Where there is light, there is darkness.
Faye knew this better than most.
No one is all smiles and laughter, not all the time, but Faye also knew exactly how dark she was, could be, and worked hard to hide it.
But when Pitch had taken Evie, when Devimon and Akuma had hurt Casey, separated them…
They crossed the line, and Faye was done hiding.
Thoroughly disoriented, Ma groaned as she shifted her body, checking for anything worse than bruises from the rough landing.
Biyomon propped herself up with some difficulty, shaking out her mussed feathers and blinking stars out of her eyes.
“Are you okay?” The pink bird Digimon worried, stumbling to her Warrior’s side.
“Yeah, I’m okay…” Ma assured, smiling to ease her partner’s nerves. “Just got a little knocked around, that’s all.”
Snowy grass crunched under Ma’s hands as she levered herself up, and a salty spray came from the gravelly shoreline a couple yards away, the water dark and stormy as waves crashed on the hard rock.
Running a hand through her tangled red bangs and light brown curls, she looked around distractedly, brain struggling to comprehend where they were.
Breath fogging in the chilly air, Ma turned dark eyes to her Digimon’s bright blue.
“But where are we?”
There were no more jokes, no more hiding behind smiles and laughter.
Her entire being was focused with pinpoint precision on finding her friends and delivering her vengeance, without the slightest concern for her own sanity.
And there was quite a bit of sanity to be lost, though no one could have guessed.
Devimon and Akuma would rue the day they broke her one rule.
Ma could not help but worry.
The last thing she remembered was watching Leomon pummel one of her best friends into the ground, after all.
She could only hope Casey was alright, had not given up, and survive long enough to be found.
With this thought firmly in mind, Ma set off inland.
Staying near such unpredictable surf when the threat of an attack hung over their heads was a bad idea, and Biyomon completely agreed.
Hopping up the gravelly slope, the bird Digimon peered over the edge, chirping in relief.
“There’s a town over there! Do you think we can find a way to contact the others?”
Slipping a bit on the loose gravel, the teenager stopped alongside her partner, taking a peek herself.
The town was wood and stone, old enough to have been around for a while but strong enough to have survived the salty erosion intact.
“There might be a phone, or something…” Ma agreed, checking her gym shorts a third time for her absent cell phone. “But I don’t know if it’ll go through to any of the others, or even if the North Pole has a phone.”
“So what do we do?” Biyomon wondered, looking back at the shore below in trepidation. “We don’t know what kind of Digimon they’ll send after us…”
“All we can do is move forward.” The brunette decided, shifting on the gravel so she could pick up her Digimon in one arm. “I’ll need you to be quiet and still, okay Biyo? We need to keep a low profile right now.”
Nodding, Biyomon went limp on her Warrior’s shoulder, letting out a happy little hum as she settled.
Hefting both of them over the edge, Ma brushed off the dirt sticking to her dark shorts and red shirt before heading into the town.
She got the feeling that things were about to get a lot worse.
It took a lot of hard-earned discipline and self-control to keep from going on a rampage all the way back to Pennsylvania and rip out someone’s heart.
Gomamon was still battered from the earlier skirmish, and so was she, meaning some time to recover was necessary.
But the moment her Digivice started up, a silver dot in the center of a map and a red one near the edge…
Faye decided there was no time to waste resting.
Ma was bruised, sore, and exhausted.
She was even worse after three hours wandering around the little seaside town in a good inch of snow.
There was no one in any of the buildings, and said buildings were so old that their wiring could barely sustain lights, let alone a phone system.
All Ma wanted at this point was to sit down and rest her aching feet…
Biyomon twitched in her arms, feathers rising like the hackles of a wary cat, and the teenager went still.
The street was fairly empty and safe, thanks to the cold, but that meant little in her new life.
A Digimon or Warrior could be hiding around any corner, in any crevice, even tunneling through the ground under her feet…
Turning her head sharply with a chirp, Biyomon drew her partner’s attention immediately to the left, heart jumping into her throat-
Wide grey eyes met surprised brown, and Ma felt her heart squeeze in something quite unlike terror.
