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Holy War [PG-16] (Digimon)

Discussion in 'Non-Pokémon Stories' started by Griff4815, Jun 3, 2015.

  1. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    This is the sequel to my Digimon story, "A Dragon in Shining Armour". If you haven't read it, I strongly suggest you do so before reading this.

    This story continues the adventures and trials of the Royal Knights, as various new threats emerge in the Digital World after almost a year of peace.


    Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon. However, I do own these characters and this original universe.

    Rating: PG-16 for violence, mature themes, swearing, and other things.


    Awards:
    Best Non-Pokémon Chaptered Fic (2015)


    Like before, chapters with the label "(Continued)" in the chapter list signify the chapter going over the character limit and forcing me to split the chapter into two posts. The "(Part I)" and "(Part II)" labels signify intentional chapter splits, as each part is chapter-length.

    Chapter List:

    Prologue: Black Pincer Company
    Chapter 1: The Party - (Continued)
    Chapter 2: A New Threat - (Continued)
    Chapter 3: Times Past and Time Present - (Continued)
    Chapter 4: Beneath the Surface - (Continued)
    Chapter 5: A New Objective - (Continued)
    Chapter 6: Cloak and Dagger - (Continued)
    Chapter 7: Casus Belli
    Chapter 8: The Aloof Hermit (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 8: The Aloof Hermit (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 9: Infiltration - (Continued)
    Chapter 10: Behind the Barrier (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 10: Behind the Barrier (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 11: The Judgment of Miracles (Part I)
    Chapter 11: The Judgment of Miracles (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 12: On War (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 12: On War (Part II) - (Continued) - (Continued)
    Chapter 13: Fracture (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 13: I, Dukemon (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 13: Redress (Part III) - (Continued)
    Chapter 14: Forlorn Hope - (Continued)
    Chapter 15: Steel Will (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 15: Saviour (Part II) - (Continued) - (Continued)
    Chapter 16: Sanctuary - (Continued)
    Interlude
    Chapter 17: Deception - (Continued)
    Chapter 18: Escalation - (Continued)
    Chapter 19: Ambition - (Continued)
    Chapter 20: Betrayal (Part I)
    Chapter 20: Betrayal (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 21: Before the Storm - (Continued)
    Chapter 22: Blood and Iron - (Continued)
    Chapter 23: Chaos - (Continued)
    Chapter 24: Dance of the Machine God - (Continued)
    Chapter 25: Hard Reset - (Continued)
    Interlude: Act II
    Chapter 26: Seven - (Continued)
    Chapter 27: Confession - (Continued)
    Chapter 28: The Prisoner of the Black Mist - (Continued) - (Continued)
    Chapter 29: Daemonum et Angelorum - (Continued)
    Chapter 30: Restraint - (Continued)
    Chapter 31: A Crisis of Faith (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 31: A Crisis of Faith (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 31: A Crisis of Faith (Part III) - (Continued)
    Chapter 32: First Encounters - (Continued)
    Chapter 33: Evening Light (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 33: Black Claw (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 34: Arrière-pensée - (Continued)
    Chapter 35: Phantom Sun (Part I)
    Chapter 35: A Disillusioned Heart (Part II) - (Continued)
    Chapter 36: The Shadow Of His Mind (Part I)
    Chapter 36: The Shadow Of His Mind (Part II) - (Continued) - (Continued)
    Chapter 37: Solace (Part I) - (Continued)
    Chapter 37: Solace (Part II)
    Chapter 38: Contrast - (Continued)
    Chapter 39: Contract With The Devil (Part I) - (Continued)



    Prologue: Black Pincer Company

    Flames.

    The long, tumultuous arms of fire rose up, whirling and thrashing as they grew. They danced and flickered erratically. Violently. Fire was indiscriminate about what it burned or which way it spread.

    The walls gleamed with an intense orange colour and the pungent, stifling aroma of smoke filled the dank, musty air. Embers and glowing cinders blew in the breeze and flew deeper into the darkness. The wood snapped and crackled, and the windy roar of the blaze echoed.

    The tempestuous flames reflected in a single red eye, which stared into the fire with a silent intensity.

    The eye blinked and slowly gazed away, peering into the darkness.

    It belonged to one of three figures. The trio were Digimon, all of whom sat around a small campfire inside of a cave. They stayed near the mouth of the cavern, so that they could still see outside into the starry night. If it weren’t for the campfire, the cave would be completely dark.

    The Digimon who was the owner of the single eye blended right into the darkness. He had the body of a humanoid insect Digimon, and that body was covered by a hard, black carapace that shimmered in the orange light. Over this thick, protective exoskeleton was ebony armour that was just as dark. It covered the upper part of his chest, his shoulders, his forearms, and his shins. Below the long, black greaves covering his legs were his feet, from which three, long, sharp claws extended from each foot. The vambraces he wore over his forearms doubled as deadly weapons from which claws could extend and retract. They were known as Gran Killers, and their claws were almost as long as the insect Digimon’s arm.

    His bug-like features were obvious. He had an insectoid head that was long and pointed, and he had a red, compound eye that gleamed against the flames. He also had a fearsome, serrated mouth, and long, scissor-like mandibles extending from his cheeks. They looked like they could snap a Digimon in half in a single chop. Additionally, he had four, long, irregular wings protruding from his back. They were formed in an ‘X‘-shape and seemed to have a bright, orange glow around their edges, which was less intense when he wasn’t flying. However, he had humanoid features aside from his body shape. Resting on his semi-crossed legs were his black hands, which had four fingers and a thumb. He also had long, thick, orange-red hair coming out of the back of his head. As the wind blew smoke and cinders towards him from the mouth of the cave, the hair swayed gently in the breeze. Finally, decorating the armour and pincers were jagged, grey stripes, which added to his dark, intimidating appearance.

    The GrandisKuwagamon closed his eye and bowed his head. He appeared to be meditating.

    Sitting next to him was a Digimon of similar stature, although maybe a bit bulkier. Although he had an insect-theme as well, he was much more humanoid in nature. His upper body was covered with dark bluish-purple armour that covered his chest from his abdomen to his neck. On the front was a yellow plate that matched the yellow trimming of his body armour as well as the thick armour over his forearms. This Digimon had a brawny form, evidenced by the thick, spiked, metal shoulder pads flanking his head. His legs were also covered, by greaves and boots. He also had plates covering his knees and quadriceps, which had the symbol of Thunder on them. Underneath all this armour was a dirty, orange jumpsuit that he wore from his neck to ankle. It was held up by belts and metal cuffs, and it served to cover his skin.

    Like GrandisKuwagamon, he had wings coming out of his back. The thin, insect wings were covered by large, blue plates, which protruded from the back of his body armour, which also had AncientBeetlemon’s sigil of Thunder on his back. His humanoid head was protected by a blue helmet. Extending from his forehead was a long, hooked, azure horn.

    The Blitzmon lay on his back with his hands behind his head, his calculating emerald eyes staring up at the dark roof of the cave.

    The final Digimon sat on the opposite side of the fire from them, nearer to the cavern’s entrance. He had a similar appearance to Blitzmon thematically, but there were many differences. For one, he was much bigger. At a standing height, GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon only came up to just under his shoulders, excluding Blitzmon’s horn. This Digimon was much more mechanical and insect-like. While he had the same dark bluish-violet and yellow colour scheme as Blitzmon, his lower body consisted of armoured tank treads, valves, and pipes for pressurized gases. With those, he could roll or hover across the ground seamlessly. He also wore armour over his bulky upper body. He had broad shoulders that were covered by black pauldrons. Extending from these were long arms that had electrical cannons over the ends of them, resembling Gatling guns. On the end of his cannons, between the barrels, were plus signs, emphasizing his electrical nature. Right below these arms were a pair of smaller arms, which ended with claws. They drummed against the armour covering his treads agitatedly.

    Under that heavy armour, he also wore an orange jumpsuit that covered his upper body and both pairs of arms. He had a thick, sturdy head that was covered with metal. Like Blitzmon, he had a long horn protruding from his head, but his was much thicker and more resilient. Instead of a simple horn, it was actually a heavy cannon that was linked to a targeting system inside his body. When targeting, a screen could emerge from his back and aid him in aiming his turret.

    The Bolgmon had wide, green eyes and shrunken pupils. There was a wild, slightly unhinged look in his eyes that was only made worse when he let electricity spark between his two arm cannons. With a broad grin behind his metal mask, Bolgmon watched the strands of electricity shoot back and forth, lighting up his features further.

    He then looked up, his psychotic smirk disappearing. “…So!” he spoke, addressing his two companions. “How long until we can get out of this shit hole?”

    GrandisKuwagamon opened his eye and looked across the fire at him. “What’s the hurry, Bolg?” he asked him with a grin. “Still claustrophobic?”

    “Screw off,” Bolgmon retorted with a glare. “D’you like sleeping in the dirt, Grandis? I thought we were done with that crap years ago!”

    “Can’t be helped,” Blitzmon spoke up, sitting up again and looking over at the cyborg Digimon. “After that battle at the World Tree eight months ago, the Royal Knights have really been cracking down on mercenary teams because of all the mercs involved in the battle.”

    “Tch,” GrandisKuwagamon scoffed. “They could have at least taken that damn tree down…” he muttered.

    “…Of course, they only go after the more unscrupulous teams and companies like ours,” Blitzmon continued. “The moral, do-gooder ‘mercenary’ groups get a free pass.”

    “Kowloon’s got hundreds of members but those knights still want to take us down?” Bolgmon asked. “Our company’s only got three members; the three of us!”

    “Maybe, but you saw the wanted posters yourself, remember?” GrandisKuwagamon reminded him. “We’re small but effective. Not to mention the messes we left behind on a few jobs. I’m not surprised we showed up in their sights.”

    Blitzmon nodded. “We should think about moving that fire deeper into the cave. If any scouts pass by, they’ll be able to see it.”

    Bolgmon glanced into the dark of the cave and then over his shoulder to the outside. “You guys go ahead. No frigging way I’m going in there.”

    “See? Wimp,” GrandisKuwagamon said with a smirk.

    “Fuck you,” Bolgmon answered. “We should just chance it and go to an inn in a town. If anybody recognizes us, we can fight our way out.”

    “And draw even more attention to ourselves,” GrandisKuwagamon sarcastically spoke. “Great idea.” He stood to his feet and folded his arms across his chest. “No, we should lay low for another few days and then do the job.”

    “I agree,” Blitzmon said.

    Bolgmon rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I’m still not going in there.”

    “Fine, just don’t get seen,” GrandisKuwagamon told him dismissively.

    “I don’t have bolts for brains,” Bolgmon retorted.

    “No; if anything, I’d say you’ve got a few screws loose,” GrandisKuwagamon said to him. He walked over to the fire and kicked at a branch, causing cinders and smoke to billow into the air. “So don’t blast anybody either.”

    Bolgmon let out a laugh. “That’s up to them!” he exclaimed enthusiastically.

    “I know you like target practice, but you won’t be laughin’ when all twelve Royal Knights come crashing down on your big, metal ass,” GrandisKuwagamon reminded him. “Worse, I don’t want to get cornered in a cave because you’re blast-happy.”

    “Cripes. Relax. I was only kidding,” Bolgmon responded with a roll of his eyes.

    “Tell me that when you have a hapless flying Digimon in your sights, begging you to shoot him,” GrandisKuwagamon countered with a smirk. “You can’t resist.”

    The insect-like tank Digimon rolled over the ground towards them a few feet. “Like you’re the bastion of self control, Grandis,“ he sarcastically said.

    “Epitome of self control,” Blitzmon corrected.

    “Whatever. The point stands,” the larger Digimon said. He frowned and looked out of the mouth of the cave. “Why don’t we just leave? We can prob’ly reach Facture by morning if we travel all night.”

    “Bolgmon has a point, GrandisKuwagamon,” Blitzmon decided, looking over at the black beetle man Digimon. “It’d be safer travelling at night than during the day, too.”

    “And here I was looking forwards to sleeping,” GrandisKuwagamon sardonically replied, adjusting the Gran Killers on his wrists.

    “We can crash out at an inn there when we arrive and then do the job at night,” Blitzmon suggested.

    “Tch. Fine. You convinced me, Blitz,” the ebony insect conceded. “Anything to keep Bolgie from bitching about confined spaces.”

    Bolgmon growled a bit. He rolled his treads over the fire, snuffing it out in a flood of smoke and ash. “Good. Let’s go.”

    “Hit a nerve apparently,” GrandisKuwagamon mused, smirking and heading out of the cave. “D’you even have those?”

    “Why don’t you hit the one in my elbow and see if I accidentally shoot you?” Bolgmon challenged.

    “Hey, now. Save that aggression for our job,” GrandisKuwagamon told him with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Our client said that there’d definitely be guards protecting the target. They’re disposable.”

    Bolgmon smiled darkly. “Can’t wait…”

    “Just try not to level the block,” Blitzmon added. “Security is extremely tight there, and the D-Brigade is tremendously disciplined, even if those tin cans are neutral.”

    GrandisKuwagamon nodded and walked out into the shadows of the cliff they stood under. He looked up and saw the mountain towering over them. “Slip in, eliminate the guards, grab the prints, slip out, get paid enough money to last us until next summer. Sound good?”

    “Very,” Blitzmon responded, smirking and cracking his knuckles as electricity sparked between his hands.

    “Oh, yeah. Let’s kick some ass,” Bolgmon agreed with a psychotic grin.

    GrandisKuwagamon turned his back to them and walked out into the grass. Shadows passed over his blood red eye. “Okay, Black Pincer Company. Let’s move out…”
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2019
  2. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Author's Notes: Oh god. One chapter in and I already have to split the post? Great... Oh well.)


    Chapter 1: The Party​


    The metal door of a tavern opened.

    The inn was quiet. Only a few Digimon sat at the tables and at the bar counter. They were all machine Digimon.

    The floors and walls were made of a smooth, dark grey metal and the public area was illuminated by lanterns. Standing behind the bar was a broad-bodied, metal barkeep. His thick body was covered with a copper-like metal, and he had several pipes, vents, and valves on him. When the door opened, the Guardromon looked over.

    The first Digimon that he saw emerge from the door was GrandisKuwagamon, who casually strode up to the bar. Directly behind him were Blitzmon and Bolgmon, who followed him until he reached the bar. They stood at the counter and looked at the Guardromon bartender.

    “Two organics, one synthetic,” GrandisKuwagamon told him, leaning forwards and resting his arms on the counter. “Can you serve us?”

    “Affirmative,” the Guardromon responded. “While we don’t exactly get many outsiders here, we have plenty of organic Digimon around, especially in the D-Brigade.” He prepared some metal glasses. “What would you like?”

    “A pint of WarGreymon’s Finest,” GrandisKuwagamon told him.

    “I’m afraid we aren’t the Royal Knights; we don’t carry that brand of fine ale here,” the Guardomon barkeep responded.

    GrandisKuwagamon rolled his eye. “Whatever. I’m guessing you don’t have any mead either… Okay. I’m no snob. Just give me whatever beer you have as long as it’s stronger than tap water.”

    “Very well. A pint of rust lager,” the Guardromon said, stepping over to the beer tap and pulling the insect Digimon a pint.

    “I’ll have that too,” Blitzmon spoke up.

    Bolgmon leaned his arms on the bar counter as GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon sat down on a couple of stools. “Gimme a double shot of requiem oil.”

    “Of course,” the bartender said, placing a frothing glass of beer in front of GrandisKuwagamon.

    GrandisKuwagamon took the glass in his hand and brought it up to his insect-like mouth to drink it. He knocked back a large mouthful and swallowed it with a sigh. “…By the way, can we have a room or two for a day?”

    “We have several vacancies, so yes,” the Guardromon replied, getting the other two drinks. “What brings you three to Facture? Not many foreign Digimon receive the clearance to enter the city… Are you guests at the party tonight?”

    “Party?” GrandisKuwagamon asked. “Nah… We’re here on business. We‘re travelling merchants, so we go from place to place, selling our services…”

    “Yeah. We’ll make some serious shockwaves in the industry around here before we’re done,” Bolgmon spoke up, ending with a fierce cackle.

    Subtle,” Blitzmon thought to himself, giving Bolgmon a look before looking back at the Guardromon. “Our products have caught the attention of the Metal Empire. We’re confident that they want to buy the license and adapt them for themselves.”

    “Ah. Well, the very best of luck to you in your endeavours,” the Guardomon told them. He gave Blitzmon a glass of beer like GrandisKuwagamon’s, and then slid a large shot glass filled with a black liquid with tinges of purple and green to Bolgmon. “Thank you for your patronage. Please excuse me while I fetch the room keys from the back.”

    “Sure,” GrandisKuwagamon replied dismissively as the Guardromon stepped into a back room. When he was gone, GrandisKuwagamon glanced around the inn before turning to his two comrades. “Nobody said anything about a party tonight.”

    “It’s fine,” Bolgmon assured him, eyeing his potent, alcohol-infused-oil drink. “The target building is a ways away from the crowded parts of the city.”

    “They’ll still probably step up their security,” GrandisKuwagamon countered.

    “Or they’ll divert the security to the party instead,” Blitzmon suggested in a low tone. “Either way, we should still go ahead with the plan tonight. We can’t afford to stay here long; they have security to the point of paranoia around here. It won’t be long until someone realizes we don’t have clearance.”

    “Fine by me,” GrandisKuwagamon answered. “After these drinks, let’s go to our rooms and crash out until then. I’m beat.”

    Blitzmon nodded. “We’ll need a good rest for what’s to come.”

    Bolgmon smirked. “They won’t know what hit them…”

    -

    The grey sky turned dark as night overtook a sweeping city.

    The city was grey and metallic throughout – the buildings mainly used steel and other types of metals for their construction materials - and it showed. A wide river (called the Rust River) ran along the west edge of the city before curving and draining into the ocean on the western side of the continent. The whole city was dark, uniform, and industrial. It looked like it had been very meticulously planned and developed with utmost organization. It was designed in a way that favoured efficiency as well.

    There were very wide roads filled with street lamps that were fueled by oil in some areas of the city and electricity in other areas. All of the roads and walkways were made of smooth, flat steel, so metal surfaces coated the city. Every so often, some pipes leading from the ground and buildings would expel bursts of steam.

    Along the river were a few guarded bridges leading across the river to the other side of the city. Also on the river, were large, metallic, electricity-producing water wheels that were protected by tall, electrified fences and guard towers with spotlights. These fences were actually quite common, as there were several around the foremost manufactories, workshops, and research facilities of the city.

    This city was Facture. The capital of the Metal Empire. The Metal Empire was a territory of a robotic and cyborg Digimon who remained neutral and distanced from world affairs. Instead of looking outwards, they looked inwards at their own society, building it up and advancing their technology. Their technology was superior to anybody else in the Digital World, and their economy was flourishing. All of the industries were owned by the state, which Emperor Chaosdramon was the head of. However, society was extremely rigid and controlled. Trade was monopolized by the government. There was always a fear of espionage - that outsiders would get their hands on the Metal Empire’s technology and copy it, so security was enforced stringently. Also, since the government was so wide-reaching in the society, those that worked for it had much more money than the average Digimon of the Metal Empire.

    On the outskirts of the city was a massive military base belonging to the D-Brigade. The D-Brigade was the Metal Empire’s highly disciplined, elite army which doubled as a police force and a counter-espionage force. They maintained the security and the neutrality of the Metal Empire. The D-Brigade was incredibly efficient and well-trained, and they had some of the most high tech weaponry around.

    In Facture’s center, along the edge of the river, was a huge palace. Both the inside and yard were illuminated, and the building was large enough to comfortably fit Emperor Chaosdramon. Due to his sheer weight, however, the building could only sustain one level. Spotlights surrounded the gated palace gardens, from which fireworks were launched into the sky in a show of pomp.

    Chaosdramon was hosting a grand party of notable guests from all over the continent. There were monarchs, leaders, aristocrats, councillors, key political players, and other prominent or powerful Digimon.

    Among these guests were the Royal Knights.

    Parties like this were rarely as simple as a friendly get-together. They were marketplaces for high level diplomacy. Digimon would come and talk about world affairs and to ensure their place in the Digital World. Friendships were made, alliances were formed, information was shared, rumours traded… The Royal Knights, being prominent participants, had to attend. It was their duty to, as defenders as the Digital World. It was also in their best interests. Despite the fact that the Order was largely self-sufficient, it never hurt to have allies or to be in the know of continental and world affairs. They also still had to maintain their prestige, after it had been brought into question by DarkKnightmon’s actions against the World Tree eight months ago.

    “Alphamon. I am so glad that you made it,” a growly, hollow, monotonous voice spoke.

    Alphamon stood in an extravagant ballroom. Gold and silver coloured the walls and thick, beige and white marble tiled the floors. The spacious room was filled with Digimon of all shapes and sizes. The back of the room was gated, but the gates had been opened to allow access to the back garden. Elegant, classical music flowed through the palace, giving the pompous party a regal feeling.

    The leader of the Royal Knights looked up at a huge Digimon. The Digimon was a giant, bipedal, cyborg dragon Digimon. He was plated in heavy, red digizoid armour which he wore over his grey scales, which were covered with glowing, crimson, graph-like lines. Over this armour, he was actually dressed in a giant, custom-made, black tuxedo. His left arm had a giant set of claws, and his right arm were claws in the form of a crushing vice. These clamp-like claws held, with remarkable delicacy, an oversized champagne flute that was filled with oil.

    Alphamon, who was dressed in a black tuxedo with a white undershirt and a black tie, lightly held the glass of red wine in his hand and smiled up at Emperor Chaosdramon. “Thank you for having us, Chaosdramon,” he politely answered. “It’s not every day that we have the chance to relax like this.”

    Standing beside Alphamon was Omegamon. Alphamon’s second in command wore a pristine, white tuxedo with light blue buttons and cufflinks, matching white pants, and a white bowtie. Omegamon, being the reserved, soft-spoken Digimon that he was, wasn’t entirely comfortable at parties. He especially didn’t want to be asked about what had happened with him during DarkKnightmon’s Coup. He had stayed near Alphamon and followed him around since arriving; Alphamon was more outgoing and confident in these situations, so it put Omegamon at ease to be near him.

    The white knight nursed a small glass of white wine and looked up at Chaosdramon to hear his response.

    “I would think not,” Chaosdramon breathed. “Unlike us, the Royal Knights are so active in worldly affairs. Coming to the rescue of those weaker than you with no personal gain… There are perks to being neutral, I suppose.” When the giant machine Digimon noticed a lack of a response, he reiterated in his mechanical voice. “That was a joke.”

    Alphamon chuckled. “I suppose that’s a valid point of view.”

    Emperor Chaosdramon nodded his metal, draconic head. “I suppose you all have been busy, following that business at the World Tree earlier this year.”

    At this, Omegamon looked off to the side quietly and brought this glass up to his face.

    Alphamon glanced at Omegamon, noticing the movement, but looked back at Chaosdramon and answered. “Yes, we have been. However, things are more or less back to normal now. Isn’t that right, Omegamon?” he asked, looking over at the white-clothed knight with a smile.

    Omegamon tensed up slightly at being expected to speak. “Um, yes,” he answered sheepishly, reflexively bringing his other hand up and fingering at this bowtie. “Things are running smoothly again.”

    “That is good to hear. Efficiency is the best policy,” Chaosdramon told them. “Everything should run like a well-kept, well-oiled machine. That is what brings such prosperity to the Metal Empire.”

    “Surely the Digimon who live here have something to do with it,” Alphamon suggested.

    “Because they are disciplined,” Chaosdramon contended. “The success of the Metal Empire lies in its order – the structure, discipline, and cooperation of Digimon at all levels. There is no room for chaotic elements seeking to undermine us here.”

    At this, Alphamon frowned. Chaosdramon’s words reminded him of DarkKnightmon all too much. Order at all costs, is what Chaosdramon meant. The rhetoric sounded like it could easily come out of DarkKnightmon’s mouth, said in such a way that made it sound like he had a point. It made Alphamon feel ill-at-ease.

    The Royal Knights were suspicious of Chaosdramon and the Metal Empire. They were well aware of the dark side of this seemingly flourishing empire. There were rumours that Digimon who spoke out against Chaosdramon’s regime were eliminated. This included political rivals who opposed him when he took power, dissenters, and even Digimon who seemed distrustful, so the rumours said.

    There was an undercurrent of oppression and suspicion in the Metal Empire. As the most industrious and technologically advanced state in the Digital World, there was a constant worry that their technologies and blueprints would be stolen and copied. If that happened, it would cause other Digimon to compete with the Metal Empire, which would destroy the prosperity that they had and render their main exports worthless. This meant that, despite the fact that the Metal Empire was neutral in all conflicts, they would treat spies sent by other states as enemy combatants, capture them, and execute them in secret. Because of the fear of espionage, they wouldn’t allow their Digimon to leave their territory. This was all done to ensure the Metal Empire’s prosperity.

    Very few of the average Digimon of the Metal Empire knew about this, and if they did, they kept very quiet about it for fear of reprisal. The only reason that the Royal Knights knew about this was through rumours from their scouts, spies, and from their head of the technical division, MetallifeKuwagamon. Being defenders of the Digital World, the Royal Knights always kept a close eye on the Metal Empire. However, the Metal Empire never acted aggressively and the Royal Knights never had any solid proof of these oppressive measures or disappearances, so they couldn’t act in good conscience. There was also the fact that the Metal Empire had the D-Brigade, a very large and a very loyal army, so if the Royal Knights were to act against the Metal Empire’s regime, it would likely mean a very violent war. With that said, the Royal Knights never entirely took their eyes off the Metal Empire and they weren’t going to leave it alone just for those reasons. They bided their time and waited for other options and opportunities.

    Meanwhile, they attended Chaosdramon’s party, and both sides acted as though they were on good terms.

    “I see… And what do you define as chaotic elements?” Alphamon asked him, though trying to be innocuous while doing so.

    Chaosdramon looked down at Alphamon calmly and steadily. “Well-“ He interrupted himself when he noticed something out of the corner of his dark, red eye.

    Through a large, arched, opened window, flew a Digimon with a humanoid body. A mechanical cyborg Digimon covered in emerald-coloured metal flew in and descended towards Chaosdramon with both haste and grace. As he landed at the giant Digimon’s side, Alphamon and Omegamon could see his lean, slender body touch down softly. His green, metal chest was angular, protrusive, and had layers that thinned as they went down to his torso. His collar and the two vents on his chest were lined with gold. The Digimon had long, metal bars for arms, which ended in large vents for some sort of semi-solid particle energy. In fact, they were reproductions of the Critical Arm belonging to the Justimon species. They were connected to the mecha Digimon by two big, round, metal shoulders that were lined with thin, curved blades, making his shoulders look like small turbines. He turned his slender, metal legs towards Chaosdramon and looked up with his uniquely shaped head. His head had a long, pointed V-shape. Coming from the back of his head was a lengthy, narrow, green ponytail that was even longer than Dukemon’s. It swayed behind him as he turned and it possessed four decorative pairs of rose-coloured, spherical hair pins. Behind his head, part of the back of his breastplate was a tall, green, halo-like projection that gave him a majestic appearance. The back side of the green metal was toothed, and on each side was a different golden symbol, one reading “wind” and the opposite one reading “god”.

    “Commander Fujinmon?” Chaosdramon asked him, turning and leering down at him. “What is it?”

    Fujinmon glanced at the two Royal Knights apprehensively. “It’s a sensitive matter, Lord Chaosdramon…” he said to the giant, cyborg dinosaur.

    “Very well, Commander…” Chaosdramon turned to Alphamon and Omegamon. “Apologies, but please excuse me… Duties never cease, even at my own party.”

    “I understand all too well,” Alphamon assured him, nodding gently.

    The two Royal Knights watched as Chaosdramon walked off with Fujinmon to discuss whatever he wanted to speak about. With every heavy footstep, the floor trembled slightly. It would have been worse, but the floor had been specifically built in a way that absorbed heavy impacts.

    “That was strange,” Omegamon spoke, looking over at Alphamon to see what he thought.

    “Rather…” Alphamon agreed, eyeing the two as they disappeared through a giant set of double doors that lead further into the palace. He looked over at Omegamon. “Sorry if I put you on the spot earlier. It looked like you wanted to get off of the topic of DarkKnightmon.”

    “Don’t worry about it…” Omegamon responded with a small smile. “And thanks for the thought.”

    “Are you still sensitive about it?” Alphamon questioned.

    “Never mind that,” Omegamon said, raising his glass of white wine. “We’re supposed to forget our troubles at a party, aren’t we?”

    Alphamon relinquished a smile and raised his glass of red to gently clang it against Omegamon’s. “Then consider it forgotten,” he replied over the light ringing. He brought the glass up to his mouth and sipped from it.

    “Excuse me, am I interrupting?” a deep, growly voice asked.

    The two knights turned to see a large, middle-aged Imperialdramon Dragon Mode approaching them.

    “Councillor Imperialdramon,” Alphamon greeted. “Not at all.”

    “Good,” the quadrupedal dragon said, stepping up to them and looking down. “How are you both enjoying the party?”

    “It isn’t bad,” Alphamon spoke.

    Omegamon nodded in agreement.

    “How are things back in my home country?” Alphamon asked Imperialdramon, knowing that he was one of the Councillors of the Council of Seven that governed the Republic of Node from the capital city of New Terminal.

    “Things are well in the Republic of Node, even if my tenure as Councillor will run out by the end of the year,” Councillor Imperialdramon told them.

    “I’ll be sad to see you go,” Alphamon told him.

    Councillor Imperialdramon chuckled. “Will you?” he asked him. “It’s no secret that the Council of Seven and the Royal Knights don’t exactly get along…”

    Alphamon smiled a bit at this. “That’s true, but that’s not your fault,” he told him. “There are other elements within the council that don’t appreciate us as much as you do…”

    “Yes, well… I would appreciate you all more if you didn’t accept my daughter into your ranks recently…” Councillor Imperialdramon spoke with a furrowed brow.

    Alphamon thought for a moment. “Paildramon, correct?” he asked. “You know that we weren’t the ones that picked the Republic’s team of soldiers as a part of that goodwill effort towards us. You seven voted on it and the commanders of your military handpicked the troops from their own units to transfer to our military.”

    “Yes, I know,” Councillor Imperialdramon said with a sigh. “I don’t regret the decision; your Order needed the replacement troops after the Battle of the World Tree and I believed that it was a good diplomatic effort to mend relations between us. I just wish that my Paildramon didn’t have to be one of the ones to leave.”

    “She’ll be in good hands,” Omegamon assured him, deciding to speak up.

    Imperialdramon nodded, although still frowning. “I suppose it’s the idea that she is in the military at all that bothers me. It was supposed to be my son, but he, well… isn’t interested in the slightest,” he muttered.

    “You should have more faith in your daughter,” Alphamon told him. “Paildramon is an extremely competent soldier, and she has a good, level head on her shoulders. I know she’ll be a huge asset to us.”

    Imperialdramon grunted. “That is kind of you to say…” he murmured, glancing away. “…She won’t thank me at all for saying this to you, but look after her.”

    Alphamon smiled. “We will, although she is more than capable of doing that for herself.”

    “Yes… Rather…” he mumbled. He gave Alphamon and Omegamon a short nod. “Pardon me. I’m going to refill my drink.”

    Alphamon nodded to the Councillor as he meandered away with heavy steps. When he walked off, Alphamon turned to Omegamon. “How do the others seem?”

    “They generally seem to be enjoying themselves,” Omegamon explained, looking around. “They’re socializing with the other guests.”

    “No sign of Gankoomon?” Alphamon asked, gazing across the expansive room. “I was hoping he’d change his mind and come in.”

    “You know how stubborn he can be,” Omegamon responded. “Then again, he does have a point. You can’t really see him attending one of these elegant, grandiose parties, can you?”

    “Maybe not, but this sort of thing comes with being a Royal Knight. He’s going to have to get used to it,” Alphamon explained. “Dynasmon was the same way a long time ago, but he doesn’t complain about it anymore.”

    -

    “Man, I hate coming to these things…” Dynasmon muttered. He looked down at the large, black tuxedo over his muscular body. Under it was a white dress shirt and a pale violet neck tie, and his wings sprouted from the back of the suit. “I look like a total fop.”

    “Oh, don’t be ridiculous,” RhodoKnightmon protested. On his lean body, he wore a pink, gold-trimmed tailcoat that had a red rose in his jacket pocket. Along with this was a white cravat around his neck, long, goldish-beige pants over his legs, and tall, black boots. “You look very sharp and sexy in a suit.”

    “Well of course you’d say that…” Dynasmon responded dismissively, gesturing to RhodoKnightmon’s extravagant attire.

    “Of course! My fashion sense is impeccable, as you well know,” Rhodo replied.

    “It’s all of your other senses that’re the problem,” Craniamon added from beside them. Like them, he wore a full suit as well, though it was dark purple in colour. He also had a dark blue scarf that he wore snugly around his neck. In Craniamon’s hand was a glass of semi-sweet, blue wine that came from the north part of the continent.

    “Oh, hush, you,” said RhodoKnightmon with a quick look.

    Dynasmon rolled his eyes. “There isn’t even any beer here. I hate wine…” he murmured.

    “Really. It sounds like you love to whine,” Craniamon teased. Dynasmon gave him a strong elbow that nearly made Craniamon spill his wine.

    “You could always go outside and keep Gankoomon company,” RhodoKnightmon proposed.

    Dynasmon gave it some thought. “Yeeeeah, maybe…” He trailed off when something caught his eye. He looked up and saw the beautiful, feminine body of a Rosemon striding towards them in a red evening dress. When he looked up at her face, she smiled at him. “Maybe I’ll stay here…” he finished with a broad, dopey grin on his face.

    The other two knights rolled their eyes.

    “Good evening, Sir Dynasmon,” she greeted him first. “Sir Craniamon, Sir RhodoKnightmon.”

    “Councillor,” Craniamon said with a nod.

    “Good evening, milady Councillor,” Dynasmon responded with a wink. “But we don’t need to be so formal, do we?”

    “No? I suppose we don’t…” Rosemon told him with an enticing smile.

    “You look very pretty this evening, if you don’t mind me saying so,” Dynasmon said to her, his smile broadening.

    “Why, thank you. And you look quite dashing in that tuxedo,” the Councillor answered, admiring him.

    “Thank you, my lady.”

    She smiled and offered her arm. “Would you care to take a walk with me? I would love to hear of some of your gallant adventures.”

    “But of course,” Dynasmon said, his voice decidedly more formal than it was before. He gently locked arms with her and began to walk with her, away from the other two Royal Knights. “And what would you like to hear about first?”

    “Hmm…” Rosemon mused, stepping in tandem with Dynasmon. “Perhaps we should go somewhere more private first?”

    Dynasmon raised his eyebrow and smiled wider. “Like where, Councillor?”

    “A guest bedroom, perhaps?” she offered, smiling at him. “Then you can tell me all about it… and more.”

    The dragon man smirked and his cheeks went a bit red at the idea. “That sounds good to me…” he responded.

    “Come. This way,” she told him, pulling his arm and leading him through a large set of doors, further into the palace.

    RhodoKnightmon and Craniamon watched as they disappeared from sight.

    “…What a forward woman,” RhodoKnightmon uttered with an indignant huff.

    “No more forward than you,” Craniamon told him with a small grin. “You’re just jealous. He liked her rose more than yours.”

    “Ugh! Don’t be ridiculous, Craniamon,” the pink Royal Knight replied dismissively.

    “She’s from the Council of Seven, right?” Craniamon asked him. “From the Republic of Node?”

    “I believe so,” RhodoKnightmon answered. “At any rate, help me with my search.”

    “Your search?” Craniamon asked, idly swirling the blue wine around in his glass. He had been tuning him out before. “For what, again?”

    “A boyfriend for Alphamon,” RhodoKnightmon responded, looking around the party for Digimon. “I’ve located a few possible suitors for him.”

    “OuRyuumon’s gonna love this,” Craniamon muttered sarcastically.

    RhodoKnightmon readjusted the rose in his pocket before placing his hands on his hips. “Councillor DORUGoramon.”

    “He and Alphamon can’t stand each other.”

    “KaiserGreymon, AncientGarurumon, Anubismon,” RhodoKnightmon suggested.

    “The Warrior Ten didn’t even come to the party.”

    “Gaiomon, Goddramon, Butenmon.”

    “You know… he still likes girls as well as guys,” Craniamon reminded him, beginning to think that RhodoKnightmon was conveniently forgetting that part for his own preferences.

    RhodoKnightmon pretended not to hear him. “Seraphimon, Omegamon, Jupitermon…”

    Craniamon palmed his face and shook his head. “There are things wrong with each of those,” he retorted. “I don’t think you have a good grasp of this matchmaking thing, Rhodo. You’re just listing attractive male Digimon…” Craniamon sighed and raised his glass to drink from it. “Don’t you need to bring personality and chemistry into it?”

    “That is precisely what I am doing!” RhodoKnightmon countered. “He has chemistry with most of those Digimon.”

    “Uh huh… I think you’re reading too much into it,” Craniamon said with a roll of his eyes. “Besides, if Alphamon wants a relationship again, then he can make that decision himself.”

    “Do you honestly think he would pursue his romantic interests after all of the baggage of the last year?” RhodoKnightmon asked. “He needs a helping push!”

    “Why don’t you focus on getting yourself a boyfriend instead?” the violet-suited Royal Knight suggested dryly.

    “I think not. Where is the fun in that? It is far too much effort,” RhodoKnightmon said with a dismissive wave of his hand. However, he turned to Craniamon with a twinkle in his mask. “Unless, of course, you are offering…”

    Craniamon immediately took a step back. “No.”

    -

    Meanwhile, Examon, Dukemon, and Sleipmon all stood together over near one of the large windows.

    Dukemon wore a standard black tuxedo, white undershirt, and red tie over his form. However, Examon and Sleipmon, due to their unique bodies, went a different route. Sleipmon wore a white suit, shirt, and pale purple bowtie over the humanoid part of his body, and black, specially tailored pants for his six-legged, equine lower body. Examon simply wore his regular - albeit polished - armour and a black bowtie around his neck. This was partly because he preferred it this way, but mostly because it was impossible to even custom tailor a suit that would accommodate his giant Caledfwlch wings, his arm wings, and his shoulder spikes. However, he did agree to wear a pair of black dress pants which had a hole for his long tail to jut out of.

    “I don’t see why we have to come here at all,” Dukemon said with a frown. “It doesn’t feel right, putting on fake smiles and acting friendly with an autocrat like Chaosdramon.”

    “I know what you mean,” Sleipmon conceded, rubbing the back of his head, his fingers sifting through his violet hair. “But I think this is one of those things that we have to grin and bear. It’s for the sake of diplomacy, isn’t it?”

    “I know, but still. I feel like a total hypocrite,” Dukemon responded with a sharp exhale. “If anything, we should be taking this guy down for the way he treats the Digimon who live here.”

    “We don’t actually have any proof of that…” Examon said to him. He held a glass of red wine in his hand but it didn’t look like he had taken a single sip of it. “Even if the sources are reliable.”

    “Yeah, yeah…” Dukemon said, placing his empty wine glass down on the nearby table before folding his arms.

    “Anyways, we probably shouldn’t talk about that here,” Sleipmon advised, looking around carefully. “You have to be careful about what you say at parties. You never know who’s listening.”

    “That’s another thing I don’t like,” the crimson knight spoke curtly.

    Examon smiled at him. “It’s just a few more hours, Dukemon.”

    “Don’t think of it as being here for Chaosdramon,” Sleipmon advised. “We’re getting things out of being here too.”

    “I guess…” Dukemon muttered. He looked around to see if there were any Digimon he recognized nearby.

    Examon glanced about too. “I don’t see any of the Warrior Ten here,” he pointed out.

    “That’s because KaiserGreymon made it very clear that he doesn’t like Chaosdramon,” Dukemon informed him. “He publically called Chaosdramon out on being a tyrannical slave-driver. …His words, but I cleaned them up for Sleipmon’s delicate ears.” The humanoid knight cast a smile to the horse Digimon.

    “Very kind of you,” Sleipmon told him, though smiling a bit. “So are they banned or boycotting it?”

    “Depends who you ask,” Dukemon responded with a shrug. “Maybe both.”

    “I doubt we’d find anything out of place if we looked around,” Examon mused.

    “Definitely not. Emperor Chaosdramon’s smart. He probably spent the last week making sure that everything’s clean and tidy for this party,” Dukemon explained.

    Sleipmon glanced past him and over to the back door that lead to the yard. There was a big, red, sturdy Digimon standing guard at the door. He had brawny, metallic body covered with crimson metal that was lined with gold. The indoor light reflected cleanly off the thick metal. Like Sleipmon, his upper body was semi-humanoid (if that) and his lower body was more bestial in nature. He had four, sturdy legs and a long, flexible tail. His upper body was more mechanical, with two, massive arms that were modelled off of the Justimon species’ Accel Arm. They lead to two thick shoulders with large cannons sticking out of them. Just above them were two more giant cannons that had a likeness to those of a Mugendramon. His body and his head were one and the same, and he had two, large red eyes that stared at Sleipmon from the openings in his armour.

    “I think we’re attracting attention,” Sleipmon mumbled at Dukemon and Examon sheepishly.

    Dukemon looked over at the large Digimon and waved amiably. “That Suijinmon guy? I think I’ll go introduce myself.” He walked past the two and began to make his way over to the guard.

    Examon and Sleipmon exchanged worried glances. “Dukemon, wait a second…” Sleipmon cautioned.

    “It’s good to be sociable at parties!” Dukemon dismissively responded over his shoulder.

    Examon frowned. “Sure, but…”

    Ignoring their heed, Dukemon strode up to the daunting, bulky Digimon.

    “Hey. Don’t they call you the Waterfall Commander?”

    Suijinmon’s red eyes slowly turned and set upon Dukemon with a calm, intimidating gaze. “Yes.”

    Dukemon smiled and extended his hand. “I’ve heard a lot of stories about you. You’re quite the tactical genius, aren’t you? You got promoted to Commander immediately after your victory in the Pirate Wars.” After a few seconds, he glanced down at his unshaken hand and then back up at Suijinmon.

    “…Pardon me. I’m on guard duty for Lord Chaosdramon,” Suijinmon rumbled stoically.

    Dukemon grinned and stepped forwards. “Oh, come on, Commander. It’s a party! You should loosen up a little. What do you drink? Requiem oil? Oil-wine infusion?” he asked, reaching out and placing his hand on Suijinmon’s lower shoulder cannon, once again breaching the limits of generally accepted personal space, as Dukemon often did. “I’ll even get it for you.”

    At this action, Suijinmon suddenly tensed up. His eyes slowly turned to look at Dukemon’s hand. “Please remove your hand; I don’t like to be touched,” he said, his calm voice containing a subtle tightness of strain and warning.

    Dukemon smiled innocently, unaware that his close proximity was making Suijinmon uncomfortable. “What? Why?”

    “I just… do not…” Suijinmon told him, his calm voice brimming with an emotion.

    “Come on, I’m not--"

    Suijinmon became visible agitated. “Remove your hand now! I don’t like to be touched!” he suddenly shouted.

    The crimson knight raised his hands diplomatically and backed off a step. “Sorry, sorry…” he responded, a bead of sweat running down his head.

    “What did you do now, Dukemon?” Sleipmon asked, walking over with Examon.

    “Nothing!” Dukemon protested sheepishly. “I was just being friendly…”

    “Pardon my friend,” a voice said.

    Walking in from outside, through the door that Suijinmon was standing beside, was a humanoid cyborg Digimon. He was clad in bright gold armour from head to toe. He had massive, silver, mechanical hands that were based off of Justimons’ Blitz Arms. In one of his hands was a glass of bluish purple wine which indicated, unlike Suijinmon and Fujinmon, he was off duty. He had a bulky upper body with broad shoulders that gave him an intimidating appearance, although less so when standing beside the larger Suijinmon. Over his shoulders were four, large barrels hooked together in a half ring above his head. They seemed to exist for the purpose of generating electricity. On the faces of the two lower barrels were a minus and plus sign, respectively. On the two barrels above them were two symbols, one reading “thunder” and the other reading “god”. He had a yellow helmeted head that was surrounded by the collar of his armour. Below the bladed crest on his helmet was a pair of yellow eyes that had an intense but affable look to them. Trailing behind him was his tail which consisted of several, thick, intertwined, yellow wires and ended in an electrical plug. He had red dots and double comma-shaped futatsudomoe symbols on various parts of his armour.

    The Raijinmon placed his hand on Suijinmon’s back, which didn’t elicit the same negative reaction from the red machine Digimon. “He doesn’t mean to be rude, but he doesn’t like people who he doesn’t trust touching him,” the yellow cyborg explained.

    “Hmph,” Suijinmon huffed, apparently calm again, although still indignant.

    “Oh, sorry… Didn’t mean any offence,” Dukemon explained, smiling awkwardly and rubbing the back of his head. “You’re Raijinmon, aren’t you? The Thunderclap Commander?” he asked, extending his hand towards him.

    Raijinmon took his hand and shook it with an amicable smile. “That’s correct. It’s nice to formally meet you, Dukemon. You’re looking well.”

    “Thank you,” Dukemon responded, returning the firm shake. “I’ll take any compliment from the leader of the D-Brigade’s three Storm Commanders.” He then managed a smile. “How is it that you’re off duty but Suijinmon and Fujinmon aren’t?”

    “Luck of the draw,” Raijinmon responded.

    “Lord Chaosdramon prefers you the most of the three of us,” Suijinmon pointed out, looking at his gold comrade.

    “Moving on, how are you three enjoying the party?” Raijinmon asked the Royal Knights, brushing off Suijinmon’s comment.

    “Quite a bit, thanks,” Sleipmon replied, offering a smile.

    “It’s an honour to have such prestigious Digimon attending,” Raijinmon went on. “I would love to be as renowned as all of you, one day.”

    “It’s not all autographs and fan mail, you know,” Dukemon responded, grinning. “Some fans write these weird stories about us.”

    “I think some of them are charming,” Sleipmon suggested with a chuckle.

    “Duftmon says they’re uninspired, amateurish, self-indulgent drivel,” Examon spoke, thinking to himself about the last time the topic had come up.

    “That’s just because one of the stories Ulforce showed him involved Duftmon falling in love with Alphamon,” Dukemon said with a hearty laugh.

    Raijinmon folded his arms and frowned. “That may have been my story…” he informed them with some annoyance in his tone. “I had a copy mailed to the Order for fact-checking and constructive criticism but I never received a reply…”

    Dukemon slowly turned back to face Raijinmon, smiling sheepishly as another bead of sweat rolled down the back of his neck. “R…Really…”

    Sleipmon mumbled to Examon. “Dukemon’s doing great tonight,” he sarcastically said.

    “Maybe we should rescue him,” Examon agreed.

    Dukemon chuckled awkwardly and scratched his cheek with a finger. “Oh, that one! I loved that one! You really – er – captured Duftmon’s essence well!” he exclaimed trying his best to backpedal out of the hole that he dug for himself.

    Raijimon leered at Dukemon blandly. “I made it as factually accurate as I could. Was I wrong to include the sexual tension with Alphamon that I noticed in Duftmon’s published memoires and journals?”

    Apart from the fact that he doesn’t have a romantic bone in his body?” Dukemon thought to himself. “Not at all!”

    -

    The night continued to loom over the city of Facture. The grey clouds sprawled across the sky, blocking moonlight and threatening rain in the near future.

    On the side of the river that was opposite to Emperor Chaosdramon’s estate was one of the several manufactories. It was somewhat separated from the urban part of the district because it had to be fenced off and allow a good line of sight. About a kilometer away, near the edge of the city, was the giant base of the D-Brigade.

    This manufactory was surrounded by an electrified fence and several metal watch towers possessing spotlights that covered 360 degree radiuses. In one of the corner towers, which was somewhat close to the riverbank, was an Andromon on guard duty. He was a cyborg Digimon possessing a humanoid form. He had metal over his slender, partially robotic body. Beside him was a large, thick spotlight that slowly turned via a gyrating gear system that was present at the base of the light. The perpetual movement of the gears created an incessant click-clacking sound as they made the light pivot from one side of the tower to the other. The light scanned the ground and the bank of the river.

    The Andromon stood beside the spotlight and adjusted it every so often. He also kept a look out, himself, although he wasn’t at his most alert. 98% of guard duties were boring and uneventful. He doubted this would be any different.

    He simply gazed across the serene river to the lights coming from Chaosdramon’s palace, which he admired from afar with a bit of envy. The cyborg Digimon glanced up at the sky. “Wonder if it will rain…” he mumbled to himself. He started to analyze the clouds with his optical sensors. “I suspect there’s a 40% chance…”

    The Andromon’s attention was pulled away when he noticed a flash of light out of the corner of his eyes. The spotlight beside him burst with sparks and flickered several times before going dead. The guard backed away with surprise before sneering. The area around the tower was suddenly dark.

    “Damn thing…” he muttered, bending over and starting to tinker with the dead light. “It must have blown a circuit or the bulb… I had better not get blamed for this.”

    As the Andromon fiddled with light, he was unaware of the shadow that slipped in behind him.

    With frustration, he kicked the spotlight and stood up straight again. “Forget it; I’ll go ask for a replacement…”

    It was in that moment that his optical sensor began to sense something looming behind him.

    Before he could react, a black hand reached out from behind him and went in front of his face, covering his mouth. The Andromon’s eyes widened and his sensors began to alert the danger. He started to resist, but he could only release a sharp, muffled yell when three claws pierced into his back and emerged out of the front of his metal body. Oil dripped down his chest and his body shut down before bursting into data.

    Standing behind the cloud of glowing data particles was GrandisKuwagamon, who slowly lowered the Gran Killer that he stabbed the guard with. “You’ll need a replacement. That’s for sure…” he said as he stepped through the data particles, passing by them.

    The black insect Digimon walked to the railing of the watch tower and whistled. He watched as Blitzmon and Bolgmon stealthily emerged from the shadows of the riverbank and began making their way up the metal ground. When they grew close to the electric fence, GrandisKuwagamon flew down and landed on the opposite side of the fence.

    Blitzmon approached the fence and nodded at GrandisKuwagamon. “I’ll do the honours,” he said in a low voice. He grabbed hold of the electric fence, which immediately began to surge with electricity. Blitzmon, however, was a Digimon of electricity, so the effect was much weaker than it would have been. He growled and tore the fence open with a strong heave, creating an opening large enough for Bolgmon to go through.

    “Good. Let’s go before we’re spotted and the D-Brigade comes down on our asses,” GrandisKuwagamon said, turning and heading towards the giant building inside the fenced area. Blitzmon stepped through the fence and Bolgmon rolled in after him.

    The manufactory itself was forty feet high and much, much wider. It was made with light metals, and there were several vents and vapour ducts at various points around the building.

    The three quietly approached in the darkness of the night. Bolgmon rolled up beside the leading two as quietly as his treads would allow. “How do you guys wanna infiltrate?” he asked them in a whisper.

    “With as little attention as possible,” Blitzmon responded, surveying the building carefully as they drew nearer. He turned to GrandisKuwagamon. “Zone Black Hole?”

    “I like to know what my exit looks like when I do that…” GrandisKuwagamon responded hesitantly. “But I guess it beats bashing the door down. These walking scrap heaps have metal rods up their ass ports when it comes to security.”

    Blitzmon nodded. “Then let’s stick with the plan.” He turned to the tank Digimon. “Bolgmon?”

    “Yeah, I’ll cover the exit from out here,” he said, driving towards the wall of the manufactory.

    GrandisKuwagamon stepped up to the side of the building. Nearby, a vent unleashed a surge of warm steam. “Good. Blitzmon and I will infil, find the factory director’s office, get the blueprints, and then exfil.” He looked around warily before turning so that his back was to the building. “Now give me some space.”

    Blitzmon and Bolgmon both reversed several paces, giving GrandisKuwagamon room to move.

    “Slide Evolution.”

    GrandisKuwagamon’s form became encased in a blackish-grey aura that wasn’t too noticeable in the darkness of the night. Within this umbrous aura, GrandisKuwagamon’s body grew substantially in size. While he still retained some of his characteristics like his black exoskeleton, orange hair, and long, jagged pincers, his body became very different. He took on the appearance of a giant, beast-like insect, with four, clawed legs. Instead of one red eye, he had two, and his four wings pointed back. Extending from his sides, between his fore and hind legs, was a pair of arms.

    “GranKuwagamon…”

    As he emerged from the darkness, the insect Digimon’s spiked head looked around to make sure that nobody saw him.

    “We’re fine,” Bolgmon said, glancing around and fidgeting a bit. “Now get a move on.”

    “Get on my back, Blitz,” GranKuwagamon told him. “Keep that big, metal ass of yours outta site, Bolg,”

    “Uh huh. Just don’t fuck up,” Bolgmon retorted, reversing.

    “With the pay this job has? Don’t plan to,” GranKuwagamon answered.

    “And remember, the office should be on the second level near the middle of the building. Overlooking the assembly line,” the large, armoured insect reminded them.

    “We know,” Blitzmon answered, mounting GranKuwagamon’s back.

    GranKuwagamon’s red eyes flashed and his long, scissor-like pincers began to cut through the very fabric of space. “Zone Black Hole!”

    His jagged forceps sliced open the space in front of them, creating an incision that expanded and revealed a large hole leading to a black void. The void in front of him was an inter-spatial rift. Going through it allowed GranKuwagamon to emerge wherever he needed to get to in the general area. He planned to travel through it with Blitzmon in order to get inside the factory.

    The abyss opened itself up to him, inviting him. Without hesitation, GranKuwagamon flapped his wings and flew through. Blitzmon held onto him tightly.

    Bolgmon watched as they went through the tear in space. As soon as the whole of GranKuwagamon’s body went through, the rift shut behind them. It was as if it had never been there.

    A gleeful expression formed on Bolgmon’s face. “This is gonna be a fun night...”

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2015
  3. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post)

    -

    Outside, in the sizeable backyard that overlooked the adjacent river, Magnamon, Duftmon, and UlforceVeedramon stood near some of the other party guests.

    Like the rest of the Royal Knights, they all had formal wear on as well. Magnamon had a dark blue formal vest, pants, and bowtie, and a gold, long-sleeved undershirt. UlforceVeedramon wore a blue suit and a gold tie over a white dress shirt. For leg wear, he had on his blue tights that he always wore with his combat armour. Duftmon was more extravagantly dressed, with a dark brown suit and pants, studded with golden buttons, a white undershirt, and a long, rippling cravat from his neck down to his chest. He also had his usual red sash around his waist, deeming it nice enough to add to his attire.

    “So, Duftmon,” UlforceVeedramon said with a broad grin. “Are you going to go and socialize with all of these Digimon?”

    Duftmon folded his arms. “If I see anybody worth having an intellectual conversation with, then I will speak with them. Otherwise, I won’t waste my time,” he responded.

    “So… unlikely,” UlforceVeedramon joked.

    “I like meeting new Digimon,” Magnamon said, looking around. “There are so many different types of Digimon in the world. So many personalities and stories… It’s interesting.”

    “Not to me,” Duftmon spoke. “What do I care about another Digimon’s life story? Digimon aren’t fascinating; ideas are fascinating. History, sciences, warfare, politics, philosophy, literature… things that are intellectually stimulating. You can’t have a meaningful debate about Digimon…”

    “I think that’s relative, Duftmon…” Magnamon told him.

    “Yeah, we debate about you all the time,” UlforceVeedramon teased the tactician with a playful elbow to his arm.

    Duftmon gave him an annoyed, sideways glance. “Please refrain from scuffing my jacket.”

    UlforceVeedramon’s eyebrow cocked. “Jackets can scuff?”

    Magnamon smiled. However, his attention was drawn away by the thunderous footsteps nearby. He turned and looked up, seeing the tallest, most fearsome Digimon at the party stepping out of the building. A giant, gold and beige-scaled spinosaurus Digimon inadvertently loomed over them as he walked into the night air. He was at least forty feet tall – twice as large as regular Spinomons – and he had a giant, fearsome sail of blades. It was King Spinomon, the monarch of the Mesozoic Kingdom.

    Flying beside his face was Sinduramon, the Rooster Deva and one of Baihumon’s servants. He talked loudly, making no effort to hide their conversation, to try and match King Spinomon’s booming voice.

    “It’s true! Omegamon betrayed the Royal Knights to join DarkKnightmon!” Sinduramon told the giant dinosaur. “I saw it with my own eyes!”

    “When you were their prisoner, you mean?” King Spinomon said thunderously, looking over at the rooster Digimon with a grin in the corner of his oversized mouth.

    Sinduramon flushed momentarily at the memory and then turned his head to look away indignantly. “W-Well… I suppose so. That’s how I know it’s true!”

    “Then what’s he doing in there?” the dinosaur monarch asked, thumbing with his claw over his spiked shoulder. “Wouldn’t the Royal Knights have thrown his ass out?”

    “Oh, the Royal Knights are a bunch of bleeding hearts,” Sinduramon responded dismissively. “That’s why the World Tree took so much damage during DarkKnightmon’s Coup. It’s their fault that Baihumon wanted to pluck my tail feathers out one-by-one.”

    “I think that was your own fault for using your beak too much,” a voice said.

    Both Spinomon and Sinduramon stopped. Spinomon craned his head down and saw Magnamon standing in front of them, arms folded and looking annoyed.

    “This is a private conversation, Magnamon…” the Spinomon monarch told him.

    “Really? Because with the way you two were talking, it sounded like you were addressing the whole party,” Magnamon responded, narrowing his eyes. “Omegamon probably heard you.”

    “This is my speaking voice,” King Spinomon said with a bit of a snarl. He took a threatening step towards Magnamon. Despite Spinomon being nearly ten times his size, the unfazed Magnamon didn’t even flinch.

    “Even so, you could be more considerate,” Magnamon told him. He turned and looked at Sinduramon. “Especially by not indulging in baseless gossip.”

    Sinduramon felt a bead of sweat run down his avian head. “S-So, I suppose you know the truth of the matter, then?” the rooster Deva challenged, not giving Magnamon an inch. “Because I saw Omegamon for myself. He was covered in black armour and he even held me down as they interrogated me!”

    “Which he feels terrible about,” Magnamon responded defensively. “I know he would tell you himself if you talked to him.”

    “If that were true, he knows where I am,” Sinduramon protested indignantly.

    “He isn’t good with initiating conversations. He’s more action-oriented…” Magnamon sighed and rubbed the back of his head. “Look, Omegamon was corrupted by DarkKnightmon using dark data. He had no control over his actions. He really is a good guy, and he feels awful about what happened.”

    Sinduramon opened his beak to retort as he flapped in place, but he frowned and thought better of his reply. “…Well, I’ll speak to him later for my apology and that’ll be the end of it, I guess.”

    “Thank you…” Magnamon responded sincerely.

    “You have a lot of guts and heart in that tiny body, Royal Knight,” the dinosaur monarch observed with an amused expression.

    Though he maintained a calm smile, there was an annoyed twitch in Magnamon’s face. “…I’ll take that as a compliment, your majesty,” he replied before nodding and walking back to UlforceVeedramon and Duftmon.

    Sinduramon then turned back to King Spinomon. “So, have I mentioned that Cherubimon has a thing for Ophanimon?”

    “But doesn’t she like Seraphimon?”

    As the two went further into the backyard, Magnamon rejoined his friends.

    “That was pretty good of you, Magna: sticking up for Omegamon,” UlforceVeedramon told him, putting his hand on Magnamon’s shoulder.

    Magnamon blushed. “Yeah, well… He’s a good friend,” he answered.

    “Would you do that for me and Duftmon?” UlforceVeedramon asked with a playful grin. Duftmon scoffed.

    “You would probably both deserve it,” Magnamon teased back.

    “Yeah, yeah…” the cobalt Royal Knight said. He then flashed Magnamon a grin. “You so would, regardless.”

    “That depends on how many times you mentioned my height that day,” the Knight of Miracles mentioned, beginning to head inside. “I’m going inside to talk with some of the other guests. Are you two coming?”

    “Sure,” UlforceVeedramon responded, following him in. “It looks like it might rain tonight anyways.”

    “If I must,” Duftmon answered reluctantly.

    The three Royal Knights walked back into the palace ballroom, unaware of what was going on across the river.

    -

    Inside the factory, two Digimon walked down a wide, sturdy, metal catwalk. The catwalk was attached to the side wall of the factory, beside several small windows that overlooked the fenced-off loading yard and the river. On the other side of the walkway was the factory floor, twenty feet below it. The elevated walkway offered a good view of the production and the workers in order to ensure efficiency. At the end of a catwalk was a door leading to the factory director’s office, which overlooked the entire factory floor from the end of the room.

    The two Digimon walked side by side, heading towards the office. The factory was dark except for the light in the factory director’s office. They were the only two in the factory. One was a broad, mechanical robot Digimon with two long arms, claws on his back, a horned, beetle-like head, and a electromagnetic armour over his blue and red body. The AtlurBallistamon walked alongside a tall, humanoid cyborg covered in black armour. The HiAndromon also had a red and blue turbine on his left and right shoulders respectively.

    “Everything is secured and shut down for the night, factory director,” the AtlurBallistamon said, turning his head to look at the HiAndromon beside him.

    “Good,” HiAndromon responded. “We have increased productivity by 7% and reached our quota well ahead of Chaosdramon’s deadline.” He turned his head and looked at AtlurBallistamon. “I--…”

    “What is it?” the AtlurBallistamon asked.

    “Did you hear something?” HiAndromon queried.

    “No… Perhaps it was the machinery cooling down,” AtlurBallistamon suggested to his superior.

    “I don’t know,” HiAndromon said sceptically. He turned and looked around through his visor. His gaze tightened and he scanned the dark factory. “Look out!”

    “What?” AtlurBallistamon sputtered, turning around upon hearing the sharp crackle of electricity behind him.

    “Thor’s Hammer!” a voice shouted.

    Blitzmon’s body flew up suddenly in front of the railing of the catwalk. His fists were balled together, swelling with electricity as he raised them above his head. He slammed his fists down, bashing the back of AtlurBallistamon’s head and sending electricity flowing through his metal body.

    The stocky mecha Digimon let out a shout of pain and surprise, stumbling forwards and slamming into the wall. He pushed off of the wall and swung around, tightening his fists. “Wh-What was that?! That hurt!” he exclaimed with shock, the horn on his head sparking up. “But he’s just a Blitzmon!”

    Blitzmon smirked and landed on the railing of the walkway, his features highlighted by tendrils of electricity. “I’m not your average Blitzmon…” he told them.

    “Intruder!” HiAndromon shouted, rushing forwards and levelling a punch at Blitzmon.

    Blitzmon lunged off the railing, jumping over the punch, and threw his leg into a sweeping kick. His metal boot impacted the HiAndromon’s cheek and sent him careening onto the sturdy metal catwalk.

    HiAndromon sneered and clutched his face as blood dripped from the corner of his lip. “That shouldn’t be possible… How is a champion-class hybrid Digimon capable of delivering such a strong blow?!”

    The mercenary insect man gave him a dark grin. “I’m not constrained by your limits. Not when I’m a hybrid Digimon with the X-Antibody. I’ve taken down Megas before.”

    “X-Antibody?” AtlurBallistamon asked with an angry frown.

    “He looks exactly like a regular Blitzmon, though,” HiAndromon muttered. “Forget it. Destroy him, AtlurBallistamon!”

    As AtlurBallistamon’s upper body surged with electricity, Blitzmon merely flew back, away from the catwalk, his horn sparking.

    “Rocket Bunker!” AtlurBallistamon droned dynamically, extending his arm and launching his fist with high speed, pneumatic pressure.

    The fist flew towards Blitzmon, but Blitzmon vanished in an instant, reappearing over on the catwalk.

    “He’s fast…” AtlurBallistamon muttered.

    “Anti-gravity field,” Blitzmon explained with a calm grin. “Thunder Toppler.”

    His horn surged with flashes of electricity. The light streaked through the air as Blitzmon rushed forwards and drove his horn into the AtlurBallistamon’s chest. The sturdy horn went right into the cannon port of the AtlurBallistamon’s midsection. With all of his might, Blitzmon then lifted him into the air and sent electricity coursing through him. As the machine Digimon grunted with pain, Blitzmon threw him off the catwalk and AtlurBallistamon landed on a set of mechanical equipment below with a thunderous crash.

    “Don’t think you’ll get past me, even with an X-Antibody,” HiAndromon spoke, clenching his fists.

    Blitzmon smirked and looked past him, down the catwalk. At the end of the walkway, he saw GrandisKuwagamon step out of the factory director’s office with the blueprints under his arm.

    “We already did,” Blitzmon replied, nodding behind HiAndromon.

    “What?!” HiAndromon demanded, spinning around to see GrandisKuwagamon.

    “Don’t worry,” GrandisKuwagamon told him with a grin. “We’ll give you guys a quicker end than Chaosdramon would. I don’t think he tolerates incompetence of this level, does he?”

    “Mercy deletions all around,” Blitzmon spoke, cracking his electrically-charged knuckles.

    HiAndromon unleashed a furious shout and charged GrandisKuwagamon desperately, preparing to do whatever he had to in order to get those blueprints back.

    -

    Meanwhile, a figure stood outside of the palace. The air was cool, but not so much that it was uncomfortable. The flickering stars were overtaken by grey clouds.

    Gankoomon leaned against the metal fence that surrounded the palace. The electricity had been turned off for the party. He stood on a metal road, which led down from the city and passed in front of the palace before stopping at the steel river bank. The twelfth and newest Royal Knight was positioned right beside the entrance gate that led into the palace grounds and up to the building itself. It was guarded by two, strong-looking D-Brigade members.

    Unlike the other Royal Knights, he didn’t make an attempt to dress in formal attire, which caused an argument between him and Duftmon on the way there about showing them up. Instead, he just wore his usual clothing: his white jacket, black bodysuit, and red geta. In Gankoomon’s mouth was a kiseru pipe that had been imported from the eastern continent. It was medium-length and slender, and had a bamboo base dyed red and two clean, metal tips. In one hand, he had a box of fine, brown threads of kizami tobacco, which he gently plucked out with his fingers. He then closed the box and placed it in the pocket of his jacket before placing the clump of tobacco in the palm of his hand and gently rubbing it into a ball. When satisfied, he placed it into the mouth of the kiseru pipe.

    As Gankoomon took out a box of matches, he glanced over his shoulder, through the metal fence, over at the palace where the party was taking place. He could hear the music playing and the loud, reverberating rumbles of some of the guests. Exhaling through his nose, Gankoomon looked forwards again, struck the match, and brought the ember to the tobacco, softly lighting it. After grasping near the end of the pipe with his fingers, Gankoomon flicked the match onto the steel ground as while gently inhaling.

    As he blew out a gentle puff of smoke, he watched as the Tankdramon guard who helped stand sentry at the palace gate suddenly rolled over and picked up the match in his long claws. The guard then shifted into reverse and placed the match into a nearby garbage can. Gankoomon observed this with a curious expression as he smoked, suddenly wondering if he managed to break a littering law or something.

    “Hey, Gankoomon!” a voice called out.

    Gankoomon turned his head and looked up the road. He saw two figures walking down from the city towards him. One was Captain Karatenmon, the captain of the Royal Knights’ Stealth Forces. The black, anthropomorphic, corvid Digimon walked towards him with a small grin.

    Walking beside him was a humanoid Digimon, similar in shape to Gankoomon, but leaner and more agile. Over his body, he wore a white, blue, and black, skin-tight bodysuit. While he was mostly organic, his right arm was cybernetic and completely made of metal. Thanks to the Extend Transmitter implanted in his back, the arm could shift into three different modes: the Blitz Arm, the Accel Arm, and the Critical Arm. Currently, it had the same size and form as his left arm, meaning it was in its Blitz Arm state. The top three quarters of his head was completely covered in a metal helmet, and the rest was covered in a mask. Around his neck was a long, red scarf. Both ends of it flowed in the breeze as he approached with Karatenmon.

