The massive creature peered down at the small group, who looked back up with a mixture of terror and awe. The creature shifted, before flinging its head back and letting out another cry. Up close, the cry seemed like many different tones combined into a single melancholic scream, and it resonated through the bodies of the human onlookers. The creature nodded its head forward again, with the slow movement one would expect from such a giant creature.
Kai was slowly pushing the group backwards, and Aaron followed suit, trying to keep them all away. Everybody was still unable to speak in front of the great creature, and they could barely move.
The beast noticed them trying to escape, and lazily lifted one of its tentacles. It brought it down next to the group, digging the barrel into the sand and making the group flinch collectively.
The beast moved another tentacle, before it lowered its main body down from the great height, leaning forward as it did so.
The group huddled closer together. As they got a closer look at the head they picked out more details; the pores beneath the beak, from which they heard a shallow breathing; the hundreds of tiny suckers on the smaller tentacles, and the tubular eyes that moved independently of one another, surveying the children.
The creature stopped moving. It was leaning over them, crouched down so it could see. It still towered over them completely. Half a minute passed, with no sound except the lapping of the waves and the great creature's breathing. Then, out of nowhere, it spoke.
"You are humans."
Everyone jumped. A giant sea monster was one thing, but one that could speak? Kent muttered under his breath, "I don't believe it."
Suddenly, Kai stepped forward, looking the creature in the eye. "Yes, we are humans."
The monster looked surprised. Kai carried on, "We've arrived here on this beach, but we don't know how. You're the first thing we've seen since we got here. Is there anything you can tell us about where we are?"
Eloise turned to Aaron, with a mad look in her eyes. "Have I just gone insane, or is he trying to ask the giant squid for directions?"
Both Jack and Grace gave a single, nervous laugh. Aaron looked up at the creature. "Well, if that is actually a giant squid monster, and it can actually talk to us, we may as well try and talk back." At this point Kent was frantically checking his pulse.
Unwavering, Kai looked up at the great beast. Another minute passed. Then the beast spoke again.
"My name is Cephalomon. The world that you have been brought to is the Digital World, a world that runs parallel to the human world you inhabit."
Kai smiled. At least now they were getting somewhere.
"You should not have come here. You are a threat, and I cannot allow you to stay here."
Kai shook his head, blurting out, "Wait, what? We're not threatening you, we're just lost. We don't mean anything against you!"
Cephalomon raised himself back up to his full height, still looking at the boy in the raincoat, before simply answering, "You would not understand. I must get rid of you now. Don't worry, this won't last long."
Kai reacted before anyone else could even register what Cephalomon had just said. He grabbed the two youngest children by the wrists and shouted.
Everyone else stumbled around a bit, before the urgency of the situation hit them and they ran after him. Kai was headed for the gap between Cephalomon's forearm and one of his tentacles. Cephalomon slowly lifted that tentacle and raised it high. He let it fall, the huge metal cylinder embedding into the sand, just missing the escaping humans. Nevertheless, the shockwaves sent Aaron and Kent sprawling, but they quickly got back on their feet and ran after the others.
They regrouped a fair distance away, but kept running. Cephalomon was steadying himself, rebalancing on his six massive tentacles. Aaron turned to Kent, "If we're that big of a threat, why isn't he moving a little more…urgently?"
Kent, breathing heavily, answered, "I think it's used to moving underwater. That's how it got so big. It's not used to moving on land, so it finds it hard work."
The group slowed, all turning to watch. The mighty creature was still balancing itself on its six legs. It lifted its head and turned to face them.
Grace frowned. "Shouldn't it be coming after us?"
The group stopped. They had run inland, but in front of them stood a huge cliff face. There was nowhere they could run to, other than up and down the beach. Yet Cephalomon was standing there doing nothing but watching them.
All of a sudden he lifted one of his tentacles and pointed it straight at the group. The metal cylinder at the end began to click, the many segments starting to rotate. From here the group could see a hole at the end of the cylinder, and it began to glow and let out a horrific sound.
Suddenly Kent yelled, "GET DOWN!" The group threw themselves to the ground as Cephalomon spoke.
As he spoke, one of his tentacles slipped and he shifted slightly. A huge ball of fire shot out of the tentacle he was pointing. It sailed just over the group and landed at the bottom of the cliff, where it burst into a lake of liquid fire. Terrified, the group got to their feet.
Aaron looked back at Cephalomon, who was re-adjusting his stance. A horrible feeling embedded itself in his chest. If Cephalomon hadn't slipped, and the fireball had hit them, they would all have been killed. This wasn't just a vision; he could feel the heat from the napalm behind him. This was life or death.
Aaron turned to the rest of the group, "We need to get as far down the beach as we can. Maybe if we can lose him then we can find a way inland. Now follow me, quickly!"
He set off, and the others followed him Cephalomon watched them run. He sighed behind his mask, "There's nowhere you can run to." He almost sounded bored.
He crossed his forearms, the gauntlets beginning to glow. Flinging his arms wide, he shouted.
The group felt the heat as the huge arc of fire flew over their heads. It embedded itself into the sand, releasing a huge wall of fire right in front of them. Everyone turned round to see the giant circle of fire that now surrounded them. The only place unaffected was the bottom of the cliff; a scorch mark had been left where the arc of fire had hit it. Aaron's heart sank. They were trapped on all sides in a huge arena with a homicidal sea monster.
