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Digimon: Unholy Crusade

Discussion in 'Role-Playing Games' started by Kamotz, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    < Samael Cain (Beelzemon) >
    Bullet Club, Axis Mundi


    "And where would you go to find them?" Serra asked. She took a swig of her morning beer. "Any idea where they might be?"

    Samael smirked -- she was just as pragmatic as ever; she remembered everything he'd ever taught her. He could see that now. He kicked himself for letting her get away. But...that wasn't quite the truth, was it? No. It was a fun experiment for a few decades, put together his own band of outlaws, Digimon just like -- or enough like -- him, who discarded the false veneer of the world and let their inner monsters out freely. He'd found them, and he helped twist them further into his little shadows. His Gunslingers.

    But damn, did they get dull. He supposed mortal Digimon found some sort of comfort in routine and habit. But he hated all of that sh*t. After five years of it he started getting restless. After ten he was downright bored. He'd taught them enough, spread some chaos in the world. It was time to move on. And so he did.

    He should have stuck around a little longer, made sure all of his lessons had stuck with Serra. But she had moved on just the same. Now she was busy owning a bar, pretending to be respectable and a contributing member of society. Trying to hide that little monster inside her.

    "Doesn't matter." Henry said. "Let the other Peacemakers worry about their own crew. If they're to be any help against the Knights, we have to assume they know how to handle themselves."

    He tapped a knuckle on the old map that lay on his table. "Most of you seem convinced that we should head to Greystone. But let me ask you this, what exactly do we have to bargain with? If Greystone respects strength and action, then why shouldn't they side with the Knights? Kaladesh and Glen Elendra are still smoldering and we're 0 for 2. If we want to convince Greystone, or the Chess Kingdoms, or anyone else that they should fly our flag, we have to have a point on our board."

    "Ixalan." he said after a short pause. "That's the only course that might give us an edge."

    “The Riverlands are nothing,” Svarog said. Firefarts -- Samael hated agreeing with him. Hated agreeing with anyone. But if there was one thing he could almost respect about the Apollomon, it was his want for a fight. Their reasons were different, but Samael could at least agree it was time to sink his teeth into something.

    “Never have been. All we know is that there are ‘disturbances’...somewhere. How is that any sort of edge? You want to keep this world from spiraling into all-out war? Show the Greymon strength.”

    And blood, Samael added silently.

    “They’ve seen the Council falter against the Knights. But we’ve already fought them twice to —arguably— a stalemate,” Thor added. “Show them who we are. Let our presence speak for us. Let them understand our convictions for themselves.

    Samael made a display of rolling his eyes. He smirked as a few of the others glanced quickly in his direction and then looked away. Serra's glare held.

    He grinned wildly.

    “More importantly Greysvald needs to see them,” Thor motioned to James, Hoshiko, and Andrea. “He needs to see convictions equal to those of the Royal Knights. From those that are most directly impacted by their crusade.”

    "A stalemate?" Henry said. "Tell that to Kaladesh. And what do we do if we go to Greystone and find the Knights there, waiting for us, because they knew the two of you would jump at the first sign of a mutiny."

    Damn. Who cares? Samael had thought Henry was more fun than this. But here he was, playing hero. Lying to himself just like everyone else.

    "And I thought we had something together," Samael sighed to himself sarcastically.

    "A lead's a lead. And they don't always look like much. Whatever's happening in the Riverlands was big enough to catch the Council's eye. Might be more than it seems."

    Oh, Henry, running after approval, playing the Captain again? He was letting his old life get the better of him -- run after secrets and treasure, and booty. The mystery and possibility was always better than the sure, boring, certain thing. Samael knew that. But the mystery was so often disappointing.

    "But I concede that I don't know this Greysvald. If he's publicly declared for the Knights, then he's already taken a stand. How sure are you that his mind can be so easily swayed?"

    And there it was. Uncertainty. Trying to play the leader when you didn't believe it yourself. He should learn to have convictions in his lies.

    "By many accounts those were stalemates," Michael said. "Not tactically, of course. But by combat -- we are all alive, several Royal Knights were cleanly defeated, others retreated. Their objectives were just as muddled as ours."

    “Greysvald declared for the Council two damn days ago. Now he’s declared for the Knights. How easily swayed do you think he is?” Svarog snapped, before muttering sourly, "putting stock in the Council's whims."

    All the fire god wanted was to fight. Samael couldn't blame him after getting his @ss kicked last time. He wondered just how far the god could be pushed before he burned an entire city to the ground in his anger. That'd be a hell of a sight.

    "If his allegiances are so fickle that he flips sides at every display of might, then any defeat we deal the Knights should be enough to flip him back." Henry said. "If that's all it takes, we'd be better served going to Valyria and hoping for a chance to do just that. At least then we'd be helping some tamers while we're at it."

    Ol' flip-flop fishboy.

    "Objectives aren't the only thing that matters." Henry added. "Public opinion will gut you just as fast as a dagger. If each of our 'stalemates' levels a city and causes a wave of evacuations, how much longer will anyone put up with us? We'll send cities rallying behind the Royal Knights just to keep their homes intact."

    "I'm with Henry. Why do we need to showboat for some old greymon in person, when it's our actions in the field that will have the greater impact?" Andrea jumped in. "Besides, how do we know that there aren't any Royal Knights currently waiting at Greystone?" Andrea pointed out. "Seems like a bad recipe for another wrecked city."

    "We need to get Greystone back in line because they have hundreds of soldiers ready to deploy at a moment's notice," Thor said, and Samael caught the scent of ozone in the air. Thor was holding himself in check, but he was just as likely to explode as Svarog was; except he had no idea how to reign himself in once he did.

    "And if the Royal Knights are there, all the better!" Svarog snapped. "That's our entire point of being here. But of course let's run off on wild goose chases and babysitting missions,"

    "Let the Council deal with public opinion," Serra said. "Let's get to kicking ass."

    That's my girl, Samael sneered.

    "Then go, " Andrea said stubbornly, "Go to Greystone and do what you do best, flex some muscle to impress Greyvald for us or go looking for a fight against the Knights if you want."

    "I'd rather do something I'm good at. Saving lives." Andrea said, "Even if that means going into the line of fire between two cities, escorting tamers to a safe place, or fighting against the Knights if I have too. My actions out there should speak plenty of my convictions. I'm going to Valyria."

    ==\=/==

    < Michael Ha'Yisrael (MagnaAngemon) >
    Bullet Club, Axis Mundi


    "I agree with Andrea," Michael said. He stepped forward to stand beside Henry, slightly perturbed that he wasn't doing more to align the group. "We need to think strategically here. The Tamers in Valeron might be safe, but that region has always been volatile. We can't let the humans get caught up in a war between the Three Warring Kingdoms. Especially if they are gathering in mass."

    "Lotta 'ifs' here, Mikey," Samael sneered. Of course Samael disagreed. "'If' the soft-skins are gathering in Valyria; 'if' the Chess Kingdom follows suit; 'if' these disturbances in the Riverlands amount to anything; 'if' those Peace-bums are really in trouble. Lot of uncertainty. Way I see it the only thing certain is that those horn-heads were on our side, and now they're not. That's about as straightforward as it gets."

