Though Rocky would never say it, she was absolutely terrified.
She had just seen her sister and friends, the strongest people she knew, get knocked around like it was nothing.
Oh, Kim would always be the best in Rocky’s eyes, but Casey was an almost indomitable force, and they had just…
Rocky shook the memory away, forcing back the tears and the sobs with all she had.
It’s not over, she reminded herself. It’s not over. There’s still a chance, as long as we all keep believing there is.
Patamon hopped onto his Warrior’s lap, ear-wings rising and big blue eyes shining with hope.
The feeling that came through was of unwavering loyalty and strength, a sense of we can do this if we stick together, I really believe we can, and it bolstered Rocky’s own shaky confidence.
Rubbing the wetness from her eyes, the blonde smiled in gratitude and gathered her Digimon up in a hug.
Yeah, they could do this.
Tears slipped silently down fever-red cheeks, dripping down to melt through the snow as a sob broke through the forest’s quiet.
Gatomon reached up, ears back and tail low, to wipe away the salty water wetting her partner’s face.
Taking in a shaky breath, Evie reached out and pet the lowered ears, pulling her Digimon into an embrace.
A great, rumbling purr rose up from Gatomon’s chest, her claws latching onto the heavy cotton of the girl’s sleeping clothes as she tried to provide comfort.
“C-Casey…C-Casey’s hurt…” She sobbed, entire body shaking with fever and grief. “A-And it’s a-all my f-fault…”
“None of this is your fault…” The cat Digimon assured, reaching up to start licking the saltiness from her girl’s face. “I’m sure Casey is alright, and doing her best to find you.”
Sniffling as her sobs died down, Evie closed her eyes as a rough sandpaper tongue pulled up to clean away the fresh tears.
“Y-You think so?”
“I know so.” Gatomon promised, leaning back and fixing her Warrior with a stern look. “And we have to be strong for her, okay?”
With a jerky nod, Evie rubbed at her eyes to dismiss the wetness there.
“R-Right…We need to be strong.”
Steeling her resolve with the memory of her sister-who had never given up, had never let anything stop her-, the blonde forced her stiff body into action.
Managing to support her weight on shaky legs, she shook wet clumps of snow off her shoulders, hugging her Digimon close.
Gatomon smiled, a faint light coming from the ring hanging from her tail at the rush of belief and confidence and don’t give up, we can do this, we just have to keep going…
“That’s my girl.”
Cradled safely in Rocky’s thick winter jacket, Patamon popped his head out to take in the quiet winter forest they were traversing.
The trees were bare of leaves, bark grey against the snow, and grass crunched under her boots thanks to the cold.
“Where are we?” The blonde wondered, arms folded under her Digimon’s body in an attempt to keep warm.
“I don’t know…Is it always this cold?”
Rocky paused for a moment, shaking her head.
“Not down south…So we must not have gone too far, right?”
A beep came from her pocket, and the young Chosen fumbled with chilled fingers for the Digivice hidden away within.
The screen was lit softly, dark lines creating a rudimentary map of the surrounding terrain, with a glowing yellow dot in the center.
“That’s us!” Patamon realized, ear-wings rising up like a curious puppy’s ears.
“Yeah, and this…”
Rocky’s eyes widened in surprise at the sight of a pink dot only a few centimeters off-center.
The only one that was smaller than her, was always so sick and fragile…
“We have to find her!”
Patamon squeaked as his partner took off through the snow, clutching the zippered opening of her jacket as she swung a turn around a splintered trunk.
Taking a moment to catch her breath, the blonde looked back to the Digivice as Patamon wriggled free and hovered in the air a few feet over her head, turning circles.
They were so close…
“Patamon, is that you?”
The pair whipped around, surprise catching in their throats.
“Gatomon! We’re coming!”
Shoving through some snow-encrusted bushes-and ignoring the new scrapes on her hands-, Rocky’s entire face lit up with a relieved smile and she jumped to embrace the other disheveled blonde.
Gatomon stopped at their side, rolling her eyes as Patamon hovered around her in open concern and excitement.
“I’m fine, really…” Evie assured, taking a moment to make sure her friend was equally unharmed before relaxing. “How did you find us?”