Cephalomon steadied himself and lifted two of his tentacles at once, barrels clicking menacingly.
Kent was the one to speak up, "Everyone, get behind the rocks!"
Everyone looked. In front of the cliff face were huge shards of rock, which had probably fallen from the cliffs themselves. They stuck out of the sand at odd angles, and they were just thick enough to provide temporary cover. Kent immediately made his way towards them, the others following suit. They heard Cephalomon shout again, "Tentacle Blaze!"
Everyone threw themselves forward as the huge fireball just missed them. Before Cephalomon could fire again, everyone had found cover. Grace was holding Jack close to her, and both were visibly shaking. Kai was poised, ready to run again if he needed to. Eloise, Aaron and Kent were all crouched behind a particularly large rock.
Eloise turned to Kent, breathing heavily.
"Please tell me this is some kind of horrible nightmare."
Kent looked down. "I don't know. Right now, I don't know what to think."
Another explosion as a fireball impacted with Kai's rock. Fire splashed around and Kai felt the rock as it vibrated dangerously.
"If we're going to do anything then now might be a good time to do it!" he shouted at the others.
Eloise looked around desperately, her gaze landing on Aaron. "Do you have a plan? Anything? Please!" She began to sob, before slapping herself and wiping away her tears.
Aaron closed his eyes. He didn't know what to do. He'd never done anything like this. Until now he had never even thought he would do anything like this. He tried to concentrate, but he flinched as another fireball impacted, this time on his own cover. He felt the rock vibrate, and wondered how long they would last before they shattered. Was there anything they could do to stop this creature?
"Why isn't he coming towards us?"
The question caught Aaron off guard. He looked up, and saw Grace peering out from behind her rock. She let out a scream and ducked back as another fireball flew past. She cupped her hands and shouted, "We don't have anywhere to go, so why doesn't he just come over here and kill us up front?
Aaron frowned. It was a good point. He turned to Kent, "Didn't you say this thing isn't used to moving on land?"
"I'd guess so. Look at how slowly he's moving. He's probably much more comfortable staying in one place and attacking us from a distance."
"Then what if we got closer to him? As in, right underneath his feet."
Eloise turned on him, "Are you insane? You want to go TOWARDS the huge octopus thing?"
Kent shook his head, a hopeful look in his eyes. "Actually that might be the best idea we have. He's slow enough that we can avoid getting crushed and he can't attack us from under there; not without hurting himself."
Kai ran over, a fireball just missing him. Behind him a rock shattered with the impact.
"Then maybe we can climb on or something. Maybe we can do some damage to his tentacles."
Kent frowned again, "I doubt it. The barrels are in the way. But at least we'd be a little safer. We certainly can't hold out here for that long."
"I have a question. How do you suggest we get under there without being hit?"
There was silence. Nobody had a clue.
Grace spoke up again, "What if someone makes a distraction?"
There was more silence. Nobody knew what else to suggest. Aaron sighed. His heart was beating fast, but he held firm. "Okay, Kent, Kai, you head underneath him and see if you can distract him." Kent went to speak but Aaron silenced him, "Eloise, you stay with the kids, and keep them safe for now. I’m gonna make a run for it."
Eloise glared at him. "That's suicide and you know it. You can't outrun those fireballs."
"Hopefully he won't have to for long." Kai reached into his coat pockets for anything he could possible use as a weapon. "It's not ideal but it's the only plan we have."
Eloise started to argue again but Aaron was already poising himself. He turned around. "Wish me luck."
Aaron ran. From the corner of his eye he saw Cephalomon shift his position, adjusting his aim. Behind him he heard Eloise calling him, imploring him to turn back. He didn't look back, knowing full well the danger of what he was doing. He heard the shot from Cephalomon's cannon and threw himself forward. He felt pain on his right leg as the fireball impacted a few metres away from him. A couple of drops of the liquid fire had splashed onto his leg; it burned like crazy, but he brushed it off, gritted his teeth and began running again. He started to zigzag, trying to put Cephalomon off his aim.
Kai reached the giant first. Cephalomon was so tall that he didn't notice the two humans sneaking up underneath him. Kai lightly touched one of Cephalomon's cylinders, and quickly drew his hand away. He turned to Kent, "They're really hot. Climbing up isn't an option."
"Then what? What can we do to help?"
"Not much, I'm afraid. You can't hold out for much longer."
Both Kent and Kai looked up to see Cephalomon swing his body round. Cephalomon took aim and fired, a huge ball of flames headed straight for the rocks.
Kent buried his head in his hands. Aaron's plan hadn't worked. Cephalomon may have been slow, but he wasn't stupid.
Aaron watched as the projectile hit the rock which hid Grace, Jack and Eloise. Already battered from repeated hits, the rock shattered, with napalm spraying in all directions. Aaron felt his heart go to his throat as he saw three figures running as fast as they could. They must have made a run for it beforehand. However now they were out in the open.
He saw Jack running towards him, with Eloise close behind. He yelled at them to find more cover, but was all too aware of Cephalomon watching them. His barrel was raised, charging up again for another shot. Suddenly, Jack stumbled, and fell to his knees. Aaron ran towards him, with Eloise joining them as well. She tried to pull him up, shouting at both of them. Aaron couldn't make out what she said, with the blood pumping in his ears. He turned and saw Cephalomon's cannon pointed straight towards them.
