Thread: [Other Fanfic] Digimon Campaign
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Old June 28th, 2012, 10:02 PM
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icomeanon6
It's "I Come Anon"
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Northern Virginia
Age: 21
Gender: Male
[Thanks as always for the feedback, Asty. Really glad to hear you think BlackAgumon's interesting, and the child/rookie word choice was indeed a thinly veiled reference. :)

And look, two chapters in one month! I'm getting much more comfortable with getting myself to write, so expect more Digimon Campaign in July! Enjoy!]


Chapter 4: A Curious Stone, and the Power of the Commander

It was late in the afternoon of the fourth day since they had first set out that the four spies once again found themselves at the foot of the camp’s hill. All three of the humans were low in spirit, and BlackAgumon was as sullen as ever. As they climbed the hill and passed the spiked barrier, they could hear some kind of commotion at the top; a number of raised voices were competing with each other. Ross found it difficult to care. What he wanted to do more than anything was simply let BlackAgumon deliver their findings to Angemon and go off somewhere to lie down.

Despite his weariness, however, he knew that before he got any rest he needed to have a private conversation with Jacob and Joanie. Ever since the violent incident that had occurred two mornings ago, he knew that things had gotten completely out of hand. If things were ever to get back in hand, he and the other two teenagers would have to make the right decision without the influence of these mad Virus and Vaccine. He glanced over at Jacob and Joanie, and it was apparent that for once he would have to work to get them to talk. He didn’t relish the prospect.

Once they reached the top of the hill, Ross saw one thing that he had expected and another that he hadn’t. The former was a crowd of several Agumon standing around Garurumon, and they appeared to be arguing about something. The latter was a large, winged horse that was lying near the edge of the slope. Its wings were black and somewhat tattered, its body was covered in scars, and the top of its head was covered by a red, steel mask that had a spike coming out of the forehead. BlackAgumon took one look at the creature and glared. “Unimon. There must be some news from the City.”

Jacob said, “Let’s ask him about it later. I’m bushed.”

“Don’t bother; you won’t get an answer. He only delivers written messages.”

Jacob paused to look at Unimon. “Is he one of those…I think they’re called ‘slow-mutes’?”

At the sound of that word Unimon raised his head and looked back at Jacob. Its eyes were hidden behind a narrow slit in the mask, so none of them could see what was surely an expression of disapproval. BlackAgumon motioned to Unimon with his arms and then spoke to Jacob as one would correct a toddler. “I forgot to mention earlier: you never want to use that term. It’s horribly impolite. The proper thing is not to recognize the distinction.”

Jacob was embarrassed and his face didn’t hide it. This was enough for Unimon to lay his head back down and apparently forget about the matter. “And besides,” said BlackAgumon, “I imagine we’ll hear of the news soon enough, judging by that racket over there.”

“Hey!”

The teenagers turned around and saw Tatiana running toward them. “You made it back!”

Though fatigued, Jacob smiled at her. “Just like we said we would. How’s everyone doing?”

“We’re all fine,” said Tatiana. “I mean, we’ve been here the whole time. Why are you so worried?”

Had Joanie not been exhausted, she might have laughed. “Guess we should have known better. Sorry we ever doubted you.”

It was then that Tatiana noticed the bow in Joanie’s hand and the spear that Ross was leaning on. “Hey, where did you get those!”

“Never mind,” said Ross. “What are they arguing about over there?”

Tatiana bit her lip and fidgeted with the goggles on her forehead. “I think the Agumon want some answers.”

“Answers to what?” asked BlackAgumon.

“Well…Angemon left this morning and I don’t know why.”

“He what?

The force in BlackAgumon’s reaction startled Tatiana. A moment later they heard Garurumon speak in an immensely loud voice that silenced the Agumon. “That’s enough! Back to your business, all of you!”

The argument was over, and the Agumon dispersed. Garurumon then began to walk in the direction of the crowd at the edge of the hill. As he moved he muttered some combination of curses beneath his breath. BlackAgumon waited until Garurumon was right in front of them before he asked, “What’s all this about Angemon leaving?”

Garurumon closed his eyes and groaned. “I don’t need this from you, too.”

“I’m serious! When is he coming back?”

“I’ve no idea.”

BlackAgumon hissed. “The Virus are attacking in less than two weeks! We need him back as soon as possible!”

Garurumon’s eyes opened wide and he looked straight at BlackAgumon. “What? So soon?”

Tatiana was stunned. Jacob moved close to her and put his hand on her shoulder, which didn’t seem to put her at ease.

