an eye on each other." Pikamon grinned, a buck-toothed smile that betrayed his excitement, despite the imminent danger.
"Besides, I've got Trilomon to thank for tripping him up. Gave me just the opening I was looking for."
From beneath the ground, another voice spoke up, this one quiet and child-like, "You're welcome."
Velocimon smiled, before his face turned serious again, "We've got to get moving again. There's more than just Musyamon out there. We'd better split before we're found by something else."
Pikamon nodded, and fired a vine out of his gun, catching onto a tree branch. As he was pulled up, he called, "See you at the meeting point. Try not to bring any unwanted company with you!" He stuck out his tongue before he disappeared into the canopy.
Velocimon couldn't help but smile again. No matter what the situation, Pikamon never seemed to take it seriously. Very different to his own ways, he thought, but perhaps for some levity was the way to deal with these things. Beneath him, he felt a faint knock; a reminder from Trilomon to get going. He set off again, heading out from the forest. Behind him, another roar sounded, followed by the distant sound of trees crashing to the ground.
"Aaron! You may want to come down soon, or you'll miss out."
The smell of bacon wafted its way towards Aaron's nose, as he hoisted himself out of bed for the second time that morning. He still felt exhausted, but the incredible and seductive powers of bacon gave him the strength to get ready. The sun shined through the window, illuminating his face as he opened the curtains. He blinked, his wild hair partly blocking his vision. He brushed it aside, before donning a thin red beanie.
"I've told you before, Aaron; don't wear that in the house." Aaron's mother was already flustered, in a hurry to get breakfast out before her dance class. Aaron reluctantly obliged, removing the offending headpiece and sticking it on the end of the stair banister. He sat down at the table, where his sister Jasmine was busy reading some magazine.
She piped up, "You know, you really have no fashion sense." She turned the page, her eyes skimming through the articles.
"Well, at least I have common sense, that's better than nothing."
She gave him an unimpressed look. "Implying?"
"Nothing in particular, Miss Money-Through-The-Washing-Machine."
Her face turned a slight tinge of pink. "I wasn't thinking. I forgot it was in my jacket pocket."
"Ten pounds, was it?"
She glared at him. Aaron stuck out his tongue, and she returned the gesture. Their mother's voice came from inside the cupboard, "I can hear both of you, you know.
She cracked a couple of eggs. "So what are you planning for today? It's lovely weather outside, and I don't want you playing games all day."
Aaron fiddled with an elastic band that was in his pocket (for some reason), and wound it round his fingers. "Actually, I was meeting some friends to go bowling this morning, about eleven."
"That's okay then, just text me when you're coming home." She placed the three breakfasts on the table, pulling up a chair herself. Aaron thanked her and dug in.
Sunlight illuminated his body, glinting off of his metallic bands, as Velocimon finally escaped the forest. He was tired, but he didn't show it, standing alert. In front of him was a yawning ravine, which was spanned only by a dangerously thin rock bridge. Velocimon remembered the voice telling them the location of the meeting place; it was the other side of this very ravine. He looked around, but could see no sign of any other Digimon, wild or friendly. Slightly worried, he squinted across to the other side.
Suddenly Pikamon landed beside Velocimon, startling him. "Well done, you're here. Now let's go already."
Velocimon turned to face the rodent Digimon, "You go over. I'm going to wait for the others. You go too, Trilomon."
Pikamon tapped his foot on the ground, twice. From nowhere, the ground opened up, and Trilomon revealed himself. He was insectoid, and about the size of a terrier. His whole body was covered in brown armour, and he held himself up on bleached, bony claws. The tip of his tail house a bony blade, and his eyes were a bright, emerald green. "I'll see you over there," he said optimistically, his voice like a child's. He started clambering over the bridge, making quick progress.
Pikamon turned back to his partner, "We've got to go now. You know we're being followed, and if the bridge is broken we'll have no way of getting across.
"But the others haven't come yet. Everybody needs to be here, that's what we were told."
"We'll need to have faith they'll come later. Come on, Velocimon, we need to go now."
"You go. I'll just be a minute."