    Samael leaned back in his chair and kicked his feet up on a table. "Oh, and that means all the humans there are in trouble, I guess. But that's none'a my business."

    "This is all actionable intelligence, Samael. Not guesswork," Michael said. And you would rather fight someone than help another, he added silently. He turned towards the others again.

    "Greystone's Tamer population is small, mostly Tamers with Greymon-subspecies partners. A few dozen at most. Valeron has always had a larger human population. Same with Halcyon. Regardless of their requests or not, that should be where we focus our efforts to make sure the humans are safe."

    "The Greystone tamers would be able to seek shelter in the outlying villages, at least temporarily." Theo commented. "I know of one village that would take them in." Michael nodded. He was thankful for his support.

    "Oh yeah?" Samael laughed. "Proud, war-hungry Greystone idiots would disobey the decree of their king-chief? They'd actively disobey? And work against the Royal Knights? C'mon son."

    It would have made a decent point, if it weren't made with the subtlety of a thrown brick.

    "How would they even know where to go?" Thor asked. "What chance would they have had to leave? Do you think they'd even get the chance?"

    Michael was almost beside himself, though he dared not show it. He never would have imagined the day that Thor, son of Odin and Crowned Prince of Asgard, and Samael Cain, the literal God-damned Fallen One, agreed on something.

    "I was at Greyhaven just days prior to arriving at Axis Mundi. A handful of tamers were already there seeking shelter and spoke of bringing others." Theo said to Thor, ignoring Samael completely. "So there is a chance that some tamers were able to withdraw from Greystone in time."

    "A 'chance'," Serra sighed. Michael saw that she was tense and angry, too. She glanced repeatedly towards Samael each time she thought to speak. Not in the way that so many of others did -- out of fear or concern -- but in a manner that seemed to be weighing whether or not she wanted to be in agreement with the fallen angel.

    Samael had spent decades wandering the roads of Saga. Was she someone he had crossed paths with before?

    "So you're basically guessing. Three days ago Greystone was allied with the Council," Serra continued. "There wouldn't have been any danger or reason to seek shelter there. What's to say the people of Grayhaven wouldn't have turned on them as soon as head honcho Greymon told them to?"

    "If we're less certain of their safety than we are the safety of the Tamers in Valyria, our choice should be obvious," Thor said, his teeth almost-grinding. "They are in a hostile kingdom, the loss of that kingdom's allegiance represents a significant threat to our ability to succeed in the future, but there is still a chance to regain that kingdom's allegiance. None of the other crises represent anything as pressing."

    "Except the greatest need for us is in Valyria," Michael said. He kept his voice voice implacably calm, completely unaffected by Thor's royal opinion. "A mass gathering of Tamers counts for more than a few dozen; it attracts more attention from the Royal Knights. It causes more concern among the general Digimon populace. Maintaining a strong relationship with the many kingdoms of Valyria is a more feasible task than rebuilding a relationship with a single kingdom that has defected."

    Tessa snapped her book shut with an audible thud. She had been scribbling furiously in her books, likely keeping an accurate record of events per a Wisemon's usual...compulsion. “Then it seems I must impart my sacred Wisemon wisdom.” She held up two fingers, “Two birds,” then held up one finger. “One stone.”

    “One group heads to Valyria to assess the situation and act accordingly.” Tessa nodded to Henry, Michael, and Andrea. Then the mage gestured to Thor, Svarog, Serra, and Samael, “The second group goes to Greystone."

    “Splitting up would resolve the argument, but would reduce our combined strength.” Theo muttered softly. He crossed his arms pondering. “Maybe either choice is too obvious. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if Sir Gawain had this same intel and took advantage of us being distracted with either.”'

    In all honesty, Michael was tempted to yield to Tessa's "sacred Wisemon wisdom" -- if only to end the back-and-forth arguing. But then what? Would they split the group each time there was a disagreement on where to go next? How would they ever stand a chance if they did that?

    "Ixalan is a gamble, yes. It could be nothing, or it could be the only lead we get that Camelot is landing forces." Henry shrugged. "But I can see you lot aren't the gambling type. In which case, I'm with Michael. Valyria is a powderkeg. All its needs is the right spark, and there will be a tempest in the north. A tempest with a whole lot of civilians and tamers caught up in it."

    Henry considered Tessa's words. "Splitting up is also a gamble, but if Greystone's problems boil down to convincing a singular leader to reconsider backing us, it may not be a bad idea."

    "Besides," Aria cut in, still nursing her hangover, "I don't recall seeing any of Greystone's forces backing us up lately. They have numbers on paper, but moving armies takes a lot of prep. And how many of us could it take to wrestle with the big cheese and give him a rousing speech? I certainly won't be much help there. So I'll vote for Valryia too."

    “We’ve been fighting for two days,” Svarog said to Aria. "We've barely even begun to fight a war."

    “And the entire point was to avoid bringing entire armies into this conflict and dragging the world into all-out war,” Thor said, glancing pointedly at Svarog. "This is why we need a show of strength to bring Greystone back into the fold. All of us. Together. Going before their king-chief and convincing him to renounce the decision to declare for Galahad. You don't insult him by sending some of us."

    "I agree," Michael said, his gaze holding steady with Thor's. "We don't succeed in anything if we split our forces. It's foolish. But none of you -- none of us -- have stepped up to lead. We've asked Henry to do so. As long as that's the case, then we'll follow his lead.

    "Unless anyone else wishes to volunteer?" Michael turned to them for a few moments. When no one spoke up, he turned back to Henry expectantly.
     
  2. TheSequelReturns

    TheSequelReturns Phantom Thief

    < Henry Vane (CaptainHookmon) >
    Serra's Tavern

    Henry nodded along with Michael's points. And the the angel gave the offer of leadership again. Henry waited expectantly for someone, anyone, else to claim the role. No one did. For all Thor's composure, all Svarog's fire, none of them wanted the responsibility of leading this group. Of making the calls.

    "That's twice now the captain's hat has been offered, but it seems like I'm still the only one who cares to wear it." Henry said. "Fair enough."

    He glanced at his map, already knowing what path he would take. But thinking again on the possibilities each destination represented. The gains. The losses. His decision here would mean life and death for strangers he had never met. It was no wonder no one else wanted the job. It was always so much easier to critique the leader from the moral safety of the crew than it was to actually risk your pride on making the wrong call.

    But Henry had been a leader before, in a previous life. A good leader he liked to think, but one who was all too quick to chase after his own thoughts. Too quick to think a quick word of praise and some drink would quiet the passions of his crew. He had learned that lesson painfully. And he wasn't going to make the same mistake again. Ixalan was intriguing. It was the only unknown. But it wasn't the leader's job to chase after every unopened chest. He wasn't a pirate anymore. He had to carefully consider the words of his crew.

    "We'll head to Valryia and try to deal with the situation there." he said. "That seems the issue most likely to turn sour the fastest. The tamers are, after all, at the center of this conflict. After that, we can all go knock some sense into Greystone together."
     