“They have at least two DarkTyranomon, maybe three,” said BlackAgumon. “Why isn’t Angemon here?”

The usual command and strength in Garurumon’s voice was diminishing. “I’ll tell you what I told the troops, which is all I know. This morning Unimon came with a message for Angemon. Angemon didn’t show it to me, and he didn’t tell me what it said. All he told me was that he had urgent business in the Holy City, and that Unimon would stay here to keep our strength up while he was gone. That still makes two Adult levels for us, but three DarkTyranomon? This won’t be easy.”

“There’s worse news, too. I’d rather divulge it in private.”

The Commander. Not the least of the things that had been heavy on Ross’s mind over the last two days.

Garurumon nodded to BlackAgumon. “We’ll discuss it in the captain’s tent.” He then spoke to the teenagers. “You three can go rest now. I’ll speak with you later.”

“Got it,” said Jacob. Once Garurumon and BlackAgumon had left, Jacob yawned and was walking off when Ross spoke up.

“We need to talk.”

“Can it wait?” asked Joanie.

“No.”

Jacob bit his lip. “Let’s keep it short.” He turned to face Ross and looked at him expectedly, but Ross was not yet satisfied.

“Tatiana, go to the others and tell them we’re back.”

Tatiana got the message, but she was clearly indignant about it. “Why?”

Jacob rolled his eyes. “Ross, it’s fine.”

“No it isn’t. We need to talk alone, just the three of us.”

“Why aren’t I part of ‘us’?”

Tatiana’s insistence was getting to Ross’s nerves. “Because we’re bigger, got it?”

“You don’t have to be nasty about it,” said Joanie. Then she looked him straight in the eye. She made a subtle motion with her bow, tapping the bottom of her quiver. Ross understood her. The conversation was going to be in part about death, and none of the teenagers were sure they wanted to broach the subject with the young ones yet.

Jacob seemed to understand her meaning as well, and he found a way to resolve the matter without letting Tatiana in on anything. “Is this about that inflamed abscess on your backside, Ross?”

Ross wanted to punch Jacob in the face, but he knew a good gambit when he saw one. “Yeah. I think we need to take a look at it.”

The indignity on Tatiana’s face was now replaced with disgust. “You know what, I think I’ll go.”

Tatiana left, and Ross led Jacob and Joanie well out of the earshot of anyone in the camp. When they were standing next to the spiked barrier, Jacob said, “This had better be really important.”

Since none of them had any desire for the conversation to last long, Ross got straight to the point. “We have to leave as soon as possible.”

Much to Ross’s crushing disappointment, both Jacob and Joanie responded to this by saying “What?”

“Ross, that’s out of the question,” said Joanie. “It’s too dangerous out there, and we wouldn’t know where to find food for all eleven of us.”

“And besides,” said Jacob, “the Virus are coming. It’s not going to be safe away from the army.”

‘The army,’ noticed Ross. Not ‘the Vaccine army,’ but simply ‘the army.’ If Jacob already counted them all as being a part of the Vaccine, this was going to be difficult. “That’s exactly why we have to get away and lay low. You heard how worried Garurumon and BlackAgumon were; they’re going to lose without Angemon and then we’re in trouble. And besides: we’re not Vaccine, this isn’t our army, and this isn’t our war.”

Jacob’s brow grew stern. “I don’t think you have the right idea, Ross.” He pointed off into the west. “There is something very wrong about that army out there. For now it’s our war because it’s not going to be safe for anyone around here if they take over.”

“You don’t know tha—”

Jacob cut him off. “Did you notice that Gazimon’s eyes?”

This gave Ross pause. “Yes.”

“I thought so.” Jacob’s voice was quickly growing more forceful. “Three nights ago, when we were in the woods? You kept muttering ‘red eyes’ in your sleep. Those little red things you fought off on our first night here, were their eyes glowing red too?”

Ross glared. Bringing up sleep-talk was crossing a line.

“Hell, even BlackAgumon’s eyes were getting pretty red that one time he got real mad, and he’s on our side! The Virus are dangerous. If you don’t think we’re going to be in deep sh*t if we leave now, then you’re nuts!”

Joanie covered her eyes with her hand. “Jacob, please.”

This got Jacob’s attention, and he took a few seconds to calm himself. When he spoke again his eyes were no longer angry. “I’m going to fight in this battle.”

Joanie was shocked. “Jacob!”

Ross was shocked as well. He was now less angry at Jacob and more incredulous.

“I mean it. We have to keep the kids safe, and that’s going to depend on Angemon’s army driving the Virus back.”

“You going to bet your life on that?” asked Ross.