Pikamon grabbed him. "I'm not leaving you behind just so you can get killed. Not after everything we've gone through. This is no time for you to be stubborn."
Velocimon sighed. "You're right, let's go." Pikamon grinned at him as the two started crossing the bridge.
They had barely gotten halfway across the bridge when the forest behind them exploded. Velocimon was knocked over by the shockwave, and even the steady-footed Pikamon stumbled briefly. Trilomon had already reached the other side. Looking back he saw something he didn't want to see. With a huge roar WarGreymon burst out of the inferno, his eyes burning with a feral lust for destruction. He saw the two small figures on the rock bridge.
Velocimon and Pikamon were on the run again. This was not part of the plan. Nobody had expected WarGreymon to get here this quickly, and as Rookies they stood no chance against his attacks. The only plan was to run. Velocimon glanced back, while making a steady run for the other side of the ravine. He glimpsed WarGreymon's eyes, and saw the aura darken. WarGreymon had come to kill them.
"Faster," Velocimon yelled, "we've got to get off this bridge."
"I'm on it." Pikamon had pulled out his gun and scoured the landscape in front of him for a suitable anchor. Seeing a large rock embedded in the ground on the other side, he pulled the trigger.
"Thorn Tendrils!" A cluster of vines shot out of the barrels, forming a rope that kept extending from the short gun barrel. They shot towards the rock, digging into the ground around it and securing their place.
In an instant Velocimon and Pikamon felt the intense heat, and violent shuddering of the bridge, as it was swallowed up by the burning tornado behind them. "Hold on!" Pikamon grabbed his partner and flicked the trigger on his gun. The vines rapidly retracted, pulling the two away from the onslaught, as the rock beneath them crumbled away. It was a close race, but even at full power Pikamon's gun wasn't pulling fast enough to outrun WarGreymon. Pieces of bridge, glowing red hot, were flying out of the tornado, some coming dangerously close to hitting the two.
"Agh!" Velocimon heard Pikamon's cry before they careened off course, struck by a shard of bridge. They hit the very edge of the cliff, a long way off from their target. Velocimon felt Pikamon slip out of his grip, as the rodent was pulled along by the retreating vines. The cliff face shook and Velocimon felt his feet go off the edge. Frantically digging his claws in, he looked below; he was dangling some three-hundred feet above solid ground. Trilomon rushed towards his partner as Pikamon, vines retracted fully, struck the rock, gritting his teeth as the sharp spasm of pain went through his head. He slumped.
"Trilomon, hurry!" Velocimon tried to hoist himself up, but before he could do so, and before his friend could reach him, the wildly careering tornado impacted with the side of the cliff next to him. The ground shook, knocking even Trilomon off balance. Great cracks appeared in the rock, and pieces fell off, plummeting into the chasm below. Velocimon felt his claws shifting. Beside him, WarGreymon, unaffected by the impact, turned to see the struggling dinosaur. He charged towards Velocimon, roaring in fury, as the rock in Velocimon's claws crumbled away and he started to fall.
Even the mighty Mega-level flinched as something shot down from the sky and struck him square in the eye. For a split second he saw what looked like some sort of bird, before it disappeared, having flown away at an incredible speed. Furious, he turned away from Velocimon and looked around for his mysterious assailant.
"Snow Blast!" Velocimon felt resistance as he fell. Looking up, he saw his right claw encased in thick ice, already melting from the scorching heat, but holding for the moment. Digging his left claw into the rock again, he looked above him and saw his rescuer; a light-blue, canine Digimon with huge ears, a thick, bushy tail and a furry red coat adorning her back and paws. "Vulpimon!"
"Hurry and get yourself out of there. I'm not sure how long Perimon can keep that guy distracted."
Velocimon pulled himself up the rest of the way, steadying himself at the top. Looking around, he saw the huge dragon swiping and firing energy into thin air. Perimon, an athletic red falcon with hardened wings and a bronze helmet, was keeping him busy, constantly speeding out of the way when WarGreymon tried to land a hit. Perimon was an incredibly skilled flyer and surprisingly strong for a Rookie, but he was beginning to tire as the relentless giant kept on.