    “Karatenmon,” Gankoomon greeted after releasing another breath of pungently aromatic smoke.

    “Not joining the party?” Karatenmon asked him, stepping up to the knight. “I never would have thought you to be anti-social.”

    “I’m not. Just don’t feel like it. It’s too pretentious in there,” Gankoomon responded with an indifferent shrug. He took the pipe out of his mouth to talk properly. “What are you doing? I thought you—“

    Karatenmon placed his hand on Gankoomon’s shoulder and casually led him away from the guards. He gave a subtle glance in their direction to indicate to Gankoomon that they could hear them. “My friend and I were looking around while we waited but we ran out of places to visit. For such a big city, there’s not a lot in the way of tourist attractions,” he innocently spoke to cover up the real reason he had accompanied the Royal Knights on their journey.

    Gankoomon walked alongside the Royal Knights’ spymaster up the road towards an adjacent street, away from the guards. “Oh…” he spoke in reply. He glanced over at the Justimon who accompanied Karatenmon. “And who is your friend? Does he speak?”

    “He can count without using his fingers too,” the superhero Digimon responded with a smirk, raising the index finger of his mechanical hand.

    “On a good day,” Karatenmon teased, looking over at the Justimon.

    “I’m Justimon,” he greeted, offering his Blitz Arm to Gankoomon. “Junior Commander of the Tactical Division of the New Dramon Army.”

    “Gankoomon. Nice to meet you.” Gankoomon replied, switching his pipe to his other hand and shaking Justimon’s hand firmly. “And you two are friends?”

    “Yeah. We met in a bar in Cloudspire,” Karatenmon explained. “We were both there for work.”

    “Sounds unprofessional,” Gankoomon mused. He then grinned. “I like it.” After a moment, he glanced over his shoulder to see if the guards were watching them. When he saw that they weren’t, he leaned in and spoke quietly. “Weren’t you supposed to be spying, Karatenmon?”

    “I was,” Karatenmon whispered back. “It’s harder than it looks in Facture. There’s a lot of security.”

    “Then I bumped into him,” Justimon explained.

    “Right when I thought I saw something across the river,” Karatenmon added, looking at Justimon.

    “Across the river?” Gankoomon asked, turning around and looking down the road to across the river.

    “He claims he saw something,” Justimon spoke, looking as well.

    “I’m a ninja and an avian Digimon,” Karatenmon reminded him. “My eyesight is impeccable.”

    Gankoomon placed his kiseru in his mouth and inhaled slowly as he watched the opposite side of the river. Right as he exhaled a wisp of smoke, he saw a bright light flare up in the distance. It was followed by a nearby explosion. Across the river, flames plumed and billowed into the night sky, soon followed by a deep reverberation.

    “What the…?” Gankoomon muttered, glaring.

    “I definitely saw something that time,” Karatenmon spoke, flapping his wings and floating off the ground.

    “An explosion?” Justimon asked, his face darkening.

    “Karatenmon! Go check it out!” Gankoomon said, quickly upending his pipe and tapping the tobacco out. “I’ll get the others!” He took off running, dashing down the street and turning at the gate. The Royal Knight ran up the pathway to the palace to inform the other Royal Knights of the chaos taking place on the other side of the river.
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2015
  4. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 2: A New Threat​


    In a dark room that was dimly lit by a candle, the sounds of heavy breaths and the wet sucking of lips filled the air. Dynasmon and Rosemon were in a guest bedroom tailored for Digimon of their size. Their arms were wrapped around the other and they kissed passionately while gripping each other’s clothed bodies.

    “Mm, Councillor…” Dynasmon said with a deep, husky groan as he pulled away from her face somewhat.

    “You may call me Rosemon,” she told him with a smirk, raising her hand and gently rubbing his broad neck. “Unless you’d rather call me Councillor.”

    “Good to know, Rosemon,” Dynasmon responded with a cheeky grin.

    “So, the rumour about the Royal Knights taking vows of celibacy was false after all...” Rosemon said in a playful voice, rubbing his shoulders through his tuxedo.

    “Most definitely,” Dynasmon answered, winking. “Nothing would get me out of the Order faster than that.”

    “Good. Just as long as we both understand that what goes on here is strictly for pleasure, not business,” Councillor Rosemon said, unknotting Dynasmon’s tie as she forced him to sit down on the bed behind him.

    “That suits me just fine,” Dynasmon assured her, placing his hands on her hips.

    “Speak of suits…” Rosemon spoke, slowly starting to unbutton Dynasmon’s tuxedo suit from the collar down.

    Dynasmon grinned broadly and relaxed, getting himself comfortable.

    That is, until he heard the sound of an explosion in the distance. “What was that?” Dynasmon asked, sitting up somewhat.

    “Probably just another firework or males having a silly competition outside,” Rosemon said dismissively, continuing to unbutton his shirt.

    Dynasmon frowned and moved his head, looking over the Councillor’s shoulder, past her, to the window opposite to him. He looked out into the night and saw another fiery explosion ripple upwards from a building across the river. “An explosion…” he spoke, his eyes widening. He frowned and began to move, taken out of the mood. “Damn it. Sorry. I have to see to this.”

    Rosemon continued to unbutton his undershirt. “Let the D-Brigade take care of it. It’s the Metal Empire’s problem,” she insisted. “It’s probably just a guerilla attack from the JumboGamemon loyalists. You don’t have to deal with that do you?”

    “We’re the Royal Knights. We don’t know borders when it comes to helping the world,” Dynasmon replied, gently lifting her off of his lap and over onto the bed. He stood up and headed towards the windows. “I’ll make it up to you. I promise.”

    “D-Dynasmon!” Rosemon protested. When she saw Dynasmon get onto the balcony and flap his wings to lift off, she released a sigh of annoyance. “Insufferable Royal Knights…” she murmured, flatly looking out the window.

    Dynasmon flew away from the palace, buttoning his suit up as he glided across the river.

    -

    “Haahahaha!” a voice cackled maniacally.

    Bolgmon stood in the loading bay of the factory, hunched over with his cannon arms on the ground to brace himself. Before him was the manufactory – the entire building was ablaze and the wall in front of him had a massive hole in it. The end of his cannon leaked residual energy and smoke. The flames and cinders in front of him highlighted the wild, unhinged expression painted on his metal face.

    As part of the factory collapsed, HiAndromon staggered towards the hole, surrounded by flames. He was missing most of his right arm, the stump of which sparked and spurted out oil. “Damn you…” he hissed, glaring through the collapsed wall at Bolgmon.

    Bolgmon’s grinned widely as the targeting display that emerged from his back put HiAndromon in his sights. “We’re the Black Pincer Company! We’ve been damned for awhile!” he explained with a sharp cackle. “Field Destroyer!”

    The end of his cannon horn suddenly glowed and surged with power once again. A massive beam ripped from the muzzle and expanded. The positron laser shot straight through the factory and consumed HiAndromon, disintegrating him immediately. The beam ripped another explosion out of the center of the factory and continued through to the building behind it, causing another series of explosions.

    “Heh,” Bolgmon grunted, straightening himself upwards and admiring the destruction he caused.

    GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon flew around the burning factory, towards him. The sound of warning sirens began blaring across the city of Facture.

    “What the hell, Bolgmon?!” GrandisKuwagamon shouted at him. “What part of ‘stealth op’ don’t you understand?! Why’d you start blasting?!”

    “You boneheads were spotted! I saw you fighting! I decided I’d save your asses again!” Bolgmon countered.

    “Hey, great job! Thanks! Now the whole friggin’ D-Brigade knows we’re here!” GrandisKuwagamon sarcastically rebuked him.

    “So, let’s get out of here!” Bolgmon told him. “You got the blueprints, didn’t you?”

    “Yeah, I managed to get them before you could torch them along with everything else. Dumbass,” GrandisKuwagamon answered with a sneer, gesturing to the papers under his arm.

    “He’s right, Grandis,” Blitzmon said, looking over at the black insect Digimon. “We need to leave.”

    “No shit!” GrandisKuwagamon responded, flapping his wings. “Come on, let’s exfil this place. Try not to leave a trail of destruction that’ll lead them straight to us, Bolgie.”

    “Tch,” Bolgmon scoffed, turning his treads to full gear and steaming out of there.

    “What’s the escape plan, Bolgmon?” Blitzmon asked him, as he was always in charge of logistics.

    “Let’s head to the bridge south of here,” Bolgmon told them, blasting through the fence with an Ultimate Thunder blast. “We’ll make a break for the gates.”

    “The D-Brigade’s base is to the south west,” GrandisKuwagamon protested. “The D-Brigade’ll cut right across us on an interception course!”

    “Not if we’re faster!” Bolgmon countered.

    “You’re just looking for an excuse to fight them,” GrandisKuwagamon growled. “Well, sorry, but I’m not risking this job or my life for that. I’ve got a better idea!”

    Bolgmon raced down the street and looked over his shoulder to glare at GrandisKuwagamon.

    “What’s that?” Blitzmon asked GrandisKuwagamon, flying beside him.

    “It’s—damn it.” GrandisKuwagamon interrupted himself when he looked past Blitzmon and saw Commander Fujinmon as well as Dynasmon heading towards them from over the river. “We’ve got company. It ain’t the D-Brigade, but it’s something.”

    “Keep going; we can’t afford to slow down!” Bolgmon told them.

    “Blitzmon, keep ‘em away!” GrandisKuwagamon told him.

    Blitzmon nodded and built up intense electrical energy in his horn. “Lightning Blitz!”

    -

    As he flew across the river, Dynasmon watched as a stream of electricity shot up towards Fujinmon, who soared a ways ahead of him. Fujinmon gracefully dodged the lightning bolt. The two swords on his arms immediately ignited, allowing the glowing red and yellow beams to emerge.

    Fujinmon spun around in the air, whipping up a contained cyclone of wind with his body. “Marut Cyclone!” he spoke, unleashing the funnel of extreme winds towards Blitzmon, who lingered behind Bolgmon and GrandisKuwagamon slightly.

    The wind swept down but Blitzmon swiftly swerved away. He managed to deftly avoid the blast as it slammed into the metal road beside him, hard enough to create a huge dent in the ground. Blitzmon briefly flipped onto his back in the air and sent another torrent of electricity towards Fujinmon from his horn.

    Fujinmon narrowed his eyes but easily avoided the attack. “Impossible,” he murmured as lightning shot by him. He couldn’t believe that the Blitzmon could move so fast.

    Dynasmon watched the fight unfold while trying to catch up to the faster flying Digimon. He glanced over his shoulder and saw Karatenmon swoop down beside him.

    “Dynasmon,” he greeted. “I don’t think these fireworks were planned.”

    “Me neither,” Dynasmon said to the Captain.

    “I’ll head over to what’s left of that factory to see if I can find out what’s going on before the D-Brigade shows up,” Karatenmon told him.

    “Sounds good. Just don’t get seen or they might get the wrong idea,” Dynasmon replied. “I’ll try to stop these firebugs and find out who they are.”

    Karatenmon nodded and flapped his broad, black wings strongly before veering away and heading towards the blazing factory.

    Dynasmon watched as Karatenmon flew away before turning back to the green cyborg Digimon far ahead of him. Fujinmon was still exchanging ranged attacks with Blitzmon, but neither could land a hit due to the other’s speed.

    The Royal Knight soon felt a presence behind him and turned to see UlforceVeedramon and Examon swoop over to him.

    “Ulforce, Examon,” Dynasmon greeted, looking at them before looking forwards again.

    “What’s going on here?” Examon asked him calmly, loading a shell into the chamber of the Ambrosius as he flew.

    “Alphamon asked Ex-sama and I to check out those explosions,” UlforceVeedramon explained, floating on the night breeze. “The green guy up there is Commander Fujinmon, isn’t it?”

    Dynasmon nodded. “The Hurricane Commander. And I have no idea. I’d say it was the JumboGamemon loyalists, but I’m pretty sure that that’s a GrandisKuwagamon along with the Blitzmon and Bolgmon,” he explained. “Maybe they hired a merc?”

    UlforceVeedramon blinked with surprise, watching as Blitzmon continued sending streams of electricity towards. “That’s a Blitzmon?! Damn, he’s fast. Almost as fast as Fujinmon,” UlforceVeedramon observed.

    “Loyalists?” Examon asked the other two. “They’re the ones who sided with Emperor JumboGamemon when Chaosdramon took over in a military coup d’état a few decades ago, right?”

    “Yeah,” Dynasmon responded. “Which begs the question: which side do we help?”

    UlforceVeedramon smirked lightly. “Hmm… The side that’s blowing up factories or the side that rules with a literal iron fist?” he added.

    “In that case, maybe we should stay out of it,” Examon suggested.

    “Innocent Digimon could be caught in the crossfire,” Dynasmon replied. “We should get both sides to stop and talk it out.”

    “Yeah, not much chance of that happening,” Ulforce pointed out, speeding up considerably towards the skirmish as Fujinmon began to dive down.

    “Do you think that I’ll let you get away?” Fujinmon demanded with a calm but angry tone, leering at Blitzmon. He began to manipulate the wind so that it blasted at his own back, speeding up his flying considerably.

    Blitzmon narrowed his eyes when he saw their pursuer’s sudden burst in velocity. He turned forwards. “Grandis!” he called out to GrandisKuwagamon.

    “Got it! Slow down, Bolgmon! We’re doing things my way!” GrandisKuwagamon said, speeding forwards in front of the cyborg Digimon.

    Bolgmon grunted but conceded. “Fine! Do it, already!” he called up to him as steam and dust was expelled from his zooming treads.

    “Slide Evolution!” GrandisKuwagamon yelled out, his body becoming encased in light. His form began to grow in size. “…GranKuwagamon!”

    GranKuwagamon emerged from the grey light and shot in front of Bolgmon as power began to build up in his pincers. “Zone Black Hole!”

    A spatial rift ripped open in front of him like a gaping wound in the fabric of space. GranKuwagamon flew into the black abyss. Once inside, he stopped and turned around, waiting for his two comrades before closing it. Bolgmon skidded to a stop in front of the rend, stalling as he gazed into the darkness.

    “Get a move on, Bolg!” Blitzmon yelled to him from behind.

    Bolgmon hissed. “Okay, okay!” he responded, moving his treads again and steaming inside the void.

    “Oh no you don’t!” Fujinmon shouted, closing in on Blitzmon and raising his right arm up to slash the laser sword down on him.

    As Blitzmon neared the rend, he spun around and unleashed a blast of electricity from his horn into Fujinmon. The Hurricane Commander seized up momentarily as the electricity ran through his metal body. This gave Blitzmon the opportunity that he needed to tumble into the Zone Black Hole. As soon as his body was in the abyss, the portal snapped shut and disappeared as if it had never been there.

    Fujinmon released a shout of frustration and angrily slashed the air with his Critical Arm. “No!”

    After fifteen seconds, UlforceVeedramon caught up to him and flapped his wings strongly so that he came to a stop.

    “Who were those three?” UlforceVeedramon asked him.

    “Intruders,” Fujinmon spoke bitterly, glaring at the area in front of him.

    “Informative,” the cobalt knight dryly responded.

    Fujinmon turned to face him with a look of frustration and annoyance on his face. “I. Don’t. Know,” he admitted. “Now, please, would you kindly go back to the party and let the D-Brigade take care of this?”

    “We could help,” Dynasmon spoke, flying up to UlforceVeedramon alongside Examon.

    “Thank you, but we have an orderly way of dealing with crises. Your help would likely be a disorganizing factor,” Fujinmon spoke as politely as possible, although, by the tone of his voice, he was all but telling them to bug off.

    Dynasmon frowned and looked at both UlforceVeedramon and Examon.

    “Let’s go back,” Examon advised them. “We can explain to the other knights what we saw.”

    UlforceVeedramon nodded. “We’ll leave you to it, Commander.”

    Fujinmon grunted. “Thank you for your kind support,” he told them before wordlessly flying off to meet the D-Brigade force that scrambled from their base.

    Dynasmon sighed and turned around, beginning to fly back towards the palace. He looked over at the two Royal Knights beside him. “Just what was that about…?” he wondered.

    -

    The three Royal Knights had returned to the palace. Most of the guests had come outside to see what the commotion was about. Those of who that didn’t were being politely forced out of the party, which had been formally ended soon after the explosions across the river erupted.

    “Tch,” King Spinomon scoffed, walking away from the palace, up the middle of the street, as he began heading out of the city. “I knew Chaosdramon was putting on airs. This is what happens when you don’t assert yourself as a strong, capable leader. Dissension is a sign of a weakness. For all his talk about having a unified, peaceful, orderly society, he can’t even keep violence from breaking out in his city when he’s showing off to guests. Strength, capability, and respect; that’s what makes a good leader.”

    Sinduramon flew beside King Spinomon’s head. “You should have seen the look on Chaosdramon’s face when he saw the explosions. He looked like his circuits were going to overload!”

    King Spinomon let out a laugh. “Well, at least it made a boring party more exciting. These things never have enough action!”

    Meanwhile, the Royal Knights walked out of the palace gates alongside Captain Karatenmon.

    “I could only see a GrandisKuwagamon, a Blitzmon, and a Bolgmon,” Dynasmon explained to the others.

    “Ditto,” UlforceVeedramon said.

    “That’s a pretty small group for such a brazen attack,” Alphamon said.

    Duftmon nodded in agreement. “Right in the industrial heart of the capital city when Chaosdramon was hosting a party for prominent Digimon… It can’t simply be a coincidence. They must have wanted to make Chaosdramon look foolish.”

    “I don’t know…” Karatenmon spoke up, rubbing his feathery chin. “I don’t think it was the old loyalist faction. My sources say they’ve either been killed, exiled, or forced to give their loyalty to Chaosdramon. It’s really unlikely that they could have conspired to attack in a city as secure as Facture,” he explained.

    “And there’s the fact that they’re bugs,” Gankoomon added. “Yeah, two of them are technically cyborgs, but the GrandisKuwagamon isn’t, and the other two are pretty buggy too.”

    “If they’re an external party, then what motive would they have to attack the Metal Empire?” Duftmon asked. “The Empire is neutral. They aren’t at war with anyone, and they have a substantial army, so who would be foolish enough to agitate a sleeping giant?”

    “I don’t know,” Karatenmon replied, shrugging. “I’ll have to do my own investigation.”

    “Just be careful,” Alphamon advised him. “If you get caught, they’ll think you had something to do with it.”

    Karatenmon smiled. “I won’t get caught.”

    Dukemon walked and thought to himself. “GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon, and Bolgmon, huh?” he asked aloud. “Why does that sound familiar?”

    “I was thinking that too, actually,” Magnamon spoke. “I can’t place where…”

    “We’ll check the databases when we get back home,” Alphamon told them. “This might be worth looking into.”

    “I’ll say. Something about this doesn’t seem to fit,” Dynasmon mused as the group of Royal Knights turned the corner down a large street.

    Alphamon nodded and looked at Dynasmon. “…Oh, and Dynasmon?” he said glancing down a bit.

    “Yeah?” Dynasmon wondered.

    “Your zipper is down,” Alphamon mentioned, giving him a small, coy glance before turning around.

    Dynasmon quickly tried to zip himself up, tinting red with embarrassment. Gankoomon let out a laugh as he passed him, slapping his shoulder. “Y’should have stayed outside with me after all, bull-face.”

    “I’ll take a pretty lady instead of you any day, moustache,” Dynasmon muttered, rubbing the back of his neck and walking after the group.

    -

    The twelve Royal Knights returned to their headquarters after a long travel. By the time they returned, all they wanted to do was shower, get changed, and get some rest.

    The castle had undergone some renovations over the past half year. The walls had been reinforced, and extensions had been made to the side of the main building, adding several extra areas. Most of the smaller hallways inside the castle itself had also been widened for ease of access. Along with that, there had been changes to the Royal Knights’ forces too. Many new recruits had been accepted into the Order, and the Republic of Node had donated a company of handpicked soldiers to incorporate into the Order’s military as well. This resulted in many new faces in the Order. Because of this, several new barracks and private sleeping quarters had been constructed as well.

    Two of these new recruits walked into the marble foyer together, talking. One of whom was a medium-sized, quadrupedal white dinosaur. His body were hard, sharp, and metallic. His hind feet were blades which clacked with every step against the marble floor, and his long, bladed tail whipped behind him contently. Over his back was a red cape that was attached to a red hood that had on it a pair of goggles and a row of decorative, metal teeth on the hem of the hood. On the reptile’s head was a large V-shaped head crest and a long, bladed, nose horn. His striking yellow eyes looked over to the larger dragon beside him.

    Beside him was a blue dragon in black and gold armour who was over twice his companion’s size. Despite the Imperialdramon Dragon Mode’s large, fearsome appearance, it was clear from his eyes and his complexion that he was the same age as the smaller Digimon beside him.

    “You should really wear those rubber things over those feet, BaoHuckmon,” Imperialdramon Dragon Mode advised the dinosaur beside him with a deep but teenaged voice, eyeing the blades on his hind legs. “You’ll get in trouble for scuffing the marble again.”

    “I hate wearing those damn things, Peri,” BaoHuckmon responded, calling Imperialdramon by the nickname that he was commonly known by, partially due to his comparative youth and so that he wouldn’t be confused for Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “They’re awkward to wear.”

    “Still, you don’t want your heroes getting mad at you, do you?” Imperialdramon asked, looking down at him with a grin.

    “Didn’t you go wild in your hometown when you evolved and attacked RhodoKnightmon and Sleipmon?” BaoHuckmon countered with a grin. “I at least never tried to blast my heroes to smithereens.”

    Imperialdramon Dragon Mode grimaced a bit and flushed. “That was an accident!” he exclaimed defensively. “Besides, that’s why I’m not taking advantage of their generosity. They were nice enough to accept me into the Recon Forces, so the least I can do is not scratch up their floors with my claws.”

    BaoHuckmon sighed. “Yeah. I guess you have a point, Peri…” he conceded, beginning to walk out of the foyer and towards the building’s exit. “Come on. Let’s go practice our moves at the attack range.”

    “Okay,” Imperialdramon replied, walking down the stairs with heavy footsteps.

    As the two reptile Digimon headed down the entrance hall, the front doors at the end of the hall suddenly opened. The giant, wooden doors swung open and the twelve Royal Knights entered in an orderly fashion. Imperialdramon Dragon Mode and BaoHuckmon saw them and quickly moved to the sides of the hall to allow them to pass.

    “Welcome home, Sirs,” Peri spoke, raising his forefoot to his head to salute.

    “Thank you,” Alphamon responded, saluting as he walked past him.

    As Gankoomon passed, he knocked BaoHuckmon on the forehead with his knuckles. “You’re scuffing up the floors again, BaoHuckmon…” he told him with a mildly annoyed voice.

    “Ow! Sensei!” BaoHuckmon complained, rubbing his forehead.

    Dukemon chuckled. “Don’t worry about it, kid,” the crimson knight assured him, patting his head. “Floors are made to be walked on.”

    BaoHuckmon blushed. “Y-Yes, Sir.”

    “Don’t listen to Dukemon,” Duftmon spoke. “He’s a bad influence.”

    “Yes sir,” BaoHuckmon obeyed.

    “Duftmon!” Dukemon protested.

    “Well, it’s true,” the leopard knight responded. “You have a disregard for rules, you’re tardy, and—“

    “Okay, Duftmon. We’ve heard all your opinions before,” Dukemon told him, walking up to the foyer.

    Gankoomon looked over his shoulder. “I expect you back here in one hour for your studies, BaoHuckmon. Don’t. Be. Late.”

    BaoHuckmon sighed. “Yeah, yeah…” he responded half-heartedly. When the Royal Knights were all in the foyer and heading into the great hall, he walked back to Imperialdramon and they both headed outside.

    The Royal Knights walked down the long, wide, marble hall towards the council room at the very end. Upon reaching the end of the ostentatious great hall, Alphamon pushed the door open and stepped inside, heading to his symbolic seat around the round table. The eleven other Royal Knights followed him in and took their seats around the white, stone table.

    Gankoomon let out a sigh of relief at being able to give his legs a rest. “So… This is about what happened in Facture, right?” he asked, looking over at Alphamon.

    Alphamon nodded. “Indeed. It’s worth discussing what went on.”

    “What did go on?” RhodoKnightmon asked them. “We can’t really know for sure. The Metal Empire will try to sweep the incident under the carpet in an attempt to save face. They will likely blame the explosions on an industrial malfunction or something.”

    “I definitely saw those three Digimon fleeing the area though. Commander Fujinmon gave chase but they escaped through some portal the GranKuwagamon made,” Dynasmon informed them.

    “I’m still trying to place why those Digimon sound familiar,” Dukemon mused. “GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon, and Bolgmon…”

    “We should get MetallifeKuwagamon to check our databases,” Dynasmon suggested aloud.

    “Do you still not know how to use a computer, Dynasmon?” UlforceVeedramon teased him.

    Dynasmon muttered and looked away. “They’re complicated…”

    “Karatenmon went ahead to meet with him and explain the situation,” Alphamon explained.

    “I was thinking that we should get Metallife in here anyways,” Magnamon spoke up. “He is originally from Facture, after all.”

    “He’s on his way,” a voice said from behind Dynasmon’s chair.

    Dynasmon let out a surprised yelp and looked over his shoulder abruptly. Behind him was Captain Karatenmon, standing with arms folded. “Stop doing that, damn it!” Dynasmon complained, flushing at his surprised reaction. “How do you keep sneaking up so quietly?”

    Karatenmon smiled mysteriously. “A ninja never gives away his tricks.”

    “I thought that was magicians,” Dynasmon muttered blandly.

    “Karatenmon,” Alphamon greeted. “How did it go?”

    Instead of answering, Karatenmon looked over to the door of the council room and watched as, five seconds later, MetallifeKuwagamon stepped inside.

    The head of the Royal Knights’ Technical Division stepped in, holding an electronic tablet-like device in his mechanical hands. The small, book-sized flat screen has a small glowing chip jutting out of its side. The metallic, humanoid insect walked over to Karatenmon’s side and nodded at the Royal Knights. “Welcome – um - home,” he greeted. “How was the party?”

    “Fine, thanks, Metallife,” Magnamon told him.

    “Were you able to find anything in our database on those three Digimon?” Alphamon asked, looking at the two.

    “Yes,” MetallifeKuwagamon responded, stepping forwards and placing the screen on the table in front of Alphamon. On the screen was a depiction of a GrandisKuwagamon along with some cursory information about him. Alphamon pressed his finger against the screen and pressed a button on it, switching to Blitzmon’s file next. After scanning the page, he went to Bolgmon’s file before passing the electronic tablet to Omegamon.

    “So they were in our database,” Alphamon spoke. “Who are they?”

    “They’re called Black Pincer Company,” Karatenmon responded, folding his arms. “They’re a tiny mercenary company consisting solely of GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon, and Bolgmon.”

    “Is this all we have on them?” Omegamon asked, looking at the screen in his hands before passing it to Dukemon.

    “Afraid so,” the spymaster told them. “They survive by keeping a low profile and letting bigger mercenary companies like Kowloon or dangerous freelancers take all of the attention. They live in the shadows. They’re nobodies… and that’s the way they like to keep it, I think.”

    “Everybody comes from somewhere,” Craniamon spoke, frowning. “Do we really have nothing?”

    “We don’t even know where they come from,” Karatenmon admitted. He looked over to Gankoomon, one of the more well-travelled knights. “I don’t suppose you know them, Gankoomon?”

    “’Fraid not. Never heard of ‘em,” Gankoomon said, frowning to himself.

    “Me neither,” Dynasmon admitted. “I’ve heard the name before, but that’s it.” He scratched his scaly chin. “They must have screwed up in Facture. It sounds like they wouldn’t have wanted a lot of attention, especially when a party full of people like us were in full view of the explosions.”

    “So, you don’t believe they were politically motivated?” Duftmon asked. “Given their species, they could have been from the Metal Empire originally. Blitzmon and Bolgmon are both cyborg types, and GrandisKuwagamon could be divergent from the Kokuwamon line. Not all mercenaries are totally pragmatic. Perhaps they opposed the coup d-etat that Chaosdramon dealt against JumboGamemon.”

    “Or maybe they were there on a job and they were hired precisely because they could pass for Metal Empire citizens,” Karatenmon proposed as a counter argument. He then shrugged. “But both of these theories are just speculation at this point.”

    Magnamon looked over at MetallifeKuwagamon. “What do you think, Metallife? You’re the expert on the Metal Empire,” he asked him gently.

    “Well…” MetallifeKuwagamon spoke, rubbing the back of his head shyly. “I don’t think that it’s politically motivated. There’s next to zero resistance movement in the Metal Empire after the Corrosion Purge.”

    “The whatnow?” Dynasmon asked, cocking an eyebrow.

    “It was the purge of dissidents and JumboGamemon loyalists by Chaosdramon and his supporters following the coup ‘etat,” Duftmon explained. “Try to keep up, Dynasmon…”

    “Fear of resistance was part of the reason why the Metal Empire is so rigid and secure now. That and the protection of their industries,” MetallifeKuwagamon explained with a soft frown. “That’s why they’re so intent on finding me. I dared to defy them and I know an incredible amount about their technologies and how they operate…”

    Magnamon stood up and walked over to his friend, placing his hand on the insect Digimon’s shoulder.

    MetallifeKuwagamon had hatched in the Metal Empire and grown up there. Eventually, he became one of their foremost inventors and technicians. He created incredible achievements in the Metal Empire’s technology and he was rewarded for his service.

    However, he got tired of the way the overbearing, domineering, oppressive government acted, as well as their constant demands of him. Feeling stifled, he escaped the Metal Empire one night and travelled to south. This was against the rules, as the Metal Empire went to great lengths to protect the secrecy of their projects, and MetallifeKuwagamon, being the genius inventor that he was, knew far too much.

    It wasn’t long until the government branded him a spy and a traitor, saying that he had been secretly working for somebody else. They sent an elite task force from the D-Brigade after him to drag him back. They soon caught up to MetallifeKuwagamon and attacked him, but Magnamon, who had been out on patrol, saw his plight and defended him. The Royal Knight was able to destroy the task force after a hard fought battle. Magnamon took the wounded defector back to the headquarters, and the Royal Knights decided that it would be safer for him to stay under their protection. Out of gratitude for being saved and given asylum, MetallifeKuwagamon offered to put his skills to use for the Royal Knights.

    “So, what was their goal?” Sleipmon wondered.

    “Um, actually,” MetallifeKuwagamon spoke up. “I was able to hack into the D-Brigade’s communication system. The factory in question was a smaller assembly factory for the state’s primary heavy industries manufactory. The D-Brigade investigated the scene and saw that a safe had been broken into in the factory director’s office and several blueprints inside had been taken. I can try to find out the nature of the blueprints, but even in private communications they’re vague.”

    “It sounds like they were hired to steal them,” Alphamon deduced.

    “Or maybe they’re going to sell them to the highest bidder,” Dynasmon suggested. “Some mercenaries resort to underhanded tactics when there’s a dry patch in commissions.”

    “It’d be better if we knew more about this Black Pincer Company,” Dukemon said.

    Karatenmon took a step forwards. “Why don’t we use a contact who’s well in tune with the mercenary lifestyle?” he proposed, looking over at Examon specifically. He gave him a light grin. “A friend of yours, maybe?”

    Examon looked at Karatenmon. “Dorbickmon…”

    “Exactly,” Karatenmon replied.

    “That’s not a bad idea,” Dukemon agreed. “His info has led to us cracking down on a bunch of those criminal mercenary groups.”

    Duftmon folded his arms. “I’m sure we could have accumulated that information without the mercenary’s help,” he put forth, not liking the fact that they’re relying on a mercenary.

    “As the spymaster, I find it’s really helpful to have somebody on the inside,” Karatenmon responded. “It’s better for the contact to genuinely have their profession rather than just sending one of my spies in there undercover. They’ll know the trade inside and out already, and have a pre-existing network of relations. Plus, they won’t have to act as much.”

    “I suppose that’s true…” Duftmon conceded, although with a slight frown.

    “Great,” Dynasmon replied. “So, let’s get Dorbickmon on the thingie.”

    “Do you mean the LRAC?” Magnamon asked him.

    “The what?” Dynasmon replied, raising an eyebrow.

    “LRAC,” MetallifeKuwagamon responded, taking a mechanical wrist bracelet out of his bag. The bracelet looked like a watch, but instead of a clock, it had a small audio receiver on the top. He handed the device to Examon, who put it around his wrist. “Long Range Audio Communicator.”

    “Yeah, the thing,” Dynasmon said, folding his arms.

    Examon used the tip of his claws to turn the LRAC on and set the frequency. He held the watch-like device up to his face. “Hello, Dorbickmon?” he spoke into the receiver.

    “Ssssssssssssssk,” the LRAC fizzled between the fluctuating, electronic sound of frequency signals.

    “Hello? Dorbickmon? Can you hear me?” Examon spoke. He received no reply. The dragon knight frowned with disappointment. “It’s no good. There’s too much interference on the data streams so communications aren’t very good.”

    “Oh, that’s right. There’s a data storm to the north west, isn’t there?” Karatenmon mused. “Looks like we’ll have to do it the old fashioned way.”

    “Allow me,” a voice said from the door.

    The Royal Knights and others turned to see the red, bird-like form of Zero ARMS: Grani float in.

    “Oh, Grani. Hey,” Dukemon greeted with a smile.

    “Hello, Grani,” Karatenmon said, glancing over at him.

    “Karatenmon,” Grani replied swiftly, hovering over to Dukemon’s side. “Everyone.”

    “What do you suggest?” Alphamon asked the red, metallic dragon.

    “My scouts will find him in no time at all,” Grani assured them.

    “No need. My spies can handle it,” Karatenmon responded with a slight, competitive smile below his beak.

    Grani shot him a restrained look. “That isn’t necessary, Karatenmon,” he explained. “After all, my scouts are the swiftest, sharpest, and the most adroit around. This job requires locating someone, not sneaking around in the shadows.”

    Karatenmon gave him a nonchalant shrug. “If you think you and your scouts can handle it, go ahead,” he told him. “No feathers off of my back.”

    “Very well, then,” Grani replied closing his eyes. “Thank you for your flexibility. That has always been one of your most prominent features.”

    Karatenmon chuckled a little. “I could say the opposite for you, Grani.”

    “Well then,” Alphamon spoke, placing his hands on the table and standing up before the passive aggressiveness between them could continue. “That’s settled. Grani, have your scouts locate Dorbickmon and have them bring him here, if you’d please.”

    “Of course,” Grani responded dutifully. “It shouldn’t take more than several hours.”

    “Enough time for me to continue writing my story,” Karatenmon mused. He looked at the Royal Knights. “My services are no longer needed?”

    “You’re free to go, Captain,” Alphamon told him.

    Karatenmon nodded and began to walk out of the room. “Good luck with your hunt, Grani,” he told him with a smile, looking over at the Zero ARMS.

    “Why, thank you,” Grani responded. “And good luck with your fiction.”

    “Thanks,” Karatenmon answered, stepping out of the council room and turning to the nearest side door in the great hall.

    “I’ll get to work,” Grani responded. “Goodbye, Dukemon, everyone.” With those words, the Zero ARMS floated away from the table and flew down the length of the great hall to contact his Recon Squadron.

    Dynasmon cleared his throat gruffly and stood up as well. “If we’re done here, I’m going to go have a shower. Any of you coming with me?” he exclaimed.

    “Yeah, I’m comin’,” Gankoomon agreed, standing up as well.

    “Me too,” Dukemon spoke.

    “I’ll… come with you, Dukemon,” Omegamon said.

    “And me!” RhodoKnightmon announced.

    UlforceVeedramon chuckled. “Fine, but no touching, no staring, and no flirting,” he told him.

    RhodoKnightmon huffed and folded his arms. “Then what is the point, Ulforce?” he complained.

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
  5. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post)

    -

    Hours passed until it was the late afternoon. The clouds began to glow a warm orange as the sun began to set. A mild autumn breeze swept across the landscape blowing the rippling grasslands around the Royal Knights’ impressive castle and headquarters.

    Two guards stood on duty outside the entrance to the main building that sat at the exact center of the walled community. One was a bulky knight Digimon in heavy plate armour. The other was a caped warrior mage Digimon in majestic armour and clothing. The Knightmon and Mystimon flanked the giant doors on each side.

    “So,” the Knightmon guard began, looking over at his Mystimon companion. “If you were a girl, which Royal Knight would you want to date?”

    The Mystimon guard turned and looked at him with a flat expression. “…Seriously? We’ve exhausted all other topics of conversation?” he asked him.

    “Have any better ones?” the Knightmon countered.

    The Mystimon paused and thought. He soon sighed. “…Fine. And don’t say, ‘if I was a girl’. That automatically precludes RhodoKnightmon since he – you know – likes men.”

    “Ooooh, so you’re a Rhodo man, are you?” the Knightmon asked with a smirk.

    The guard pondered. “Well, I’d want someone who can cook good food…” the Mystimon replied. “But—please, never call me a ‘Rhodo man’ in public again…” He palmed his face with embarrassment and exasperation.

    The Knightmon laughed heartily. “So, is that your answer?”

    “I don’t know,” the Mystimon replied quickly, not wanting to commit to an answer. “I need to think about it more. What about you?”

    “Oh, Dynasmon, definitely,” the Knightmon responded decisively. “He seems like a generous lover.”

    “Have you thought about this ahead of time?” the Mystimon said to him incredulously. “Never mind. I don’t want to know.”

    “However, Magnamon also—“

    “Shut up,” the Mystimon said abruptly upon spotting something ahead of them. “People are coming. I don’t want our barracks hearing about this.”

    The Knightmon turned and looked down the stone road that led up from the front gate towards the main building and the main street and courtyard. There, he saw the muscular, crimson, draconic body of Dorbickmon striding towards them. Dorbickmon looked around the castle grounds as he carried himself with a relaxed confidence.

    Hovering beside him was a Sparrowmon scout, whose lightweight, golden, metal, jet-like form floated on the soft breeze. The Sparrowmon had folded arms and an annoyed, indignant expression.

    “Great… It’s him again,” the Mystimon muttered, glaring at Dorbickmon as he continued up the street towards them

    “Who? Sparrowmon? Sparrowmon’s a guy?” the Knightmon asked.

    “No, the other one. Dorbickmon…” he responded with a sneer.

    “Oh, Examon’s friend?” the larger guard questioned.

    “And the mercenary who attacked us in the Battle of the World Tree,” the smaller one replied. “I don’t trust him.”

    The Knightmon frowned. “Yeah, but Examon does. And so does Alphamon and Dukemon, and I’m sure the others do too. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have him spying for them.”

    “I know, but…” the Mystimon trailed off and looked annoyed.

    “You trust the Royal Knights, don’t you? I do,” the Knightmon guard said to him.

    “I do, but… well, you didn’t take one of that guy’s stone pillars in the chest. He nearly broke my bloody ribs, so I don’t have to like him.”

    “Suit yourself,” the Knightmon spoke as Dorbickmon and Sparrowmon approached.

    “Halt. Who goes there?” the Mystimon guard said, holding his sword horizontally in front of the door.

    “It’s me, Mystimon,” Sparrowmon responded with a look of impatient exasperation. “Just let us through; I’m not in the mood for this.”

    “Does he have authorization?” the Mystimon guard asked, looking at Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon rolled his eyes and folded his arms. “Yeah. I do. The Royal Knights sent for me,” he responded as if this wasn’t the first time he’s been through this. “Like the last thirty times I showed up here.”

    The Mystimon shot him a quick glare before turning to Sparrowmon. “Did they?”

    “Yes…” Sparrowmon replied. “Can ya move now? Please?”

    The Mystimon scoffed and sheathed his sword, wordlessly letting them pass.

    “Hey, Sparrowmon,” the Knightmon guard spoke up. “I have a question.”

    “Can you make it quick, Knightmon? I want to get this guy off my hands,” the yellow jet Digimon responded.

    “I can feel the love,” Dorbickmon sarcastically muttered.

    The Knightmon guard nodded. “Are you a guy or a girl?”

    The Sparrowmon scout merely stared at him. The avian Digimon suddenly clenched its small fists and glared offendedly. “Y-YOU BIG, STUPID JERK!” the Sparrowmon yelled before smacking the Knightmon across the face, putting its jet engines into overdrive, and speeding off in near tears.

    Dorbickmon released a sly grin. “…Yeah, that’s a sensitive topic with that Digimon. I know from experience.”

    “Ow…” the Knightmon murmured, rubbing his cheek. “…Hey, was that a punch or a slap?”

    “I’ll just go inside myself,” the dragon man said, walking past the two guards and pushing the huge, reinforced doors open.

    Dorbickmon walked up the long, stone entrance hall, and up the few steps near the end. He reached the door that led to the foyer and opened it. He looked around as he stepped inside the octagonal, marble foyer, seeing the two halls and two staircases that branched off from the side walls.

    The mercenary decided that the Royal Knights were probably waiting for him inside the council room, so he walked forwards, across the foyer. As he neared the doorway to the great hall, he knocked his knuckles on one of the several marble pillars in the foyer. Dorbickmon went on into the great hall and walked down the vast, ostentatious room. He noted that this display of pomp was one of the reasons why he couldn’t join the headquarters like Examon suggested.

    Dorbickmon reached the end of the great hall and walked into the doorway at the end. He stepped into the council room and saw all twelve of the Royal Knights sitting there. They all turned or looked up when he stepped into the room.

    “Finally,” Craniamon muttered, leaning back in his chair boredly.

    Examon saw Dorbickmon and stood up from the table. “Dorbickmon,” he greeted with a small smile.

    “Yo, Examon,” Dorbickmon responded, giving him a quick look. “You guys summoned me?”

    “My idea,” a voice said from behind Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon tensed up with surprise and spun around on sheer instinct, swinging his arm to punch the presence behind him.

    Karatenmon raised his hand and nonchalantly caught Dorbickmon’s fist in his talons before it could hit him.

    The dragon mercenary slackened and sighed, retracting his hand from Karatenmon’s palm. “Cripes. Don’t sneak up on me like that. I could have roasted you,” Dorbickmon told him with a sideways leer.

    “Sorry; habit,” Karatenmon responded with a half smile. “We want your professional opinion on something.”

    “Yeah?” Dorbickmon asked, walking over to the table. “What’s that, exactly?”

    “I’ll fill you in,” Alphamon told him.

    Dorbickmon listened as Alphamon explained to him what had happened during their visit to the Metal Empire. The dragon man nodded and followed along.

    “Okay… So, a GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon and Bolgmon took some blueprints and destroyed a factory,” Dorbickmon summarized.

    “Do you know them?” Karatenmon asked him. “They call themselves Black Pincer Company.”

    Dorbickmon folded his arms and thought to himself for a moment. “Black Pincer Company… Yeah, I know them,” he responded.

    “You do?” Examon asked, looking at him.

    “Well, I guess I should say I know of them; I don’t know ‘em personally,” Dorbickmon clarified. “I’ve never worked with them on any jobs. We have different skill sets and ways of operating, so we have very different clientele.”

    “How do you know them?” Dynasmon asked. “If it’s through the rumour-mill, it’s not exactly helpful.”

    “We frequent the same bar, actually,” Dorbickmon explained with a grin.

    “Of course you do,” Duftmon muttered.

    “Which bar?” Dukemon asked him.

    “It’s called The Severed Arms,” the mercenary answered. Dorbickmon let his arms rest at his sides. “It’s a grotty little place in Shroud, but the beer and entertainment is pretty good.”

    “You’ve been to Shroud?” Magnamon asked him.

    “Well, duh. I don’t think it’s any secret here that my past isn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows. I’ve needed a place to lay low a few times,” Dorbickmon explained.

    Examon rubbed the back of his neck. “Sorry… but what’s Shroud?” he sheepishly asked.

    Dorbickmon turned and stared at Examon incredulously. “…You seriously don’t know what Shroud is?” he questioned. He walked up to Examon and flicked his nose horn with his claws playfully. “I know you lived in the United Dramonic Coalition forever, but come on; how dense are you? Aren’t you Royal Knights supposed to be informed about stuff?”

    UlforceVeedramon chuckled. “Gankoomon’s supposed to be the naïve fresh meat now, Examon. You’re off the hook,” he joked.

    “I’m probably more well-travelled than most of you,” Gankoomon insisted.

    Examon flushed and scratched his cheek with embarrassment. “I haven’t seen Shroud on any maps.”

    “You have been looking at the wrong maps,” Duftmon told him. “It is definitely in ‘Atlur’s Atlas’, although I find his pun name for the collection extremely trite,” he explained, referring to AtlurKabuterimon, who was better known as AncientBeetlemon of the Warrior Ten. In addition to that, AtlurKabuterimon was an explorer and a cartographer – one of the most respected ones, at that.

    “Shroud’s a large town in the north area of the continent,” Gankoomon explained. “The people in charge are pretty corrupt, so they rent the city out as a safe haven for outlaws, mercs and criminals in exchange for money. It’s not really well known because there’s a perpetual data storm raging over the place, which means communications don’t work and it’s hard to see from the air.”

    Dorbickmon grinned a bit. “I’m a little surprised you knights haven’t tried to take the town by storm if you know that much.”

    “Refuges for outlaws are beneficial to us as well, Dorbick-kun,” Karatenmon explained to him with a teasing smile. “Why wipe out a gathering ground for criminals and a great source of information?”

    Dorbickmon turned and looked at the avian spymaster with a look of confusion on his scaly face. “Dorbick-what?” he asked, unfamiliar with some of the terminology that originated from the eastern continent.

    “Dorbick-kun and Ex-sama,” UlforceVeedramon laughed. “I like it.”

    “So do I…” RhodoKnightmon said with a mischievous glint in his helmet.

    “Can we please get back on topic?” Duftmon asked with a tired sigh. “I do hate tangents…”

    “I’m not a huge fan of cosines, myself,” UlforceVeedramon spoke up with a smile.

    Duftmon shot him a glare. “Mathematics are not a joking matter.”

    Dorbickmon rolled his eyes. “So, was that all you guys wanted from me? Info on those low-rent mercenaries?”

    “Well, we could use more information,” Alphamon explained. “What else can you tell us about them?”

    The dragon mercenary folded his arms and thought to himself. “Let’s see… They’ve been a mercenary group for about seven years. It’s been GrandisKuwagamon, Bolgmon, and Blitzmon from the start, and they don’t hire any new members. I dunno why not, but my guess is that it’s because they’re pretty close knit and more members would mean less reward money for each cut.”

    “What sort of mercenary work do they do?” Alphamon asked him.

    “Covert ops,” Dorbickmon answered. “Since they’re a small group and pretty low key, it works for them. They’re usually pretty good at it too.”

    “What kind of covert ops?” UlforceVeedramon questioned.

    “Infiltration, theft, extortion, sabotage, espionage, kidnapping, assassinations, blowing stuff up…” Dorbickmon explained. “Pretty messy stuff. They’ll take any job they can handle with three guys; doesn’t matter who their client is.”

    “So, they’re unscrupulous,” Dukemon said.

    Dorbickmon nodded.

    “Hmm…” Captain Karatenmon hummed, thinking to himself. “Are they a part of a ninja clan? Or have they ever been? That shopping list of activities you just mentioned has the hallmark of a ninja,” he mentioned, being a ninja himself.

    “I got no idea,” Dorbickmon responded with a shrug. “Their past is a big blank. I don’t even know where they’re from. I heard a rumour that they used to be petty thieves and street rats before they started their own merc team, but who knows if that’s true?”

    “So, the Metal Empire was outsmarted by a handful of insect guttersnipes?” Duftmon asked rhetorically.

    “Hey, if it’s true, that means they’re pretty street smart,” Dorbickmon responded to Duftmon’s derision. “You have to be to begin with, if you want to survive in the mercenary business.”

    Gankoomon nodded. “True enough.”

    “Dorbickmon, can you find out more about Black Pincer Company?” Alphamon asked him. “You wouldn’t be opposed to that, would you?”

    “That can be arranged,” Dorbickmon responded, folding his arms confidently. “I’ll have to be careful though.”

    “Don’t do anything that would put yourself at risk,” Examon told him with a soft frown.

    “I won’t. I can handle myself, Examon,” Dorbickmon told him with a grin. “Cripes. You worry as much as my mom.”

    Examon narrowed his eyes and folded his winged arms.

    “Examon has a point,” Alphamon said. “Don’t be obvious.”

    “I’ve been doing this for several months now, haven’t I?” Dorbickmon told them. “I know it’s hard, but trust me. I’ll find out what I can about the bugs.”

    “See if you can find out what the blueprints they stole were,” Duftmon told him. He looked at Karatenmon. “You, as well, Captain. It might give us a clue as to who their client might be and what they want.”

    “Gotcha,” Dorbickmon spoke.

    “Leave it to me,” Karatenmon agreed.

    “Thank you,” Alphamon told them.

    Dorbickmon placed his hands on his hips. “So, is that all?”

    Examon paused and looked at the other Royal Knights. After a few moments, he looked back at Examon. Why don’t you stay the night? You came all this way, after all.”

    Dorbickmon raised an eyebrow and looked uncertain and leery at the prospect. “Stay the night…? I don’t know…” he looked at the other Royal Knights, half-hoping that there would be enough protest at the idea. While he didn’t really want to walk all the way back to the inn where he had been staying which was hours away, he didn’t entirely feel comfortable sleeping at a place like this. He was also well aware that he wasn’t liked or trusted by a lot of the Order.

    “You don’t have to, of course…” Examon responded, wondering if he made another social gaff. “I just thought that it would be a waste for you to come all the way here just for a few minutes.”

    “I certainly don’t mind,” Alphamon suggested. “We have several free guest rooms.”

    The other Royal Knights gave nods of tacit approval or shrugs of indifference.

    “Yes, stay the night!” RhodoKnightmon exclaimed, looking between Dorbickmon and Examon.

    Dorbickmon stalled. He gave a quick glance over at Examon. Examon looked at Dorbickmon, waiting for his reply. The mercenary wasn’t sure if it was him, but he thought he saw a hint of expectation in Examon’s otherwise neutral expression. Dorbickmon sighed and shrugged. “Yeah, okay. Curious to see how good you knights have it here, anyways,” he replied. When he saw Examon begin to smile, he punctuated, “But just for one night.”

    “Very well,” Examon spoke calmly.

    “Then I think we’re done here,” Alphamon said, “Unless anybody has anything else they want to bring up…?”

    The Royal Knights shook their heads.

    “Then the meeting is adjourned”

    Examon nodded. “I’ll show you around, Dorbickmon.”

    "If you insist," Dorbickmon responded with a resigned voice.
     
  6. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 3: Times Past and Time Present​



    Two half moons loomed in the starry sky. The low growl of an engine harmonized with the clicking of metal treads rolling across the grass and the low drone of insect wings beating. Three Digimon moved swiftly under the cover of night.

    Bolgmon sped along the ground, kicking up dirt and clumps of grass behind him. Meanwhile, GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon flew above him, with their backs against the night sky. The metal insect below them suddenly began to decelerate and roll to a relaxed speed.

    “I think we’re in the clear now,” Bolgmon said with a sigh, looking around the general vicinity.

    They were in a vast stretch of grassland that went on for kilometers. The only things in the immediate vicinity were a small pond that was way over to their left and a random yield sign sticking up in the grass in front of them.

    “No thanks to you,” GrandisKuwagamon said, shuddering his wings as he flew down and landed beside the signpost.

    “I said sorry,” Bolgmon responded with a roll of his eyes as he drove over to the sign and stopped in front of GrandisKuwagamon.

    “Great, thanks, Bolgmon,” the black insect muttered. “Now we’ve probably got a team of Dick-Brigade special forces chasing after us. Those scrapheaps will chase us like a Greymon chases a steak… especially since we’ve got some of their precious blueprints.”

    “In that case, they were going to chase us anyways,” Bolgmon retorted.

    “But now they know what we look like and we’ve lost our head start on them,” GrandisKuwagamon challenged.

    “Arguing isn’t going to solve anything,” Blitzmon told them.

    “No, but it’s a good way for me to relieve stress,” the black insect answered, folding his arms and flexing his scissor-like mandibles.

    “Let’s go incognito for a bit,” Bolgmon suggested. “Lay low in Shroud or Dark Point or somewhere until the heat’s off us. The client said we can take as long as we need.”

    “Bad idea. They’re not gonna stop looking for us,” GrandisKuwagamon countered. “Those blueprints are hot; I’d rather hand them off as quickly as possible.”

    “You’re so cynical, Grandis,” Bolgmon told him with a look of levity in his eyes.

    “Yeah, and I’m still alive and kicking so why fix what isn’t broken?” He turned his crimson eye over to Blitzmon. “What d’you think? You’re the tiebreaker again.”

    “Hmm…” Blitzmon folded his arms and frowned. “You’ve got a point about handing off those blueprints as soon as possible… but we don’t know where to meet up with our client. If we’re being chased, I don’t want to figure that out on the fly. We should lay low until we figure out our next move.”

    “Fine,” GrandisKuwagamon said. “I don’t want to stay in one place for too long though.”

    Blitzmon nodded. “I agree.”

    “So, Shroud? Couple rooms at the Severed Arms?” Bolgmon suggested.

    “Yeah. I could kill for some real beer,” GrandisKuwagamon agreed. “Not that piss they served in Facture.”

    Blitzmon nodded. “Let’s head out before we lose our lead.”

    The three insect Digimon took off and passed the signpost, hurrying south, towards their safe haven.

    -

    The next day was a warm one in the Free Area. The sun was unrestricted by clouds, so it could send rays of heat and light beating down across the grassy landscape.

    Inside the Royal Knights’ castle, Dorbickmon trudged out of the guest room that he stayed in. The rushing sound of the river that ran beside the south wall of the castle prompted him to go to relieve himself. He released a yawn from his draconic mouth and walked down the stone hallway.

    Upon reaching the end, the big, red, dragon man opened a door at the end of the hallway and walked in before closing the door behind him. A minute passed and Dorbickmon washed his hands and opened the door to walk out. After a few steps, he stopped abruptly.

    Standing several paces away from him was OuRyuumon.

    OuRyuumon walked down the hallway towards the washroom, stopping as soon as he saw Dorbickmon appear from the lavatory. He narrowed his eyes when they locked with Dorbickmon’s.

    The mercenary stopped upon noticing OuRyuumon. He saw the gold dragon’s sharp, violet eyes staring into his own. A bead of sweat rolled down the back of his head and he waited for OuRyuumon to make the first move.

    Neither of them forgot their last face-to-face encounter. OuRyuumon had been DarkKnightmon’s prisoner and when the Royal Knights came to rescue him, Dorbickmon put his sword to his throat and used him as a meat shield.

    The air grew thick with tension, discomfort, and anticipation. Both dragons waited for the other to do something.

    Dorbickmon watched OuRyuumon carefully. There was a fierce yet unreadable look in OuRyuumon’s eyes. He watched the Captain of the Strike Forces grit his teeth. Dorbickmon’s own eyes glanced down and he was relieved to see not a sword in OuRyuumon’s hand but a large toothbrush. At least he couldn’t do much damage with that.

    OuRyuumon released a short breath and began striding towards the mercenary. “Hey! Exadork’s friend!” he called out to Dorbickmon gruffly as he made his way towards him. “I’ve got a score to settle with you!”

    Here we go…” Dorbickmon thought. He shrugged. “Would it help if I said I was sorry?”

    “It might if I thought you meant it,” OuRyuumon said in a growly voice as he stepped up to Dorbickmon, standing up straight so that his tall form loomed over Dorbickmon’s in a display of dominance. He bent down so that he was face to face with Dorbickmon. He raised his hand and stuck his toothbrush against Dorbickmon’s chin threateningly. “Forget your sorries.”

    Dorbickmon inwardly sighed and thought that this was going to be a hassle.

    “Get your weapons to MetallifeKuwagamon and install the training program,” OuRyuumon suddenly continued. “You and me are sparring at noon.”

    Dorbickmon blinked. He was expecting to be cussed out or punched in the face right there in the hallway. “What?”

    “You heard me. Fight me dragon to dragon and maybe I’ll forget about you being a complete dick,” OuRyuumon told him. He prodded Dorbickmon’s neck with his toothbrush. “Unless you’re a coward.”

    After a few moments of shock, the mercenary grinned competitively. “You’re on, but don’t expect me to let you win.”

    “Damn well better not, Dorbickdick,” OuRyuumon responded with a smirk of his own. “By the way, borrow Exadork’s toothbrush. Otherwise your breath will finish me off before the match even starts.”

    “Tch,” Dorbickmon responded. “You talk big.”

    “Uh huh,” OuRyuumon fired back, passing Dorbickmon and heading into the washroom. “Don’t be late!”

    “I won’t,” Dorbickmon said, looking over his shoulder. When the washroom door closed, Dorbickmon walked away.

    After brushing his teeth and having a shower, OuRyuumon emerged from the washroom in a long, custom-fitted black shirt and red shorts. He felt fresh and ready to face the day while he rubbed the towel across his damp purple hair. He tossed the towel in the laundry hamper and started making his way down the hallway.

    Alphamon turned the corner at the end of the hallway and began to walk towards him.

    OuRyuumon saw him and smiled. “Morning, Alphamon,” he greeted.

    “Good morning, OuRyuumon,” Alphamon responded with his own smile. He observed him for a few moments. “You showered over in this wing of the castle?”

    “Yeah. Craniamon was using the shower in the other wing and Magnamon was next in line, so…” OuRyuumon shrugged.

    “I see,” Alphamon answered with a nod. He looked at OuRyuumon. “You smell nice.”

    OuRyuumon flushed mildly but he grinned at the innocuous comment. “Thanks.”

    “…At least, better than usual,” Alphamon added with playful levity.

    OuRyuumon laughed and tossed his wet towel onto Alphamon’s face. “Smart ***.”

    Alphamon chuckled and pulled the towel off of him. “Can I use this? I’m about to shower, myself.”

    “Go nuts. There’s plenty of hot water left,” OuRyuumon told him.

    Alphamon nodded. “By the way, I should warn you…”

    “Dorbickmon’s here?” OuRyuumon asked. “Saw him.”

    “And… can he still walk?”

    OuRyuumon grinned. “I haven’t touched him. Unless you’re asking if Examon did something to him overnight,” he playfully added.

    Alphamon’s cheeks tinted at the idea. “I wasn’t. So, you’re not mad at him?”

    OuRyuumon shrugged. “I’m trying not to hold a grudge. We’re going to thrash it out in a controlled sparring match later. That way I can still get a little bit of payback,” the Captain said.

    Alphamon smiled. He was proud that OuRyuumon was acting more mature than he used to. Not to mention that he was finding comparatively healthier ways to release his adrenaline and aggression. “It should be an exciting match. I’ll check it out if I have time,” he told him. “Try not to lose your temper if you lose.”

    OuRyuumon laughed and folded his arms. “Who said anything about losing?” he asked him confidently.

    Alphamon grinned. “Well… Somewhat more mature…” he inwardly thought. “We’ll see. Talk to you later, OuRyuumon.”

    OuRyuumon smirked and nodded. “Later, Alphamon,” he replied, beginning to walk past him and down the hall.

    Alphamon passed him and disappeared into the washroom.

    As he did, OuRyuumon glanced over his shoulder. Part of him wanted to go in there after him. He kind of hoped that they could pick up their relationship where they left off.

    However, doubt seized OuRyuumon. He wasn’t sure if the timing was right for Alphamon. Alphamon hid it from the others well, but OuRyuumon knew that he still felt guilty over killing DarkKnightmon. There was also the fact that OuRyuumon didn’t feel confident enough to ask Alphamon that big question. The only reason he had been able to confess his feelings to him in the first place was a string of five beers on a fateful night. He didn’t think it would have the same effect a second time.

    Instead, OuRyuumon gave him a lingering glance and turned forwards, heading down to the end of the corridor.

    He reached the point where the hallway ended and turned left at a ninety degree angle. Just ahead of the corner was a staircase that lead down to the foyer on the first level of the castle. He made his way down and emerged in the marble room. From there, OuRyuumon headed down one of the hallways towards where the computer room was. He expected that MetallifeKuwagamon would be in there at around this time.

    Indeed, when OuRyuumon walked to the doorway of the computer room, MetallifeKuwagamon was in there, talking with Magnamon.

    “Hey, Metallife,” OuRyuumon hailed. “Magna.”

    Both MetallifeKuwagamon and Magnamon turned to look at him. “Hello, OuRyuumon,” the humanoid, cyborg insect replied.

    “What brings you here?” Magnamon asked him.

    “I came to ask Metallife if he could put the training program on my scimitars when he’s got the time.” OuRyuumon turned to look at MetallifeKuwagamon. “Can you?”

    “Sure. Just the Gairyus or your body as well?” the technician asked.

    “My body too,” OuRyuumon responded. “I’m having a match against Dorbickmon so I’m gonna go all out.”

    “I suppose it will go double for him,” MetallifeKuwagamon assumed.

    “It better. His sword was friggin’ hot,” OuRyuumon spoke, remembering the time the Tyrant Collbrande was held at his throat. He paused for a few moments before heating up. “I didn’t mean it like that!” he suddenly insisted, worried about his phrasing.

    “Pardon? Mean it like what?” MetallifeKuwagamon asked with confusion.

    “Some people have such dirty minds,” Magnamon said with an amused smile, understanding what OuRyuumon was embarrassed about after a few moments of thought.

    “But I was—“ OuRyuumon rubbed his flushed face. “Never mind. I’ll come back with Dorbickmon when you’re free, Metallife.”

    MetallifeKuwagamon nodded. “Before lunch?” he asked.

    “Sure,” OuRyuumon quickly said as he turned around and left the room to disappear around the corner.

    MetallifeKuwagamon nodded again. After a few seconds, he suddenly blushed and rubbed his face. “Oh… I see what he meant now,” he murmured.

    Magnamon chuckled. “I shouldn’t laugh. He’s obviously still insecure about it,” he said, though still smiling.

    “I don’t see why he should be,” MetallifeKuwagamon spoke. “The Strike Forces all respect him for his combat prowess.”

    Magnamon shrugged. “Everybody has something that they’re insecure about,” he replied consciously.

    “Even Duftmon?”

    Magnamon laughed lightly. “I’m sure even Duftmon. But I doubt he would ever admit to what it was.”

    MetallifeKuwagamon sat down in his swivel chair and looked down at his lap.

    The Knight of Miracles noticed his change in body language. “Metallife?” he asked him with a hint of concern.

    “…This theft of the blueprints from the Metal Empire… It’s sure to rile them up. They’ll likely send multiple covert task groups from the D-Brigade all over to hunt down the thieves. I know from experience their tactics, after all…” MetallifeKuwagamon said, narrowing his eyes with worry.

    “Are you worried they’ll start hunting for you again?” Magnamon asked him.

    MetallifeKuwagamon nodded. “They might even suspect that we had something to do with it. I’m sure they know by now that you and the other Royal Knights are harbouring me.”

    Magnamon placed his hand on MetallifeKuwagamon’s shoulder. “We’re not ‘harbouring’ you. You’re one of us now. That means if Chaosdramon and his D-Brigade want you, they’ll have us to answer to,” he said before giving MetallifeKuwagamon a reassuring smile.

    “Thank you, Magnamon,” MetallifeKuwagamon told him. “I would likely have been deleted or placed under house arrest if it weren’t for you.”

    “As I said before, I was just in the right place at the right time,” Magnamon insisted. “Besides, you’ve more than repaid the favour with all you’ve done around here.”

    MetallifeKuwagamon turned his chair to face the massive computer system installed against the wall. He began to type away rapidly at the keyboard. “Well, I would rather use my talents to aid a noble cause than to help the Metal Empire elites get richer and more powerful.”

    Magnamon chuckled lightly. “See? You’re thinking like a Royal Knight now too,” he told him.

    MetallifeKuwagamon smiled inwardly. “This Order is lucky to have you as one of the founding members,” he mumbled to himself, his eyes scanning the screen in front of him.

    The golden knight, who was making to leave, stopped and glanced over at the insect Digimon. “Pardon?” he asked, not having heard him.

    “Nothing,” MetallifeKuwagamon responded with a shake of his head. “Just running a DADAR system scan.”

    Magnamon smiled. “I’ll leave you to it, then. See you later,” he told him, walking out of the room.

    The Miracle Knight meandered down the stone hallway. He supposed he might go for a run since he’d been feeling a bit groggy ever since waking up.

    At the opposite end of the hallway, walking towards Magnamon, were Sistermon Noir and Sistermon Blanc.

    The taller, darker-clothed of the two led the way. Sistermon Noir walked with her arms lazily rested behind her head. “I’m so damn booored…” she complained. “Gankoomon has BaoHuckmon all day, so we don’t even get to help him train.”

    “Maybe do something productive…?” the younger, shorter, white-clothed sister suggested in a meek voice.

    “Like what, Sis?” Sistermon Noir asked boredly.

    “The library…?”

    “Heeey, yeah. Maybe they’ll let me shoot some old books!” Sistermon Noir said excitedly.

    “Th-That wasn’t what I meant!” Sistermon Blanc protested, grabbing hold of her older sister’s arm in case she ran off.

    Sistermon Noir rolled her eyes and kept walking. “Hey, isn’t that Magnamon?” she asked aloud, noticing the familiar form at the end of the corridor.

    Sistermon Blanc suddenly squeaked, let go of her sister, and ducked into the nearest room.

    “Maybe he—huh?” the dark-garbed Sistermon asked upon noticing that Sistermon Blanc had suddenly disappeared.

    Sistermon Blanc hid in the doorway of a supply closet and meekly peered out Magnamon with a blushing red face.

    The Royal Knight headed towards Sistermon Noir. “Hello,” he greeted politely.

    “Hey,” Sistermon Noir replied confidently.

    “You’re not training BaoHuckmon today?” Magnamon asked her.

    “Nah. Gankoomon said he’d take care of that,” she responded. “Hey, did you see where my sister went, by any chance?”

    “Sorry. Isn’t she usually with you?” Magnamon questioned.

    “Yeah. At least, until she’s near a cute guy,” Sistermon Noir explained, knowing full well that her sister could probably hear her.

    Sistermon Blanc blushed intensely at the words and prayed that Magnamon wouldn’t pay any attention to her.

    Magnamon chuckled a bit, not realizing that it was him that Sistermon Noir meant. “I see. Is it Ulforce?” he asked, wondering if that was who she meant.

    Sistermon Noir grinned knowingly. “You’re not far off…” she playfully answered.

    “Well, if I see her, I’ll let her know you’re looking for her,” Magnamon told her, passing her and heading closer to the doorway that Sistermon Blanc was hiding in.

    She panicked and stepped further in the room, hiding inside until he passed.

    After several moments, Sistermon Noir spoke up. “It’s safe to come out now!” she chimed loudly.

    Sistermon Blanc cautiously emerged from the room, looking down both ends of the hallway. She sighed with relief when she saw that she was in the clear. Sistermon Blanc walked out and over to Sistermon Noir. “J-Jerk…”

    Sistermon Noir grinned. “What? It’s not like I told him you like him.”

    “Sis!” Sistermon Blanc protested at the statement.

    Sistermon Noir ignored her and thought to herself. “Wait, does that mean he thinks UlforceVeedramon’s cute? Hmm. That’s what you should worry about instead of getting mad at me, y’know,” she told her younger sister.

    “…Jerk!” Sistermon Blanc yelled in a high, sharp voice. She stomped away from Sistermon Noir and marched down the end of the hallway that Magnamon had come from.

    “Oh, come on!” Sistermon Noir called after her, following her angry sister. “I was just joking! Mostly!”

    -

    Beam bullets tore through the warm, late morning air. The glowing, yellow blasts of energy slammed into two wooden, humanoid targets standing side-by-side. The bursts tore the ambiguously shaped, fake Digimon to splinters. The structural integrity of the targets faltered and they broke into bursts of data. When the data clouds emerged, the patter of rapid gunfire faded. Five seconds after the data faded, the two destroyed targets were replaced by a new pair that shot up from the ground.