It was just a little girl.
She must have only been five years old, with wild dark curls and light brown eyes, peering out at the teenager from a nearby alley.
“Hi, there…” Ma voiced softly, crouching down so as not to loom over the nervous child. “My name’s Prema. What’s yours?”
The little girl hesitated before shuffling more into view, looking far too frail in her oversized jacket.
“Jessica…” She replied softly, as if unsure of her own answer. “Who…Who is she?”
Pausing in confusion, Ma almost asked who she meant-
Until she noticed the girl’s eyes were focused on her partner, wide with awe and curiosity.
Dark eyes softening, she set the pink bird Digimon down on her own feet, figuring there was no point in trying to deny it.
“This is my Digimon, Biyomon. Do you want to pet her?”
Hopping forward a step, Biyomon chirped softly, unthreatening.
The girl eventually stepped out of hiding, reaching out with hesitant fingers to brush over the soft feathers on the pink bird’s head.
Humming at the touch, the Digimon leaned in, pressing her forehead against the child’s palm as her eyes slipped shut in contentment.
Gaining confidence, Jessica rubbed the silky feathers as her fingers dug in to the soft, downy undercoat for a good scratch.
Biyomon chirped and hummed in pleasure, a happy little thrum through the Bond, and Jessica giggled as the Digimon pressed in closer for more.
Ma smiled, all warm inside from the sight, before she noticed them.
A little boy, no older than seven, with choppy dark blonde hair and grey eyes; an older girl, around Evie and Rocky’s age, with straight light brown hair and darker eyes; a pair of twins, a girl and boy, with matching wavy auburn hair and dark blue eyes…
There were at least ten children, peeking out at them from alleyways, and Ma felt her heart twist.
She got the feeling that something very bad had happened here.
The older girl stepped forward, something like hope in her dark eyes.
“Are you…Are you one of the good guys?”
Ma about wanted to cry, because they were all just kids, and what kind of monster hurt kids?
“Yeah…” She choked out past the sudden lump in her throat. “Yeah, I am.”
All of their faces lit up, and Ma looked back to see Biyomon cuddled up in Jessica’s arms, blue eyes hard as sapphires.
When they found whoever did this, they were going to pay.
Gomamon was extremely worried for his partner.
The Bond had been disturbingly silent for hours, like a void, and she had not spoken at all that entire time.
He had never known her to be so quiet for any length of time unless she was planning something serious, and considering what happened last time…
Well, Gomamon felt pity for whoever was the focus of Faye’s rage.
Once she had corralled the children into the nearest open building-an abandoned recreation center, with a playroom full of couches and armchairs for the television there-, Ma went about learning all of their names.
The little blonde-haired boy was Nathan, the older girl with dark eyes was Pamela, and the twins were Mackenzie and Mathew.
The young red-haired girl of eight was Grace, and the smaller boy always holding her hand was the girl’s brother, Luke.
A set of three siblings, a girl of around nine with two brothers of five and four, were Christine, Paul, and Eric respectively.
Sitting on the largest couch available, Ma allowed them to huddle around, little Jessica curled into her side and hugging Biyomon like an oversized teddy bear.
“What happened to the adults?” Ma wondered, keeping her voice even and soothing to prevent upsetting the children further.
“Ghosts…” Eric muttered, as if speaking too loudly would draw the creatures back.
“They looked like those old bed sheet ghosts my dad used to scare me with.” Pamela explained, clearly troubled by the memory. “But…they had long, clawed hands, and no legs. They just came out of nowhere.”
“And these ghosts…” Ma reiterated, brow furrowing in thought. “They took the adults? How?”
“They always said something before they grabbed up someone…” Grace remembered, green eyes bright with unshed tears. “Something about claws, or zombies…”
Biyomon jerked upright, eyes wide as she bristled like a threatened cat.