Pikamon came to quickly. He stood up, holstering his weapon. He turned to look at the cliff face; thankfully Velocimon was okay and everyone was safe. Except that they weren't; Pikamon knew they couldn't stop the mighty dragon, unless they used the power of the Elements. None of them knew how to do that safely.
Pikamon took a step towards the group, collapsing to his knees as he felt a sharp pain. He glanced down at himself. He was bleeding; a thin stream was coming out of a large gash in his side. That was the place where the shard of bridge had hit him; it must have cracked a couple of ribs, as well as doing more damage he couldn't see. He saw particles of data floating away from his body; slowly, but noticeably. He could tell he wasn't going to get through this; his wound was too severe. He ignored the pain and got up, running towards the group. If he couldn't finish the mission, at least he could give the others a chance to.
"Everybody get away from the cliff edge. Head to the meeting point, you know where it is."
Everybody hesitated, with the exception of the still busy Perimon, but Velocimon signaled for Trilomon and Vulpimon to go. Reluctantly they headed into the woods, glancing back worriedly. Velocimon walked towards his partner, who was standing on the edge. "What are you doing?"
"I got hit pretty badly. I won't make it, so I'm going to bide you some time."
Velocimon grabbed him, "You can't. We were told that all the Elements needed to be there. We can escape from here and fix you up and – "
"And what?" Pikamon turned to him. "WarGreymon won't stop. Neither will any others if they find us. We'll just keep being chased across the Digital World until we're all killed off. No, you need to escape from here while I kill this thing."
He turned back to the dragon, "Besides, the Elements are incredibly powerful. You might still be able to open the rift, so long as most of them are there." Turning back to Velocimon again, "I'm just glad to have gotten this far. At least I can go out with a bang."
Velocimon sighed and looked down at his feet. He knew Pikamon was making sense. He just prayed that the other elements had made it to the meeting point as well. He looked up, removed his claw from Pikamon and held it out to him as a final gesture. Pikamon smiled, and gave him a fist-bump.
"Perimon, get away from him!"
The bird heard this cry and looped around, heading back towards the cliff-face. WarGreymon, disorientated, tried to find him, his eyes finally settling on the cliff. Perimon landed beside Velocimon.
"What's Pikamon doing?" Perimon was breathing fast and could hardly get the words out. He was sporting scorch marks on his wings and helmet.
Velocimon's solemn eyes answered his question. Perimon whirled round, screaming, "No, Pikamon, get away from there!"
He tried to take off but Velocimon stopped him, "No, leave him. There's nothing we can do for him now." The bird struggled as Pikamon calmly touched his chest. His flesh seemed to ripple with the touch, before he pulled it away, holding a tiny, green orb. Perimon's eyes widened. It was the Element of Wood.
Pikamon smiled as he felt the heat emanating from the great beast. Pulling out his gun, he loaded the tiny sphere into the compartment, before shaking it. He felt the power emanating from his hands, invigorating him, giving him the strength for one last attack. WarGreymon rushed at him, gauntlets burning. Pikamon braced himself, rocking backwards and holding his gun with two hands. He took aim at the fast-approaching dragon.
Out of the barrels of the gun came a huge swarm of tiny seeds, smothering the Mega level entirely. He was blasted back by the sheer numbers of pellets. Then he began to fall, his flight interrupted by the vines that grew around his body. Hundreds were burning off into ash but the volume of pellets hitting him was too much for him to handle. He crashed into the ground, where more seeds fixed him in place. Despite his best efforts he couldn't struggle free. He roared up at Pikamon, who simply smirked, "Right where I want you."
With the gun depleted and a good chunk of elemental energy used up, Pikamon tensed himself. He glanced back at the two Rookies behind him, saluting them, before he jumped over the edge.
Velocimon and Perimon ran to the edge of the cliff to watch. Pikamon felt his strength depleting due to the speed of his fall and his rapidly disintegrating body, but he stayed strong. He wanted to be conscious for his final blow. He threw his weapon downwards. It shattered WarGreymon's chest plate, the impact making it glow, the Element of Wood within it awakening with its true power.