  3. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    < Thor Odinson (Imperialdramon: Fighter Mode) >
    Bullet Club, Axis Mundi


    Of course no one stepped up to challenge for leadership. No one else had the fortitude or patience for it...or, like Thor himself, knew they had other responsibilities. His was stopping the Royal Knights, standing against them. Not just ideologically or tactically, but as a sheer physical force. Thor couldn't do that when also worrying about the personal minutiae of the team.

    Serra's words from the night before still haunted him. Stop trying to be 'as worthy as Odin' and remember to be worthy as yourself. Thor's already worthy of the sword. You just need to realize that being Thor is enough. Thor turned his gaze inward to where he always pictured the White Sword in his mind's eye. Would that really be enough? To trust in his own worthiness?

    Still, a strong, rebellious part of him disagreed with everything they were about to do. To Hel with Valyria, to Hel with command. Greystone was where he needed to go.

    He shook his head and chased all thoughts of leaving the others from his mind. Despite all his insecurities he knew that abandoning the others was not what the worthy Thor would do.

    "The Council's secretaries have arranged transportation for us," Michael said, as if he'd sensed that they needed to be moved along before the debate flared again.

    "Think we'll get t'kill some humans in Valwhatsitplace?" Samael asked with a wild grin.

    "Why--why--why would we do that?" Serra snapped, almost at a loss for words. She'd shot to her feet and glared over at Samael, her claws digging into the wooden table.

    Samael shrugged. "Never know. Could be fun," his contemptuous sneer cut itself across his face. "You used to be fun, Serra. I miss those days."

    "You!" Serra snarled, reaching for her pistols, and her wild, angry expression almost matched his.

    "If we're going to kill the demon I'll go first," Svarog volunteered.

    "You sure will," Samael snarled, gnashing his teeth.

    "Enough," Michael said. His voice was harsh and weary. "This isn't helping us. If you three want to kill each other do so after we stop the Royal Knights."

    "Fine with me," Samael drawled. "Gonna need somethin' t'do when this is over anyway." Samael waved them all off and strolled his way out of the bar. He was down the street before the rest of them got out the door.

    "Nadia, watch the bar. We'll be back soon, I hope," Serra said in a not-at-all ominous way. She jabbed Thor in the shoulder. "Let's go, Your Highness."

    Michael led them back up through the lower district and towards the Temple of the High Council. It was a silent procession; the reminder of the previous day's failure weighed heavily on them, and the disagreement over where to spend their efforts raised the tension to a palpable level.

    "We'll be going ahead in this," Michael informed the group. The great courtyard was once again utilized as a staging ground, where a single, sleek black dropship stood waiting for them.

    Unlike the mass-transport airships from the initial assault on Camelot, this was made for speed. Each back-swept wing was outfitted with a massive glowing engine. The tail had two pairs of stabilizer fins jutting up and down. The pilot's cabin hung over the forward-facing cargo bay entrance. A single Stingmon and Waspmon directed a group of Fanbeemon around the exterior of the ship, finalizing checks and takeoff preparations.

    "We're ready whenever you are," the Stingmon said to Michael and Henry. A quick word from their "captain" and the two insects whistled sharply to the Fanbeemon. The small insects split into two groups; one group cleared the tarmac while the other dashed into the dropship and began prepping the controls. The larger insects followed suit and led the way into the ship.

    The cargo bay was set up for the Guardians. Several seats of various appropriate shapes and sizes lined the sides while the middle was mostly clear. The cockpit was situated at the end of a short, narrow hallway at the top of the pair of stairs that lined either side of the dropship.The Stingmon and Waspmon made their way up and began takeoff preparations. The Fanbeemon buzzed about the interior before settling into several smaller spaces that lined the hallway

    "Buckle in, we're going to make this fast," the Stingmon said from the cockpit.

    Michael and Henry had chosen seats towards the front of bay closer to the cockpit hallway so they could communicate better with the pilots. Samael, naturally, had chosen to place himself as far out of Michael's eyesight as possible, and chose a spot at the back.

    Thor strapped himself in, picking a spot on Henry's side of the ship where he could still see Samael. He left a space between himself and Henry; he didn't want to give the impression that he was attempting to crowd in on Herny's leadership or make any sort of challenge now that they'd had a disagreement. Serra dropped into the seat between himself and Henry with an undignified crash. She looked at everyone except Samael.

    Svarog took the seat diagonally to the left across from Thor. He didn't strap himself in, but settled into a glower. The rest of the Guardians followed suit.

    ==\=/==

    Taichi "Tai" Kamiya & Etali (Agumon)
    Highton, Valeron


    Tai watched the Tamer camp from the top of the hill. Nearly a hundred Tamers and their partners had gathered in Highton since the Royal Knights began their crusade nearly a month ago. The Council and the angels hadn't been able to coordinate any sort of assistance until the last few days. Tai had taken it upon himself to protect the rest of the Tamers.

    He and a few others, his best friends, had established Highton years ago. First it was just a Tamer camp, where they could rest, hang out, and trade stories with other Tamers. But as time went on it grew beyond anything they could have imagined. What started out as collection tents and a well, was now a thriving community.

    The first thing they'd built had been the "mess hall" -- but it had grown into an entire town hall since then. They'd paved the roads with cobblestone and flattened down walkways into packed dirt paths. The well at the center of the encampment was now a fountain; they'd since incorporated Kaladeshi engineering to create indoor plumbing. They'd even implemented a rudimentary solar and thermal-power energy grid, providing clean, renewable electricity to the settlement.

    Radiating outward to form a near-circle were the four wedge-shaped sections of Highton, divided by the two major crossroads. From the community center back was the northern section, where they'd built a number of small, permanent cottages with modern amenities. Tai and his friends lived at the far end of this section on the hillside.

    The eastern section started at the inn, across the street from the community center. It wasn't much, but it provided a place for visiting Tamers and other Digimon to stay if they didn't have permanent residence yet. It also had a tavern, though they'd never settled on a name. Tai and Matt had argued for days about what it should be, until another of their friends had taken the reigns and named it "Mimi's." Neither of them were really willing to argue. Behind that were number of small "camp-out" areas. They'd become more crowded since the crusade began, and more tents seemed to be setting up daily. There was also a community garden, but that seemed to be getting crowded out more and more.

    The western section started with the warehouse in the center. Any Tamer could apply for a locker or storage section, where they could keep their valuables and adventuring gear that didn't fit in their smaller homes, and where they could hold things when they went out adventuring and gave up their permanent residence.

    Behind that were a smattering of shops and workshops; a "bookstore" connected directly to the internet and made it easy to import any kind of media entertainment. A "healer" -- aka their former med-student-turned-Tamer who'd abandoned his schooling to pursue adventure in the Digital World -- had actually set up a small clinic to help out anyone who'd gotten sick or injured on their own adventures. Human diseases and injuries behaved differently in the Digital World, and he was at the forefront of that research. The nearby smithy, electrician, and mechanical workshop meant that he was never short on people injuring themselves. A smattering of other shops featured whatever treasures and wares had been found on various outings.

    The southern section was the open-air Market, lined with stalls and carts. This was what Tamers and Digimon from the surrounding areas flocked to. It was open every day for whoever was still in town and not out exploring, but every Saturday, the entire market crowded with Tamers returning from their adventures, selling and buying goods and treasures from across Saga.