“Yes, and you can’t change my mind.”

With that, Jacob turned around and walked back up the hill as Joanie and Ross simply watched him. When he was out of sight, Ross turned to Joanie.

“Do you agree with him?”

Joanie stared at the grass. “There’s no way I can fight in this battle. But…I can’t say that he’s wrong. It’s our responsibility to protect the kids, and I believe we’re on the right side of the fight.”

Ross shook his head. “I can’t say I’m sure we’re on the right side, or if there is a right side. This Forbidden City of theirs rubs me the wrong way, and I’m not sure we can trust Angemon. The way he…talks to you is freaky, and looks can be deceiving.”

Joanie sighed. “That’s understandable. One question, though: do you trust Garurumon?”

She was playing for feelings, which Ross thought was disgustingly Christian, but he had to be honest. “Yeah, I do.”

“In that case, I think we can accept for now that we’re under his care.”

Ross took a deep breath. “Seems like I’ve lost the argument anyway.”

Joanie lowered her head, and Ross kept speaking. “Can you agree to one thing, though? That during the next two weeks we work out an escape plan in case the fighting goes badly? It can be just us and the kids if Jacob wants to fight to the bitter end. I just want to be sure we know where we can take the kids to hide in the event of disaster.”

Joanie nodded. “That’s a good idea, we’ll do it.”

Ross nodded back and they both began to walk up the hill, hoping to finally get some rest. “Just don’t mention ‘the bitter end’ again,” said Joanie. “I’m not sure I can take it.”

Her voice wavered, and Ross felt that she was near tears. He looked down, and he saw that the bottom of his shirt was still stained red.

*****

The first few days after Ross’s return were uneventful, and there was a sickening anticipation and tension in the air. He and Jacob had avoided each other since the conversation, and they had not spoken since. Though Ross was conscious of this, it concerned him little, and he was more than content to occupy his mind with trivialities such as day-to-day duties around the camp and the weather.

It was three hours after noon on the tenth day until they expected the battle that Ross was leading several of the children back to the camp from the well a quarter of a mile away. Ross was carrying two buckets of water on the ends of his spear, which he held on his shoulders. For the remaining buckets it was two kids to a branch. He was half-listening to one of the girls—was it Rebecca?—as she described to him the game of highly improvised baseball that Tatiana had led them in last week.

“Jamie had a hackey sack, so we used that for the ball and sticks for bats.”

“The field was really narrow and second base was uphill!” That was one of the boys, and for the life of him Ross could not remember his name.

“I got Michael out at first three times!” That was Steven, or at least Ross thought so. It could have been another one of them.

“Anyone hit a home run?” asked Ross, as he saw the bottom of the camp’s hill come into view.

“Nope,” said Rebecca, maybe. “No one could hit the ball far enough.”

As they neared the barricade Biyomon appeared and perched herself on one of the spikes. “Thanks for covering for me, Ross.”

“No problem.”

“Okay kids, I need those buckets over by the mess tent! Oh, Ross, could you take yours over to Unimon? He drinks a ton!”

Biyomon hopped down and led the kids on their way. Ross veered to the left and made his way to where Unimon was lying. The winged horse had barely moved since he had arrived, which made Ross wonder if he was going to be worth all the food he ate. As Ross lifted the spear from his shoulders and set down the buckets, Unimon moved his head slightly in acknowledgement and resumed staring at the horizon or whatever he was doing.

Ross walked away from Unimon and further into the camp without a destination in mind. He happened to pass by a clearing where Jacob and Agumon—the Agumon they had first met, Ross guessed—were facing off from each other. In part because of curiosity and in part because he knew he couldn’t stay out of Jacob’s way indefinitely, he decided to watch.

Jacob was holding his sword in front of him, and Agumon had his arms raised and knees bent. In a swift motion Agumon dove for Jacob with a swing of his claws, and just as swiftly Jacob stepped to the side and avoided the attack. “You’re starting to get the hang of it. The Gazimon just about always attack like this, so it’s only any trouble if they gang up on you.”

“Got it.” Jacob was nearly out of breath, but the spirit in his voice was high.

“That’s why you’ve got to work close with your platoon to split them up.”

“Right.”

“Think that’s enough for today. I’m going to grab lunch.”

Jacob returned his sword to its sheath. “I’ll join you in a bit. Thanks a ton!”

“Hey, we need all the help we can get.” Agumon said that, but both Ross and Jacob knew that there was some help that Agumon would much rather do without. They also knew that the less anyone said about the matter in any Agumon-oid’s presence—black or orange—the better.