Pikamon aimed himself for the dragon, twisting his body in the air. The creature was beginning to break his bonds, lifting his head and roaring once again. Pikamon grinned, "Not today." He crashed into WarGreymon's helmet, denting it and making the dragon roar with pain. Perimon flinched from the sounds of bones breaking, and Velocimon pulled him back, unsure of what was going to happen. WarGreymon, weakened, lifted his head again, in time to see the rapidly pulsating gun embedded in his chest. The Element of Wood exploded.
It was greater than anything WarGreymon had thrown at them. Velocimon and Perimon ran away from the cliff edge as it crumbled away into the chasm, just before a huge column of green energy erupted from the bottom, shooting straight up into the sky. Velocimon could smell freshly cut pine, and felt a cool breeze on his face. The two waited, staring, until the column died away. There was nothing. The air was still. The sounds of panicking Digimon in the forest behind them had ebbed away. Obviously the blast had scared everyone off.
Velocimon released Perimon who flew back over, Velocimon following him. The chasm was blackened by WarGreymon's attacks, but at the bottom where the blast had been strongest was completely clean. All the ash and rubble was gone, leaving an impossible smooth wall. At the bottom lay the body of WarGreymon. His armour, his helmet and gauntlets were all irreparably dented, and steam was coming out of his eye sockets. He was just an empty shell; he had been completely obliterated by the blast. There were vines growing over the carcass and up the chasm walls, complete with leaves and flowers. The still air was scattered with hundreds of flower petals, catching the sunlight and dancing. It was a beautiful image.
There was no sign of Pikamon's body. Velocimon and Perimon bowed their heads in respect. A moment later, they set off after the others.
"There was nothing we could do."
The four Digimon had been silent for the past few minutes, staring at the fire that crackled before them. It left dancing shadows on the walls of the cave, the very same cave that they had been told to meet. That was when all nine noble warriors were still around, of course. So far they had already lost Pikamon, and there was no sign of any of their other comrades coming.
Velocimon was sat poking the fire, occasionally firing in a spark or two to keep it burning. Vulpimon was sat a little way away, also watching the flames. Trilomon had curled up in the corner, unwilling to join with the others. Perimon was the most active, pacing up and down and frequently staring at the cave mouth, watching for any sign of oncoming Digimon.
"You know, we might still have a chance. The rest of the elements might be powerful enough to open the rift."
As Velocimon spoke, Perimon glanced back, glaring at him. "Maybe it wouldn't have come to that if you let me save him."
"He was wounded. He told me he wouldn't last much longer."
"But you didn't even try!"
"It's as hard for me as it is for you, Perimon! Pikamon was my partner, and we looked out for each other. The two of us were fighting Surtremon's army long before we were all called together."
"You haven't got a clue, have you? I've seen three of our partners die now thanks to Surtremon's forces, and every time it's been because I've failed to save them."
Velocimon glanced up, as did Trilomon. "Three?"
Vulpimon shifted uneasily. "We should have told you earlier. Chromon fell shortly after we all left, and we lost Placomon when she was trapped by Cephalomon. We haven't heard from Ladomon and Colchimon for a long time either."
Velocimon snapped the stick he was fiddling with from the fire. "Damn. Now there's no way we're going to open the rift, even if we tried."
Perimon snapped. Lowering his head he lunged at Velocimon, sending him sprawling. "I'm sick to death of your apathy! We're in the middle of a war and our friends are dying. How can you just brush it off? Do you care at all, or are you just playing the tough soldier, who accepts the death of his partner as a "noble sacrifice"?"
Velocimon wiped his cheek, a trail of blood coming away from where Perimon's beak had struck him. He glared back at the bird. "Your attitude isn't helping the matter either. And besides, I don't remember you caring this much about the others. Not until it was your family under attack."
It was a low blow. Perimon screamed, "You bastard!" He lunged again, but Velocimon was ready. Grabbing the bird's shoulders he threw him to the ground, where the two tussled, biting and kicking. Trilomon backed up against the cave wall, frightened by the violent outburst.
"You two, stop it!"
A blast of snow and ice swept over the two, slowing them to a stop. Vulpimon sat back down. "You may not like each other very much at the moment, but regardless we still need to work together. Now sit down and shut up."