“The Digivice just…turned on.” Rocky admitted, shrugging. “The map said you were close, so we came running.”
“Really?” The smaller blonde replied, blinking big blue eyes in surprise. “So did mine.”
“Well, we found each other.” Gatomon butted in, tail-ring catching the moonlight as the long appendage swayed. “What now?”
The preteens went silent, honestly thinking about their next course of action, and Rocky frowned.
“I…I don’t know. We don’t even really know where we are…”
A moonbeam caught Evie’s eyes, and she looked up at the moon through arching branches, listening to a voice only a choice few could hear.
Patamon’s ear-wings twitched, sitting up on his haunches as he turned to the direction the girl was pointing.
“That way?” Rocky voiced, unsure. “Why? What’s over there?”
“Allies.” Evie replied easily, already making her way through the snow.
Gatomon sent a quick glance up to the moon in thanks before loping after her partner, barely leaving an impression of her paws in the soft white fluff.
Rocky shook herself out of her confusion, jogging to catch up as Patamon clung to her shoulders like a cape.
“Hey, wait for us!”
Pennsylvania State University is truly a beautiful school, a mix of nature and grand architecture that could almost make someone believe they were thrown back in time to 1855.
Students wandered through open-air hallways and across the manicured lawns, bundled up in bright jackets and fuzzy boots, with a few even having long, colorful scarves wound around their necks that almost touched the floor in some cases.
Rocky had not seen so many humans since this whole adventure started, and even then that number paled in comparison.
Standing on the forest’s edge, the blonde could admit to herself that she was a little nervous about getting any closer.
Sitting against a tree trunk, Evie raised her head to watch the college students mill about, blue eyes going glassy with fever.
Gatomon pushed fresh energy through the Bond, blinking spots out of her own eyes at the sudden dizziness that set in from doing so.
Her sickness was getting worse, exhaustion and cold eroding whatever chances her body had, and there was no time to contemplate other options.
“There are so many…” Patamon noted, hovering over his girl’s head and watching all the humans in open curiosity. “Which ones are we looking for?”
Straightening up, Evie looked towards the nearest building, a flash of pink shining bright in her eyes.
All of their gazes followed hers, and one of the classroom doors opened, letting out a group of teenagers.
Rocky immediately hid behind the nearest tree, Patamon settled on her head and ear-wings angled to better catch sound, as Gatomon crouched low, ears pressed back and tail low to keep from being spotted.
One of the girls, with dark brown eyes and a unicorn clip in her short hair, frowned as she stopped only a few yards away.
“Do you really think something’s happened?”
“Maybe it’s nothing…” A blonde boy voiced, nervously pushing glasses back up his nose. “No one got pictures, or video…It might just be a rumor.”
“Then how did everything get smashed up?” A dark-skinned boy retorted, his twin nodding in agreement.
“Yeah, they have pictures of that! Trees were knocked down, and the ground was all chewed up! Something happened!”
The second girl, her orange-red hair twisted up into a messy bun, bit her lip and turned her gaze to the final member of their group.
“It happened at Jack’s lake…Do you think he knows anything?”
Jolting up in surprise, Rocky’s blue eyes locked on the brown-haired boy, mind stalling for a long moment.
Jack’s lake? No one knew it was Jack’s lake until…
The blonde felt her breath catch, amazed at the realization of who, exactly, they had been looking for.
Hearing his name, said brunette turned around, pausing at the sight of them.
Evie managed a smile and a tired wave as Gatomon perked up, no longer hidden against the snow, and Rocky peeked out further, Patamon’s ear-wings rising in curiosity.
All six teenagers could only stare in utter silence before Jamie finally found something to say.
“I don’t think we’ll need to ask Jack about what happened.”
Jamie almost could not believe how young these girls were.
They must have been Sophie’s age!
But who am I to judge? He figured, mentally shrugging. I was only eight when I helped the Guardians.
It was obvious the two had been through a rough experience, though; Evie was glassy-eyed and fever-warm, clothes ruffled and streaked with dirt, and Rocky had dark smudges under her own eyes, from exhaustion or stress was unclear, pants damp from the snow and hands full of splinters.