    A female Paildramon faced the Royal Knights’ target range. She had a lean, athletic, draconic build and possessed an air of composure and confidence. Apart from being slightly more svelte and more feminine-bodied than the average male Paildramon, she retained all the other characteristics. She had sleek, smooth blue scales and a white underbelly with an XV symbol on it. She also had the standard black and green armour over her legs, torso, upper body, and forearms. The muzzles of two teal cannons that flanked her hips breathed smoke and residual beam energy as they cooled. She lowered her cannons and adjusted her tail and wings for balance.

    Paildramon swiftly raised her arms out in front of her, spreading them diagonally so that they aimed at two targets in her peripheral vision. “Cable Catcher!” she spoke. As the second syllable left her lips behind her red and white helmet and mask, her ten finger claws ejected from her gauntlets and shot forwards. They were guided by flexible metal cables which provided her with a degree of control over them as they soared through the air.

    Five claw-tipped cables stabbed into the head and chest of the target dummy on the left. The other five wrapped around the target on the right, ensnaring it. She them pulled her right arm back powerfully and ripped the target from the ground. These two targets also burst into data and were replaced in their stations by new ones.

    “I’m coming over,” a male voice announced himself abruptly from behind her.

    Paildramon retracted her cable claws back into her hands and relaxed her stance, signifying that she was out of her combat mode. She looked over her shoulder to see who was addressing her.

    UlforceVeedramon smiled and meandered over. “You’ve got good aim,” he complimented.

    “Thank you,” Paildramon replied, turning around to face him calmly. “It’s easy to hit stationary targets, though.”

    With a grin, UlforceVeedramon stopped in front of her and placed his hands on his hips. “I could activate the moving target system, if you want,” he suggested with a friendly grin.

    “Maybe after I get warmed up, Sir UlforceVeedramon,” she answered.

    “Oh, you can just call me Ulforce. Six syllables is kind of a mouthful, isn’t it?” he said with a light laugh.

    Paildramon smiled slightly. “Try saying ‘Imperialdramon Dragon Mode’ every time you evolve.”

    UlforceVeedramon laughed again. “My sympathies. I hope you start mid-evolution.” He smiled eagerly. “I don’t think we’ve had much of a chance to chat since you joined a few months ago. You’re Councillor Imperialdramon’s daughter, aren’t you?” he asked.

    “I prefer ‘Paildramon’, but yes,” she responded with a hidden, playful smirk.

    “Sorry,” he apologized, rubbing the back of his horned head. “How are you settling in? I know living here at our headquarters must be different from being in the Republic of Node’s military.”

    “I’m settling in fine. It’s nice that the barracks here are relatively private,” Paildramon responded.

    “Glad to hear you don’t mind,” UlforceVeedramon said.

    “Not at all,” the dragon woman replied.

    “How long have you been in the Republic’s military, do you mind me asking?” the cobalt Royal Knight followed up.

    “About six years,” she explained.

    UlforceVeedramon smiled. “Oh, yeah? I’ve seen you in action and you’re pretty impressive.”

    “Thank you,” Paildramon responded, looking at him with a knowing smile. “But why do I get the feeling that you’re trying to flatter me?”

    UlforceVeedramon chuckled and rubbed the back of his neck. “Hey, I was being genuine,” he insisted. “But okay. You have me. Would you be interested in going for a drink with me at some point?”

    Paildramon looked at him with a diplomatic gaze. “I don’t want to be rude – especially not to a Royal Knight – but… I’m not interested. At least, not in the way that you’re intending…” she answered. “I’m sorry, UlforceVeedramon. I don’t think it would be a good idea.”

    UlforceVeedramon rubbed the back of his neck and chuckled sheepishly. “No, I’m sorry. I’ll just slink away now…” he playfully responded.

    Paildramon smiled. “It’s nothing personal, honestly. It’s just a general rule I have not to get involved with people I’m working with. It’s unprofessional and it could lead to complications,” she explained. “Especially when they happen to be one of the Royal Knights.”

    “Yeaaah, that’s probably smart, actually,” UlforceVeedramon said with a half smile. “I understand.”

    “However…” Paildramon added. “If you wanted to go for a drink in a purely friendly, gallant manner, I wouldn’t have any objection to that.”

    UlforceVeedramon smiled a bit wider. “In that case, you’re on,” he replied. “The tavern later?”

    Paildramon nodded. “I’m usually finished my jobs by sunset.”

    “Great, I’ll see you then,” UlforceVeedramon told her. “There’s a few things I need to see to.”

    “Bye, UlforceVeedramon,” she said to him, turning around to face the target range again.

    UlforceVeedramon flapped his wings to fly into the air. When airborne, he darted over the castle grounds and headed towards the headquarters.

    -

    Continued in the next post
     
  7. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Continued from the previous post

    -

    “S-Sensei… Can I stop now…?”

    BaoHuckmon panted as he raced around the edges of the training grounds. Sweat dripped down his body and he ran more sluggishly than he did when he first started. The training grounds was a vast area inside the castle walls, so just two laps around the area would be enough for a decent amount of exercise. BaoHuckmon had lost track of how many laps he had done.

    In front of him was Gankoomon. He was running backwards at a leisurely pace so that he could face his teenage student. He didn’t wear his trademark jacket as it would have likely fallen off during the running.

    “You’re the one who decided you wanted to become a Royal Knight,” Gankoomon reminded him, still running in reverse as he looked at him. “You’re gonna need to do better than this if you want to have any chance of getting knighted.”

    “But…” BaoHuckmon began before suddenly thinking better of himself. His gaze hardened with determination at Gankoomon’s words and he began to push himself harder. He picked up his speed with a burst of reinvigoration. His sweat-drenched, hooded, ruby cape rippled behind him as he ran. “I can… do it…” he muttered between grunts.

    Gankoomon grinned and picked up his speed as well. He found that training his eager student was much easier ever since joining the Royal Knights and moving them into the castle. Since BaoHuckmon was surrounded by his heroes and inspirations, it made him want to work harder, and it generally made him more obedient too. They seemed to be a positive source of motivation for him. On the other hand, it made BaoHuckmon eager to want to impress them too, which sometimes led him to be reckless.

    “Good, because I think Dukemon is watching,” Gankoomon told him with a smile.

    “H-He is?!” BaoHuckmon asked, looking around eagerly. As his attention grew distracted, BaoHuckmon’s legs wobbled and he began to trip. “Whuagah!” he exclaimed as the muscles of one of his forelegs shuddered and his legs buckled. BaoHuckmon crashed to the ground and skidded a little, getting a face full of grass and dirt.

    Upon seeing this Gankoomon stopped running. “…Okay, maybe that’s enough for the day,” he stated, placing his hands on his hips.

    BaoHuckmon’s yellow eyes grimaced and he felt his face heat up with embarrassment. He slowly lifted his head and looked up at Gankoomon. “Dukemon saw that, didn’t he, Sensei?”

    Gankoomon grinned and walked over to his student to help him to his feet. “Hey, even Royal Knights make asses of themselves sometimes.”

    “Not often,” BaoHuckmon muttered, not looking around out of fear of making eye contact with somebody after that embarrassing moment. “Can we go get a drink? I think I swallowed some dirt…”

    Gankoomon chuckled. “Sure.”

    The dinosaur Digimon trudged across the training grounds alongside Gankoomon. He released a tired yawn and inwardly looked forward to giving his tired legs a rest.

    The Royal Knight folded his arms and looked down at his student. “So, Huck – sorry – BaoHuckmon…” he began.

    The caped reptile quickly looked up at him. “That wasn’t a yawn, Sensei,” he insisted as they neared the edge of the training grounds.

    “Whatever you say,” the grinning Gankoomon said. “What I was going to ask was if you’re really still intent on becoming a Royal Knight one day.”

    “Of course I am!” BaoHuckmon exclaimed with an excited, determined smile. “Now more than ever!”

    “I see,” Gankoomon replied. “You want to be on the same level as your sensei one day, huh?”

    BaoHuckmon laughed, though it came out more like a wheeze as he was still trying to catch his breath from all the running. “That’ll be a nice bonus. You won’t be able to boss me around as much.”

    Gankoomon gave him a toothy smirk. “Who says?” he teased. “So, I guess your perception of the Royal Knights hasn’t been shattered by living with them and seeing them in person? Sometimes one can get a pre-conceived idea of who their heroes really are, and when they meet them in person they become disappointed. Not the case with you?”

    “Not at all,” BaoHuckmon responded with an honest smile. “Actually, now that I’ve really met them, they’re even cooler than I imagined! Before, they were these awesome, gallant heroes who stood up for weaker Digimon. Now, they’re still that, but it’s like they’re still regular Digimon too. They’re so cool!”

    Gankoomon couldn’t help but laugh and ruffle his apprentice’s horned head, causing the dinosaur to blush and try to pull away in agitation. “I gotta hand it to you, BaoHuckmon; you’re an optimist.”

    “That a bad thing?” BaoHuckmon asked, glancing up at the Royal Knight.

    “Nah,” Gankoomon replied. “You keep trying to become a Royal Knight and I’ll keep helping you train, kid.”

    BaoHuckmon smiled. “Awesome. So when can I go on a patrol?”

    “Don’t push your luck.”

    “Peri goes on patrols,” BaoHuckmon stated, referencing his friend.

    “Imperialdramon’s had eight months of recon training,” Gankoomon responded just as quickly. “And he’s a Mega level while you’re a Champion.”

    “He’s the same age as me!” Gankoomon’s squire protested.

    “Enough with the backchat, BaoHuckmon,” Gankoomon told him. “Unless you want to do a few more laps.”

    “I don’t mind,” BaoHuckmon insisted, pretending like his leg muscles weren’t sore and trembling from exhaustion.

    “Oh, really?” Gankoomon asked, looking at him with an expression that told him that he wasn’t making idle threats.

    BaoHuckmon ducked his head and glanced away. “Y-Yeah… But maybe later…” he mumbled.

    Gankoomon smirked. “Uh huh. Let’s get some food inside you. Or will you puke it up?”

    “I’ll be fine,” BaoHuckmon assured him. “Even if I do, the taste of Sir RhodoKnightmon’s food makes it worth it.”

    “Yeah… He’s kinda weird but he’s a hell of a cook. I’ll give ‘im that,” Gankoomon admitted.

    “His food’s way better than anything you ever made, Sensei,” BaoHuckmon teased.

    Gankoomon lightly swatted his head. “You’ve turned into a smartass since coming here,” he told him with a grin.

    BaoHuckmon grunted but smiled at him. “You always said I should be more assertive.”

    “Uh huh. Just don’t forget that I’m one of the Royal Knights now too,” Gankoomon reminded him. “You’re not a Royal Knight yet, kid.”

    “And I’m not a kid anymore, either, Sensei,” BaoHuckmon countered.

    Gankoomon smiled and shrugged as they walked across the road towards the castle. “Point taken. Just don’t get ahead of yourself.”

    BaoHuckmon sighed but managed a small grin. “Yeah, yeah. Message received…” he answered. The dinosaur Digimon walked towards the entrance and smiled inwardly. “One day… I’ll be able to save Digimon just like the Royal Knights do… I just need to keep training.

    -

    An hour passed since noon.

    OuRyuumon and Dorbickmon’s friendly spar had taken place out in the training grounds not long after BaoHuckmon and Gankoomon left the area. It had been an intense, hard fought, cathartic match for the two Digimon.

    “Hell…” Dorbickmon grunted as he slogged across the grass.

    His arm was over Examon’s back, just above his large wings. The dragon knight had his arm around Dorbickmon’s waist, helping the exhausted mercenary walk. Dorbickmon’s body was dripping with sweat and he panted with husky breaths as he walked.

    Craniamon and Dynasmon strode beside them at a leisurely pace.

    “Pretty close match,” Dynasmon said with a satisfied expression as he counted the money in his claws.

    Craniamon cast an annoyed look at Dorbickmon. “Too bad he beat you. I was betting on you, you know.”

    Dorbickmon shrugged. “I let him win. I felt bad about the whole ‘using him as a hostage’ thing,” he asserted.

    “Suuure. Whatever you say,” Dynasmon replied, nudging him with his elbow.

    “Knights don’t throw matches,” Craniamon tersely spoke. “Especially not ones that other people are betting on.”

    “Hey, I’m no knight,” Dorbickmon replied, giving Craniamon a tired, toothy grin. “But damn. Those electric shocks pack a hell of a punch.”

    “They beat real attacks, don’t they?” Examon asked, looking at his friend.

    “Yeah, guess so. And that nerdy bug came up with that system?” the mercenary inquired.

    “MetallifeKuwagamon?” Examon replied. “Yeah, but I don’t know about ‘nerdy’…”

    “Yeah, well, you’re a big nerd yourself so you’re probably biased.” Dorbickmon looked at him with a grin.

    Examon raised an eyebrow and glanced at Dynasmon. “Define ‘nerd’.”

    “Duftmon,” Dynasmon clarified.

    “Heh,” Craniamon chuckled briefly.

    “I am not like Duftmon,” Examon indignantly insisted.

    “You’re both smart,” Dynasmon pointed out.

    “Neither of you are very good socially,” Craniamon added.

    “You’re both kinda snobby and uptight,” Dorbickmon chimed in.

    Examon grumbled. “Come on, I’m not that bad.”

    Dynasmon laughed. “Okay, you’re a nicer version of Duftmon.”

    Examon rolled his eyes. “That isn’t a whole lot better…” he responded. He looked at the Digimon who he was helping to walk. “What are your plans for when you leave, Dorbickmon?”

    “Fishing for those bugs,” Dorbickmon replied.

    “Where are you going to start?” Examon inquired.

    Dorbickmon and the others stepped onto the courtyard road in front of the castle. It contained several buildings like the blacksmith’s, a barracks, an armoury, and various merchant shops that had permission to sell inside the castle grounds.

    The mercenary shrugged. “I’ll probably start with Shroud. Since they’re on the run from the Metal Empire, that’d probably be the first place they’d go, if we’re talking geography. If they’re not there, they might have gone down to Dark Point on the west coast of the continent. I think I remember seeing them in a bar there called ‘The Hook and Eel Pub’.”

    “Another shady place,” Craniamon remarked.

    “If you’re on the wrong side of the law, you don’t exactly want to go out in the daylight,” Dorbickmon replied with a light, toothy grin.

    “S’pose not,” the violet armoured Royal Knight responded tersely.

    “Anyway…” Dorbickmon said, looking around the courtyard and noticing a bunch of male soldiers around. “It sure is a sausage fest around here.”

    “It is?” Examon asked, raising an eyebrow and looking around. “I don’t see or smell any sausages…”

    Dorbickmon turned and stared at Examon blandly. After a few moments, he turned to the other Royal Knights. “Is he serious or does he just have a really dry sense of humour that I’m not getting?” he asked, rubbing the back of his head with his free hand.

    “He’s serious,” Craniamon replied.

    Examon blinked curiously. Dynasmon leaned over and whispered into Examon’s ear, causing the dragon Royal Knight to blush. “Oh, a sex joke…” he spoke sheepishly, sweat dripping down his head.

    Dorbickmon shook his head. “The things I need to teach you…” he said with a sigh.

    “Anyway, nah,” Dynasmon said to Dorbickmon. “There are a good number of female Digimon in the Order. Shutumon’s in charge of administration, for example. I can see why you say that though. There’s definitely more men and not enough women.”

    “We know why you want more women, Dynasmon,” Craniamon said, eyeing him.

    “Nothing wrong with being sociable,” Dynasmon replied. He responded to Craniamon with a playful glance. “It sure beats bringing a spear and shield to bed.”

    Craniamon stared at him flatly. “I do not bring Claiohm Solais and Avalon to bed. I put them on their racks.”

    “I bet those aren’t the racks that Dynasmon’s interested in,” Dorbickmon said with a chuckle.

    Examon sighed. “You should speak with better manners, Dorbickmon,” he recommended.

    “Hey, I’m not part of the Order. I can speak how I want,” Dorbickmon insisted. “This is why people think you’re a prude.”

    Examon shook his head with exasperation. “So, when are you heading out?”

    “After supper,” Dorbickmon responded. “Might as well stay for another meal if it’s half as good as lunch was.”

    “So you liked RhodoKnightmon’s cooking, huh?” Dynasmon asked with a grin.

    “Who doesn’t?” Craniamon replied matter of factly.

    Examon gave Dorbickmon a light smile. “He was shovelling it down.”

    “I know good food when I see it,” Dorbickmon asserted.

    Dynasmon chuckled. “Well, Rhodo’s got to have some good qualities to balance out all of the annoying ones.”

    “He’s a good fighter when he can be bothered to get off his ***,” Craniamon added.

    Another laugh escaped Dynasmon’s mouth. “That’s true. I remember he wiped the floor with you during your proving duel. Hahah! The look on your face was priceless, Craniamon! I thought you were going to burst into tears!”

    Craniamon growled and reached over to punch Dynasmon’s arm painfully. “I’ve gotten much better since then,” his deep voice echoed behind his helmet.

    Dynasmon winced but maintained his smirk. He rubbed his sore arm with his large hand. “Sorry. Still a touchy subject over six years on, I guess…”

    “Have you gotten any better since founding the Order, Dynasmon?” Craniamon asked, eyeing him coolly. “And I’m not talking about getting attractive women into bed.”

    “Hey, you’re acting like I’m a complete lecher,” Dynasmon protested. “I treat women well and I’m a hell of a knight on top of that.”

    Craniamon rolled his eyes. “Well, it doesn’t really help our pious image.”

    “Image schimage,” Dynasmon protested. “We’re a military order first, and a religious order second. Don’t tell me you’re super religious, Craniamon, because I know you aren’t. Besides, sex has nothing to do with our religion. And also, Ulforce and Examon are both believers of the Fanglongmon faith, not the Yggdrasil one. Most Digimon don’t care about that.”

    Craniamon folded his arms and grunted.

    “He’s just really proud of being a Royal Knight, aren’t you, Craniamon?” Examon said, looking over at the violet Royal Knight with a smile.

    Craniamon averted his gaze and didn’t respond, embarrassed by the personal question.

    Dynasmon chuckled. “He’s probably blushing behind that scary helmet of his now.”

    “Get stuffed, Dynasmon,” Craniamon responded with a sideways glare.

    “Yup, I knew it. He’s a big softy on the inside,” Dynasmon snickered.

    As the group of four approached the front entrance of the main building, Dorbickmon pulled his arm away from Examon. “Okay, I’m fine now, “ he said quickly, stepping up to the doors and pushing them open before the guards could get to them first.

    “You took some serious shocks, Dorbickmon. I know they aren’t life threatening, but you still shouldn’t overdo it,” Examon insisted, going after him.

    “My muscles are just a bit tingly. I’m fine,” Dorbickmon insisted with a dismissive shrug, walking down the entrance hall obstinately.

    “Stop trying to look cool,” Examon said with a sigh.

    Dynasmon smirked. “Who’re you trying to impress, Dorbickmon?” he asked him, following along behind Examon.

    “Nobody, tin cans!” Dorbickmon exclaimed, looking over his shoulder. “But I don’t need help walking!”

    As if on cue, the next step Dorbickmon took caused his leg muscles to quiver. A numbing jolt shot up Dorbickmon’s leg and caused it to buckle. The mercenary collapsed in front of the several stone steps and landed flat on his face.

    As Examon jogged over to the collapsed dragon, Craniamon stifled a chuckle and Dynasmon burst out laughing.

    With his face a deeper crimson than usual, Dorbickmon nudged Examon’s claws away and tried to stand up on his own. “Let’s forget that happened…”

    -

    Omegamon walked through the castle gardens which was located between the right side of the main building and the southern wall. He stepped down a path that was flanked on both sides by a myriad of beautiful colours. When he looked up, he could see the cloudy sky glowing with a warm, pink and orange hue as the sun set behind him. He could hear the sound of rushing water coming from the other side of the stone wall. It was a small river that curved and headed east towards the ocean.

    As Omegamon walked down the path, enjoying the peace and atmosphere, the path led him towards a large, finely sculpted fountain. In the middle of the fountain’s marble, water-filled basin was a sculpture of a long, fearsome, majestic sea serpent. Its body was coiled up and a blocky, draconic head rose from the apex, aimed at the sky. From the serpent’s mouth gushed a jet of water that shot into the air, rolled down his marble body, and gathered in the basin. The Digimon was GigaSeadramon, the leader of the Deep Savers. The Deep Savers was a group of marine Digimon who controlled the Net Ocean to the east of the continent. GigaSeadramon was an ally of the Royal Knights and he had commissioned this fountain for himself before giving it to the Royal Knights as a gift.

    The Royal Knight stopped in front of the fountain and watched the water splash down in front of him, causing countless ripples in the basin. The glowing sky was distorted in the fountain’s reflection. Omegamon began to turn, heading to sit down at one of the nearby stone benches so that he could enjoy the peaceful gardens. However, a arm reached out behind him and rested on Omegamon’s back and shoulders.

    Omegamon tensed up for a moment. He turned towards the presence beside him. He saw Dukemon standing there with a grin.

    “Oh, Dukemon,” he said, relaxing a bit.

    “Hey, Omegamon,” Dukemon said cheerfully.

    “What are you doing here?” Omegamon questioned, still mindful of the arm on his back. “Were you looking for me?”

    “No, I just came out here to stretch my legs,” Dukemon replied. “Beautiful evening out, huh?”

    “Yes, it is,” the white Royal Knight agreed. He paused for a moment. “I thought you preferred sunrises to sunsets.”

    Dukemon chuckled. “Yeah, true, but I can’t be picky.” He walked over and sat on the stone bench with his back to the fountain. He raised his arms and rested his elbows on the rim of the fountain, closing his eyes and relaxing.

    Omegamon sat down next to him and leaned forwards, resting his forearms on his legs. He glanced over at the crimson Royal Knight pensively.

    Dukemon opened his right eye and looked back at Omegamon. “So, how are you doing?” he asked him.

    “I’m fine, thanks. Yourself?” Omegamon answered.

    “I’m good. No complaints,” Dukemon casually replied.

    Omegamon smiled. “Did you come out here to check up on me?”

    Dukemon turned his head towards him. “Check up on you?” he asked quizzically. By the change in his expression, it was clear that he realized what he meant. “No… I’m the last person who would do that.”

    “Why is that?” the white Royal Knight inquired.

    A grin flashed on Dukemon’s face. “Never mind…” he responded, dodging the question. “So… How long have we known each other, Omegamon?”

    Omegamon frowned and sat up straight. “A couple years before the Order was established… It was back in our adventuring days. I was travelling with Imperialdramon and you were travelling with Grani.”

    Dukemon leaned back against the fountain and looked up at the warm, colourful sky. “That sounds about right…” he spoke nostalgically. “You and Imperialdramon saved my butt a few times - the reckless guy that I was.”

    “You returned the favour a few times,” Omegamon answered with a small smile. “Like when we were swarmed by Death-X Digimon.”

    Dukemon chuckled softly. “I made a hell of an entrance, didn’t I?”

    “You got a kick out of that, didn’t you?” Omegamon queried with a reserved but playful tone. He slouched forwards again and placed his arms back on his knees. “Why ask about when we met, Dukemon?”

    “No reason… I was just thinking about how different our lives were back then,” Dukemon responded, watching as the orange and pink hue contended with the dusky blue above him. “We didn’t have the responsibilities that we have now.”

    Omegamon nodded understandingly. “Do you miss it? Being off on your own – or with Grani – that is…”

    “Not at all,” Dukemon answered without a second thought. He turned towards Omegamon and smiled. “Being a Royal Knight… Being friends with you… with all of you… I wouldn’t give it up for a single thing.” Dukemon played his words off casually and he leaned his head back, gazing back up at the vestiges of sunset in the sky. He didn’t want to seem like he was getting too sappy or intense. However, there was a look of contentment on his face. “And you?”

    Omegamon smiled at the warmth and honesty in Dukemon’s words and then gazed down at his lap. “I couldn’t agree with you more…”

    Dukemon was about to reply, but something caught his attention. As he stared at the sky, something passed overhead that prompted him to stand to his feet.

    “What the…”

    -

    The sounds of grunting and heavy, exerted breaths filled the air. Sweat rolled down the skin of Alphamon’s toned chest as Sleipmon’s hand grappled with his shoulder. Alphamon faced Sleipmon, who was also shirtless and sweaty. They grabbed for each other’s arms and chests, trying to get the better of the other.

    Alphamon huffed and broke Sleipmon’s hold with his arm. He dashed forwards and wrapped his arms around Sleipmon’s waist, just above where his body went from humanoid to beast-like. “You sure aren’t going easy on me, are you, Sleipmon?” he said with a slight grin between breaths.

    Sleipmon grunted and spread his six legs to keep balance. He placed his hand under Alphamon’s arm, trying to pull it off from around his waist. As he did this, his other hand went down to grab hold of Alphamon’s leg to try to throw him off balance. “I can’t afford to,” Sleipmon replied with a smile.

    The two Royal Knights stood in the middle of a spacious room. Over half of the room was empty except for flat, smooth, bamboo hardwood flooring. The floor glistened pristinely as if it had been freshly swept and mopped. This section of the room was used for indoor practicing and hand-to-hand sparring. There was plenty of room to move around, making the area well-suited for those kinds of activities. For the purpose of Alphamon and Sleipmon’s sparring, rubber mats had been moved over the floor to cushion any painful take downs as well as damage to the floor. Near the entrance of the room was a mat where Digimon had to place their footwear before entering, so as not to scuff the floor.

    Further down the expansive room, making up the other half, was a gym. It was full of exercise equipment such as bench presses, pneumatic and weight-based exercise machines, free weights of various types and sizes, resistance bands, weighted items, and punching bags, to name a few. The one most often seen in this room was Craniamon. It was almost like a second bedroom to him, so he usually took it upon himself to clean it instead of the maintenance staff.

    Off to the side, sitting against the wall, were RhodoKnightmon and Duftmon. RhodoKnightmon languidly watched Alphamon and Sleipmon wrestle, appreciating the eye candy while trying to strike up a conversation with Duftmon. At that moment, he was too lazy to do anything productive.

    Meanwhile, Duftmon sat cross-legged against the wall and read a book. In one hand, he held the book, and in the other, he used a charcoal pencil to write down notes on a notepad resting on his leg. He largely ignored Alphamon and Sleipmon’s physical grappling match.

    “--that’s what UlforceVeedramon told me, at any rate,” RhodoKnightmon finished, glancing over at Duftmon. The strategist was silent, seemingly fixated on what he was doing. RhodoKnightmon sighed and realized that trying to get Duftmon to engage in the topic was a waste of time. “What are you reading?”

    “A treatise on aerial envelopment tactics,” Duftmon responded. “It was written by Gaiomon. The one who is currently the sitting advisor to the Council of Seven. I am writing a counterargument in response.”

    “Very clever, Duftmon. Cute as well,” RhodoKnightmon mused. “Why has nobody made you theirs yet?”

    “Please do not bother me with such nonsensical questions, RhodoKnightmon. I am trying to concentrate,” Duftmon replied dismissively.

    RhodoKnightmon smiled behind his helmet and place his hands behind his head, expecting an answer like that. “Oh, yes. That’s why, isn’t it?” he spoke. He looked back at Alphamon and Sleipmon. Alphamon was grappling with Sleipmon, trying to throw him off his six hooves, but his heavy lower half made it difficult. RhodoKnightmon looked back at Duftmon. “What about this, then? What do you think the Metal Empire will do next?”

    Duftmon looked up from his book and paper. “They will probably send out an elite task force to hunt down the insects. If they catch them, they will probably interrogate them to get them to reveal their client” he replied matter of factly.

    “And whom do you think their client might be?” RhodoKnightmon inquired.

    “I won’t speculate,” Duftmon responded. “However, if it turns out to be a state wishing to acquire the technology for itself, then I wouldn’t put it past Chaosdramon to wage war to get it back, unless it was very strategically unviable.”

    “That could be trouble,” the pink Royal Knight said.

    Duftmon nodded. “Depending on what happens in the coming weeks, we may have to intervene in a peacekeeper role… unless we use the hypothetical opportunity to take down Chaosdramon. We have been looking for an excuse to get rid of him. He is diametrically opposed to our ideals, after all.”

    “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Alphamon spoke up from the sparring room floor before grabbing Sleipmon by the waist and hurling him off balance and onto the mats with a crash. Alphamon then jumped on top of him to try to pin him down, but Sleipmon resisted. “We… still don’t know anything…f-for sure,” he said between breaths and grunts as Sleipmon’s arm pressed against his neck. “Wait for Karatenmon and Dorbickmon before… coming up with controversial scenarios like that.”

    “I was merely supposing,” Duftmon responded, closing his eyes with a minor huff.

    Alphamon grabbed hold of Sleipmon’s arm. “Still--“

    “I can find my own way, thank you,” a familiar male voice said from the hallway. “I used to live here, you know.”

    Alphamon and Sleipmon both stopped in the middle of their wrestling and looked towards the door. Duftmon and RhodoKnightmon went quiet and looked over, recognizing the voice as well.

    A white and blue draconic silhouette appeared at the door of the sparring room. He was clad in white and golden plate armour and had immaculate blue scales. There was something about the way that he carried himself that seemed innately heroic.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode observed Alphamon and Sleipmon on the ground with a raised eyebrow and an amused smirk. “Am I interrupting?” he asked.

    Alphamon let go of Sleipmon and stood to his feet. “Imperialdramon,” he greeted his friend with bewilderment. After a moment, he turned and helped Sleipmon to his feet as well. Once the equine Royal Knight was up, Alphamon walked over to Imperialdramon Paladin Mode, the founder of the Order. “What are you doing here? We weren’t expecting you back for another few weeks.”

    Imperialdramon’s usually light expression suddenly grew serious. “That’s right… There’s something important that we need to talk about,” he explained. “Gather all of the Royal Knights.”

    “What is it?” Sleipmon asked as RhodoKnightmon and Duftmon made to stand.

    “I’ll go into details later,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode responded with a frown. “I’ll just say this… The Dark Area isn’t stable.”
     
  8. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 4: Beneath the Surface​


    “Enter,” a growling monotone accent boomed.

    The voice echoed off of the huge, metallic walls of a vast throne room. They stood as tall as small buildings, and they were made of metal that was durable enough to withstand attacks and absorb sound.

    Chaosdramon sat in an oversized, blocky, metal throne. The room itself was very minimalist, as it didn’t consist of much else besides the throne. A giant, hybrid arc lamp that was powered by Facture’s power plant shone an artificial light down onto his massive, draconic body. The cyborg’s red digizoid armour shimmered with the hue of blood crimson. His similarly coloured eyes stoically watched as the massive throne room doors swung open.

    Three Digimon strode into the throne room. One was green and svelte, one was gold and balanced, and one was red and bulky. The three Storm Commanders of the D-Brigade stepped forwards, walking along the long, red mat that led to the base of the throne.

    Raijinmon stepped forwards first and bowed. The light reflected off of his gold armour and shoulder batteries. “Emperor Chaosdramon,” he greeted with a lowered head.

    Suijinmon walked behind Raijinmon with heavy footsteps from his four massive legs and long, robotic arms. He flicked his red tail behind his quadruped body and stepped up beside Raijinmon, lowering his head in a loyal bow. “Your Majesty,” he said deeply.

    Fujinmon was the last to approach. He leered at Chaosdramon with an unreadable expression. His long, green hair flowed behind him as he advanced. The green cyborg Digimon took his place to the left of Raijinmon and he crossed one of his sword arms in front of his chest as he quietly bowed. “Emperor.”

    Chaosdramon flexed the vice that made up his right hand. “Raijinmon, Suijinmon, Fujinmon,” he greeted, looking at the gold, red, and green Commanders respectively. “You have had two days. I want a status report concerning our great matter.”

    Raijinmon stood up straight and clasped his hands behind his back, relaxing. “We have ruled out any rebellious action from JumboGamemon loyalists. We are certain that the attack was carried out by a team of three mercenaries. The D-Brigade’s intelligence division suggests that they call themselves the Black Pincer Company. We haven’t been able to figure out anything else about them.”

    Chaosdramon narrowed his cold eyes. “Mercenaries…? That’s it? The guests were all laughing at us after the other night. They think that we are weak and rife with discontent.”

    “The good news is that we are not,” Suijinmon spoke in his deep voice. “Mercenaries have no use for those blueprints. That means they were either hired by somebody who wants that technology for themselves or they want to sabotage us.”

    “Do we know who?” Chaosdramon questioned.

    “Not until we get our hands on those mercenaries,” Fujinmon answered. “We sent a task force after them.”

    “They’ll get them to talk,” Raijinmon added, glancing at his leaner, greener companion before looking back at Chaosdramon.

    “Speculate regardless,” Chaosdramon requested.

    Suijinmon frowned with thought. He thought about the various options analytically. “The Mamemon Kingdom?”

    “Possibly,” Chaosdramon breathed. “PrinceMamemon… That jumped-up, empty-headed twit of a beach ball… He always wanted to be able to rival our empire with that puny plot of land of his. They could have hired those mercenaries to steal those blueprints to adapt the technology for themselves.” He let out a soft, mechanical snarl. “Any other suggestions?”

    “The Royal Knights?” Suijinmon put forth.

    “The Royal Knights wouldn’t do something so underhanded,” Raijinmon countered, looking over at the Waterfall Commander. “If there’s anything we can expect from them, it’s consistency.”

    “We are in a state of quasi-cold warfare with them, Raijinmon,” the large, red commander stoically told him. “They disapprove of the way we run our empire. And there is that other matter…”

    “MetallifeKuwagamon,” Chaosdramon spoke, narrowing his eyes.

    Suijinmon nodded. “There is enough reason to believe that they are granting him asylum, even if we do not have hard evidence. He has likely told them our secrets.”

    “And what about the other thing?” Fujinmon spoke up, glancing at his two comrades.

    “What other thing?” Chaosdramon asked, turning his head to the green cyborg with a leer.

    “We detected a momentary breach of our cyber security,” Fujinmon explained. “It was only for a split moment before the signal disappeared, but we were definitely being hacked. We traced the signal through the data streams to around the Royal Knights’ headquarters, but then a data storm interfered with further connections. We’re increasing our security as we speak.”

    “Damn them…” Chaosdramon droned, despite his anger not being clearly conveyed by his voice. “Damn that bunch of holier-than-thou tin gods. Damn that treacherous insect.”

    “Perhaps they were just being meddlesome,” Raijinmon suggested diplomatically. “They do have a penchant for intervening in things that aren’t their business. Didn’t they try to go after those mercenaries the other day, Fujinmon?” he asked, turning to the skinnier Digimon to his left.

    “They stuck their noses in. That’s all,” Fujinmon replied. “With all due respect, Raijinmon, but you seem to be making excuses for them. Maybe you should find another group to exercise your creativity on.”

    “I’m just being realistic,” Raijinmon answered, folding his arms. “If they were behind this act of aggression, then, of course, we need to respond heavily.”

    “Keep investigating,” Chaosdramon ordered them. “Send a missive to those who attended the party apologizing for what happened. Tell them that the matter is taken care of. And find those thieving mercenaries. I am not about to break our stance of neutrality without sufficient evidence.”

    “Break our neutrality?” Fujinmon asked with a modicum of surprise.

    “So, war is an option, Your Majesty?” Suijinmon asked him.

    “Our most precious values have been attacked by somebody: our dominance in industry. We must retaliate… We must be seen to retaliate. Our strong reputation depends on it,” Chaosdramon answered. He opened and closed the vice of his right arm. “Whoever attempts to attack us shall be crushed thoroughly and completely, with the full weight of our martial capabilities...” He closed his eyes thoughtfully. “Find out who hired them…”

    -

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode had gathered all of the Royal Knights into the council room. In addition to himself and the twelve were also Dorbickmon and Zero ARMS: Grani.

    The twelve Royal Knights sat around the smooth, white, round table. They all looked at Imperialdramon with looks of curiosity and concern. Grani hovered behind Dukemon silently. Dorbickmon lingered near the closed doors of the council room awkwardly, unsure of what to do with himself. The air loomed heavy with uncertainty and bated breath at Imperialdramon’s ominous words.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode walked up the single step on the far side of the room, standing on the elevated floor as he gazed up at the stained glass window of himself. He turned around and walked back down to the Royal Knights, stretching his wings and running his blue fingers through his blond hair as he rubbed the back of his neck.

    “That thing is still up there, Alphamon?” he asked with a slight grin, nodding over his shoulder to the stained glass window. “I told you I don’t like it; it’s embarrassing.”

    Alphamon managed a smile despite his trepidation. “You weren’t around enough to complain about it,” he responded to his friend’s playful complaint. “Besides, it was expensive.”

    “Well, I am now,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode replied, casting a meaningful look to Omegamon, who sat on Alphamon’s right.

    Omegamon inwardly appreciated the action. “Not that we aren’t glad to see you, but why are you back so early?” he asked.

    “And why am I here?” Dorbickmon spoke up from across the room. “Should I be here during one of your secret meetings?” he asked with an ironic grin. “I’m an untrustworthy mercenary, after all.”

    “He brings up a good point,” Duftmon concurred, either ignoring or completely missing the irony in Dorbickmon’s voice. “If this meeting is important, then it should be only Royal Knights and Captains privy to the information.”

    Dorbickmon rolled his eyes at Duftmon’s sentiments, although he knew enough about him by now to expect it from him.

    Imperialdramon walked back to the table and placed his hand on the top of the back of Omegamon’s seat. “This involves Dorbickmon,” he stated, looking at all of the Royal Knights before looking at Dorbickmon.

    “Great. What did I do now?” he muttered under his breath.

    “You mentioned that it was about the Dark Area,” Alphamon pointed out, looking over his shoulder and up at Imperialdramon Paladin Mode.

    “That it was unstable,” Duftmon bluntly added.

    “I’m getting to that,” Imperialdramon responded to them, still looking at Dorbickmon. “Dorbickmon, you freed DarkKnightmon.”

    Dorbickmon folded his arms and grunted. “Yeah, I know. I’m an idiot. How many times do I have to apologize for that?” he fired back with exasperation.

    “Bear with me,” the founder of the Order assured him. “How did you do it?”

    “I went to this pit that was full of stone pillars,” Dorbickmon began to explain, gesturing with his hand. “Some Digimon species like me can sense the dragon veins that run throughout the Digital World. At that place, there was a big pocket of energy in the ground that was particularly close to the surface, kinda like the ones that surround the World Tree. I stabbed my Tyrant Collbrande into the ground and used my Burning the Dragon ability to manipulate the leylines.” He shrugged nonchalantly. “It took a few days of exhausting work, but I was able to corrupt the barrier that surrounded the Dark Area.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode nodded. “I thought so.”

    Dorbickmon blinked with a slowly dawning realization. “…Oh…” he said sheepishly. He then frowned and spoke up with protest. “Hey! Wait a second! I made sure to keep the thing stable so that only DarkKnightmon was able to escape! I closed the damn thing afterward!”

    “You did, but you probably didn’t realize that there was an unintended ripple effect,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode explained. “The barrier of the Dark Area is two-way. It’s incredibly durable and it lies deep beneath the surface of the Digital World in a sort of pocket dimension where the Dark Area is. However, the barrier requires a lot of maintenance to its data. That’s because it has the potential to become unstable if too much destructive pressure is applied to it. The reason for this is all the strain coming from both sides of the barrier. There are safeguards to prevent the prisoners from getting out and other Digimon from getting in, but you managed to do enough damage to bypass them.”

    “Simple terms, Imperialdramon,” Dynasmon told him. “We’re not all like Duftmon.”

    “More’s the pity,” Duftmon mumbled to himself.

    Imperialdramon turned and grinned at Dynasmon. “Okay…” He turned around and pointed to the stained glass window of himself. “Imagine that I punched through that window there. I would break a hole straight through it and cause several cracks around the hole. I could take all of the pieces that fell out and glue them back into place to repair the hole, but all of the cracks would still remain. The fractures would look like a Dokugumon web, you see? That’s what the Dark Area is like right now.”

    “There was that crack in Lupolford, right, Dorbickmon?” UlforceVeedramon said, looking over at the mercenary.

    “The one in Dusk Forest too,” Craniamon added, remember the one that he and Examon encountered.

    “And others too,” Dukemon said with a frown.

    “I did my best to close them,” Dorbickmon said with an irritated look.

    “We isolated all of the ones that we found,” Alphamon said to Imperialdramon, “but that isn’t enough, is it?”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode shook his head. “That’s just bandaging the problem… We need to find a way to fix the problem at its core, but it’s too dangerous to just try different options and see what works. It could end up making the rifts bigger if something goes wrong. The rest of the prisoners could end up escaping if we aren’t careful. I don’t need to tell you all how terrible that would be.”

    Gankoomon raised an eyebrow and reached his hand behind him to scratch the red hair on the back of his head. “Uh… Actually,” he spoke up. “What kind of prisoners are we talking about here?”

    Alphamon looked over at Gankoomon. “All Royal Knights should have clearance to access the database of Dark Area prisoners. Haven’t you used the personal computer in your room?”

    Gankoomon looked away sheepishly. “For a desk lamp,” he muttered, slouching in his seat and stuffing his hands in his jacket pockets.

    “Does it look like he knows how to use a computer, Alphamon?” Duftmon rhetorically asked with the usual air of haughtiness in his voice. “Gankoomon likely has the same technical competence that Dynasmon does.”

    UlforceVeedramon elbowed Examon playfully. “He managed to insult a quarter of the Royal Knights at once. Even I don’t do that,” he murmured with a large grin.

    Examon smiled and muttered back. “I’m just happy the pressure is off of me now.”

    “Want to say that to my face, Poncemon?” Gankoomon snarled across the table at Duftmon.

    “I thought I did,” Duftmon responded matter-of-factly. “It seems as if you’re lacking in the spatial-awareness department as well as the intellectual one.”

    Gankoomon became fired up and rose to his feet, gripping the edge of the council table. “That’s it, pussy cat! CHABUDAI—“

    “Oh no,” Alphamon said with an exasperated sigh, palming his face. “Guys?”

    “Dynasmon!” Dukemon exclaimed, leaping over and grabbing hold of Gankoomon’s left arm.

    “Gotcha,” Dynasmon responded, going and gripping Gankoomon’s right arm.

    The two Royal Knights restrained the hotheaded Royal Knight and forced him to sit back down before he could flip the table over again.

    Dorbickmon watched with a ****-eating grin. “Hey, these meetings aren’t as boring as I thought.”

    Duftmon scoffed. “Why do these meetings keep becoming derailed from the topic at hand?” he asked.

    “Because you keep insulting people, Duftmon,” Alphamon said with an annoyed breath.

    Duftmon blinked obliviously. “What? You aren’t blaming me for these tangents, are you?” he asked incredulously.

    Alphamon sighed and decided it would be better to just drop the issue and get back on point or else it would just make things worse. “Where were we again?” he asked. He then remembered and looked at Gankoomon. “You were wondering about other prisoners of the Dark Area?”

    “Yeah,” Gankoomon replied, settling down again and pulling his arms back from Dukemon and Dynasmon. He grunted and leaned back in his chair while placing his hands behind his head.

    “We only keep the most dangerous Digimon locked away in there. We had to put DarkKnightmon in there, for example,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode explained. “There’s GrandDracmon and Lykamon too.”

    Alphamon frowned and nodded. “The Seven Great Demon Lords are also locked in there on different levels of the Dark Area.”

    “The fallen angels who rebelled during the Heavenly War?” Gankoomon inquired. “They were locked away in the Dark Area?”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode nodded in confirmation. “That’s what we, the Warrior Ten, and the Heavenly Choir all settled on.”

    “That was six years ago,” Gankoomon said. “The Dark Area’s strong enough to keep them for that long?”

    “It’s strong enough to keep them and more,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode stated. “But these dark rifts are cracks in the barrier of the Dark Area and that’s pretty worrying. Fortunately, the Dark Area interior is in a pretty much constant state of anarchy. There are several different factions competing for power in there, so hopefully they’re too focused on that to notice the weaknesses in the barrier to try to capitalize on it. Both Anubismon of the Ten and Plutomon keep vigil over the Dark Area, so I’m having a meeting with them in a week to discuss the issue.”

    “Here I thought it was a place that the data of deleted Digimon went before being reformatted,” Gankoomon mentioned, balancing on the back legs of the chair.

    “That’s what it was originally, but Plutomon discovered that it had ideal conditions to create a prison zone for highly destructive Digimon,” Imperialdramon explained. “Now it’s both. Luckily, the two functions have nothing to do with each other.”

    Dorbickmon walked over and leaned his arms on the back of Examon’s seat. “So, you pretty much just came here to say that it was my fault? Great.”

    “It’s a pressing matter that’s worth warning all of you about,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode responded. “Keep an eye on those isolated rifts. I know you staunched the flow of dark data, but they might still be unstable.”

    “We will, Imperialdramon,” Dukemon told him.

    “So… Now that the serious stuff is done, how are you all doing?” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode asked with a light-hearted grin.

    “Right now? Scared crapless,” UlforceVeedramon snarked. This prompted a laugh from Imperialdramon.

    “We’re investigating an incident that went on in the Metal Empire, among day to day training and routine,” Alphamon explained.

    “Oh, yeah. I heard about that,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode said, rubbing his chin. “Bold move by whoever did it. It’s dangerous, though. Industrial espionage is on the same level as murder in the Metal Empire.”

    “Speakin’ of that,” Dorbickmon spoke up, beginning to make a move. “I’ve gotta get moving. It’s a long walk to the Locomon Rail Station from here. If I want to make it to Shroud by tomorrow, I need to hoof it.”

    “Very well,” Alphamon told him. “Thank you for doing this on short notice.”

    “Hey, that’s what you’re payin’ me for,” Dorbickmon responded dismissively.

    Examon stood up in his seat and turned to face Dorbickmon. “Be careful, Dorbickmon,” he told him.

    Dorbickmon grinned and shrugged. “Yeah, yeah. No promises, though. Unlike you, it’s not in my nature.”

    Examon lowered his gaze and folded his arms.

    “I think he’s pulling your leg, Examon,” Dukemon informed the dragon Royal Knight with a grin.

    “He does that a lot, apparently,” Examon spoke dryly.

    Dorbickmon chuckled. “Anyway, later, losers. I’ll be back in just under a week or so.”

    “Goodbye,” Examon said to him.

    “Make sure you get something on them,” Craniamon reminded him, leaning his arms on the table.

    “Or at least get to them before the Metal Empire does,” Dynasmon added.

    “Uh huh,” Dorbickmon responded with a nonchalant wave of the hand over his shoulder as he walked out of the council room.

    As he disappeared down the great hall towards the exit, Alphamon looked back at Imperialdramon Paladin Mode. “Was there anything else?”

    “I don’t think I’m missing anything,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode responded. “You don’t mind if I stay here until I have to go meet the two dark and dreary Digimon, do you?”

    Alphamon grinned. “You don’t have to ask to stay in your old castle,” he insisted. “We’d all like to have you around. There’s a guest room free that we can prepare.”

    Omegamon nodded in agreement at this.

    “Thanks, Alphamon,” Imperialdramon responded.

    “In that case, let’s adjourn this meeting,” Alphamon stated, placing his hands on the face of the table and pushing himself up.

    Dukemon nodded and stood up. “Examon, Sleipmon, Gankoomon. You three have military command lessons with me, don’t you?”

    Gankoomon smirked and got to his feet. “Yup. Time to bust some ***.”

    “I’m not sure that you’re supposed to enjoy it so much, Gankoomon,” Sleipmon said, grinning as he began to trot out of the council room.

    “He’s a natural at the ‘command’ part,” Examon dryly added, walking ahead with Sleipmon.

    Gankoomon placed his hands behind his head in a relaxed manner. “You two just need to assert yourselves more. I’ll show you guys how a man does it.”

    “There’s more to it than just shouting,” Dukemon said as he speed-walked to catch up with them.

    Magnamon, Craniamon, RhodoKnightmon, Dynasmon, Duftmon, UlforceVeedramon, and Alphamon all began to head out as well.

    “Are you two coming?” Alphamon asked, looking over his shoulder and wing at Omegamon and Imperialdramon Paladin Mode, who were lingering behind.

    “Yeah, I just want to catch up with Omegamon for a minute,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode responded with an easygoing smile.

    “Alright,” Alphamon answered, heading into the great hall with the rest of the Royal Knights.

    “Be gentle with him, Imperialdramon. He’s our second in command!” UlforceVeedramon’s voice rang out from the group of knights.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode chuckled and turned to Omegamon. “I see Ulforce still has his sense of humour.”

    Omegamon cast a look in UlforceVeedramon’s direction. “That’s debatable,” he replied as he rose to his feet.

    Another small laugh emerged from Imperialdramon’s mouth. “You never did have much of a taste for humour.”

    Omegamon smiled at his teasing. “Given all of the jokes that you subjected me to, could you blame me?” he responded in turn.

    The dragon knight smirked. “You know you love them.” He reached out and placed his azure hand on Omegamon’s shoulder. “But, seriously, how are you?”

    “Good, thank you,” Omegamon responded, raising his hand and placing it on Imperialdramon’s arm.

    Imperialdramon let go and lowered his arm. “No more dreams about Omegamon Zwart?” he asked him, his light-hearted expression morphing into a concerned one.

    Omegamon shook his head. “Thankfully…” he murmured.

    “Good…” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode replied. “Given that it was the negative energies from the Dark Area that caused that dark evolution, I don’t need to tell you how dangerous this instability of the Dark Area is.”

    A grimace formed behind Omegamon’s white helmet. “No… You’re right; we need to find a way to fix it. If even a small rift can have an impact on me… though, I suppose it wasn’t necessarily hard, given how I was feeling at the time.”

    “We can’t be sure how much emotions played a part in that. Either way, it’s dangerous to leave that kind of power unchecked,” Imperialdramon insisted. “Not to mention those prisoners. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to think of a solution.”

    “What about the Omega Blade?” Omegamon asked him, looking over at the stained glass window of Imperialdramon holding the said blade in the air. “If you put enough energy into initializing the barrier, then maybe…”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode frowned and shook his head in response. “No, it’s too risky… It could reformat the whole barrier if I’m not careful. If it was on a small scale, then sure, but there’re just too many variables on a large scale restructuring.”

    Omegamon sighed. “We’ll think of something.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode nodded and began to walk out of the council room, prompting Omegamon to walk beside him. “I sure hope so.”

    “I forgot to ask. How are you?” Omegamon wondered, looking over as he strode down the ostentatious hall beside Imperialdramon.

    “I’m good. Busy though,” Imperialdramon answered.

    Omegamon managed a smile. “You act easygoing but you’re always busy doing something, it seems,” he pointed out.

    Imperialdramon grinned at him. “If I didn’t act that way, you’d probably worry about me.”

    “With good reason, but at least now I can check up on you more,” the white Royal Knight replied.

    “And? I’m in one piece, aren’t I?”

    Omegamon glanced at him. “As far as I can tell…”

    The founder of the Royal Knights breathed a soft chuckle. “Come on. Let’s catch up with the others. I want to see how they’re doing.”

    The two white knights walked together and disappeared to the left upon reaching the end of the great hall of Imperialdramon’s old castle.

    -

    “There it is…”

    GrandisKuwagamon flew down from the air and landed in the middle of a wide, stone road. His feet touched down with a clack, and the droning of his rapidly beating wings came to a stop. He relaxed his upper body and glanced over his shoulder.

    Blitzmon landed behind him gracefully. He lowered his elytra – the protective, armoured covering over his insectoid wings – and ceased the beating of his wings as well.

    Bolgmon drove up the road on his mechanized tank treads. The metal clicking of his gradually slowed as he caught up to the two insects.

    “Still looks as shitty as ever,” Bolgmon remarked, looking past his two comrades and down the road.

    The road led up to a huge gate that was large enough for a Mammothmon to walk through with ease. In fact, a Mammothmon was one of the Digimon guarding the gate. He was a massive mammoth Digimon covered with thick fur and donning a long, muscular trunk and deadly tusks. Despite this, he was dwarfed by the broad, solid, forty foot, rock walls that surrounded the city behind him.

    They had reached the city of Shroud.

    Shroud was a free city in the northern hemisphere of the continent. It was protected on all sides by the tall, well-crafted wall. On top of the ramparts of the wall were regular patrols of city guards who would stop any Digimon that tried to fly over the walls. There were only two ways to get in the city. One road provided thoroughfare to the city; it went through one gate, proceeded straight through the city, and then exited through the opposite end. To enter the city, one had to go through the gates and pay the entrance toll. Officially, this toll was for merchants who wanted to enter the city or use the highway through the city, but unofficially, this toll was actually they payment required for criminals to take safe haven in the city.

    The most striking feature of the city was the dim darkness that was cast across the city and its surrounding landscape. This was due to the data storm that raged over the city constantly. The sun was blocked out from the morning to the evening by this data storm. The storm was a mass of swirling, dark grey and violet clouds which only sometimes allowed beams of sunlight through. The clouds often exhibited the appearance of blocky, fragmented data and they constantly loomed over the city.

    Data storms are weather phenomena characterized by concentrated clusters of roaming data in the air. They cause disruption in the data streams as well as general poor visibility and storm-like conditions such as lightning. However, they usually pass like a regular storm would. Nobody knows why the data storm above Shroud is permanent and it’s still a subject of debate and investigation among curious Digimon scientists. However, due to this natural (or unnatural) landmark, it’s hard to see the city from the air and it’s too risky to fly through the data storm safely. This means even aerial Digimon need to pass through the gate, and those who do try to fly over the wall are taken down by guards.

    “Don’t knock it, Bolgmon,” Blitzmon said to him, beginning to walk forwards. “It’s a useful place for Digimon like us.”

    “Doesn’t mean it isn’t dreary,” Bolgmon retorted, rolling after him.

    “I kinda like it,” GrandisKuwagamon mused, leading the way towards the gate.

    Bolgmon glanced up at the dark, tumultuous clouds storming overhead as he treaded forward. “Weirdo.”

    The three members of Black Pincer Company approached the gate of Shroud. Standing on one side of the gate was the Mammothmon who had been eyeing them as they drew near. “You know the drill,” he rumbled.

    “We paid for the year plan,” GrandisKuwagamon responded, walking up to the fortified gate house attached to the wall next to the gate. On that side of the gate was the demonic form of a Zanbamon, who also stood on guard.

    Black Pincer Company stepped up to the window of the gatehouse where Digimon paid to enter. GrandisKuwagamon rang the bell a few times to get the gatekeeper’s attention.

    After a few seconds, a small, ugly, demon Digimon leapt up from out of view and landed on the desk. The Evilmon narrowed his squinting, beady eyes at whoever interrupted him. “What? What?! I’m here already!” he snapped irritably, stamping his foot on the desk.

    “We want to get in, pipsqueak,” GrandisKuwagamon replied, looking down at the small devil Digimon. “We’ve got a year pass. GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon, and Bolgmon.”

    “Then let’s see your passes,” the Evilmon responded, tapping his foot on the desk. “Wouldn’t be the first time I heard that one.” He then began muttering about the ‘pipsqueak’ crack under his breath.

    GrandisKuwagamon rolled his eye and turned to Blitzmon. “Have ‘em, Blitz?”

    Blitzmon nodded and swung around his shoulder bag. He plunged his hand inside and rifled through its contents. After a few moments, he retracted his hand and pulled out three cards. They were photo IDs of the three Digimon with details about their official date of issue. He stepped up beside GrandisKuwagamon and placed them on the counter at the Evilmon’s feet. “Here.”

    The Evilmon gatekeeper took all three of them and scanned them carefully with his red and blue eyes. “Lesse… Issued on the fourth day of the Month of Sandiramon…” He glanced up at the trio. “Okay, you guys check out. Just don’t cause any trouble. Let ‘em in, guys!”

    With the gate now opened up to the three insectoid mercenaries, they passed through the wall and followed the road in. This main road, which went through the city, leading from one gate to the other, was the busiest one in all of Shroud. As the busiest thoroughfare in the area, the entire road was flanked by busy shops, restaurants, cafes, a few bars, markets, and countless merchant stalls. It was the commercial hub of the city. As a result, the road (as well as the streets branching off from the road) was bustling with Digimon. At around midday, there would be a sea of Digimon, big and small.

    Many merchants flocked to Shroud. As Shroud was a free city built on a strategic road leading from the Republic of Node to the northern areas of the continent, it was popular with Digimon wanting to sell their wares and make money. There was a lot of Digimon traffic through the city, which made Shroud a popular place to set up shop. There was also the fact that there was a large population of seedy Digimon who used Shroud as a safe haven. Merchants took advantage of this to sell to them, where they might not be able to in other places. This made criminals and mercenaries an important part of Shroud’s economy.

    However, this didn’t mean that criminals and mercenaries could do whatever they liked in the city. They were expected to abide by the laws in place. While bar fights and pickpocketing were common, there was generally not a lot of crime committed against Shroud and its local population. Since Shroud was a safe haven for outlaws, it was generally understood that they were not to “**** in their own backyard” as they would often say. This was because, if crime levels got too out of control, the mayor could decide that the cost of harbouring outlaws wasn’t worth the price, and call in the Royal Knights or the Republic of Node’s military to get rid of the unwanted elements. However, it never came to this, since nobody wanted to ruin a good thing. The local law enforcement only rarely made arrests and Digimon were generally fined for acting out of turn. They were mostly there to keep the peace when fights broke out and to keep situations contained so as to not attract too much attention.

    Luckily for GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon, and Bolgmon, it was nearly the evening, so the main street was getting less crowded than it was in midday. The three broke off from the main road and headed down a side street.

    “This is a pain in the ***,” Bolgmon complained, as they turned down another, less crowded street. “How are we supposed to contact our client when we don’t even know where he is?”

    “He found us here last time,” Blitzmon responded. “He’ll be able to find us here again.”

    “Maybe he won’t wear that hood this time when he does,” Bolgmon added. “We never actually saw his face.”

    “I don’t know why he didn’t just let us find a place to make a dead drop,” GrandisKuwagamon said, frowning. “I don’t like walking around with hot blueprints and the D-Brigade on our asses.”

    Blitzmon shrugged as they walked down a dimly lit street. They headed towards a grotty-looking building at the corner of the street. It was a large, two-storey building made of stone. A wooden sign above the entrance read, “The Severed Arms” with an image of two bloody, separated arms on either sides of a coat of arms, in a sort of mock heraldry. The warm, orange glow of light could be seen through the building’s paned windows as they approached.

    As GrandisKuwagamon stepped forwards to push the large, wooden door open, it swung inwards and a drunken Diatrymon staggered out of the pub. “Moooove it!” the avian Digimon squawked, waving his colourful wing out to push the Digimon in his way aside.

    GrandisKuwagamon sidestepped and allowed him to pass. “Easy, buddy,” he told him, putting one hand on the bird’s shoulder.

    “Bug off,” the Diatrymon retorted, pulling his wing away and strutting past them clumsily on his uncoordinated legs and talons.

    GrandisKuwagamon grinned and shrugged, stepping forwards and pushing the closing door of the Severed Arms. “Come on, guys. I’ll buy you two some drinks,” he told the two insectoid Digimon behind him.

    “You will?” Blitzmon asked suspiciously. “Your treat?”

    “What’s the occasion?” Bolgmon added, following the two inside.

    “It’s not my treat. It’s that Diatrymon’s,” GrandisKuwagamon responded with a satisfied laugh, holding up a few coins that he pilfered from the avian Digimon’s bag when they bumped into each other.

    Blitzmon smirked and Bolgmon let out a chortle.

    The trio of mercenaries stepped into the bar. The smell of food and alcohol was strong, and the sounds of boisterous laughter, slurred chatter, and curse words filled the air. The floor was stone and the tables, chairs and bar were all made out of wood, giving the place an unrefined, rustic feel. Many of the tables were chipped and stained, and the chairs were often wobbly and had broken legs taped back on. The bar was lit with small lamps around the walls and over the bar area, giving the pub a dim, orange glow in some areas and darker, more shadowed areas near the corners and the back area of the pub. All of the bar’s occupants were a rough, mean-looking, or shady sort. The clientele matched the look of the pub.

    GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon, and Bolgmon began walking towards the bar counter.

    In the middle of the large room, opposite to the bar counter, was a worn out billiard table. It had scratches along the wooden frame and several scuffs and tears along the green cloth on top of the surface of the table. Surrounding it were three big, muscular, imposing Digimon: an Olegmon, a Minotaurmon, and an Octomon.

    The biggest of the three patrons, Olegmon, was lining up a shot with the pool stick to strike the cue ball. Just as he was pulling his arm back to take the shot, GrandisKuwagamon was walking behind him. The black beetle Digimon accidentally nudged the Olegmon’s arm as he was striking. The shot was thrown way off, with the stick clipping the side of the cue ball and sending it spinning wildly off the table and plummeting to the floor.

    The Olegmon’s two friends burst into laughter at the seemingly awful shot. Embarrassed and thinking that GrandisKuwagamon had done it deliberately, the burly, mega-level pirate Digimon swung around in a rage.

    “What the hell was that?!” he demanded, glaring at GrandisKuwagamon and raising the pool stick over his head as if to hit him with it. “I was shooting, you ugly *******!”

    GrandisKuwagamon stopped. Bolgmon and Blitzmon halted and turned to look between the Olegmon and their comrade.

    The red-haired insect slowly turned around to stare at the Olegmon with his hardened, blood red eye. He glanced up at the poised pool stick and the back down to the pirate’s face.

    The Olegmon grew unsettled by GrandisKuwagamon’s calm, fearless, yet foreboding gaze in the face of his threat.

    “My bad,” GrandisKuwagamon said coolly.

    The muscle-bound pirate decided to lower the pool stick and slowly turn around, giving GrandisKuwagamon an annoyed, lingering look. “Whatever,” he replied, turning his back to them and subtly tensing his shoulders up as he turned back to the game.

    GrandisKuwagamon shrugged it off and continued his walk to the bar.

    As the Octomon put the cue ball back on the table with one of his tentacles, the Minotaurmon leaned across it and whispered to Olegmon. “Olegmon, that was Black Pincer Company!” he whispered to him harshly.

    “I know. Shut up and don’t make eye contact,” Olegmon muttered back as he prepared to take his shot again.

    GrandisKuwagamon smirked and hopped on a bar stool, twitching his x-shaped wings slightly as he mounted the seat. Blitzmon sat to his right and Bolgmon rolled up on the other side of Blitzmon after moving a stool aside.

    “Why didn’t you tear him a new one, Grandis?” Bolgmon asked, looking down to GrandisKuwagamon.

    “Uh, because we’re supposed to be laying low? Don’t exactly want to attract attention by starting a bar fight, do we?” the ebon insect queried rhetorically.

    “I’m glad you showed restraint for once,” Blitzmon spoke, eyeing him with a smirk.

    GrandisKuwagamon elbowed his arm good-humouredly and hailed the barkeep. “Hey, Sagi!”

    The Sagitarrimon bartender looked over his shoulder as he was filling a glass from the optics at the back. The centaur-shaped dragon man glanced over his shoulder. He took the glass over to the bar patron waiting for her drink and then walked up to the three. “Look who it is,” he said with a jovial grin. “The Black Pincers.”

    “Any chance of us getting some drinks?” GrandisKuwagamon asked him, leaning on the counter.

    “Comin’ right up,” Sagitarrimon replied, backing up on his four legs. “WarGreymon’s Finest for the two handsome bugs and Requiem Oil for Bolgmon. Right?”

    “That sounds right,” GrandisKuwagamon said with a smirk.

    “You don’t want to a tip, do you?” Bolgmon asked with an annoyed glare at being singled out as not handsome.

    Sagitarrimon laughed and started pouring them their drinks. “Don’t be like that, Bolgie. I’ll even put a little umbrella in your drink,” he reassured him as he poured two pints from the beer taps. “It’s been a few weeks since I’ve last seen you three. You guys back from a job?”

    “Sorta,” GrandisKuwagamon responded as he took his mug of ale. “We’re laying low until we can meet our client.”

    “That reminds me, I need to go to the Spirits’ Rest Inn to get us some rooms,” Blitzmon stated.

    “Just as long as you three drink here. You know they water down their drinks over there, right?” Sagitarrimon responded with a playful grin, leaning an elbow on the bar counter as he placed Bolgmon’s drink in front of him.

    GrandisKuwagamon took a gulp of the bubbly, bitter, dark gold liquid and sighed with contentment as it washed over his tongue and flushed down his throat. “And you’d never do that here, right, Sagi?” the black carapace’d mercenary challenged with a playful grin.

    “Not worth the risk,” Sagitarrimon insisted. “Anyway, who’s the client? Maybe I’ve seen him around.”

    “Dunno,” Bolgmon said with a shrug as he drank. “Wouldn’t give his name and he wore a full cloak – hood and all – when we met him.”

    “Seemed like he wanted to keep his identity a secret,” Blitzmon added with a frown.

    “And you guys took a job from him?” the large bartender asked as he began cutting a watermelon-sized lemon. “That’s unusually risky for you guys. He sounds dodgy.”

    “It’s not the first time we’ve taken jobs that clients didn’t want linked back to them. Maybe he thought we’d get captured and interrogated. The tin cans of the Metal Empire might be neutral, but they can get pretty nasty if your cross ‘em,” GrandisKuwagamon replied with a shrug.

    “Besides, he paid us a quarter of the payment upfront as an incentive,” Blitzmon responded. “If we complete this job, it will be a massive reward.”

    “And if he tries to screw us, we’ll just screw his thumbs,” Bolgmon stated with a laugh like crackling electricity.

    “Remind me not to get on your bad side, Bolgie,” Sagitarrimon said.

    “You’ll be fine as long as you keep getting me drunk,” Bolgmon assured him, putting his arms behind his head and leaning back with a relaxed grin.

    “As long as you keep paying, I won’t stop,” the bartender answered before walking off to tend to a thirsty Digimon at the other end of the bar counter.

    Blitzmon finished off his mug of beer and put it down on the counter, the frothy head still inching down the sides of the glass. “Okay,” he announced, standing up from the seat. “I’ll go book those rooms at the inn.”

    “Watch yourself, Blitz,” GrandisKuwagamon warned him. “Wouldn’t be surprised if some D-Brigade spec ops are already here. It doesn’t take a genius to assume that we’d go to Shroud.”

    “I’ll be careful,” Blitzmon responded calmly. He headed towards the exit and disappeared behind the door.

    Bolgmon watched as he went. He then glanced over at GrandisKuwagamon. “If that’s the case, why don’t we hide out in that cave network we found in the Dragon Mountains?”

    “Hell of a long way. Don’t want to use the Locomon Rail,” the humanoid insect Digimon answered. “Besides, you hate caves.”

    “Then somewhere else,” Bolgmon said.

    “It’s too risky travelling out in the open. Yeah, Shroud’s obvious, but there’re a lot of places to hide here,” GrandisKuwagamon responded. “And we know this city better than they do.”

    “Guess so. We could probably ambush them if we’re sharp,” Bolgmon agreed.

    “I’d rather not have to,” GrandisKuwagamon told him. “Just hope that damn client shows up soon so we can get our cash.”

    Bolgmon turned his mechanical head and looked over at his comrade’s satchel. “Wonder what’s so special about those blueprints anyways…”

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
  9. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post)

    -

    Many kilometers away, in the middle of the northern hemisphere of the continent was a small kingdom. A really small kingdom. In fact, it was so small that it needed special inset maps to be seen in most map collections like Atlur’s Atlas. Otherwise, it would just be a speck on the paper.

    This was the Mamemon Kingdom. It was a place that Digimon thought so little about that many don’t even realize that it existed. However, the Digimon of the Mamemon Kingdom were industrious, eager go-getters. Despite the fact that they couldn’t compete with the Metal Empire in terms of size, influence, military, economy, or many other things, really, the Mamemon Kingdom was highly inventive. They had a large manufacturing base in which they built mechanicals goods to sell for cheap, often improving on existing inventions.