“Yeah, that’s it.” Christine answered, leaning forward intently. “Do you know what they are?”
The bird Digimon nodded, locking eyes with her partner.
“They’re not ghosts. They’re Bakemon.”
The ghostly Digimon screamed as they disintegrated, their efforts proving ineffective in the face of Faye’s wrath.
How many had already fallen?
How many were still left, blocking her way to the prison they guarded?
Faye hardly cared at this point.
All she knew was that there were innocent people in there, and Ma would be so disappointed in her if she didn’t try, so whoever got in her way was not going to be there very long.
Encasing her arms in rocks up to the shoulders, Faye lifted a hand and beckoned the Bakemon to attack, expression blank and eyes stony.
They had no idea what they were messing with.
Though Ma figured dealing with a group of Digimon was better than ghosts, it was not by much.
“Are they strong?” She wondered, already feeling outnumbered and outgunned.
“They’re Champion-level Digimon, but not very strong.” Biyomon assured, ruffling up her feathers. “I could take them!”
Ma smiled, feeling her partner’s confidence, and nodded.
“I think we can.”
Jessica giggled, bundling the bird Digimon up in a hug, and whatever tension had been in the room dissipated.
There was a chance now-of saving their parents, of security-, and it drained away all the fear that had been plaguing them.
For the first time, Pamela really smiled, and Nathan laughed, like he had just heard the greatest joke in the whole world.
Mackenzie and Mathew deflated, letting out deep breaths and smiling at each other in relief, while Grace gathered her baby brother up in a hug, almost overwhelmed.
Paul and Eric sagged against their big sister, and Christine pulled them closer with a soft sigh, comforted by the thought.
Looking over them, Ma was reminded of the friends she had been torn away from, the family she had made…
They were all out there somewhere, as alone as she was…
Biyomon’s humming abruptly ceased, and Ma felt a tingle of awareness through the Bond that had every muscle in her body tensing.
Practically leaping from her seat, the teenager went straight for the door and the window right outside, a sense of dread filling her gut.
Large ghost-like creatures were closing in on the building like hyenas on a fresh carcass, eerie laughter piercing the glass and walls to resonate fear through a person’s entire being.
Jaw clenched to keep from trembling, Ma whirled around and flew back to the doorway, taking only a moment to reassure herself that there were no windows leading to this particular room.
“Prema…” Jessica whimpered, having heard the familiar laughter.
“All of you stay in here.” Ma ordered as Biyomon hopped to her side, face set in a fierce glare. “Lock the door, block it, do whatever you need. Don’t you open it for anyone, not even me, understand?”
“What are you going to do?” Grace replied, dark green eyes wide with unease.
“We’re going to get rid of them.” Ma promised sternly, closing the door and sharing a look with her Digimon.
Biyomon nodded back, facing the window as the Bakemon approached, now only a few yards away.
The glass exploded outward in a shower of sharp edges, and the pack of Digimon retreated a few feet as Ma swung herself through the ragged hole, sneakers crunching on the fragile shards.
Light blinded the unsuspecting Bakemon, who jerked back with cries of pain at the burn.
“Biyomon, Digivolve to…Birdramon!”
The phoenix Digimon spread her wings with a mighty screech, and a cyclone grew around the Warrior’s feet as a red glow came to her eyes.
“You picked the wrong town to terrorize.”
Bakemon scattered to avoid the fireballs, some proving too slow to avoid being disintegrated, and Ma leapt into the chaos.
One foot connected with a Digimon’s face, and she spun to slam the other down on another that had tried to grab her shoulders, pushing off with a burst of air that sent her assailant flying.
Birdramon swooped down to slash her prey with sharp talons, shrieking a battle cry as more swarmed in, a futile attempt to overwhelm the pair.
Landing in a crouch, Ma spun in a tight circle, pulling the air in-
Bakemon shrieked at the sudden outward explosion, tumbling across asphalt and into brick walls from the force.