Begrudgingly, Velocimon and Perimon moved back over to the fire. They sat, occasionally giving each other dark looks.
Vulpimon broke the silence again. "So what are we going to do now?"
Velocimon sighed. "There are only four of us. That's not going to be enough to break through the rift, which was the original plan. So that's no good."
Perimon raised his head. "Perhaps we could use the power of the elements ourselves to fight back against the army? You saw how Pikamon used it."
Vulpimon shook her head, "It's only a limited amount of energy in this form. It would run out before we could use it effectively."
The three stared into the fire again. They were rapidly running out of options. The cave walls seemed to be pressing in on them, providing no help with their impossible predicament.
"Guys, look!" Everybody glanced at Trilomon, who had gotten to his feet (claws?) and was pointing to the cave entrance.
Everybody followed his gaze. "I don't believe it," said Vulpimon. A smile played across Velocimon's face, and Perimon give a little crow of delight.
There, hovering near the mouth of the cave, were two very similar-looking Digimon. Both had long, serpentine bodies that ended in tapering blades. One of the two was white, with golden bands surrounding her body and wings of blue-white feathers. The other was the slightly larger of the two, with a hooked beak, black markings on a dark-grey body, and large, bat-like wings that seemed to shimmer in the moonlight. Both had stones embedded in their foreheads; one light blue, the other a light purple.
The two slowly shuffled in. They were covered in small scratches and burns, and the larger one was supporting the smaller one, keeping her upright with his wing. They were Ladomon and Colchimon, the twin warriors of Light and Darkness.
Colchimon lifted his head, and smiled at the assembled Digimon, "Sorry we're late. We ran into a little trouble."
"So you're saying we're the only ones left?"
Since the night air was beginning to chill the cave, the members of the group were now all huddled around the tiny flame, (with the exception of Vulpimon, as her element meant she was unaffected by the cold). Ladomon and Colchimon were intertwined; Ladomon was still weak from her injuries, although they weren't fatal, and Colchimon was supporting her.
Perimon nodded, "It's just us." He had calmed down from his earlier outburst, and had settled down, eyes half-closed. In truth everybody was tired, but now wasn't the time for rest.
Ladomon lifted her head, "So can we still use the elements to break through the rift?"
The other Digimon looked at each other. Nobody knew the answer to that.
Velocimon scratched his chin, "We really needed all nine elements to break through. I'm not sure six will be enough. Although," he looked up at the two serpents, "Light and Darkness are the two most powerful. They might just tip it."
Colchimon straightened up, untangling himself from his partner. "It's worth a shot. There's really nothing else we can do."
The six Digimon all nodded in agreement. They would give it a try.
Velocimon stood up, "Right, the first step is to find this rift."
"Way ahead of you." This came from Trilomon. "The rift is between the Digital World, the real world and the interface, so they must all coexist on the same plane. Therefore the digital plane will have been affected." He pointed one of his claws at the wall. "The rift will be at the place where the digital structure is at its weakest, or the place where all the cracks on this wall meet up."
Everyone stared at the little insect. He shifted, lowering his head. "…or something like that."
"No, you're right." Colchimon looked at the wall and then back at Trilomon, giving him a wink. If the little insect could blush he would have gone scarlet by now.
"Okay, so the rift is here, but how exactly do we open it?" Vulpimon asked, as the six gathered around the cracked wall.
Ladomon thought for a moment, before saying, "Perhaps we should just release the elements and see what happens. Maybe they'll handle it automatically."
Everybody nodded; it seemed like the best idea. They released the tiny spheres of light from their bodies. Each one was a different colour, and had a symbol etched into it, despite being made of pure energy. The spheres rose up, and positioned themselves around the centre of the cracks. If there had been four other elements there, they would have formed a complete circle.
Slowly, the group of elements began to rotate, forming a ring of light. There was complete silence. Nothing was happening. The group waited ten, twenty, thirty seconds. Still nothing happened.
Then, just as Velocimon was about to turn away and give it up as a failure, everybody heard a noise. The sound of a rock chipping, followed by another, and another. The group looked closely as they saw more cracks, minuscule but visible, forming where the ring was spinning.