As Agumon trotted off toward the mess tent, Jacob turned around and approached Ross. “Hey Ross, got a sec?”

Ross had all day, and he figured a second of it spent talking to Jacob would be tolerable. “Sure.”

“So, Joanie told me you and she are putting together an evacuation plan for the kids.”

“Yeah. Biyomon tells us there are a number of homesteads a few miles east, where it’s flatter. She said she’ll help us get away if things go south.”

Jacob nodded, and looked to the fog in the west. “That’s all good. Nice you got it worked out.”

“Yup.” Ross figured that Jacob was hiding some of his thoughts on the matter. Undoubtedly Jacob was thinking that Ross was looking for an excuse to get away from the armies, and he wouldn’t be wrong about that.

“And believe me, I think you’ve got the right idea on this one. Mind you, I think we can win, and that even if we have to retreat it’ll still probably be safest with the army, but the worst case scenario is that the Virus have got something up their sleeve and we’re toast. If that happens it’s absolutely the right choice to find somewhere to lay low. I’m glad you’re planning for the worst; you always need someone to do that.”

That was Jacob, Ross supposed: always trying to spin discord as cooperation. After all, if Ross had had his way they’d already be long gone. “That’s the idea.”

“And hey, I know things got a bit out of hand when we came back, but us humans from America or the Creators or whatever got to stick together. We still good?”

“Of course.” After all, if Ross didn’t act ‘good’ enough with Jacob, then he’d be on worse terms with Joanie, and it would make things much more difficult when they found themselves alone with the kids following the defeat.

Jacob smiled. “Great. Catch you later, I’m starved.” Jacob slapped Ross on the back and went on his way.

In that moment, Ross felt that BlackAgumon’s earlier description of him and Jacob as ‘snakes’ was perfectly appropriate. He went on his way as well, and didn’t get far before he heard Tatiana calling, “Hey Ross!”

‘I’m popular today,’ thought Ross. “What’s up?”

Tatiana ran up next to him. She looked excited about something. “You’ve got to come see what Joanie found!”

“What is it?”

“Just come on! You’ve got to see it! It’s in the supply tent!”

Ross supposed he could let the knowledge be a surprise. “All right, I’m coming.”

He made a point to walk at his own pace, and Tatiana slowed herself down to match him. When they were getting close to the long supply tent, Tatiana asked him a question in a much more subdued tone than she had used earlier. “So, uh…How’s your…that thing on your butt?”

Ross was confused for a few moments, but then he remembered. “Oh, it’s fine now. Nothing to worry about. Thanks for asking.”

Tatiana nodded, and Ross again felt the desire to punch Jacob in the face. He tried to put it in the back of his mind as he parted the supply tent’s flap and they walked in. Joanie and Michael were squatting on the ground some fifteen yards in, engrossed in conversation.

“I think,” said Michael, “it’s like you can’t see it and then stop yourself, because then you wouldn’t have seen it.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly right. Pretty wild, huh?”

Ross couldn’t make heads or tails of the exchange. “What are you guys talking about?”

Joanie and Michael looked up. “Hey,” said Joanie, “take these for a second.”

Joanie stood up and showed Ross a small, shiny, black stone and a clump of iron. Ross was perplexed, and looked around at everyone’s faces. They were eager about something, and Michael in particular looked like he was overtaken by wonder. Ross raised an eyebrow, trying to think of what was going on. Seeing as there was no better way to find out than to play along, he laid down his spear and took the rock and metal from Joanie.

“All right,” said Ross. He took another look at the stone. Apart from its peculiar luster, he didn’t see anything special about it. “Am I missing something here?”

Tatiana giggled, and Joanie smiled. “Okay,” said Joanie, “take the stone and hit it against the iron, real hard.”

‘Oh please,’ thought Ross. ‘They don’t think I’ve ever seen flint before.’ Unimpressed, but willing to humor them, Ross raised the stone over the iron. And then nothing happened. Ross did not bring his arm down, and the stone did not move.

Ross’s lip began to tremble. He had brought his arm up with the intent of moving it again, and he still had that intent. And it wasn’t as if his arm were paralyzed: he could move it back and forth just fine, and he even managed to bring the stone down slowly and softly to touch the iron, but that was it. He shook his head and brought his arm up again, but still he could not bring it down quickly so as to strike the iron. Or was it ‘would’ not? He didn’t know, and that scared the living daylights out of him.

He looked up, and he could see that Joanie and Tatiana were stifling laughter.

“You have to really mean it,” said Michael. “Don’t think about anything except your arm. Tell yourself you’re going to move it no matter what.”