    Around the entire settlement was a wall, made of metal, stone, and wood. Tai had been eyeing that wall for the past thirty minutes. With the way Tamers were pouring into Highton, he suspected they'd need to expand very soon. But that meant tearing down at least one section of the wall and breaking the perimeter. If the Royal Knights were really drumming up support across the world, Tai really didn't want to leave Highton undefended for even a minute.

    "Still thinkin' about that wall?" Matt walked up beside him. They always butted heads over these sorts of things, but for once since the start of their adventure, Matt wasn't actively fighting him. And that scared Tai more than anything else. "The others think you're crazy."

    "Surprised you aren't leading that charge," Tai muttered.

    "I'm normally the one keeping your crazy in check," Matt said with a sigh. "If the others are already doing that I don't need to. But…"

    "'But'?" Tai wondered.

    "But I think you're all wrong. Izzy agrees, too," Matt said before Tai could object. "There's no way we're safe here. We're comfortable, but that's way different. If the Knights come then we're stuck."

    "If the Knights come, we'll fight," Tai declared steadily. "We've got almost one hundred Tamers here. More are coming every day."

    "Not everyone has the experience we do," Matt pointed out. "A lot of them are going to get hurt if they fight. Hell. We might, too."

    "Someone has to do something," Tai said. "Someone has to take a stand. If that's gotta be us, then that's what we'll do. And if it has to be just me? I'll do that too."

    Matt sighed the way he always did when Tai spoke, like he was talking to his little brother. It drove Tai crazy. He ran a hand through his hair -- man, the dude really needed a haircut.

    "Sure I can't convince you to head to Axis Mundi?" Matt asked. Tai shook his head and held Matt's stare. "Well I'm not about to let you get killed all on your own."

    Tai mirrored his smirked. "Then here's where we make our stand."
     
  4. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul

    Theo Grayson (BlackWarGreymon)
    In route to Dropship


    The Guardians filed out of the bar. Theo lingered behind until he was the last to leave, he’d caught the questioning eyes many Guardians had sent his way during the discussion.. The elder Greymon shared a parting nod with Nadia.

    “Eyes up, Guardian,” Nadia called after Theo,as he firmly shut the bar’s main door behind him. She was right. He needed to keep his eyes forward here on out. The BlackWarGreymon hasten his pace to catch up to the other Guardians.

    A hand clasped Theo’s shoulder, stopping him. It was Henry, who was starting to carry himself a little less like a disheveled pirate and a little more like a disheveled captain. He stood straighter, held his head a little higher, and was looking at Theo the way a commander might a wounded soldier.

    “So lad, you decided to tough it out with us after all.” He patted his shoulder again, firmly. Keeping him in place. “You sure you’re up for it? You look about as fighting fit as a one-legged Ogremon with a three-day hangover.”

    “If you’ll still have me,” Theo said somberly. His eyes drifted to the backside of the tamers. “I have to try. I don’t want them to go through the same pain I did and I set a poor example yesterday.”

    Henry nodded along as Theo spoke. “Admirable, if I bit too selfless for my tastes,” he said. It wasn’t readily apparent if Henry was joking or not. “You’ve acted like you were ready to jump ship on us for a while now lad. What changed your mind? Did that flowermon use her femine wiles on you?” He nodded towards where Aria was walking up ahead.

    “As femine as a drunk flower can get,” Theo mumbled, “but she did help me realize I still had some fight left in me for one more war. I was trained by the best to fight and I was good at it. Only difference now, is that I’ve got nothing to lose. The Tamers stand to lose everything. Losing a partner...is the worst pain imaginable for any tamer pair. I won’t let the Royal Knights sever that bond.”

    “You’ve clearly never been to any of the port towns near Glen Elendra.” Henry said, but he released his grip on Theo’s shoulder and motioned for him to follow as they resumed walking after the others. They were trailing behind enough now so that their conversation wouldn’t be overheard.

    “I understand your motivations,” the pirate said, “I do. But you’re wrong when you say you have nothing left to lose. Men like you. Men like me. We’ve been to the bottom of the barrell. We know how far we have to climb just to get a glimpse of the sun again.” he leveled a finger at Theo. “What you risk to lose is your future. Same as any of us here. But you have something more beyond that to lose. Redemption. Purpose. Absolution. Call it what you will. That thing your soul needs like a man stranded on a sandbar needs a cup of fresh water. You die without that, and you die a shell. Your name is forgotten. And your life goes down as just another cautionary tale, if it goes down at all.”

    “But a hero story? That is a tale the lads will drink to for ages. You want to make a lasting impression? Do something good for the ones to follow you? That’s what you do. Fix your broken soul and if you die you die as yourself and not as the ghost of a man you used to be.”

    Theo remained silent for a moment as they passed through the lower district, contemplating the pirate’s words. What did he have left? He flashed back to the only time he held his infant nephew...the welcoming warmth of his sister-in-law Kassy...He hadn’t seen them since before Asher died. If...if he managed to survive this damn war first, then perhaps, it was past time for him to amend that.

    The BlackWarGreymon glanced in Andrea’s direction. She was family too, in a sense. They’d both shared the same pain of loss. He didn’t want Andrea and Deneb to suffer the same hollowness he faced everyday.

    “Henry,” Theo spoke after a long pause, “Thank you.”

    Henry grinned. “That’s the spirit lad.” After a moment, he scratched the back of his head. “You know, I thought that’d be harder. Guess I am feeling a little bit of the old swagger today.”

    He mumbled quickly, “Got another one of these talks to give too.”

    “Honestly, it’s been a long time since I’ve been part of a team. So, it’s taken a few of you to help me see more clearly.” Theo said. The older Greymon raised an eyebrow. “Let me guess, Aria?”

    The pirate nodded. “Aye. The lass is determined, I’ll give her that much, but she’s getting reckless. Last thing I need is you, or her, dying on my first mission as captain. Gives a man a bad reputation.” He kept the thought that certain other leader-type figures in the group would never let him hear the end of it to himself but Henry’s poker face was well out of practice.

    “So, naturally, I’ve got to handle it. Pep talks are one thing, but that little flower has an attitude that I don’t think I can crack. I’m as likely to make things worse as I am better. So, I started with you lad.” he said with a round of laughter.

    “I probably didn’t help much last night,” Theo admitted, “She was drunk and upset with me. So, I dumped a glass of water on her to bring her to her senses. Apparently it doesn’t work on flower types like it does new recruits.”

    Henry had to fight to hold back his laughter. “You splashed water on a flowermon? Lad, I‘m surprised you’re still kicking. She must have a soft spot for you after all.” He scratched his chin. “That, or she was too drunk to stay mad at you.”

    Theo slipped a small smile, chuckling, “I may never know.” He frowned, thinking about the flowermon. “I can try keeping an eye out for her if it will ease your mind,” Theo offered, “but that’s not going to help Aria in the long run. If anything, she might resent me more if I ended up coming to help her.”

    “You, I get.” Henry said. “I know what it feels like to be lost. I know your sickness and the cure you need. But Aria?” he shook his head. “The lass needs something I don’t know how to give. She isn't lost. She’s right where she wants to be. But I don’t think she knows why.”