    The small kingdom wanted most to be recognized and taken seriously. They were tired of being ignored and underestimated, and they wanted to be able to contend with their (one-sided) rivals, The Metal Empire.

    In the capital – and only city – of Haganemame City, rain washed down the sides of a giant, metal dome. It was one of the largest buildings in the city. All of the buildings in the city, from the houses to the factories, were in the shape of a dome, as well. Some differed in size and some had parts jutting out that to lead to other buildings.

    The large dome in question was the palace of PrinceMamemon, the self-appointed leader of the Mamemon Kingdom.

    Sitting in a lavish, comfortable throne at the back of the throne room was a big, yellow sphere with arms and legs. Larger in size and larger than life than most Mamemon, PrinceMamemon rested on the throne with one elbow on the arm of the chair and his white-gloved hand resting against his ample cheek. The face on his spherical body was bright with emotion and vibrancy. He had big, animated eyes and rosy cheeks, although his usually winning smile was downturned into a frown at that moment. His sleeves and pants were made of a fine, blue cloth of high quality. He raised one of his legs to rest his pointed, rubber boot on his other leg. On his shoulders he wore ceremonial epaulettes and over his back he was garbed in a red and white, fur-collared cape, both of which gave him a stately appearance. Finally, on top of his round head and body, he wore a regal crown which further perpetuated the image of royalty.

    “Ho hum,” he announced with an exaggerated sigh. “The doldrums of this rain are surely dampening my mood. I would normally be full of joie de vivre were it not for this treacherous weather! I was planning on going out to meet with my loyal subjects this afternoon.”

    “Indeed, your majesty. The weather is truly regrettable,” said the Digimon in front of him. “But perhaps I have some news that could lift your spirits.”

    PrinceMamemon perked up at these words. He leaned forwards on the edge of his throne and looked at the Digimon excitedly.

    The Digimon was a tall, skinny, humanoid Digimon glad in green metal from head to toe. This wasn’t armour but his body, since his torso was nothing but a mirror. Like his midriff, his face was also a mirror. However, this smaller, circular mirror contained a pair of disembodied lips beneath the surface of the glass. These lips moved as real lips would, opening with every word. The Digimon’s head was skinny and conical in shape, much like his shoulders. On each of his forearms were two shields whose faces also consisted of mirrors. They were known as the Shields of Irony and they could fittingly reflect attacks back. Around his waist, ankles, wrists, shields, and the apex of his head was a decorative red and yellow pattern. This, along with the shimmering of his resplendent body in the light of the windows behind the throne, gave Mercuremon an ostentatious appearance befitting of PrinceMamemon’s royal advisor.

    “Yes? What is it, Mercuremon?” PrinceMamemon wondered.

    “It is about the Metal Empire,” Mercuremon informed him.

    “Ohhhh?” PrinceMamemon hummed enthusiastically. “Has their invitation finally come through the mail for that party a few days ago? I knew that they would never intentionally ignore us! It has to have been that slow mail courier again. Can we get him replaced? He simply won’t do!”

    “I’m afraid that isn’t what I meant, your majesty,” Mercuremon replied, bowing somewhat. “However, it is about something that went on during that party.”

    PrinceMamemon hopped off of his throne and landed on his feet. “Oh? And what might that be?”

    “It… appears… that there was an incident in Facture while the party was in full swing,” the aristocrat made of metal and mirrors explained, placing his hands on his hips. “I have it on very good authority that mercenaries attacked one of their factories and stole several blueprints from them.”

    “Well! It serves them right for being so bold as to snub me and the Mamemon Kingdom from partaking in their gala,” the royal exclaimed, folding his arms indignantly. “They are obviously threatened by our technological capabilities. Mmm… No, no. The invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. Yes! I’m certain of it.” PrinceMamemon frowned. “But why tell me this, Mercuremon?”

    “We might be able to use this information to our advantage, don’t you think?” the royal advisor suggested.

    “Ah! That’s a wonderful idea!” PrinceMamemon exclaimed with a beaming smile. “…How?”

    “Perhaps we can use the opportunity to get some leverage over the Metal Empire?” Mercuremon hinted with a twinkle in his mirror and a soft, calculating smirk on his lips. “The mercenaries obviously didn’t steal the blueprints to keep for themselves, so that begs the question of who they are working for.”

    PrinceMamemon frowned and began thinking hard to himself. “If only we had those blueprints. We would be able to make better use of them than anybody else,” he mumbled.

    “Indeed…”

    After a few moments of introspection, PrinceMamemon’s face lit up like the sun. “Mercuremon! I have the most splendid idea!” he exclaimed.

    Mercuremon gave him a half smile. “Yes, your majesty?”

    “We could pretend to have stolen those blueprints!” PrinceMamemon announced proudly.

    Mercuremon went completely silent. After a few moments, he finally spoke up. “Er… I am afraid that your majesty will have to explain his superior logic to me, for I am having trouble keeping up with it…”

    “It’s simple, really!” PrinceMamemon explained, folding his arms and nodding with self-satisfaction. “If we say that we stole their blueprints, it would show the Metal Empire that we are not a force to be trifled with! They wouldn’t be able to ignore us then, now would they? Additionally, there are many Digimon who don’t have a very high opinion of the Metal Empire after that dreadful coup d’etat. For example, our loyal and capable subordinates, the Royal Knights. If we show our bottoms to the Metal Empire, in a manner of speaking, surely our reputation will catapult and we will be able to have more sway in diplomatic affairs. Yes! The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that this is a brilliant plan!”

    A bead of sweat dropped down behind Mercuremon’s facial mirror. “I agree, your majesty, but how do you think the Metal Empire would react to such a claim? Our military is a fraction of what theirs is…”

    “They wouldn’t attack us,” the royal said certainly. “They are neutral isolationists. They only care about what happens inside their territory.”

    “Even in the face of such a provocation?” Mercuremon probed.

    “No, no, the worst they can do is not invite us to their parties, which they have done already,” PrinceMamemon responded. “Besides, if they even dared to consider attacking us, our faithful and powerful subjects would be at their king’s side in but an instant!”

    The royal advisor eyed PrinceMamemon. “The Royal Knights, your majesty?” he asked, his voice as dry as the Claw Desert.

    “But of course!” the Mamemon king responded. “I would like you to prepare an announcement and then ready the travel arrangements. I want to visit the Royal Knights at my summer palace in person. A good monarch doesn’t leave his subordinates in the dark, after all!”

    “You can rely on me,” Mercuremon answered with a formal bow and a smile.

    “Of course I can. You are such a competent advisor, after all. I am so happy that I invited you to court,” PrinceMamemon stated. “You are free to go, Mercuremon.”

    Mercuremon rose and turned around, walking gracefully out of the throne room.

    PrinceMamemon smiled broadly and hopped back onto his throne, placing his hands behind his head in smug satisfaction. “Oh, yes! This is my best idea yet! This will be the thing that propels the Mamemon Kingdom and my royal self into gloryyy!”
     
  10. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 5: A New Objective​


    The aromatic, earthy scent of tea filled the clement, morning air. The shining sun beamed down warmly on the Royal Knights’ castle on a cloudless day.

    Four figures sat in the pavilion that stood freely from the main building of the castle. It was raised up, on level with the second storey of the castle, and it was connected to the main building via a stone foot-bridge. There was a second bridge leading over to the nearby, free-standing tower. The pavilion had a smooth, washed, stone flooring and was several meters in diameter. Although it was open-air so it had no walls, there was a simple-yet-elegant roof held up by eight posts. Since it was on the north side of the massive building, it overlooked the nearby training grounds, where a group of Order soldiers were doing training drills. Around the edges of the pavilion were ornate railings and a stone bench. From that vantage point, they could see the sea of emerald grass both within and beyond the castle walls.

    Sitting on the bench were Alphamon, Imperialdramon Paladin Mode, Omegamon, and OuRyuumon. Each had a cup of warm tea in their hands.

    Imperialdramon released a contented sigh. “Thanks. It’s been too long since I’ve had a good cup of tea,” he said, looking at others as he rested his greyish-white wings against the metal railing behind him.

    “Eh. I like the tea that Gankoomon makes more. The jade kind from the Eastern Continent,” OuRyuumon said between sips of his dark, steaming tea.

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode smiled and looked at Alphamon. “Your friend doesn’t approve of your tea-brewing skills.”

    “I know,” Alphamon responded dryly.

    “What skills? When we were younger, there used to be whole pieces of leaves in the cups,” OuRyuumon explained, looking at Alphamon with a pointed smirk. “It was more like a salad.”

    Alphamon crossed his arms as Imperialdramon and Omegamon chuckled. “Let’s not open the conversation of embarrassing things that we did when we were younger, OuRyuumon. You’ll lose for certain,” Alphamon warned him with a faint grin.

    OuRyuumon placed his cup beside him and raised his claws up in front of himself. “Okay, okay,” he conceded.

    Omegamon smiled, took a gentle sip from his ceramic cup, and looked to the blue dragon man beside him. “So, you’re heading out today, Imperialdramon?” he asked him.

    “Yeah,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode answered. “Anubismon and Plutomon are meeting me the next day.”

    The white Royal Knight nodded understandingly. “It was nice that you could stay for this long.”

    “You’re welcome to stay over any time,” Alphamon added, picking up his teacup from beside him.

    “Thanks,” Imperialdramon told them. “What do you guys plan to do after I leave?”

    “Continue waiting for Karatenmon’s and Dorbickmon’s reports on the Facture incident,” Omegamon responded.

    “Also… I’ve been thinking,” Alphamon stated before bringing his cup to his mouth and sipping. He swallowed the tea and looked over at the other three. “I think we should collaborate with the other states about this Dark Area business.”

    “Is it a good idea to publicise this stuff, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon asked him, looking down at the three. “The more people who know, the more dangerous it is. What if someone has the same idea as Dorbickmon and wants to free the prisoners?”

    “If we work with the other states, especially ones with large amounts of territory like the Republic of Node, the UDC, or the Mesozoic Kingdom, then it will be easier to find and contain any rifts that we may have missed. And they might have ideas on how to secure the Dark Area,” Alphamon responded.

    “I told the Four Holy Beasts last week,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode informed them. “That means the Devas probably know too, and since Majiramon is Qinglongmon’s viceroy for the UDC, it’s possible that the Four Great Dragons know as well.”

    “And since Anubismon knows, then the Warrior Ten also likely know,” Omegamon added pensively.

    “Then I guess it makes sense to coordinate our efforts, but you should still be careful,” OuRyuumon advised.

    Alphamon nodded. “Next week, I’ll take a few volunteers and travel up to New Terminal to meet with the Council of Seven. We’ll send a letter in advance so they can prepare themselves,” he explained.

    “Why start with the Republic of Node?” OuRyuumon inquired curiously.

    “I need to head up that way anyways. Personal business,” Alphamon responded.

    OuRyuumon cocked an eyebrow. “Something to do with your parents? You never said anything to me…”

    Alphamon frowned. “No, not that. There’s something else that I need to do. Although, it would be nice to see them…” he responded.

    “Mind if I come along?” OuRyuumon asked. “I wouldn’t mind visiting my parents too.”

    Alphamon smiled slightly. “Sure. We can visit both of them while we’re there.”

    “I’ll stay here. Dukemon and I will look after things while you’re away,” Omegamon assured him. “Assuming that he doesn’t want to go too.”

    “Thank you, Omegamon,” Alphamon told him.

    Omegamon shook his head, signalling that it wasn’t a problem. “Tell your parents I say hello.”

    “He will. They always liked you. They think you’re really polite and gentlemanly,” OuRyuumon teased him.

    Imperialdramon laughed. “He’s a great guy to bring home to the parents, isn’t he? Unlike OuRyuumon here,” he said, teasing OuRyuumon right back. Omegamon grew embarrassed at the exchange and slouched in his seat.

    OuRyuumon folded his arms indignantly. “I can be charming!”

    A smile grew on Alphamon’s face. “You can?” he asked wryly. “Is this in front of a mirror?”

    OuRyuumon rolled his eyes. “Well, I’m no gentleman like you are, but I have my appeal.”

    Alphamon chuckled. “I guess you must,” he half-joked.

    OuRyuumon shot him a good-natured smile.

    “Come on, Alphamon,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode announced, standing to his feet. “I want to thrash you in billiards before I leave this afternoon. And no excuses about you having stuff to do.”

    “I guess I can’t get out of it, can I?” Alphamon relented, standing up and collecting his empty cup of tea.

    “Not a chance, Sir Lord of the Empty Seat,” Imperialdramon insisted, waiting for the others to stand up before heading inside.

    Omegamon smiled and stood up with OuRyuumon. The four cleaned up and proceeded to head inside.

    Outwardly, Imperialdramon played off lightly the dangerous situation that they faced. He often did this. However, both Alphamon and Omegamon couldn’t help but be concerned about the Dark Area...

    -

    The data storm surged over the city of Shroud perpetually. The greyish-purple clouds swirled in the sky, accented by big, blocky, fragments of data. That day, the data storm melded with a rain storm, so droplets of rain came showering down over the darkened city and the surrounding grass landscape.

    Dorbickmon walked up the well-traveled road to the southern gate of the city. Despite taking the Locomon Rail most of the way, he still had to walk a few kilometers from the station to the city. His body was dripping wet and the bag under his arm was fairly soaked as well.

    He released a hiss and approached the massive walls and gate. There was a bulky Rhinomon and a svelte WereGarurumon guard on duty. They both held oversized leaf umbrellas over their heads to protect against the rain. The mercenary walked up to the toll station to the left of the gate. Once there, he leaned his arms on the counter and looked in, gaining some relative shelter from the rain.

    Inside was the Evilmon attendant, who was reading a book and snickering to himself.

    Dorbickmon rolled his eyes. “Hey, Evilmon,” he spoke, catching his attention. “Put the porn down for a minute. I want to get in.”

    Evilmon peered over the top of the book with an annoyed glance. “You got a year plan, right? Let’s see your ID.”

    Dorbickmon reached into his bag and pulled out his card to show it to him. “Happy?”

    “No. It’s pissing out and I’ve got people distracting me. You can go in, though,” the Evilmon replied with a dismissive wave. “Rhinomon!”

    “Hey, at least you didn’t have to walk in it,” Dorbickmon stated as the Rhinomon moved to open the gate. “Oh, by the way, you seen a GrandisKuwagamon, a Blitzmon, and a Bolgmon come in here over the past week?”

    “Maybe, maybe not. Beats me,” the Evilmon responded with a shrug, his buggy eyes turning back to his dirty book.

    Dorbickmon grunted and reached into his bag. He pulled out a twenty. “Think this’ll refresh your memory?” he asked, flashing the money in front of him.

    Evilmon lowered his book and peered up at it with interest. “…The going rate is forty. You’re not the first person to ask me that today, and that’s how much he offered me,” he told him.

    “Tch. Fine, whatever. Forty and you tell me who else asked about them too,” Dorbickmon replied, pulling out some more money and putting it on the counter.

    “Deal.” Evilmon collected the money and stuffed it into his belongings. “To answer your first question, yeah, the three bugs came in here a few days ago. As far as I know, they haven’t left yet,” he explained. “As for who asked me about them, it was a Darkdramon. There was a MagnaGarurumon, a BlackRapidmon, a Gigadramon, and a bunch of Sealsdramon with ‘im.”

    Dorbickmon swore under his breath. He didn’t like the sound of that. It sounded like a D-Brigade taskforce cell if he ever heard one. “Thanks. Keep the change,” he muttered sarcastically.

    As the dragon man began to step away from the booth, Evilmon eyed him. “I don’t know what’s going on, but don’t cause any trouble or else Shroud Patrol will come down on your asses hard.”

    “I know,” Dorbickmon responded with a dismissive wave while turning around. “I’m just here to catch up with some buddies of mine.”

    The Evilmon shrugged and returned to his book.

    Dripping with rain water, Dorbickmon walked through the gates of Shroud. Due to the weather, there were barely any Digimon on the main road. While the buildings were open, the open-air stalls that usually littered the street were packed up and closed. There were still a few Digimon who ventured out in the rain: aquatic types and the ones that didn’t mind the rain much.

    Dorbickmon turned left down a side street and began heading towards the Severed Arms pub. As he walked, he looked around at the familiar buildings. He had been to Shroud many times before. Sometimes he had come because he needed a place to lay low after taking some dangerous or unsavoury jobs. Other times, he had come to get information. In many other instances, he came simply for the nightlife. Things were always lively in Shroud, despite its dreary name and appearance.

    It wasn’t long until Dorbickmon reached the Severed Arms. He opened the doors of the rough-looking bar and stepped inside to escape the rain. Rivulets of water ran down his armour and body. He shook himself off on the doormat before heading over to the bar counter and sitting down in front of it, still dripping mildly.

    There were only about six other Digimon present in the bar, from what Dorbickmon could tell. None of them were GrandisKuwagamon, Blitzmon, or Bolgmon. Dorbickmon settled in on the bar stool. He didn’t expect it to be that easy.

    The Sagitarrimon bartender acknowledged him with a grin and walked over. “Hey, Dorbickmon,” he greeted, recognizing him. “Crappy weather out there, even for Shroud, huh?”

    “You’re telling me; I can’t wait to dry off,” Dorbickmon responded.

    “Before you do, want something to wet your tongue? Like a dark lager?” the Sagitarrimon suggested.

    Dorbickmon smirked toothily. “Yeah, but just one. I’m on a job,” he explained, leaning forward against the counter.

    “Yeah? What sort of job?” the four-legged bartender asked as he grabbed a clean mug and started pulling a pint of the dark brown drink for the mercenary.

    “Sorry. Can’t tell ya. You could help me out with something though,” Dorbickmon said to him.

    “What’s that?” the Sagitarrimon inquired as he placed the mug of beer in front of his customer.

    “Have you seen Black Pincer Company around here? I need to talk to ‘em,” the spiky, red dragon man asked.

    “Black Pincer?” Sagitarrimon repeated with a raised eyebrow. “Yeah. It’s a bit early for them now, but they’ve been in here every night for the past few days. …Why?”

    “Like I said, nothing bad. I just need to talk to them about something,” Dorbickmon responded, bringing the mug of beer to his lips and drinking. “I could use their help.”

    As the two talked, a door opened down past the far end of the bar counter. A BlackWarGreymon stepped out of the male’s washroom and began to head towards the table where his friends and drinks were. When he spotted Dorbickmon, he froze in his tracks.

    “Crap,” he whispered under his breath, spinning around and ducking his head to hide his face from the mercenary. He placed his black hands in his pockets and began to innocuously walk away in a different direction to avoid being spotted.

    “Hey! Look who it is!” Dorbickmon’s voice rang out.

    Before BlackWarGreymon could react, Dorbickmon’s arm reached out in front of him and suddenly pulled him back, into a strong headlock.

    “My old buddy BlackWarGreymon!” Dorbickmon exclaimed with a dangerous grin, headlocking the black dragon man with intentional strength.

    “Grgh! Guh… D-Dorbickmon…” BlackWarGreymon grunted sheepishly, grabbing Dorbickmon’s forearm with his hands and trying to pull it off. “Hey…”

    “It’s been awhile!” Dorbickmon stated with a broad, affable smile that managed to show off all of his fearsome, jagged teeth. He tightened the headlock and pulled BlackWarGreymon closer. “The last time I saw you was in Lupolford! Yeah! We were fighting the Royal Knights, and you and your friend turned tail and ran while leaving me at the mercy of those damn, pompous tin cans!”

    BlackWarGreymon swallowed hard and glanced over his shoulder to see Dorbickmon’s grinning face. He assumed that hiding beneath that grin was a scowl that showed how much Dorbickmon wanted to kill him. “Uh…”

    “So, how’re the Cimmerian Adventurers treating you?” Dorbickmon asked him, raising his other hand to the back of BlackWarGreymon’s head and playfully messing up his blond hair with his claws.

    “F-Fine. Look, Dorbickmon. About Lupolford. There was no chance we’d win! I mean, we asked you to come with us!” BlackWarGreymon insisted, squirming and struggling to get out of Dorbickmon’s hold. He inwardly wished that he brought his Dramon Killers with him.

    Dorbickmon let out a fiery laugh. “Yeah, I remember that! I wanted to rip your head off when you did that!” he stated good-naturedly while also subtly squeezing the mercenary’s neck and pushing his hand against his head harder. “But hey. You gotta look out for number one, right?”

    A bead of sweat dripped down BlackWarGreymon’s forehead. “Uh…”

    Dorbickmon placed the tip of his horned snout right next to BlackWarGreymon’s ear and spoke in a near whisper. “But it’s good to help each other out too. So, maybe you can do me a favour. Then we’ll call it even… buddy.”

    “S-Sure thing. Whatever you want, pal,” the black dragon man told the red one. “You can count on me.”

    “Glad to hear it,” Dorbickmon responded curtly, finally releasing him. “I need you to do a bit of information gathering for me.”

    BlackWarGreymon immediately stepped away from him and turned around, reaching up with a hand to rub his free neck. “…What sort of info?”

    “About Black Pincer Company. Know ‘em?” Dorbickmon asked him, folding his arms.

    “Yeah. Aren’t they those weird insect guys?” BlackWarGreymon responded. “I heard that they’re data absorbers.”

    “That’s just a rumour,” Dorbickmon dismissed sceptically. “But yeah. The GrandisKuwagamon, Bolgmon and Blitzmon.”

    “What do you want with them?” BlackWarGreymon queried, walking over to the bar counter with Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon hailed the bartender to get a drink for BlackWarGreymon. “I want to know what they’re doing. I need to find out what the blueprints they stole were, what their job is, what they’re going to do, and who their client is.”

    “Is this for a job or just personal interest?” the black-scaled mercenary asked, collecting his drink from the Sagitarrimon and beginning to sip.

    “It’s for a job. There’s a lot of interested parties focused on them right now,” Dorbickmon answered as he reached over and took his own drink.

    BlackWarGreymon licked his lips and lowered his drink, glancing over. “Who’d they steal from?”

    “Metal Empire.”

    “Damn. They’re either brave, crazy or stupid,” BlackWarGreymon muttered.

    “Or all of the above. Anyway, apparently they’re staying at the Spirits’ Rest Inn a few blocks away. I’m gonna book myself a room there.” Dorbickmon looked over at his fellow mercenary. “Just keep tabs on them without being obvious. Don’t let them know you’re following them. They’re on the run from the D-Brigade, so they might end up assuming you’re one of their agents and end up killing you.”

    “Great. Now you tell me it’s dangerous,” he muttered with humourless sarcasm. “Anything else?”

    “I’m more dangerous than they are, so don’t get any ideas about running off again,” Dorbickmon reminded him with a sharp elbow, causing the BlackWarGreymon to spill a bit of beer over his claws. “Or selling me out.”

    “I won’t, Dorbickmon. As long as we’re definitely even after this,” BlackWarGreymon told him with a sideways leer.

    “Deal,” the crimson dragon answered.

    “And I get a cut of the reward,” he suggested innocuously.

    “Don’t push your luck.”

    -

    Back at the Royal Knights’ castle, the afternoon had set in. A meeting in the council room was called to announce the departure of Imperialdramon Paladin Mode.

    Dukemon, Examon, and Craniamon walked down the majestic, gold-hued great hall towards the council room. At the end of the hall they could see Gankoomon talking with BaoHuckmon. Beyond them, inside the council room itself, they could see most of the Royal Knights in their seats around the table.

    “What’s this meeting about?” Craniamon asked his two fellow Royal Knights.

    “Imperialdramon is leaving, isn’t he?” Examon asked, looking at Dukemon.

    “Is that all? I was in the middle of training too,” Craniamon said with a sigh, crossing his arms as he walked.

    “You’re allowed to take a break, you know,” Dukemon reminded him with a grin behind his visor. “And it’s not just that. Karatenmon is back.”

    “How do you know that?” Craniamon questioned, eyeing him with his glowing, red dots. “He was gone when I checked this morning.”

    “A little, red bird told me,” the crimson knight explained with a smile. “Well, ‘complained to me’, I suppose. Something about Karatenmon being tardy and not finishing his report until later. Grani can be really talkative when he’s upset. Then he goes all tight-beaked.”

    “You’d know that best,” Craniamon replied, implying that Dukemon was as bad as Karatenmon in that regard. “…Karatenmon’s back? Guess he’s found something about the Facture thing.”

    “He went personally?” Examon inquired.

    “Given how tight Metal Empire security is, especially after what happened in Facture, we only felt comfortable leaving it to a top ninja like him,” Dukemon explained. “Even for most of the Stealth Forces, it would be risky.”

    “If surveillance in Facture is so good, then how did those Black Pincer mercenaries get in?” the dragon followed up.

    Dukemon shrugged. “Good question. I guess they must be pretty skilled. We shouldn’t underestimate them,” he answered.

    “That’s why we should be taking the time to train,” the violet Royal Knight spoke up.

    “Again with that…” Dukemon said with a soft laugh.

    “Maybe you should try training BaoHuckmon,” Examon suggested, nodding ahead of him to the teenaged dragon Digimon.

    “I wouldn’t want to upstage Gankoomon,” Craniamon replied confidently.

    Dukemon chuckled. “Yes, you would. You’d just terrify the poor kid if you tried.”

    Examon smiled. “I don’t know, Dukemon. I think BaoHuckmon would jump at the chance. Look at him.” He nodded over at the dragon talking animatedly with Gankoomon.

    “Come on, Sensei! Why can’t I come into the meeting?!” BaoHuckmon complained.

    “Because it’s an official Royal Knight meeting and you’re not a Royal Knight,” Gankoomon told him plainly.

    “But I’m going to be a Royal Knight! One day!” BaoHuckmon insisted, looking up at his sensei with eager yellow eyes. “Think of it as training!”

    “Uh huh. If and when you become a Royal Knight, then you can sit in on our meetings,” the jacket-wearing Royal Knight explained. “If you’re so focused on becoming a Royal Knight, go practice your combat form.”

    “But Karatenmon’s in there. He isn’t a Royal Knight,” Gankoomon’s apprentice attempted to argue.

    “He’s the Captain of the Stealth Forces. You run errands and help out around the castle,” Gankoomon countered, folding his arms. “Not the same thing.”

    “Ugh. This is so unfair, sensei,” BaoHuckmon complained.

    “I don’t even know what you want to be there for. These meetings are usually as exciting as watching grass grow.” Gankoomon glanced over at Dukemon, Craniamon, and Examon. “Right, guys?”

    “It’s not as glamorous as it sounds, BaoHuckmon,” Dukemon told him with a grin before walking inside with the others.

    “But Imperialdramon Paladin Mode is in there. The founder of the Order of the Royal Knights! This is my chance to meet him in person!” BaoHuckmon stubbornly pleaded.

    “You can get his autograph when he leaves,” Gankoomon told him firmly. “No complaints.”

    “But—“ BaoHuckmon was silenced by a stern glare from his teacher. He glanced to the side and muttered under his breath.

    “And don’t sulk or eavesdrop either,” Gankoomon told him, patting the shoulder-high dragon’s smooth, metallic head. He turned around and walked inside, closing the doors of the council room behind him.

    BaoHuckmon let out a huff and then wandered down the great hall while muttering to himself.

    Gankoomon took his seat at the table with the other eleven Royal Knights. Also in the room were Imperialdramon Paladin Mode, who stood behind Alphamon and Omegamon, and Karatenmon, who lingered off to the side of the room.

    Alphamon looked around the room to make sure that everyone was present. “Alright, let’s begin,” he spoke, placing his arms on the table.

    “We don’t have to draw this out,” Imperialdramon stated cheerfully, placing his hands on his hips. “I’m heading out now. If I’m late, Plutomon might end up hunting me down.”

    “You will let us know how it goes, won’t you, Imperialdramon?” Duftmon asked him.

    Imperialdramon nodded. “I will. I’ll check up with most of you at some point next week to go over what we talked about,” he explained.

    “Most of us?” RhodoKnightmon inquired. Many of the Royal Knights excluding Alphamon and Omegamon looked at each other quizzically.

    “Oops,” Imperialdramon said, sheepishly looking at Alphamon. “And now I will hand things over to your leader.”

    Alphamon sighed. “Thank you, Imperialdramon,” he said. “I’m planning to travel to the Republic of Node this coming week. There is some business in New Terminal and elsewhere that I need to attend to.”

    “What kind of business?” Dynasmon asked him.

    “Some official and some personal,” Alphamon answered coyly.

    “What is the official business?” Duftmon queried, unconcerned with his personal business.

    “I was planning to meet with the Council of Seven to discuss the matter that Imperialdramon brought up: the instability of the Dark Area,” Alphamon explained, giving a quick look over to the white armoured dragon man as he spoke. “I think it would be best if we coordinated with other groups to secure the Dark Area. What do you all think about that?”

    “That’s a good idea,” Dukemon stated. “The security of the Dark Area affects the whole Digital World, after all. Everyone would want to make sure that the prisoners don’t escape and run amok.”

    “That makes sense,” Duftmon concurred. “Although not necessary, it would be more expedient to use a greater number of Digimon to locate and isolate all of the rifts.”

    “That way, there’s a greater chance of coming up with a permanent solution,” Magnamon suggested in agreement. “If the brightest minds from the continent can think of something.”

    “Is it a good idea?” Craniamon asked, a doubtful frown emerging in his eyes. “To let information as sensitive as the weakness of the Dark Area out?”

    “Who in the right mind would want to let the prisoners of the Dark Area out?” UlforceVeedramon asked with an emphatic shrug. “They’re all nutjobs.”

    “Dorbickmon did with DarkKnightmon. He’s sane. Stupid, but sane,” Craniamon reminded him.

    Examon rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, blaming himself more than he did Dorbickmon. “It wasn’t entirely his fault,” he asserted diplomatically.

    “I’m not blaming the lizard, I’m just making a point,” the violet Royal Knight stated concisely. “If he did it, there are some psychos who would jump at the chance.”

    “Pigtails is right,” Gankoomon stated, nodding over to Craniamon. Craniamon’s eyes shot over to glare at Gankoomon for the loathsome nickname, an atmosphere of ice and warning suddenly emanating from around his body. Gankoomon ignored him and leaned back in his seat. “I’m sure there’s still some leftover rebels of the Heavenly War somewhere who’d want to release the Demon Lords.”

    “GranDracmon is extremely charismatic as well,” RhodoKnightmon added. “There is a precise danger that he could manipulate Digimon through those dark rifts.”

    “We wouldn’t be releasing this information to every single Digimon,” Alphamon ensured them. “Only the top leaders of states and our allies will hear about it. We’ll consider this information top secret.”

    “It’s still a risk,” Craniamon spoke.

    “It doesn’t take a genius to know that the Dark Area’s security isn’t running at top capacity when one thinks about the fact that DarkKnightmon escaped,” Duftmon countered. “It shouldn’t deter us from maximizing our resources.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode folded his arms. “Most Digimon don’t even know that the Dark Area is anything more than a purgatory for data. And I think those who do assumed that we fixed the security after that incident,” he explained.

    “Alright,” Craniamon said, casually raising a hand in front of him and closing his eyes. “I’m just saying to be careful.”

    Alphamon nodded. “There are no objections, then?” he asked. Silence was the response, giving him his answer. “Good. Then I would like a couple volunteers to come with me. I already have OuRyuumon coming along. I’m leaving Omegamon in charge of things here.”

    Imperialdramon grinned and looked at Dukemon, thinking that he might volunteer himself. “Why don’t you help Omegamon out, in case he ever needs to make a speech or get angry,” he joked.

    Omegamon gave Imperialdramon an annoyed look. “You mean like right now?” he said to his friend.

    Dukemon chuckled and glanced at Omegamon. “Sure. I don’t mind staying.”

    “I’m good here,” Gankoomon stated. “I’ll leave that politics stuff to you guys.”

    “I would love to go to New Terminal, but it is a long way away,” RhodoKnightmon explained. “It sounds like too much effort for me.”

    “I’ll come, Alphamon,” UlforceVeedramon offered cheerfully.

    “Yeah, me too,” Dynasmon followed.

    UlforceVeedramon thought for a brief moment. “Why don’t we bring along Paildramon too? Her father is Councillor Imperialdramon, isn’t he?”

    Alphamon nodded. “Very well. I suppose that’s not a bad idea. Five should be plenty.”

    “Now that that’s dealt with,” Imperialdramon Paladin Mode spoke, placing his hands on Alphamon and Omegamon’s shoulders. “I should get going now.”

    Both the black and white Royal Knights stood up. “We’ll see you soon,” Omegamon told him, taking Imperialdramon’s hand and shaking it.

    “Yes, have a safe trip,” Alphamon said to him warmly.

    “Hopefully I’ll return with good news this time,” Imperialdramon replied, beginning to walk around the round table and towards the great hall. “Bye, guys.”

    The Royal Knights said their friendly goodbyes to the founder of their Order as he headed to the doors of the council room. “By the way,” Gankoomon included, “Can you give BaoHuckmon your autograph? He won’t shut up about it if you don’t.”

    Imperialdramon Paladin Mode chuckled. “Sure thing,” he spoke as he left the room and closed the doors behind him.

    Alphamon and Omegamon watched the doors close before sitting back down in their seats. The Lord of the Empty Seat adjusted his chest armour and looked around at the other Royal Knights. “So, the next order of business. Karatenmon?” He looked over to the wall where he last saw Karatenmon, but found that he was no longer there.

    “Where’d he go?” Dynasmon asked, looking around the room.

    “Right here,” a voice suddenly said from behind Dynasmon, right near his ear.

    “Gah!” Dynasmon hollered with a start. He clenched his fist and spun in his chair to glare at Karatenmon with flustered embarrassment. “Stop doing that!”

    Karatenmon smiled innocently and stood up straight. “Sorry. I couldn’t resist.”

    “There you are,” Alphamon said, looking across the table with a faint grin. “You told me you finished your investigation in Facture.”

    Karatenmon nodded and held his taloned hands behind his back attentively. “For the moment, at least. I’ve figured out all that I can for now.”

    “Do you know why Black Pincer Company stole those blueprints?” Dukemon asked him.

    “Dorbickmon is our best bet for that,” Karatenmon replied. “I was in Facture, and the machine Digimon were as clueless about it as we were. The most prominent theory is that there’s a competitor.”

    “Did you find out what the blueprints were for?” Duftmon questioned next. “A weapon? Defences? A new Digimon?”

    “That’s just it,” the humanoid raven answered. “I discovered what they were, but they were just blueprints for a new design of an electric arc furnace. It’s not anything special; it’s just used for making metal alloys. There’s no real military application, and in order to even use it, you’d need access to certain technology that only the Metal Empire has.”

    “Then why would they steal it?” Magnamon wondered.

    “Maybe it really was the act of mercenaries who needed money,” Sleipmon suggested.

    “I’m not so sure… It might be more political than we thought,” Karatenmon said. “I heard something while I was in Facture. It’s about the Mamemon Kingdom.”

    The Royal Knights looked at him with confusion.

    “The what?” Dynasmon asked.

    The silence that followed was interrupted by the sound of the council room doors swinging open.

    Alphamon looked over, expecting to see Imperialdramon walking back in for one reason or another. However, he didn’t see anybody there. Whoever opened it was blocked by the height of the table and the Royal Knights. “Imperial—“ he began.

    “’Imperial Highness’… Yes, I quite like the sound of that! Good thinking, Alphamon! Address me as that from now on,” a high, eloquent voice spoke.

    All of the Royal Knights turned to see who it was, some standing up in order to see the Digimon.

    PrinceMamemon strode in as if he owned the place, his face haughty and his cape flowing behind him. Flanking him on both sides were his personal guards, four MetalMamemon. The spherical soldiers were shorter than him and were cyborgs possessing cannons on their left arms that were nearly as big as their bodies.

    Alphamon palmed his face and muttered. “You must be joking…”

    Behind the royal procession was one of the Royal Knights’ guards, who followed PrinceMamemon in with an increasingly pleading and worried expression. “S-Sir, you can’t just walk in during a meeting,” the bulky Monochromon told him. He looked at the Royal Knights and bowed his horned head sheepishly. “I’m sorry about this.”

    “Oh, poppycock,” PrinceMamemon dismissively replied. “This is my summer castle; I can do what I please.”

    Examon immediately cocked an eyebrow. “Summer…”

    “…Castle?” Gankoomon finished, folding his arms and looking at PrinceMamemon incredulously.

    Sleipmon tilted his head and turned to Alphamon. “Do we know him?”

    “Oh, that’s right! You three must be new here!” PrinceMamemon proclaimed, fabricating a reason for why they didn’t know him. “I am PrinceMamemon; your king and monarch! The Royal Knights are my loyal vassals! You may kiss my hand whenever you’re ready,” he explained with a large grin while outstretching his gloved hand.

    A stunned silence overtook the council room. Sleipmon, Examon, and Gankoomon looked first at each other and then the other Royal Knights. The other Royal Knights stood with an assortment of irritation, incredulity, embarrassment and pity. The shocked silence grew uncomfortable. The Monochromon blushed at the indignity and even some of the MetalMamemon began to avert their eyes with humiliation. For what felt like a minute, the only sound that could be heard was Karatenmon’s awkward cough.

    “…This is a joke, right?” Gankoomon asked. He turned to Alphamon. “Please tell me this is a joke.”

    Alphamon rubbed his forehead with exasperation. “PrinceMamemon, for the last time, the Royal Knights are autonomous. We are not your—“

    “Oh, yes. I know. I allow you to do your own thing, but just as long as you help your humble king,” PrinceMamemon replied with a wink.

    “The sheer absurdity of this… We are the Royal Knights!” Duftmon protested. “We are not some lackeys for your tin-pot, trifling, sorry excuse for- mm?!” The Royal Knights’ strategist found himself muffled by Dukemon’s hand.

    “I agree,” Dukemon whispered to him, “but we don’t need to make a diplomatic incident out of it. Nobody else takes him seriously, so why should you?”

    Duftmon settled down and folded his arms, although still frowning with disapproval.

    The Monochromon guard looked at Alphamon with a look asking if he should escort PrinceMamemon out. Alphamon softly shook his head, so the guard bowed his head and walked back out.

    “What do you want?” Craniamon asked sharply, leering over at PrinceMamemon.

    PrinceMamemon became frightful at Craniamon’s intimidating gaze and picked up one of his MetalMamemon guards, holding him in front of him as if he could hide behind him. “Th-That’s no way to speak to your king!”

    Magnamon sighed. “I think Craniamon’s wondering if you just came in for a fly-in visit or not,” he reiterated more diplomatically.

    “I think it has to do with what I wanted to talk about,” Karatenmon stated as he glanced at the Royal Knights.

    “I came here to discuss some official business,” PrinceMamemon explained, placing his bodyguard back down. “I am sure you are all aware of what happened in Facture.”

    “More or less. We were there,” Alphamon told him.

    PrinceMamemon’s eye twitched momentarily. “Oh, yes! If you were all there and I wasn’t, my invitation surely must have gotten lost in the mail! Oh dear!”

    “That must be it,” Craniamon sarcastically muttered.

    “Now where was I? Oh yes…” the Mamemon king remembered. “Blueprints of the Metal Empire’s technologies were stolen, yes?”

    Omegamon frowned. “How did you know about that?” he asked him.

    “Oh, I have my sources, my dear Omegamon,” PrinceMamemon responded with an audible wink.

    “I cannot suffer this much longer,” Duftmon muttered.

    “Deep breaths,” Dukemon said, sitting down beside him.

    Karatenmon took a step forwards. “The rest of you had better sit down as well…” he suggested ominously.

    “What is this about, PrinceMamemon?” Alphamon questioned suspiciously, although he sat down as well.

    “I had the most wondrous idea the other day!” he boasted, placing his hands on his round hips proudly.

    “What was it?” Dukemon asked him.

    “Here it comes,” Karatenmon murmured.

    PrinceMamemon grinned. “The Mamemon Kingdom would pretend to be the ones who hired the mercenaries who stole those blueprints!”

    A second silence swept over the council room. PrinceMamemon smiled innocently and expectantly as he waited for his praise.

    “…That’s a horrible idea,” Duftmon stated plainly.

    “I agree,” Sleipmon concurred.

    “Yeah,” Dukemon spoke.

    “Terrible,” RhodoKnightmon added.

    “Awful,” Craniamon said.

    Nods and utterances of agreement came from all of the Royal Knights.

    PrinceMamemon’s proud grin suddenly vanished. “…W-Wait a moment. Hear my reasons before you say that…!”

    “Do you want to provoke the Metal Empire?” Duftmon asked him. “Do you know how seriously they treat industrial sabotage? Their technology is their pride and joy. Threatening that is tantamount to a declaration of war.”

    PrinceMamemon’s face began to pale. “W-What? But it would make us seem like legitimate competitors to them!” he protested.

    “Chaosdramon has been known to crush his competition,” Dukemon explained. “Not to mention those who threaten the security of his technology.”

    “The D-Brigade is massive and incredibly disciplined,” Magnamon added. “They could mobilize for war faster than most.”

    “But they don’t declare war with other Digimon!” PrinceMamemon countered.

    “They might if they were threatened like that,” Alphamon stated. “In the best case scenario, you would find yourself in a cold war with them.”

    “I s-see…” the Mamemon king spoke, his lip quivering a bit. He then smiled nervously. “I suppose we will have to hope for the best then!”

    Alphamon frowned at him. “What do you mean…?”

    PrinceMamemon began to twiddle his fingers sheepishly. “Well… the thing is…” he began.

    Karatenmon palmed his face.

    “…I already made the announcement saying that we were responsible…”

    A third silence crept over the room.

    “…PrinceMamemon…” Alphamon spoke, slowly rising to his feet.

    “Yes, Alphamon?” he asked with a proud grin.

    “What in Yggdrasil’s name were you thinking?!” Alphamon chastised him severely.

    PrinceMamemon yelped and leapt back with surprising agility to hide behind his bodyguards. “I-I-I-It seemed like a fantabulous way of bringing the Mamemon Kingdom onto the world stage! Perhaps you just don’t understand it!”

    “I understand that it is a ‘fantabulous’ way of wiping the Mamemon Kingdom off of the world map,” Alphamon warned him steadily.

    “Is it even on a world map?” Craniamon sarcastically muttered.

    “But-but-but surely they won’t attack us!” PrinceMamemon protested.

    “Do you want to risk being wrong?” Dynasmon asked him.

    “…But if they did, you would protect me, wouldn’t you?” he pleaded to the Royal Knights. “Chaosdramon is just a big, oafish bully!”

    “We are not about to let you put us in that situation for no good reason,” Alphamon told him firmly. “We don’t want to risk a war with the Metal Empire and neither do you.”

    “But Alphamon…!” the self-appointed royal whined.

    “No buts. I want you to go home and recant the announcement that you made,” Alphamon calmly ordered him. “Publically assert that you were fibbing and that you did not steal the blueprints. The Metal Empire is looking for somebody to blame, and they would love an excuse to get rid of a competitor. You need to listen to me, PrinceMamemon. Is that understood?”

    PrinceMamemon sighed. “Yes, Alphamon…” he conceded, although looking down and sulkily pawing at the floor with his boot. “You are my royal advisor, so I will do as you say…”

    “Thank you…” Alphamon replied with a soft exhale. “And please do it within a couple days. If you leave it too long, the Metal Empire could take advantage or begin mobilizing its forces.”

    “I understand,” PrinceMamemon replied, his voice noticeably downcast. “I will take my leave now.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Have a safe journey.”

    “I shall. Come along, my bodyguards,” PrinceMamemon told the four MetalMamemon around him.

    “Sire,” the MetalMamemon obeyed in unison, although they all looked relieved to be getting out of there.

    “I bid you good day, Royal Knights. I am grateful to have such capable and loyal subjects,” PrinceMamemon said with a polite bow.

    The Royal Knights were silent.

    PrinceMamemon promptly turned around and marched out of the council room with his head up high (so to speak). Even though he had to back down, he still held himself with royal elegance and pride. When PrinceMamemon and his entourage of bodyguards left down the great hall, Karatenmon walked over to close the council room doors behind them.

    “…Is that guy, serious?” Gankoomon asked aloud.

    “Does he really think that we’re his subordinates?” Examon followed up blandly.

    “Somehow he got it into his head that he’s a member of an elite royal family and he automatically assumed that we were his subjects,” Alphamon said in a composed voice, although his eyes were closed and he was rubbing his temples, which indicated that he was barely containing his annoyance.

    “I hate that guy,” Craniamon muttered.

    “I think he’s hilarious,” UlforceVeedramon said with a laugh.

    “Oh, he’s not a bad guy,” Magnamon attempted to defend him. “He’s harmless. He’s just… delusional.”

    “And he might just provoke the Metal Empire into war,” Dukemon countered. “I wouldn’t call that harmless.”

    Omegamon looked over at Karatenmon. “Was that what you were going to warn us about?”

    “Yes,” Karatenmon answered. “I heard about it while I was in Facture. You can assume that Chaosdramon knows about it as well.”

    “Great,” Dynasmon said with a sigh.

    “Hopefully he won’t take him seriously,” Sleipmon put forward.

    “Even if he doesn’t, there is a chance that the Mamemon Kingdom could be used as a scapegoat,” RhodoKnightmon explained.

    Examon frowned. “Perhaps we should capture those mercenaries - Black Pincer Company,” he suggested. “If we can get them to reveal their client, then the Metal Empire wouldn’t be able to blame it on the Mamemon Kingdom.”

    “That might not be a bad idea, Examon,” Alphamon replied pensively. “The only problem is that, depending on the real client, it could end up causing a whole other problem.”

    “Should I try to find out?” Karatenmon asked them.

    “Let’s leave it to Dorbickmon for now,” Omegamon answered. Alphamon nodded and there didn’t seem to be any objections.

    “Alright,” Karatenmon responded. “The last thing I have to report is that the Metal Empire has sortied a D-Brigade reconnaissance and capture team to go after Black Pincer Company. They seem to be heading to Shroud.”

    Examon frowned with concern.

    “If Dorbickmon’s smart, he’ll stay out of it if a fight breaks out,” UlforceVeedramon said.

    Examon frowned harder.

    “He might be compelled to get to Black Pincer Company before the D-Brigade does,” Magnamon proposed.

    “Hopefully he doesn’t do anything reckless,” Examon said, more to himself than the others.

    “I’m sure he won’t,” Alphamon reassured him before looking at the other Royal Knights. “Unless there’s anything else, I think we’re done here.” He turned to Karatenmon. “Thank you for your diligent work.”

    Karatenmon nodded. “I’ll try to write up the official reports tonight or tomorrow. Try to tell Grani not to worry, Dukemon,” he said with a coy smile.

    Dukemon laughed and stood to his feet to leave. “That’s asking a lot, Karatenmon.”

    Examon rose along with the rest of the knights, all of whom began funnelling towards the exit. He left the room with a pensive look on his face. Dukemon walked alongside him and suddenly reached his hand up and placed it on Examon’s spiked shoulder.

    “Don’t worry about Dorbickmon. He’ll be fine,” Dukemon reassured him.

    “I hope you’re right,” Examon responded, looking at the crimson knight. “I know he’s street smart, but I’ve also come to realize how reckless he can be.”

    Dukemon gave him a comforting grin. “Reckless isn’t always as bad as it’s made out to be. Sometimes reckless works, as long as you can adapt.”

    Examon smiled a bit but retained his sceptical expression. “I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on that, Dukemon. The few times I’ve been reckless have ended up with me falling flat on my snout.”

    Dukemon chuckled. “Okay, but give Dorbickmon more credit. As someone who’s fought against him a few times, you know how tough and resourceful he is. Don’t be so pessimistic.”

    The dragon Royal Knight sighed and smiled. “Maybe you’re right…”

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
  11. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post)

    -

    By the time the night settled in over Shroud, the rain had mostly died down. Just the regular data storm swelled over the city, giving the sky a gassy, grey appearance that was thick enough to veil the moons. However, the soaked roofs of buildings continued to drip and there were still small puddles of rainwater sitting in the various streets and pathways.

    A few blocks away from the Severed Arms pub was the Spirits’ Rest Inn. It was larger than the tavern, standing at a few storeys high in order to accommodate the many rooms that Digimon could stay in. The inn, like 90% of the city, wasn’t in the wealthier district of Shroud. It wasn’t exactly a first class bed and breakfast, but it was acceptable. On the first level was the check-in area, a lounge, and a bar that served food. Everything else above it were bedrooms.

    Dorbickmon ordered one of these bedrooms for a few nights and he was currently sitting at a table on the ground level, eating a palatable plate of ribs. Every so often, he gazed across the dim but warmly-lit room to a row of booths against the far wall.

    Sitting in the corner booth, near the edge of the bar counter, were Black Pincer Company. GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon sat opposite to each other while Bolgmon, who was too big for the seating, stood beside the booth.

    Dorbickmon had staked the place out when he came in to book his room. Once he spotted the Black Pincer Company there, he had left to tell BlackWarGreymon the plan.

    He took a bite of one of the ribs, using his sharp, vicious teeth to tear the meat from the bone. He licked the juice and sauce from his lips and dropped the bone on his plate before wiping his clawed fingers on a napkin. The sound of the inn’s front door opened, causing him to glance over and see BlackWarGreymon walk into the inn.

    BlackWarGreymon walked in and pretended that Dorbickmon wasn’t there. He gave a quick scan around the room and saw Black Pincer Company sitting in the far left corner. When Bolgmon glanced over at him, BlackWarGreymon looked away and walked straight to the bar counter on the other side of the lounge.

    Dorbickmon, not wanting to be suspicious, focused on his meal. However, he kept track of BlackWarGreymon using his peripheral vision.

    The black dragon man stepped up to the bar and hailed the bartender. A Honeybeemon flew over. “Good evening,” he greeted. “How can I help you?”

    “Just a beer and a meat pie,” BlackWarGreymon answered.

    The Honeybeemon nodded. “Would you like them at the same time?”

    BlackWarGreymon quickly thought about what would be best. “Please.”

    “I’ll bring them over if you want to find a seat,” the Honeybeemon told him before flying off to the kitchen.

    The mercenary glanced over at Black Pincer Company. He took a calming breath and stood up. He walked towards them, garnering the trio’s passing attention. BlackWarGreymon ignored their glances and walked up to the booth next to theirs. He sat down and waited nervously while trying not to be too suspicious.

    Black Pincer Company continued their conversation, ignoring the nearby patron.

    “This is getting really old, really fast,” GrandisKuwagamon said before bringing his glass of beer to his insectoid mouth and drinking it.

    “Just be patient, Grandis,” Blitzmon told him from across the table, taking a swig of his own potent beverage.

    “How can I be patient, Blitz?” the night-black insect Digimon asked him. “We’ve been here for a few days already and we still haven’t heard from the client.”

    At the mention of a client, BlackWarGreymon perked up inwardly. However, he didn’t make any suspicious movements like turning his head. The Cimmerian Adventures mercenary group were generally adept in stealth, so he knew how to handle simple eavesdropping. Instead, he just pretended to look bored and drummed his claws on the table as he waited for his drink and meal.

    “Maybe he screwed off,” Bolgmon suggested with an annoyed shrug. “Better not have, but he might’ve.”

    “Don’t be stupid,” Blitzmon said to his large comrade. “He paid us a quarter of the final payment upfront. Why would he do that if he wasn’t serious about the job or if this was a set up? If he’s messing with the Metal Empire, he has to know what he’s doing.”

    “Sure, but don’t act like they didn’t send the D-Brigade after us,” GrandisKuwagamon said. “If we keep sitting around here, it’s only a matter of time until they show up here with their sticks up their asses and their guns aimed to kill. I don’t even know how our client’s supposed to find us, so excuse me if I’m a bit on edge.”

    “I get ya, Grandis, but all we can do is keep our guards up and wait until he shows himself or sends us some kinda message,” Blitzmon reasoned. “We knew it was a risky job when we took it.”

    “Tch,” GrandisKuwagamon scoffed, leaning back against his wings and folding his arms. His red eye darted over when he saw the Honeybeemon approaching their direction with a pint of beer and a plate with a steaming meat pie on it.

    BlackWarGreymon, who had been listening intently, tensed up slightly when the Honeybeemon flew over to him, drawing Black Pincer Co’s attention to the fact that he was sitting adjacent to them.

    “Here you go,” the Honeybeemon told him, placing the meal and the alcoholic beverage in front of him. “Enjoy.”

    “Thanks,” BlackWarGreymon muttered, taking a knife and cutting into the savoury pie to release the steam from inside. He focused solely on his food and drink, pretending that the three insectoid Digimon behind him didn’t even exist.

    Dorbickmon glanced over momentarily. He felt a twinge of nervousness when he could see that GrandisKuwagamon was leering at BlackWarGreymon suspiciously.

    The Honeybeemon flew back behind the bar upon noticing the front door of the inn open. BlackWarGreymon continued to cut up his meat pie and shovel a piece into his mouth, well aware of the crimson eye burning a suspicious hole into the back of his draconic head.

    However, both GrandisKuwagamon and BlackWarGreymon were distracted by the Digimon who entered the inn. BlackWarGreymon looked up and saw a Digimon walk straight in their direction, walking along the row of booths against the wall.

    He seemed to be a Wizardmon, judging from the distinct, pointed cap, the long, violet cowl, and the yellow and red jumpsuit that contained many zippers.

    The Wizardmon made a bee-line for Black Pincer Company’s table. He passed the booth that BlackWarGreymon was sitting in and hopped onto the seat next to Blitzmon, casually sitting at their table.

    GrandisKuwagamon looked across the table at him with an ‘Are you serious?’ expression. “…The table’s taken,” he deadpanned.

    “Black Pincer Company?” the Wizardmon asked them, looking around at the three mercenaries calmly.

    “Yeah,” Bolgmon replied. “Who the hell are you?”

    Dorbickmon gazed across the room with scrutinizing eyes at the Wizardmon. He wondered if that was their client.

    BlackWarGreymon continued to eat as he listened in.

    “Wizardmon,” the wizard Digimon answered simply. “I believe you have something for me.”

    “Wait a sec. You aren’t our client,” GrandisKuwagamon pointed out with a suspicious frown. “You’re half his size.”

    “I’m simply an intermediary,” Wizardmon responded. “He couldn’t be here today, so he asked me to come in his place.”

    “Oh yeah? Prove it,” GrandisKuwagamon said. “You could be a Metal Empire agent for all we know.”

    Wizardmon pulled a wand with a sun-shaped head from his cloak. He waved the wand over the table, causing the staff to glow brightly. Suddenly, a metal case appeared on the table, open and full of money. “It’s real and it’s all there,” Wizardmon explained. “Count it, if you want.”

    “I’ll do it,” Bolgmon said, extending a fine needle from his large, right cannon arm. He then began shifting through the currency and counting in his head.

    “It’s yours, provided that you have the blueprints,” the intermediary explained.

    Blitzmon looked over at GrandisKuwagamon, who nodded to him. Upon receiving the affirmation, he took the blueprints out of his bag and showed them to the Wizardmon.

    He looked them over studiously. “Good… The payment is yours. …But how would you like to double it?” Wizardmon asked them. Blitzmon looked over with interest.

    “We would,” GrandisKuwagamon replied. “Depends how. If it involves going back to Facture, forget it.”

    “No, it’s much safer than that,” Wizardmon assured him.

    “Too bad,” Bolgmon said, still counting their money.

    “What is it?” Blitzmon asked him.

    Wizardmon nodded. “My client wants you to take those blueprints and give them to PrinceMamemon of the Mamemon Kingdom.”

    GrandisKuwagamon frowned. “Up north again? …Who the hell is your client?” he asked him.

    “Even if I knew, I would not be at liberty to say,” Wizardmon responded simply.

    “Why does he want to give the blueprints away after all that trouble?” Blitzmon followed up.

    “I don’t know. I’m just his intermediary,” Wizardmon told him. “Does it matter?”

    “The squirt’s got a point. Who cares as long as we get paid?” Bolgmon replied.

    “Guess so,” GrandisKuwagamon said with a shrug. “Dunno why he’d bother kissing the *** of anybody in the Mamemon Kingdom though. I’ve seen outhouses more prestigious...”

    “Would PrinceMamemon even want the blueprints?” Blitzmon quizzed the envoy.

    “If he doesn’t, it’s your job to make him want them,” Wizardmon stated. “You will only get paid if he accepts them. My client will know if he does or doesn’t.”

    The black insect folded his lean arms and sat back against the seat’s back rest. “So… He’ll pay us double in exchange for us holding onto these blueprints while the D-Brigade are after us?”

    “You’ve taken more dangerous jobs than that,” Wizardmon told him. “All you have to do is not get caught. You three are pretty good at that, aren’t you?”

    GrandisKuwagamon looked down and thought for a few moments. He glanced between Blitzmon and Bolgmon. “What do you two think?”

    “Hey, a job’s a job,” Bolgmon responded casually. Secretly, he hoped that he would get a chance to blast the D-Brigade. “It’s better than nothing.”

    “It is risky holding onto these blueprints, but I like the sound of that paycheck,” Blitzmon responded pensively. “Besides, it sounds like it’ll get us some goodwill.”

    GrandisKuwagamon looked across at the Wizardmon. “Okay. You got a deal.”

    Wizardmon nodded. “When my client sees that you’ve completed the mission, I will meet you here with your payment. Is a week enough time?”

    “Sounds fine,” GrandisKuwagamon said, holding his hand out.

    Wizardmon reached out and shook it with his gloved hand. “Thank you.”

    “Anything else we should know?” Blitzmon questioned.

    The emissary shook his head and stood up from the table. “I’ll see you in a week,” he told them. “Good luck.” He gave them a nod and walked towards the exit.

    BlackWarGreymon glanced up and watched as he left. Dorbickmon momentarily eyeballed him as well.

    Blitzmon eyed the large amount of cash in front of Bolgmon. “We’d better stash that at our hideout,” he said to them. “Only idiots walk around Shroud with that much money.”

    “I’ll take it,” GrandisKuwagamon said, taking the case from Bolgmon and closing it.

    “Why you?” Bolgmon countered, a bit miffed at that.

    GrandisKuwagamon rolled his eye. “Because I can’t be followed, remember? Not when I use Zone Black Hole,” he explained. “Get it, bolts-for-brains? I’m not gonna pinch more than my cut, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

    “I was just sayin’. Don’t get all touchy,” Bolgmon replied, wheeling into reverse away from the table. GrandisKuwagamon stood up, prompting Blitzmon to do the same.

    “Whatever. I’ll be back in a few hours,” GrandisKuwagamon said, taking the handheld case in one hand and beginning to walk past BlackWarGreymon.

    BlackWarGreymon avoided eye contact and took a drink from his beer.

    Suddenly, GrandisKuwagamon stopped right beside him, prompting Bolgmon and Blitzmon to look over. GrandisKuwagamon turned his head so that he glanced at the dragon man out of the corner of his eye.

    “Hey, blondie,” Grandis said to him with a pointed edge to his smooth-yet-gravelly voice.

    BlackWarGreymon’s stomach churned and a sense of dread washed over him. “What?” he asked, trying to mask his worry with confidence.

    “Why’re you sitting there?” he questioned him, his pincers momentarily widening.

    “I’m eating…” BlackWarGreymon answered lamely.

    “I mean, this place is practically empty. Why sit next to us when there’s all these other places to sit?” GrandisKuwagamon asked, narrowing his eye slightly.

    BlackWarGreymon’s eyes darted around anxiously as he tried to think of an explanation or an excuse. He briefly saw Dorbickmon shrug at him. His eyes then landed on Blitzmon and he blurted out the first thing that game to him. “I, uh… It’s nothing… I sort’ve wanted to buy your friend there a drink…” he muttered with embarrassment.

    GrandisKuwagamon and Bolgmon both turned and looked at Blitzmon, who blinked in surprise. They both burst into a fit of laughter.

    “Haha, him, huh?!” GrandisKuwagamon asked through chuckles, thumbing at Blitzmon.

    “What d’you think, Blitzie? He looks like a catch!” Bolgmon guffawed, putting an arm around Blitzmon and trying to push him forwards.

    “Get lost,” Blitzmon scowled, both at his friends and BlackWarGreymon. He turned around and headed towards the stairs that led up to the bedrooms.

    Bolgmon continued laughing as he rolled after him. “Come on! You could use someone to loosen you up!” he teased. “It’s not every day you get a suitor!”

    GrandisKuwagamon glanced at BlackWarGreymon and chuckled. “I think your gaydar’s screwing up. Better luck next time,” he told him, gripping his case and walking to the exit of the inn.

    When GrandisKuwagamon disappeared out the door and into the night, BlackWarGreymon released a sigh of both relief and embarrassment. “This better not get back to the Cimmerians…” he muttered to himself.

    After a minute of making sure that Black Pincer Company was gone, the black dragon man stood up and walked over to Dorbickmon, who finished his meal. “Dorbickmon,” he said to him.

    “Get everything?” Dorbickmon asked him, getting straight to the point.

    BlackWarGreymon nodded. “Pretty much. Are we square now?” he replied.

    “Assuming you got good info. Meet me upstairs in my room,” Dorbickmon told him. “You can tell me what you heard. Room 304.”

    BlackWarGreymon nodded again. “I’ll finish up here so it doesn’t look suspicious,” he explained.

    “Just don’t get drunk and end up forgetting everything,” the red mercenary ordered with a grin.

    The two then parted, with BlackWarGreymon heading back to his table, and Dorbickmon walking to the bar counter to pay for his meal.

    Dorbickmon then headed upstairs to his room. He hoped that BlackWarGreymon overheard something from their discussion from that Wizardmon. With any luck, it would give him a lead to give to the Royal Knights.

    -

    A few blocks away, in dark of the night, a faint silhouette could be seen against the dim, grey clouds that loomed over the city of Shroud. It was a cyborg dragon Digimon that was clad in blue armour. Behind his transparent visor were yellow eyes that gazed across the dark streets below him. The Darkdramon occasionally glanced up at the tumultuous skies overhead. He folded his arms and waited, watching vigilantly.

    After a few moments, the quiet sound of scuffing entered his ears as boots landed on the roof behind him. Behind the Darkdramon was a smaller, leaner dragon Digimon who was clad in dark combat armour.

    “Sir,” the Sealsdramon said formally while saluting.

    “Recon Team One, what’s your report?” the Darkdramon asked, glancing over his shoulder.

    “We’ve located Bug Delta Black, Sir,” the Sealsdramon replied, raising a hand to his ear where there was an earpiece that acted similarly to MetallifeKuwagamon’s Long Range Audio Communicator.

    “Why didn’t you relay it over the comm?” the Darkdramon questioned.

    “I tried, Sir, but the data storm is disrupting all communications,” he explained to his superior, tapping his ear emphatically.

    The Darkdramon hissed a bit. “Never mind. Where are Bug Delta Black?” he asked him.

    “They are staying in an inn seven blocks away from here,” the Sealsdramon responded, turning and pointing. “The Spirit’s Rest Inn, it’s called. I told the other two to stay behind and keep an eye on them.”

    “Good,” the Darkdramon said, glancing up in time to see three Digimon swooping down to the roof.

    The first to arrive was a blue, mechanical wolfman Digimon who was armed with a long cannon on his right arm, and a missile launcher on his left arm. The second was a black, cyborg rabbit Digimon who had a missile pod on his back, two cannons for arms, and large radar ears. The final arrival was a violet, serpentine dragon Digimon who had metal wings and who also had cannons for arms.

    “MagnaGarurumon, BlackRapidmon, Gigadramon,” the Darkdramon acknowledged.

    “Team Leader,” the MagnaGarurumon said with a nod.

    “Could you use the data storm as cover?” the D-Brigade team leader asked.

    “Negative,” the Gigadramon responded. “We underestimated the amount of turbulence up there. It was too powerful, even for us.”

    “It’s no wonder nobody can get in that way,” the BlackRapidmon stated.

    “Damn. Acknowledged,” the Darkdramon spoke. “We’ve located Bug Delta Black.”

    “They are at coordinates sigma twenty, gamma twelve,” the Sealsdramon told them.

    “What are your orders?” the Gigadramon asked the Darkdramon.

    “MagnaGarurumon, drop your heavy gear and switch to your blade. You’re with me,” the Darkdramon ordered. “BlackRapidmon, Gigadramon, you two secure the area from the air. Make sure they don’t escape.” He turned to the Sealsdramon. “Sealsdramon, Recon Team One will be come with us.”

    “Sir,” the Sealsdramon answered with the D-Brigade salute.

    “We’ll infiltrate that inn and neutralize Bug Delta Black,” the Darkdramon explained. “Try to take them alive. If not, make sure to leave at least one. The blueprints are top priority, but the secondary priority is information.”

    “Understood,” the MagnaGarurumon answered.

    The Darkdramon team leader nodded. “We’ll come with a plan for infiltration. In one hour, we’ll execute it,” he told them. “Tonight we bring Bug Delta Black to their knees… as well as whoever tries to get in our way.”
     
  12. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 6: Cloak and Dagger​


    Dorbickmon looked out of the window of his room. Even in the dark night, he could see Shroud’s data storm swirling overhead. It was particularly bad that night as he could see tendrils of bright, violet-tinted electricity flashing behind the thick, funneling veil of clouds.

    The inn bedroom was dim except for the light of a lamp on a nearby table. His bag was sprawled out across the bed. He tapped his foot, waiting for BlackWarGreymon to show up. Several hours had passed since he witnessed Black Pincer Company down in the bar.

    After that evening, his belly was full and his mind was working. He tried to piece together what Black Pincer Company was up to. He was certain that he saw the Wizardmon hand the blueprints back to Blitzmon, but he still gave them their reward. That didn’t make sense to him. Dorbickmon considered going down the hall to Black Pincer Company’s rooms to talk to them, but he figured that would be risky, given the circumstances. He knew that they had their guards up and that they were extremely dangerous. He didn’t want to end up in a life-threatening fight that could destroy the entire inn.

    A loud knocking rang out from the door to his room. Dorbickmon reflexively looked over. As soon as he did, a shadow passed by the window behind him.

    The dragon mercenary walked over and stood behind the door. “Who is it?” Dorbickmon questioned, narrowing his eyes.

    “It’s me. BlackWarGreymon,” BlackWarGreymon responded.

    Dorbickmon opened the door a crack, but kept a tight hold on it as he peered out into the third floor hallway. He saw that it was only BlackWarGreymon out there and opened the door fully. “Come in,” he told him.

    BlackWarGreymon walked in as Dorbickmon closed the door behind them. Dorbickmon then leaned back against the door and folded his arms.

    The member of the Cimmerian Adventurers turned around and looked at Dorbickmon with a raised eyebrow. “Blocking the exit?” he asked him suspiciously.

    Dorbickmon pointed with his claws behind the ebony dragon man. “There’s a window right there,” he joked.

    BlackWarGreymon rolled his eyes and adjusted the long, jagged, Dramon Killer gauntlets over his wrists. “I did what you wanted.”

    “Good. What’d you hear?” Dorbickmon questioned. “Who was that Wizardmon?”

    “It wasn’t their client,” BlackWarGreymon informed him. “He said he was just an intermediary. He was hired by somebody to give the Black Pincer Company their reward, as well as their next orders. Apparently, they don’t even know who the client is,” he added with a shrug.

    Dorbickmon let out a grunt from the nostrils on his snout. “Whoever hired them is smart,” he mused. “Even if Black Pincer Company gets caught or overheard, nobody can trace it back to him or her, since not even the bugs know who hired them. Hell…”

    “Hey, it’s not all bad news. I did overhear something that might interest you,” the blond-haired dragon man noted.

    “What?”

    BlackWarGreymon folded his arms. “The Wizardmon said their client wanted them to do something else with the blueprints - said they’d get paid double if they brought them to PrinceMamemon in the Mamemon Kingdom,” he explained.

    Dorbickmon arched an eyebrow, stood up straight, and unfolded his arms. “The hell? Why?” he asked him, perplexed by the statement.