The wall blew open. With a sudden rush of data, it split into chunks of rock, spinning and colliding with each other. Behind the wall seemed to be a void; an endless chasm around which the digital world shaped itself. The elemental ring fired a beam into the void, where it was swallowed up. The whole cave seemed to twist and bend with the power of this rupture.
Then suddenly, nothing. The wall had closed completely, and was now a completely smooth, unbroken surface. The ring of light slowed, faded, and split into the six elements, which all returned to their keepers. There was no sound, and the only light came from the dimly flickering fire.
Vulpimon broke the silence, "So, what now?"
Trilomon answered, "The signal needs to reach the real world. Once it forms a link, it will bring the chosen children here." He looked at the now smooth wall, "However I think opening the rift has shifted its location. There's no telling where they'll enter the Digital World."
"Well then, we need to be there for them when they arrive." The others turned to face Velocimon, who had a small smile playing over his jaws. "We've done what we needed to. We've summoned the humans. We may need to protect them when they come. But with their help, we can finally turn the tide of this war."
Breakfast had been a somewhat rushed affair, with Aaron's mother running late. While she fumbled around looking for her shoes, Aaron went back upstairs. He wasn't meeting up with his friends for another half hour, and he was already bored. He checked his phone. No texts or Facebook notifications. "Bye you two! Love you!" his mother called, before he heard the door shut.
The screen flickered briefly. But he thought nothing of it. Just a small glitch. He pocketed his phone and wallet and headed downstairs. "Where are you going?" said Jasmine, as he headed for the door.
"I may as well take a walk down to the town. Maybe I'll have a look round the shops." He shrugged, as she poked her head round the door.
"If you're going, could you pick me up a copy of Hello please?" She tossed some money at him, which he pocketed.
"Sure, I'll see what I can do. I'll see you later."
"Bye, have a good time."
Aaron grabbed his hat from the banister and left. Jasmine rolled her eyes. "I swear half the time he has no idea what he's doing," she mumbled to herself.
Aaron headed down the path from his house that led to the park. The sun was out, but the wind was beginning to pick up, whipping the tree branches to and fro. He turned into the park, a spring in his step. There were a couple of kids playing football, and an old man walking his dog the other side. The path ran alongside a play-park, in which two younger children were playing, a girl and a boy. Somebody else was leant up against the gate, dressed in a long, dark-grey raincoat. He looked up as Aaron walked past, but said nothing.
Aaron looked up, surprised. Walking towards him was a girl his age, with long, red hair and large, emerald green eyes. She wore a blue jacket over a stripy T-shirt.
"Hi Eloise. You're up early." Aaron knew Eloise from school; in fact they'd been in the same class since Year Three, and they knew each other well.
" Well, I was supposed to be meeting friends to go shopping," she looked around, letting out a sigh, "but you know Gabrielle and Emily, they're never on time for anything."
"I was headed out too, going bowling with a couple of mates."
"Maybe I could join you instead," Eloise chuckled, "At least then I'd actually get something done today."
The wind was picking up again, whistling through the trees. Over the other side of the park, the dog was barking and snapping at something. A young man walked out of the other entrance to the park, a laptop strung over his back.
"Can I ask you something?" Eloise subtly gestured towards the boy in the raincoat, who was checking his phone. "He's been standing there all morning. I think I recognise him from somewhere, but I can't remember where."
Aaron looked. Now that she mentioned it, the boy did look familiar. Perhaps he had been at school, although Aaron didn't remember seeing him often. What was his name? Kieran? Colin?
"Why don't you ask him?" He glanced back at Eloise, but she was no longer looking at him. Her eyes were on the children in the play-park, who were clutching their ears. The girl was shouting for the boy to come to her, but he didn't respond. He didn't seem to be able to hear her, and his eyes were clenched shut.
"Are you okay? What's wrong?" Eloise called over, but her voice didn't register with them. The girl suddenly dropped to her knees, letting out a scream. The boy with the laptop looked over, and the boy in the raincoat looked up from his phone. In the distance the dog kept barking, and Aaron could hear more dogs starting up in the surrounding houses. The wind was faster now, the whistling growing louder.