    Up ahead, Aria glanced back for just a moment, as though she was aware they were talking about her, but she frowned at the bright sunlight and turned around just as quickly. Henry quickly mumbled something unintelligible under his breath before turning back to Theo. “Sorry, old superstition. Don’t want to risk inviting any bad luck now.” He didn’t explain any further.

    “Hhmmm,” Theo thought back to last night’s conversation. He sighed, “Aria... needs to be given a specific task or role suited to her. Set her up for success, not failure.” Theo shook his head, “Active combat really isn’t the best scenario to do this, since anything can happen. But it’s not like we’ve got much of a choice.”

    “Sometimes being given a responsibility helps someone to settle down,” Theo said, remembering the change in his brother, when he became a father. “How does Aria get along with everyone else?”

    Henry though back on the last conversation he had with the Lilamon. And on the moments he spotted her from a distance, not that he made a habit of that. “About the same as any of us.” he shrugged. “She found a couple of chums and she seems content to hang with them.” It took a second for Henry to realize that Theo might not know who he was talking about. “That’d be Stein and the little Wisemon.”

    The pirate shrugged. “You’re a soldier, right? You know how to work together. How to take orders. How to be part of a crew, so to speak. She doesn’t. A lot of them,” he motioned generally towards the whole lot of digimon in front of them, “don’t. Everyone thinks they are in charge of themselves, but that’s not how crews work. Though the odd part is Thor and Michael seem content to let me take the helm, which I still can’t quite understand.”

    “A functional team, we are not. That’s been obvious since our first battle,” Theo sighed. “Even with Lord Michael initially leading us, we’ve not found our cohesiveness. Perhaps, it’s simply that we must reply on a different leadership style or method to pull us together.”

    “So they’re taking a chance on me, is that what you’re saying?” the CaptainHookmon sighed. “Figured as much, but a second opinion never hurts.”

    They walked in silence for a little while before Henry spoke again. “What about you though? Where do you see this heading taking our little crew?”

    “Honestly, the odds are against us no matter who is leading,” Theo admitted. The BlackWarGreymon’s gaze drifted over the group as a whole. “However, I’ve allowed that knowledge lead me to believe that this fight was impossible. I’m standing here now because you and several of the others -Theo gestured to the Guardians ahead of them- have reminded me why I went to Axis Mundi in the first place. The Guardians are a mismatched group, but we’re the ones that remained after the failed attack on Camelot. So we make it work. Somehow.”

    Theo glanced at the CaptainHookmon. “You have my respect, Henry, for taking charge. It’s not an enviable position. I was entrusted with a trainee platoon for a time before I resigned from the Order’s ranks. Not sure I’m ready to try again, but I have been there. However, I can help you out I will.”

    “Yeah, well, at least it was my choice this time.” Henry said. “I just hope for all of your sakes that I do a better job this time around.”
     
  5. storymasterb

    storymasterb Knight of RPGs

    James Reeve
    Airship

    James seated himself at Theo's side purposefully, curious about the BlackWarGreymon's return to the fold. He had noticed Theo at their strategy discussion, but hadn't gotten to speak to him with Henry taking the dark dragon-man's attention all the way to the airship. Samael was on Theo's other side though, and his presence cast the same shadow as before. Artanis took a seat between his partner and Svarog.

    Valyria. He was still torn, which was why he had been quiet. His gut had told him from the start that it was where he wanted to be, where James Reeve should be. And yet Greystone had beckoned too, because of the promise of Tamers in greater danger and the threat of escalation. Perhaps from the perspective of some this was already a war. Heaven knew it had felt like it, with the hollow-eyed casualties on plain display. The corpses broken on burning battlefields. The friends lost...

    He forced his eyes up. He was a Guardian. Eyes up, as he had heard Nadia said. His gaze found Andrea sat opposite, then Okatsu and then Hoshiko next to Thor. He could tell that she'd have been on Thor's other side if she could, where Serra sat next to Henry. Away from the demon two seats to his right. Though she seemed to be trying to lock her gaze either forward or to the side, he caught her glancing occasionally past him into the dark corner. He tried to meet her gaze and draw her away, but when their eyes met he saw the ice within. It wasn't a new pain to see. The kind of pain that fuelled the flames of rage.

    As impersonal as the Knights tried to make their crusade, no one could endure what the Tamers had without some letting their passions take hold. People who had seen friends and loved ones blasted away or banished from Saga without mercy weren't inclined to preach forgiveness, after all.

    He forced himself back to the choice that had been at hand. Greystone or Valyria? He wasn't sure even now if they'd chosen correctly. It probably wouldn't be clear until they'd seen this through, but all he knew was that either way he wanted to see as many Tamers safe as they could manage.

    All of them if possible, no matter how the odds piled up against them.

    "It's good to see you, Theo," he finally ventured to the BlackWarGreymon.

    -

    Hoshiko Yukimura
    Airship

    She sat herself consciously as far from Samael's dark corner as she could, available seats allowing. Okatsu dutifully joined her, Andrea on the Gabumon X's other side.

    Hoshiko wasn't sure what to think. On the one hand, she had felt from the start that protecting the Tamers in Valyria was the right thing to do, and Michael's agreement on that point was heartening. But on the other hand, even if she didn't want to, she could see the importance of Greystone. It felt almost like they were making a mistake by going to Valyria, where the Tamers were not in immediate danger, and not Greystone, when the Greymon threatened to join the Royal Knights and provide the opportunity to escalate the conflict. She had confided her feelings quietly to Okatsu out of earshot of the others before they had boarded the airship, and the Gabumon X had noted that it was a difficult dilemma. To preserve more lives immediately, or to act in the hopes that their action would preserve a greater number of lives in the long term?

    Perhaps in the past she would have judged it with a colder gaze, she thought. But not right now. Not when she still remembered the feeling of Samael's sword in her chest. Not when she had fallen slowly to sleep wishing for someone, anyone to make it to safety. Her gaze wandered, falling into the void of Samael's presence. For a moment she glanced at the demon, before she caught James watching. Judging. As though he understood. But he didn't understand. He rushed into danger with laughter on his face and joy in his eyes, dragging others in his wake with the fetters of his heroic presence. Blinded by his glory, other Tamers tried to emulate his feats. But they lacked his luck. His dumb luck that spared him even as others fell screaming all around him.

    And yet it never seemed to affect him. He shrugged it off and kept going. How could he do that, unless the thrill of battle drowned out any grief or pain he felt? Unless the flames of his passion burned away any guilt for the Tamers who followed blindly in his footsteps? She wanted to admire his heroism and yet she could see how reckless it was with cold clarity. He rushed laughing into the face of death like a madman.

    And then there was Samael, joking about killing humans, shrugging off burying his blade in an ally's back like it was nothing. Her heart grew colder just thinking about his jeering laughter.

    Okatsu's paw brushed her hand, stirring her from her icy thoughts. She found the Gabumon X's questioning gaze and forced a smile, then looked at Andrea in turn. Then she glanced to her other side where Thor sat, Serra and Henry beyond him, Michael right at the front opposite Henry.