    “Beats me. All I know is that they’re heading out and meeting back here in a week for their reward,” BlackWarGreymon explained.

    Dorbickmon frowned. “The Mamemon Kingdom… Why them?” he wondered aloud.

    “That’s all I know, Dorbickmon,” BlackWarGreymon insisted. He took off one of his Dramon Killer gauntlets and extended his black fist. “Are we good now?”

    Dorbickmon extended his own fist, covered by his gauntlets, and pressed it against BlackWarGreymon’s. “Yeah. Just don’t leave me in deep **** again and we’ll get along fine.”

    BlackWarGreymon grinned a bit. “I won’t,” he replied. He was about to open his mouth again, but a muffled crash rang out nearby.

    “Hold that thought,” Dorbickmon said, sneering hard. They both went silent and listened intently.

    They heard another crash. It sounded like it was coming from down the hallway. Dorbickmon turned around and opened the door, looking down the dimly lit hallway of the inn.

    The noises grew even louder. It wasn’t just intermittent crashes anymore, but the sound of frantic scuffling and sharp swearing.

    Dorbickmon gritted his teeth and walked out into the hallway, followed by BlackWarGreymon. The sounds were coming from the rooms that he knew Black Pincer Company were staying in. One of the closed doors was rattling as if something was being pressed up against it.

    “The hell is that?” BlackWarGreymon asked.

    “Shut up,” Dorbickmon said, reaching behind him and muffling the ebony dragon man with his hand.

    The crimson dragon let go and began to cautiously approach the trembling door. It continued to thump and quiver, as if something was trying to burst out of it. Dorbickmon frowned and stopped in front of the door.

    “I wouldn’t open that if I were you,” BlackWarGreymon whispered. “It’s probably—“

    Before he could finish, a giant, blue horn burst through the wood of the door, nearly stabbing into Dorbickmon. “****!” Dorbickmon exclaimed, staggering back. He reflexively summoned his Tyrant Collbrande in a flash of flames, lighting up the hallway clearly.

    Dorbickmon took a step back and to the side, taking on a defensive stance. Suddenly, a voice rang out and the door broke open. The body of a Sealsdramon, enveloped in tendrils of electricity, took the door down as it flew through the air. The Digimon slammed into the opposite wall with enough force to make a small crater in it. The Sealsdramon then fell to the floor and burst into data.

    Dorbickmon growled. “The D-Brigade. This isn’t good,” he rumbled. The dragon man hurried forwards and looked into the room.

    Inside, he saw Blitzmon grappling with another Sealsdramon. The Sealsdramon was clinging onto the larger Digimon’s back with one arm around his neck. His other hand gripped a combat knife which he was trying to edge towards Blitzmon’s neck, but was prevented by the insect man’s hand around his wrist, pushing the knife back.

    With his other hand, Blitzmon reached over his shoulder and grabbed the Sealsdramon’s face. With a tight yank, he ripped the Scouter Monoeye visor off while staggering backwards and slamming his assailant’s back against one of the walls. He impact was strong enough that the Sealsdramon released the dagger, which fell to the floor with a clang. Blitzmon then elbowed the cyber dragon hard in the gut, throwing him off.

    The Sealsdramon panted and sneered, drawing a small, metal sphere from his belt. “DCD Bomb!” he shouted, throwing a grenade that Commandramon often used.

    Blitzmon ducked, allowing the bomb to roll out into the hallway. He took the opportunity to rush forwards to grab the Sealsdramon and hoist him up. “Thor’s Hammer!” he shouted, releasing a torrent of electricity from his hands into the Sealsdramon’s body. The Sealsdramon yelled and writhed for a few moments before bursting into data.

    Meanwhile, Dorbickmon watched as the grenade rolled in front of himself. He grunted and punted it down to the end of the hallway. The grenade exploded, tearing up the floor and blowing open the door at the end of the hallway. A cloud of smoke from the detonation filled the upper half of the corridor.

    In tandem with this, two figures burst through the wall of the room adjacent to Blitzmon’s. GrandisKuwagamon and the Darkdramon stormed through the collapsing wall and slammed into the adjacent wall, right in front of Dorbickmon and GrandisKuwagamon. GrandisKuwagamon’s Gran Killer gauntlets were locked in a bitter melee against the Darkdramon’s Gigastick Lance. Both refused to let the other one get free; if they did, they would likely be stabbed.

    Dorbickmon watched with surprised as they struggled, the sound of their metal weapons screeching against one another assaulting his ears. The D-Brigade Darkdramon had his free hand against GrandisKuwagamon’s chin, forcing his head upwards so that he wouldn’t be able to use his forceps to decapitate him.

    GrandisKuwagamon briefly glanced over at the two onlooking mercenaries, briefly concerned that they were also with his attackers.

    “What the hell is going on?!” Dorbickmon demanded, signalling that they were just bystanders.

    GrandisKuwagamon didn’t respond. He merely hissed and drove his spiked knee into his attacker’s groin. Darkdramon let out a roar of agony and staggered backwards. As soon as there was distance between them, GrandisKuwagamon raised his leg and drove his insectoid boot into the Darkdramon’s gut, sending him stumbling into the hole in the wall that led to GrandisKuwagamon’s rented room.

    The black insect man readied his Gran Killer claws and prepared to charge in for the kill, but thought better of it when he saw the hunched over Darkdramon build up dark energy in his mouth.

    “Dark Roar!” the Darkdramon shouted, releasing a blast of darkness towards him. GrandisKuwagamon dove to the side and BlackWarGreymon rushed forwards with his black Brave Shield to protect himself and Dorbickmon from the resulting explosion that swept down the hallway.

    As the wall and parts of the ceiling crumbled, GrandisKuwagamon let out a swear as he was blown down the hallway. He skidded along the floor, his spiked appendages leaving scratch marks along the floor as he slid. As soon as he came to a stop, he stood to his feet.

    “Bolgmon! Blitzmon!” he shouted out.

    “We’re under attack!” Blitzmon shouted from somewhere down the smoke-filled hallway. Judging by his grunts of effort and the flashes of electricity lighting up the smoke like a strobe light, he was likely still under attack by more Sealsdramon.

    “No ****!” GrandisKuwagamon retorted. He turned and looked into the room at the end of the hallway that had its door blown open by the grenade. “Bolgmon!” he shouted inside.

    “Kinda… busy!” Bolgmon yelled back from inside between grunts. GrandisKuwagamon couldn’t see him, but it sounded like he was in the middle of a fight as well.

    GrandisKuwagamon hissed and rushed down the hallway. Darkdramon flew through the smoke to meet him, plunging his Gigastick Lance towards his face. The insect ducked under the stab and plunged his claw gauntlets towards the gap in the armour at around Darkdramon’s midriff.

    However, the Darkdramon swerved out of the way just in time, with the two just nicking each other as they passed by. After reversing positions in the hallway, both Darkdramon and GrandisKuwagamon spun around and glared at one another.

    “What should we do?” BlackWarGreymon whispered to Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon frowned and thought about it.

    These thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind them. Dorbickmon was about to turn around, but a pair of hands suddenly gripped his and BlackWarGreymon’s shoulders, and forced them apart. They were roughly shoved into the remainder of the two opposite walls.

    Dorbickmon grunted and looked up to see that a MagnaGarurumon was the perpetrator. It looked like he wanted them out of his way. The wolfman passed by them with a long, slim sword in his hand. He poised it and prepared to stab it into GrandisKuwagamon.

    The red dragon snarled. “Look out!” he shouted on impulse.

    GrandisKuwagamon glanced over his shoulder and saw the MagnaGarurumon preparing to attack him. There was a shimmer in his crimson eye before he spun around to hook the plunging sword inside the claws of his Gran Killers.

    The MagnaGarurumon snarled with frustration at Dorbickmon alerting his target. He tried to wrestle his sword back from GrandisKuwagamon. “Darkdramon!” he called out with measured urgency.

    The Darkdramon charged forth towards GrandisKuwagamon’s exposed back. He levelled his lance with the insect Digimon’s right shoulder. If possible, he wanted to simply incapacitate him and take him off for interrogation. Darkdramon thrust the Gigastick Lance towards GrandisKuwagamon.

    The mercenary in question sensed the D-Brigade team leader closing in on him. He didn’t want to move his feet or else he risked giving up his traction. At the last minute, he ducked down and caused the spear to pass over his shoulder and wing. With impressive instincts, he turned his head to the side and clamped his pincers down around the Gigastick Lance, holding it in place, much like the MagnaGarurumon’s sword that he grappled with in his Gran Killers.

    “Thor’s Hammer!” Blitzmon suddenly called, racing up to MagnaGarurumon and burying an electrically charged fist into his back.

    The MagnaGarurumon let out a shout as electricity shook his form and the punch sent him tripping over GrandisKuwagamon’s crouched form.

    “Impossible! You should be dead!” the Darkdramon exclaimed, snarling as he tried to wrestle his lance away from the vice-like pincers. He knew he sent two pairs of Sealsdramons to deal with Blitzmon. “You’re just a Blitzmon.”

    “That’s what I expect you to think,” Blitzmon said with a cold voice. He jumped over and drove his boot painfully into MagnaGarurumon’s back, using him as a springboard to lunge at Darkdramon and plow him into what was left of the wall.

    GrandisKuwagamon released the lance from his forceps and jumped to his feet. He saw the MagnaGarurumon reaching for the sword that he dropped, and proceeded to drive his foot across the cyborg wolf’s face. The MagnaGarurumon flipped onto his chest from the impact, but rolled back onto his stomach to push himself up. He stood to his feet and turned to face GrandisKuwagamon. “Starlight Ve—“

    Before he could initiate his attack, GrandisKuwagamon plunged his Gran Killers through his chest. The MagnaGarurumon froze as the metal tore through his digicore, and his body burst into data.

    GrandisKuwagamon scoffed and turned around to see how Blitzmon was faring. He saw that Blitzmon was dodging lance strikes, throwing punches, and grappling with his Darkdramon opponent.

    The Darkdramon kicked Blitzmon into the wall and stepped back, aiming his lance at him. Energy began to build up inside the Gigastick Lance and the interior glowed with yellow power.

    GrandisKuwagamon sneered and rushed over before he could fire it. He threw his right hand forwards and pierced the long claws of his gauntlet through the Darkdramon’s midsection. The Darkdramon’s body arched backwards with shock and pain, and he ended up firing the blast blankly down the hallway into one of the destroyed rooms, causing an explosion out of the inn’s exterior wall.

    Darkdramon weakly raised a hand to the earpiece in his ear. “Gigadramon,” he hissed, even as his body began to fade into data. “Mission failure… Retreat… to…” Before he could finish, his form vanished into data particles.

    BlackWarGreymon and Dorbickmon exchanged glances behind the former’s shield as they cautiously watched the fight come to an end.

    As the cloud of data dispersed into the smoke that cloaked the entire level of the inn, Blitzmon stood to his feet. He dusted himself off and turned towards Dorbickmon and BlackWarGreymon with cold, suspicious eyes. “What about them?” he asked GrandisKuwagamon.

    “They’re not with them,” GrandisKuwagamon responded, remembering that Dorbickmon had helped him. “Bolgmon!”

    Suddenly, Bolgmon’s room at the end of the hall exploded in a massive blast of electricity, with debris and power coming out of not only the ravaged interior walls, but also the exterior ones too. The dark hallway flickered with lightning.

    “Yeah!?” Bolgmon’s haggard-yet-adrenaline-filled voice yelled from inside what was left of the room.

    “You alive?” GrandisKuwagamon called over.

    “Yeah!” the mechanized cyborg Digimon shouted back before releasing a nasty swear. He rolled out through one of the holes in the wall, driving over to the hallway. There were scuffs on his armour and tears in the fabric of his jumpsuit. “No thanks to you two. There were Sealsdramons all over me. Hell!”

    “We had our own problems to deal with,” Blitzmon answered him.

    “We gotta get outta here before they send in a team of reinforcements,” GrandisKuwagamon told them.

    “As much as I’d love to blast ‘em as they come, I gotta agree with you, Grandis,” Bolgmon stated.

    Blitzmon nodded. “Where to?”

    “The Mamemon Kingdom,” GrandisKuwagamon responded. “The sooner we get these off our hands, the better.”

    “Good point. We should move before they realize we took down their assassins,” Blitzmon agreed.

    GrandisKuwagamon looked over his shoulder, through the smoky, dusty corridor, at Dorbickmon and BlackWarGreymon. “Hey!” he called over. “You’re Dorbickmon, right?”

    Dorbickmon stepped forwards. “Yeah, I am!” he responded confidently. “Were those friends of yours?”

    “Yeah, all my friends try to kill me,” GrandisKuwagamon replied sarcastically. “Thanks for the heads up, by the way. Maybe next time you could actually punch one or two of them while I’m fighting for my life. Or something.”

    Dorbickmon grinned. “No problem. And I’ve been around enough to know not to mess with the Metal Empire.”

    “Who says they’re from the Metal Empire?” GrandisKuwagamon countered.

    “I’m not stupid,” Dorbickmon responded. “That was a D-Brigade black ops team. Recon, from what I saw. I could tell from the species, tactics, and gear. What’d you guys do to piss them off?”

    “I’ll tell you after a drink, sometime,” GrandisKuwagamon told him dismissively. He glanced at BlackWarGreymon who was standing beside Dorbickmon with a smoking shield. “Hello again, Blondie.”

    “Hey…” BlackWarGreymon answered with a bit of uncertainty in his voice. Thinking fast on his feet to throw off suspicion, he looked at Dorbickmon. “Who are these guys, Dorbickmon?”

    “You’re Black Pincer Company, right?” Dorbickmon asked, deflecting the potential suspicion that BlackWarGreymon projected onto him.

    GrandisKuwagamon turned his head forwards again. “No idea what you’re talking about. Come on, guys. We’re getting outta here before the place collapses and the law shows up.”

    “What should I tell the innkeeper?” Dorbickmon questioned.

    GrandisKuwagamon walked to one of the holes in the walls leading to the outside. “Tell ‘im to send the bill to the Metal Empire.”

    With that, he jumped out and beat his four, X-shaped wings, flying into the night air. Blitzmon jumped out next and flew alongside him. Bolgmon drove out the hole and used the vents beneath his body to release pressurized air and steam to allow his body to hover gently to the ground a few floors below.

    The three made a beeline for the northern gate of Shroud.

    BlackWarGreymon turned and looked at Dorbickmon. “We should get outta here too.”

    Dorbickmon nodded and went to fetch his bag from his room. He came out and went down the stairs with BlackWarGreymon.

    “Did you get what you wanted out’ve all of this?” BlackWarGreymon asked him, following as they headed to the bottom floor of the inn.

    “Yup,” Dorbickmon responded, pushing his way past nervous Digimon who were cautiously gathering to see what was going on the upper floor. “My client will want to know about this.”

    -

    Morning dawned over the Metal Empire. The rays of sun gleamed off the edges of the metal buildings that decorated the capital of Facture. There were clouds in the sky, drifting in from the ocean, but they weren’t yet far enough to block out the rising sun.

    Machine Digimon, almost always punctual and efficient, were already up and working this early in the morning. Included among these were the three Storm Commanders.

    Raijinmon walked out of the doors of a massive building located in a vast, high-security premises on the outskirts of Facture. It was the D-Brigade Headquarters and Military Base, colloquially known as D-Central. It was the only place with tighter security than the Metal Empire’s core factories. Surrounding the perimeter were two rows of tall, electrified fences, topped with fixed lasers to prevent them from being scaled. There were also watchtowers covering every angle, and highly secure gates at the entrances to ensure that only those with clearance could enter.

    D-Central was a giant, fortified, metal structure which acted as the official headquarters for the military. In addition to housing the command center of the D-Brigade, it also contained their intelligence division. Regarding the military, everything came from or passed through D-Central. Also within the fenced area were countless barracks and depots for the various military personnel. On the side facing away from Facture was a vast yard that could hold brigades of soldiers for drills and military review. D-Central was essentially a fortress.

    Raijinmon stepped into the morning sun, which washed over his body and lit up his bright, gold form. He squinted his yellow eyes as they adjusted to the light, but continued walking down the path towards the exit.

    The lean, green form of Fujinmon walked out after him and immediately took to the air once in the open space. He flew beside Raijinmon and looked down at him, his long, green braid of hair flowing gently as he travelled.

    Behind them plodded the great, red, metal body of Suijinmon, who followed them on his four legs and two, long Accel Arms. He tried to catch up with them, his footsteps heavy under the weight of his body.

    “Wait for me, guys,” Suijinmon rumbled deeply, his bulky tail swaying as he hastened his steps ever-so-slightly.

    “You should learn to walk faster,” Fujinmon replied simply, barely glancing over his shoulder at the Waterfall Commander. “You’re always slowing us down.”

    “He can’t help it, Fujinmon. He’s heavier than us,” Raijinmon reminded his green comrade, beginning to slow his strides.

    “I suppose so,” Fujinmon conceded, touching his feet down on the ground and walking at a leisurely pace with Raijinmon, allowing Suijinmon to catch up with them.

    “Thank you,” Suijinmon said, trudging up beside the Thunderclap and Hurricane Commanders.

    Fujinmon closed his eyes.“I’m in no hurry to put Chaosdramon in the picture anyways.”

    “’Emperor’ Chaosdramon,” Suijinmon corrected him succinctly, lifting one of his heavy Accel Arms and raising a metal finger. “And we have to. He’s our direct superior, after all.”

    Fujinmon rolled his eyes. “Then you do it,” he told him, although with a soft voice. “He already hates me.”

    “He doesn’t hate you,” Suijinmon assured the green D-Brigade Commander.

    “He doesn’t particularly like you, however,” Raijinmon added with a glint in his eye as he looked at Fujinmon. “You did initially side with JumboGamemon way back then, I remember.”

    “Exactly. Even though I switched loyalties to Chaosdramon’s side, he doesn’t trust me,” Fujinmon responded.

    “So, give him reason to,” the bulky, red Waterfall Commander advised as he plodded next to Raijinmon.

    “Alright, and telling him that Special Recon Task Force 11 has been mostly wiped out isn’t the way to do it,” Fujinmon reasoned. “So, one of you tell him.”

    “We all need to talk to Emperor Chaosdramon about what’s going on in the Mamemon Kingdom anyways. Suijinmon can tell him about the failure of SRTF 11 and we will be there for support,” Raijinmon concluded.

    “That’s fine by me,” Fujinmon agreed.

    Suijinmon walked quietly. “…Affirmative,” he conceded.

    The three Storm Commanders walked through the front gate of D-Central unopposed after being saluted by the guards. Suijinmon was the first to salute back, followed by his smaller comrades. They left the D-Brigade headquarters and began to head towards the nearest bridge that spanned the Rust River. By the time they crossed the bridge, the sun had risen up and slipped behind the cloudy veil. This gave the area a grey atmosphere that matched the metallic city of Facture.

    There was a professional silence between the three top D-Brigade officials. The exception was their metal feet clanging as they hit the sturdy walkway of the steel bridge. The dark, uninviting water of the river flowed beneath them, and a duo of Mechanorimon piloted by Commandramon moved a large load of materials as they passed by them on the bridge.

    Fujinmon glanced at one of the passing Mechanorimon, who moved the cargo as directed by the Commandramon in its cockpit. “Do either of you ever feel like that?” he asked his gold and red counterparts, gesturing to the Mechanorimon, who needed pilots to operate. “Like you’re a Digimon, but you’re really just being controlled and told what to do from day to day?”

    “What are you talking about?” Suijinmon asked, glancing at the skinny, emerald cyborg with a mixture of curiosity and misgiving. He followed behind the two with heavy footsteps. “Not at all. I’m perfectly content with the way things are.”

    “We’re Commanders of the D-Brigade,” Raijinmon reminded him. “What do you have to complain about? You’re not sitting in those sweaty, oily cockpits doing mechanical labour like those Commandramon. We have things fairly good, in my opinion.”

    “Sorry. Ignore me,” Fujinmon responded, closing his eyes. “I’m just being philosophical.”

    “I don’t see the point in philosophy, myself,” Suijinmon stated in his deep, mechanical voice. “Facts are what are important.”

    “That’s so close-minded, Suijinmon,” Raijinmon calmly disagreed. “A good commander needs to be creative and visionary.”

    “I disagree,” Suijinmon rumbled. “A good commander needs to be level-headed, logical, and adaptable.”

    “Then that’s a philosophy,” Raijinmon pointed out to him with a faint hint of levity in his voice.

    Suijinmon thought about it for a few moments. “…Affirmative,” he grumbled.

    Fujinmon rolled his eyes. “So, you don’t have any dreams, Suijinmon? You’re perfectly happy with the status quo?” he asked him.

    “That’s a dangerous way to talk, Fujinmon,” Raijinmon warned his green companion. “Especially in public.”

    “I’m a commander of the D-Brigade and the three of us have been comrades and coworkers for a decade. If somebody doesn’t like it, they can jam a plug in their socket,” Fujinmon muttered with a trace of scorn in his words. After a few moments of silence, he could see that his comrades weren’t satisfied. He closed his eyes and sighed. “I’m just speaking hypothetically, for the sake of idle conversation. That won’t threaten anything, will it?”

    “I suppose not,” Raijinmon admitted. “I just prefer to put my personal thoughts into private writing so they can’t be misconstrued.”

    “For the sake of conversation, then…” Suijinmon stated steadily, looking at Fujinmon. “I am happy with the way things are. I simply want to be the best commander that I can be.”

    “What a good boy,” Fujinmon muttered under his breath with a wisp of sarcasm. He glanced over at the medium-sized, gold commander “Very well… What about you, Raijinmon?”

    Raijinmon shrugged his load-bearing shoulders. “I suppose I want to be well-known,” he responded, somewhat non-committal. “However, I’d say that I’m doing a fairly good job at it, being the titular ‘Thunderclap Commander’, so I have no complaints.”

    “Titular?” Fujinmon inquired, looking at him curiously. “Did you write a book about yourself with that name or something?”

    “We’re almost at the palace,” Raijinmon said lamely, changing topics quickly. “Have you thought about what you’re going to tell the Emperor, Suijinmon?”

    “The truth,” Suijinmon responded plainly. “He hates preamble and equivocation. What he expects from us is simply honesty and a plan of action.”

    “You’re right,” Raijinmon agreed. “His temperament is more that of cold steel than that of a blast furnace, despite what Fujinmon says.”

    Fujinmon gave him a sideways look. “But do we need to bother hunting down Bug Delta Black after what’s been going on in the Mamemon Kingdom?” he asked them.

    “You mean how PrinceMamemon announced that they were the ones who hired Bug Delta Black to steal the blueprints?”’ Suijinmon questioned. His mind worked quickly. “You think that, because PrinceMamemon made that announcement, they already passed off the blueprints off to him, and that’s why they were in Shroud?”

    “Yes,” the Hurricane Commander responded. “Otherwise, the logistics don’t make sense. Why would they be in Shroud if they still needed to give the blueprints to PrinceMamemon? It’s too far south and they could have arrived in the Haganemame City within one or two days from leaving here.”

    “You could be right, but what if PrinceMamemon was lying?” Suijinmon countered. “Why did he issue that retraction of his announcement yesterday?”

    “Perhaps somebody told him how foolish he was being in admitting it publically. Either way, it doesn’t matter,” Raijinmon insisted. “Bug Delta Black need to be made examples of, as does the Mamemon Kingdom. It’s as simple as that.”

    “Affirmative,” Suijinmon concurred.

    “I suppose you’re right,” Fujinmon agreed. “Bug Delta Black are simple, but the Mamemon Kingdom is more complicated. How should we deal with them?”

    “That’s up to Emperor Chaosdramon. All we need to do is carry out his orders,” Raijinmon responded as the three turned down the street leading to the entrance of Chaosdramon’s giant palace.

    Upon seeing the three Storm Commanders approach, the guards immediately unlocked the sturdy front gates. As they passed through to enter the palace grounds, Suijinmon saluted and clomped after the other two. They walked up to the giant front doors and Raijinmon stepped forwards to push them open.

    The three D-Brigade commanders headed across the vast lobby and through the set of double doors on the other side that lead to a long, wide hallway. They walked down the length of the hallway and stopped in front of a pair of imposing doors that towered at the very end. Inside was the throne room. Raijinmon knocked firmly.

    The next few seconds were deathly silent as they awaited a response. Finally, Chaosdramon’s deep, hollow, breathy voice reverberated behind the thick door. “Enter,” he spoke.

    Raijinmon opened the door and was greeted by a pair of big, glowing, red eyes peering at him from the other side of the room.

    The giant, cyborg dragon sat in his sturdy, metal throne. His body was highlighted by the crimson vectors on his scales, giving him a frightening appearance to those unacquainted with him.

    Raijinmon was the first to walk forwards, followed by Suijinmon, who lumbered behind him. Fujinmon gracefully strode behind the bulky, red Suijinmon, somewhat using him as a barrier between himself and Chaosdramon. When they stopped at the foot of the throne, the three commanders bowed in chorus.

    “Emperor Chaosdramon,” Raijinmon greeted with a bowed head. “We have news regarding the three mercenaries codenamed Bug Delta Black – officially known as Black Pincer Company.”

    “Yes? Have they been captured?” Emperor Chaosdramon questioned.

    Raijinmon and Fujinmon both turned to Suijinmon, who walked forwards on his four legs and bowed deeper. “Unfortunately not, Your Majesty,” Suijinmon responded regretfully. “I sent a team – Special Reconnaissance Task Force 11 – to track down and capture them. However, all but two soldiers of the unit were wiped out by Bug Delta Black; this was during their attempt to apprehend the mercenaries in an inn in Shroud. The survivors, BlackRapidmon and Gigadramon, returned to tell me the news.”

    Chaosdramon tightened the vice of his right claw. “I see…” he responded, his voice as steady as before.

    “However,” Fujinmon spoke up in Suijinmon’s support. “We believe that they already handed the blueprints off to their client, so catching them is a secondary priority at this point.”

    The large, scrutinising, blood-hued eyes of Chaosdramon shifted from Suijinmon to Fujinmon. “Their client? Who do you mean? The Mamemon Kingdom?” he questioned, his eyes narrowing.

    “Given our spies’ reports, we believe that they are the most likely perpetrators,” Fujinmon calmly replied.

    “Although we don’t have any solid proof yet,” Raijinmon added. “It is strange that PrinceMamemon publically boasted that he hired the mercenaries to steal the blueprints and then, a day later, sheepishly retracted the statement.”

    Chaosdramon hissed as if expelling steam. “That sorry excuse for a king is a deluded imbecile. He actually thinks that the Royal Knights are his subordinates. Somebody with more intellect than he obviously told him to retract the statement.”

    “Do you think they are responsible for this affront, Your Majesty?” Suijinmon inquired.

    “I’ve been thinking about it since yesterday,” Chaosdramon’s throaty voice rumbled. “The Mamemon Kingdom clearly has the ambition to catch up with us in terms of technology. They have the motivation, but I don’t believe that PrinceMamemon is capable of devising a plan half that clever. He must have had assistance.”

    “An advisor, perhaps?” Raijinmon suggested.

    “…Or the Royal Knights,” Suijinmon put forth.

    “What?” Raijinmon asked, glancing over at him.

    “Don’t you remember that intelligence report?” the red machine Digimon queried. “The morning that PrinceMamemon announced that he stole the blueprints, one of our spies spotted him and a cadre of bodyguards boarding the Locomon Rail. Locomon makes a stop in the Free Area – not far from the Royal Knights’ castle.”

    “That’s jumping to conclusions, Suijinmon,” Raijinmon countered. “He could have stopped anywhere on that rail line.”

    “Perhaps, but the very next day, he was home and he retracted the claim he made the prior day. I hypothesize that he was conspiring with the Royal Knights, and they convinced him to retract the statement,” Suijinmon stated.

    “That idea makes more sense than PrinceMamemon being the mastermind,” Chaosdramon agreed. “The Royal Knights are clever and they have been looking for a chance to undermine us.”

    “They were awfully quick to act on the night of the party,” Fujinmon remembered. “Gankoomon was skulking around outside the palace, and UlforceVeedramon was quick across the river, perhaps to make sure that everything was going to plan…”

    Raijinmon frowned quietly.

    “Do you doubt our logic?” Suijinmon asked the gold commander, noticing the look in his eyes.

    “No… The logic is sound,” Raijinmon responded, although there was disappointment in his voice. “However, this is still just speculation.”

    “You’re not incorrect, Commander,” Chaosdramon told him. “For now, we will play along. We can leave the Royal Knights out of the matter for now, and focus solely on the Mamemon Kingdom.”

    “What are your orders, Emperor?” Raijinmon questioned.

    “Keep in close contact with our spies in Haganemame City. Also, send an envoy to demand that PrinceMamemon return those blueprints to us at once,” Chaosdramon ordered.

    “And if he doesn’t?” Fujinmon asked.

    Chaosdramon’s vice clenched and unclenched. “Make it clear to him that refusing would be a disastrous thing to do…” he answered calmly. “If he still resists, then we will have to proceed with aggressive coercion.”

    “You mean a military response,” the slender, emerald commander stated.

    “If the Royal Knights are implicit in this, what will they do?” Raijinmon asked. “If they conspired with PrinceMamemon, it’s impossible to believe that they didn’t think this far ahead. They must know that we would react strongly; Duftmon is a genius strategist, after all. Perhaps this is a provocation.”

    “If it is, then we still have to take the bait,” Chaosdramon told him with a glint in his crimson eye. “If we let ourselves get pushed around by the Mamemon Kingdom and its jumped-up, air-headed farce of a ruler, then we will be the laughing stock of the entire Digital World. We must respond and put them in their place.”

    “What if the Royal Knights and their army intervene?” Raijinmon asked.

    “If they are looking for a pretext to go to war with us, then they are severely underestimating both the Metal Empire and the D-Brigade,” Chaosdramon spoke. There was a red glow in his eyes as he strengthened the grip of his vice-like claws. “If they intervene, we will be waiting.”

    Raijinmon glanced aside. “Without a doubt, Emperor. We are more than a match for them…”

    “In retrospect, perhaps we should have aided DarkKnightmon during his attempted coup of the Royal Knights,” Fujinmon suggested.

    “Even with what he did to the World Tree?” Raijinmon questioned.

    Chaosdramon nodded. “Perhaps we should have. I don’t give a bolt about Yggdrasil or Fanglongmon. However, thinking about the past is useless. We need to move on with our course of action.”

    “What about the mercenaries?” Suijinmon asked.

    “Send another team after them, but they aren’t our main priority now,” the Emperor insisted. “The Mamemon Kingdom is.”

    The three Storm Commanders nodded.

    “If there is nothing else, you’re dismissed.”

    Raijinmon, Fujinmon, and Suijinmon bowed and turned around, heading out.

    Chaosdramon lifted himself from his throne and stood to his feet. He looked down at the giant, three-pronged vice that made up his right hand. “All who stand against me…” He closed his hand emphatic force. “…will be crushed.”

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2015
  13. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued)

    -

    Later that day, in the afternoon, the Order of the Royal Knights was doing routine work. There were no Free Area inspections or interventions in the continent that needed to be done. Out in the large training grounds, the Ground Strike Forces were doing drills. They were previously overseen by Sleipmon, Examon, and Gankoomon, who were doing their leadership training. Once the three Royal Knights had finished, Leftenant Grademon took over in training the ground forces.

    Currently, they walked away from the training grounds and towards the main road that passed in front of the main building and led to the front gate. Alphamon, who was overseeing the training, walked alongside the three.

    “I’m impressed with the way you three have been progressing,” he told them. “Sleipmon, you’ve gotten a lot more confident and assertive. Examon has gotten less shy, and Gankoomon has gotten more patient and a better idea of tactics.”

    Sleipmon smiled. “Thanks, Alphamon. The advice of you and the others has been the main reason,” he humbly answered.

    “Commanding brigades of troops was definitely the hardest thing for me to get used to,” Examon admitted as he flew behind them, hovering only about two meters off of the ground. “Back before I joined the Order, I really only had to worry about myself in combat. That and the towns and Digimon that I was protecting.”

    “You’ve adapted nicely, Examon,” Alphamon assured him, looking over his shoulder at him with a smile. “You’re much more of a team player now too.” He lightly nudged Gankoomon, who was striding beside him in a relaxed gait. “Something that Gankoomon still needs to work on.”

    “Hey, I let Dynasmon go ahead to trash those bandits last week before I got to them,” Gankoomon responded with an offhanded wave. “It’s not every day I let Bullface hog all the action.”

    Sleipmon chuckled lightly. “Very generous of you, Gankoomon.”

    “Dynasmon said it was because you hurt your ankle,” Examon pointed out.

    “It was not!” Gankoomon declared, swiping his arm out and causing his jacket to blow back dramatically. “What kind of a man gets slowed down by such a petty injury?”

    Alphamon rolled his eyes. “You don’t half make me feel sorry for BaoHuckmon, Gankoomon,” he told him good-naturedly.

    “Nah. The kid can handle my training no problem,” Gankoomon asserted. “He’ll have to, if he wants to become a Royal Knight.”

    “He wants to become a Royal Knight?” Examon asked him.

    Sleipmon nodded and scratched his chin. “He is quite the fan. I’ve autographed about fifteen things of his since he moved here.”

    Gankoomon placed his hands behind his head and walked leisurely. “Yup. He’s a huge fan. You guys are his inspiration in life, apparently,” he explained. “If I declined your invitation to join the Royal Knights, I’d have never heard the end of it.”

    Alphamon couldn’t help but smile. “Really…”

    Gankoomon nodded. “Huckmon’s not just talk, though. He’s serious about joining the Order. The kid impresses me with the lengths he’ll go sometimes. All I have to do is namedrop you guys and he’ll train three times as hard as he normally would.” The sunlight reflected in his visor as he turned his head to glance at Alphamon. “But I know becoming one of the Royal Knights is a pretty ambitious dream. Is he wasting his time, Alphamon? If he is, I’d rather tell him now before he builds up his hopes too much.”

    “You care about him more than you let on,” Sleipmon observed with a gentle smile.

    Gankoomon didn’t respond. He lowered his hands and readjusted the jacket on his back.

    The soft grin on Alphamon’s face didn’t fade. “I’ll tell you this, Gankoomon…” he began, turning to look at his fellow Royal Knight. “It’s true that there are only twelve Royal Knights and that it’s a huge feat to even be considered for selection to join the Order. To become a Royal Knight, you need to be a Digimon with a certain kind of qualities, morals, and characteristics, and you generally need to have an impressive resume of feats behind your name. However, I am open to new Royal Knights if the right kind of candidate comes along.”

    The four Royal Knights walked down the main road, passing by the merchant and craftsman shops.

    “As for BaoHuckmon…” Alphamon looked at Gankoomon. “Right now, he’s too inexperienced. However, I see a lot of potential in him, and I think you do too. He’s relatively young, but he’s quite skilled for a teenager. He’s determined and he has a big heart. Correct me if I’m wrong.”

    Gankoomon shook his head. “You’re right. The kid’s got heart and spirit. I could tell from the day I met ‘im,” he responded. He looked at Alphamon. “So… what’re you saying? He’s got a chance?”

    “I’m not ruling out the possibility,” Alphamon answered. “In the end, it’s up to him whether he has the skills, patience, and willpower to do it. However, I’ll be keeping an eye on him and his progression. I think he might have what it takes.”

    Gankoomon managed a grin. “Yeah… Thanks, Alphamon,” he told him. “I won’t tell him you said that or else it’ll just go to his big, metal head.”

    Examon smiled a bit and flapped his broad wings gently to keep himself aloft. However, his keen eyes picked up something up ahead of them, at the gate of the castle walls. He blinked when he saw a familiar maroon Digimon walking through the gate with a Strikedramon escort. The Strikedramon was a slender dragon man with pale violet and white scales He was clad in green cargo pants and metal plates on various points on his body.

    The draconic Royal Knight recognized the Digimon who walked with Strikedramon as Dorbickmon. He couldn’t help but feel like he was looking at two versions of Dorbickmon, as his friend has Strikedramon as his lower form. “Dorbickmon?” he said, blinking.

    The three Royal Knights looked up at Examon momentarily before looking down the road and seeing Dorbickmon as well.

    “Forget it. I see them,” Dorbickmon said to the Strikedramon escort, walking ahead of him. “Examon!” he called out with a wave.

    Examon flapped his wings and flew ahead of the others. He landed in front of Dorbickmon. “Dorbickmon?” he asked. “You’re back already?”

    “Thought you’d be glad to see me,” Dorbickmon responded with a playful smirk. He stood on his toe claws to look over Examon, noticing the three other Royal Knights approaching.

    “I am, it’s just…” He trailed off and glanced over his shoulder. Examon poised his wings back so that Alphamon, Sleipmon, and Gankoomon could pass him and approach Dorbickmon.

    “You’re back early,” Alphamon pointed out, raising an eyebrow. “Is everything okay?”

    “You didn’t get found out, did you?” Gankoomon asked him.

    “Give me a break,” Dorbickmon responded confidently. “It didn’t take as long as I expected.”

    “You’re finished already?” Sleipmon asked him.

    “I did everything I could besides chasing after ‘em. And that would’ve been a horrible idea under the circumstances,” the mercenary replied with a shrug. “I got a lot of information though.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Good. We should summon the other Royal Knights and have a meeting,” he stated.

    Dorbickmon’s face dropped; he was less than excited at the idea. “Uhh, how’bout I just tell you here? I hate going to those meetings unless hotshot here is going to punch someone out,” he responded, gesturing to Gankoomon.

    “Don’t tempt me,” Gankoomon warned him, folding his arms.

    “It’s a bit public out here to be discussing sensitive information,” Alphamon responded.

    “Let’s go inside, then,” Sleipmon suggested, turning and gesturing to the main building.

    “Maybe we can go by the treasury for my financial considerations too,” Dorbickmon mentioned with a grin.

    Examon’s brows furrowed. “Dorbickmon,” he chastised.

    “What?” Dorbickmon asked his friend. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

    “The Royal Knights aren’t about to swindle you,” Examon responded with a disapproving look.

    Alphamon smiled. “We’ll head that way,” he assured him.

    He began heading inside with the other three Royal Knights plus Dorbickmon. They walked past the guards standing sentry at the front doors, and walked into the long entrance hall. Upon entering the building, they were greeted by the cool air of the building.

    Dorbickmon followed the Royal Knights a bit uneasily. He still felt somewhat uncomfortable being in the castle. Despite being reformed, he still felt like he was venturing into the dragon’s lair and that somebody was still going to jump out and try to arrest him. His mind knew better, but his instincts were still reluctant.

    “So, what happened?” Gankoomon asked, looking over at him.

    “Went to Shroud to look for Black Pincer Company, like I said,” Dorbickmon answered. “I checked out their regular, the Severed Arms, and found out they checked into a inn a few blocks away.”

    Examon eyed him. “What did you do?”

    “I convinced a buddy of mine to eavesdrop on them. I watched the whole thing,” the mercenary explained. “We lucked out since their client – well, not exactly their client – showed up that night.”

    “What do you mean, ‘not exactly their client’?” Alphamon inquired.

    “It was a Wizardmon. He told them that he was just an intermediary. He just gave them their reward money. Apparently the Black Pincers don’t even know who their client is,” Dorbickmon informed them.

    “I thought you said you got information,” Gankoomon contended.

    Dorbickmon rolled his golden-violet eyes. “It didn’t stop there. The Wizardmon didn’t take the blueprints. He told them his client would double their pay if they did something else with the blueprints.”

    Sleipmon’s brows furrowed and he scratched his cheek. “That’s weird…”

    “Yeah, then things got crazy,” Dorbickmon added with a smirk. “When me and my buddy finished talking in my room , we heard sounds from down the hall. We went to check it out and saw Black Pincer Company in a brawl with a D-Brigade squad.”

    “What?” Examon questioned. “The D-Brigade attacked them? You didn’t get involved, did you?”

    “What happened?” Alphamon asked as the five of them began heading down the stairs to the lowest level of the castle.

    “I mostly stayed out of it. And Black Pincer Company wiped ‘em out. They pretty much destroyed the entire level while they were at it,” Dorbickmon answered casually. “They didn’t absorb their data, so maybe the rumours about them are garbage.”

    Sleipmon frowned at this. “What?”

    “Forget it, horsie,” Dorbickmon answered with a half-shrug. “Not important.”

    “What happened next?” Alphamon pressed.

    “Not much. They took off with the blueprints and got the hell out of Shroud,” Dorbickmon responded.

    Examon looked at him as they turned a corner and began heading towards the treasury vault. “Do you know where? What their new job is.”

    “Yeah. It doesn’t make sense, though,” the mercenary explained. “The Wizardmon told them to travel to the Mamemon Kingdom and give the blueprints to PrinceMamemon. Weird, huh? Do any of you understand that crazy logic?”

    All four of the Royal Knights stopped in their tracks as Dorbickmon kept walking. Dorbickmon continued for a few paces before turning around with a raised eyebrow. He wondered why they all suddenly stopped.

    “…What?”

    Alphamon rubbed his brow with his fingers. “Dorbickmon… please tell me you’re joking…”

    “I’m not…” he said blandly. “Why? What’s the deal?”

    “When did Black Pincer Company leave?” Alphamon asked him with a new hint of urgency behind his deep voice.

    Dorbickmon frowned. “Last night, a few hours after the evening. Close to midnight, I guess,” he responded. “If they’re goin’ straight to Haganemame City, they’re prob’ly there by now. At least, there’s no chance of catching them even if UlforceVeedramon went.”

    “That’s what I was afraid of…” Alphamon said with a grimace. “I hope PrinceMamemon isn’t foolish enough to take those blueprints…”

    “…Did PrinceMamemon hire them all along?” Examon asked.

    “That doesn’t make sense,” Sleipmon answered. “Not with the way PrinceMamemon was acting yesterday.”

    Gankoomon nodded. “Doesn’t seem like he’d care about keeping his identity a secret from the mercenaries or anybody else, for that matter,” he added, raising his hand to knead his red mustache.

    “Then… what?” Examon mused. “He’s being set up?”

    “That’s what all signs point to…” Alphamon explained, his voice heavy. “But by who?”

    “The Metal Empire?” Gankoomon suggested with a shrug.

    “You think that Chaosdramon staged that attack on his own factory in front of all of us?” Sleipmon asked. “Just so that he could have an excuse to attack the Mamemon Kingdom?”

    “That seems pretty elaborate for the minimal gains they would get,” Examon agreed with his beast knight comrade.

    “I’m just throwing it out there,” Gankoomon responded.

    “You two have a point, but I’m not sure who else it could be,” Alphamon said. “Who else would benefit from doing that?”

    “Not everybody acts in their own best interests,” Gankoomon pointed out.

    Alphamon sighed. “We’ll get your payment later, Dorbickmon. We need to call a meeting with the other Royal Knights to discuss this.”

    Dorbickmon’s brows sank. “Are you serious?” he blandly asked.

    Alphamon already turned around and began striding back the way they came. Examon, Gankoomon, and Sleipmon followed him.

    “…But we’re almost at the treasury!” Dorbickmon complained. After a few seconds of seeing that they weren’t going to stop, the mercenary let out a swear and followed after them. “This is going to be fun,” he muttered with a snarl.

    -

    By the time the sun began to set, Black Pincer Company had arrived safely in the capital of the Mamemon Kingdom, Haganemame City. The city was a series of stone or metal dome complexes. Despite the relatively small size of the city in comparison to cities with similar-sized populations, the city was active and vibrant – much more than Facture.

    Black Pincer Company travelled down a large, main road. Bolgmon was as big as some of the city’s smaller buildings. However, there were a handful of buildings that were ten or fifteen times their size. Despite the fact that it was called the Mamemon Kingdom, and that a majority of the population were of the Mamemon species, there were a lot of Digimon living in the kingdom who weren’t Mamemons. There were lots of other Machine, Puppet, and Mutant Digimon, and even some Digimon of other species. This is reflected in the size and style of some of the buildings.

    However, the building that the team of three mercenaries were interested in was located at the end of the road that they were on. The giant, shimmering dome palace of PrinceMamemon was their destination.

    GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon led the way with Bolgmon following behind them. They were careful not to step on anybody, though most of the civilians avoided them anyways due to their frightening appearance and demeanour.

    GrandisKuwagamon’s red eye glistened in the orange light of the setting sun as he looked around the area cautiously.

    “Do you think the Metal Empire will track us here?” Blitzmon asked him.

    “If we take too long, yeah,” GrandisKuwagamon answered. “This better be the last thing we have to do with these damn blueprints. Fighting the D-Brigade is more trouble than it’s worth.”

    “We’re might have to find some new digs in Shroud after last night,” Bolgmon agreed, rolling along after them.

    “Really? You don’t think that the inn will let us stay there after we levelled half the place?” GrandisKuwagamon sarcastically asked, looking over his shoulder at Bolgmon.

    “It’s getting pretty hard to stay unnoticed with these Metal Empire-related jobs,” Blitzmon observed. “First the bungle in Facture and now wrecking the inn in Shroud. The D-Brigade will come after us hard if we don’t finish things up. The Royal Knights might even get involved.”

    “We’re not leaving this city until that PrickMamemon guy gets these,” GrandisKuwagamon said, glancing at the bag under his arm.

    “Why wouldn’t he want them?” Bolgmon asked.

    “Because he might know they’re stolen,” GrandisKuwagamon told him. “Don’t you remember anything from our days selling stolen stuff?”

    “Don’t steal more than you can hide, don’t get caught, don’t sell local…” the insectoid tank began enumerating.

    “Okay, smartass,” the black bug Digimon replied.

    “Let’s just force him to take them,” Bolgmon suggested, rolling his eyes. “I doubt his bodyguards are any good.”

    “That’s the last resort,” GrandisKuwagamon replied. “Blitzmon and I will sweet-talk him. You just be quiet and look pretty.”

    Bolgmon shot him a glare. “Not much chance of you doing that,” he fired back.

    “This is it,” Blitzmon announced, stopping in front of one of the largest dome buildings in the city.

    The shimmering, silver-coloured palace before them had an intricate, geometric exterior that set it apart from the rest of the buildings in the city. Above the large entrance that allowed even large-sized Digimon through was an ornate, white archway, giving the palace that regal feeling.

    Flanking that entrance were two heavily armed guards. They were hovering, dark blue, metal balls, similar to that of the Mamemon species. However, their faces were fearsome and their heads (which made up their main bodies) contained sharp horns. They had long, slender arms sprouting from their bodies. In their right hands, they contained vicious-looking chainsaws that felt very much at odds with the laidback, jovial atmosphere around Haganemame City. However, the Giromon made for fearsome bodyguards that made many think twice about trying anything in the palace.

    However, the three mercenaries were unfazed by these guards. Black Pincer Company strode up to the entrance of the palace with the intent of walking in.

    The two Giromon hovered closer together, blocking the entrance to the doors and forcing the three insect Digimon to stop. “Can we help you three?” the Giromon on the right asked them.

    “This is the palace of PrinceMamemon. The official building for royal and governmental matters in the Mamemon Kingdom. See?” the Giromon on the left added, using his left hand to point upwards.

    Black Pincer Company looked up and saw ‘The Royal Palace of PrinceMamemon’ in DigiLetters, chiselled into the marble arch that rimmed the doorway.

    Bolgmon squinted at them and tilted his head with an expression that asked, ‘are you serious?’. “Why don’t you two--“

    Blitzmon raised his hand to shut Bolgmon up. “We’re here to see PrinceMamemon,” he calmly interrupted.

    “Is he expecting you?” the Giromon on the right questioned them.

    “Nope,” GrandisKuwagamon answered. “We’re diplomats here on a surprise visit.”

    The Giromon narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Diplomats representing who?” he probed.

    “We’re not at liberty to say,” Blitzmon answered with a sly-yet-confident voice. “But we have something that your king will be extremely interested in.”

    “And what is that?” the Giromon on the left asked.

    “Something that’ll make PrinceMamemon be remembered as the guy who put the Mamemon Kingdom on the map,” GrandisKuwagamon reassured him.

    “…What are you guys selling?” the Giromon guard grilled sceptically.

    “We’re not selling anything,” Blitzmon assured them. “Our client is extremely interested in the wellbeing of the Mamemon Kingdom. We’re here on a mission of peace.”

    “You guys aren’t some religious freaks, are you?” the other Giromon questioned.

    GrandisKuwagamon let out a sharp laugh at the idea. “Hahah! Hell no. We’re just here doing a job for our client. We get paid, you guys benefit, and our client is happy. It’s that easy.”

    The two Giromon exchanged glances and then huddled up, whispering to one another. After some deliberation, they broke off and turned back to Black Pincer Company.

    “Fine,” one of the Giromon said. “We’ll get someone to bring you to PrinceMamemon’s chief advisor, Mercuremon. You can talk with him.”

    “He represents PrinceMamemon?” GrandisKuwagamon asked them, folding his arms.

    “Yeah,” the other guard responded. “He takes care of most of PrinceMamemon’s affairs.” The Giromon opened the doors of the palace and slipped inside.

    The other Giromon guard remained outside to guard the entrance, looking the three insect Digimon over. “The big guy needs to wait outside,” he said, pointing at Bolgmon.

    Bolgmon glared at him. “What?! Why?!” he protested indignantly.

    “You heard ‘im, Bolg,” GrandisKuwagamon told him with a grin, relieved that he and Blitzmon wouldn’t have to deal with Bolgmon’s big mouth.

    “Don’t cause any trouble,” Blitzmon added.

    “Your treads will track dirt over the floor,” the Giromon explained, pointing to Bolgmon’s tank treads. In actuality, he didn’t want someone with as much firepower as Bolgmon inside the palace.

    “That’s discrimination,” Bolgmon said angrily, folding his four arms.

    “Sorry. The floors were just waxed this morning,” the guard insisted.

    “Just stay outside, Bolgmon,” Blitzmon told him. “Grandis and I can handle it.”

    “Whatever,” Bolgmon muttered huffily.

    The palace doors suddenly swung open and the other Giromon appeared from inside. Behind him were a cadre of MetalMamemon. There were five of them, and they were all armed with claws and cannons.

    “What’s this?” GrandisKuwagamon asked, looking at the five MetalMamemon.

    “They’ll guide you to Mercuremon,” the Giromon responded. “So you don’t get lost.”

    GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon exchanged glances. “Fine.”

    The two insects began to walk inside the palace. As they did, GrandisKuwagamon felt a faint gust of air against his wings, prompting him to look over his shoulder. Seeing nothing, he continued walking and allowed himself and Blitzmon to be surrounded by the comparatively tiny escorts.

    The palace was very grand and ornate. The floors were smooth, sparkling, grey marble, and the geometric wall and ceiling designs were intricate and impressively built. However, their primary purpose seemed to be for building stability.

    The MetalMamemons led GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon through a door and towards a pair of travelators that led down a hall of the palace. The group got onto the conveyor belt-like machine and waited for it to take them down the hallway. Once there, the MetalMamemon escort hopped off and took the two supposed diplomats down a shorter hallway to a room at the very end of the metal corridor. They reached the large door and one of the MetalMamemon knocked.

    “Enter,” a voice said.

    The MetalMamemon opened the door and walked in, taking another guard with him as the others waited in the hallway. GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon followed them into the throne room. It was large and vacant except for the ornate throne and the figure who walked towards them from the back of the room.

    Mercuremon approached, observing the two humanoid insect Digimon. “Greetings,” he spoke politely.

    “Hey,” GrandisKuwagamon responded.

    “I don’t believe we’ve met,” the mirror Digimon stated with a smile. “I am Mercuremon, PrinceMamemon’s royal advisor.”

    “Name’s GrandisKuwagamon and this is Blitzmon, but who we are doesn’t matter,” the black insectoid replied.

    “Doesn’t it?” Mercuremon asked them. “I was under the impression that you two were diplomats.”

    “Sorta,” GrandisKuwagamon explained. “We’re more couriers, really. What’s more important is that we’ve got something for you.”

    “And what might that be?” Mercuremon questioned in an intrigued voice.

    GrandisKuwagamon reached into his bag and pulled out a few big sheets of paper. He then offered them to Mercuremon.

    Mercuremon unfurled the sheets and examined their contents. For a few moments, his smile disappeared, but it wasn’t long until the smirk crawled back onto his mirror face.

    “I get the feeling you know what these are,” Blitzmon observed, examining the expression on his face.

    “You’re the mercenaries who caused that clamour in Facture, aren’t you?” Mercuremon deduced, looking up from the blueprints.

    “We’re just couriers,” Blitzmon insisted.

    “If that’s so, then who sent you?” the steel Digimon inquired.

    “We don’t know,” the blue insect answered. “We haven’t met him personally, but whoever it is seems to want what’s best for your king. A friend, maybe?”

    “By giving us blueprints stolen from the Metal Empire?” Mercuremon asked with a smile. “That’s a dangerous game for us to play.”

    “Or it’s a good opportunity,” GrandisKuwagamon responded. “I’m not engineer, but if the Metal Empire’s so keen to protect their technology, then it’s gotta be pretty useful. Or you could always use those blueprints in other ways. Leverage, extortion, getting in someone’s good books – up to you, really.”

    “Very shrewd,” Mercuremon responded. “And what are you asking for it?”

    “From you? Nothing,” Blitzmon assured him. “We get paid by our client if we give these to you. If he wanted anything from you, his intermediary would have told us. I think he just has PrinceMamemon’s best interests in mind.”

    “Oh, that’s wonderful!” a voice blurted out from behind the two mercenaries.

    PrinceMamemon burst through the doors of the throne room and flounced in.

    “Your Majesty,” Mercuremon greeted with his lips in a neutral position.

    “PrinceMamemon?” Blitzmon asked with mild surprise.

    “I know who you are. I know what’s going on!” PrinceMamemon stated, placing his hands on his hips and tilting his head up proudly. “…You’re representatives of the Royal Knights, aren’t you? That’s why Alphamon was upset when I announced that I had the blueprints; it’s because he hadn’t given them to me yet! He didn’t want me tipping off his plans to the Metal Empire! Oh, yes! It all makes perfect sense now!”

    GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon exchanged looks. “…We could very well be,” Blitzmon responded, giving PrinceMamemon a knowing wink. “We aren’t at liberty to say.”

    PrinceMamemon returned the wink and raised a finger to place it on his lips. “Oh, yes. I understand perfectly. You’re just simple couriers. Wonderful!”

    “And this is an opportunity that’s too good to pass up,” GrandisKuwagamon said with a grin, glancing over at Mercuremon as well.

    Mercuremon thought for a few moments. “…I suppose it could be,” he responded, a sly smirk forming on his face. “It could open many doors for us, indeed. Don’t you think, your majesty?”

    PrinceMamemon tilted his head up and beamed broadly, his teeth sparkling. “Indeed! We hold all the cards now. No matter what the Metal Empire and their silly Emperor do, we will come out on top! Yes! And this proves that we have the Royal Knights to back us up, as well! It is the beginning of the golden age of the Mamemon Kingdom! I can see it now; our names will go down in the history books!”

    “So, you’ll take ‘em?” GrandisKuwagamon asked him, grinning.

    “But of course!” PrinceMamemon exclaimed, collecting all of the blueprints in his arms. “And to celebrate this generous gift, I invite you both to come join us in our royal dining hall to celebrate with wine and delicious foodstuffs! Come come! It will be a royal feast!”

    GrandisKuwagamon grinned at Blitzmon. “Yeah, sure. We’d be honoured,” he responded. “Can our friend join us too? Otherwise he’ll blow a gasket.”

    “Oh, of course! The more the merrier!” PrinceMamemon exclaimed jovially. He lead them out of the room, flanked by the squad of MetalMamemon.

    Mercuremon walked after him, followed by GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon. Before exiting the room, the black insect glanced around the room before shrugging and walking out.

    The last MetalMamemon guard closed the door to the throne room, leaving it empty.

    However, the room only looked empty…

    After a few minutes, there was a visual fragmentation in the data around the side wall. Stone seemed to bulge out from the wall. The bulging portion of the stone wall suddenly pixilated and became a dark blue and black colour. A short, bipedal dragon with camouflaged blue scales and body armour took form, seemingly out of thin air. However, in reality it was his active camouflage concealing him.

    The Commandramon narrowed his eyes and looked around cautiously. Upon triple checking that he was safe, he tipped his metal helmet.

    “So they have the blueprints and the Royal Knights are involved…” the Commandramon spy muttered. “I need to report this to D-Brigade Intelligence. I might become a candidate for Selection-D for this… They’ll be really happy to hear this information.”

    With that, he reactivated the camouflage on his armour and body, and melded in with the external environment, completely disappearing from view. Within moments, he slipped out of the room and went to make his report.
     
  14. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 6: Cloak and Dagger​


    Dorbickmon looked out of the window of his room. Even in the dark night, he could see Shroud’s data storm swirling overhead. It was particularly bad that night as he could see tendrils of bright, violet-tinted electricity flashing behind the thick, funneling veil of clouds.

    The inn bedroom was dim except for the light of a lamp on a nearby table. His bag was sprawled out across the bed. He tapped his foot, waiting for BlackWarGreymon to show up. Several hours had passed since he witnessed Black Pincer Company down in the bar.

    After that evening, his belly was full and his mind was working. He tried to piece together what Black Pincer Company was up to. He was certain that he saw the Wizardmon hand the blueprints back to Blitzmon, but he still gave them their reward. That didn’t make sense to him. Dorbickmon considered going down the hall to Black Pincer Company’s rooms to talk to them, but he figured that would be risky, given the circumstances. He knew that they had their guards up and that they were extremely dangerous. He didn’t want to end up in a life-threatening fight that could destroy the entire inn.

    A loud knocking rang out from the door to his room. Dorbickmon reflexively looked over. As soon as he did, a shadow passed by the window behind him.

    The dragon mercenary walked over and stood behind the door. “Who is it?” Dorbickmon questioned, narrowing his eyes.

    “It’s me. BlackWarGreymon,” BlackWarGreymon responded.

    Dorbickmon opened the door a crack, but kept a tight hold on it as he peered out into the third floor hallway. He saw that it was only BlackWarGreymon out there and opened the door fully. “Come in,” he told him.

    BlackWarGreymon walked in as Dorbickmon closed the door behind them. Dorbickmon then leaned back against the door and folded his arms.

    The member of the Cimmerian Adventurers turned around and looked at Dorbickmon with a raised eyebrow. “Blocking the exit?” he asked him suspiciously.

    Dorbickmon pointed with his claws behind the ebony dragon man. “There’s a window right there,” he joked.

    BlackWarGreymon rolled his eyes and adjusted the long, jagged, Dramon Killer gauntlets over his wrists. “I did what you wanted.”

    “Good. What’d you hear?” Dorbickmon questioned. “Who was that Wizardmon?”

    “It wasn’t their client,” BlackWarGreymon informed him. “He said he was just an intermediary. He was hired by somebody to give the Black Pincer Company their reward, as well as their next orders. Apparently, they don’t even know who the client is,” he added with a shrug.

    Dorbickmon let out a grunt from the nostrils on his snout. “Whoever hired them is smart,” he mused. “Even if Black Pincer Company gets caught or overheard, nobody can trace it back to him or her, since not even the bugs know who hired them. Hell…”

    “Hey, it’s not all bad news. I did overhear something that might interest you,” the blond-haired dragon man noted.

    “What?”

    BlackWarGreymon folded his arms. “The Wizardmon said their client wanted them to do something else with the blueprints - said they’d get paid double if they brought them to PrinceMamemon in the Mamemon Kingdom,” he explained.

    Dorbickmon arched an eyebrow, stood up straight, and unfolded his arms. “The hell? Why?” he asked him, perplexed by the statement.

    “Beats me. All I know is that they’re heading out and meeting back here in a week for their reward,” BlackWarGreymon explained.

    Dorbickmon frowned. “The Mamemon Kingdom… Why them?” he wondered aloud.

    “That’s all I know, Dorbickmon,” BlackWarGreymon insisted. He took off one of his Dramon Killer gauntlets and extended his black fist. “Are we good now?”

    Dorbickmon extended his own fist, covered by his gauntlets, and pressed it against BlackWarGreymon’s. “Yeah. Just don’t leave me in deep **** again and we’ll get along fine.”

    BlackWarGreymon grinned a bit. “I won’t,” he replied. He was about to open his mouth again, but a muffled crash rang out nearby.

    “Hold that thought,” Dorbickmon said, sneering hard. They both went silent and listened intently.

    They heard another crash. It sounded like it was coming from down the hallway. Dorbickmon turned around and opened the door, looking down the dimly lit hallway of the inn.

    The noises grew even louder. It wasn’t just intermittent crashes anymore, but the sound of frantic scuffling and sharp swearing.

    Dorbickmon gritted his teeth and walked out into the hallway, followed by BlackWarGreymon. The sounds were coming from the rooms that he knew Black Pincer Company were staying in. One of the closed doors was rattling as if something was being pressed up against it.

    “The hell is that?” BlackWarGreymon asked.

    “Shut up,” Dorbickmon said, reaching behind him and muffling the ebony dragon man with his hand.

    The crimson dragon let go and began to cautiously approach the trembling door. It continued to thump and quiver, as if something was trying to burst out of it. Dorbickmon frowned and stopped in front of the door.

    “I wouldn’t open that if I were you,” BlackWarGreymon whispered. “It’s probably—“

    Before he could finish, a giant, blue horn burst through the wood of the door, nearly stabbing into Dorbickmon. “****!” Dorbickmon exclaimed, staggering back. He reflexively summoned his Tyrant Collbrande in a flash of flames, lighting up the hallway clearly.

    Dorbickmon took a step back and to the side, taking on a defensive stance. Suddenly, a voice rang out and the door broke open. The body of a Sealsdramon, enveloped in tendrils of electricity, took the door down as it flew through the air. The Digimon slammed into the opposite wall with enough force to make a small crater in it. The Sealsdramon then fell to the floor and burst into data.

    Dorbickmon growled. “The D-Brigade. This isn’t good,” he rumbled. The dragon man hurried forwards and looked into the room.

    Inside, he saw Blitzmon grappling with another Sealsdramon. The Sealsdramon was clinging onto the larger Digimon’s back with one arm around his neck. His other hand gripped a combat knife which he was trying to edge towards Blitzmon’s neck, but was prevented by the insect man’s hand around his wrist, pushing the knife back.

    With his other hand, Blitzmon reached over his shoulder and grabbed the Sealsdramon’s face. With a tight yank, he ripped the Scouter Monoeye visor off while staggering backwards and slamming his assailant’s back against one of the walls. He impact was strong enough that the Sealsdramon released the dagger, which fell to the floor with a clang. Blitzmon then elbowed the cyber dragon hard in the gut, throwing him off.

    The Sealsdramon panted and sneered, drawing a small, metal sphere from his belt. “DCD Bomb!” he shouted, throwing a grenade that Commandramon often used.

    Blitzmon ducked, allowing the bomb to roll out into the hallway. He took the opportunity to rush forwards to grab the Sealsdramon and hoist him up. “Thor’s Hammer!” he shouted, releasing a torrent of electricity from his hands into the Sealsdramon’s body. The Sealsdramon yelled and writhed for a few moments before bursting into data.

    Meanwhile, Dorbickmon watched as the grenade rolled in front of himself. He grunted and punted it down to the end of the hallway. The grenade exploded, tearing up the floor and blowing open the door at the end of the hallway. A cloud of smoke from the detonation filled the upper half of the corridor.

    In tandem with this, two figures burst through the wall of the room adjacent to Blitzmon’s. GrandisKuwagamon and the Darkdramon stormed through the collapsing wall and slammed into the adjacent wall, right in front of Dorbickmon and GrandisKuwagamon. GrandisKuwagamon’s Gran Killer gauntlets were locked in a bitter melee against the Darkdramon’s Gigastick Lance. Both refused to let the other one get free; if they did, they would likely be stabbed.

    Dorbickmon watched with surprised as they struggled, the sound of their metal weapons screeching against one another assaulting his ears. The D-Brigade Darkdramon had his free hand against GrandisKuwagamon’s chin, forcing his head upwards so that he wouldn’t be able to use his forceps to decapitate him.

    GrandisKuwagamon briefly glanced over at the two onlooking mercenaries, briefly concerned that they were also with his attackers.

    “What the hell is going on?!” Dorbickmon demanded, signalling that they were just bystanders.

    GrandisKuwagamon didn’t respond. He merely hissed and drove his spiked knee into his attacker’s groin. Darkdramon let out a roar of agony and staggered backwards. As soon as there was distance between them, GrandisKuwagamon raised his leg and drove his insectoid boot into the Darkdramon’s gut, sending him stumbling into the hole in the wall that led to GrandisKuwagamon’s rented room.

    The black insect man readied his Gran Killer claws and prepared to charge in for the kill, but thought better of it when he saw the hunched over Darkdramon build up dark energy in his mouth.

    “Dark Roar!” the Darkdramon shouted, releasing a blast of darkness towards him. GrandisKuwagamon dove to the side and BlackWarGreymon rushed forwards with his black Brave Shield to protect himself and Dorbickmon from the resulting explosion that swept down the hallway.

    As the wall and parts of the ceiling crumbled, GrandisKuwagamon let out a swear as he was blown down the hallway. He skidded along the floor, his spiked appendages leaving scratch marks along the floor as he slid. As soon as he came to a stop, he stood to his feet.

    “Bolgmon! Blitzmon!” he shouted out.

    “We’re under attack!” Blitzmon shouted from somewhere down the smoke-filled hallway. Judging by his grunts of effort and the flashes of electricity lighting up the smoke like a strobe light, he was likely still under attack by more Sealsdramon.

    “No ****!” GrandisKuwagamon retorted. He turned and looked into the room at the end of the hallway that had its door blown open by the grenade. “Bolgmon!” he shouted inside.

    “Kinda… busy!” Bolgmon yelled back from inside between grunts. GrandisKuwagamon couldn’t see him, but it sounded like he was in the middle of a fight as well.

    GrandisKuwagamon hissed and rushed down the hallway. Darkdramon flew through the smoke to meet him, plunging his Gigastick Lance towards his face. The insect ducked under the stab and plunged his claw gauntlets towards the gap in the armour at around Darkdramon’s midriff.

    However, the Darkdramon swerved out of the way just in time, with the two just nicking each other as they passed by. After reversing positions in the hallway, both Darkdramon and GrandisKuwagamon spun around and glared at one another.

    “What should we do?” BlackWarGreymon whispered to Dorbickmon.

    Dorbickmon frowned and thought about it.

    These thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps behind them. Dorbickmon was about to turn around, but a pair of hands suddenly gripped his and BlackWarGreymon’s shoulders, and forced them apart. They were roughly shoved into the remainder of the two opposite walls.

    Dorbickmon grunted and looked up to see that a MagnaGarurumon was the perpetrator. It looked like he wanted them out of his way. The wolfman passed by them with a long, slim sword in his hand. He poised it and prepared to stab it into GrandisKuwagamon.

    The red dragon snarled. “Look out!” he shouted on impulse.

    GrandisKuwagamon glanced over his shoulder and saw the MagnaGarurumon preparing to attack him. There was a shimmer in his crimson eye before he spun around to hook the plunging sword inside the claws of his Gran Killers.

    The MagnaGarurumon snarled with frustration at Dorbickmon alerting his target. He tried to wrestle his sword back from GrandisKuwagamon. “Darkdramon!” he called out with measured urgency.

    The Darkdramon charged forth towards GrandisKuwagamon’s exposed back. He levelled his lance with the insect Digimon’s right shoulder. If possible, he wanted to simply incapacitate him and take him off for interrogation. Darkdramon thrust the Gigastick Lance towards GrandisKuwagamon.

    The mercenary in question sensed the D-Brigade team leader closing in on him. He didn’t want to move his feet or else he risked giving up his traction. At the last minute, he ducked down and caused the spear to pass over his shoulder and wing. With impressive instincts, he turned his head to the side and clamped his pincers down around the Gigastick Lance, holding it in place, much like the MagnaGarurumon’s sword that he grappled with in his Gran Killers.