Ross had no idea how that would help, or why he even needed help for that matter. He took a deep breath and returned his attention to his arm. For a few seconds he just breathed, until finally his mind was absolutely made up.

And then it happened. As soon as Ross shut everything else out of his mind, a brilliant green flash and a hundred sparks erupted from the iron in his hand. Less than a second later, Ross brought his arm down and the stone made impact with a little noise and nothing more.

Ross stood still for several seconds. “Someone tell me what just happened.”

Joanie was more than happy to oblige. “So, imagine that you had hit the iron, but the flash had happened just as you hit it.”

Ross was still reeling, but he followed her. “Okay.”

Michael followed up. “That’s basically what happened, except the flash showed up early.”

Ross looked at the rock, and then back at Joanie. “That’s impossible.”

Joanie grinned and shrugged. “That’s what happened, though.”

“Joanie said it’s a PPTR,” said Tatiana.

This was not helping Ross. “A what?”

“Paradox-Proof Time Rock,” said Michael, who was also grinning.

“Think of it this way,” said Joanie. “When the rock hits the iron, it sends out sparks.” She closed a fist and opened it again to demonstrate. “But, instead of just sending the sparks out into space, it also sends them back in time.” She then moved her hand sideways.

Ross was speechless.

“It fits. That flash came out from just where you were going to hit the iron a split-second later. The reason why you were having trouble going through with it is because what is impossible is for you to see the flash, and then stop yourself in surprise and not hit the iron, because then there wouldn’t be any sparks in the first place!”

It did fit. Ross looked at the rock one more time, and he understood the logic that held the thing together in a temporal sense. He raised the stone again, and this time it took very little hesitation on his part for the sparks to fly and for him to strike the iron. He also noticed this time that the flash seemed to extend through his hand and out the back, though he felt no heat. He smiled a little, and a small laugh even forced its way from his lungs. “This is incredible.”

“It gets better,” said Tatiana. “Watch this!”

Tatiana took the stone from his hand and walked further into the tent. Joanie and Michael backed up closer to the walls and Ross followed suit. Tatiana stopped when she was a number of yards past the closest of the iron poles that held up the ceiling. Ross wondered for a moment what she was up to when suddenly she wound up and delivered. As the rock left her hand, an astoundingly large flash burst from the pole and moved in the direction that the rock was moving. The rock hit the pole with a clang, and the flash kept flying for a good twenty yards before fading. The sparks from the impact hung and danced in the air for several seconds before they too disappeared.

Ross’s jaw hung open. As Tatiana retrieved the stone, Joanie spoke again. “It seems like the more force the rock has on impact, the more pronounced the effect is.”

“No kidding. How did you find this thing?”

“Dumb luck. I was walking around and looking for some spare blankets when my foot slipped on it. I picked it up and was about to throw it, and I just didn’t.”

Ross was in awe. The awe, however, began to slip away when Joanie spoke again. And when Ross heard what she said, he began to think that she didn’t truly believe that she had found the stone through ‘dumb luck.’

“I think we can make something to help Jacob with this.”

Here Ross had been so happy to see something so fantastic, and now she had to remind him that the battle was approaching. “How so?”

Joanie took the stone back from Tatiana and examined it closely. “Garurumon said a while ago that one of their big problems is that it’s hard to make an organized retreat when everyone’s so spread out.”

Ross’s first thought was to make something that would surprise the enemy, but this was a much different matter. “Go on.”

“Judging by how far the flash went when Tatiana threw it, I’ll bet that the distance the flash travels is closely tied to how far the rock would have traveled had there been no impact. I think if I could break down and reshape this rock—and it seems brittle enough for that—I could get it to fit on a crossbow bolt.”

“You want to make a signal flare.”

“That’s right. All the crossbow would need is a piece of metal fixed to the front end for the rock to hit.”

Ross thought about it for a moment. “That makes some sense. There could be someone keeping watch in a high place where they can see the whole battle. And if things get really bad, they start firing signals for retreat.”

Joanie nodded, and then made some indentations in the short grass with her finger. “Ideally the watchers would be somewhere to the side of the fighting.”

Michael asked, “So the soldiers don’t have to turn around to see the signal?”

“Exactly.”

Ross thought about this a little more. “Depending on how close the battle is to the camp, and how bright the flash is, everyone here might be able to see it too.”

“That would be perfect,” said Joanie. “Oh, but there is the fog to consider, though.”

Ross had forgotten about the fog. That could indeed through a wrench into the whole thing. “We’ll test it out. This is too good an opportunity to ignore.”