Their creatures relaxed into boneless heaps, obviously fatigued, as Pippa and Cupcake went into Mother Hen Mode and began to fuss over their girls, too relieved at this point to care overmuch about all the noise.
“We have to get you two warmed up.” Cupcake noted, slipping off her scarf to wrap it around Evie’s neck instead.
“Whose dorm is closest?” Pippa wondered, zipping Rocky’s jacket up all the way and pulling the hood over her hair.
“Mine and Caleb’s.” Jamie piped up dutifully. “It’s only a couple buildings over.”
“The soup shop is only a few minutes from here…” Monty pointed out. “I could go get some.”
“Me and Claude can go by Walgreens and get some medicine, too!” Caleb added, ready to go and do something.
“Alright. You three head out. Jamie, lead the way.” Cupcake ordered, the look on her face implacable and commanding.
The boys wasted no time scattering under that gaze, and Jamie immediately about-faced to show them to his shared dorm room.
He got the feeling there was a lot they didn’t know about what was going on.
Snuggling into the thick blanket wrapped around her shoulders, Rocky cradled the warm bowl of soup in her numb hands with a happy little sigh.
Patamon was coiled up, nice and warm, right against her chest, one ear-wing twitching softly at the calm pulse of her heart as he dozed.
Evie was cocooned on the opposite bed, lying on her side as Gatomon sat by her head, blowing on a spoonful of hot soup before offering it.
They were alone for the moment, quietly eating their soup, as the teenagers rushed off to get more blankets and fresh clothes, obviously worried about them getting sick from the damp and cold.
Evie peered up at her, more alert with some food in her belly, as Gatomon purred, setting the empty bowl aside to slip into her Warrior’s shirt for warmth and comfort.
Sunlight poured through the window between them, slanting as noon passed, and it made the pink shine brighter in her eyes.
“What are we going to do?” The frail blonde asked quietly, voice still abused from her earlier coughing and crying.
“We…We wait.” Rocky decided, hesitating uncertainly for a moment. “The others will find us if we stay in one place. If we start moving around, it’ll be harder for them.”
Evie nodded tiredly, remembering the instructions she was always given when being taken to a new place.
“If we get separated and you don’t know where you are, stay put and I’ll find you. It might take a while, but I promise, I’ll come get you.”
The memory soothed her, a balm on the fresh wounds of her heart, and she felt sleep tug on her eyelids.
Rocky stared into her soup as the other girl drifted off, strong front cracking slightly now that there was no one to be strong for.
“They’ll come…” She whispered, trying to convince herself it was so. “They’ll come…”
“They’re stronger than expected…” Devimon admitted, watching the trio of shadowy windows as they replayed earlier events.
“But not strong enough.” Akuma retorted, frowning as he watched Frigimon and Mojyamon be freed from their Black Gears once more. “With the power of the Black Gears, there’s no hope for them.”
The dark Digimon grinned, all sharp fangs and promised pain.
“But perhaps we should enlighten them to that fact.”
The windows merged, revealing a new scene, and the bat-Warrior smirked at the implication.
I have to be strong, Rocky reminded herself endlessly. I have to be strong, or Evie will get hurt, and she’s my responsibility now. Casey’s not here, Kim’s not here…It’s my job to take care of her.
Focusing on this, she could push aside all her panic and think about their situation more deeply.
While Gatomon was permanently in her Champion form, she was weakened from giving so much strength to Evie and in no shape to fight.
Unfortunately, Patamon and her had not evolved yet, leaving them in quite the predicament.
How am I supposed to protect Evie if I can’t even protect myself?
The thought deflated whatever confidence Rocky had managed to muster, since it was that exact detail that was putting everyone-Evie, Jamie, Pippa, Caleb and Claude, Monty, Cupcake, everyone-in danger.
Leaving was not a good option, and staying was not much better…
Taking a deep, shuddering breath, Rocky rubbed the growing wetness from her eyes with a little hiccup.
Got to be strong, got to be strong…
A soft touch pressed into her cheek, and she blinked blearily at Patamon’s worried blue eyes as he reached up and licked at the traitorous tears that had escaped despite her efforts.
He hummed as a choked sob bubbled up, shaky arms coming up to hold him close as warm liquid wet the Digimon’s short fur.