    “Thor’s Hammer!” Blitzmon suddenly called, racing up to MagnaGarurumon and burying an electrically charged fist into his back.

    The MagnaGarurumon let out a shout as electricity shook his form and the punch sent him tripping over GrandisKuwagamon’s crouched form.

    “Impossible! You should be dead!” the Darkdramon exclaimed, snarling as he tried to wrestle his lance away from the vice-like pincers. He knew he sent two pairs of Sealsdramons to deal with Blitzmon. “You’re just a Blitzmon.”

    “That’s what I expect you to think,” Blitzmon said with a cold voice. He jumped over and drove his boot painfully into MagnaGarurumon’s back, using him as a springboard to lunge at Darkdramon and plow him into what was left of the wall.

    GrandisKuwagamon released the lance from his forceps and jumped to his feet. He saw the MagnaGarurumon reaching for the sword that he dropped, and proceeded to drive his foot across the cyborg wolf’s face. The MagnaGarurumon flipped onto his chest from the impact, but rolled back onto his stomach to push himself up. He stood to his feet and turned to face GrandisKuwagamon. “Starlight Ve—“

    Before he could initiate his attack, GrandisKuwagamon plunged his Gran Killers through his chest. The MagnaGarurumon froze as the metal tore through his digicore, and his body burst into data.

    GrandisKuwagamon scoffed and turned around to see how Blitzmon was faring. He saw that Blitzmon was dodging lance strikes, throwing punches, and grappling with his Darkdramon opponent.

    The Darkdramon kicked Blitzmon into the wall and stepped back, aiming his lance at him. Energy began to build up inside the Gigastick Lance and the interior glowed with yellow power.

    GrandisKuwagamon sneered and rushed over before he could fire it. He threw his right hand forwards and pierced the long claws of his gauntlet through the Darkdramon’s midsection. The Darkdramon’s body arched backwards with shock and pain, and he ended up firing the blast blankly down the hallway into one of the destroyed rooms, causing an explosion out of the inn’s exterior wall.

    Darkdramon weakly raised a hand to the earpiece in his ear. “Gigadramon,” he hissed, even as his body began to fade into data. “Mission failure… Retreat… to…” Before he could finish, his form vanished into data particles.

    BlackWarGreymon and Dorbickmon exchanged glances behind the former’s shield as they cautiously watched the fight come to an end.

    As the cloud of data dispersed into the smoke that cloaked the entire level of the inn, Blitzmon stood to his feet. He dusted himself off and turned towards Dorbickmon and BlackWarGreymon with cold, suspicious eyes. “What about them?” he asked GrandisKuwagamon.

    “They’re not with them,” GrandisKuwagamon responded, remembering that Dorbickmon had helped him. “Bolgmon!”

    Suddenly, Bolgmon’s room at the end of the hall exploded in a massive blast of electricity, with debris and power coming out of not only the ravaged interior walls, but also the exterior ones too. The dark hallway flickered with lightning.

    “Yeah!?” Bolgmon’s haggard-yet-adrenaline-filled voice yelled from inside what was left of the room.

    “You alive?” GrandisKuwagamon called over.

    “Yeah!” the mechanized cyborg Digimon shouted back before releasing a nasty swear. He rolled out through one of the holes in the wall, driving over to the hallway. There were scuffs on his armour and tears in the fabric of his jumpsuit. “No thanks to you two. There were Sealsdramons all over me. Hell!”

    “We had our own problems to deal with,” Blitzmon answered him.

    “We gotta get outta here before they send in a team of reinforcements,” GrandisKuwagamon told them.

    “As much as I’d love to blast ‘em as they come, I gotta agree with you, Grandis,” Bolgmon stated.

    Blitzmon nodded. “Where to?”

    “The Mamemon Kingdom,” GrandisKuwagamon responded. “The sooner we get these off our hands, the better.”

    “Good point. We should move before they realize we took down their assassins,” Blitzmon agreed.

    GrandisKuwagamon looked over his shoulder, through the smoky, dusty corridor, at Dorbickmon and BlackWarGreymon. “Hey!” he called over. “You’re Dorbickmon, right?”

    Dorbickmon stepped forwards. “Yeah, I am!” he responded confidently. “Were those friends of yours?”

    “Yeah, all my friends try to kill me,” GrandisKuwagamon replied sarcastically. “Thanks for the heads up, by the way. Maybe next time you could actually punch one or two of them while I’m fighting for my life. Or something.”

    Dorbickmon grinned. “No problem. And I’ve been around enough to know not to mess with the Metal Empire.”

    “Who says they’re from the Metal Empire?” GrandisKuwagamon countered.

    “I’m not stupid,” Dorbickmon responded. “That was a D-Brigade black ops team. Recon, from what I saw. I could tell from the species, tactics, and gear. What’d you guys do to piss them off?”

    “I’ll tell you after a drink, sometime,” GrandisKuwagamon told him dismissively. He glanced at BlackWarGreymon who was standing beside Dorbickmon with a smoking shield. “Hello again, Blondie.”

    “Hey…” BlackWarGreymon answered with a bit of uncertainty in his voice. Thinking fast on his feet to throw off suspicion, he looked at Dorbickmon. “Who are these guys, Dorbickmon?”

    “You’re Black Pincer Company, right?” Dorbickmon asked, deflecting the potential suspicion that BlackWarGreymon projected onto him.

    GrandisKuwagamon turned his head forwards again. “No idea what you’re talking about. Come on, guys. We’re getting outta here before the place collapses and the law shows up.”

    “What should I tell the innkeeper?” Dorbickmon questioned.

    GrandisKuwagamon walked to one of the holes in the walls leading to the outside. “Tell ‘im to send the bill to the Metal Empire.”

    With that, he jumped out and beat his four, X-shaped wings, flying into the night air. Blitzmon jumped out next and flew alongside him. Bolgmon drove out the hole and used the vents beneath his body to release pressurized air and steam to allow his body to hover gently to the ground a few floors below.

    The three made a beeline for the northern gate of Shroud.

    BlackWarGreymon turned and looked at Dorbickmon. “We should get outta here too.”

    Dorbickmon nodded and went to fetch his bag from his room. He came out and went down the stairs with BlackWarGreymon.

    “Did you get what you wanted out’ve all of this?” BlackWarGreymon asked him, following as they headed to the bottom floor of the inn.

    “Yup,” Dorbickmon responded, pushing his way past nervous Digimon who were cautiously gathering to see what was going on the upper floor. “My client will want to know about this.”

    -

    Morning dawned over the Metal Empire. The rays of sun gleamed off the edges of the metal buildings that decorated the capital of Facture. There were clouds in the sky, drifting in from the ocean, but they weren’t yet far enough to block out the rising sun.

    Machine Digimon, almost always punctual and efficient, were already up and working this early in the morning. Included among these were the three Storm Commanders.

    Raijinmon walked out of the doors of a massive building located in a vast, high-security premises on the outskirts of Facture. It was the D-Brigade Headquarters and Military Base, colloquially known as D-Central. It was the only place with tighter security than the Metal Empire’s core factories. Surrounding the perimeter were two rows of tall, electrified fences, topped with fixed lasers to prevent them from being scaled. There were also watchtowers covering every angle, and highly secure gates at the entrances to ensure that only those with clearance could enter.

    D-Central was a giant, fortified, metal structure which acted as the official headquarters for the military. In addition to housing the command center of the D-Brigade, it also contained their intelligence division. Regarding the military, everything came from or passed through D-Central. Also within the fenced area were countless barracks and depots for the various military personnel. On the side facing away from Facture was a vast yard that could hold brigades of soldiers for drills and military review. D-Central was essentially a fortress.

    Raijinmon stepped into the morning sun, which washed over his body and lit up his bright, gold form. He squinted his yellow eyes as they adjusted to the light, but continued walking down the path towards the exit.

    The lean, green form of Fujinmon walked out after him and immediately took to the air once in the open space. He flew beside Raijinmon and looked down at him, his long, green braid of hair flowing gently as he travelled.

    Behind them plodded the great, red, metal body of Suijinmon, who followed them on his four legs and two, long Accel Arms. He tried to catch up with them, his footsteps heavy under the weight of his body.

    “Wait for me, guys,” Suijinmon rumbled deeply, his bulky tail swaying as he hastened his steps ever-so-slightly.

    “You should learn to walk faster,” Fujinmon replied simply, barely glancing over his shoulder at the Waterfall Commander. “You’re always slowing us down.”

    “He can’t help it, Fujinmon. He’s heavier than us,” Raijinmon reminded his green comrade, beginning to slow his strides.

    “I suppose so,” Fujinmon conceded, touching his feet down on the ground and walking at a leisurely pace with Raijinmon, allowing Suijinmon to catch up with them.

    “Thank you,” Suijinmon said, trudging up beside the Thunderclap and Hurricane Commanders.

    Fujinmon closed his eyes.“I’m in no hurry to put Chaosdramon in the picture anyways.”

    “’Emperor’ Chaosdramon,” Suijinmon corrected him succinctly, lifting one of his heavy Accel Arms and raising a metal finger. “And we have to. He’s our direct superior, after all.”

    Fujinmon rolled his eyes. “Then you do it,” he told him, although with a soft voice. “He already hates me.”

    “He doesn’t hate you,” Suijinmon assured the green D-Brigade Commander.

    “He doesn’t particularly like you, however,” Raijinmon added with a glint in his eye as he looked at Fujinmon. “You did initially side with JumboGamemon way back then, I remember.”

    “Exactly. Even though I switched loyalties to Chaosdramon’s side, he doesn’t trust me,” Fujinmon responded.

    “So, give him reason to,” the bulky, red Waterfall Commander advised as he plodded next to Raijinmon.

    “Alright, and telling him that Special Recon Task Force 11 has been mostly wiped out isn’t the way to do it,” Fujinmon reasoned. “So, one of you tell him.”

    “We all need to talk to Emperor Chaosdramon about what’s going on in the Mamemon Kingdom anyways. Suijinmon can tell him about the failure of SRTF 11 and we will be there for support,” Raijinmon concluded.

    “That’s fine by me,” Fujinmon agreed.

    Suijinmon walked quietly. “…Affirmative,” he conceded.

    The three Storm Commanders walked through the front gate of D-Central unopposed after being saluted by the guards. Suijinmon was the first to salute back, followed by his smaller comrades. They left the D-Brigade headquarters and began to head towards the nearest bridge that spanned the Rust River. By the time they crossed the bridge, the sun had risen up and slipped behind the cloudy veil. This gave the area a grey atmosphere that matched the metallic city of Facture.

    There was a professional silence between the three top D-Brigade officials. The exception was their metal feet clanging as they hit the sturdy walkway of the steel bridge. The dark, uninviting water of the river flowed beneath them, and a duo of Mechanorimon piloted by Commandramon moved a large load of materials as they passed by them on the bridge.

    Fujinmon glanced at one of the passing Mechanorimon, who moved the cargo as directed by the Commandramon in its cockpit. “Do either of you ever feel like that?” he asked his gold and red counterparts, gesturing to the Mechanorimon, who needed pilots to operate. “Like you’re a Digimon, but you’re really just being controlled and told what to do from day to day?”

    “What are you talking about?” Suijinmon asked, glancing at the skinny, emerald cyborg with a mixture of curiosity and misgiving. He followed behind the two with heavy footsteps. “Not at all. I’m perfectly content with the way things are.”

    “We’re Commanders of the D-Brigade,” Raijinmon reminded him. “What do you have to complain about? You’re not sitting in those sweaty, oily cockpits doing mechanical labour like those Commandramon. We have things fairly good, in my opinion.”

    “Sorry. Ignore me,” Fujinmon responded, closing his eyes. “I’m just being philosophical.”

    “I don’t see the point in philosophy, myself,” Suijinmon stated in his deep, mechanical voice. “Facts are what are important.”

    “That’s so close-minded, Suijinmon,” Raijinmon calmly disagreed. “A good commander needs to be creative and visionary.”

    “I disagree,” Suijinmon rumbled. “A good commander needs to be level-headed, logical, and adaptable.”

    “Then that’s a philosophy,” Raijinmon pointed out to him with a faint hint of levity in his voice.

    Suijinmon thought about it for a few moments. “…Affirmative,” he grumbled.

    Fujinmon rolled his eyes. “So, you don’t have any dreams, Suijinmon? You’re perfectly happy with the status quo?” he asked him.

    “That’s a dangerous way to talk, Fujinmon,” Raijinmon warned his green companion. “Especially in public.”

    “I’m a commander of the D-Brigade and the three of us have been comrades and coworkers for a decade. If somebody doesn’t like it, they can jam a plug in their socket,” Fujinmon muttered with a trace of scorn in his words. After a few moments of silence, he could see that his comrades weren’t satisfied. He closed his eyes and sighed. “I’m just speaking hypothetically, for the sake of idle conversation. That won’t threaten anything, will it?”

    “I suppose not,” Raijinmon admitted. “I just prefer to put my personal thoughts into private writing so they can’t be misconstrued.”

    “For the sake of conversation, then…” Suijinmon stated steadily, looking at Fujinmon. “I am happy with the way things are. I simply want to be the best commander that I can be.”

    “What a good boy,” Fujinmon muttered under his breath with a wisp of sarcasm. He glanced over at the medium-sized, gold commander “Very well… What about you, Raijinmon?”

    Raijinmon shrugged his load-bearing shoulders. “I suppose I want to be well-known,” he responded, somewhat non-committal. “However, I’d say that I’m doing a fairly good job at it, being the titular ‘Thunderclap Commander’, so I have no complaints.”

    “Titular?” Fujinmon inquired, looking at him curiously. “Did you write a book about yourself with that name or something?”

    “We’re almost at the palace,” Raijinmon said lamely, changing topics quickly. “Have you thought about what you’re going to tell the Emperor, Suijinmon?”

    “The truth,” Suijinmon responded plainly. “He hates preamble and equivocation. What he expects from us is simply honesty and a plan of action.”

    “You’re right,” Raijinmon agreed. “His temperament is more that of cold steel than that of a blast furnace, despite what Fujinmon says.”

    Fujinmon gave him a sideways look. “But do we need to bother hunting down Bug Delta Black after what’s been going on in the Mamemon Kingdom?” he asked them.

    “You mean how PrinceMamemon announced that they were the ones who hired Bug Delta Black to steal the blueprints?”’ Suijinmon questioned. His mind worked quickly. “You think that, because PrinceMamemon made that announcement, they already passed off the blueprints off to him, and that’s why they were in Shroud?”

    “Yes,” the Hurricane Commander responded. “Otherwise, the logistics don’t make sense. Why would they be in Shroud if they still needed to give the blueprints to PrinceMamemon? It’s too far south and they could have arrived in the Haganemame City within one or two days from leaving here.”

    “You could be right, but what if PrinceMamemon was lying?” Suijinmon countered. “Why did he issue that retraction of his announcement yesterday?”

    “Perhaps somebody told him how foolish he was being in admitting it publically. Either way, it doesn’t matter,” Raijinmon insisted. “Bug Delta Black need to be made examples of, as does the Mamemon Kingdom. It’s as simple as that.”

    “Affirmative,” Suijinmon concurred.

    “I suppose you’re right,” Fujinmon agreed. “Bug Delta Black are simple, but the Mamemon Kingdom is more complicated. How should we deal with them?”

    “That’s up to Emperor Chaosdramon. All we need to do is carry out his orders,” Raijinmon responded as the three turned down the street leading to the entrance of Chaosdramon’s giant palace.

    Upon seeing the three Storm Commanders approach, the guards immediately unlocked the sturdy front gates. As they passed through to enter the palace grounds, Suijinmon saluted and clomped after the other two. They walked up to the giant front doors and Raijinmon stepped forwards to push them open.

    The three D-Brigade commanders headed across the vast lobby and through the set of double doors on the other side that lead to a long, wide hallway. They walked down the length of the hallway and stopped in front of a pair of imposing doors that towered at the very end. Inside was the throne room. Raijinmon knocked firmly.

    The next few seconds were deathly silent as they awaited a response. Finally, Chaosdramon’s deep, hollow, breathy voice reverberated behind the thick door. “Enter,” he spoke.

    Raijinmon opened the door and was greeted by a pair of big, glowing, red eyes peering at him from the other side of the room.

    The giant, cyborg dragon sat in his sturdy, metal throne. His body was highlighted by the crimson vectors on his scales, giving him a frightening appearance to those unacquainted with him.

    Raijinmon was the first to walk forwards, followed by Suijinmon, who lumbered behind him. Fujinmon gracefully strode behind the bulky, red Suijinmon, somewhat using him as a barrier between himself and Chaosdramon. When they stopped at the foot of the throne, the three commanders bowed in chorus.

    “Emperor Chaosdramon,” Raijinmon greeted with a bowed head. “We have news regarding the three mercenaries codenamed Bug Delta Black – officially known as Black Pincer Company.”

    “Yes? Have they been captured?” Emperor Chaosdramon questioned.

    Raijinmon and Fujinmon both turned to Suijinmon, who walked forwards on his four legs and bowed deeper. “Unfortunately not, Your Majesty,” Suijinmon responded regretfully. “I sent a team – Special Reconnaissance Task Force 11 – to track down and capture them. However, all but two soldiers of the unit were wiped out by Bug Delta Black; this was during their attempt to apprehend the mercenaries in an inn in Shroud. The survivors, BlackRapidmon and Gigadramon, returned to tell me the news.”

    Chaosdramon tightened the vice of his right claw. “I see…” he responded, his voice as steady as before.

    “However,” Fujinmon spoke up in Suijinmon’s support. “We believe that they already handed the blueprints off to their client, so catching them is a secondary priority at this point.”

    The large, scrutinising, blood-hued eyes of Chaosdramon shifted from Suijinmon to Fujinmon. “Their client? Who do you mean? The Mamemon Kingdom?” he questioned, his eyes narrowing.

    “Given our spies’ reports, we believe that they are the most likely perpetrators,” Fujinmon calmly replied.

    “Although we don’t have any solid proof yet,” Raijinmon added. “It is strange that PrinceMamemon publically boasted that he hired the mercenaries to steal the blueprints and then, a day later, sheepishly retracted the statement.”

    Chaosdramon hissed as if expelling steam. “That sorry excuse for a king is a deluded imbecile. He actually thinks that the Royal Knights are his subordinates. Somebody with more intellect than he obviously told him to retract the statement.”

    “Do you think they are responsible for this affront, Your Majesty?” Suijinmon inquired.

    “I’ve been thinking about it since yesterday,” Chaosdramon’s throaty voice rumbled. “The Mamemon Kingdom clearly has the ambition to catch up with us in terms of technology. They have the motivation, but I don’t believe that PrinceMamemon is capable of devising a plan half that clever. He must have had assistance.”

    “An advisor, perhaps?” Raijinmon suggested.

    “…Or the Royal Knights,” Suijinmon put forth.

    “What?” Raijinmon asked, glancing over at him.

    “Don’t you remember that intelligence report?” the red machine Digimon queried. “The morning that PrinceMamemon announced that he stole the blueprints, one of our spies spotted him and a cadre of bodyguards boarding the Locomon Rail. Locomon makes a stop in the Free Area – not far from the Royal Knights’ castle.”

    “That’s jumping to conclusions, Suijinmon,” Raijinmon countered. “He could have stopped anywhere on that rail line.”

    “Perhaps, but the very next day, he was home and he retracted the claim he made the prior day. I hypothesize that he was conspiring with the Royal Knights, and they convinced him to retract the statement,” Suijinmon stated.

    “That idea makes more sense than PrinceMamemon being the mastermind,” Chaosdramon agreed. “The Royal Knights are clever and they have been looking for a chance to undermine us.”

    “They were awfully quick to act on the night of the party,” Fujinmon remembered. “Gankoomon was skulking around outside the palace, and UlforceVeedramon was quick across the river, perhaps to make sure that everything was going to plan…”

    Raijinmon frowned quietly.

    “Do you doubt our logic?” Suijinmon asked the gold commander, noticing the look in his eyes.

    “No… The logic is sound,” Raijinmon responded, although there was disappointment in his voice. “However, this is still just speculation.”

    “You’re not incorrect, Commander,” Chaosdramon told him. “For now, we will play along. We can leave the Royal Knights out of the matter for now, and focus solely on the Mamemon Kingdom.”

    “What are your orders, Emperor?” Raijinmon questioned.

    “Keep in close contact with our spies in Haganemame City. Also, send an envoy to demand that PrinceMamemon return those blueprints to us at once,” Chaosdramon ordered.

    “And if he doesn’t?” Fujinmon asked.

    Chaosdramon’s vice clenched and unclenched. “Make it clear to him that refusing would be a disastrous thing to do…” he answered calmly. “If he still resists, then we will have to proceed with aggressive coercion.”

    “You mean a military response,” the slender, emerald commander stated.

    “If the Royal Knights are implicit in this, what will they do?” Raijinmon asked. “If they conspired with PrinceMamemon, it’s impossible to believe that they didn’t think this far ahead. They must know that we would react strongly; Duftmon is a genius strategist, after all. Perhaps this is a provocation.”

    “If it is, then we still have to take the bait,” Chaosdramon told him with a glint in his crimson eye. “If we let ourselves get pushed around by the Mamemon Kingdom and its jumped-up, air-headed farce of a ruler, then we will be the laughing stock of the entire Digital World. We must respond and put them in their place.”

    “What if the Royal Knights and their army intervene?” Raijinmon asked.

    “If they are looking for a pretext to go to war with us, then they are severely underestimating both the Metal Empire and the D-Brigade,” Chaosdramon spoke. There was a red glow in his eyes as he strengthened the grip of his vice-like claws. “If they intervene, we will be waiting.”

    Raijinmon glanced aside. “Without a doubt, Emperor. We are more than a match for them…”

    “In retrospect, perhaps we should have aided DarkKnightmon during his attempted coup of the Royal Knights,” Fujinmon suggested.

    “Even with what he did to the World Tree?” Raijinmon questioned.

    Chaosdramon nodded. “Perhaps we should have. I don’t give a bolt about Yggdrasil or Fanglongmon. However, thinking about the past is useless. We need to move on with our course of action.”

    “What about the mercenaries?” Suijinmon asked.

    “Send another team after them, but they aren’t our main priority now,” the Emperor insisted. “The Mamemon Kingdom is.”

    The three Storm Commanders nodded.

    “If there is nothing else, you’re dismissed.”

    Raijinmon, Fujinmon, and Suijinmon bowed and turned around, heading out.

    Chaosdramon lifted himself from his throne and stood to his feet. He looked down at the giant, three-pronged vice that made up his right hand. “All who stand against me…” He closed his hand emphatic force. “…will be crushed.”

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2015
  15. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post)

    -

    Later that day, in the afternoon, the Order of the Royal Knights was doing routine work. There were no Free Area inspections or interventions in the continent that needed to be done. Out in the large training grounds, the Ground Strike Forces were doing drills. They were previously overseen by Sleipmon, Examon, and Gankoomon, who were doing their leadership training. Once the three Royal Knights had finished, Leftenant Grademon took over in training the ground forces.

    Currently, they walked away from the training grounds and towards the main road that passed in front of the main building and led to the front gate. Alphamon, who was overseeing the training, walked alongside the three.

    “I’m impressed with the way you three have been progressing,” he told them. “Sleipmon, you’ve gotten a lot more confident and assertive. Examon has gotten less shy, and Gankoomon has gotten more patient and a better idea of tactics.”

    Sleipmon smiled. “Thanks, Alphamon. The advice of you and the others has been the main reason,” he humbly answered.

    “Commanding brigades of troops was definitely the hardest thing for me to get used to,” Examon admitted as he flew behind them, hovering only about two meters off of the ground. “Back before I joined the Order, I really only had to worry about myself in combat. That and the towns and Digimon that I was protecting.”

    “You’ve adapted nicely, Examon,” Alphamon assured him, looking over his shoulder at him with a smile. “You’re much more of a team player now too.” He lightly nudged Gankoomon, who was striding beside him in a relaxed gait. “Something that Gankoomon still needs to work on.”

    “Hey, I let Dynasmon go ahead to trash those bandits last week before I got to them,” Gankoomon responded with an offhanded wave. “It’s not every day I let Bullface hog all the action.”

    Sleipmon chuckled lightly. “Very generous of you, Gankoomon.”

    “Dynasmon said it was because you hurt your ankle,” Examon pointed out.

    “It was not!” Gankoomon declared, swiping his arm out and causing his jacket to blow back dramatically. “What kind of a man gets slowed down by such a petty injury?”

    Alphamon rolled his eyes. “You don’t half make me feel sorry for BaoHuckmon, Gankoomon,” he told him good-naturedly.

    “Nah. The kid can handle my training no problem,” Gankoomon asserted. “He’ll have to, if he wants to become a Royal Knight.”

    “He wants to become a Royal Knight?” Examon asked him.

    Sleipmon nodded and scratched his chin. “He is quite the fan. I’ve autographed about fifteen things of his since he moved here.”

    Gankoomon placed his hands behind his head and walked leisurely. “Yup. He’s a huge fan. You guys are his inspiration in life, apparently,” he explained. “If I declined your invitation to join the Royal Knights, I’d have never heard the end of it.”

    Alphamon couldn’t help but smile. “Really…”

    Gankoomon nodded. “Huckmon’s not just talk, though. He’s serious about joining the Order. The kid impresses me with the lengths he’ll go sometimes. All I have to do is namedrop you guys and he’ll train three times as hard as he normally would.” The sunlight reflected in his visor as he turned his head to glance at Alphamon. “But I know becoming one of the Royal Knights is a pretty ambitious dream. Is he wasting his time, Alphamon? If he is, I’d rather tell him now before he builds up his hopes too much.”

    “You care about him more than you let on,” Sleipmon observed with a gentle smile.

    Gankoomon didn’t respond. He lowered his hands and readjusted the jacket on his back.

    The soft grin on Alphamon’s face didn’t fade. “I’ll tell you this, Gankoomon…” he began, turning to look at his fellow Royal Knight. “It’s true that there are only twelve Royal Knights and that it’s a huge feat to even be considered for selection to join the Order. To become a Royal Knight, you need to be a Digimon with a certain kind of qualities, morals, and characteristics, and you generally need to have an impressive resume of feats behind your name. However, I am open to new Royal Knights if the right kind of candidate comes along.”

    The four Royal Knights walked down the main road, passing by the merchant and craftsman shops.

    “As for BaoHuckmon…” Alphamon looked at Gankoomon. “Right now, he’s too inexperienced. However, I see a lot of potential in him, and I think you do too. He’s relatively young, but he’s quite skilled for a teenager. He’s determined and he has a big heart. Correct me if I’m wrong.”

    Gankoomon shook his head. “You’re right. The kid’s got heart and spirit. I could tell from the day I met ‘im,” he responded. He looked at Alphamon. “So… what’re you saying? He’s got a chance?”

    “I’m not ruling out the possibility,” Alphamon answered. “In the end, it’s up to him whether he has the skills, patience, and willpower to do it. However, I’ll be keeping an eye on him and his progression. I think he might have what it takes.”

    Gankoomon managed a grin. “Yeah… Thanks, Alphamon,” he told him. “I won’t tell him you said that or else it’ll just go to his big, metal head.”

    Examon smiled a bit and flapped his broad wings gently to keep himself aloft. However, his keen eyes picked up something up ahead of them, at the gate of the castle walls. He blinked when he saw a familiar maroon Digimon walking through the gate with a Strikedramon escort. The Strikedramon was a slender dragon man with pale violet and white scales He was clad in green cargo pants and metal plates on various points on his body.

    The draconic Royal Knight recognized the Digimon who walked with Strikedramon as Dorbickmon. He couldn’t help but feel like he was looking at two versions of Dorbickmon, as his friend has Strikedramon as his lower form. “Dorbickmon?” he said, blinking.

    The three Royal Knights looked up at Examon momentarily before looking down the road and seeing Dorbickmon as well.

    “Forget it. I see them,” Dorbickmon said to the Strikedramon escort, walking ahead of him. “Examon!” he called out with a wave.

    Examon flapped his wings and flew ahead of the others. He landed in front of Dorbickmon. “Dorbickmon?” he asked. “You’re back already?”

    “Thought you’d be glad to see me,” Dorbickmon responded with a playful smirk. He stood on his toe claws to look over Examon, noticing the three other Royal Knights approaching.

    “I am, it’s just…” He trailed off and glanced over his shoulder. Examon poised his wings back so that Alphamon, Sleipmon, and Gankoomon could pass him and approach Dorbickmon.

    “You’re back early,” Alphamon pointed out, raising an eyebrow. “Is everything okay?”

    “You didn’t get found out, did you?” Gankoomon asked him.

    “Give me a break,” Dorbickmon responded confidently. “It didn’t take as long as I expected.”

    “You’re finished already?” Sleipmon asked him.

    “I did everything I could besides chasing after ‘em. And that would’ve been a horrible idea under the circumstances,” the mercenary replied with a shrug. “I got a lot of information though.”

    Alphamon nodded. “Good. We should summon the other Royal Knights and have a meeting,” he stated.

    Dorbickmon’s face dropped; he was less than excited at the idea. “Uhh, how’bout I just tell you here? I hate going to those meetings unless hotshot here is going to punch someone out,” he responded, gesturing to Gankoomon.

    “Don’t tempt me,” Gankoomon warned him, folding his arms.

    “It’s a bit public out here to be discussing sensitive information,” Alphamon responded.

    “Let’s go inside, then,” Sleipmon suggested, turning and gesturing to the main building.

    “Maybe we can go by the treasury for my financial considerations too,” Dorbickmon mentioned with a grin.

    Examon’s brows furrowed. “Dorbickmon,” he chastised.

    “What?” Dorbickmon asked his friend. “If you don’t ask, you don’t get.”

    “The Royal Knights aren’t about to swindle you,” Examon responded with a disapproving look.

    Alphamon smiled. “We’ll head that way,” he assured him.

    He began heading inside with the other three Royal Knights plus Dorbickmon. They walked past the guards standing sentry at the front doors, and walked into the long entrance hall. Upon entering the building, they were greeted by the cool air of the building.

    Dorbickmon followed the Royal Knights a bit uneasily. He still felt somewhat uncomfortable being in the castle. Despite being reformed, he still felt like he was venturing into the dragon’s lair and that somebody was still going to jump out and try to arrest him. His mind knew better, but his instincts were still reluctant.

    “So, what happened?” Gankoomon asked, looking over at him.

    “Went to Shroud to look for Black Pincer Company, like I said,” Dorbickmon answered. “I checked out their regular, the Severed Arms, and found out they checked into a inn a few blocks away.”

    Examon eyed him. “What did you do?”

    “I convinced a buddy of mine to eavesdrop on them. I watched the whole thing,” the mercenary explained. “We lucked out since their client – well, not exactly their client – showed up that night.”

    “What do you mean, ‘not exactly their client’?” Alphamon inquired.

    “It was a Wizardmon. He told them that he was just an intermediary. He just gave them their reward money. Apparently the Black Pincers don’t even know who their client is,” Dorbickmon informed them.

    “I thought you said you got information,” Gankoomon contended.

    Dorbickmon rolled his golden-violet eyes. “It didn’t stop there. The Wizardmon didn’t take the blueprints. He told them his client would double their pay if they did something else with the blueprints.”

    Sleipmon’s brows furrowed and he scratched his cheek. “That’s weird…”

    “Yeah, then things got crazy,” Dorbickmon added with a smirk. “When me and my buddy finished talking in my room , we heard sounds from down the hall. We went to check it out and saw Black Pincer Company in a brawl with a D-Brigade squad.”

    “What?” Examon questioned. “The D-Brigade attacked them? You didn’t get involved, did you?”

    “What happened?” Alphamon asked as the five of them began heading down the stairs to the lowest level of the castle.

    “I mostly stayed out of it. And Black Pincer Company wiped ‘em out. They pretty much destroyed the entire level while they were at it,” Dorbickmon answered casually. “They didn’t absorb their data, so maybe the rumours about them are garbage.”

    Sleipmon frowned at this. “What?”

    “Forget it, horsie,” Dorbickmon answered with a half-shrug. “Not important.”

    “What happened next?” Alphamon pressed.

    “Not much. They took off with the blueprints and got the hell out of Shroud,” Dorbickmon responded.

    Examon looked at him as they turned a corner and began heading towards the treasury vault. “Do you know where? What their new job is.”

    “Yeah. It doesn’t make sense, though,” the mercenary explained. “The Wizardmon told them to travel to the Mamemon Kingdom and give the blueprints to PrinceMamemon. Weird, huh? Do any of you understand that crazy logic?”

    All four of the Royal Knights stopped in their tracks as Dorbickmon kept walking. Dorbickmon continued for a few paces before turning around with a raised eyebrow. He wondered why they all suddenly stopped.

    “…What?”

    Alphamon rubbed his brow with his fingers. “Dorbickmon… please tell me you’re joking…”

    “I’m not…” he said blandly. “Why? What’s the deal?”

    “When did Black Pincer Company leave?” Alphamon asked him with a new hint of urgency behind his deep voice.

    Dorbickmon frowned. “Last night, a few hours after the evening. Close to midnight, I guess,” he responded. “If they’re goin’ straight to Haganemame City, they’re prob’ly there by now. At least, there’s no chance of catching them even if UlforceVeedramon went.”

    “That’s what I was afraid of…” Alphamon said with a grimace. “I hope PrinceMamemon isn’t foolish enough to take those blueprints…”

    “…Did PrinceMamemon hire them all along?” Examon asked.

    “That doesn’t make sense,” Sleipmon answered. “Not with the way PrinceMamemon was acting yesterday.”

    Gankoomon nodded. “Doesn’t seem like he’d care about keeping his identity a secret from the mercenaries or anybody else, for that matter,” he added, raising his hand to knead his red mustache.

    “Then… what?” Examon mused. “He’s being set up?”

    “That’s what all signs point to…” Alphamon explained, his voice heavy. “But by who?”

    “The Metal Empire?” Gankoomon suggested with a shrug.

    “You think that Chaosdramon staged that attack on his own factory in front of all of us?” Sleipmon asked. “Just so that he could have an excuse to attack the Mamemon Kingdom?”

    “That seems pretty elaborate for the minimal gains they would get,” Examon agreed with his beast knight comrade.

    “I’m just throwing it out there,” Gankoomon responded.

    “You two have a point, but I’m not sure who else it could be,” Alphamon said. “Who else would benefit from doing that?”

    “Not everybody acts in their own best interests,” Gankoomon pointed out.

    Alphamon sighed. “We’ll get your payment later, Dorbickmon. We need to call a meeting with the other Royal Knights to discuss this.”

    Dorbickmon’s brows sank. “Are you serious?” he blandly asked.

    Alphamon already turned around and began striding back the way they came. Examon, Gankoomon, and Sleipmon followed him.

    “…But we’re almost at the treasury!” Dorbickmon complained. After a few seconds of seeing that they weren’t going to stop, the mercenary let out a swear and followed after them. “This is going to be fun,” he muttered with a snarl.

    -

    By the time the sun began to set, Black Pincer Company had arrived safely in the capital of the Mamemon Kingdom, Haganemame City. The city was a series of stone or metal dome complexes. Despite the relatively small size of the city in comparison to cities with similar-sized populations, the city was active and vibrant – much more than Facture.

    Black Pincer Company travelled down a large, main road. Bolgmon was as big as some of the city’s smaller buildings. However, there were a handful of buildings that were ten or fifteen times their size. Despite the fact that it was called the Mamemon Kingdom, and that a majority of the population were of the Mamemon species, there were a lot of Digimon living in the kingdom who weren’t Mamemons. There were lots of other Machine, Puppet, and Mutant Digimon, and even some Digimon of other species. This is reflected in the size and style of some of the buildings.

    However, the building that the team of three mercenaries were interested in was located at the end of the road that they were on. The giant, shimmering dome palace of PrinceMamemon was their destination.

    GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon led the way with Bolgmon following behind them. They were careful not to step on anybody, though most of the civilians avoided them anyways due to their frightening appearance and demeanour.

    GrandisKuwagamon’s red eye glistened in the orange light of the setting sun as he looked around the area cautiously.

    “Do you think the Metal Empire will track us here?” Blitzmon asked him.

    “If we take too long, yeah,” GrandisKuwagamon answered. “This better be the last thing we have to do with these damn blueprints. Fighting the D-Brigade is more trouble than it’s worth.”

    “We’re might have to find some new digs in Shroud after last night,” Bolgmon agreed, rolling along after them.

    “Really? You don’t think that the inn will let us stay there after we levelled half the place?” GrandisKuwagamon sarcastically asked, looking over his shoulder at Bolgmon.

    “It’s getting pretty hard to stay unnoticed with these Metal Empire-related jobs,” Blitzmon observed. “First the bungle in Facture and now wrecking the inn in Shroud. The D-Brigade will come after us hard if we don’t finish things up. The Royal Knights might even get involved.”

    “We’re not leaving this city until that PrickMamemon guy gets these,” GrandisKuwagamon said, glancing at the bag under his arm.

    “Why wouldn’t he want them?” Bolgmon asked.

    “Because he might know they’re stolen,” GrandisKuwagamon told him. “Don’t you remember anything from our days selling stolen stuff?”

    “Don’t steal more than you can hide, don’t get caught, don’t sell local…” the insectoid tank began enumerating.

    “Okay, smartass,” the black bug Digimon replied.

    “Let’s just force him to take them,” Bolgmon suggested, rolling his eyes. “I doubt his bodyguards are any good.”

    “That’s the last resort,” GrandisKuwagamon replied. “Blitzmon and I will sweet-talk him. You just be quiet and look pretty.”

    Bolgmon shot him a glare. “Not much chance of you doing that,” he fired back.

    “This is it,” Blitzmon announced, stopping in front of one of the largest dome buildings in the city.

    The shimmering, silver-coloured palace before them had an intricate, geometric exterior that set it apart from the rest of the buildings in the city. Above the large entrance that allowed even large-sized Digimon through was an ornate, white archway, giving the palace that regal feeling.

    Flanking that entrance were two heavily armed guards. They were hovering, dark blue, metal balls, similar to that of the Mamemon species. However, their faces were fearsome and their heads (which made up their main bodies) contained sharp horns. They had long, slender arms sprouting from their bodies. In their right hands, they contained vicious-looking chainsaws that felt very much at odds with the laidback, jovial atmosphere around Haganemame City. However, the Giromon made for fearsome bodyguards that made many think twice about trying anything in the palace.

    However, the three mercenaries were unfazed by these guards. Black Pincer Company strode up to the entrance of the palace with the intent of walking in.

    The two Giromon hovered closer together, blocking the entrance to the doors and forcing the three insect Digimon to stop. “Can we help you three?” the Giromon on the right asked them.

    “This is the palace of PrinceMamemon. The official building for royal and governmental matters in the Mamemon Kingdom. See?” the Giromon on the left added, using his left hand to point upwards.

    Black Pincer Company looked up and saw ‘The Royal Palace of PrinceMamemon’ in DigiLetters, chiselled into the marble arch that rimmed the doorway.

    Bolgmon squinted at them and tilted his head with an expression that asked, ‘are you serious?’. “Why don’t you two--“

    Blitzmon raised his hand to shut Bolgmon up. “We’re here to see PrinceMamemon,” he calmly interrupted.

    “Is he expecting you?” the Giromon on the right questioned them.

    “Nope,” GrandisKuwagamon answered. “We’re diplomats here on a surprise visit.”

    The Giromon narrowed his eyes suspiciously. “Diplomats representing who?” he probed.

    “We’re not at liberty to say,” Blitzmon answered with a sly-yet-confident voice. “But we have something that your king will be extremely interested in.”

    “And what is that?” the Giromon on the left asked.

    “Something that’ll make PrinceMamemon be remembered as the guy who put the Mamemon Kingdom on the map,” GrandisKuwagamon reassured him.

    “…What are you guys selling?” the Giromon guard grilled sceptically.

    “We’re not selling anything,” Blitzmon assured them. “Our client is extremely interested in the wellbeing of the Mamemon Kingdom. We’re here on a mission of peace.”

    “You guys aren’t some religious freaks, are you?” the other Giromon questioned.

    GrandisKuwagamon let out a sharp laugh at the idea. “Hahah! Hell no. We’re just here doing a job for our client. We get paid, you guys benefit, and our client is happy. It’s that easy.”

    The two Giromon exchanged glances and then huddled up, whispering to one another. After some deliberation, they broke off and turned back to Black Pincer Company.

    “Fine,” one of the Giromon said. “We’ll get someone to bring you to PrinceMamemon’s chief advisor, Mercuremon. You can talk with him.”

    “He represents PrinceMamemon?” GrandisKuwagamon asked them, folding his arms.

    “Yeah,” the other guard responded. “He takes care of most of PrinceMamemon’s affairs.” The Giromon opened the doors of the palace and slipped inside.

    The other Giromon guard remained outside to guard the entrance, looking the three insect Digimon over. “The big guy needs to wait outside,” he said, pointing at Bolgmon.

    Bolgmon glared at him. “What?! Why?!” he protested indignantly.

    “You heard ‘im, Bolg,” GrandisKuwagamon told him with a grin, relieved that he and Blitzmon wouldn’t have to deal with Bolgmon’s big mouth.

    “Don’t cause any trouble,” Blitzmon added.

    “Your treads will track dirt over the floor,” the Giromon explained, pointing to Bolgmon’s tank treads. In actuality, he didn’t want someone with as much firepower as Bolgmon inside the palace.

    “That’s discrimination,” Bolgmon said angrily, folding his four arms.

    “Sorry. The floors were just waxed this morning,” the guard insisted.

    “Just stay outside, Bolgmon,” Blitzmon told him. “Grandis and I can handle it.”

    “Whatever,” Bolgmon muttered huffily.

    The palace doors suddenly swung open and the other Giromon appeared from inside. Behind him were a cadre of MetalMamemon. There were five of them, and they were all armed with claws and cannons.

    “What’s this?” GrandisKuwagamon asked, looking at the five MetalMamemon.

    “They’ll guide you to Mercuremon,” the Giromon responded. “So you don’t get lost.”

    GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon exchanged glances. “Fine.”

    The two insects began to walk inside the palace. As they did, GrandisKuwagamon felt a faint gust of air against his wings, prompting him to look over his shoulder. Seeing nothing, he continued walking and allowed himself and Blitzmon to be surrounded by the comparatively tiny escorts.

    The palace was very grand and ornate. The floors were smooth, sparkling, grey marble, and the geometric wall and ceiling designs were intricate and impressively built. However, their primary purpose seemed to be for building stability.

    The MetalMamemons led GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon through a door and towards a pair of travelators that led down a hall of the palace. The group got onto the conveyor belt-like machine and waited for it to take them down the hallway. Once there, the MetalMamemon escort hopped off and took the two supposed diplomats down a shorter hallway to a room at the very end of the metal corridor. They reached the large door and one of the MetalMamemon knocked.

    “Enter,” a voice said.

    The MetalMamemon opened the door and walked in, taking another guard with him as the others waited in the hallway. GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon followed them into the throne room. It was large and vacant except for the ornate throne and the figure who walked towards them from the back of the room.

    Mercuremon approached, observing the two humanoid insect Digimon. “Greetings,” he spoke politely.

    “Hey,” GrandisKuwagamon responded.

    “I don’t believe we’ve met,” the mirror Digimon stated with a smile. “I am Mercuremon, PrinceMamemon’s royal advisor.”

    “Name’s GrandisKuwagamon and this is Blitzmon, but who we are doesn’t matter,” the black insectoid replied.

    “Doesn’t it?” Mercuremon asked them. “I was under the impression that you two were diplomats.”

    “Sorta,” GrandisKuwagamon explained. “We’re more couriers, really. What’s more important is that we’ve got something for you.”

    “And what might that be?” Mercuremon questioned in an intrigued voice.

    GrandisKuwagamon reached into his bag and pulled out a few big sheets of paper. He then offered them to Mercuremon.

    Mercuremon unfurled the sheets and examined their contents. For a few moments, his smile disappeared, but it wasn’t long until the smirk crawled back onto his mirror face.

    “I get the feeling you know what these are,” Blitzmon observed, examining the expression on his face.

    “You’re the mercenaries who caused that clamour in Facture, aren’t you?” Mercuremon deduced, looking up from the blueprints.

    “We’re just couriers,” Blitzmon insisted.

    “If that’s so, then who sent you?” the steel Digimon inquired.

    “We don’t know,” the blue insect answered. “We haven’t met him personally, but whoever it is seems to want what’s best for your king. A friend, maybe?”

    “By giving us blueprints stolen from the Metal Empire?” Mercuremon asked with a smile. “That’s a dangerous game for us to play.”

    “Or it’s a good opportunity,” GrandisKuwagamon responded. “I’m not engineer, but if the Metal Empire’s so keen to protect their technology, then it’s gotta be pretty useful. Or you could always use those blueprints in other ways. Leverage, extortion, getting in someone’s good books – up to you, really.”

    “Very shrewd,” Mercuremon responded. “And what are you asking for it?”

    “From you? Nothing,” Blitzmon assured him. “We get paid by our client if we give these to you. If he wanted anything from you, his intermediary would have told us. I think he just has PrinceMamemon’s best interests in mind.”

    “Oh, that’s wonderful!” a voice blurted out from behind the two mercenaries.

    PrinceMamemon burst through the doors of the throne room and flounced in.

    “Your Majesty,” Mercuremon greeted with his lips in a neutral position.

    “PrinceMamemon?” Blitzmon asked with mild surprise.

    “I know who you are. I know what’s going on!” PrinceMamemon stated, placing his hands on his hips and tilting his head up proudly. “…You’re representatives of the Royal Knights, aren’t you? That’s why Alphamon was upset when I announced that I had the blueprints; it’s because he hadn’t given them to me yet! He didn’t want me tipping off his plans to the Metal Empire! Oh, yes! It all makes perfect sense now!”

    GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon exchanged looks. “…We could very well be,” Blitzmon responded, giving PrinceMamemon a knowing wink. “We aren’t at liberty to say.”

    PrinceMamemon returned the wink and raised a finger to place it on his lips. “Oh, yes. I understand perfectly. You’re just simple couriers. Wonderful!”

    “And this is an opportunity that’s too good to pass up,” GrandisKuwagamon said with a grin, glancing over at Mercuremon as well.

    Mercuremon thought for a few moments. “…I suppose it could be,” he responded, a sly smirk forming on his face. “It could open many doors for us, indeed. Don’t you think, your majesty?”

    PrinceMamemon tilted his head up and beamed broadly, his teeth sparkling. “Indeed! We hold all the cards now. No matter what the Metal Empire and their silly Emperor do, we will come out on top! Yes! And this proves that we have the Royal Knights to back us up, as well! It is the beginning of the golden age of the Mamemon Kingdom! I can see it now; our names will go down in the history books!”

    “So, you’ll take ‘em?” GrandisKuwagamon asked him, grinning.

    “But of course!” PrinceMamemon exclaimed, collecting all of the blueprints in his arms. “And to celebrate this generous gift, I invite you both to come join us in our royal dining hall to celebrate with wine and delicious foodstuffs! Come come! It will be a royal feast!”

    GrandisKuwagamon grinned at Blitzmon. “Yeah, sure. We’d be honoured,” he responded. “Can our friend join us too? Otherwise he’ll blow a gasket.”

    “Oh, of course! The more the merrier!” PrinceMamemon exclaimed jovially. He lead them out of the room, flanked by the squad of MetalMamemon.

    Mercuremon walked after him, followed by GrandisKuwagamon and Blitzmon. Before exiting the room, the black insect glanced around the room before shrugging and walking out.

    The last MetalMamemon guard closed the door to the throne room, leaving it empty.

    However, the room only looked empty…

    After a few minutes, there was a visual fragmentation in the data around the side wall. Stone seemed to bulge out from the wall. The bulging portion of the stone wall suddenly pixilated and became a dark blue and black colour. A short, bipedal dragon with camouflaged blue scales and body armour took form, seemingly out of thin air. However, in reality it was his active camouflage concealing him.

    The Commandramon narrowed his eyes and looked around cautiously. Upon triple checking that he was safe, he tipped his metal helmet.

    “So they have the blueprints and the Royal Knights are involved…” the Commandramon spy muttered. “I need to report this to D-Brigade Intelligence. I might become a candidate for Selection-D for this… They’ll be really happy to hear this information.”

    With that, he reactivated the camouflage on his armour and body, and melded in with the external environment, completely disappearing from view. Within moments, he slipped out of the room and went to make his report.
     
  16. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 7: Casus Belli

    PrinceMamemon sat on his throne, sitting with an elbow propped against the arm of the seat and his hand resting against his head. Standing at his side was Mercuremon, who watched as a Digimon entered the throne room.

    A small, gold and copper gear Digimon floated into the throne room. The two smaller cogs on either side of his body that acted as arms jittered mechanically. The Hagurumon’s body created a constant clicking and chattering sound from all the cogs and gears inside his body.

    The Hagurumon floated towards the throne and stopped in front of it, bowing slightly. “Hello, Your Majesty,” he greeted formally. “As you have been told, I am an envoy of the Metal Empire. I am here to discuss an important matter.”

    PrinceMamemon pressed his hand further against his cheek and sighed, making his feelings clear before glancing at Mercuremon.

    Mercuremon took a step forwards. “We are happy to have you, Hagurumon,” Mercuremon said diplomatically. “What would you like to talk about?”

    The Metal Empire’s envoy looked up at them. “I don’t think there’s any point in discursiveness or beating around the bush at this point, do you?” he said to them frankly.

    Mercuremon’s expression remained unchanged while PrinceMamemon’s turned downwards into a deeper frown.

    “What seems to be the problem?” Mercuremon asked him politely while also feigning ignorance.

    “Six days ago, Your Majesty made a rather incendiary declaration to the citizens of the Mamemon Kingdom,” Hagurumon stated, his red eyes turning from Mercuremon to PrinceMamemon. “You said that you were the one who hired the mercenaries who attacked, destroyed, and stole from one of our manufactories in our capital of Facture. This criminal action caused Emperor Chaosdramon most displeasure. Such a blatant attack on our state, our economy, and our values cannot be overlooked.”

    PrinceMamemon pursed his lips and stood to his feet. “If you remember correctly, I retracted that statement the next day,” he exclaimed. “One of my subordinates had told me that that was the case, but, in fact, it was simply not true. Of course, I fired him.”

    “Ah, I see…” the Metal Empire diplomat responded. “Of course, someone as bright as yourself must be well aware of the Metal Empire’s foreign policy. We don’t like to get involved with other states and kingdoms if we can help it, but if we are attacked, we have no choice but to defend ourselves.”

    “It was just a tiny factory,” PrinceMamemon responded flippantly. “Digimon destroy buildings all the time. It’s natural when they possess such strong abilities.”

    “It’s what was stolen that matters to us,” Hagurumon answered him calmly. “Blueprints for new Metal Empire technology. Technology is the energy that powers and maintains our great empire. It fuels our economy and makes us self-sufficient. Our technology is our most valued aspect of society. We have no god but the machine. When somebody threatens that by stealing our machinery – our ideas – then we are threatened…”

    “That’s very honest of you,” Mercuremon observed.

    “I see no reason to hide it, under the circumstances,” the envoy replied knowingly.

    The corners of Mercuremon’s lips slanted down. “What do you mean by that, exactly?”

    “I don’t believe that you are being entirely honest to me or my Emperor,” Hagurumon stated, closing his eyes.

    “You question my integrity? The nerve!” PrinceMamemon protested.

    “Only when your words stand in direct contradiction to the facts, Your Majesty,” the gear Digimon explained. “We know you have the blueprints for our electric arc furnace. We know you hired Black Pincer Company to attack our factory and steal those blueprints.”

    “What?” Mercuremon spoke incredulously.

    “I have never been so insulted in my entire life!” PrinceMamemon declared, folding his arms and sneering.

    “We have done no such thing,” Mercuremon assured him, more level-headedly than PrinceMamemon. “We didn’t hire any mercenaries.”

    Hagurumon opened one eye. “Very well. The Royal Knights hired them. You were just the co-conspirators and beneficiaries,” he spoke with a certain confidence in his voice.

    “That’s absurd!” PrinceMamemon declared, although lying through his teeth.

    “Please, Your Majesty, don’t insult our intelligence,” Hagurumon said to him. There was a twinkle in his eye. “…Or our intelligence network.”

    Mercuremon gave a faint sneer. PrinceMamemon froze. “What…? You were spying on us?!” the monarch demanded.

    “With good reason, it appears,” Hagurumon told him. “We only extend our net when we find a leviathan sneaking through our waters. One of our agents caught you speaking with the mercenaries of Black Pincer Company. We know that you and the Royal Knights are looking to undermine and disrupt us. There is no sense in denying it now.”

    Mercuremon frowned. “If that’s what you believe, then what happens next?” he asked the envoy.

    “I have been sent here to negotiate with Your Majesty,” the gear Digimon responded. “I think we have a highly generous offer.”

    “And what is that?” Mercuremon asked.

    “You return the blueprints and submit a formal apology to my Emperor, and we will forget that this whole incident ever happened,” the diplomat replied.

    PrinceMamemon’s eye twitched and he looked as though he was steaming with anger.

    “Chaosdramon doesn’t seem like a forgiving individual,” Mercuremon spoke, folding his arms.

    “Emperor Chaosdramon is a pragmatic Digimon,” Hagurumon responded. “I’m sure he would like to avoid war as much as you do.”

    PrinceMamemon glared at him. “Why… Why… you… I have half a mind to throw you out of this palace! I don’t have to listen to this!”

    Hagurumon blinked. “Pardon?”

    “If your brute of a master thinks that I will grovel to him, he can think again!” PrinceMamemon declared. “And even if that weren’t the case, I would never give up these blueprints!”

    “I support Your Majesty,” Mercuremon told him calmly.

    Hagurumon frowned. “Let me put it this way… If you don’t, the Metal Empire will be forced to view this as an act of aggression in the gravest manner…” he warned him ominously.

    “Is that an ultimatum?” Mercuremon asked him with a faint smirk.

    “Putting it simply for Your Majesty…” Hagurumon spoke. “Either you must relinquish those blueprints that were stolen or we will respond with the force of the D-Brigade.”

    “Just you try it!” PrinceMamemon shouted, pointing his quivering finger at him. “Attack us and you are attacking the Royal Knights as well! My loyal subordinates have promised me their aid against whatever the Metal Empire tries to do to us! Do you want to declare war on twelve of the finest warriors in the Digital World?!”

    Hagurumon let out a single laugh. “We are prepared for that possibility,” he responded. He then bowed his hovering body. “Thank you, Your Majesty, that is all that I need to hear.”

    PrinceMamemon released an angry ‘humph’.

    “Are you sure you won’t reconsider?” Hagurumon asked him. “This is your last chance.”

    PrinceMamemon glanced nervously at Mercuremon.

    “It is up to you, Your Majesty. After all, we do have the Royal Knights…” his advisor told him.

    PrinceMamemon nodded and folded his arms. He looked at Hagurumon. “Tell Chaosdramon that we aren’t afraid of him. We have the Royal Knights on our side!” he asserted.

    “Very well… Good day, Your Majesty,” Hagurumon responded, turning around and floating towards the exit of the throne room. “I feel that you won’t have many in the future.”

    At that, PrinceMamemon took off his boot and threw it at Hagurumon after he left. “That smug… scoundrel!”

    “I believe that we should start increasing security around our palace, Your Majesty,” Mercuremon told him. “We should also ready the army and defences.”

    “Yes…” PrinceMamemon said with a heavy breath. “Yes, you’re right.”

    “Should we contact the Royal Knights?” the mirror Digimon asked him.

    PrinceMamemon frowned and his lip began to quiver somewhat. “Alphamon will be most displeased with me…” he murmured. “Leave them for now. We can take care of things for the moment.”

    “Of course, Your Majesty…” Mercuremon responded, turning to PrinceMamemon with a shimmer in his mirrors. “I shall begin preparations.”

    “Thank you, Mercuremon,” PrinceMamemon said with a shaky sigh. “I shall prepare an announcement to the public.”

    Mercuremon bowed and then turned towards the door. He strode out quietly with an unreadable expression on his lips. As he left, the guards flanking the throne room entrance closed the doors behind him.

    When he was gone, PrinceMamemon sat back on his throne and wrung his hands. “I do hope that I didn’t make a mistake…” he muttered nervously.

    -

    “PrinceMamemon made a massive mistake,” Alphamon announced.

    He stood in the war room on the castle along with the other eleven Royal Knights. With them were the heads of the Royal Knights’ military forces and intelligence: OuRyuumon, Knightmon, Grani, and Karatenmon.

    The sixteen top officers sat on the stools and chairs that were arranged in a circular pattern in the room. They were centered around the large, flat table in the middle of the room. The topside of the table was lit up as it projected a three dimensional, grid-like hologram of the Digital World. On one side of the room was a highly secure door with both manual and electronic chrome digizoid locks and bolts. On the far wall of the room were maps, drawings, and photographs.

    A strategy meeting was currently in session.

    “I don’t want to be catty, but that isn’t a gigantic surprise coming from PrinceMamemon,” RhodoKnightmon pointed out, folding his slender arms across his chest. “He isn’t the most… Hum… how to put this politely? He doesn’t have a lot of commonsense.”

    “That’s putting it mildly,” Craniamon added irately. “He thinks we’re his subordinates.”

    “Which mistake exactly, Sir Alphamon?” Knightmon, Captain of the Defence Forces, inquired.

    “Publically pretending to have those blueprints,” Alphamon responded as he tapped his finger on his leg. “If he really took the blueprints now, he’ll have no plausible deniability. There won’t be any way back.”

    Dukemon sneered and turned his helmeted head to look at Grani. “Grani, have you heard back from our envoy to the Mamemon Kingdom?”

    “I’m afraid so,” Grani replied matter-of-factly. “He was told by PrinceMamemon, ‘Thanks, but we have things under control.’”

    “Not the most reassuring of responses…” UlforceVeedramon said with a sigh.

    “Why would Black Pincer Company give the blueprints to the Mamemon Kingdom?” Magnamon asked.

    Gankoomon brushed a hand through his red hair. “Because they were hired to, Magna,” he flatly answered.

    Magnamon rolled his eyes. “I know. I meant who would hire them and why?”

    “We think that PrinceMamemon is being set up,” Alphamon explained. “We know from Dorbickmon that it isn’t Black Pincer Company acting on their own.”

    “Perhaps it’s the Metal Empire,” Duftmon proposed, closing his eyes and thinking. “It may be a false flag operation. It could be that the Metal Empire hired them and faked an attack on their city so that they could pin it on the Mamemon Kingdom. Perhaps they wanted a pretext to invade them.”

    “Dorbickmon doesn’t think that they were hired by the Metal Empire,” Examon told him.

    “Is he an expert on Digital World politics?” Duftmon sceptically questioned the dragon knight.

    “Not at all, but he was there,” Examon answered. “Besides, they were attacked by a Metal Empire team. The facts don’t add up.”

    “I don’t think you really believe that idea anyways, Duftmon,” Omegamon said to him. “The Metal Empire doesn’t have an aggressive foreign policy like that, even if a tyrant is in control. They would rather maintain the status quo.”

    Duftmon released a sigh. “Yes, I suppose you’re right, Omegamon,” he conceded, folding his arms and tapping his index finger on his bicep. “But I’m struggling to think of another perpetrator. It can’t be the Mamemon Kingdom. That makes little sense either.”

    “We have bigger problems right now, I’m sorry to say,” Karatenmon announced with a serious look on his avian face.

    The twelve Royal Knights and other three Captains turned to look at him. “Please, go ahead,” Alphamon urged the Captain of the Stealth Forces.

    “I have a loyal spy who has a fairly high rank in the D-Brigade,” the black raven man said. “He reported that the D-Brigade has confirmed that the Mamemon Kingdom has the stolen blueprints. One of their spies saw that PrinceMamemon took the blueprints from Black Pincer Company.”

    A wave of surprised and concerned mumbles filled the war room.

    “So, the Metal Empire knows that PrinceMamemon has those blueprints…” Alphamon said with a groan.

    “Wait,” Karatenmon said, rubbing the back of his feathery neck. “It gets worse…”

    “How?” Craniamon asked curtly.

    Karatenmon offered a sheepish grin. “…PrinceMamemon apparently implicated us in helping him get the blueprints.”

    The entire room fell silent with utter disbelief and fury.

    Dukemon slapped his helmeted forehead. “I’d wring his neck if he had one,” he said with an annoyed growl.

    “This is because you all humoured him,” Duftmon chastised. “We shouldn’t have left PrinceMamemon with any delusions. Now he thinks that he’s above our authority!” He shook his head crossly, causing his blond hair to flow behind him. “The foolishness of lowly idiots can be dangerous to a few Digimon, but the foolishness of powerful idiots can be dangerous to the entire Digital World.”

    “He’s the ruler of the Mamemon Kingdom,” OuRyuumon replied. “I wouldn’t exactly call that powerful.”

    “Fool,” Duftmon told him. “He becomes powerful when he drags both us and the Metal Empire into his web of foolishness.”

    “Let’s not take this out of proportion…” Omegamon put forward.

    Alphamon nodded in agreement. “Omegamon’s right. There is still time for diplomacy.”

    “You think so?” Dynasmon asked sceptically.

    “We could always say that PrinceMamemon is lying about our involvement,” RhodoKnightmon suggested. “That is the truth, after all…”

    “And leave the Mamemon Kingdom to face the Metal Empire on their own?” Dukemon asked, frowning at the idea. “Besides, would they even believe us?”

    Craniamon shook his head. “We aren’t allies with the Mamemon Kingdom. It’s PrinceMamemon’s mess. Why should we risk our necks and our soldiers to help him?”

    “And let the innocent Digimon of the Mamemon Empire pay the price for his mess instead, Craniamon?” Sleipmon countered.

    Craniamon gave Sleipmon a leer. “Do you know how strong the D-Brigade is?” he asked him.

    “I never thought I’d hear words of cowardice from you, Craniamon,” Dynasmon contended, looking over at the violet Royal Knight.

    “I am not a coward,” Craniamon fired back immediately. “But I’m not stupid either, Dynasmon. We need to weigh the odds.”

    “Shouldn’t we side with the Mamemon Kingdom if Chaosdramon is an oppressive tyrant?” Examon suggested.

    Duftmon nodded. “While we’ve been put in an unpleasant position, we should take advantage of this opportunity. We’ve been looking for an opportunity to take down Chaosdramon and his regime. Why don’t we make the most of this?” the tactician advised.

    Magnamon frowned. “Doing that would result in an open war. The casualties would be…”

    “Tolerable,” Duftmon responded. “There is nothing worth fighting for that doesn’t have a risk of sacrifice. If we strike first, we can minimize that risk.”

    RhodoKnightmon glanced at Duftmon. “If war is unavoidable, then I suppose that is the best way to proceed.”

    “That’s an irresponsible way to look at it,” UlforceVeedramon spoke. As he opened his mouth to protest more, Alphamon spoke up.

    “Enough. Everybody,” the Lord of the Empty Seat said firmly, rising to his feet. “You’re all getting ahead of yourselves. We can’t automatically assume that war is inevitable.”

    “All due respect, Alphamon, but we need to prepare for the worst,” Duftmon disagreed.

    “By doing that, you’re already closing your mind to other alternatives,” Alphamon answered. “Until they declare war, we have no reason to even consider going to war. There’s no cause yet.”

    “We’re the Royal Knights. We shouldn’t need a casus belli to go to war,” Duftmon protested. “We are the defenders of the Digital World. If we see strife, we don’t need to adhere to treaties or borders or other trivial matters.”

    Craniamon frowned and nodded. “I agree, Alphamon. Not that I’m saying we should involve ourselves here…”

    There were a few other nods among the Royal Knights, but some were more reluctant.

    “We are the defenders of Yggdrasil,” Omegamon agreed. “Those ideals are what the Order was founded upon.”

    Alphamon sighed. “I know. None of you are wrong. However, it’s not a matter of whether we can or are allowed to, it’s a matter of whether it’s a good idea,” he responded gently. “We may be the defenders of both Yggdrasil and the Digital World, but it’s also important to maintain relations other rulers and regular Digimon. We may have a mandate that goes beyond politics, but we are still a political entity, after all. If we just ride roughshod over states or Digimon without considering diplomatic norms, then how are we any different from what DarkKnightmon wanted?”

    “I agree with you, Alphamon,” Dukemon spoke up. “Besides, from a pragmatic point of view, it’s good to have allies since it’s easier to maintain peace.”

    “And we’re strong, but we need to pick and choose our battles with the resources that we have,” Magnamon added.

    Duftmon shook his head. “Nobody suggested that we should become tyrants,” he argued. “However, I still believe that we should strike the Metal Empire before they get a chance to.”

    “Let’s just see how the situation develops for now,” Alphamon dissuaded. “We don’t need to rush into anything. I suggest we keep an eye on the Metal Empire and respond based on their actions. If they show signs of preparing to attack the Mamemon Kingdom, then we can decide what to do. We’ll keep up our espionage and reconnaissance missions, and we’ll step up our training drills so that we can become prepared for the worst case scenario. How does that sound?”

    There was a generally agreeable response among the Royal Knights and the Captains.

    Omegamon nodded. “That sounds good,” he responded. “Dukemon and I will see to that while you, Dynasmon, Ulforce, and OuRyuumon are gone.”

    “You’re still going?” Gankoomon asked, looking over at Alphamon.

    Alphamon nodded. “The security of the Dark Area trumps this incident. The issue will likely still come up, however.”

    “I doubt anything exciting will happen while we’re gone,” UlforceVeedramon explained. “I bet that PrinceMamemon will cave in under enough pressure and this whole crisis will be averted. He’s not exactly a pillar of strength.”

    “Yes,” Omegamon stated. “We’ll make it clear to PrinceMamemon that we won’t stand by him if he keeps this up. We should also deny the allegations that we conspired to steal those blueprints.”

    “That’s the best way to go, under the circumstances,” Alphamon agreed.

    “Can’t say I like the idea of buckling to the Metal Empire,” Dukemon admitted.

    “We’re not buckling, Dukemon. We’re trying to avoid a costly war,” Magnamon assured him.

    The crimson knight sighed. “Yeah. I’m just getting tired of putting up with Chaosdramon,” he said with a hint of frustration in his voice.

    “We’ll get our chance to take him down,” Alphamon promised. “But we need to be smart about it. For now, we need to be diplomatic with him, even if it leaves a bitter taste in all of our mouths.”

    Duftmon stood up from his seat and walked up to the table, looking down at the three dimensional map that was centered over the Metal Empire. “I still believe that this could be our chance to do just that,” the tactician stated, narrowing his eyes at the growing map. “However, if everybody else agrees that diplomacy is the better route, then I suppose I can agree to that.”

    “I do,” Sleipmon spoke up.

    “Me too,” Magnamon chimed in.

    The other Royal Knights gave their tacit agreement, although a few were more cautious or uncertain.

    Dukemon stood to his feet. “We’ll see how things develop,” he responded diplomatically while not completely yielding his opinion. “Like you said, Alphamon.”

    Alphamon nodded. “That’s all that I ask,” he countered sympathetically.

    “We won’t make any decisions about it while you’re gone,” Dukemon assured him.

    “I know,” Alphamon answered with a smile.

    “So, if we’re not committing to a war, do we need to be here?” OuRyuumon asked, gesturing to himself and the other Captains. “I mean, this is technically a war room…”

    “I suppose we don’t, after all,” the black armoured Royal Knight admitted. “OuRyuumon? Knightmon? Just step up the training and combat drills.” He turned to Grani and Karatenmon. “The same goes for the Recon and Stealth Forces, but we also need you two to keep up the patrols and espionage. Give special attention to the Metal Empire and the Mamemon Kingdom. And try to keep an eye on Black Pincer Company.”

    “Sir,” the four Captains complied dutifully.

    “Anything else?” Craniamon asked, getting to his feet as well.