"Agh!" Eloise put her hands up to her own head, gritting her teeth. Before Aaron could ask her what was wrong, he felt it too. The whistling turned into a high-pitched screech. He felt a sharp pain in his head as the noise persisted. It was like a kettle whistling, but it sounded almost electronic, almost alien.
The boy in the raincoat, teeth also gritted from the noise, shoved his phone in his pocket and turned to look over the fence. His eyes focused on the children, as if he had just noticed them. He yelled something, but the noise was too great for Aaron to understand what he said. At this point the boy with the laptop was staggering; his eyes wide open with shock. Aaron's vision was beginning to blur. The wind had become a gale, buffeting the treetops and making standing up almost impossible. The boy in the raincoat, clutching the fence, made his way towards the gate to the play-park and opened it, heading towards the two children.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, something opened. It seemed as if the air itself had been torn apart by some cosmic force, and had become a doorway to a strange, pixelated dimension. It was hard to see, but Aaron immediately felt the portal pulling him, dragging him towards its gaping maw. The boy in the raincoat and the guy with the laptop started running towards the children as they held on to whatever they could to avoid being sucked in. For the boy, the tree branch wasn't enough; it snapped, sending him flying into the portal, where he was lost in a sea of pixels. The girl screamed, but no sound was heard. Aaron, head throbbing, gestured to Eloise to help. They went through the gate and, slowly but surely, reached her, grabbing on to her just as she lost her grip. The boy in the raincoat joined them, but the boy with the laptop, trying to reach them, slipped. Before he could even yell, he too was lost in the portal.
The four remaining children were crouched, clinging on to each other, but despite their combined weight they too were being dragged towards the dimensional abyss. Aaron's head felt about to burst, and he felt his phone and wallet slip from his pocket. All of a sudden, the portal pulsated. It was too much. The four children were knocked off their feet and, one by one, were dragged into the portal. Aaron was the last to go. Scrabbling furiously, he clawed at the ground, but he felt himself being dragged inside. He saw the gate seal up behind him, leaving him disorientated and terrified by the chaos around him. The vortex around him was swirling with colours and shapes, and he lost all sense of time, direction and function. He couldn't breathe, he couldn't see or hear, all he could feel was the storm buffeting him. He felt a sharp jolt through his body, like a bolt of electricity. Then he blacked out.
Back in the park, people were beginning to crowd. Lots of people had seen the disturbance from all around the city, and police had been called in. There was nothing to indicate the children had ever been there, aside from a few scattered items. A couple of phones, a wallet, a watch. Aaron's phone was vibrating. One new text message. From Jasmine.
"Aaron, did u c the sky just now? Weird."
Aaron was no longer there to read it.
Aaron felt water on his face. He opened his eyes, trying to ignore the nagging pain in the back of his head. His could still hear the high-pitched screeching ringing in his ears. He sat up, carefully, and took a look around himself. He seemed to be on a beach. It went on for miles each way, and the only sound was the constant lapping of the waves. It seemed to be late evening. Confused, Aaron shut his eyes. Then he pinched himself. Then he opened his eyes again. The beach remained where it was.
"I've tried that. I don't think this is a dream."
Aaron looked around at the voice. Standing next to him was a girl. Aaron blinked. It was the same girl that had been in the park. She looked about twelve years old, with hazel eyes and chestnut hair tied back in a ponytail. She wore a knee-length pleated skirt and a green sweatshirt that looked about two sizes too big for her, with which she was fidgeting, playing around with the sleeves. Her eyes were glistening, but her expression was firm, if a little confused.
Aaron stood up himself. She gave him a little smile, "My name's Grace."
"I'm Aaron. So do you know where we are?"
"Sorry, I don't. I'm trying to find my brother, but I haven't seen anyone else around here."
Aaron recounted what had happened in his head, "Well, six of us came through, so they should be here somewhere."
They set off along the beach, unsure as to where else to go. Grace was quiet for the most part, simply looking around her for her lost sibling. Aaron himself was worried about Eloise, but more urgently, worried about where the hell they were. Nervous, his hand went to his pocket, where he found the elastic band from that morning. He wrapped it around his wrist. At least it was something familiar.