Taking a moment to catch her breath, the teenager slowly rose as Birdramon landed behind her, the flames of her feathers flaring up as the ghost-Digimon shakily regained their bearings.
“We have no other choice.”
Birdramon shifted as the Bakemon rose up, spinning around each other like a tornado, shielding her Warrior with spread wings.
“Birdramon…?” Ma voiced, unsure. “What are they doing?”
“I don’t know…”
Then they began to merge, and a shock of realization went through the Bond.
Wind kicked up like blades, trying to slice through the transformation, but it was too late.
A large, purple, clawed hand batted the attack away, and a massive Bakemon towered over the pair with a hungry grin.
“I’ve always wanted to know what roasted Birdramon tastes like…”
Said Digimon shrieked in retaliation, pushing off the ground in a spray of concrete.
“And you’ll just have to keep wondering! Meteor Wing!”
With a wave of his hands, Lord Bakemon dispelled the flames harmlessly, lunging forward with ready claws.
Jumping to avoid being impaled, Ma twisted to the second set of claws, aiming a blast of pressurized air straight into the ghost-Digimon’s face.
As if he had just been faced with an annoying fly, Lord Bakemon jerked back and swatted her away, and the teenager cried out as she hit the corner of a nearby shop.
Birdramon screeched at the jolt of pain through the Bond, landing roughly on the broken street as her muscles cramped up in response.
A shuddering breath went through the girl’s body, vision swimming for a moment at the backlash that came through the Bond from her Digimon.
Okay, so Lord Bakemon was a little stronger than expected…
“Not so tough now, are you?”
Birdramon cawed as her wings were grabbed, lashing out with her talons in an attempt to break the ghost-creature’s hold.
Rolling onto her knees, Ma gasped at the pinprick of claws in her forearms.
No no no no no no-
Lord Bakemon opened his mouth, teeth far sharper than they had any right to be, and her heart clenched.
The two Digimon separated violently at the unexpected explosions, and Ma gasped at the shock of it, scrambling to her feet.
Said teenager stood impassively while their foe rose up from the rubble, silver eyes sharp as blades despite the blankness of her face.
Ikkakumon bristled at the threat, brandishing his tusks, and Birdramon took to the air, circling around to hover over her Warrior.
“You!” Lord Bakemon snarled, facing the rainbow-haired Chosen with a glare. “What are you doing here?!”
Faye tilted her head up slightly, rock-encrusted arms crossed nonchalantly, to meet the massive monster’s gaze.
“I’m here to kill you.”
Rock jutted up from the street below, forcing the oversized Bakemon further into the air, who was then caught up in a whirlwind of Ma’s express design.
Unable to avoid either attack, Lord Bakemon took them head-on, crashing through the streets in a hopeless tumble before ending up through a shop wall.
Wincing as bruises pulled along her entire back, Ma paused as a familiar twittering voice reached her ears.
A ball of iridescent feathers and bright pink eyes zipped up to her face, squeaking rapidly and puffing up in joy at having found her favorite human.
“Sweet Tooth!” Ma realized, cradling the little fairy in her hands. “How did you find us?”
“There’s no time for talk.” Faye cut in, turning her head just enough to look back at the young teenager. “Lord Bakemon is still able to fight.”
And he most certainly was, shaking off the remains of a building without looking much worse for wear.
“Right…” Ma grumbled, heart racing.
Honestly, what would it take to make him stay down?
“Go get Tooth, okay? We’ll hold him off.”
Sweet Tooth straightened, giving a crisp salute before zipping off to do as told, the buzz of her wings quickly lost to the flapping of Birdramon’s wings and Ikkakumon’s rumbling growls.
“What do we do?” The brunette wondered, jogging to her friend’s side and keeping her gaze on Lord Bakemon. “Both of our Digimon hit him at once, and he doesn’t even look winded.”
Faye hardly seemed to hear her, studying their opponent with the kind of intensity that was almost disturbing.
“North said that the strongest magic in the world is Belief.” She noted, monotone. “Why don’t we test that theory?”