A small clang sounded. Everybody turned, even Cephalomon. A stone had just hit one of his barrels, thrown by Grace. She was standing a way away, another stone in her hand. She threw again, shouting "Leave them alone!"
Another clang. Eloise spoke, "Why hasn't he fired yet?"
Aaron remembered the situation they were in and began to move, dragging the other two along with him. Cephalomon looked, but they were already out of his aim.
All of a sudden Cephalomon moved his other active cannon, until it pointed straight towards Grace. Terrified, she tried to run, but her legs gave way under her and she collapsed. Sitting up, she saw Cephalomon's cannon pointed directly towards her, spinning at an alarming rate.
Cephalomon fired. Grace flinched, raising her arms, for all the good it would do her. Jack's cry resonated across the beach.
The flames from the impact began to clear. There was nothing left, except a puddle of napalm, where the sand had once been.
For a few seconds there was silence. Each second felt like an hour. Nobody spoke.
Cephalomon turned his head and raised his other cannon towards the three children still kneeling on the sand. Aaron couldn't move. He could only watch as the barrels began to spin once again. Eloise closed her eyes. There was nothing more they could do.
A sudden noise made Cephalomon turn his head once again. Kent and Kai followed his gaze, and gasped. The others looked too, as Grace out of the sand, coughing and spluttering. Jack got up and ran towards her, "What happened? How did you do that?"
Grace tried to speak, but fell into another bout of coughing. Cephalomon was looking every which way. The two teenagers underneath him felt a vibration as he began to growl menacingly. All of a sudden he yelled out angrily, "Show yourselves!"
From their scattered locations, the children looked around, but saw nothing. Something felt different though. Eloise pointed and everyone looked. High in the sky, very far away, was a tiny black speck. Before Cephalomon could turn and see, the speck let out a cry, and flew straight towards the mighty beast. As it flew, it called out two words;
In less than a second the speck, some sort of bird, impacted with Cephalomon's head. The force made the titan stumble, before he aimed is cannons and fired off two shots at the retreating bird. The shots flew wide, and the bird simply looped out of the way, letting out another battle cry.
Grace finally managed to speak, "They're here to help us."
Aaron turned, "Who're 'they'?"
"I was dragged underneath the sand before the fireball impacted. While underground I heard a voice say "Don't worry, we're here to help you." Then I came to the surface."
Before anyone could answer, another voice sounded from the top of the cliff.
"Cephalomon. Are you looking for us?"
Kent and Kai made a run for it as Cephalomon's growling grew in volume. They met up with the rest of the group and looked up towards the voice. Aaron realised how exposed they were and ushered everyone towards cover, but they weren't in any immediate danger. Cephalomon was fixated on the owner of the voice, his anger rising.
Standing atop the cliff were six creatures, unlike anything the children had ever seen. The strange bird had landed on the far left; a red falcon wearing a helmet and with wings that shone like polished bronze. Next to him were two winged, serpentine dragons with bladed tails, one white with golden bands, and one dark grey with black bands, intertwining and glaring at Cephalomon.
The ground to the right of the group opened up and a peculiar insect stepped out, balancing his articulated body on four bony claws. Next to that was what looked like an arctic fox, with huge ears and a furry crimson pelt over her back.
Standing in the centre, arms folded, was the final member of the group; a two-legged lizard with glinting metallic bands and large, green gauntlets. He stared defiantly at Cephalomon, before unfolding his arms and pointing.
"It's been a long time. Unfortunately we're going to have to stop this right now."
Cephalomon bellowed, "You've made a big mistake, coming here. You disgraced me once. Now you will pay." He chuckled, before continuing. "The 'last chance' for the Digital World, and you're all at my mercy. Now it simply falls to me to annihilate you all."
Velocimon lowered his head. "You're wrong. We've been looking for these humans ever since we called them." He pointed again, "If you think we're about to give up now then guess again. You may be a Mega, but we are not at your mercy!"
The children below looked on in wonder as Velocimon looked to his comrades, then straight towards Cephalomon. "I took your arm before, and we can take you on again."
Cephalomon's growls rose in volume. He lifted his active cannons and pointed them straight at Velocimon.
Velocimon stayed calm. He flexed, his claws cracking together, before he jumped off the cliff.
The rest of the creatures all jumped from the cliff edge; some taking flight, some sliding down the cliff face, and the insect burrowing straight into the earth. The children watched as they made their way towards Cephalomon, who was spinning his tentacle cannons at a frightening rate.
Cephalomon fired several shots, but the fast moving creatures dodged the lethal projectiles. Quickly the giant squid was surrounded, but the six tiny monsters around him seemed to be little threat. After all, he was a Mega level, and they were only Rookies.
Cephalomon gave up shooting and instead attempted to crush the fox with one of his tentacles. She dodged it easily, and she ran in underneath the immense body.
"Snow Blast!" she cried as she let out a flurry of ice and snow from her mouth, which surrounded one of the barrels and sealed it in place. Cephalomon roared in pain as Vulpimon set to work with the rest of the tentacles. Trilomon was also hard at work; burrowing underneath the barrels so they sank into the soft sand.
Ladomon and Colchimon were circling around the squid. Their bladed tails were beginning to glow; one a blinding white, and the other a strange black. The falcon, Perimon, was circling even higher, heading towards Cephalomon's head. Reaching eye level, he faced the giant squid and drew back, taking in breath.