Neither of them said a word, silently conveying worry and comfort through the Bond in a seamless flow of care and affection.
For every I don’t know what to do, there was a we can do this that echoed back; for every there’s no other options, there was a we’ll think of something that replied confidently; for every I’m not strong enough, there was an I believe in you that responded with equal force.
The reassurance, that bright light through the Bond, eased the last of Rocky’s panic away so she could breathe again.
Licking the salty liquid from his Warrior’s cheeks, Patamon hummed, glad that she was relaxing once more.
“Yeah…” Rocky sniffled, quiet as her Digimon. “Thanks, Pat.”
Hugging him close, the blonde leaned back against the wall, curling around her partner in a nest of blankets as Evie’s deep breathing came to the forefront once more.
She needed the rest, but Rocky could not find the sweet release of dreams.
There was this nagging feeling in the back of her mind, like an itch, that told her it wasn’t safe…
A violent shudder ran through the whole building, throwing knickknacks and books to the floor like an angry child, and screams echoed each other from multiple souls at the suddenness of it.
With a frightened yelp, Rocky tightened her grip on Patamon as he tensed, ear-wings flying up in surprise as Evie was shaken awake, Gatomon hissing as she was unceremoniously tossed off the bed.
“What happened?” She slurred, disoriented, as the other blonde jumped to peer out the nearest window.
Blue eyes widened at the sight below, heart squeezing in terror.
“Come out, come out, wherever you are!” Ogremon shouted, nonchalantly waving his club about to make the fleeing students cry out.
“Face us!” Leomon roared, eyes blank. “Or we will tear through everyone who gets in our way!”
There was a painful moment of indecision, of wanting to hide and wanting to go at the same time, before Evie decided what she would do.
Pushing herself off the bed, blue eyes met blue in the implacable determination she had inherited from Casey, standing firm despite the clawing weakness.
The question was left hanging, unspoken, in the air between them as Rocky fell quiet, holding Patamon closer to her heart.
The shout from outside drew both of the girls’ attention, startled.
It was Jamie, standing before the two Champion-level Digimon in the way he must have a decade before when facing Pitch Black as a child.
“Whoever you’re looking for, they’re not here!” He informed them. “So just leave!”
“Oh, but I think they are here.”
The Nightmare King formed out of shadows before his old enemy, a testament to his newfound strength that he could do so during the day, a shark’s-grin firmly in place.
“I can almost taste their fear.”
Any thoughts of hiding away immediately fled Rocky’s mind.
Whipping around, she grabbed Evie’s wrist and bolted for the door, heart pounding with adrenaline.
Gotta help Jamie, gotta help Jamie, gotta help Jamie-
Neither girl slowed as they descended the two floors of stairs at breakneck speed, or as they flew through the crowded lobby of college students, Digimon clinging tight to their shoulders as their hearts beat in sync.
They had to get there in time, had to save Jamie, they had to-
Bursting out onto the worn-out old cobblestone courtyard, Rocky skidded to a halt, taking in a shaky breath as Patamon launched himself into the air.
“LEAVE HIM ALONE!”
And suddenly, all of the attention was on them, Leomon and Ogremon turning from where they loomed over a nervous Jamie to eye the young Chosen.
“Ah, there you are.” Pitch greeted, as if he had not just been threatening the boy for their whereabouts. “Now, come quietly. We have a deadline to keep.”
Straightening her shoulders, Rocky looked the Nightmare King straight in the eye, angry and scared and defiant all at once.
Pitch fell silent, honestly surprised.
He had not been lying about being able to sense their fear; even now he could see it, bubbling just under the surface, edging into panic.
So why weren’t they buckling?
Pitch was reminded of another child-a little girl with big blue eyes staining gold that had said I’ll never let you hurt my baby sister if it kills me-when the frailer blonde stepped forward, pink shining in her eyes.
“We’re not going with you, and we’re not letting you hurt anymore people.”
Ogremon laughed, approaching menacingly as he pointed his signature spiked club at the pair.
“And how do you plan to do that, pipsqueak? No one’s coming to save you.”
“You’re wrong!” Rocky shouted back, practically bristling at the accusation. “They’ll come, and then they’ll kick your sorry butts for what you did!”