    “Alphamon, Ulforce, OuRyuumon and me are heading out tomorrow,” Dynasmon reminded them. “We’re takin’ the Locomon Rail.”

    “There’s also that inspection in Gold Keep in five days,” Alphamon pointed out. “Sleipmon, why don’t you go with Gankoomon?”

    “Happy to,” Sleipmon replied, looking over at Gankoomon.

    Gankoomon nodded. “I don’t mind, as long as someone keeps BaoHuckmon outta trouble.”

    “Leave it to me, Gankoomon,” Dukemon told him with a friendly grin.

    “Does anybody else have anything to add?” Alphamon questioned as he looked around the room. The Digimon shook their heads. “Then you’re all dismissed.”

    The rest of the Royal Knights and Captains stood to their feet and began to funnel out of the room.

    “I will stay here and go over possible scenarios should the Metal Empire decide to go to war with the Mamemon Kingdom,” Duftmon said, pressing several buttons on the side of the electronic war map.

    Alphamon nodded at him. “That isn’t a bad idea, Duftmon,” he told him. “You’re not wrong in saying that we should be prepared.”

    “You just think that we shouldn’t be clamouring for war,” Duftmon answered, not looking up at Alphamon and, instead, creating physical representations of the geography between the Mamemon Kingdom and the Metal Empire. “I suppose I can understand the logic there…”

    “Thanks, Duftmon,” Alphamon said in response. “And I trust you to find that best tactical solution, should the worst case scenario arrive.”

    Duftmon nodded. “I shall. …Although Suijinmon is a worthy adversary, he doesn’t have the practical experience that I do,” he assured Alphamon as he started to create formations of D-Brigade troops on the map.

    “I’m glad you’re on our side,” the leader of the Royal Knights told him.

    “Mhm…” Duftmon murmured in reply, uncertain of what else to say.

    With that, Alphamon followed the rest of the Royal Knights out of the war room and into the broad, stone hallway.

    Dorbickmon was waiting there, leaning against the cool wall with folded arms. Examon stood beside him, talking to him.

    Alphamon made his way over to the two red dragons. “Dorbickmon,” he greeted. “Sorry you had to wait out here, but everything that happens in the war room is top secret.”

    Dorbickmon shrugged. “Anything I need to know about?” he asked him.

    “I’ll get you your payment and then you can be on your way,” Alphamon answered. “If you can, try to keep an eye on Black Pincer Company. I don’t expect you to follow them, but I don’t want to forget about them entirely. They are wanted criminals, after all.”

    “I hear ya,” Dorbickmon said, raising his muscular arms and stretching them out as he walked. “D’you think they’re finished with this whole Metal Empire crap now?”

    “I can’t be sure. We’re still not certain who hired them,” Alphamon explained. “Ideally, we’d like to know, but if Black Pincer Company doesn’t even know who hired them, then I don’t expect you to find out.”

    Dorbickmon nodded. “I’ll just keep my ear to the ground, then.”

    Examon turned to look at Dorbickmon. “They didn’t suspect you, did they?” he asked him.

    “No. If anything, they owe me.” Dorbickmon answered with a grin. “I saved GrandisKuwagamon’s ***.”

    Examon sighed. “I guess that’s good?”

    “It doesn’t hurt. Anyway, I guess I’ll head to Dragon’s Peak to check my mail,” Dorbickmon said. “See if I have any job offers.”

    Examon nodded. “We should both visit there sometime. It’s been awhile since I’ve last been to the UDC,” he said.

    “Yeah, maybe when you’re not so damn busy with Royal Knight stuff,” Dorbickmon said with a chuckle. “I guess all this stuff you’re dealing with right now will keep you guys occupied, huh?”

    “Seems like it,” Examon answered.

    Alphamon’s brows furrowed. “Hopefully everything will be settled quickly…”

    -

    A sheet of grey and white clouds lingered over the industrial city of Facture. The foggy overcast spanned the skies as far as the eye could see. Beads of water dotted the metal streets and alloy buildings, indicating that it had rained overnight.

    Despite the presence of rain in the Metal Empire, very little of the metal actually rusted, thanks to the work of the leading metallurgists under former Emperor JumboGamemon’s rule. This is reflected in the sleek, shimmering lustre of the metals that made up Facture. However, certain parts of the city, like the streets, were much darker and duller. This was thanks to their constant use by metal feet, wheels, and treads, which made sure the roads were thoroughly scuffed.

    Today was a busy day for the Digimon of Facture, and no inclement weather would stop that. While life went on as normal for the civilian population, there was a big event taking place for the D-Brigade.

    It was the D-Brigade Review. This was the public inspection of the armed forces of the D-Brigade by Emperor Chaosdramon. Officially, it was a regular inspection to make sure that the D-Brigade was disciplined and prepared. However, its real purpose was to show off the Metal Empire’s martial capabilities. Of course, the covert portions of the D-Brigade weren’t involved in this for the sake of secrecy. Nonetheless, a military review gave off another atmosphere. When one sees the military marching, standing at attention, and practicing their attacks and formations, it gives the impression that they are preparing for war.

    The D-Brigade stood in the expansive yard of D-Central. There were rows and rows of Digimon, organized into squares based on their formations. There were thousands of Commandramons, all standing with their rifles shouldered. Being the smallest, they were near the front of review. Behind them were hundreds of Sealsdramons, Andromons, Guardromons, and other humanoid machine and cyborg Digimon. At the very back of the rows were dozens of large, mechanized Digimon like Tankmons, Mechanorimons, Tankdramons, MetalGreymons, Bolgmons, MetalTyrannomons, and other bulky bio-mechanical Digimon. Hovering above these groups were airborne Digimon like Gigadramons, Megadramons, Pteranomons, Rapidmons, BladeKuwagamons, and other aerial Digimon. At the very front of each formation of Digimon, presenting them, were several Mega-level Digimon – in many cases, they were high ranked officers of the D-Brigade. Among these were Darkdramons, HiAndromons, MetalGarurumons, and even a few Mugendramons, among others.

    Emperor Chaosdramon lumbered in front of the highly disciplined ranks of the D-Brigade, his crimson eyes inspecting them carefully. Walking along beside the crimson, metal ruler were the gold, emerald, and ruby Storm Commanders: Raijinmon, Fujinmon, and Suijinmon.

    “Good work, everyone,” Suijinmon said to his troops as he examined the soldiers from behind Chaosdramon.

    Raijinmon and Fujinmon strode beside Chaosdramon, standing between him and the troops.

    “How does Formation E look to you, Emperor?” Raijinmon asked him, walking slightly ahead of his slender, green comrade.

    “Good,” Chaosdramon responded between heavy steps. “They have the greatest mean percentage when it comes to ranged accuracy, correct?”

    “That is correct, Emperor,” Raijinmon replied, holding his Blitz Arms behind his back and striding at a brisk pace.

    “Although Formation I is more accurate at long-ranged bombardment,” Fujinmon amended as he walked behind Raijinmon.

    “I suppose so,” the Thunderclap Commander admitted, glancing over his shoulder at Fujinmon.

    Fujinmon gazed across the sea of Digimon standing in strict configuration. “Emperor,” he spoke, glancing up at Chaosdramon with his red eyes that gave off a faint air of aloofness. “Can I ask you something?”

    “What?” Chaosdramon asked brusquely.

    “Why did you decide to hold this military review?” Fujinmon questioned, though he was more looking for confirmation than an actual answer.

    “Why do you think?” Chaosdramon responded. “You heard what Hagurumon said when he tried to reason with PrinceMamemon.”

    “So, this is the first step,” Fujinmon stated knowingly, “of our response to their actions.”

    “They have made their intentions clear,” the emperor responded. “The Royal Knights wanted to humiliate us and that spherical twit wanted to get his hands on our technologies, so they conspired together and hired mercenaries to carry out the act.” He turned his head down and looked at Fujinmon as they passed a gap between the formations. “Did you think we could ignore this?”

    “Of course not,” the Hurricane Commander responded.

    “Letting the Mamemon Kingdom walk all over us would be a disgrace to our empire, and it would set a dangerous precedent, both to outsiders and to our own citizens,” Chaosdramon explained. “If we didn’t retaliate, then more Digimon would be tempted to steal our technologies, and we would appear weak. Where would that lead?” The giant cyborg dragon released a breath. “We need to teach PrinceMamemon a lesson. Invasion is the only response that will leave a big enough impact. It would also be pleasing to make the Mamemon Kingdom a client state of ours, after an internal purge, of course.”

    “They left us with no choice,” Raijinmon agreed with a nod.

    “And it seems that the Royal Knights are involved, Raijinmon,” Suijinmon pointed out as he caught up to them.

    Raijinmon frowned. “So it seems…” he answered pensively. “However, if they choose to threaten us, then they must be dealt with as enemies.”

    “You’re okay with that?” Fujinmon asked him.

    “Of course,” Raijinmon guaranteed. “They are enemies. I won’t let my personal interests get in the way of what’s best for the Metal Empire.”

    “I’m glad to hear it,” Emperor Chaosdramon said. “I expect that from you as well, Fujinmon.”

    Fujinmon looked forwards and struggled not to narrow his eyes. “Naturally, Emperor.”

    “We are your loyal subordinates, Your Majesty,” Suijinmon sincerely told him.

    Chaosdramon nodded and walked down the line to the next group of soldiers. His feet touched down with heavy, metallic clanks, which sent reverberations through the metal below.

    “How do you wish to proceed, Emperor?” Raijinmon asked him, continuing his leisurely gait.

    Chaosdramon bent his head down and spoke in soft, breathy murmurs. “We will mobilize our forces gradually and in secret, so we don’t arouse suspicion,” he told them. “When we are ready, we will advance. I suggest the force travels through the Tepid Plains and either gets a right of free travel through the Dual Chess Monarchy or it goes around them. Then take the Mamemon Kingdom capital of Haganemame City and silence any resistance.”

    “We’ll devise a campaign,” Suijinmon assured Chaosdramon.

    Chaosdramon nodded. “I’m counting on it. Keep the details top secret,” he told them.

    “When do you want to initiate the operation?” Fujinmon questioned.

    “A few weeks,” Chaosdramon answered, too low for any of the troops to hear. “That should give us enough time and it should throw the Royal Knights off.”

    “Yes, Emperor,” Raijinmon complied.

    “We may also need to begin thinking about taking preventative measures against the Royal Knights,” the massive cyborg ruler added. “We shouldn’t deal with them until we take the Mamemon Kingdom, but we need to prepare for the eventuality of their intervention. It is probable that they are hoping to use this as an excuse to attack us.”

    “Logical thinking,” Suijinmon agreed. “I will begin devising countermeasures.”

    “Good. I’ll take care of the political aspect regarding passage through the Dual Chess Monarchy,” Chaosdramon responded. “They wouldn’t dare to refuse us.”

    “Still, we shouldn’t outstay our welcome,” Fujinmon stated. “It would be best to have the armed forces pass straight through as quickly as possible.”

    Suijinmon gave a hum of disapproval. “We need direct supply lines for the advance forces,” the Waterfall Commander explained. “The Chessmons will have to accommodate that.”

    “I suppose they will,” Emperor Chaosdramon agreed. “You three have your orders. I trust you to compose the tactics and the logistics. But do it later.” With that, he trudged ahead of the three Storm Commanders to inspect the next group of D-Brigade soldiers on his own.

    Fujinmon walked gracefully beside the other two. “So, it’s war, is it?”

    “Yes,” Suijinmon answered simply, plodding along.

    “Seems like it,” Raijinmon agreed as he rested his hands behind his back.

    “How do you feel about it?” the green cyborg Digimon asked them.

    Suijinmon glanced at Fujinmon. “I completely agree with Emperor Chaosdramon. Don’t you?” he asked him.

    Fujinmon looked forwards and rolled his eyes. “Yes. I do. I was just curious, Suijin,” he responded flatly. “No need to get defensive.”

    “I wasn’t…” Suijinmon responded, glancing to the side.

    “I think it could be interesting,” Raijinmon added. “We haven’t had an external military campaign since the Pirate Wars, and that was mostly naval.”

    “That reminds me, we need to show Emperor Chaosdramon the navy next,” Suijinmon stated.

    Fujinmon ignored Suijinmon. “That’s true, Raijinmon. I think it could be an interesting opportunity for us.”

    Raijinmon nodded and let his arms hang at his sides. “Yes, it could be. If our actions are impressive enough, we could really make names for ourselves,” he mused.

    Perhaps more than that, depending on how things go,” Fujinmon thought to himself.

    Suijinmon returned to speaking with the officers of the formations, so he began to linger behind the other two.

    Fujinmon glanced over at Raijinmon. “What’s your opinion, Royal Knight expert? Can we handle their Order if it comes to it?” he questioned him quietly.

    Raijinmon folded his arms and closed his eyes. “They aren’t to be underestimated…” he responded. He opened an eye and glanced at his green comrade. “However, I’m confident that we’re a match for them. They may have quality in strength, but we have greater numbers and greater discipline. Plus, you, Suijinmon and I are strong, capable, and intelligent. We need to be cautious, but it’s not as if the Royal Knights are unbeatable. We have a fighting chance if we’re clever.”

    Fujinmon nodded. “Good. I’m beginning to look forward to this…”

    The gold cyborg Digimon frowned. “We should get back to the inspection, don’t you think?” he asked him.

    “Of course,” Fujinmon stated, turning and looking at the columns and rows of Digimon.

    The three Storm Commanders caught up with Chaosdramon as he inspected the thousands of D-Brigade soldiers standing at attention. It was this mass of ground, armoured, aerial, and naval troops that would soon be preparing for war. It was a terrifying force to face… especially for a tiny state like the Mamemon Kingdom.

    -

    Meanwhile, it was a partially sunny day in Shroud. The data storm, while continual, was currently peaceful enough to allow brief bouts of sunlight through the tumultuous grey-violet clouds. Rays of sunshine would beam down on the city for a few minutes before being staunched by clouds for another few minutes. This cycle throughout the day was usually the best the Digimon of Shroud could hope for in terms of sunlight.

    The streets were busy with active Digimon moving around from place to place.

    A short figure walked down a street unassumingly, moving with the flow of Digimon. The Wizardmon adjusted his conical hat, tipping it backwards on his head to give himself better peripheral vision. He placed his arms back under his cowl and kept his hands near his pockets.

    The Wizardmon broke off from the Digimon and turned a corner down a side street. However, he saw that the street was blocked off by police and barriers. At the end of the street was the Spirit’s Rest Inn. However, there were several law enforcement officers standing around it.

    Wizardmon tugged at his tall collar to better see what was going on. The third floor windows were completely blown out and some of the walls looked as if they were nearing collapse. It looked as though there was some sort of explosion inside it. He frowned and decided to ask what had happened.

    He walked up to one of the officers – a tall, lanky humanoid Digimon who was wrapped in bandages. “Excuse me,” he asked the Mummymon. “What happened here.”

    The law enforcement officer turned around. “It’s an ongoing investigation, but looks like there was a big fight here a several nights ago. There was enough damage that it could collapse, so the inn’s closed,” he explained. “Why?”

    “I was supposed to meet somebody here,” Wizardmon responded.

    “Well, you’re not gettin’ in, so just hang around the general area,” the Mummymon told him with a shrug. “Maybe they’ll turn up.”

    Wizardmon nodded and turned around, starting to walk away. He walked up the street and turned at the point where it met the longer, busier street. He turned right and began walking further into the city.

    Suddenly, Wizardmon felt a tapping on his shoulder. He turned his head and saw GrandisKuwagamon walking behind him. “GrandisKuwagamon,” he greeted.

    “Meet us at the Severed Arms,” GrandisKuwagamon told him, walking past him so that it didn’t look like they were conversing.

    Wizardmon nodded and watched the black insect disappear behind the Digimon in front of him. He pulled down his hat slightly and began manoeuvring around the Digimon ahead.

    He walked for several blocks until he made it to a grotty street that had the rustic tavern located on the corner. Wizardmon glanced up to double check the sign before he walked in.

    Upon opening the doors, he was greeted with the faint aroma of alcohol and bar food. He looked around and saw Black Pincer Company sitting in their usual corner seats, near the bar. The bar was empty except for them, which was sensible given how early in the day it was. The short, wizard Digimon began to make his way over, walking around the large pool table. He approached their table and pulled up a chair.

    “Hello,” he greeted, hopping onto the chair.

    None of the three bug Digimon were drinking, but eating bar food instead. GrandisKuwagamon took a bite of a round, intensely orange-coloured, sun fruit. “See? Told ya he was comin’,” GrandisKuwagamon told the other two.

    Blitzmon turned and looked at the Wizardmon. “We finished the job, but from what you said before, your client knows that by now, right?”

    Wizardmon nodded. “Everything went as planned, apparently. He gave me permission to come meet you,” he explained. “Although, what happened at the inn?”

    “We got swarmed by D-Brigade assholes while we slept,” Bolgmon told him with a frown. “So all of our reward better be here.”

    “Naturally,” Wizardmon assured him raising his wand and activating it to make another case of money appear on the table.

    GrandisKuwagamon took the case and opened it, looking inside. “About the same amount as last time… Looks legit,” he said.

    Blitzmon looked at Wizardmon. “We’re done with the Metal Empire now, right?” he asked him.

    Wizardmon nodded. “My client has no more jobs for you directly involving them...”

    “That was ominously specific,” GrandisKuwagamon dryly pointed out, moving his hand across the money before closing the case.

    Wizardmon chuckled a little. “Well… My client has expressed great satisfaction with your work and efficiency. He would like to contract you for another job.”

    GrandisKuwagamon folded his arms and leaned back in his seat while glancing at Blitzmon and Bolgmon. “I’d kinda like to know more about your client first. Why are we doing what we’re doing? I don’t get it.”

    “I can’t say,” Wizardmon told him. “My client has expressed the desire for the utmost secrecy.”

    “Does it matter as long as we keep getting money like that?” Blitzmon asked, gesturing to the case of money in front of them.

    Bolgmon nodded. “We usually don’t make that much money in six months,” he added eagerly. “Is the payout for the next job anything like the last two?”

    “It’s higher,” Wizardmon responded plainly.

    GrandisKuwagamon frowned. “Which means it’s even more dangerous,” he remarked.

    “Not necessarily,” Wizardmon stated.

    “We’re listening,” Blitzmon told him, looking at the Wizardmon with interest. He glanced at his fellow mercenary. “Let’s hear him out, Grandis.”

    “Yeah, fine,” GrandisKuwagamon agreed. “What’s the job and what’s the payment?”

    “It’s more of a contract than a cash reward,” Wizardmon explained. “Which means that there will be a lot more money for you, but you’ll be on hold to do more jobs for my client in the future, instead of just leaving with your payment after this next job.”

    “We know how contracts work,” GrandisKuwagamon responded. “Let’s talk details.”

    Wizardmon nodded in agreement. “Don’t worry. It doesn’t necessarily involve the Metal Empire,” he told them. “In fact, given the nature of your company, you have much more of a stake in this than with your previous two jobs.”

    Bolgmon tilted his head. “We do?”

    “Go on,” Blitzmon urged him, leaning his arms forward on the table.

    GrandisKuwagamon put down the core of his sun fruit and eyed the Wizardmon. “Let’s hear it.”

    Wizardmon lowered his gaze. “It involves the Royal Knights…”
     
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
  17. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Author's Notes: Here come the two parters. None of which will actually fit under the character limits.)

    Chapter 8: The Aloof Hermit (Part I)​


    The mechanical, rhythmic chugging of wheels on rails reverberated across the yellow plains. A deep hoot of steam pierced the air, interrupting the steady, continuous noise of locomotion.

    A Locomon rolled across the landscape on a pair of sturdy, metal train tracks. At the very front was a large, dark blue railcar with a pair of yellow eyes and steam spout. This part of the Locomon carried the multiple coach cars that were hooked on behind it. Inside those carriages were multiple passenger Digimon who used the Locomon as transportation.

    Each passenger car was long and wide, and it had rows of connected, bench-like seats with green cushions on each side of the aisle. Each seat could support roughly two humanoid-sized Digimon, although it depended on their sizes. Larger Digimon were generally expected to revert to smaller forms if they weren’t able to fit inside one of the carriages.

    “Attention, all passengers, we’ll be reaching our next destination of New Terminal shortly,” a calm, deep, friendly voice echoed throughout the train. It belonged to Locomon, who continued to drive along the tracks. “For now, please enjoy the scenic landscape of the Republic of Node.”

    Among these passengers were Alphamon, Dynasmon, UlforceVeedramon, OuRyuumon, and Paildramon, who all sat in the same car. Alphamon and OuRyuumon sat side-by-side on the right side of the car. Paildramon sat on her own on the seat in front of them. UlforceVeedramon and Dynasmon sat together on the seat behind them.

    Both dragon Royal Knights were fast asleep. UlforceVeedramon was in the window seat, leaning against the pristine glass as he used his broad, blue and pink wing as a pillow. Dynasmon, who had previously been leaning comfortably against UlforceVeedramon’s wing and shoulder, had somehow collapsed onto Ulforce’s lap. His wings were bunched up against the Royal Knight’s body, but Dynasmon slept contently, and a steady rivulet of saliva trickled from his mouth onto UlforceVeedramon’s blue leggings.

    OuRyuumon was semi-coiled up on his seat and busy munching on a sandwich that he bought from one of the on-board food vendors. Alphamon, however, was staring out the window. Instead of looking at the scenery, he seemed to be lost in thought. The sunlight reflected in his distant ruby eyes as it shone through the windows of the Locomon.

    Paildramon was a bit ill-at-ease, although it would be hard to tell by looking at her usual calm demeanour. She looked over her shoulder at OuRyuumon. “Captain?” she asked, formally addressing her superior, since she was an over-sergeant of the Strike Forces.

    OuRyuumon swallowed the bite of meat sandwich that he had in his mouth and looked over at her. “Yeah?” he asked her, comparatively informally.

    “Is it okay for me to be here?” she wondered. “This is a diplomatic mission. I’m just an over-sergeant and yet I’m here with three Royal Knights and yourself. I think this is above my station, if I can be honest.”

    “Oh, it’s fine, Paildramon,” OuRyuumon assured her with a friendly grin. “Don’t worry about it.”

    Paildramon frowned faintly. “I wouldn’t like to think that I’m getting special treatment compared to my comrades, just because of who my father is…” she added knowingly.

    OuRyuumon raised a hand to begin thumbing the ornamental dragon above the red gem on his decorative headpiece. “We’re not giving you special treatment, over-sergeant,” he assured her. “If anything, we’re bringing you for selfish reasons. Your dad is Councillor Imperialdramon, so bringing you along will hopefully make him more sympathetic to our cause.”

    Paildramon sighed and rubbed the back of her head. “I’m not sure if that’s much better…” she said with a hint of exasperation.

    OuRyuumon smirked. “Okay, let me put it this way… You never complain about any of your other missions or duties, so why should this one be any different?” he said to her. “In other words, you’re under my direct orders to join us, so I don’t want to hear any complaints, got it, over-sergeant?”

    The dragon woman Digimon managed a faint smile. “Yes, sir,” she complied.

    “Besides, you know how the Council of Seven operate,” the Captain of the Strike Forces added. “You must have inherited all of that bureaucratic know-how from your dad, right?”

    Paildramon nodded in response. “I know more than I’d like,” she admitted. “I was supposed to go into a governmental career while my younger brother was supposed to go into the military.”

    “I know how that is,” OuRyuumon said with a smirk. “You planning to visit your brother while you’re home?”

    “Only if I get some free time,” Paildramon answered dutifully.

    “Of course,” the ryu assured her. “We’re staying for at least a night – a few days at the most – so there’s plenty of time. I was planning to visit my parents, so ‘course you can visit your dad and brother too.”

    “Thank you,” she told him with a nod. “That’s right. I forgot you and Sir Alphamon were from New Terminal, Captain.”

    OuRyuumon grinned. “Well, New Terminal’s our hometown and we were raised here, but neither of us were exactly ‘born’ here. We’re both adopted. We were born as ’roaming digi-eggs’. We weren’t born from reproduction or reincarnation; we just appeared, I guess, and our eggs were found and put up for adoption. Not at the same time, though.”

    Paildramon blinked with mild surprise. “Oh… Really? Aren’t roaming digi-eggs really rare?” she asked him curiously.

    “Yeah.” He raised his claws and tapped the crimson gem on his forehead emphatically. “Alphamon and me are both prototype Digimon, too. We’ve got these Digicore Interfaces. Might be why we can jogress together. Maybe it all means something, but who knows for sure. Right, Alphamon?”

    OuRyuumon looked over at his friend for his input. He had been kind of surprised that Alphamon hadn’t said anything earlier, but, then again, he had been pretty quiet since before they boarded the Locomon. When he turned his head, he saw that Alphamon was still staring out the window. It didn’t look like he even heard him.

    OuRyuumon cocked an eyebrow. “Alphamon?” he asked, hoping to get his attention. “Digital World to Alphamon…”

    Alphamon blinked and looked over. “Pardon…? Sorry, I was miles away,” he sheepishly answered. “What were you saying?”

    The gold and brown drake frowned. “Nothin’… Are you okay? You’ve been quiet since we left,” he pointed out to him.

    “I’m fine,” Alphamon answered. “I was just thinking.”

    “About what?” OuRyuumon quizzed.

    Alphamon gave him a side glance. “Nothing important,” he said calmly, trying to subtly tell him not to pursue the issue.

    OuRyuumon wouldn’t be deterred that easily. “You’re not worried about DORUgoramon, are you?” he asked his best friend.

    The black Royal Knight rubbed his forehead, which also contained a red, gem-like interface on it. “No…”

    “Councillor DORUgoramon?” Paildramon asked.

    “We’ve got history with him,” OuRyuumon told her. He looked back at Alphamon. “So what is it?”

    Alphamon sighed and turned to look at OuRyuumon fully. “I’m fine, OuRyuumon. Really,” he insisted emphatically. “I appreciate the concern, but I was just thinking about the matter at hand. I’m formulating what I want to put forward to the Council of Seven.”

    OuRyuumon furrowed his eyebrows and looked at Alphamon lingeringly. “Well… okay,” he responded, although he still had some doubts.

    Alphamon turned away and went back to looking out the window. In the distance, he could see the majestic city of New Terminal. The whole city seemed to gleam with splendor in the sunlight. New Terminal was one of the largest and most cosmopolitan cities on the continent, behind, perhaps, Saversburg, which was further north. The city spanned dozens of kilometers and it has several different boroughs.

    It was the capital of the Republic of Node, which was a cultural and economic hub, as well as a regional powerhouse. The Council of Seven were the leaders of the Republic and they were the ones who made policy decisions. However, the Republic of Node was very much a federation, and the major regional cities had a lot of autonomy. The burgmasters (or mayors) of the cities all had votes when electing new councillors for the Council of Seven. Likewise, the Digimon citizens of the Republic of Node all voted for the burgmasters, so in a way, they had a say in who was elected to the Council of Seven.

    The Council of Seven itself consisted of seven councillors: Imperialdramon Dragon Mode, Rosemon, Butenmon, DORUgoramon, Okuwamon, Angewomon, and MegaSeadramon. They each had different aims, ideals, and influences, as well as varying opinions of the Royal Knights.

    Alphamon continued to watch as the city grew nearer. He would normally be pleased at the prospect of returning home to visit, but something was weighing on his mind. There were things that he needed to do there. Things that he felt obligated to do.

    “Attention, all passengers,” Locomon spoke up again in his deep, relaxed voice. “We will be arriving in New Terminal in several minutes. Please do not attempt to exit until I have reached a full and complete stop. For now, please enjoy the picturesque scenery. To the right, you can see the sea of gold and emerald fields, and, to the left, you should be able to see the Argent Mountain-scape. It may be small, but it is rather beautiful.”

    Alphamon heard a grunt of discomfort coming from behind himself and OuRyuumon. He turned and looked over his shoulder to see that UlforceVeedramon was waking up, disturbed from his sleep by Locomon’s announcement.

    “Mrgh, wha…?” UlforceVeedramon asked groggily, pushing against his wing to sit up straighter. He rubbed his eyes with a hand, trying to wake himself up. He wasn’t sure why he felt a pressure on his lap.

    UlforceVeedramon yawned and blinked the sleep from his red eyes. Beginning to orient himself, he looked down and saw Dynasmon asleep on his lap. He stared at him for a several moments.

    “Guh, Dynasmon!” the cobalt Royal Knight complained, grabbing Dynasmon’s shoulder and shaking him. “The heck are you doing?! You’re drooling on my crotch! That had better just be drool!”

    Dynasmon awoke with groans of complaint and annoyance, waving his arms around to try to push UlforceVeedramon away from him. “Ugh, lee’me alone! Damn it… I’m sleeping…!” he growled, annoyed that his pillow was suddenly trying to shake his head off. “Rrrgh. Cut it out!”

    “Hey! Don’t move your head like that! That’s not-- DYNASMON!”

    “…GAH! What the hell?! Get away from me!”

    “I should be telling you that, you perv!”

    OuRyuumon rested his arms on the backrest of his seat and watched with amusement. “If only Rhodo were here to see this…” he said with a laugh, although he was secretly liking the view for other reasons.

    Paildramon flushed beneath her helmet. She supposed it was a good thing that they were the only passengers on this particular car.

    Meanwhile, Alphamon sighed and glanced back out the window.

    The Locomon began to decelerate as they approached the sprawling city of New Terminal. The train Digimon entered the city with a bellow of his horn, and the buildings soon began to roll by the windows.

    Alphamon closed his eyes and stood to his feet, preparing to disembark as they pulled to a stop at the rail station. He was home.

    -

    After about fifteen minutes passed, the group of five left the Locomon rail station. The station was a partially open-air one, and there were loads of Digimon going to and from it.

    Once they were out of the station, they were able to take in their surroundings. New Terminal was bustling with energy and life. There were Digimon of all shapes, sizes, and species. Unlike places that were mostly monocultural, like the Metal Empire or the Mesozoic Kingdom, New Terminal was very multicultural and cosmopolitan. There were avian Digimon, insect Digimon, humanoid Digimon, beast Digimon, dragon Digimon, and the list goes on. This diversity was very much reflected in the Council of Seven.

    Digimon walked down the middle of the streets, usually with larger Digimon in the middle of the street and smaller Digimon walking along the sides. Aerial Digimon flew in the sky in an orderly fashion. A big river flowed down from the Argent Mountains and ran straight through the middle of the city. It was called Fountain River, and many aquatic Digimon used it as a means of transportation through the city.

    The group of five decided to fly through the city, since it was faster and they were all able to do so. They soared above the buildings of New Terminal which were of varying shapes and sizes as well. Alphamon led the way, followed by OuRyuumon and Dynasmon, and then Paildramon and UlforceVeedramon.

    “Where to first?” Dynasmon asked, looking ahead at Alphamon.

    “The council hall,” Alphamon answered, looking over his spread wings to Dynasmon. “We should tell the Council of Seven that we’re here so they can prepare.”

    “Try not to get too catty with DORUgoramon, okay, Alphamon?” UlforceVeedramon said with a gentle laugh.

    Alphamon turned and gave him a look. “Maybe you should tell that to OuRyuumon first.”

    “I won’t say anything if he doesn’t,” OuRyuumon told them, folding his arms as he glided on the air currents.

    “I’ll believe that when I see it,” Dynasmon said with a chuckle. “So, what do we do after that? It probably won’t take long.”

    “We’ll likely have to wait. I suppose we’ll have quite a bit of free time…” Alphamon said with a thoughtful frown.

    UlforceVeedramon gave his wings a flap and looked over. “Are you three going to visit your parents, then?” he questioned.

    Alphamon didn’t reply immediately. Instead, he deliberated quietly.

    “I probably am,” OuRyuumon stated.

    Paildramon nodded in agreement. “I’ll visit my brother, if that’s alright.”

    “Sure,” OuRyuumon told her. He looked over at Alphamon. “What about you?”

    “Hm? I suppose so, yes,” Alphamon said, looking over after a few seconds.

    OuRyuumon looked at him suspiciously. Alphamon was definitely acting oddly. He began to wonder if it had something to do with his coming out about his sexuality. However, Alphamon was generally pretty comfortable with that part of his life now, so OuRyuumon wasn’t entirely convinced of this argument, but he wasn’t sure what else could be bothering him. Perhaps it really did just have to do with the Dark Area.

    “Do you think we can expect any resistance from the Council?” UlforceVeedramon asked, dipping down, veering to the side, and speeding up to fly beside Alphamon. “We don’t always see eye-to-eye with them.”

    “I don’t think so. We may disagree at times, but I can’t think of a reason why they wouldn’t want to help secure the Dark Area,” Alphamon responded. “If any of those prisoners were to get out, we would all suffer from it.”

    “That’s true,” UlforceVeedramon admitted. “But politics and bureaucracy can get in the way of commonsense, at times.”

    Dynasmon nodded. “Plus, I don’t trust that Gaioumon guy they have hanging around,” he said with a sneer. “He’s as slippery as an eel.”

    UlforceVeedramon glanced at Dynasmon. “You’re just saying that because you’re friends with KaiserGreymon. He and Gaioumon hate each other.”

    “I don’t trust him either,” Dynasmon asserted. “Just watch once we’re there. He looks like his brain’s always thinking of something.”

    “Unlike yours, right, Dynasmon?” UlforceVeedramon teased him with a wink.

    Dynasmon give him a sideways leer. “Shut it, Ulforce.”

    “Permission to speak freely?” Paildramon spoke up.

    “You don’t have to be so formal, Paildramon,” Alphamon assured her.

    Paildramon nodded. “I’ve met Gaioumon before, at a formal party that all of the council members attended. He seemed pleasant enough, and he came off as quite intelligent about a lot of things. From what I’ve heard, he has a wealth of political, military, historical, and diplomatic knowledge. I suppose I can see why he’s the sitting advisor for the Council of Seven.”

    “Yeah, well, I know what KaiserGreymon’s told me about him too,” Dynasmon responded, closing his eyes. “Apparently he can be really cunning, conniving and ruthless, when he wants to be.”

    “I can’t say I’ve heard that about him,” Paildramon stated. “Although I don’t doubt your source, Sir Dynasmon.”

    “It’s getting the councillors on side that we need to worry about,” OuRyuumon mentioned. “They’re the ones that make the decisions, not Gaioumon.”

    Alphamon nodded and began to descend. “There it is,” he told them, looking ahead to a large building. The council building in question was one of the larger ones in the city. It had to be big enough to support large Digimon like MegaSeadramon and Okuwamon. That’s why it was built with only two storeys, but was fairly long and wide to compensate. Although the outside had ornate decorations and statues, the building wasn’t extravagant like a palace; it was more administrative and practical. There was a tall fence around the perimeter of the building, along with military personnel who acted as security at both at the gate and the doors.

    Alphamon hailed the security as they grew closer to the entrance. He flew down and landed at the front of the gate. The two security guards were a VictoryGreymon and a WarGreymon.“Greetings. We need to see the Council of Seven,” Alphamon told the VictoryGreymon.

    The VictoryGreymon, who had been shouldering his massive Dramon Breaker sword, suddenly dropped the blade to the ground as he stared at Alphamon with astonishment. His jaw dropped when he saw UlforceVeedramon and Dynasmon land behind him as well. “S-Sir Alphamon!” he exclaimed, his deep voice becoming high with excitement.

    Alphamon blinked and smiled sheepishly, scratching his cheek with a finger. “Uh… Hello…?”

    The VictoryGreymon seemed to be giddy with excitement and glee. “Remember me?” he asked, looking at Alphamon with big, expectant, green eyes, and a massive, dorky grin on his face.

    “Er…” Alphamon paused. He didn’t recognize him at all, but he didn’t want to hurt the feelings of somebody who was obviously a big fan of theirs. “You’re… VictoryGreymon,” the leader of the Royal Knights remarked, attempting to bluff.

    VictoryGreymon turned and looked at his WarGreymon friend with excitement. “He remembered my name!” he told him with a happy voice, his cheeks growing scarlet red with embarrassment.

    The WarGreymon rolled his eyes. “He knows what a VictoryGreymon looks like. It wasn’t a hard guess,” he sarcastically told the VictoryGreymon in response. He then looked a bit sheepish and looked at Alphamon. “Uh, no offence, Alphamon, sir.”

    VictoryGreymon turned to Alphamon and the others, just as OuRyuumon and Paildramon landed behind the three Royal Knights. “We met at the Spring Festival in Aurum,” he said, again with big, hopeful eyes. “You gave me your autograph?”

    Alphamon thought back to that event. Most of what happened that day was completely overshadowed by DarkKnightmon’s arrival after the festival. However, he vaguely remembered being swarmed by fans when they first arrived, and one of them was a VictoryGreymon. “…Oh yes. I remember now. You had a ShineGreymon friend?”

    VictoryGreymon’s face lit up. “Yeah! That was my best friend!” he exclaimed, grinning broadly and rubbing the back of his neck with embarrassment. “WarGreymon here is a good friend of mine too. But wow, I can’t believe three of the Royal Knights and Captain OuRyuumon are visiting here in New Terminal today of all days! It’s just our luck, WarGreymon! Hahaha!”

    UlforceVeedramon exchanged a look with Dynasmon. “Major fanboy,” he mumbled with a grin.

    “So, can we get in?” Dynasmon asked with an amused smile.

    “Oh, of course!” VictoryGreymon exclaimed, immediately moving out of the way and picking his sword up so that they could get through the gates. “You guys must be very busy with official business, so I won’t keep ya.”

    As the Royal Knights began to file through the gate, followed by OuRyuumon and Paildramon, WarGreymon blinked upon seeing her. “Paildramon? Is that you?”

    When OuRyuumon moved out of the way, she was able to recognize both of the Mega level Greymons. “WarGreymon?” she asked. “VictoryGreymon?”

    “Hey, Paildramon,” VictoryGreymon greeted with a warm smile. “You get to go on missions the Royal Knights? That’s so cool! I wish I got to join their Order too.”

    “This is just a one-time thing,” Paildramon assured them.

    UlforceVeedramon turned around. “Do you know them, Paildramon?” he asked her curiously.

    “Yes, Sir,” she responded. “We were in the same unit for awhile before the restructuring of the Republic’s military. That was when I was transferred to your Order with a bunch of the others.”

    Alphamon looked over his shoulder at her. “You’re free to wait out here and catch up with them, over-sergeant,” he said to her. “We’re really just going in to make ourselves known and to see when the Council will be ready to have us.”

    “Thank you,” she said to him, giving Alphamon a salute before turning to talk with the two Greymons. “Were you two moved around in the restructure too?”

    “Yeah. We’re actually in a more prestigious group now,” WarGreymon responded, puffing his chest out proudly. “Me, VictoryGreymon, ShineGreymon, BlackWarGreymon, and EmperorGreymon are an elite, specialized shock squad now. We’re called the Greymon Five.”

    “Then what are you doing on security detail?” Paildramon asked, raising an eyebrow.

    “They were short-handed…”

    As they started chatting, Alphamon, Dynasmon, UlforceVeedramon and OuRyuumon continued towards the council building.

    Around them was a wide, stone courtyard. Across the area were benches that rested beneath stone and marble statues of famous councillors and historical figures in the Republic of Node’s history. The front of the building was decorated with a tall, striking, colonnade of ornate, stone columns that held up the front of the council hall and provided a horizontal avenue of shade just in front of the building’s entrance.

    The four walked up to the colonnade and passed through the gap wide enough to allow even dinosaur Digimon to enter. They were spotted by the two guards standing in front of the massive double doors. The guards immediately turned around and used a pulley system to open the tall, wide set of doors behind them. The weighty doors creaked open, giving them an ancient-yet-durable feel to them. As the Royal Knights entered, they were greeted by a gentle blast of cool air and a faint scent that had notes of paper and stone in it.

    They stepped into the large, marble-floored lobby. Over to the left was the front desk as well as seating for those who needed to wait.

    “I’ll go speak with the secretary,” Alphamon said to his three companions.

    Just as he began moving his leg to walk towards the desk, he was halted by a voice.

    “No need,” the voice, strong and deep, spoke.

    The four turned and saw a Digimon walking out of the wide opening on the opposite side of the room. It was a dragon man Digimon. He was clad from head to toe in flexible metal that made a heavy, clattering noise with every step that he took. His metal body was primarily grey in hue, with the exception of the deep, violet stripe that went down the Digimon’s neck and the underside of his chest and tail. The violet colouring was also located on the orbs on the broad pauldrons that made up his shoulder armour. The purple colouring also lined his armour and coloured the spikes on his knees, but, more prominently, it also coloured the leathery fabric that made up the dragon man’s wide, fearsome, metal wings. In contrast to this was a gold trimming that lined the edges of his boots, tail, and shoulders.

    His long tail flicked behind him as he strode over. His draconic head lifted up proudly, causing the light in the room to reflect off of his long horns which were both jagged and yet ornate. Just above the nose of his snout was a rounded, triangular, shimmering crimson gem that was exactly like the Digicore Interface that both Alphamon and OuRyuumon possessed on similar parts of their faces.

    “DORUgoramon,” Alphamon stated, turning to face him fully.

    “It’s been awhile, Alphamon, OuRyuumon,” DORUgoramon spoke, stopping in front of them.

    “Yes, it has,” Alphamon answered, politely offering his hand.

    DORUgoramon looked down at the knight’s hand and then reached out to take it, shaking firmly. “It’s nice to see you have some free time to visit New Terminal again,” he said with a half-grin at the corner of his draconic mouth.

    OuRyuumon gave DORUgoramon a suspicious look, but he kept his cool.

    Alphamon returned the handshake just as strongly. “It’s nice to be back home. You’re right, I don’t get to come here as often as I like,” he responded. “How have you been?”

    “Busy. Being a councillor eats up a lot of my free time. It isn’t like it was during my adventuring days,” DORUgoramon mentioned. “I guess you know how that is too, huh?” Before Alphamon could respond, he turned his head and looked at UlforceVeedramon and Dynasmon. “Hello to you both, as well.”

    Dynasmon waved his large, clawed hand. “Hey.”

    “Good timing,” UlforceVeedramon said with a smile.

    “I’m afraid not,” DORUgoramon corrected him. “We received your letter, but it’s going to be a few hours until we can talk with you. The Council isn’t convening until late this afternoon. The only reason I’m here is because I forgot some documents in my office.” He held up his satchel for emphasis.

    I knew he’d make us wait,” OuRyuumon thought to himself, giving the silver-armoured dragon a sideways leer as he sighed through his nostrils.

    “It’s fine, DORUgoramon,” Alphamon assured him. “We expected as much. When would a be a good time for us to return?”

    DORUgoramon shouldered his bag and looked at Alphamon with his narrow, gold eyes. “Two hours before sunset?”

    Alphamon nodded. “That’s fine. We’ll keep busy until then and come back here,” he told him.

    “I look forward to it,” DORUgoramon answered, striding past them and making for the exit. “I’ll tell the guards to expect you.”

    “Later,” OuRyuumon told him, eyeing him as he left.

    “Captain,” DORUgoramon said to him, glancing over his wing and shoulder before walking out the doors.

    After the councillor left, UlforceVeedramon looked from OuRyuumon to Alphamon, and then at Dynasmon. “How come I always detect an atmosphere with you two and him?” UlforceVeedramon wondered aloud. He grinned. “Even when you’re all trying to be polite.”

    “We have a history,” Alphamon responded vaguely.

    “You don’t say,” UlforceVeedramon sarcastically said while folding his arms. “What, exactly?”

    Alphamon sighed. “I’ll tell you later, Ulforce. We should get going,” he said to them.

    “Are you and OuRyuumon going to visit your parents?” Dynasmon asked him.

    “Yeah. I think I’ll surprise Dad at the smithy,” OuRyuumon stated. He looked at Alphamon with a grin. “You can come along and then we’ll go see your parents.”

    Alphamon frowned. “I suppose so…” he said contemplatively.

    UlforceVeedramon smiled and rubbed the back of his neck. “That’s great, but what about us?” he asked. “I doubt you want us hanging around for your family thing. Especially Dynasmon.”

    Dynasmon elbowed him in the arm. “We’ll look around the city, Ulforce. I know some good places.”

    “We’ll meet back at the gate,” Alphamon said to them. “Does that sound fine?”

    UlforceVeedramon rubbed his sore arm and nodded. “Yeah. Let’s go then. I’ll tell Paildramon the news.”

    The Royal Knights and OuRyuumon walked out and split off into two groups to go their separate ways. As Dynasmon and UlforceVeedramon walked down the courtyard towards the front gate where Paildramon was, Alphamon and OuRyuumon began to take to the air.

    OuRyuumon glanced over his shoulder at the black knight lingered behind him. He couldn’t understand it. He was happy to be visiting New Terminal, but Alphamon didn’t seem to be. The Royal Knight was thinking a lot – that much OuRyuumon knew – but about what? The gold dragon wondered. He wondered if Alphamon was worried about something, or if he was simply feeling nostalgic about old times. He wondered if it was both. OuRyuumon speculated about what it could be. A part of him was beginning to feel hopeful. Maybe Alphamon was quiet because he was beginning to reconsider his feelings about OuRyuumon, and this trip was what made him change his mind. He stifled a smile at the prospect.

    Whatever it was, OuRyuumon intended to find out.

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
    Last edited: Jan 1, 2016
  18. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post)

    -

    OuRyuumon and Alphamon soared through the warm New Terminal air towards the northeast part of the city. They passed over the Fountain River, which flowed below them with a dynamic pattern of blue and white as bodies of marine Digimon cut through the water.

    “Hasn’t changed much, huh, Alphamon?” OuRyuumon asked as he flew beside him. He turned his head and was somewhat surprised to see Alphamon staring at him.

    Really, Alphamon was looking past OuRyuumon, at the Argent Mountains behind him. However, it was hard to tell.

    “Oh, uh, yeah,” Alphamon responded, looking forwards again.

    OuRyuumon’s gaze lingered on him. “You okay, Alphamon?” he asked him.

    Alphamon nodded. “We should descend now. It’s only a few blocks until we reach the smithy,” he told him evasively. He began to angle his body forwards and tilt his wings backwards to dip down in his flight.

    OuRyuumon followed after him, flying down towards the streets.

    There were fewer Digimon around their destination than there were where they first arrived. North of the river wasn’t as commercial and busy as south of it was.

    They flew over the roofs of a few shops before gently landing on the street. The two looked over to the corner of the street, where there was a stone building with a wide, smoking chimney. There was a small yard in front of the forge. From there, they could hear the sound of metal clashing against metal. It was a familiar sound to both of them.

    OuRyuumon began to walk towards the building, followed by Alphamon. The nostalgic, pungent smell of smoke and metal teased his nostrils, and as he grew close to the building, the warmth of the forge washed over him. OuRyuumon walked into the yard, passing by a long, sturdy table with various blacksmith’s tools – tongs, fullers, chisels, hand hammers - scattered across it. He walked to the wide, open door of the forge and knocked firmly.

    “Just a minute!” a deep, bass voice with a growly tinge called back.

    OuRyuumon and Alphamon waited at the door and looked in. The forge was filled with more tools, a long, metal table, an anvil, and a big, smouldering hearth. The walls displayed a multitude of finely-crafted weapons and suits of armour to show off the blacksmith’s craftsmanship. A large, muscular, grey dinosaur stood at the other side of the forge with his back to them. His back was broad and had green plates running down his spine to his thick tail. He manoeuvred his long arms carefully, clutching a glowing, red-hot sword in his claws. He dipped the new, tempered blade into a long quench tank, which released a surge of hissing steam as soon as the hot metal touched the water.

    The MasterTyrannomon let go of the sword so that it could cool in the water. “Okay, coming,” he said, turning around to reveal a heavy, leather, heat-resistant apron over the front of his body. Upon seeing who it was, the dinosaur Digimon’s eyes lit up with surprise and joy. “OuRyuumon!”

    OuRyuumon smiled sheepishly and walked inside the forge as his adoptive father hurried over. “Hey, da- AH!” He released a yell of surprise as his dad pulled him into a big, warm hug.

    Alphamon grinned as MasterTyrannomon squeezed OuRyuumon’s thin body, and watched the dragon return the hug.

    “Alphamon, you’re here too!” the blacksmith said, grinning widely and letting go of OuRyuumon to walk over and give Alphamon a big hug as well.

    Alphamon managed a chuckle as he returned the hug lightly. He and OuRyuumon had been so close throughout their childhoods that OuRyuumon’s parents were kind of like an uncle and aunt to him. “Hello, Sir.”

    “Now, now, I should be calling you that,” he told him with a grin. MasterTyrannomon stepped away and looked at the two of them. “This is a surprise! What brings you two here? If I had known, I would have told your mom, OuRyuumon.”

    “We’re here on business. It was a bit short notice,” Alphamon said with a smile. “But we didn’t want to come to New Terminal without visiting. We’re going to my parents’ next.”

    “They’ll be happy to see you,” MasterTyrannomon said. “But what are your guys’ plans? What sorta business?”

    “We’re meeting with the Council of Seven around sunset,” Alphamon told him. “Then we’re going to find a place to spend the night.”

    MasterTyrannomon laughed. “Don’t be stupid! You can stay at our place!”

    “We didn’t want to presume… Besides, there’s only one free bedroom, isn’t there?” Alphamon said sheepishly.

    “That’s never stopped you two before,” he answered.

    Alphamon and OuRyuumon exchanged embarrassed, awkward glances. “What?” OuRyuumon asked lamely as his face began to heat up.

    “Sleepovers?” his dad asked innocuously. “You had those all the time as kids.”

    “Oh…” OuRyuumon said, relaxing a bit.

    MasterTyrannomon smirked and turned away, going to tidy his table. “So, how about it?” he asked them.

    “Thank you for the offer, but my parents will probably want to have me around. It’s been awhile since I last visited,” Alphamon told him politely.

    The dinosaur blacksmith chuckled. “Okay, but you’re coming over for a barbeque lunch tomorrow. And that’s non-negotiable, okay?” he told him, looking over his shoulder with a grin.

    Alphamon smiled with resignation. “I’d love to.”

    “Good! So, have you been looking after my son, here?” MasterTyrannomon asked him, smiling as he took the cooled sword out of the trough and placed it on the nearby table.

    OuRyuumon folded his arms. “Dad, I can look after myself…” he told him.

    “Yeah, but Alphamon does a better job of it!” MasterTyrannomon told him with a hearty laugh. “The only reason I let you go adventuring was because I knew he was going with you. Otherwise, you’d be my mouthy assistant right now. Scratch that – my mouthy, useless assistant; you’d probably still be practicing with swords instead of helping me make them.”

    Alphamon managed a soft chuckle. “I’ve done my best, under the circumstances,” he said, turning his head and giving OuRyuumon a playful look. He looked back at the blacksmith. “To be honest, he’s matured a lot over these last couple years.”

    OuRyuumon rolled his eyes but smiled. “Thanks, I guess…”

    Alphamon shot him a smirk. “I think the Order’s been good for him.”

    “I’ve noticed a general improvement too,” MasterTyrannomon agreed. “But I think it’s been because of the company that he keeps, rather than the Order itself,” he added with a knowing smile.

    “You guys make it sound like I was a delinquent,” OuRyuumon indignantly muttered.

    Alphamon grinned. “You had your moments.” He turned back to MasterTyrannomon. “Anyway, we’ll let you get on with your work. You’re busy.”

    MasterTyrannomon nodded. “Okay, but will you two come by the house later? I’m sure your mom will want to see you, OuRyuumon.”

    Before OuRyuumon could reply, Alphamon spoke up. “OuRyuumon will, and I’ll try to if I have time to spare. If not, I’ll definitely be there tomorrow. You have my word as a Royal Knight on that,” he assured him.

    The dinosaur Digimon let out a laugh. “Okay, well when you put it like that!” he chuckled.

    OuRyuumon gave Alphamon a curious look. He looked back at his father. “Okay, later, Dad,” he told him. “I’ll see you in a couple of hours.”

    “Bye, son. Bye, Alphamon,” the MasterTyrannomon said to them as he took the sword in his claws.

    “Bye, Sir,” Alphamon responded, nodding and walking out of the forge.

    OuRyuumon turned and followed him out. Once they stepped out of the forge yard, the two Digimon began to walk down the street towards Alphamon’s parents’ house, which was only a few blocks away.

    The dragon Digimon turned his head and looked at Alphamon. “So, you said that you might be busy this afternoon. With what?” he asked him.

    “It’s nothing, OuRyuumon,” Alphamon responded, subtly increasing the length of his strides.

    OuRyuumon folded his arms and looked at Alphamon with a flat stare. “It’s something. This is me you’re talking to. You can tell me.”

    Alphamon glanced away. “I know I can. I’d just rather not right now. That’s all,” he informed him.

    The gold ryu frowned and rubbed the back of his head. “Well, okay…”

    The black armoured Royal Knight paused. “…I’ll tell you later, OuRyuumon,” he told him, more conciliatingly. “I’m just trying to get my head around it right now.”

    OuRyuumon felt a flutter of hope inside of him. “Okay, sure,” he responded, not wanting to push him.

    The two walked together quietly as they turned the corner and headed into a residential area. The houses ranged from small to large, based on the needs of the occupants. However, no matter the size, they all had a pleasant, easeful feel to them. Many of the houses had warm, vibrant gardens, and a couple even had swimming pools.

    “I guess this place hasn’t changed much,” OuRyuumon observed, looking around the streets with a nostalgic smile.

    Alphamon nodded. “It feels like ages since we’ve been back here… and cycles since we were kids and you were sneaking into Mister Anomalocarimon’s pool,” he replied with a slight smile.

    OuRyuumon grinned. “Hey, you didn’t stop me.”

    “I was never able to.”

    The two chuckled and turned down the next corner. When they did, Alphamon gazed at the third house down from the corner. That was his house. There was plenty of space between each of the houses, so they weren’t cramped together. It was a relatively large house with a big backyard, which made it accommodating for larger Digimon.

    Alphamon approached the familiar house and walked up to the tall, broad, front door. He raised his hand and rapped his knuckles firmly on the reinforced wood.

    After a few moments, the door opened and a tall, orange dragon man stood in the door. He looked very much like a WarGreymon, but he was clad in thick, pointed armour that was different from the armour that regular WarGreymons wore. There were several glowing points on his armour. This was because he contained the X-Antibody.

    Upon seeing Alphamon in front of him, the WarGreymon X-Antibody grinned broadly. “Look who’s home,” he stated in a voice that understated his excitement. He took a step forwards and pulled Alphamon into a hug.

    Alphamon smiled and returned the embrace. “Hey, Dad.”

    WarGreymon X-Antibody patted Alphamon’s winged back and then released him. He turned to OuRyuumon, who was standing behind Alphamon, and went over to hug him as well. “Good to see you too, OuRyuumon.”

    OuRyuumon’s cheeks tinted a bit and he hugged him back. “Thanks, Mister WarGreymon.”

    WarGreymon X-Antibody grinned and turned around. “Honey! Alphamon and OuRyuumon are visiting!” he called inside.

    After a few seconds, a second figure emerged. It was a wolf that was clad in blue, purple, and gold armour. Unlike regular MetalGarurumon, she stood on two legs instead of hour and wore more futuristic armour. She smiled and went to hug both of the visiting Digimon at once.

    “Hi, Mom,” Alphamon said to MetalGarurumon X-Antibody, returning the hug.

    “Hey, Misses MetalGarurumon,” OuRyuumon said as well.

    “Hey, you two,” she said to them warmly, releasing the pair.

    WarGreymon X-Antibody ushered them inside and closed the door. “What brings you guys here?” he asked them.

    “Business,” MetalGarurumon X-Antibody answered her husband before Alphamon could get a chance to.

    “How did you guess?” Alphamon asked sheepishly.

    “I am a bookkeeper for the Council. I saw that there was a meeting penned for either today or tomorrow,” she responded matter-of-factly.

    Alphamon smiled. “Not a lot gets past you, Mom,” he said to her. “We did want to visit while we were here, though.”

    WarGreymon X-Antibody folded his arms. “Well, we’re glad to see you, whatever the reason. How’s everything been going at the Order?” he asked them.

    “Busy,” Alphamon told him.

    “Is it ever not?” he asked with a small grin. “Busy with what?”

    “Don’t be nosy, WarGreymon,” MetalGarurumon X-Antibody told her husband. “You know it’s probably confidential information.”

    “Come on. Not even a hint?” WarGreymon X-Antibody urged.

    Alphamon smiled slightly. It was typical of his father. “I’ll just say this. We’re trying to diffuse tensions…”

    “…Can I get another hint?” he asked.

    “Ignore him, Alphamon,” his mother told him. “Did you come with anybody else?”

    The Royal Knight nodded. “Dynasmon and UlforceVeedramon, and one of the soldiers from the Strike Forces,” he responded.

    “Will you all need somewhere to stay?” she questioned.

    Alphamon shook his head. “Paildramon has a home here and the rest of us can always sleep in an inn.”

    WarGreymon X-Antibody stepped forwards. “There’s plenty of room. Besides, we don’t get to see you much lately.”

    Alphamon rubbed the back of his neck guiltily. “Well, if you put it like that…” he forfeited.

    “I already told my parents that I’d stay at home,” OuRyuumon told them. “Thanks for the offer though.”

    MetalGarurumon X-Antibody nodded. “Why don’t you two relax in the backyard and I’ll brew up some tea?” she suggested.

    “Alright. Thanks, Mom,” Alphamon said to her. “I could use some tea.”

    “Yeah, thanks,” OuRyuumon added, beginning to head through the house to the backyard.

    She nodded and headed to the kitchen. “What sort of tea would you both like?”

    Alphamon looked at OuRyuumon. “Red?”

    OuRyuumon nodded. “Red.”

    “I’ll help,” Alphamon’s father said as he followed in after her.

    That left Alphamon and OuRyuumon to walk out into the backyard alone. The backyard was spacious and covered with rich, vibrant grass. However, it was fairly vacant except for a few chairs around a table, and a curved, stone bench that sat in front of a small pond. The pond was tranquil and contained some colourful, exotic flora, as well as a few fish swimming around in it.

    However, the beauty of the pond was somewhat overshadowed by the picturesque background. There was a great view of the Argent Mountains. While they were small mountains – only a couple kilometers high – there were a few of them and they made for a beautiful, scenic view. They stood against the backdrop of the pale azure sky, dotted with a few clouds. The majestic peaks were green and brown, and they were gradual enough in their steepness to allow for walking trails.

    The mountains were, in fact, well-travelled as one of the mountains was a pilgrimage site. The very end of one of the World Tree’s three roots extended out of the side of one of the thick, stone peaks. The long, serpentine root coiled around the rock before curving and reaching its wooden tendril into the sky. It was the same root that passed through the Chasm of Creation, stretching all the way from the World Tree further north. The peak in question was called Yggdrasil’s Mount. However, recently it began to be colloquially known as the Wise One’s Peak. If one were to walk up the mountains, they’d be able to look over the whole of New Terminal. The mountains stood sentinel over the outskirts of New Terminal and provided the city with a bountiful amount of minerals and water.

    Alphamon took a seat on the stone bench and leaned back against the backrest. OuRyuumon sat beside him but made sure not to sit too close.

    The black Royal Knight gazed at the pond in front of them, watching as three fishes swam around energetically.

    OuRyuumon grinned as his violet eyes rested on the tranquil water as well. “I see that Phi, Chi, and Psi are as energetic as ever,” he observed, watching the fish in question swim around.

    “Yes…” Alphamon responded, smiling a bit. However, the smile disappeared and his eyes turned up to look at the distant mountain. He leered at the giant, natural landmark, and grew deep in thought.

    The gold dragon turned his head and looked at the Royal Knight. “Hey, remember when I fell in the pond while trying to feed them? Then I accidentally pulled you in when you tried to fish me out?” he said with a laugh.

    Alphamon turned towards him and chuckled, as if welcoming the distraction. “You were moving around too much,” he remembered.

    “It seems so long ago. We were only Champion levels at that point. Damn, how old are those fish?” OuRyuumon asked with a smile.

    “They’re a very long-lived species. Wind-tails,” Alphamon told him.

    OuRyuumon leaned his long, serpentine back against the stone backrest and relaxed his posture, coiling up slightly on the bench. “Oh… But we have a lot of good memories here, right?” he asked his friend.

    Alphamon smiled and nodded. “Yes, we do…” His crimson eyes turned down to the pond in front of them, which still managed to reflect the distant mountain in it. “I’m glad that I have a great friend that I can share them with…”

    OuRyuumon turned his head to look at Alphamon, his heart warm and fluttering at this words. His eyes rested on Alphamon’s face. The Royal Knights eyes stared down thoughtfully. The strength and serenity of Alphamon’s eyes always made OuRyuumon feel at ease. He could tell from looking at them that Alphamon was always thinking. This stood in contract to OuRyuumon, who was a Digimon of action. OuRyuumon felt obligated to make the first move, knowing that Alphamon was likely overthinking his feelings.

    Alphamon, as the leader of the Royal Knights, had to be decisive. However, over the past several months, he had become more cautious, and less willing to make the first move in discussions and even sparring. OuRyuumon knew that it had to do with what happened with DarkKnightmon and Omegamon. Alphamon felt like he had acted too rashly in regards to both of them. It ended up with Omegamon being turned against him, and DarkKnightmon nearly killing people that he cared about. In the end, Alphamon was forced to kill DarkKnightmon, and there had been something different about Alphamon ever since.

    OuRyuumon knew that the guilt was still there. It was a large reason of what kept him from being more aggressive in trying to rekindle his relationship with Alphamon. He wanted to take things slowly for Alphamon’s sake. He didn’t want to rush him back into it while they were on their break. For awhile, he was content to just be Alphamon’s best friend. However, it made him happy to know that they could still talk casually and reminisce like this. There was no air of tension anymore. It was far different from the first month after their argument and break up. After DarkKnightmon’s defeat, they had been on good terms, but there were still a few unspoken words between them that sometimes caused an atmosphere.

    The Captain of the Strike Forces was relieved and happy. Everything felt just like it used to now. He gazed longingly at Alphamon, his emotions urged on by the nostalgia of the setting. The mood felt right, and the atmosphere felt right. He felt like this was the time to act.

    The golden ryu sat up straighter on the bench. He moved his arm down and gently put his gloved claws on top of Alphamon’s hand, which pressed against the smooth, flat face of the bench. He softly pressed the palm of his hand against the back of Alphamon’s hand.

    Alphamon was immediately pulled out of his thoughts and his eyes widened with shock. He turned his head and looked down to see OuRyuumon’s hand on top of his own. He turned his head up to look at OuRyuumon with stunned, questioning eyes. “OuRyuumon…?”

    OuRyuumon looked at him with a warm smile. “It feels right, doesn’t it?” he asked him.

    “What…?” Alphamon responded, stunned by the action.

    “You and me,” OuRyuumon told him, squeezing Alphamon’s hand as he moved a bit closer to him. “Back together like this… I like us being able to relax together like this.”

    Alphamon’s face heated up and his eyes stared at OuRyuumon with shock and confusion at the seemingly abrupt action. On instinct, he slid his hand out from under OuRyuumon’s and pulled it away. He stood to his feet to put distance between himself and OuRyuumon. Contrary to what OuRyuumon thought, their relationship was the last thing on Alphamon’s mind at the moment. In fact, his mind was somewhere else, and he had been taken completely off guard by OuRyuumon’s actions. He was not in the right frame of mind to reciprocate or even think about the issue. “O-OuRyuumon…” he spoke in a breath. “I don’t…”

    OuRyuumon’s eyes widened with alarm at Alphamon’s sudden and unexpected rebuff. He didn’t understand. Alphamon seemed so receptive just a minute ago. Fear and horror started to flood through him. He felt his heart beginning to sink down his long body. “Wait… I thought… You were…” he stammered.

    The Royal Knight grimaced and looked at OuRyuumon. “I’m… sorry, OuRyuumon. I don’t know what you thought, but I don’t think this is a good idea right now. I… I really can’t be dealing with this at the moment. I have a lot of things—“

    OuRyuumon’s gold and brown face turned bright red with embarrassment and mortification. “I-I get it,” he said hurriedly, immediately springing to his feet and turning away with a bitter expression. “Sorry. I guess I misread the signals. I just thought that… Ugh, ****!”

    Alphamon’s eyes softened when he saw OuRyuumon’s humiliated, agitated, and insecure body language. He saw the dragon readying his wings as he started to walk away from Alphamon, making no sign of turning back. Pangs of guilt began to assault Alphamon’s heart. “OuRyuumon, wait…”

    “Forget it,” OuRyuumon responded, continuing to walk away and beginning to head around the house. “Just forget that this ever happened. I’ve got a lot of stuff to do too.”

    Alphamon half-heartedly made to go after him. “OuRyuumon…”

    “I’ll meet you later, I guess,” OuRyuumon told him in a curt, deflated voice. There was a sneer on his face as he crouched down and lunged into the air. He flapped his metal wings and began flying away before Alphamon could stop him.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat watched sadly as OuRyuumon flew into the air and disappeared behind the roofs of the houses. He brought his hand to his face and rubbed his forehead with his fingers. “Damn it…” he whispered with frustration. Alphamon knew that going after him wasn’t a good idea in their states.

    The sound of the backdoor opening behind Alphamon prompted him to glance over his shoulder.

    WarGreymon X-Antibody walked out with a tray of two cups of tea, biscuits, cream and sugar. He headed towards the table but stopped abruptly when he couldn’t see OuRyuumon anywhere in sight. “Alphamon? Where did OuRyuumon go?” he asked him, looking over at his son.

    “He remembered that had to be somewhere…” Alphamon responded, turning around to face him, although his eyes lingered on the ground.

    WarGreymon X-Antibody wasn’t entirely convinced. “Did something happen?” he asked him.

    Alphamon shook his head. He looked over his shoulder and stared up at the Argent Mountains. “Actually… there’s something I need to do as well,” he told his father as he gazed at the rocky peaks. “Sorry to leave suddenly, but I’ll be back in a few hours. I just feel that I need to get it over with…”

    The dragon man frowned and placed the tray of tea on the nearby table. “Well… Alright. I trust your judgment,” he told him. “Although, at least have your tea first.”

    Alphamon turned his head and opened his mouth, beginning to decline. However, he stopped himself and decided that it would be impolite, and that he also needed the tea to calm his nerves. “Very well…” he complied, walking over and sitting down at the deck table with a soft sigh.

    “Are you sure everything’s alright, Alphamon?” WarGreymon X-Antibody asked him.

    Alphamon closed his eyes and took the steaming cup of red tea in his hand. “It will be…” he responded, opening his eyes and gazing down into the red liquid. “I hope.”
     
  19. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Chapter 8: The Aloof Hermit (Part II)​


    Paildramon walked down a wide, cobblestone street. Unlike many of the other streets in New Terminal, this one was fairly quiet. This was because it was located in the wealthiest borough of the city, near the financial district. It was in flying distance from the council building and it was positioned close to the New Terminal military base in order to deter crime and loitering.

    On each side of the street were massive mansions, many with gated-off yards. Affluent Digimon resided in these large, luxurious houses - mostly aristocrats, politicians, commanders, and wealthy bankers or businesspeople. At first glance, the whole area was tranquil and scenic, but really, the financial district and military base were a few blocks away, so there was a constant amount of Digimon going back and forth not far off. Flying Digimon often passed over in the sky above.

    Paildramon turned and walked towards one of the mansions. The two-storey mansion in question was quite big and it had a pair of tall, wide, front doors, which showed that it belonged to a large Digimon. It did not have a front yard. It only had a stone pathway of several meters leading up to the entrance. She walked up the path and stopped in front of the doors. The dragon woman Digimon raised her hand and rapped a metal, dragon-head door knocker to announce her presence.

    After about half a minute, she could hear shuffling on the other side of the doors. A Digimon looked through the peep hole at her before unlocking the doors and opening them. The doors swung open to reveal a tall, hardy, red dinosaur who was dressed in a formal suit. The Tyrannomon smiled, showing off rows of straight, shining teeth.