"Wind Tunnel!" he called as he let out a column of spiralling air. It did little to damage the beast, only made his smaller tentacles wave in the wind. The bird called down, "This isn't going to be easy, Velocimon!"
Down at the monster's feet, the lizard called back, "Focus on the right arm. It may be our only shot." The children looked up at the arm and saw something none of them had noticed. Around Cephalomon's right arm was a band of pale skin, quite unlike the deep orange of the rest of the body. It looked like a scar of some kind, almost as if the arm had been severed and then reattached, a long time ago.
Velocimon raised his arms and opened fire. "Spark Shooter!" The flurry of sparks bounced off the barrels and dug into the flesh, but Cephalomon didn't notice. He brought one of his tentacles down where Velocimon was standing, just missing but still sending the dinosaur sprawling.
Trilomon took this opportunity to clamber up the massive rubbery appendage. Cephalomon tried to shake him off, but Trilomon was too fast and quickly scuttled out of sight. Perimon was looping around and Vulpimon was weaving, freezing and refreezing Cephalomon's tentacles in place. It seemed chaotic, but Velocimon had planned for this. He looked up at the two dragons. Their tails were holding their glow, but they stayed still, hovering in mid-air. Colchimon looked down. "We can't get a clear shot yet."
"Okay, I'll get in there myself. Try and slow him down a bit more."
The dragons flew higher until they were at Cephalomon's head height. Cephalomon swung another tentacle, barely missing Colchimon. Ladomon, in response, swerved around and faced the monster in the eye.
"Blinding Stare!" she cried as a strange aura appeared from her own eyes. Cephalomon cursed as white flashed before his eyes, just as Colchimon swung round behind him. "Paralysis Pulse!"
For a brief moment, Cephalomon froze. The dark sphere that had materialised behind him had attached to the back of his neck, and while it was too weak to hold him for long, it provided Velocimon with the gap he needed.
Jumping on Cephalomon's tentacle he ran up towards the damaged arm. His claws and tail glowed white and he jumped, thrusting himself into a spinning motion. "Quick Slash!"
Velocimon impacted and ripped into the exposed flesh. Cephalomon roared, swinging his tentacles in a wild attempt to stop the onslaught. While he had incredible strength and attack power, on dry land his slow movements were weighing him down. He looked down at his arm, and saw that the old scar had been re-opened. Velocimon had a lot of nerve, to try and disfigure him for a second time. Now was the time to change tactic.
All of a sudden Cephalomon raised his tentacles, spinning the barrel rapidly. In the distance he saw Perimon ready himself for another ramming attack. As the bird got closer, Cephalomon swivelled and fired two shots straight towards him. He immediately stumbled, his tentacles flailing and trying to find purchase in the sand, but the twin shots flew directly towards Perimon.
The direct attack took the bird by surprise. He tried to wheel out of the way, but one of the fireballs caught him on his wing. It was just a glancing blow, but it sent intense pain through his body. He spiralled downwards, crashing into the surf. The water extinguished the flames that had engulfed him, and he lay still.
"Perimon! No!" Ladomon flew out of the way as Cephalomon tried to steady himself again. She saw Vulpimon running frantically down below and Velocimon desperately trying to stay on. Cephalomon turned to her and swung again. He may have been slow, but he was using his huge weight to his advantage, flinging his tentacles in huge, sweeping motions. Sooner or later he would be bound to hit another one of them, and with his momentum, he could break their tiny bodies with one impact.
Suddenly something appeared on Cephalomon's shoulder. Trilomon had clambered up and was bracing himself for an attack. "Hey, beaky!"
Cephalomon turned his head, surprised by the voice. Trilomon launched himself forward, tucking himself into a sharp-edged sphere. "Rolling Blade!"
He was bang on target. Trilomon hit the eye socket of Cephalomon's mask, clattering around, his sharp armour jabbing into the flesh behind the mask. As Cephalomon shook his head, trying to get the little insect out, Trilomon unfurled and clambered out of the socket and up to the top of the head, using his bony claws to rip and stab at the beast's rubbery head.
Velocimon looked towards the two dragons. "You need to attack now. We might not get a better chance than this." He dropped down, balancing himself on one of Cephalomon's tentacles.
Above him the two dragons flew either side of the damaged arm. Their tails were glowing furiously, having been storing energy up to this point. Now the two powerful Rookies aimed their attacks. Velocimon was right, they only had one chance.
"Sun Spear!" cried Ladomon as a brilliant beam of light shot from her tail, impaling Cephalomon's wound. She flew round, the laser cutting deeper. Colchimon swung round behind her.
"Shadow Blade!" he yelled, his own tail extending, and forming a dark blade. He flew in towards the wound, flipping just before impact. The dark blade hit the gash and cut even deeper, slicing into the rubber. The thick flesh made his movement grind to a halt, and he felt the vibrations as Cephalomon bellowed with pain. With one quick movement, Colchimon flicked his tail free from the wound.
Cephalomon looked at the gash as his attackers flew away. He was exhausted, his own earlier onslaught having taken its toll. His right arm was hanging limply, held only by a few sinewy threads. He couldn't move it, and was unable to summon another Flaming Circle attack. The intense pain was throwing him off his balance, and he was stumbling. Cephalomon looked around him, batting off the still attacking group of Rookies. The sudden appearance of both the humans and the wanted Digimon had surprised him, and somehow they had gained an advantage. He hated to admit it, but he could not win this battle in his current state.