The fear shrunk, like shadows when met with sunlight, and Pitch almost hissed at the feeling.
They were too full of belief and hope now, too bright, and there was no longer a chance of doing this the easy way.
Leomon growled, deep and menacing, and Gatomon hissed back, tail lashing the air like a whip.
Patamon puffed up, preparing to attack, as Ogremon straightened, entire body coiling like high-tension springs.
No, Pitch surmised tiredly, it seems we will have to do this the hard way.
With a roar that could shake mountains, Leomon pounced, sworn drawn back to strike downward-
Metal shrieked and sparked as it met a shield of light, which fell as a blur of white fur and black claws shot through the air.
The lion-man was thrown back a few steps from the blow, crashing to the cobblestones hard enough to shatter them, as Ogremon jerked forward.
The attack may have been weak, but it hit the large ogre right in the eyes, effectively blinding him for a few moments with the sharp pain.
Patamon jerked back as the club kept following through with it’s swing, unable to move out of the way fast enough-
Catching the small Digimon, Rocky pulled him close and yanked backwards, falling into a practiced backwards roll that carried the two away from immediate danger.
Recovering from the lightning-quick blow to his face, Leomon rolled into a crouch, baring his fangs at the smaller feline Digimon in anger.
Though the completely white eyes were an unnerving sight, Gatomon stood her ground and hissed back, baring her-admittedly smaller-fangs back.
She had sworn on the Moon to protect her Warrior, and she was not about to fail now.
Lunging forward, heedless of the loss of his sword, Leomon closed the distance in a flash, fist pulled back.
“Fist of the Beast King-!”
But Gatomon was built for speed, twisting away from the intended blow as the golden ring on her tail sparked to life.
The gold burned as it struck the brainwashed Leomon across the face, a smoking mark left behind as he roared, stumbling away.
Rocky yelped as she ducked under a heavy swing, holding Patamon tight against her chest as Ogremon pulled his club back in for another angry blow.
The wickedly sharp spikes deflected off the shield that formed seconds before impact, a shockwave rippling over the rounded surface, and Evie gasped as the blow reverberated through her center.
The shield shattered into harmless shards of light as she collapsed onto both knees, lightheaded and queasy and no, I can’t sleep, I have to keep going-
The pain was like a gunshot through the Bond, and Gatomon whipped around, blue eyes wide as they latched onto her hurt partner.
In that moment of distraction, Leomon struck, his foot catching the smaller Champion Digimon right in the chest and sending her through the nearest brick wall.
“GATOMON!” Evie cried out, the shock of the hit through their Bond ripping whatever strength she had left in her arms away so she collapsed on the worn stone.
Rocky lurched forward, heart pounding, to help her friend, pulling short when a spiked club hit the ground bare inches from her nose.
Yelping, she stumbled back and fell hard on her butt, gaze wide and panicked as she watched Ogremon easily pull his weapon free.
With a chuckle, he raised it for what just might be the last time, pleased with the terror leaching into his preys’ faces.
“Where’s your savior now, punk?”
Patamon leapt up to guard his Warrior, and Rocky honestly panicked because there would be no sudden shield to protect them and they were going to die and she would never be able to apologize to Kim for not being strong enough-
Twin tails smacked into Ogremon like a freight train, sending him flying, and she could only blink in surprise as another figure blurred past.
Leomon roared as he was knocked off his feet, and there was Wizardmon, brandishing his staff threateningly as Deltamon stood over the downed girls with a protective growl.
“Sorry we’re late.”
Jack smiled as he landed in front of a startled Patamon, staff spinning lazily in one hand.
“We forgot to take that left turn at Albuquerque.”
Pitch was practically seething, shoving aside any relief he might have felt at their safety.
“Black.” The winter spirit responded cheekily, all bravado and mischief.
“There is no way you can win.” Pitch asserted, scowling. “Your so-called ‘rescue team’ is no match for Leomon or Ogremon, and you are no match for me.”
“That’s what you said last time.” Jack pointed out, cold light forming in the crook of his staff. “And you remember how that ended.”
The Nightmare King bristled at the memory, taking fresh offense to the past blow to his pride.
“This time, you will not be saved by children.”