    -

    Okatsu Sekishusai
    Airship

    The Gabumon X sat cautiously next to Hoshiko, resting a paw on Hoshiko's clenching fingers. She stared at her partner as Hoshiko looked away, but she had seen it. The coiling anger. Theo's warning came back to her, blighting the reassurance of his presence. Yes, Theo had come back to them, perhaps spurred by her harsh words, perhaps by something else. But the Guardians were far from harmonious. They could not even decide decisively on their destination, though she could not claim any triumph, she supposed. Her instincts as a warrior said that Valyria was their place, but she understood well the importance of Greystone. Their fight was a perilous one as it was, let alone if the Knights were free to march whole armies where now smaller strike forces launched their attacks. The Guardians could withstand strike forces. But their might, even such as it was, would not overcome an army.

    She had caught James's watchful gaze too. Did he see what she saw?
     
  6. Kamotz

    Kamotz God of Monsters

    Gunnar Cyndir - ShineGreymon
    Valkas, Greystone


    Gunnar strode into position in the forum. He was flanked on either side by members of his elite team, the Greystone Special Squadron. With all the uproar regarding Royal Knights and Council-appointed task forces, Lord Raegin was quick to assemble a team of Greystone's best to act on the kingdom's behalf. It had been a quick and graceless process, but Gunnar had assemble a team that no others in Greystone could compete with.

    They'd worked together for years already; with diverse skill-sets that covered one another's weaknesses. They could read one another like open books. There was never a need to openly discuss basic plans and strategy; they didn't need to -- and it just wasn't the Greystone way.

    Sigmund Gyld - ZekeGreymon; Starkad Galvanyz - BlitzGreymon; Angrim Charrad - BlackWarGreymon; Hrothgar Koall - WarGreymon.

    Gunnar had wanted his old friend Rhys Koenig to join, but he'd already volunteered for Council's task force. The idea of working against Rhys put a bitter taste in his mouth, but it wasn't something that could be helped. Greystone had declared for the Royal Knights. Even if Gunnar couldn't quite see the danger the humans represented, he understood playing it safe. He understood trust. The Royal Knights had protected Saga for literally a thousand years. He couldn't fathom the kind of experience each knight had. And all that collected and distilled experience was telling them that the humans were dangerous.

    How could he -- or anyone -- argue with that?

    It was just smarter to send the humans home, wasn't it? No one had ever accused him of being a "strategic thinker," but surely someone could take a few years to figure out what kind of impact the humans could potentially have. If they were really a boon to the world then they could come back after. It seemed simple.

    How was the whole world going to war over this?

    "Humans to one side, Digimon to the other," Gunnar announced to the gathering. Around three dozen Tamers remained in Greystone after the battle between the Council and the Royal Knights a few days prior. The others had already begun traveling to Axis Mundi. Greystone patrols were already looking for them. "Digivices out and ready for collection. No sudden moves. No one gets any ideas. And everyone gets to go home."

    "This is our home!" a young human shouted. Gunnar couldn't really tell with the young ones whether they were male or female -- he knew there was some difference. "Ahiba is my friend!" The human gestured frantically to his Agumon partner, just out of reach.

    A Greymon pushed his way between them and shoved the human to the side. It yelped in pain and cried out as the Greymon then ushered the Agumon -- Ahiba -- to the other side of the forum.

    "Hey! What's your name?" Gunnar demanded of the Greymon.

    "Sedrik," the Greymon rumbled, with a low nod.

    "Well, Sedrik, go easy with the humans. They're baby-level fragile, got it?" Gunnar ordered. Sedrik growled his acceptance with another bow and moved back into formation.

    Gunnar kneeled down before the little human. "I'm going to need your Digivice," he said, extending his hand. He spoke softly, but left no room for question.

    "You can't!" There were tears in its eyes. But Gunnar didn't blink. He just held out his hand. Finally the human relented and dropped the Digivice from its shaking hands into Gunnar's. "Please don't."

    "Sorry, kid, this is the way it's gotta be," Gunnar rose and tossed his Digivice to Starkad at the center of the forum. "Let's move everyone back to a safe distance and dispose of the Digivices."

    Starkad placed the Digivice in a pile, and the disposal team moved into position. Gunnar joined them, his hand extended and glowed hot.

    "No!" shouted that same young child. It scrambled against the Greystone guards, trying desperately and hopelessly to reach out to its Digivice...or was it reaching for its partner? "I don't wanna go!" The guards pushed him down.

    "Cindy!" cried Ahiba. She clawed at the guards on the other side of the forum. The big Greymon, Sedrik, growled angrily and slapped her back.

    "AHIBA!" a scream tore out of the throat of that same young child. Like lightning, its Digivice flew from the pile and into its hands. A horrible black aurora shone from the device and twisted itself into a spiraling beam that struck the human's partner Digimon right between the eyes.

    She let out a piercing wail as her body seemed to ignite with torrid black flames.

    "Defensive positions!" Sedrik shouted. He and some other Greymon gathered around the glowing Ahiba, while the rest ushered humans and Digimon away. Before anyone else could make a move, however, a massive skeletal hand exploded from amidst the billowing black fires and sent Sedrik flying across the forum.

    The newly-SkullGreymon Ahiba turned her attention to the rest of the Greysguard and swatted them aside like flies. She tried charging Gunnar, but he leveled her with a vicious uppercut and sent her sprawling backwards.

    "Damnit," Gunnar snarled. "This is exactly what I was trying to avoid." He turned to his team. "Special Squadron, form up! Sigmund, hold her down. Let's keep this contained. Starkad, Angrim, Hrothgar -- defensive positions around the forum. Keep the damage contained."

    Sigmund grabbed Ahiba and pinned her down. "She's stronger than she looks!" he shouted.

    "Need help?" Hrothgar teased.

    "Oh please," Sigmund rolled his eyes.

    "Kid...Cindy, right?" Gunnar said. He stood over the human and held out his hand once again. He didn't try to hide the urgency in his voice. "I need that Digivice. Now."

    "I--I can't!" the human wailed, clutching the black monstrosity to its chest.

    "What's wrong with Ahiba?" another human asked, slightly older. Probably with more sense.

    "Cindy is," Gunnar said, his voice clipped. "This is what happens when all of your darkness gets transferred to your partner. They run wild. If we weren't here Ahiba might destroy the whole block, maybe even the city." Okay, that was a lie -- the Greysguard would definitely have her contained before then. "It's too dangerous for you to be here anymore. You need to give me that Digivice and. Go. Home."

    Cindy stopped crying and reluctantly held out the Digivice. Gunnar snatched it quickly, and with more effort than he expected, he crushed it in his hands.

    Ahiba immediately stopped struggling against Sigmund's grip. She lit with yellow light and shrunk back into a Koromon form.

    "Cindy?" she said weakly. "I don't -- what happened?"

    "I'm sorry, Ahiba!" Cindy sobbed. Her body was starting to pixelate and lose focus. Trails of data leaked from her edges, and she began to displace from the Digital World back into Analog. "I didn't mean to. Please. I'm sorry!"

    And then she was gone.

    "Coulda' gone better," Starkad muttered.

    "Coulda' gone a lot worse, too," Gunnar pointed out. He turned back to the collected Digivices. "Let's finish up here. Glorious Burst!"
     