Cephalomon forced himself to calm down and ignore his own bloodthirsty nature. "This isn't over," he growled as he slowly backed away. He was still being attacked from all sides, but gradually his oppressors stopped, simply watching him back away into the ocean. "You will see me again, and when you do, it will be the last time."
Cephalomon keeled backwards, swivelling his body and entering the deeper water. He disappeared beneath the waves as the six Rookies watched, and the swells behind him gradually got smaller, until there was no longer any sign of him.
The Rookies slowly gathered together. The battle had taken its toll; many of them were sporting bad burns, especially Perimon, and they were bruised and cut all over their bodies. The humans hadn't fared much better, but luckily no-one had been seriously injured.
Aaron and the rest of the group approached the Digimon.
"You're not here to attack us as well, are you?"
Perimon grinned and shook his head, "Not us. In fact you're lucky we found you when we did, you seemed to be having issues." He winced as Velocimon helped him up, his right wing blackened and a little bent.
Aaron stepped forward. "In that case, is there somewhere we can talk? I think we have a lot of questions."
Vulpimon, limping slightly, spoke up. "We can get further inland just a bit further along the beach. Follow us; we'll take care of you."
Kai brushed the hair away from his eyes, muttering to himself. "You'd better take care of yourselves as well."
The group set off along the beach (after briefly waiting for Cephalomon's circle to burn low enough). Progress was slow, with individuals occasionally stopping for rests, but Velocimon kept everyone moving. There were no other encounters, although at one point Colchimon thought he spotted a Shellmon in the distance. Eventually though, the group found a path leading inland, and finally escaped from the dangerous beach.
The twelve members of the group found a place to rest, and to check each other's injuries. The children had gathered many dry pieces of wood from the area and Velocimon had lit a fire, which warmed the cold night air.
Aaron looked around him. They were on the outskirts of a forest, but one like no forest he had ever seen. The trees varied in size and shape, but where they should have had green leaves, instead they had small transparent plates, apparently made of a kind of crystal. Occasionally the plates would glow as the light from the fire hit them, making the whole forest flash with odd pink and blue lights. It was surreal, but beautiful at the same time.
Mostly, anyway. As they had walked to the clearing they had found great gaps in the forest, where only blackened stumps and shattered crystal remained. It was in one of these clearings where they had decided to stop.
Velocimon stopped feeding the fire and sat down, finally relaxing. Around him were the other Digimon, and, sitting a fair distance away, were the humans. Kent was sitting and staring darkly into the fire, refusing to speak. Eloise sat next to Kai, who was fidgeting with a stick in his hand. Jack was huddled next to Grace, his T-shirt and shorts providing little protection against the cold.
The Digimon were more relaxed. Vulpimon and Trilomon were laid down next to each other, and Ladomon and Colchimon were coiled up next to the fire. Perimon was hunched a little way away, occasionally picking at the burn on his wing.
Jack had posed the question, but in truth all the children were leaning forward, intent to hear about their companions.
It was Trilomon who answered. "Digimon is short for Digital Monster. You might have guessed this already, but this isn't your world. You're in the Digital World now."
Aaron shifted slightly. "So we did travel between worlds when we came here."
Trilomon nodded, but Kent quickly came in with another question, "What do you mean digital? In our world that generally means the binary code which allows us to write computer programs. Is this world actually real?"
Ladomon lifted her head. "Yes and no. The human world and the digital world run parallel to one another, with an interface between them. To each world, the other world isn't physically real, but it's still actually there."
The children looked confused, so Trilomon came in again. "Everything in the human world is made out of particles, right? Base constituents of atoms and molecules, and cells and DNA for more advanced creatures. Well, the Digital World is just the same, except instead of particles, everything here is made of data."
"When you came from the real world, the portal you travelled through configured your particles into data bits. No-one can just travel between worlds; you need to become the correct format first."
Grace squirmed a little. "So you mean we've turned into computer programs?"
Velocimon shot another couple of sparks into the diminishing fire.
"Temporarily. You haven't actually changed; you're just made up of different particles." Velocimon looked up, seeing the faces of barely-hidden horror, before adding, "So long as you use portals, you can travel back and forth between worlds seamlessly. There have been other humans come here before you, and Digimon have also travelled to the real world. Trust me, you're not in danger by simply existing here."
The children weren't too convinced. Kent was looking even more ill at ease than before, and Jack was busy looking closely at his hand for pixels.
It was Eloise who broke the awkward silence. "I believe you, but that's not the real problem. During the battle, you said that you called us here. Why?"
She looked at the strange creatures before her. "Why did we come here? Why did the squid suddenly decide to try and kill us? What exactly do you want with us?"
Velocimon looked at the children before him. They were each so unique, each one reacting differently to the strange world around them. Velocimon had no idea whether they could possibly help by only looking at them. But with time slowly running out, there was very little he could do.
"Okay. The short answer is we need your help. Without you, this world could very well fall into desolation. Here's what happened…"
"The Digital World was going through a period of peace. While there have been many attempts to break that peace, usually from a single Digimon threatening the world, each time they were defeated. Sometimes there were children brought from the outside to help, just like you, while other times the Digimon stood up to the evil themselves. Either way, we were able to defeat every evil being that threatened us."