The entire world slowed down in Rocky’s eyes, heart squeezing as she saw Leomon charge for her, where all she could think to do was close her eyes and hope.
Hope that her sister would save them, hope that the others would come, hope that they could all defeat the darkness, hope hope hope…
Patamon gasped at the rush of power through the Bond, and the Digivice’s screen flickered once, twice-
Water and fire rise up like living things, bare inches from the two Digimon’s faces, and they retreated with yelps and growls at the heat.
A great blur of steely fur cut between Rocky and a blank-eyed Leomon, and Garurumon snarled, fangs bared in threat as Kim balanced easily on his back, the water hovering about her flicking into dangerous blades.
Ogremon backed up a few more steps as a large clawed foot blocked him from Evie, and Greymon roared a challenge, tail swishing as Casey glared down from her perch on his horned nose, fire sparking up over exposed skin.
Seeing this, Pitch really wished he had been given time to come up with a better plan.
Evie whimpered as a paw settled on her shoulder, turning her head just enough to see it was Bunny, worry clear in his eyes as he hummed a comforting note.
“It’s a’right, doll. We got ya.”
Going completely lax, tears filled the child’s blue eyes as the Pooka scooped her up, muttering assurances in the somewhat-panic of all men when faced with a crying female.
Rocky was just as close to tears, perhaps closer, as Kim shifted just enough to make sure she was alright, and it was like a weight lifted off the young girl’s shoulders at the great rush of relief that action brought.
Finally, things were getting back to the way they should be.
“Come on.” Jack urged, lifting her and Patamon into his arms with surprising strength. “Let’s leave this fight to them.”
Rocky certainly was not going to argue, hiding her teary face in the winter spirit’s worn-out hoodie as Jack hopped on a breeze to carry them a safe distance away.
“You asshats wanna fight?” Casey growled, cracking her knuckles threateningly. “We’ll give you the worst beating you’ve ever had.”
“I’d like to see you try!” Ogremon challenged. “Bone Cudgel-!”
Leaping down, both fists pulled up and alight with trailing fire, she met the Digimon in midair and slammed him back into the ground with such explosive force that the ground cratered beneath them with a crack like thunder.
Leomon moved as if to aid his cohort, but water cut across his path like a bladed wave, stopping the lion-Digimon short.
Kim seemed completely unruffled at his angry roar, eyes dark and stormy in her contained rage.
“We are your opponents this time.”
Garurumon lunged at the same moment as their opponent, and they tumbled across the grass in a blur of fangs and claws as Ogremon hefted himself out of his crater, singed and rather upset.
“You little punk! I’ll clobber you!”
“I’d like to see you try!” Greymon snarled back, bearing down on his smaller foe with the intent of a charging bull.
The large dinosaur hardly blinked as he absorbed the impact with his helmet, crushing Ogremon back into his crater with a roar.
As Garurumon and Leomon broke apart, Kim lashed out with two thick whips of water, blinding the feline Digimon and swiftly pulling his legs out from beneath him in almost the same moment.
Rocky watched the fights unfold in amazement, hugging Patamon closer as he shifted in her grip for a better view.
Would they ever be able to fight like that?
Know each other so well they could time things so perfectly?
Would they ever have the chance to reach that point at all?
A strange whirring sound broke through these thoughts, and the blonde twitched, looking around in confusion.
“What the bloody hell is makin’ that racket?” Bunny wondered, ears going flat to protect his sensitive hearing as Evie opened her eyes, finally noticing as well.
“You think a generator or something broke?” Jack hedged, looking over the damage for sparks or metal.
The frail blonde’s eyes flashed pink, and she gasped.
The words made a knot of dread in Rocky’s stomach, and she whipped around as the noise grew louder, spotting the large Black Gears flying towards them.
Straight towards the fight.
Turning sharply at the call of her name, said teenager took in the approaching danger for a few short seconds before acting, trusting her Digimon to keep Leomon at bay.
Pulling all the nearby water to her, Kim shot out a spray of icicles to meet the metal constructs head-on, shattering a few before they got too close.
But there were far too many, and she was not able to stop all of them from reaching their target.
Leomon screamed as they sank into his back, arching and twitching and growing, skin going ashen and mane dark as he towered over his opponent.