“Of course. We ought to go talk to Garurumon about it now.”

“Agreed.”

Joanie and Ross stood up to leave, and Michael handed Ross his spear. “Thanks. We do have crossbows, right?”

“There are some in the back,” said Tatiana.

The four left the tent, and went looking for Garurumon. As they looked for him, Ross contemplated his responsibility to keep the little ones out of harm’s way. This was perhaps just the opportunity he needed to make sure they could escape from this impending disaster, despite all of Jacob’s reckless efforts to the contrary.

The days were passing quickly, and the outlook throughout the camp was not growing more optimistic.

*****

The sun was dropping in the western sky, and it lit the surrounding clouds on fire. For the third time that week the hills were mostly free of fog, but overhead it was dark and promised rain. It had been one week and six days since Ross had sat around the Gazimon’s campfire, and Biyomon had just returned from her scouting mission with the news that the Virus army was moving east, and would reach the camp in four hours at their current pace. It was time to march out to meet them.

Ross was squatting next to BlackAgumon, double-checking that he had everything. He had his spear, a modified crossbow, a number of ordinary bolts, and one bolt made of the unusual stone. He was ready. He slung the crossbow over his shoulder, took his spear in hand, and stood up. It was then that Joanie approached him from behind, and BlackAgumon frowned. “No goodbyes this time. We have to get to the Bluff before the fighting starts.”

Joanie understood. “Then I’ll walk with you for a while.”

BlackAgumon nodded and then began to lead the way out of the camp. On their way down the hill they passed Jacob and a group of six Agumon. The Agumon all looked away, BlackAgumon kept his eyes forward, and Jacob waved to Ross and Joanie. “See you later, Ross!”

“Good luck out there.” Ross was by no means over his anger at Jacob, but he did mean it when he said that.

“And be careful,” said Joanie.

“Don’t worry about me! Just watch out for the kids!”

And that was the last Ross heard from Jacob before they passed the spiked barricade. He now let out some of his frustration. “What a nutcase.”

“Don’t say that about him,” said Joanie.

“All right.” It pained Ross how thoroughly Joanie defended that snake. All three of them were silent for some time.

“Not that I don’t love the company,” said BlackAgumon eventually, “but didn’t you come along just to say goodbye?”

Joanie sighed. “I really appreciate you doing this, BlackAgumon.”

“Think nothing of it. It wouldn’t make sense to have a Vaccine do the job; they’d stick out like a sore thumb.”

“I think she means you doing the job in addition to me.”

“Ah. But what, would you do it alone? That’s a laugh. You wouldn’t even be able to find the place.”

Ross would have felt that he was being babysat, but his adept capabilities at carrying things and using thumbs made him invaluable for this mission. “Fair enough.”

“By the way, it’s a great use you all found for those little rocks. I had always wondered why Angemon insisted on keeping them.”

“How long have you known about them?” asked Joanie.

“Everyone’s always known about them. We didn’t think they were anything more than an oddity to provide light amusement for the simple.”

It should have been funny, but nobody laughed. They reached the crest of a hill and could see the mountain range to the northwest, toward which they were veering. Ross was starting to get worried that Joanie wasn’t going to leave them, so he moved things along. “Keep a close eye out for the signal. You and the kids need to head for a homestead as soon as you see it.”

“We’ll be okay. We’ve got Biyomon to help us. The kids love her, and they’d follow her anywhere.”

“The same goes for you.”

“Isn’t this all touching,” said BlackAgumon.

Joanie ignored him. “Be careful. The enemy’s bound to see that signal too.”

“We know,” said BlackAgumon. “We won’t be sticking around once it’s over.”

Joanie began to slow a bit, and Ross understood her. “Bye then.”

Joanie reached out and touched his shoulder. “God bless,” she said before she turned around and headed back to the camp where the children were waiting.
Ross shook his head. Even his obvious aversion to all things God couldn’t discourage her from telling him ‘good luck’ in the most sincere way she knew how.

Now that Joanie was gone, BlackAgumon hastened his pace to the point where it got tricky for Ross to keep up. For the next hour they walked up some hills and around some others, and as they went the hills grew steeper and taller. Eventually they reached a rocky path that changed their course from northwest to simple west. Ross looked to his left and was amazed at how far he could see. The vast forest was visible far in the distance, and he could even make out the tents on the large plateau behind them. He also made out some movement in the hills: several groups of small orange figures. He was trying to spot Garurumon when BlackAgumon spoke to him. “Look there.”

He faced forward, and saw that BlackAgumon was pointing west and a little south. At the very edge of the hills at the horizon there were three black shadows spaced well apart. Ross swallowed, and he knew what he was looking at.