"However this time was different. Suddenly, out of nowhere, the Fire Digimon began to run amok. At first it would just be a few feral Digimon, affected by something, but eventually the number of infected Digimon grew, and they started to gather into an army."
"Just a minute," said Kai, holding up his hand. "What do you mean the Fire Digimon? Are you split up into groups or something?"
Velocimon looked over at Trilomon. The insect nodded, and began to explain.
"The Digital World is made of 10 different kinds of data, each representing a different element: Fire, Water, Air, Earth, Electricity, Metal, Wood, Ice, Light and Darkness. A long time ago, these elements were sealed within ten separate entities, but as time went on and Digimon diversified, so the elements were split between them. Now a single Digimon can contain data from multiple elements within them."
"Thanks." Trilomon nodded again and Velocimon resumed his story.
"You see the problem. Any Digimon with a significant amount of Fire data could be affected. For some it took longer than others, but eventually over half of the world's Digimon were under the influence."
"There were other problems as well. There are a small group of Mega level Fire Digimon that aren't affected. They are completely in control, and they're the ones who command the Fire army."
Grace interjected. "Was the giant squid thing one of them?"
Velocimon nodded. "Cephalomon usually works by himself, but yes, he is one of the Commanders. The General leading the whole army is an old warrior called Surtremon."
As if in response, the flames leapt up, making the children flinch. Velocimon looked grave, his eyes unfocused as he continued.
"We tried to fight back. Those of us who were unaffected began to form resistances and create strongholds. Some of us were on the front line, trying to fight back the growing army. But it was no use. During these battles we lost many comrades, and many Digimon close to us."
Around him the other Digimon were solemn; painful memories returning to them. Perimon in particular looked bereaved, tears beginning to well in his eyes. He quickly brushed them aside.
"That was when we got a summons. Nine of us, from all over the world, were to meet at the ancient Citadel, in the centre of the continent. Somehow we all made our way there and were met with a final chance for victory."
Velocimon suddenly reached into his chest, making it appear to ripple. He removed his hand, holding a tiny sphere of yellow light.
"We were presented with these, although we don't know where they came from. They each hold the power of a single element. If these were to be destroyed, then slowly all the data bits of that element, all over the world, would begin to decay."
"We were told to bring them to the Digital weak point and open a portal. Each element would call through a person from the real world, although none of us knew how long it would take."
He returned the element into his body. "As you can see, only six of us actually made it. We only just managed to open the portal, and since then we've been searching the Digital World for you."
Velocimon sat up. The humans looked at each other, and at the group of Digimon sat before them. Aaron asked, "So why do you need us here?"
It was Vulpimon who answered this time. "When a Digimon is partnered with a human, the Digimon can use human emotion to grow in power. This in turn allows us to protect you."
"So you expect us to travel around this Digital World, risking our lives, just so we can give you the power to defeat this Fire army?"
Both Eloise and Aaron gave Kent a look, since he had posed the question. Perimon gave a grunt, offended by Kent's tone, but Velocimon silenced him.
"You're right. This will be incredibly dangerous for you. Despite our situation, it's not fair for us to ask so much of you. Therefore, we'll give you a choice. If you don't want to do this, we promise we'll find the portal again and send you back to your home world."
"However this is the only time we can do this. If you choose to stay, you will be bonded to the elements yourselves, and as such we will be unable to use them. You'll be trapped here."
The six Digimon got up and stood in a line before the humans. "Please, will you help us? You may be our only hope to survive."
The flames crackled on, as the humans considered this. Nobody wanted to say anything.
Kai stood up, looking at the Digimon. "I think we need to discuss this someplace else. You stay here and we'll talk amongst ourselves. We'll come back with an answer soon."
He beckoned the other humans to follow him, and they all wandered off into the darkness of the forest. The Digimon sat back around the fire. None of them spoke a word, each one only letting their silent prayers into the night.
"We can't do this. It's far too dangerous."
The group of six were huddled around, talking amongst themselves. It was after midnight, but the faint glow from the crystalline trees and the three moons in the sky left enough light for them to see each other.
Kent had his arms folded. He was severely irritated by the whole business. "You remember Cephalomon earlier. These things are dangerous, and we're only human. How on Earth do they expect us to help them?"
"Kent, please!" Aaron looked at the taller guy defiantly. "They've already told us that they have no other choice. If we can help them, I say it's our responsibility to do so."
Eloise came in, "But it's not our responsibility. We were brought here without a choice, and there's nothing we can do to help. I say we take our chance to go home."
Aaron began to speak again, but Grace interrupted him. "Besides, we don't know anything about this place. As Kent said, it's dangerous. What happens if somebody gets seriously hurt?"
Aaron was feeling severely ganged up on. Jack interjected, "Well I think we should help them. There's no other way they can win."
Grace turned on him. "This isn't your call. You're too young to make these decisions."
Jack folded his arms. "If I am, then so are you. We were all brought here. I'm a part of this group as well."
Aaron nodded, but Kent shook his head. "See, there's the main problem. None of us are adults. Heck, I'm only seventeen. Yet we're being asked to enter a life-threatening situation, in order to help some random creatures that we've only just met, and who might not even be real!"