Leomon barely flinched at the attack, pulling back his own fist in response.
“Fist of the Beast King!”
Garurumon yelped as he was struck and flung across the grassy courtyard, taking down a tree before tumbling to a halt, and Kim gasped at the phantom pain, collapsing to one knee.
Casey noticed immediately, turning away from the downed Ogremon in surprise.
Leomon faced her next, and the redhead froze, reminded with startling clarity how their last battle had ended.
“Fist of the Beast King!”
Greymon roared in pain as the attack caught his exposed side, managing to roll over his partner so as not to crush her as he landed.
Crying out as if struck, she fell forward, curling over her middle as if to nurse a fresh bruise.
Leomon dismissed the elder Chosen at that point, and his attention focused unerringly on the youngest.
Jack stepped forward at the massive Digimon’s approach, cold radiating from his staff as he moved in front of Rocky protectively.
Bunny tensed, cradling Evie and Gatomon in one arm as he reached back for a boomerang with the other.
Neither had any illusions of being able to beat the strengthened Leomon, but both would be damned if they allowed him to hurt a child.
Patamon leapt from his Warrior’s arms despite her protests, ready to face this threat for her.
The attack dissipated harmlessly against Leomon’s skin, but this did not deter the smaller Digimon.
He couldn’t just give up, not when so much was at stake.
“Boom Bubble! Boom Bubble! Boom Bubble-!”
He squeaked in pain as a large fist closed around his body, and Rocky cried out as the feeling hit her through the Bond.
Blind panic took hold, and she would have run straight up to the large feline-Digimon if Jack had not grabbed her.
“Don’t hurt him! Let him go! Let him go!”
Pitch only watched the proceedings silently, a subtle conflict rising within.
He wanted them to be afraid, to feel fear, but this…
He was not sure this was what he wanted.
“Ya wanna fight, big boy? I’ll fight!”
Even Leomon seemed surprised as Togemon fell from the sky, smacking into him like a dodgeball and sending him tumbling over the grass, Patamon left dazed in his wake.
“Pat!” Rocky called out in relief, running to scoop up her partner.
“Sandy!” Bunny greeted happily as the dream-sand cloud floated down, depositing Ally safely.
Kabuterimon landed just behind them, and Bee took a moment to absorb the scene as the older blonde rejoined her Digimon.
“What happened?” She asked softly, floating closer to the ground while being mindful of her ankle.
“Leomon got dosed with a bunch of those Black Gears.” Jack explained.
Jerking up as Leomon rose, Bee whirled around towards Casey instantly.
“Casey! Use your Digivice!”
Pushing herself to stand, the redhead looked up at her in confusion.
“Your Digivice! It has the power to drive out the Black Gears!”
Taking that in for a moment, she nodded, straightening as Greymon shifted in an attempt to rise.
With a deep breath, she stepped right into Leomon’s path, forcing him to face her before going anywhere near the others.
Pushing down the fear that threatened to lock her muscles, Casey looked him in the eye and growled.
“You wanna touch them, you’ll have to go through me.”
He certainly seemed ready to take her up on that offer, and Bunny could not help the way his heart twisted at the far-too-familiar sight.
The Digivice’s screen lit up the moment she had it pointed at Leomon, and he roared in pain as the light fought against the darkness inhabiting him.
From her vantage point, Kim could see the Black Gears slowly melting out of his back and realized that one Digivice was not enough.
When a second light joined, Casey bit back a grin as Kim took up post beside her, both of their Digivices proving more than enough for the task.
Ogremon stumbled to his feet, raising his club to strike the Warriors while they were distracted-
An uprooted tree struck him a moment later, and he scrambled up to see Bee and Kabuterimon ready to face him.
“We’re your opponents now.” The brunette informed him lowly, eyes glowing as rubble rose up under her command.
Apparently deciding-rather wisely-that it was a losing battle, Ogremon chose to flee instead, quickly joined by Pitch.
They were not a moment too soon, since the last Black Gear fell from Leomon’s body and shattered as he reverted back to normal, falling to his knees.
Rocky approached slowly, Patamon clinging to her shirt, as he finally looked up at them, honestly confused.
“Where…Where am I?”