  7. Solsabre

    Solsabre The Reforged Soul


    Tessa Tesla
    Wisemon
    Airship (between Aria and Svarog)


    Her father’s massive tome carried Tessa through the streets. All the while, the female Wisemon predictably had her nose buried in a book, while the other hand wrote rapidly in a yet untitled book in her lap. Even as she boarded the airship, her eyes remained focused on the page. Her body brushed against Stein’s leg as she past his seat when she walked towards the front. Tessa plopped her small body into the seat between Aria and Svarog.

    “Do you suppose we’ll encounter the Royal Knights at Valriya?” Tessa asked the Archangel, finally putting the leather-bound book in her lap. “I’ve been drafting time differential spells- temporary changes to the relative rate of time within a confined spatial area or object- with at least two possible delivery methods.”


    ________________


    Deneb Odebu
    Hawkmon
    Airship (between Andrea and Stein)


    Deneb slumped in his seat deflated. His stomach rumbled loudly at him in protest. He’d been sleeping extremely well, when Nadia began drumming on the doors to wake everyone. But was breakfast waiting to greet them in the bar downstairs? Nope.

    Rather, he was met with heated discussion regarding the Guardians next course of action. Couldn’t their departure wait at least thirty minutes, so they could eat? Nope.

    The poor hungry hawkmon couldn’t get a single word to make such a suggestion. The whole way to the airship, he flapped through the air in sorrowful silence and seated himself next to the large Boltmon. His beloved Andrea sat on his other side. Deneb perked up immediately when he noticed Theo taking the remaining seat in the airship beside Samael.

    “Elder!” Deneb exclaimed, excitedly. He learned forward in his seat, careful to avoid eye contact with Samael’s smoldering glare. “You’ve decided to remain, good show sir!”

    The BlackWarGreymon’s expression softened as he regarded the Hawkmon, “Just Theo, Deneb, but yes I have, with some help of course.”

    Deneb noticed his tamer meeting Theo’s eyes with a tired expression. She silently mouths something to Theo, before closing her eyes to rest them longer.

    An awkward silence hung in the air as Theo glanced about the airship with interest and quickly changed the subject.“It’s been a while, since I’ve been abroad one of these dropships. They’d just come out of production, when I had retired. The fusion core engines are a more recent development, though, makes landing and take-off much swifter.”

    “I suppose so.” Deneb muttered, not really impressed.

    Stein scratched his chin.“This ship is much more cozy than the last one Stein was in.”

    “If one can call being strapped in small metal box flying above the ground cozy.” Deneb fidgeted in his seat. “Frankly, I trust my wings more so than this contraption.”

    Theo chuckled softly. “Don’t worry a twinjet dropship is a very reliable model with a long-standing safety rating. The stabilizer fins in particular keep the ship very steady in the air. You could hit a rough patch of turbulence and not hardly feel it.”

    “Stein thinks it is pointless to worry about the ship.” Stein said, shrugging. “Maybe it will crash, maybe it will fly. Stein can not do anything about it.”

    “I suppose not. I just wished we could have taken a few minutes to eat breakfast before running off. I miss making my chokeberry pancakes with jam before a busy day’s work.” Deneb complained as he stared wistfully to an empty spot in the air.

    “Choking berries do not sound like good breakfast.” Stein rubbed his forehead. “But Stein’s head is fuzzy. I do not know if I like beer beers as much as root beers.”

    “Breakfast, my good mon, breakfast is the cure to restoring one’s vitals.” Deneb nodded sagely. “Even simple toast would have sufficed!”

    “I seldom drink, Stein, but I do know simply drinking water between drinks does help with the fuzziness you’re experiencing.” Theo said to Stein.

    “Cinnamon! I wondered if our most skilled Nadia had any there. Cinnamon toast is a most excellent breakfast!” Deneb interrupted loudly.

    “Stein will remember to try the water.” The Boltmon studied Deneb for a minute. “Stein has always heard that breakfast was the most important meal, but I always thought lunch was most important. You never see anyone skip lunch.”

    “Probably because they skipped breakfast. Really by that point in the day, how can one possibly continue without stopping to refuel at lunch. Unfortunately, I’ve had the displeasure of skipping both breakfast and lunch at times, due to my dear Andy’s work. However, that is what second breakfast, elevenses, and afternoon tea are for, when I must skip.” Deneb glanced around the ship’s hull searching. “You don’t suppose they keep some sort of emergency rations abroad somewhere. Really, I’ll eat anything right now.”

    Stein looked at Deneb visibly confused. “Second breakfast would just be lunch.”

    “No, no, not in the least. Breakfast is breakfast. It is simply one’s second breakfast. Lunch is always at the proper time of 12 noon.” Deneb corrected the Boltmon.

    “Second breakfast is breakfast, but again? Stein usually calls that extra helpings.”

    Deneb shook his feathered hands animatedly to clear the confusion. “Yes, no, sort of? What you call ‘extra helpings is simply extra portions of the same dish. For proper digestion, you should eat small light portions of either toast or a bowl of fruit to jumpstart your body for the day, that is the purpose of First Breakfast. You have now supplied your body with the fuel it needs to digest the heavier foods served at Second Breakfast. Sausage Rolls, pancakes with apple butter and jam, eggs greased in bacon juices…” Deneb started drooling as his listed off the various dishes. “..oh, and the Analog dish called ‘French Toast’. The syrup they traditionally put on it has to be imported, but it is absolutely heavenly!” Deneb let out a long sigh. “Of course, one must wait two hours between First and Second Breakfast. Food from First Breakfast aids in digestion of Second Breakfast. Keeps you from feeling drowsy afterwards!”

    Stein let out a hearty chuckle. “You remind me of Wise One. She also uses a lot of words when she gets excited.” He paused for a moment. “Food must be really important to you.”

    “Food is fuel for the body as song and dance is food for the soul, my good fellow!” Deneb said, patting the giant Boltmon on the leg. “If we must eat, why not enjoy the ritual of taking in substance? Would you not agree?”

    “Sub-stands?” Stein scratched his head. “Are those tasty?”

    Deneb tilted his head in confusion. “I believe you mean ‘subs’ which are sold at food ‘stands’. An Analog specialty no doubt. Andrea describes them as being similar to a sandwich, but long, narrow, and too much bread. So I couldn’t verify if they are ‘tasty’.”

    Stein nodded. “So there are foods you haven't tried yet. That gives you something to look forward to. If we beat the Knights, Stein would like to eat a sub-stand with you.”

    “Very well, then let us shake on that promise.” Deneb said, holding his much smaller arm out. “Besides, food always tastes better when enjoyed in the company of friends.”

    The Boltmon stared at his huge hand for a moment before offering Deneb a single finger to shake with. Deneb shook the offered finger, looking quite pleased with himself.

    ____________


    Theo Grayson
    BlackWarGreymon
    Airship (between Samael and James)


    Theo permitted himself to faded from Deneb and Stein’s rather mundane-if quite amusing- conversation. After his talk with Henry, the black dragon really had little desire to speak further on the subject. He’d dwelt on the past and his most recent behavior long enough.