Aaron leaned back against a tree. In truth, he was exhausted. It had been a horrendous day. Maybe they're right, he thought. What do we owe these Digimon? Maybe we should just apologise and leave? But then the whole thing will still be on my conscience. What do I do?
He saw Kai standing a little way away from the group, yet to give his opinion. Aaron stood up straight and asked him, "So what do you think?"
Kai looked at the group, all waiting on his answer.
"Isn't it obvious?" he said. "Some of us want to help, some of us don't. There was no condition saying we all needed to go back home."
"But what about your family, or friends?"
Kai ignored the question. "I don't know what you all want to decide, but personally, I'm staying."
He brushed his hair aside before carrying on. "I'm just doing what I think is right. I suggest you take a vote. If you want to stay and help, come over next to me. If not, then stay where you are."
The others were hesitant. Kai's abrupt tone was far from comforting. Nobody knew exactly what to do. Aaron gulped. It was a big decision, but he wanted to do the right thing, at least for him. Nervously, he stepped forward and joined Kai.
Nobody else moved. Kai turned his head away, seemingly not bothered whether they all came or not. Aaron was about to question him, when all of a sudden Jack stepped forward. His sister immediately ran out and grabbed him. "What are you doing? You're not staying here with those things."
Jack struggled. "Let me go! It's my choice, and I want to stay. I don't care if you're older than me, I want to help!"
Aaron nodded. "He's right you know." Eloise shot him a look, making him throw up his hands in defense, "What? It's like he said; we were all brought here, so we should all get a choice in what we do."
"But he's nine! He doesn't know what he's doing!"
Kai gave a hollow laugh. "Do any of us?"
Eloise didn't particularly care for Kai's tone, but it was true. Nobody knew what they were getting themselves into. Yet before her stood three boys who had decided to stay despite this fact. They didn't care about the danger or their own ability. They were only doing what they thought was right. Eloise shuffled nervously. She didn't know what she thought.
Grace looked her brother in the eye. "Do you really want to do this?"
Slowly, Grace let go of her brother's wrist. He walked over to where Kai and Aaron were standing. Grace turned, and was about to walk away, but instead stood still for a while. Then, she turned around again, and walked over to where her brother was.
"If you're staying then I'm staying with you. Someone needs to keep an eye on you."
Jack grinned at her, and she rolled her eyes. She was still uncertain, but she put on a brave face and stood firm with the group.
Kent was about to protest, when Eloise suddenly walked over herself.
"Well, if you're all staying then it's probably best if I stay with you then, isn't it?" Eloise shrugged, her hair bouncing. "After all, it's safety in numbers, or something like that anyway."
Kai gave a little smile, and the group of five turned and looked at the final member.
Kent was livid. "Are you all insane? Do you have any idea what you're doing?"
Despite her nerves, Eloise couldn't help but laugh at the tall angry boy hopping up and down before her. Kai shrugged again. "Evidently we don't. As I've said, it's not like you need to join us or anything?"
Kent was about to argue, but, after a pause, he visibly relaxed. It was too much; the situation was out of his control now. He trudged over to them, giving Kai a dark look. "You know I'm not doing this for the Digimon, right?"
"Fine by me." said Kai, and he shrugged yet again. "Okay then, let's go and tell them."
The Digimon had been mostly silent while the children had been gone. When they saw the group walking back towards them, they turned to watch. Aaron spoke. "We've decided."
The silence seemed to stretch out. Aaron could barely get the words out. This was much harder than he'd anticipated.
"We're all going to stay and help you."
The Digimon began to whoop and crow in celebration, but Velocimon hushed them. He turned back to the children. "Thank you."
Aaron nodded. "So now what?"
"We may as well do it now." Velocimon stood up, and faced the other Digimon. "Get ready, we're going to connect."
The six Digimon were stood (or hovering, in Ladomon and Colchimon's case) in a circle, all facing each other. Velocimon looked at the humans, who were stood in a horizontal line behind the fire.
"Remember, once we've done this, there's no going back. Are you sure you want to do this?"
Aaron looked at the people either side of him. They all nodded at him, a brave look in their eyes.
Velocimon reached inside his chest yet again and pulled out the spherical element. The other Digimon did the same, holding the tiny orbs of light before them. The orbs began to float, getting closer together, and beginning to spin. The wind picked up, making the dwindling fire flare up briefly, before it died completely. The orbs fused into a ring of light, which began to rise up into the air. Aaron could see the Digimon muttering something, possibly some sort of activation chant.
Suddenly, the Digimon stepped back, their bodies glowing with the same colours as their own elements. Each Digimon shouted out a single word.
"Electricity!" shouted Velocimon.
"Earth!" shouted Trilomon.
"Ice!" shouted Vulpimon.
"Air!" shouted Perimon.
"Light!" shouted Ladomon.
"Darkness!" shouted Colchimon.
As they all shouted the auras surrounding them grew more intense, and the elemental ring grew in diameter.
The Digimon turned to face the humans. The wind had picked up again, and a familiar sound could be heard; a strange electronic whistling that made everybody wince in pain.
Suddenly the Digimon all shouted as one, their voices resonating through the night.
The elemental ring split into six trails of light, which started spinning in countless different directions. Aaron braced himself. Grace closed her eyes. Kent held his hands in front of his chest, a look of concentration on his face.