“I had a feeling it was three,” said BlackAgumon.

It was twenty more minutes moving west until BlackAgumon turned south and away from the path. They climbed a gentle slope until they reached the top and found themselves at the edge of a steep cliff. “This is Seraphimon’s Bluff,” said BlackAgumon. “I think it’s pretty self-explanatory.”

As Ross looked around he could see that BlackAgumon was right. The hills before him and the army walking through them were now far clearer, even though the sun was getting very low. When Ross focused, he found that he could even discern an Agumon’s eye. He scanned the entirety of Angemon’s forces, finding Jacob’s unit at the southern edge, Garurumon a few hills north of there, and lastly Unimon at the northern edge, closest to where he was standing.

“You might as well sit,” said BlackAgumon. “We’re going to be here a while.”

Ross sat next to BlackAgumon and laid down his spear and the crossbow. And then with heart heavy he looked to his right and saw the three towering monsters. They easily dwarfed Garurumon and Unimon in size, and the twin claws on their arms gave Ross a chill. In front of them were many bands of Gazimon darting from hill to hill. Ross counted perhaps twice as many of them as he counted Agumon. As one of the DarkTyrannomon let loose a roar that just barely reached his ears, Ross asked, “How long do you think until the fighting starts?”

“Less than a quarter of an hour. The DarkTyrannomon are terribly sensitive when it comes to detecting attributes, so they should begin a ranged attack shortly. They aren’t terribly accurate, but it will force the Vaccine to engage the Gazimon more directly than they’d like.”

“What’s the Vaccine’s strategy?”

“The Adult levels—Garurumon and Unimon—will try to break through or get around the grunts and take down the DarkTyrannomon one-on-one. The others and your friend Jacob will try as best they can to trap the units of Gazimon and split them up. If there were only two DarkTyrannomon and only two-thirds as many Gazimon, this battle would be no problem for the Vaccine. Or, for that matter, if Angemon were here.”

Ross glanced at BlackAgumon, who was fuming. “It’s so typical,” said BlackAgumon. “I stick my neck out to get that deceitful coward everything he needs to know, and he leaves before I can get it to him.”

It was then that Ross felt a few raindrops. He looked again at the Virus army, and this time he looked at the feet of the center DarkTyrannomon. Walking just one hill in front of those feet was a figure he had not seen before. It was a young man, clad in gray clothes and a black cape. At his side Ross could just make out what appeared to be a black scabbard for a longsword.

“And what about the Commander?” asked Ross. “What are they planning to do about him?”

BlackAgumon looked where Ross was looking, and shivered. “For the time being, they’re going to ignore him. They’re hoping that he has no real powers or strength—like you and your friends—and that the Virus are just using him as a tool of propaganda for the grunts.”

Ross looked as hard as he could at the Commander. His face seemed to be obscured by scars and bandages. “And what if he’s no fake? What are they going to do then?”

“They’ll play it by ear.”

It didn’t strike Ross as a great plan. He kept staring at the Commander, and the longer he stared the worse he felt about him. After a number of minutes, the Commander stopped in his tracks, and the DarkTyrannomon followed suit. The rain picked up, and the Commander reached for the sword at his side. He drew it and swung it in the direction of Angemon’s army as his cape billowed in the wind. Immediately the DarkTyrannomon reared their heads, and then launched massive balls of fire from their mouths. The shots soared over the Vaccine forces and made impact several hills back, leaving three smoldering craters.

And so began the battle. Once the shots were fired, Angemon’s army began to advance. “You’d better load that crossbow now,” said BlackAgumon. “We don’t know how long this will last.”

Ross reached into his pocket and brought out the special bolt. He only stopped to look at how it shone for a moment before he placed it in front of the bowstring. It took all of his strength to pull the string back to the catch; the flash was certainly going to fly high. He kept the crossbow in his lap, and continued to watch.

The Vaccine’s strongest wing seemed to be to the south. There Garurumon was jogging ahead of three units of Agumon, one of which contained Jacob. When they got close enough, Garurumon sped into a sprint and bounded clear from one hill to another right over the heads of a mass of Gazimon. The Gazimon turned around in the hopes of flanking him, but they were shortly flanked themselves by a barrage of small fireballs from the Agumon.

Meanwhile, Garurumon ran on and confronted the south-most DarkTyrannomon. Ross could see that the dinosaur’s teeth were smoking and shaking, which he interpreted to mean that for a short time a fire attack was out of the question. This left the twin claws, and though they were swung with tremendous force, they were not quick enough to strike Garurumon. Ross saw a brilliant streak of dancing blue flame shoot forth from the wolf’s mouth, and it scarred the DarkTyrannomon’s face.