    Valriya or Greystone. Theo’s thoughts bounced between the two choices of the morning argument. In all honesty, he’d been torn. His heart yearned for the mass gathering of Tamers in Valriya, while his rational, military-trained mind demanded that Greystone was the more immediate priority. Yet...still both choices were both crucial, that much as obvious. Maybe too obvious.

    That thought bothered Theo more than he cared to admit. Instead, he’d chosen to explore the other choices, voicing them to the group to see if anyone agreed. Rather, he’d been shot down quickly. The old soldier scratched the side of his helmet, hoping-praying- that his gut was wrong, and that Sir Gawain wasn’t counting on the Guardians being too distracted with Valriya and Greystone.

    He cast his eyes about the airship, paying more attention to the individual Guardians than he’d done before now. His eyes lingered on Hoshiko for a few seconds longer, concerned for the young woman. Every so often, his glaze would flicker to his right side. Even if his seat hadn’t been the last one available, Theo would have still chosen to place himself between Samael and everyone else. He didn't care if there was a target on his back, better him than the others. His freshly polished and sharpened dramon breakers laid strapped to his arms comfortably. The BlackWarGreymon was interrupted from his brooding thoughts.

    "It's good to see you, Theo," James said.

    The BlackWarGreymon caught the meaning behind the young man’s words. Theo glanced at James and Artanis. Seeming the young man and the agumon together, reminded Theo painfully-and longingly- of his early days with Kyle, when he’d spent time as an agumon again. The biggest difference was that James was much older than 13-year-old Kyle and Theo had worn red straps over his clawed hands. Theo suspected that James and Kyle would be roughly the same age if his partner still lived.

    “Likewise,” Theo said, trying to shift the conversation away from himself, “how are you Artanis holding up?”


    _________________

    Andrea Mercer
    Airship (between Deneb and Okatsu)



    Andrea released a breath, relieved to see her brother’s partner back with them and in better spirits. She wanted to talk with him, but felt uncomfortable doing so in front of the whole group. Plus, she wasn’t sure how to talk to him. For as long as they were aware of each other’s existence, they didn’t know one another aside from their shared connection of her brother. She hadn’t exactly reacted well, when Theo had demanded she abandon Saga and Deneb.

    Instead Andrea reached for the bag resting on the floor between her legs, pulling out the Rider System gear she’d described the night before. Sal, reliable as always, gladly donated two sets for Hoshiko and James. Seeing as how Artanis sat across from her and Okatsu to her right, Andrea passed out the anchor attachments to both partnered digimon, describing how they worked.

    “The anchoring devices shouldn’t be uncomfortable. They are design to shift with your forms as you evolved. Just placed them on your shoulder or back roughly where Hoshiko or James typically ride along in your higher forms.”
     
  8. TheSequelReturns

    TheSequelReturns Phantom Thief

    < Aria Morningsong (Lilamon) >
    Outside the Airship


    Aria's head was pounding still. How long had it been since she'd actually lost track of how many drinks she'd had? Not long enough, if this headache was any indication. She was stuck between regretting her life decisions up to this point and trying to forget about how pathetic she probably looked compared to the rest of the group.

    She already felt like she was a bigger hindrance than a help. She didn't need to act like it too.

    "How are you holding up lass?" an annoyingly familiar voice said. Aria turned and frowned at the pirate, who was standing next to her but looking out at the airship.

    "I was doing fine until a moment ago."

    Henry laughed. "Your constitution take a sudden dip?"

    She rolled her eyes. "If you have something to say, get on with it. My head is still aching."

    Henry's expression hardened. "I'm here to tell you to go home."

    Aria blinked. "Excuse me?"

    "You heard me right." Henry was still looking at the ship, not her. "Go home, before you bite the big one. I don't need your death on my conscience."

    "You might be the new leader, but you aren't my boss. You can't make me leave." The Lilamon scowled.

    "No, I can't." The pirate took a deep breath. "But I can keep you off this plane." He took a deep breath. "I know a dead man walking when I see one. I once captained a ship."

    "You did?" Aria said sarcastically. "I'd never have guessed."

    Henry continued, undeterred, "The lads who ended up in the crew because they wanted to be a pirate, they did well. The lads who saw being a pirate as an obstacle to suffer though and overcome so they could move onto something else, they survived. But the lads who wound up on the ship because they had nowhere else to be? The ones who floated aimlessly into the pirate life like a hunk of driftwood, they never lasted long."

    He finally looked at her, and Aria was struck by just how sincere he looked. It wasn't an expression she was used to seeing on his face. "If you can't give me one real, honest reason for you to be here, then you need to leave. No stubborn refusals. No excuses. Your life is on the line. And if you don't have something to hold on to, something to fight for, a purpose of your own, then you will die. And maybe that's what you want. I've seen the type. The one's who don't have the guts to punch their own card, so they wander unprepared into danger, hoping someone else will do it for them."

    "I know the danger." Aria said. "I'm here because I want to be. Why does everyone treat me like a child?"

    "That's not an answer." Henry said sternly.

    The Lilamon huffed. "What do you want me to say? That I'm here for the tamers? That I'm here to be a hero? That I'm in it because fighting is fun?"

    "I want you to tell me the truth." Henry said. "Why are you here?" Up ahead, the various digimon manning the airship had completed their preparations and signaled that it was time for their group to embark. "Time's up. What's it gonna be?"

    Aria was practically shaking with frustration. "Why does it matter so much to you?" Henry didn't respond, but it wasn't until the pirate sighed and turned to leave that Aria finally answered him.

    "There has to be someone out there who needs me." she blurted out.

    Henry stopped. He was quiet for a moment, then he motioned for her to follow him. Without really knowing why, she did. The assembled Guardians all funneled aboard the airship and Aria took a seat near Henry, beside the angel Michael, again without any particular reason.

    She just wanted him to say something. To knowledge her statement in some way. Any way. But the pirate just glanced at her knowingly, then went about his business and didn't make any attempt to continue the conversation.

    And so Aria was left feeling restless and uncertain. But that nagging thought wouldn't go away. Why had she told Henry that? Was she trying to embarrass herself into oblivion? But by not answering her, that thought was now stuck in her head. She could think of nothing except what she had told him. Was that what he intended this whole time? The bastard.

    Was mattering to someone really what she wanted? Or had she just said something to placate Henry? Why did she even care what he thought anyway? She had always been alone. Always. There wasn't anyone that she needed. She could do fine all by herself, thanks.

    Tessa plopped into the seat next to her, that giant book in her lap. And immediately, she started talking to Michael. Or rather, talking at him. “Do you suppose we’ll encounter the Royal Knights at Valriya?” Tessa asked the Archangel, “I’ve been drafting time differential spells- temporary changes to the relative rate of time within a confined spatial area or object- with at least two possible delivery methods.”

    That part of her personality that couldn't stand to be ignored was already flamed up. But with Tessa literally talking past her, it was impossible for Aria to keep quiet.

    "I can't imagine they'd ignore a large gathering of tamers." Aria said, deliberately not responding to the part of Tessa's statement that her aching head wasn't prepared to digest. How she and Stein could actually communicate with each other was a mystery. "I just hope that we're able to help. Trouble seems to follow us wherever we go."
     

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