The two trekked on, until Aaron spotted something. He nudged Grace and pointed. There, in the distance, were four tiny, but distinctly humanoid silhouettes. Grace yelled "Jack!" before running towards them at a surprising speed. Aaron followed her, his feet pushing up sand behind him. Now the others had noticed them, and were waving and calling to them.
The six met up, with Grace throwing her arms around the smallest of them. He was about a head shorter than her, wearing a blue T-shirt and grey shorts, along with a neoprene sleeve around his knee. His hair was blonde and mostly covered by a green baseball cap. Aaron looked at the others. Eloise was there, happy to see a familiar face. One of the others was the boy in the overcoat, about as tall as Aaron, with spiky dark-brown hair and ice-blue eyes. The other was taller and looked older, about seventeen or eighteen. He was dressed in a casual-smart way, with a plum shirt and cream trousers, as well as the laptop held over his back with a sling. He had shoulder-length black hair, olive skin and dark brown eyes.
The boy with the laptop, named Kent, spoke first, "Do either of you remember anything about coming here?"
Grace turned around and nodded, "We were all pulled through that gate thing, weren't we?"
Kent glanced at her, before shaking his head, "Portals don't just open in parks for no reason. Somebody must have brought us here, and right now we're just hallucinating."
Grace looked at him, "So, we're all having the same vision?"
Eloise frowned, "Surely we'd remember something if we were taken. Besides, what would they gain from dumping us all on a beach? And anyway," she glanced around her, "which beach is this?"
The group looked. It was too big and perfect to be a beach in England; that was for sure.
Kent pointed up to the sky, "I don't think the beach is the issue here. Look up there?"
Everybody looked up, and gasped. Hanging in the sky were not one, not two, but three immense moons, close enough to count the craters on their surfaces. Everyone was silent.
The boy in the raincoat, called Kai, spoke up here, much to everyone's surprise. "Perhaps we're not on Earth." He had a faint Scottish accent.
Kent turned to face him, "I told you, it's impossible. We must be on Earth somewhere. We just don't know where."
The young boy, Jack, grinned, "Maybe we've been abducted by aliens!"
Grace sighed, "Why would that be a good thing?" Jack shrugged.
Aaron put his hands to his face, rubbing his eyes, "Well, it's a possibility. We could be on another planet, or perhaps in another dimension."
Everybody mumbled. It sounded incredibly silly when said out loud. Kent sighed, "I think we're jumping to conclusions. The only thing weird about this place is the three moons. I'm sure there are other explanations that don't venture into the realm of sci-fi." He folded his arms. "I just don't believe we can be on another world."
Before Aaron could reply, a strange noise filled the air. A deep, melancholic moaning, similar to a whale's song. The group looked out towards the ocean. There, in the distance, was a swell in the ocean. It grew slowly bigger, and it seemed to be the source of the moaning. Grace grabbed her brother and held him close, and Aaron stepped to the front of the group, watching whatever it was come ever closer.
The swell died down, about one-hundred metres from the shoreline. The group watched, poised. A thin trail of steam wafted upwards from where the swell had been. Then, suddenly, an immense tentacle rose up out of the water. It was bright orange, with a metal cylinder at the end, making clicking noises as it rotated, like the barrel of a six-gun. Eloise yelled, and Aaron and Kai pulled the group back away from the water's edge. The tentacle waved in the air, before bending over and crashing, cylinder first, into the seabed. One by one, more tentacles appeared from the surf, each one with the metal discs at the end of them. They all planted themselves into the sand, looking like some sort of huge rubber spider.
What came next was even worse than that. A torso rose up from the centre of the tentacles. It was humanoid, with plate armour covering the chest and shoulders, and red metallic gauntlets around its forearms. The head was obscured by a beak-like mask, and tentacles flapped down from behind it, waving around in a manner akin to dreadlocks. Great clouds of steam rose from the creature, while excess water cascaded from its immense tentacles. Fully emerged, it stood about as high as a three-storey building. The children could do nothing but stand and gape, as the leviathan turned its monstrous gaze upon them.
TO BE CONTINUED…