On the north wing, Unimon appeared to be doing just as well as Garurumon. He had flown over the Gazimon with ease, and was now harassing the north-most DarkTyrannomon with a series of white energy blasts.

“It looks like they’re doing fine,” said Ross.

“It does look that way, doesn’t it?”

It was then that Ross remembered the Commander, and scanned the battlefield for him. He found him in front of the center DarkTyrannomon, who was raising his head to prepare for another shot. The Commander was half squatting and half kneeling. He held his right hand to his chest, and was facing the ground.

“What is he doing?” muttered Ross to himself as he wiped the rain from his arms.

The battle raged on, and Ross looked mostly at the Commander. His eyes strayed only momentarily to see Jacob far in the distance dodging and then stabbing a Gazimon, and later to see Garurumon avoid a blast of fire and then jump at the DarkTyrannomon’s throat, knocking it over. While all this went on the Commander did nothing, until finally he stood again.

In that moment the rain fell harder still, and a sound of rolling thunder came from miles away. The Commander raised his right arm to the heavens, and Ross could feel something in the air that set his hair on end. BlackAgumon felt it too. “Something’s happening.”

A mighty gale swept eastward over the hills and battered Ross’s face. The wind grew stronger and stronger, until at last it happened. A towering bolt of white lightning burst from the heavens and struck the Commander’s welcoming hand. The Commander took this in passing, and held his ground with no effort at all. He then kept his hand in the air as he turned around and aimed his palm at the center DarkTyrannomon.

The DarkTyrannomon began to twitch, and bucked his head back and forth. Its body began to spark with little flashes of electricity, and the flashes grew quicker and brighter until the entire creature acted as a strobe light. And then before Ross’s very eyes the monster appeared to grow.

“No!” shouted BlackAgumon. “No! This can’t be happening!”

All of the fighting had ceased as both armies gaped at the event. The body was approaching twice its previous size when the most terrifying screech Ross had ever heard burst forth from it. It was as if the DarkTyrannomon’s ordinary cry had been amplified and accompanied by grinding gears and twisting steel, and it shook the very ground on which Ross sat.

“Fire the signal! Now!”

Ross did not hesitate. He raised the crossbow to the heavens, and in an instant there erupted a green light that nearly blinded him. As the flash shot to the clouds for all those in the surrounding miles to see, he pulled the trigger. While thousands of sparks hung in the air over his head, Ross’s sight returned to him and he could see that the center DarkTyrannomon had turned into a colossal, biomechanical dinosaur.

Unimon wasted no more time in flying away from his earlier foe and straight at the new monster. As the winged horse fired some shots that merely glanced off the thing’s armor, BlackAgumon pressed his claws to his head and despaired. “He made him evolve to Perfect level. This is a disaster. The whole region is lost. That damned MetalTyrannomon! That damned Commander!”

Irritated with Unimon, MetalTyrannomon raised his left arm and aimed his palm at him. Unimon folded his wings and dived just quickly enough to avoid the concentrated blast of energy that followed. The shot climbed into the sky and retained its shape even as it sailed over the mountains. When Ross saw how long the new monster’s range was, a horrible thought occurred to him. “No.”

Unimon got too close, and a swing of MetalTyrannomon’s arm was enough to swat him out of the way. MetalTyrannomon then turned to the east, and aimed his arm well past Angemon’s retreating army.

Ross rose to his feet and looked to the east as well. “Joanie!”

No one heard him besides BlackAgumon as a flash of blue sent a second shot clear over the hills and straight to the Vaccine camp. When Ross strained his eyes, he could see that the plateau had been completely smote, and that all of the tents were gone.
__________________

My chapter fics:
Kanto: The Disputed Frontier - 14 chapters, indefinite hiatus. Gary Stu's Unpredictable Adventure - 8 chapters, completed. Digimon Campaign - 7 chapters, ongoing

One-shots:
There's Always Tomorrow (SWC 2009), A Matter of Stubbornness (SWC 2010), Left by the Roadside
(SWC 2011 1st place),
Giovanni Destroys the World and Everything in It (2012), By What Right? (SWC 2013 1st place), Back in the Day (SWC 2014 1st place) (New!)


Family (kind of?): Strange person who calls me strange names

If the pen is mightier than the sword, the keyboard is mightier than the ICBM.

Last edited by icomeanon6; July 6th, 2014 at 07:13 PM. Reason: Swear filter
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