The beams of light suddenly changed direction all at once, and hurtled towards the waiting humans. They impacted all at the same time, erupting into hundreds of beams of light. Some of the humans were sent sprawling on the ground; others simply held firm against the bursts of energy that ran through their bodies.
Then, the lights dimmed. The humans regained their breath, looking down at themselves. On each of their chests was a circle of light, on which was engraved a symbol; the symbol of the element they had received.
Aaron saw coloured lights dance around his hand. They converged and morphed into a strange device, as they were doing for everyone else. He felt the weight of the device as it suddenly gained mass and substance.
The lights faded, and the symbols on everybody's torsos faded into nothing. Everybody was now holding their version of the new gadget. Aaron looked at his. It was yellow and orange, with metallic highlights. There was a screen and a directional pad, as well as two buttons on the right and a jagged shape sticking out the top, like a small antenna.
He pressed the D-pad and looked at the features. There was very little he could understand, bar from a holographic map and some sort of identification system. He waved it around and something suddenly came up.
"Velocimon. Rookie Level, Data Attribute. Attacks: Spark Shooter, Quick Slash"
"That's your D-Nexus, Aaron. It will allow you to understand this world a little better."
Aaron jumped and looked next to him. He had been joined by Velocimon, who was giving him a small smile. "Congratulations. It seems like I'm your new partner."
Aaron couldn't help but feel a twinge of excitement. It felt like the beginning of something incredible, with strange devices, elemental powers, and a fantastical creature to protect him.
Around him his companions were also being joined by their respective partners. Grace had bent down and was stroking Vulpimon on her head, and next to her Jack and Perimon were exchanging comments and laughing out loud. Trilomon had shuffled up to Kent, the tall youth making him more nervous than usual. Eloise was talking with a very modest Ladomon, whereas Colchimon was literally all over his own partner, coiling himself around Kai's arms and shoulders.
Velocimon tapped his partner's leg. "What do you think?"
Aaron was about to answer, but instead let out a yawn. He rethought. "I think it's been a really long day."
Velocimon laughed. "Okay, I see your point." He whistled, getting everybody's attention.
"It's been a long and tiring day. We've finally gotten the help we needed, and we can start making a move towards the Fire region. But for now, let's find somewhere to rest. I think we all need it."
The group set off deeper into the forest, chattering to their partners and to each other. Despite the hazardous experience earlier, there was a sense of optimism and high spirits.
Aaron looked down at his partner. "So, what happens now?" he asked.
Velocimon seemed to think for a minute, and then shrugged. "To be honest I didn't think we'd get this far."
He looked up at his new partner. "What do you say we just see what happens, partner?" He held up his claw, clenched into a fist. Aaron grinned, and knocked Velocimon's fist with his own.
He was right. Whatever happened, wherever they were headed, and whatever dangers they would meet, they would just take them on one by one.
It was sure to be one wild ride.
Water cascaded down from the huge rusted gate as it slid upwards into the archway. Cephalomon's tentacles touched the bottom as the water got shallower, until he was storming towards the doorway at the end of the cavern, his footsteps making the ground shake and the walls crumble.
He barged into the stiff doors, slowly forcing them open, his body letting off steam. He found himself in a massive hallway. The air was heavy and humid, and he felt his skin begin to wrinkle and tighten. Not that it bothered him; he was used to that whenever he came in here.
Another door opened behind a balcony at Cephalomon's eye level, and another, much smaller Digimon walked out to face him. He saw the head of the giant squid before him and smirked.
"It's not funny. Tell me where Rinkhalmon is; I want to tell him that his surgery sucks!"
The other Digimon shifted his gaze towards Cephalomon's shoulder. Indeed, his arm seemed to have been nearly ripped off. There was something thick oozing out of the wound, and the arm was only connected by a few strips of muscle and skin. Being essentially a giant octopus, Cephalomon had no bones.
"You know, you really ought to be more careful with that. Those humans might decide to remove it fully next time."
Cephalomon let go and pounded down on the balcony with his good arm, making the whole hallway shake.
"They got lucky this time! I need both of you to help me so we can destroy them now!"
His colleague said nothing. Cephalomon glared at him, until a look of puzzlement crossed his face as he clicked what his partner had just said.
"Wait, how did you know about the humans?"
"Surtremon told me. He would have told you too if you were around. But, then again, you do like to gallivant around on your own all the time; so basically, this is entirely your fault."
Cephalomon leaned in closer. "Don't push me, kitty," he whispered menacingly.
His partner looked disinterested. "You needn't bother with them for the time being. You should get Rinkhalmon to have another look at your arm. Make sure he fixes it properly this time. I'll head towards the humans and keep an eye on them. We don't want to kill them, at least not yet."
"That's an order from Surtremon. If you don't like it, take it out on him."
Cephalomon growled some more, then relaxed.
"I don't intend on letting them survive, you know. Nobody beats me in battle and get away with it. I will take my revenge, and you can't stop me."
The other Digimon rolled his eyes. "You're sounding like a cliché movie villain. Try to work on that."
He turned his back and walked through the doors, pausing in the archway and looking back round.
"If it makes you feel better, I agree with you. These humans are too dangerous to be left alone for too long. Don't worry; you'll get your chance for 'revenge'. I'll see what I can do once you're all fixed up."
He broke into a run, and the door closed behind him, leaving Cephalomon alone in the cavern.