    “Lady Paildramon,” he said, walking forwards and giving her a brief hug.

    Paildramon smiled and returned it lightly before letting go. “You know I don’t like titles, Tyrannomon,” she said to him. “Besides, I’m not sure you can be that formal while hugging me.”

    Tyrannomon chuckled and turned to the side to allow her to walk in. “I’m sorry. It’s been so long since you transferred to the Royal Knights’. I’ve missed having you visit.”

    The two of them walked inside. The entrance hall was layered with teal-hued, marble tiles. Like the front doors, everything in the house was spacious. Given her father’s species, it needed to accommodate the size of an Imperialdramon Dragon Mode. This included the staircase that stood opposite the entrance hall. The stairs were wide and they led up from the entrance hall in a straight line until it split horizontally in separate directions in a sort of T-shape. The spacious steps were garnished with a long, red carpet for decoration.

    Over to the right was the living room, which contained a large, soft couch, several seats, and a coffee table.

    “I’ve missed you too. Are my brother and father home?” she asked him.

    The dinosaur butler nodded. “Master ExVeemon is upstairs and Councillor Imperialdramon is in his study. Shall I fetch them?”

    “No, it’s fine. I can—“ Paildramon began to say. However her voice was drowned out by a youthful male one that rang out from the top of the stairs.

    “Sis!” a teenage dragon called out.

    Paildramon looked up to see the form of a blue and white dragon man on the landing of the stairs, where the staircase diverged into two parts. The dragon leapt onto the banister and slid down its length, using his white wings and long tail for balance. As soon as he reached the bottom, he leapt off boastfully and flipped in front of Paildramon and Tyrannomon.

    “That’s dangerous,” the butler said with a sigh.

    ExVeemon grinned and hugged Paildramon tightly. “You’re back!”

    Paildramon smiled warmly and embraced her younger brother. “ExVeemon. How are you?”

    The younger dragon let go and put his hands behind his head with a grin. “Pretty awesome. I got a new girlfriend. What are you doing here?” he inquired.

    “I’m here with some of the Royal Knights,” she explained. “They’re having a meeting with the Council and I’m apparently here to make Dad more agreeable. Not that I’ve ever managed to do that in the past,” she added with a playful smile.

    ExVeemon chuckled. “Hey, you don’t have to live with him,” he said to her. “He doesn’t let Tyrannomon clean my room for me. I need to learn responsibility by making my bed, apparently.”

    “To be fair, your room is a war zone,” Paildramon told him.

    Tyrannomon smirked. “She’s not wrong, Master…” he chimed as he walked off.

    Paildramon’s smile weakened. “ExVeemon… Father isn’t still pressuring you to join the army, is he?” she asked him.

    ExVeemon shook his head and smiled sheepishly. “I think he’s given up on that… He at least doesn’t mention it anymore. Now it’s all “School!” and “Chores!” He’ll probably want me to get a government job eventually.”

    Paildramon frowned. “Do you think? Since I enlisted in the military so that you wouldn’t have to?” she asked him.

    “Nah, I’m just talkin’,” ExVeemon said with a smile. “We both know you’re better suited for the military than I ever was. You’re the badass between the two of us.”

    Paildramon smirked and ruffled her brother’s head. “If you say so. It’s just a pity our dad doesn’t think so,” she said, although with a faint sigh on her voice. “He was adamant that you join the military and that I didn’t.”

    “Yeeeaah…” the younger dragon admitted.

    “He doesn’t think that I can handle myself, and that I’m better suited behind a desk,” she said with touch of indignation.

    ExVeedramon shrugged. “You know how he is. He’s stubborn. He’ll probably change his mind when he sees you rise through the ranks of the Royal Knights’ Order.”

    Paildramon sighed. “Perhaps. Anyways, I don’t mind just as long as you’re off the hook. Can you handle him if he starts on about all that again?” she asked him.

    “I don’t think he will, but yeah, I can,” ExVeemon reassured her. “You just worry about all the Royal Knight stuff you get up to.”

    She gave him a wry smile. “It isn’t as exciting as you probably think,” she told him.

    “Paildramon?” a deep, gruff, male voice spoke from the living room.

    Councillor Imperialdramon Dragon Mode walked over with heavy footsteps. His large draconic form walked out of the living room and onto the marble floor of the entrance hall. He stopped in front of them and looked down at her. “I wasn’t expecting this…” he rumbled, raising his a front claw to pull her into a gentle hug.

    Paildramon raised her arms to return it, but instead settled for placing her hands on his shoulders. “Father…”

    “Are you on leave?” he asked her.

    “I’m here with Alphamon and some of the Royal Knights,” she explained. “I believe you’re due for a meeting with them later today?”

    Imperialdramon nodded. “I’ve been told.” He turned to ExVeemon. “Excuse us, ExVeemon.”

    “But I want to talk to Paildramon,” he protested, folding his arms.

    “You can talk to her after. Don’t you have work to do for school?” his father said to him.

    ExVeemon rolled his eyes and trudged back up the stairs.

    Councillor Imperialdramon sighed and shook his head. “So, how have you been? Are they treating you well?” he asked her.

    “I’ve been good, thanks. And they have been treating me no different than any of the other members of the Order,” she responded. “At least, except for this instance.”

    “So, diplomatic missions aren’t typical for you?” he asked her.

    “I’m part of the Strike Forces, so not especially,” she explained. “It’s just because I’m from New Terminal and I’m well-acquainted with the workings of the Council.”

    The councillor nodded, though his scaly brows furrowed also. “Do you know what they want?”

    Paildramon shook her head. “It seems important, though. Whatever it is, I think you should hear them out.”

    “I was planning to,” Imperialdramon answered. “I’m an open-minded Digimon.”

    Disbelievingly, Paildramon raised an eyebrow, but she decided not to press the issue. “I’m under the impression that the Council of Seven isn’t exactly inclined in favour of the Royal Knights.”

    Councillor Imperialdramon walked over to the living room, prompting Paildramon to follow. “Alphamon and DORUgoramon have some sort of rivalry, and a few of us aren’t fond of their protectionist economic policy, but we respect their opinions when it comes to net security. I don’t think you have to worry about that.”

    “I hope not,” Paildramon answered. She smiled a bit at him. “I wouldn’t want it to be known that I have an inflexible father…”

    Imperialdramon Dragon Mode looked at her blandly. “…I’ll do what I can,” he said with a sigh. “Keep in mind, I can’t promise anything, and I’m only one vote out of the seven.”

    “I understand,” she assured him. “I know how it works.”

    The councillor smiled a bit and nodded. “You could have made a fine councillor one day, you know. You have just the maturity and level-head needed.”

    “Let’s not get into hypotheticals…” she dissuaded him.

    He grinned. “Afraid I’ll make you reconsider? …No, despite how different you two are, you get your stubbornness from your mother.”

    “I’d say I take it from both sides,” she corrected teasingly.

    “Perhaps…” he said. He grew thoughtful. “Have you seen her at all these past several months?”

    Paildramon shook her head. “I’ve been busy. So has she, most likely. You know how she is: always on the go.”

    Her father nodded his head quietly. “Well… I have some paperwork that I need to get done before the meeting. You’re free to stay here, you know.”

    Paildramon nodded. “Thank you, Father. I’ll do that,” she told him.

    Councillor Imperialdramon turned around and began to plod through the house, back towards his study.

    The dragon soldier turned and began heading in the opposite direction. She decided that she’d stay there until the meeting time and would go up ahead of her father. Paildramon vaguely wondered what the Digimon who she came with would do to pass the time…

    -

    MasterTyrannomon popped the bones in his neck as he walked down the sidewalk towards his house. It was only a few blocks away from his smithy. He approached a house that was about as large as Alphamons’ parents’ home, but it had less of a front and backyard.

    The blacksmith pulled off his heavy, fireproof apron and slung it over his shoulder. He stepped up to the house and opened the front door.

    “I’m home, hun! Sorry I’m late!” he called into the house.

    “Good, Ty. You’re back,” a smooth, female voice said.

    As MasterTyrannomon hung up his apron, a Digimon floated out into the vestibule. She had a long, serpentine body with silky, azure scales. Her yellow-helmeted head observed the dinosaur Digimon. OuRyuumon’s adoptive Seadramon mother wrapped around her husband once and gently hugged him before letting go.

    “Can you do something about our son?” she asked him with a sigh.

    “Huh?” he inquired, blinking. “What’s wrong with him?”

    “He’s been in one of his moods ever since he showed up,” Seadramon explained.

    MasterTyrannomon frowned. “He seemed fine when he came by the smithy,” he noted. “Is Alphamon here?”

    “Alphamon? No... OuRyuumon’s in the backyard training with his swords. Or venting, more like. Can you go out and talk to him?” she asked.

    “Couldn’t you?” he responded with a grin.

    Seadramon rolled her eyes. “You’re better at dealing with him when he’s in one of his moods. Whenever I try, we usually end up arguing.”

    “That’s because he gets his temper from you,” he teased her, although hugging her neck.

    “Don’t test me, Ty,” she told him.

    “See?” He chuckled and let go, walking by her. MasterTyrannomon walked through the house and poked his large head through the backdoor.

    In the backyard was OuRyuumon. He held his Gairyu scimitars loosely in his clawed hands. They sliced through the air in front of him with smooth, dexterous, yet passionate strokes. He slashed downwards and then twisted his long body to spin around and carve diagonally.

    His father watched as he continued to practice his form, footwork, and swordsmanship.

    “It’s like an art form, isn’t it?” MasterTyrannomon said aloud as he stepped into the backyard.

    This prompted OuRyuumon to stop after his next swing and glance over his shoulder.

    “For me, it’s an art to make them, and for you, it’s an art to use ‘em,” the dinosaur blacksmith observed.

    OuRyuumon sighed and lowered his arms, sheathing his scimitars in his belt. “I guess so…”

    MasterTyrannomon grinned and put his hands on his hips. “There was a lot of force behind those swings for just practice,” he noted.

    “It’s how I usually do it,” he responded dismissively.

    “Is there anything wrong?” his father asked him.

    “No,” OuRyuumon said almost immediately.

    MasterTyrannomon raised an eyebrow. “Uh huh…” he spoke in a sceptical voice.

    After a few seconds of silence, OuRyuumon placed his claws back on the hilts of his swords. “D’you mind, Dad? I want to practice.”

    “Weren’t you with Alphamon before?” MasterTyrannomon pointed out with a slight grin. “Where’d he go?”

    “He had somewhere he needed to be,” OuRyuumon muttered, his voice obviously downcast.

    “Did you two have an argument?” he questioned.

    “Not exactly.” He then growled. “Look, Dad. I don’t want to talk about it, okay? Just leave me alone for now,” he told him, though it was clear he was trying to rein in his anger.

    MasterTyrannomon began to turn around to head inside. However, he stopped and paused, thinking for a few moments.

    “…Was it a lover’s quarrel?” he asked suddenly.

    OuRyuumon froze. He spun around and looked at his dad with shocked, violet eyes. “W-W-What?!” he demanded, fear and horror suddenly coursing through his body.

    MasterTyrannomon turned to him fully and gave him a warm, reassuring smile.

    The dragon’s heart began to pump harder and blood started to pool beneath the scales of his face. “Y…You… know…?” he asked, realizing that it was pointless to deny it.

    “Yeah… We know…” MasterTyrannomon told him. The big dinosaur walked over to OuRyuumon and gave him a warm hug. “We love you, OuRyuumon.”

    OuRyuumon grimaced and tentatively hugged him back. “…You sure?” he asked worriedly.

    “Don’t be stupid,” MasterTyrannomon said with a chuckle. “You’re our son. Doesn’t matter if you’re gay or not.”

    The gold dragon flushed hard. “…When did you find out? How did you? …Was it gossip?” he asked, letting go of his dad although he still couldn’t bring himself to look him in the eyes.

    “Come on. Give me some credit,” MasterTyrannomon said, grinning. “It was a few years ago. We’ve known you and Alphamon since you were little kids. You grew up together. We noticed there was a change in the way you two acted around each other. …Like how you would often glance at him when you think nobody’s looking,” he said with a teasing chuckle.

    “Dad!” OuRyuumon complained in embarrassment as he rubbed his heated face. “Why didn’t you say anything?”

    “Your mom wanted to, but I thought it was best to let you tell us on your own terms,” he explained.

    OuRyuumon rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly. “Sorry… I only just told my friends last year. S’not exactly easy to do. I kept thinking of the worst scenarios… Alphamon did too.”

    MasterTyrannomon nodded and patted his shoulder. “We understand… You didn’t have anything to worry about though…” he assured him. “So… Was it an argument between you and Alphamon?”

    OuRyuumon paused. He then sighed and shook his head. “We split up last year during the whole thing with DarkKnightmon… Well, not exactly split up, but we decided to go on a break after we made up over a big argument we had…” he admitted, his narrow, violet eyes glancing to the side. “What happened today was just me doing something stupid, as usual…”

    “Tell me about it,” the blacksmith said to him.

    “What’s to tell?” OuRyuumon dismissively said. “I misread the signals and tried to get back together with Alphamon. He wasn’t ready for it. He couldn’t get away fast enough…”

    MasterTyrannomon sighed. “Sorry… You know Alphamon, though. He likes to think about things before he makes a commitment. It’s a consequence of having the fate of the world on your shoulders time and again. …Hell, even before he was a Royal Knight, he was like that.”

    “I dunno. I don’t want to go into it, but he had a pretty good reason to want to break up with me,” OuRyuumon countered, wincing guiltily.

    “Like you’ve never done anything stupid before,” MasterTyrannomon teased him, messing his purple hair up with his claws. “Alphamon’s never been one to hold grudges, OuRyuumon. Just give him time and I’m sure he’ll be ready for you again. I know patience isn’t your strongest trait, but… try.”

    OuRyuumon sighed and nodded. “Yeah… Guess so…”

    “Now come in for some emerald tea. It’ll help you relax,” MasterTyrannomon suggested.

    The dragon nodded, albeit hesitantly. “I guess I should tell Mom while I’m at it, huh?”

    “Probably a good idea,” the dinosaur told him with a grin before walking in through the backdoor. “Don’t want to run afoul of her.”

    “…Thanks, Dad,” OuRyuumon’s voice spoke up.

    MasterTyrannomon stopped in the doorway and smiled over his shoulder at OuRyuumon. “Don’t mention it,” he assured him before disappearing inside the house.

    After a few moments, OuRyuumon smiled faintly and followed him inside.

    -

    A few kilometers away, Alphamon flew through the cerulean New Terminal sky. The afternoon sun beat down on him. It caused his flowing, white and blue mantle to glow as it flapped against his winged back. The rays heated his blackish armour and caused the ebony and gold metal to shimmer resplendently.

    He gazed at the Argent Mountains ahead of him. The Royal Knight soared outside of the edge of the city and began to ascend up the inclined peak of Yggdrasil’s Mount.

    The mountain was covered with grass, rock, dirt, and shrubbery, for the most part. The World Tree’s root coiled once around the perimeter of the upper part of the mountain before it curved off, towards the sky. Along the sides of the several mountains were hiking trails which eventually led up to the peaks and plateaus of Yggdrasil’s Mount. Traditionally, one was supposed to take these trails if they wanted to travel up the mountains, either for pilgrimage, exercise, or adventure. It wasn’t an overly difficult trek, but it was time-consuming enough for Alphamon to choose to take the direct route over the scenic one.

    The Royal Knight spread his wings as he arced upwards, flying up along the steep face of the peak. He soared high into the air and passed over the rocks and vegetation below. It wasn’t long until he made it past a kilometer, and the air pressure began to change. The air was a bit cooler on the mountain, and the breeze blew down slightly from the apex that was another kilometer or so up.

    However, Alphamon has a destination other than the mountain’s summit. There was a reason why this mountain was known as the Wise One’s Peak. There was a sage – a hermit – who lived in a hut high up on the cliffs of the mount. He lived in recluse, but he often received customers who would visit for advice or fortunes in exchange for money, so he was like an oracle in that regard. He also had a small inventory of materia medica – mostly herbal remedies and potions. He was a Digimon shrouded in mystery to most, and some people would travel up the mountain just to say they saw him.

    However, Alphamon knew his true identity.

    The black-armoured Royal Knight continued to fly up a steep cliff. It was above the point that the World Tree’s root emerged from inside the mountain and constricted around it: fairly high up on the mount. Once he scaled the cliff, he stopped his ascent and flew forwards and touched down gently on solid, sturdy grass and rock.

    Alphamon was on a wide plateau that was carved into the side of the mountain, about three-fifths of the way to the top. The plateau was flat and covered with shrubs, grass, flowers, and rocks. Over to the left was a semi-travelled path that led up from lower on the mountain range. It was a small trail that branched off from the main one. To the right side of the plateau was a humble hut. It seemed to have several rooms judging from its size and composition. The hut had a beautiful view overlooking the entire city of New Terminal. The natural landscape, the low altitude clouds lying just overhead, and the sound of the Fountain River rushing down from another part of the mountain gave the whole area a serene, idyllic atmosphere.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat stepped onto the dirt path and turned towards the hut. He stared at it and sighed.

    “There’s no turning back now, Alphamon,” he whispered to himself.

    He moved his legs and strode towards the hermitage with his cape flowing behind him in the mountain breeze. He approached the single-storey hut and knocked.

    There was silence.

    “…Enter,” a voice as deep as his own finally answered from beyond the door.

    Alphamon opened the door and walked inside. As he entered, he found that the front room was minimalist and austere. The floors and walls were wooden, and there were no windows to allow light to enter. Instead, the place was illuminated by a white, astral glow coming from the ceiling. It shifted and wavered, giving the abode an eerie, yet serene ambience. In the center of the room was a single table with two seats facing opposite the other. Behind it, on the opposite wall, were two doors that led elsewhere in the dwelling.

    There were rows of shelves on the two side walls. On the nearest shelves, on the left side of the room, were potion bottles and cases of herbs, flowers, and spices of varying varieties. They all had price tags on them. On the far end of the room, on the right side, were shelves crammed full of countless books. They seemed to be the sage’s personal collection. Around the room were several decorations and religious-looking curios. They added to the spiritual appearance of the place.

    The Royal Knight looked to the opposite side of the room. Behind the glowing aureole was a humanoid Digimon who stood with the left side of his body facing Alphamon. The Digimon was clad in tight, pristine-white clothing from shoulder to toe. It was an image that seemed at odds with one’s perception of a secluded hermit. Over the top part of his upper body, he wore a golden breast plate. More white cloth draped down around his hips from underneath this armour. It draped down to his knees, covering the backs of his legs but opening up at the front. This revealed two belts around his waist; they held up a gold loin guard and a white sash that hung down between his legs. A long white and blue cape, very similar to Alphamon’s, draped down from the gold chest plate as well. It hung over his broad back, which contained four pairs of black wings sprouting out of his back. Over his foot, he wore a grey, knee-high, laced boot, and over his hand he garnished a white gauntlet.

    He had a humanoid face with a tanned skin tone. Long, flowing, white hair swathed down his back, with a few bangs dangling down onto his face. Contrastingly, he had a thick, scraggly, black beard that covered his entire jaw line. This was where the humanoid aspects of his face ended. He had two pairs of long, pointed ears on each side of his head. Protruding from his head were five, crimson horns. One jutted out of his forehead, while the other four stuck out of the sides and back of his head. His red eye matched the colour of these horns.

    That eye glanced towards Alphamon. “Alphamon…” he greeted, turning his body to face the Royal Knight fully.

    As the Digimon turned towards Alphamon, the light illuminated the rest of his body. Anybody who wasn’t expecting it would be horrified at the sight. The whole right half of his body was skeletal. His right arm, leg, and half his chest and face were made up of a petrifying, skeleton-like wood that seemed akin to bone. His right leg had a serrated, bonelike design. His right arm was similar except it was massive. It was the length of his whole body and it looked more like a spectral tree trunk. The giant forearm had a long, crimson spike running up to its elbow, and the arm had a hand enough to grab a whole Digimon. His right eye was gone, the socket hollow except for a faint, red glow from inside the dark hole.

    “Bagramon,” Alphamon answered back.

    Bagramon looked at Alphamon quietly. “I’m a seer and even I didn’t expect to have the leader of the Royal Knights visit me today,” he said to him.

    “I’m… sure it must come as a surprise,” Alphamon replied with uncharacteristic awkwardness.

    Bagramon extended his long, demonic arm and ushered Alphamon to take a seat at the table in the middle of the room. As Alphamon began to walk over, the demon man looked at him pensively. “The Aloof Hermit meets with the Sage of Death, but who is who in this situation?” he asked him as the corners of his lips curved into a wry smile.

    Alphamon winced faintly before managing a slight smile. “Neither of them are very flattering titles, are they…?” he spoke as he sat down across from Bagramon.

    “I suppose every nickname has a reason,” Bagramon admitted to him. He raised his left arm and gestured to the devastated right half of his body. “Besides… I can hardly hide from my past or the reason that I was given the name.”

    “I guess not…” Alphamon answered softly, staring down at his hands which rested on top of the table. “Even though he gave the name to me in jest, I suppose it stuck.”

    “Who?” the demon man Digimon asked.

    Alphamon paused. “…DarkKnightmon,” he said ruefully.

    Bagramon closed his eye. “Oh… My brother…”

    A silence overtook the hovel. For a few uncomfortable moments, the only sound that could be heard was the humming of the wisp of light on the ceiling.

    Alphamon thought about what he wanted to say. However he found himself unable to find the right words. He came to that mountain hut for a reason, but he found his resolve lacking. He refused to leave and put the issue off any longer, remembering the trouble that occurred between himself and Omegamon the last time he did that. However, he stalled, just until he could find the courage and the words to do what he set out to do.

    As the moments passed, Bagramon became painfully aware of the uneasy silence. “…Can I offer you some tea?” Bagramon asked him. He glanced over his shoulder, to the door behind him. “I have water boiling in the kitchen.”

    Alphamon contemplated his response. “…That would be great. Thank you,” he answered, deciding that it might help him relax.

    Bagramon nodded and stood to his feet. “I have a feeling I will need some as well,” he mentioned, turning around and walking through the door from which the sound of boiling water came.

    Alphamon closed his eyes as he waited. He felt faint twinges of guilt in his chest. Back when DarkKnightmon was part of the Royal Knights, he rarely ever spoke about his brother Bagramon. It was only during an uncommon moment of DarkKnightmon opening up about himself that Alphamon had learned of his existence. Alphamon and Bagramon had also later crossed paths during a fateful moment, and not under amiable circumstances. However, he felt that Bagramon had a right to know. It was just a matter of wording it the right way. However, Alphamon wasn’t entirely sure that his syntax would make a difference, under the circumstances.

    A few minutes passed and Bagramon returned with two cups of tea. He placed them on the table, side by side, signalling to Alphamon that he could take whichever one that he pleases. Alphamon thanked him and took one of the cups, raising it to his lips and giving it a small, cautious sip.

    Bagramon picked up the remaining one with his left hand and took a sip from it as well. “My apologies. I’m out of sugar and I haven’t gone down to New Terminal for groceries lately. I’ve been busy.”

    “It’s fine,” Alphamon responded before taking a fuller drink from the cup.

    The sage nodded and held his steaming tea cup in front of him. “So… What brings you here, Alphamon?” he questioned.

    Alphamon paused. “…Well…”

    Bagramon closed his eye and took another drink. “Do I need to worry? Is there a platoon of Empyreal Host special forces waiting outside to finish me off?” he asked, a reserved levity in his deep voice.

    “Do you think you still need to fear the Heavenly Choir and their military?” Alphamon asked him curiously, diverting the conversation for the time being. “The Heavenly War was decades ago.”

    “Well… I may have a personal bias, but I think I’ve been punished enough,” he responded with a touch of dry humour as he gestured to the skeletal right half of his body. “Though, I suppose I was lucky when I consider how the Heavenly Choir handled some of the other rebels; I only lost half of my body…”

    Alphamon quietly took a sip from his cup of tea, his eyes gazing at Bagramon’s.

    Bagramon smiled. “I’m not blaming you, Alphamon,” he assured him. “I know the Royal Knights were only involved in the fighting and the immediate aftermath of the civil war. Everything that happened afterwards was squarely due to the Heavenly Choir.” He took a large gulp of his tea and leaned back in the seat, closing his eye. “Does the Choir still call it ‘The Heretics’ Rebellion’?”

    “I believe so… Though the ‘Heavenly War’ is the generally accepted term for the rebellion,” Alphamon responded diplomatically.

    There was a soft scoff in Bagramon’s throat. “You can see why their opinion of us rebels doesn’t inspire confidence. We’re the heretics who rebelled against God. …Though, to answer your question, I suppose if they wanted to finish me off or send me to the Dark Area with the Seven, they would have tried by now… However, the worry is always at the back of my mind,” he admitted.

    “Do you resent them?” Alphamon asked him.

    Bagramon’s gaze met with Alphamon’s. “I’m much different now than I was… My younger self was impulsive, idealistic, impatient… I made a big mistake taking part in that rebellion against the Heavenly Choir. It was a foolish thing to do,” he explained. “I don’t believe that my reasoning was wrong, but I deeply regret the escalation and the outcome of the strife.”

    “The Night of Falling Stars…” Alphamon spoke, knowing what Bagramon was referring to.

    Bagramon nodded. “After my punishment and exile, I decided to change. I… wanted to make amends within myself. So, I wandered the Digital World for a long time. It was partially to learn what I could, and partially to avoid further persecution from the Choir,” the demon man informed. “I suppose I changed my way of thinking during that time. For the past several years, I’ve been trying to live in peace. I no longer live in resentment, but harmony and knowledge.”

    Alphamon nodded. “And the religious followings of the Heavenly Choir?” he asked him.

    The fallen angel Digimon smiled. “I’ve made my peace, but their God is no longer my God,” he responded. “Nor is He your deity, is He?”

    Alphamon shook his head. “I follow Yggdrasil, although I still despair that you couldn’t find peace with your faith,” he told him kindly.

    “There is no reason to despair for me, Alphamon,” Bagramon told him in a calm, self-assured manner.

    The Royal Knight’s eyes tightened at those words. They brought the conversation back around to the topic that he had come to discuss.

    He lowered his hands beneath the table and held the tea cup on his lap as he forced his gaze up from the table top and to Bagramon’s face. “…When was the last time you spoke with DarkKnightmon?” Alphamon asked him heavily.

    “Back when he was still one of the Royal Knights…” Bagramon responded. “Before the Heavenly War… Before his… banishment to the Dark Area.”

    Alphamon glanced down at the tea cup in his hand. “…I see.”

    “…He and I weren’t on speaking terms,” the fallen angel Digimon said plainly. “The last time we spoke, we had a massive argument.”

    A subtle grimace formed on Alphamon’s face. “Did you…?” he asked, as if the comment even made things easier for him.

    Bagramon glanced down at his original hand. “Yes… It was strange, but we both wanted the same thing, really. We both wanted to make the Digital World better… However, the way we went about it was different.” He grinned wistfully. “…Or maybe not so different, after all.”

    Alphamon was silent. He allowed Bagramon to continue.

    “I was wrapped up in my own life at the time. The new faith, the exodus of the believers to the Sky Colonies, the founding of the Heavenly Choir… That was my vision for the future. That was how I thought the Digital World could be changed for the better, and my comrades agreed,” Bagramon explained. “Your Order of the Royal Knights was fairly new at the time. He was excited about it. …DarkKnightmon didn’t get excited about much, and he wouldn’t show it easily, but I could tell from the way he talked. He really believed that you all, working together, could make a massive difference to the Digital World.”

    “…I know he did…” Alphamon responded with a bit of pain in his words.

    “…However, our beliefs were incompatible to one another,” Bagramon stated. “We both had grand plans and ideals. But he was the pragmatist and I was the idealist. He accused me of being naïve, brash, and being taken in by a cult of heretics. I accused him of being short-sighted, cynical, and clinging onto a stagnating world. Our words became heated... We said some things we couldn’t take back. …That was the last time we spoke.”

    Alphamon stared down into his drink.

    “Yet, it seems that we both revolted against the paths that we chose, in the end…” Bagramon said ironically. “I suppose we were both right about each other… It’s funny how things turn out, isn’t it, Alphamon?”

    Alphamon lowered the tea cup and placed it gently down onto the table. “…He’s dead.”

    Bagramon opened his mouth to respond, but suddenly stalled. The atmosphere of tension and discomfort between them grew dramatically. After a few moments of silence, he gently put his tea cup down on the table as well. “…I see…”

    “…It was me who killed him,” Alphamon said with a grimace.

    “…So the rumour I heard was true,” Bagramon spoke, closing his eye. “He escaped from the Dark Area and tried to overthrow you.”

    Alphamon nodded grimly. “Yes, he did… Did you hear about the World Tree?”

    Bagramon nodded, although his features seemed heavy. “I knew that DarkKnightmon had been sent to the Dark Area after he rebelled the first time. Even though we weren’t speaking, I knew he had been in the Royal Knights, so when he suddenly wasn’t, I wanted to find out what happened.” He raised his regular sized hand to stroke his beard. “I don’t know how he could have escaped the Dark Area, so that’s why I had trouble believing the rumour that I heard a few months ago while down in the city.”

    “I’m sure this is a lot to take in…” Alphamon said. “How do you feel…?”

    Bagramon’s remaining eyebrow lowered in thought. “I feel… at a loss,” he admitted, lowering his hand and beginning to trace the rim of the saucer that the teacup was on. “I feel like I’m missing something now… however… I wept all I could for DarkKnightmon a long time ago. I think that he wept all that he could for me as well. Now, there are no more tears to be shed…” Bagramon looked up at Alphamon. “How do you feel?”

    Alphamon raised an eyebrow. “…Me?” he questioned.

    “You didn’t come here just to tell me that DarkKnightmon has been deleted. You came here for something else, didn’t you?” Bagramon asked him. “I’m the only family that DarkKnightmon had, so if you wanted either absolution or condemnation, then it would have to be from me…”

    Alphamon winced subtly and glanced away. “I’m not that self-centered…” he retorted.

    Bagramon looked at Alphamon. “I’m a sage. I like to think that I know a thing or two. …It’s understandable that you feel guilty for killing him. He was your friend, after all, even though he turned against you. …I don’t blame you for doing what you did. I’m sure that you were left with no other alternative, in the end.”

    “But still…” Alphamon whispered, more to himself than to the sage.

    “Alphamon… You know as well as I do how stubborn DarkKnightmon could be. Once he decided that something was important to him, he was implacable in working for or towards it,” he told him. “I don’t know the circumstances or his reasons, but I know that he probably left you with no room to manoeuvre.”

    “I suppose not…” he said reluctantly.

    Bagramon closed his eye once again. “It’s sad…” he spoke regretfully. “I know how much he loved the Royal Knights. It’s too bad that he couldn’t be happy with the way things were. Although… I don’t think that’s to say that he didn’t value you and the others.” He opened his eye and gazed at Alphamon. “I like to think that, where he lost a brother in me, he found new brothers in you and the Royal Knights…”

    Alphamon sat quietly, not responding to the words.

    “I’m not sure that I can give you my forgiveness because it’s not my place to forgive you. However, I understand the reason, and I don’t blame you for it, Alphamon,” Bagramon reassured him. “It’s not me who is the issue, though… I think that you need to forgive yourself.”

    “Perhaps…” Alphamon admitted.

    Bagramon smiled a bit and stood to his feet. “It’s up to you, Alphamon. The Aloof Hermit. Lord of the Empty Seat,” he told him. “Perhaps this advice will help you, free of charge. …Live with DarkKnightmon’s ideals in mind. Have a firm hand against the unjust and never shy away from upholding righteousness in the Digital World. Act with good conscience and be responsible for the innocent. That was what DarkKnightmon lived by, as you well know. You don’t have to take it as far as he might have wanted to, but bear that in mind. Maybe in doing so, you can begin to alleviate your conscience.”

    Alphamon thought about it and stood to his feet. “I’ll keep those words in mind, Bagramon. Even so, I’m still sorry that it had to come to that...”

    Bagramon nodded. “Don’t be. Thank you for making the journey up. I appreciate the effort.”

    “It was the least I could do,” Alphamon responded. “Thank you for the tea.”

    “May you have strength and resolve in whatever trials you face in the near future,” Bagramon told him.

    Alphamon glanced at him and nodded as he turned towards the door. “I appreciate it.”

    “Goodbye, Alphamon,” Bagramon spoke, gazing at Alphamon thoughtfully.

    The black-armoured Royal Knight strode out of the hovel and closed the door behind him. He breathed in the fresh air and released a slow, calming exhale. The crisp mountain breeze seemed to energize him, and he stared up into the sky, appreciating the change in cloud colour as the sun began to make its descent towards the horizon.

    He felt like a weight had been lifted off of his chest. That discussion was one that he needed to have. He had been thinking about it for months.

    It helped him to put things into perspective, and, while the guilt wasn’t entirely gone, he felt a lot better than he did before. He didn’t forget about what had happened between him and OuRyuumon, but he felt like now he was in the right state of mind to be able to talk with him reasonably.

    However, that would have to wait until after the meeting with the Council of Seven. With the sun beginning to set, he knew that the meeting would be starting shortly. He had to head directly there.

    Alphamon walked across the verdant plateau and reached the edge of the cliff. He leapt off, vaulting into the sky, and spread his wings. He soared through the air, feeling lighter than before. Angling his wings, he swerved and made a direct route for the council building, which he headed towards at a steady descent.

    He felt ready to throw himself back into the world of politics.

    -

    (Continued in the next post)
     
  20. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    (Continued from the previous post)

    -

    As dusk threatened to crawl over New Terminal, the group waited for Alphamon to arrive. UlforceVeedramon, Dynasmon, OuRyuumon, and Paildramon waited outside of the council building, standing in the courtyard beneath the massive statue of an Aegisdramon.

    UlforceVeedramon folded his arms and scanned the horizon with his keen eyes. He drummed his fingers against his bicep impatiently. “We’re going to be late for the meeting if Alphamon doesn’t get here soon,” he pointed out. He looked at OuRyuumon. “You don’t know where he went?”

    OuRyuumon rubbed the back of his head sheepishly. He began to think that Alphamon wasn’t showing up because of him. “Uh, no clue. Last I saw him, he was at his parents’ house.”

    “Lucky guy,” Dynasmon said. “He’s probably getting fed delicious food right now.”

    UlforceVeedramon gave him a look. “We just ate, like, an hour ago…”

    “Yeah, but—never mind, there’s Alphamon,” Dynasmon observed, nodding towards the dim orange sky, faintly illuminated by the sun behind the mountains.

    The group looked over and saw Alphamon flying towards them with a faint glow against his back. Dynasmon waved him over, prompting Alphamon to descend.

    The Lord of the Empty Seat flew down and landed in front of the front gate, allowing the guards to formally let him in so that they didn’t get in trouble. He strode down the courtyard in front of the council building. His eyes glanced to OuRyuumon as he approached the group.

    OuRyuumon looked at him but then turned his head away, though it seemed to be more out of embarrassment than anger.

    “Hey, Alphamon,” UlforceVeedramon greeted with a smile. “We were beginning to think you got attacked by fanboys.”

    “Sorry I’m late,” he told them. “I had some business to attend to.” He gave a momentary glance at OuRyuumon again. “Have you all been here long?”

    Dynasmon shrugged. “Nah, not that long,” he answered dismissively. “They’re still probably getting ready for us in there, anyway.”

    “We should go in now,” UlforceVeedramon remarked. “I don’t like to keep people waiting.”

    Alphamon nodded. “I agree. It probably wouldn’t do us any favours to keep them waiting,” he concurred.

    Paildramon turned to OuRyuumon. “Sir?” she asked him formally. “May I stay out here?”

    OuRyuumon, although distracted with other things, pivoted his head to look at her. “Huh? Why?” he questioned.

    “I’m only an over-sergeant. I’m not sure that I’d feel comfortable attending a high-level, confidential, diplomatic meeting, even if my father is one of the Councillors,” she stated. “I’ve already talked to him, so I’m not sure that my presence would add anything else.”

    “Sure. I think I’ll keep you company, come to think of it,” OuRyuumon responded. He glanced over at Alphamon. “You don’t mind, right?”

    Alphamon frowned. “No, but don’t feel like you have to,” he assured him, trying to be as diplomatic and warm as possible.

    OuRyuumon sighed and sat down on the nearby bench. “I don’t. I just don’t want to end up lashing out at DORUgoramon and screwing up negotiations. He winds me up sometimes,” OuRyuumon answered, leaning back and glimpsing at the sky. “Besides, I want to think.”

    “If you’re sure…” Alphamon conceded, although he felt uneasy about it.

    “I am,” OuRyuumon answered succinctly.

    The Aloof Hermit decided to respect his wishes, albeit reluctantly. He knew that OuRyuumon was still thinking about what happened between them earlier. The old OuRyuumon would have made his feelings clear. However, OuRyuumon changed from the hot-tempered, impulsive Digimon that he once was. He wasn’t completely different, but he was making more of an effort to be calmer and more agreeable. Alphamon had a feeling that this was one of the times that OuRyuumon was taking a step back and trying to keep his emotions under control.

    “Alright. Let’s go. See you soon, OuRyuumon, Paildramon,” Alphamon said to them before heading towards the double-door entrance.

    “Good luck,” OuRyuumon told them.

    “Councillor Okuwamon is susceptible to flattery,” Paildramon added.

    “Thank you,” Alphamon responded, striding to the entrance with an impression of self-assurance that he lacked a few hours ago.

    UlforceVeedramon and Dynasmon looked at each other and followed him. “Is there something going on?” UlforceVeedramon whispered to Dynasmon, gesturing with his head towards Alphamon, who was walking in front of them.

    “Maybe. Both Alphamon and OuRyuumon have been acting different since we went off,” Dynasmon responded quietly.

    “What do you think it is?” the cobalt Royal Knight asked him.

    “Beats me. I don’t want to speculate,” Dynasmon retorted, a bit louder.

    “Shh. Speak quieter,” UlforceVeedramon whispered harshly. “He’ll hear you with those bunny ears of his.”

    “He’s right, Dynasmon. These bunny ears can hear quite a lot,” Alphamon spoke up in a dry voice, glancing over his shoulder to the two Royal Knights.

    UlforceVeedramon laughed sheepishly and rubbed the back of his horned head.

    Dynasmon chuckled and walked up beside Alphamon. “So, what’s up?” he inquired amiably. Being as forthright as he was, Dynasmon preferred to ask Digimon things directly and personally.

    “I’ll tell you all after the meeting, I promise,” Alphamon assured him. “I think we should focus on the task at hand right now.”

    UlforceVeedramon walked up to Alphamon’s other side. “Did something happen?” he questioned.

    “Not really. It’s fine now. Mostly,” the black knight insisted. “I’ll sort the rest out later.”

    “If you’re sure,” the blue dragon knight responded as they stepped up to the building’s entrance.

    The guards opened the doors for the three Royal Knights and allowed them to walk into the lobby.

    Inside was a pink, avian Digimon, who turned towards them as they entered. “Oh! Hello, Sirs,” he chirped.

    The trio turned towards the Piyomon. “Hello,” Alphamon greeted in return.

    “The Council of Seven is ready for you now. Please, follow me, if you don’t mind,” the Piyomon told them. “They’re in the embassy room.”

    When they nodded, he started to flap his wings and fly leisurely towards the open door on the opposite side of the lobby.

    Alphamon, Dynasmon, and UlforceVeedramon followed him down a very wide and tall hallway. Its marble floors were shimmering and pristine – so much that they reflected the light of the single chandelier hanging above the middle of the hallway. Apart from this, the hallway was minimalist and practical. The walls weren’t gold-plated and there weren’t lavish sculptures, paintings or designs. This might be because the Councillors weren’t monarchs; they were temporary and they were elected, therefore, having an overly ostentatious building might be seen as wasteful of taxes. That said, the hallway leading up to the embassy room was still quite nice.

    At the end of the hallway were two massive, double doors that were held wide open by a pair of guards. The Piyomon led the guests there and stopped at the entrance, flying in place

    “Please, go in,” he told them. “Would you like any refreshments?”

    “I’m fine, thank you,” Alphamon responded politely.

    “Me neither,” Dynasmon told him.

    “Can I have some water so that I can spit-take at something outrageous?” UlforceVeedramon asked with a smile.

    “Ulforce…” Alphamon said as he shot him a disapproving glance.

    UlforceVeedramon grinned and shrugged. He stepped inside the embassy room, prompting his two friends to follow. The trio of Royal Knights walked in, ready to face the Council of Seven.

    As they entered, they saw the familiar white glow of the room from light sources at each corner of the room, as well as the ceiling. The room was expansive, with plenty of room for even large Digimon to move around. This was because guests of all sizes could come to see the Council. In front of them, in the center of the room, was a long, rectangular table. The surfaces were pure white and glossy, and there were ornate designs along the rim and the legs. Rows of chairs – both big and small – were set up along the opposite lengths of the table so that the Council could face the guests that they were receiving.

    The Council of Seven were waiting for them on the other side of the table. They were seated in no particular order other than the larger councillors sitting on the ends of the row. On the left end was the sizeable, draconic body of Councillor Imperialdramon: Dragon Mode. He sat with his forelegs resting on the wide table, his scarlet eyes watched as the Royal Knights approached after briefly looking around for his daughter.

    To the right of him was a giant insect Digimon with a silver exoskeleton. He had four legs and a pair of arms on his body, all of which had sets of jagged claws at the end of them. Councillor Okuwamon had a fearsome face completely with jagged teeth and a pair of guillotine-like mandibles. He also had dark brown hair coming from the back of his head, as well as red markings all over his carapace. Despite having no eyes, he was able to watch the Royal Knights approach.

    On the other side of Councillor Okuwamon was a beautiful, feminine, angel Digimon. She had eight feathery, white wings coming from her back. Long, blonde hair flower down her back from under the metal helmet that covered the top half of her face. She was dressed in asymmetrical clothing consisting of white stockings, belts, high heel boots, and a bodysuit around the waist. Councillor Angewomon also had a long, violet, holy sash resting loosely around her arms and shoulders.

    The Councillor in the center of the table was Councillor DORUgoramon, who was fixated on Alphamon.

    To DORUgoramon’s right was Councillor Butenmon. He was a god man Digimon covered in the red armour of a samurai. The sophisticated set of armour consisted of a cuirass, spaulders, a horned kabuto helmet, and thigh and loin guards. As he came from an avian lineage, he also had a big set of broad wings coming from his back. The warrior rested his blue arms on the table and nodded quietly at the Royal Knights.

    Dynasmon perked up when he saw the councillor who was beside the avian samurai. Councillor Rosemon was there, sitting next to him. Her slender body was clad in her usual scarlet bodysuit and her green cloak. She had long, blonde hair coming down from her rose-like head. She glanced briefly at Dynasmon before turning her head away disinterestedly.

    Finally, at the right end of the table was a large sea serpent Digimon. Councillor MegaSeadramon had vibrant crimson scales as well as a white underbelly along his serpentine body. He had several flippers and athletic body muscles for aquatic movement. His head contained a gold helmet with a large, bolt-shaped blade protruding out of the forehead. Coming out from the back of that helmet was long, flowing hair that had the colour of algae.

    Imperialdramon, Okuwamon, Angewomon, DORUgoramon, Butenmon, Rosemon, and MegaSeadramon made up the Council of Seven.

    However, there was another Digimon in the room other than the guards.

    Standing behind the seven councillors was an eighth Digimon. He was a dragon samurai by the name of Gaioumon. He was clad in jagged, black and gold plate armour as well as loose, black, cloth leggings. His scales had the same ebony colour as his segmented armour. Long, white hair flowed down onto his back. The dragon man’s armour seemed to glow in places, suggesting that he may be an X-Antibody Digimon. His cold, golden eyes inspected the Royal Knights as they sat down at the table.

    Gaioumon was the sitting advisor for the Council of Seven. Although he was mysterious, he had an abundance of knowledge.

    The three Royal Knights took their seats, with Alphamon sitting between UlforceVeedramon and Dynasmon.

    “Alphamon, Dynasmon, UlforceVeedramon. Welcome,” Councillor DORUgoramon greeted them in a deep voice.

    Just as Alphamon began to open his mouth, he heard the doors behind them open. The Royal Knights looked over their shoulders and were surprised to see OuRyuumon walking in.

    “OuRyuumon?” Alphamon asked, puzzled to see the gold dragon coming in after he said he wasn’t interested.

    “Hey. I’m feeling fine now,” he responded, walking up to the seat beside UlforceVeedramon. “I just needed a bit of fresh air to clear my head.”

    “It’s nice of you to join us, OuRyuumon,” DORUgoramon said familiarly.

    “It’s nice to be here, DORUgoramon,” OuRyuumon answered politely.

    Despite their words, there seemed to be an undercurrent of tension in their voices.

    Alphamon looked over at his friend with a bit of concern. “Are you sure you’re okay?

    OuRyuumon nodded. “I’ll be fine,” he insisted.

    The Royal Knight accepted it and turned to their hosts. “Thank you for taking the time to have us,” Alphamon spoke up, looking around the table at all seven councillors.

    Dynasmon looked across the table at Councillor Rosemon. He gave her a broad smile and a flirtatious wink.

    Rosemon, however, simply ignored him and turned her attention elsewhere.

    Dynasmon swallowed nervously and he felt a bead of sweat drip down the back of his head. It seemed that she was still angry from when he left her on her own in Facture. Meanwhile, UlforceVeedramon stifled a laugh.

    “You did say that this was an urgent matter,” Councillor Imperialdramon spoke up.

    “How urgent, exactly?” Councillor MegaSeadramon inquired, lowering his serpentine head so that it was nearly on level with the table.

    Alphamon nodded. “Variable, but it has the potential to be catastrophic if we don’t all act,” he intentionally answered ominously.

    The brows of the Councillors furrowed and they exchanged glances of both trepidation and scepticism. Gaioumon raised an intrigued eyebrow.

    “Please explain, Alphamon,” DORUgoramon spoke.

    “It has to do with the Dark Area…” Alphamon began.

    Gaioumon took a step forwards. “More specifically, the prisoners of the Dark Area?” he inquired astutely.

    OuRyuumon observed the black dragon samurai with suspicious eyes, but he said nothing.

    “They’re more of an effect than a cause, but yes,” the black Royal Knight answered. “The barrier of the Dark Area is unstable. When DarkKnightmon was released nearly a year ago, dark rifts cropped up across the Digital World, having various effects on the surrounding environment and nearby Digimon. These, on their own, are dangerous enough, as even one had the power to corrupt Omegamon’s data. For the past several months, we have been trying to contain and isolate these rifts, but we don’t know the extent of their reach or how many there are. Our Order doesn’t have the numbers to scour the Digital World for these rifts.”

    “What else is there?” Councillor Rosemon asked him in a no-nonsense tone.

    “These dark rifts are a result of the Dark Area’s instability. The Digimon who released DarkKnightmon didn’t seal the barrier up properly, and these rifts are the visible damage to that barrier,” Alphamon explained. “We have to assume that the problem is getting worse.”

    Do we ‘have’ to?” Councillor Okuwamon asked rhetorically. The silver insect leaned forwards on the table and turned his head towards Alphamon. “The generals of our military see everything through a military lens. The river levels of the Fountain River are rising? ‘Declare war on it.’ Likewise, you Royal Knights are primarily concerned with world and network security; you’re predisposed to assume the worst on these matters.”

    “You hair looks nice,” UlforceVeedramon told the bug councillor, attempting to flatter him.

    Okuwamon was silent, obviously taken off guard by the comment. “W…What?” he stammered.

    Alphamon and Dynasmon inwardly rolled their eyes. The Lord of the Empty Seat turned to Okuwamon. “We have to assume the worst because the consequences of being wrong are too catastrophic to do otherwise,” he answered him.

    “You think that the rifts will grow larger?” Councillor Butenmon questioned calmly.

    “It’s possible,” Dynasmon said. “The worst case scenario is that more prisoners break out. When DarkKnightmon was freed, it was a disaster, but there are way worse Digimon in there than him.”

    DORUgoramon grunted and leaned back in his chair, folding his arms. “We’re all well aware of the Royal Knights’ failings with regards to DarkKnightmon,” he spoke up.

    Dynasmon frowned. “What?”

    OuRyuumon gritted his teeth and Alphamon narrowed his eyes at the dragon councillor.

    “He was a former Royal Knight of the Order, and he ended up nearly destroying the World Tree,” DORUgoramon stated bluntly. “Also, the Dark Area was made a prison by Imperialdramon Paladin Mode and his comrades. You’ve come here to ask something from us, but all of this is a Royal Knight problem, Alphamon.”

    Alphamon locked his gaze with DORUgoramon. “Will it still be just a Royal Knight problem when you have Leviamon on your doorstep?” he countered. He made a pointed glance towards Angewomon, who he knew had ties to the Heavenly Choir and would have enmity towards the Demon Lords.

    Councillor Angewomon frowned. “Don’t be hasty, DORUgoramon,” she told him. “You can’t deny them before they’ve even asked anything.”

    “It just seems like they’re overcompensating for what happened with DarkKnightmon,” he said simply.

    “We can do this without personal remarks, DORU,” Councillor MegaSeadramon told him chastisingly. He turned his head to the Royal Knights and smiled. “Sorry. He’s been working hard today.”

    At this, DORUgoramon let out an annoyed grunt.

    Alphamon closed his eyes. “It’s fine. I’m used to DORUgoramon.”

    “We were friends at one point,” DORUgoramon uttered as he folded his arms.

    UlforceVeedramon wondered quietly what had happened between them. However, he decided that this was a question for another time. “It’s in everybody’s best interest to cooperate on this,” he said. “It’s not just in the Free Area where there have been incidents involving the rifts. And if something does happen to the Dark Area’s barrier and a bunch of the prisoners escape, then it would be a disaster for the whole Digital World,” he added.

    The Council of Seven exchanged quiet looks. “Cooperate in what way?” Councillor Okuwamon asked. It was clear from his voice that they were willing to entertain the idea, but not willing to make a commitment yet. “What exactly did you come here to ask from us?”

    “We want to find and isolate all the dark rifts that we can. We believe that we should work together with the Council of Seven and others on this. They are destructive anomalies that need to be contained,” Alphamon explained, putting their proposal on the table. “We would also like your help thinking of ways to fix the Dark Area’s barrier. Naturally, this is top secret, but we would like to gather the greatest minds around to figure out the safest and most successful way to deal with this problem.”

    Rosemon looked over her shoulder and smirked at Gaioumon. “Looks like they’re after you, Gaioumon.”

    Gaioumon smiled politely. “I’m afraid that data science isn’t my realm of expertise,” he stated. “Although I would be willing to discuss strategic solutions, should the Council allow me.”

    “I don’t know why they wouldn’t,” OuRyuumon spoke up. “All we’re asking for is help with containing a problem that could threaten the Digital World. It’s not anything dramatic like a military alliance.”

    DORUgoramon gave OuRyuumon a look. “Maybe not, Captain, but we have things to consider. We would need to use the military to find these rifts, for one thing. We can’t have untrained Digimon wandering around them when they don’t know what they’re dealing with; those rifts are dangerous,” he explained.

    Alphamon smiled a bit at his words. “I’m glad that we can agree that they’re dangerous, DORUgoramon,” he said to him. He knew that DORUgoramon would be the biggest voice of opposition, so having him concede that point was a step in the right direction.

    DORUgoramon looked across the table with an adversarial leer. “I guess so, but I’m still not convinced that all of this isn’t just your fault.”

    “It’s not like we were the ones who freed DarkKnightmon, Councillor,” Dynasmon spoke up in Alphamon’s defence. “We tried to contain the situation the best that we could. We took him and his mercenary alliance down in the end.

    UlforceVeedramon nodded. “We’re trying to fix the mess that was left behind in his wake. It would be a lot easier and more efficient if we had your help. We’re not asking for much.”

    “The benefits outweigh the costs heavily,” Alphamon said in agreement.

    Councillor Angewomon looked over at her fellow Councillors. “I’m inclined to agree,” she spoke up. “If there is even a one percent chance risk that the likes of the Seven Great Demon Lords could escape, then that alone should be enough to prompt us into action.”

    “I concur,” Councillor Butenmon agreed, closing his eyes thoughtfully. “I was still a wandering warrior during the Night of Falling Stars. From the plains of the Digital World, I saw what the Seven are capable of. And that’s to say nothing of the other prisoners incarcerated down there.”

    “I don’t have a problem with helping out,” Councillor MegaSeadramon also spoke.

    Alphamon turned towards the crimson sea serpent. “If that’s true, would that extend to your influence at sea, as well?”

    “Sorry?” MegaSeadramon asked, tilting his head with confusion.

    “Duftmon and Imperialdramon Paladin Mode both theorize that there could be dark rifts on the seafloor as well,” the ebony paladin explained. “I know you have your navy, but with both of our connections, if we both talk to GigaSeadramon of the Deep Savers, I’m sure we could convince him to do an ocean-wide search as well.”

    MegaSeadramon grimaced. “Searching that vast area won’t be easy…” He sighed. “But I don’t want the oceans to be contaminated with darkness. We need to find a solution to the problem.”

    Alphamon glanced to Dynasmon, UlforceVeedramon, and OuRyuumon. That was three Councillors down. They technically only needed one more to side with them in order for a vote to pass in favour of their proposal with a four-three majority. However, he would prefer that all seven Councillors supported them unanimously.

    Councillor Imperialdramon frowned and turned his head towards Gaioumon. “And what’s your opinion on all this, Gaioumon?” he asked their advisor.

    Gaioumon folded his arms behind his back and walked forwards to the table, his yellow eyes looking over at the Royal Knights with an unreadable, icy gaze. “I believe that there is merit to the Royal Knights’ words…” he spoke.

    “Gee, thanks,” Dynasmon whispered under his breath at what sounded to him like the advisor being patronizing.

    Gaioumon bowed his head and closed his eyes in thought. “I doubt that anybody here wants more of the Dark Area’s prisoners escaping. And creating a team of intellectuals to brainstorm solutions is a good idea. However, the logistics of searching for these dark rifts are going to be incredibly difficult. The Digital World is massive, yet some of these rifts are no more than a meter long. Is there an efficient way of dealing with this? I’m not sure that randomly scouring the Digital World is the best way,” he supposed calmly.

    “We have the DADAR system,” Alphamon responded. “That detects data anomalies such as dark rifts. It isn’t foolproof, but it’s the best option under the circumstances. It will require close coordination.”

    “How do we proceed when we find one?” Okuwamon questioned.

    “Close it off, don’t get too close, and report it. We don’t want Digimon getting corrupted by the dark data,” UlforceVeedramon responded. “We’ll send in a specialist.”

    “And what if there are rifts within the Metal Empire?” Gaioumon inquired pointedly. “There seems to be an increasing rise in tensions up in Facture since the night of the party.”

    “We’re investigating that,” Alphamon explained to them. “Any aggravation between the Metal Empire and the Mamemon Kingdom is caused by communication errors.”

    Gaioumon smiled. “Is that so…?” he asked, his words lingering.

    OuRyuumon frowned. “What do you mean by that?” he asked him suspiciously.

    “Considering all of the recent military activity within the D-Brigade… It’s as if somebody threw a stone at the Royal Base,” Gaioumon stated calmly. “There is a lot of sabre-rattling for just a communication error.”

    “Gaioumon’s right,” DORUgoramon spoke firmly. “Do we need to worry about that?”

    “We can keep PrinceMamemon under control,” Alphamon assured him. “And Chaosdramon is pragmatic. I doubt he seriously wants a war…”

    “That doesn’t really have much do to with the Dark Area issue anyway,” Dynasmon spoke up.

    “It’s all connected,” Rosemon stated. “We don’t want this to turn into a diplomatic problem.”

    “If you’re worried about associating with us, it’s a bit late. You already sent us all those troops from your military,” UlforceVeedramon said with a shrug.

    Imperialdramon nodded. “I suppose. Well, as long as there is a clear plan of action, I am willing to put my support behind it,” he stated. He looked at Gaioumon. “You can’t see any more problems?”

    Gaioumon thought for a few moments. “No… This seems like a logical proposal to me.”

    The Royal Knights inwardly breathed sighs of relief. That was four councillors down, as well as the support of their advisor. They glanced at the remaining three: DORUgoramon, Rosemon, and Okuwamon.

    Okuwamon tapped his claw on the table. “I’m with Imperialdramon, just as long as we have a strong strategy as well as continuous communication and cooperation between you and us.”

    “We intend to,” Alphamon reassured him. “Poor communication is the first step in the breakdown of relations.” He looked over and gave both Dynasmon and OuRyuumon meaningful glances.

    Dynasmon smiled a bit. He turned his focus over to Rosemon. “What about you, Councillor Rosemon?” he asked her, hoping to get back on her good side.

    Rosemon eyed him for a moment before examining her fingernails. “Hm, I’m not sure… You already have the majority support of the Council, so what does it matter what DORUgoramon and I say?” she asked dismissively.

    “We’d like to have all of your support,” Dynasmon assured her. “It’s for the good of the Digital World.”

    “’For the good of the Digital World’…” she echoed, tracing her finger along the face of the table. “So… In that case, you would be willing to do anything to that end, wouldn’t you? You’re duty-bound as a Royal Knight, correct?“

    Dynasmon frowned but nodded. “I guess I would, yeah.”

    A mischievous smirk grew on her lips. “I see…” she slyly spoke, gazing at him with growing interest. “In that case, if you want my support… woof like a Dogmon.”

    Silence swept across the table. Even the rest of the Council of Seven were stunned by the demand. Dynasmon’s eye twitched incredulously. “Y-You… what…?”

    “You can’t be serious…” OuRyuumon said aloud, his mouth nearly agape.

    Angewomon looked down the table at Rosemon with a miffed expression. “…That’s incredibly petty, Rosemon.”

    Butenmon also glanced at her with an annoyed look. “You would have our guest – one of the Royal Knights – dishonour himself in such a manner? The indignity…”

    Rosemon smiled and shrugged. “I merely want to test his level of commitment.”

    Dynasmon’s face began to heat up and he stifled a groan. In his mind, this was revenge for when he flew off right before they were about to have sex. He knew that it wasn’t his most chivalrous move ever, but he didn’t expect this. He raised his large hand and placed it over his face. Dynasmon could practically hear Ulforce’s lip trembling as he tried not to laugh.

    There was a sense of apprehension across the table. The other members of the Council of Seven didn’t want to speak out against their fellow Councillor too much in front of guests, but at the same time, they were worried that asking one of the members of the prestigious Royal Knights to do such a thing would cause a break down in diplomacy.

    Alphamon felt a bead of sweat roll down his forehead. “…Now, Councillor, I don’t think that—“

    “It’s fine,” Dynasmon spoke up after a resigned sigh. “I’ll do it.”

    Alphamon blinked and turned to his friend. “Dynasmon?”

    “You… really don’t have to,” Councillor Angewomon told him.

    Councillor Rosemon, however, smiled a little bit wider.

    “It’s okay,” Dynasmon responded, although his face was still red. “I have a big mouth, but I back up my words with actions…” He tugged at the collar of his armour with one of his claws. He sighed again and cleared his throat.

    “…Arf. Arf. Rrrrrrr. Woof!” he barked, feeling the heat and sweat of embarrassment all over his face.

    When he stopped, there was silence. The Councillors looked on with varying degrees of awkwardness, apprehension, and amusement.

    Alphamon was blushing behind his armour, feeling embarrassed for Dynasmon. OuRyuumon bit his lip either to keep himself from laughing or saying something hostile. UlforceVeedramon’s face was crimson, his eyes were watering, his lips were trembling, and he seemed like he was literally going to burst into a fit of laughter at any moment.

    “…Did that suffice?” Dynasmon asked, putting his hand over his face and slouching down in his chair, unable to look anybody in the eye anymore.

    Rosemon giggled gently. “More than sufficient,” she responded with a ****-eating grin. “You are definitely a committed Royal Knight, Dynasmon. And as a reward for entertaining my silly whims, I’ll support this proposition.”

    “Oh, thank Yggdrasil,” Dynasmon sighed, half-worried that she was going to decide not to after that.

    “And perhaps you can show me again a little later,” Rosemon suggested, smirking seductively at the Royal Knight.

    At this, Dynasmon immediately perked up. A tiny smile grew back on his face. “Well…”

    “Let’s move on, shall we?” Alphamon was quick to interrupt.

    “Yes, let’s,” Imperialdramon spoke up. He looked down the table at the councillor sitting in the center. “DORUgoramon? What are your thoughts?”

    DORUgoramon folded his arms and closed his eyes. “Seems like I’m outvoted…” he spoke.

    Alphamon placed his hands on the table top and looked at his counterpart with a raised eyebrow. “Are you opposed to the idea?”

    The dragon councillor opened his eyes and stared across the table at Alphamon. The Royal Knight looked back into his eyes, as if trying to read him. DORUgoramon held the gaze for several more seconds, leering defiantly.

    However, he grunted and looked away. “I suppose not,” he admitted, although it sounded like it was a pain for him to say so. He knew that he was at a disadvantage here. Given that it was for the security of the Digital World, they couldn’t negotiate any demands without losing moral traction, especially not when all of his fellow councillors put their support behind it. “…Very well, this proposal has our support.”

    “Thank you,” Alphamon responded graciously.

    “But I want the Council of Seven to be directly involved in the decision making process,” DORUgoramon added firmly.

    “We intended for this to be a fully cooperative effort,” the black-plated Royal Knight assured the councillor. “You don’t have to worry about us ordering you around.”

    “Good,” DORUgoramon spoke. He then reached his arm across the table and outstretched his hand.

    Alphamon blinked and looked down at his hand. Although somewhat surprised, he immediately took it and shook firmly.

    “We have a deal then,” the dragon spoke, returning the handshake with force. “We’ll hash it out a later date. I’m sure we both have other things that we’re busy with at the moment.”

    Alphamon nodded but looked at the other six councillors as well. “We’ll keep in contact and we’ll find a suitable time to talk again.”

    “Who else are you planning to involve?” Okuwamon asked, flexing his mandibles nonchalantly as he talked.

    “The Warrior Ten,” Dynasmon spoke up. “Kaiser - I mean – AncientGreymon is eager to fix the Dark Area. AncientGarurumon and AncientSphinxmon are also keen. AncientSphinxmon – also having Anubismon as a form – knows a lot about the Dark Area.”

    “There’s also the Mesozoic Kingdom and the United Dramonic Coalition. Among others,” UlforceVeedramon chimed in. “Basically places with large amounts of territory, influence, and monpower. Probably not the Metal Empire though... I think we’re off their guest list.”

    “We’ll be sure to put in a good word for you,” DORUgoramon told them with a bit of humour to his voice.

    The Royal Knights were also thinking of speaking with the Devas, the Jungle Troopers, the Olympus XII, and the Heavenly Choir, but they didn’t want to give away all of their plans immediately.

    “Thanks,” OuRyuumon said as he began to shuffle in his seat. He looked at Alphamon. “Is there anything else, Alphamon?”

    Alphamon looked at the Council of Seven. “I think we’ve said all that we wanted to say,” he said to them. “Was there anything you wanted to add?”

    “No. We’ll talk with the commanders of our military and navy,” Butenmon assured the Royal Knights. “Though that should go smoothly. They’ll be happy for something to do other than training.”

    Alphamon nodded. “We’ll leave it to you,” he said as he made to leave, prompting Dynasmon, UlforceVeedramon, and OuRyuumon to do the same. “You’ll hear from us.”

    “You’re setting out tomorrow, correct?” Councillor Imperialdramon asked them.

    Dynasmon stood to his feet and stretched his wings. “Yeah, we’re spending the night. Although Ulforce and I are still looking for a place to stay.”

    Councillor Rosemon gave Dynasmon a smirk. “I’m sure that I can arrange something for you…” she suggested with heavy undertones.

    “How very kind of you, Councillor,” Dynasmon responded, grinning and bowing slightly.

    UlforceVeedramon gave them a flat, sideway stare. “Where does that leave me, exactly?” he wondered to himself.

    Noticing UlforceVeedramon’s look, Rosemon turned and smiled at him. “Would you care to accompany us too?” she asked him.

    Both UlforceVeedramon’s and Dynasmon’s eyes widened as they comprehended her underlying message. “No!” they both stated in unison.

    Alphamon smiled sheepishly. “We should be going now. Thank you for your time, Councillors,” he told them politely.

    “If we don’t see you before tomorrow, safe travels,” DORUgoramon said in response.

    The Royal Knights and OuRyuumon bid them farewell and began to walk towards the doors of the embassy room. The guards promptly opened the doors for them and allowed them to walk out.

    The four walked past them and down the hallway, towards the lobby. The sounds of their feet echoed against the marble floor.

    “I think that went well…” UlforceVeedramon spoke up.

    “It seems that way,” Alphamon replied with a sigh of relief. “It could have gone worse.”

    “Yeah, it could have. I guess we should be relieved,” UlforceVeedramon agreed. He then glanced over at Dynasmon with a broad smirk. “Especially you. Considering how you’re now out of the dog house…” He then laughed. “Haha! Get it? Dog hous—OW!”

    Dynasmon removed his fist from the back of Ulforce’s head with gritted teeth. “We’re not telling the others about that, got it?” he warned him.

    UlforceVeedramon rubbed the back of his head. “Yeah, yeah…” he mumbled.

    Alphamon smiled slightly at the two. He looked over his shoulder to see OuRyuumon lingering behind. He slowed his paces to walk beside him.

    “OuRyuumon…” he said in a caring tone. “I want to clear up about what happened earlier. Can we talk?

    OuRyuumon’s brows furrowed and he seemed hesitant. “Uh… I’m pretty exhausted, Alphamon…” he responded.

    “Please?” Alphamon beseeched him. “I don’t want either of us to brood over it.”

    The golden brown ryu glanced down pensively. After a few seconds, he exhaled. “Yeah… Okay…” he said in a resigned voice.

    Alphamon nodded. After a few moments of quiet walking with OuRyuumon, he spoke up. “I’m sorry about the way I handled that…” he said to his friend, looking over at him.

    OuRyuumon looked off to the side, away from Alphamon. “I’m sorry I did it in the first place…” he muttered.

    “Don’t be,” Alphamon reassured him, placing his hand on OuRyuumon’s shoulder. “It’s just that… the timing wasn’t right. I had a lot on my mind when you asked. It came as a shock to me. It was that more than anything…”

    “What? The meeting with the Council of Seven?” OuRyuumon asked, his eyes darting over to Alphamon.

    A frown formed on Alphamon’s face. “No… Not exactly. It was something else. The personal business that I mentioned… It was weighing heavily on my mind.”

    “What was it?” OuRyuumon inquired. “At the time, I thought you were going to come out to your parents or something.”

    Alphamon rubbed the back of his neck and looked over at OuRyuumon with a sheepish expression. “Actually… I did that a few months ago, OuRyuumon…” he admitted, his guilt lacing his words.

    “My parents told me… Why didn’t you tell me?” OuRyuumon asked, more calmly than Alphamon was expecting.

    Alphamon blinked with surprise. “They did…? And because I didn’t want you to feel pressured to tell your parents too,” he explained.

    “I did that today,” OuRyuumon responded with a small smile. “Actually… they already knew.”

    Alphamon managed a chuckle. “So did mine, somehow…”

    OuRyuumon put his claws behind his head and walked. “And here I thought we were hiding it pretty well. I’m not flamboyant like RhodoKnightmon, am I?”

    “I think it’s just because they’re our parents,” Alphamon said with a shrug.

    OuRyuumon nodded. He then turned his head and looked at Alphamon. “So… I know I shouldn’t ask, but… I guess you don’t want to get back together yet?”

    The black-armoured Royal Knight looked at OuRyuumon as they walked out of the lobby and into the courtyard. “To be completely honest, OuRyuumon, I haven’t even thought about it until you asked me today,” he admitted to him. “We’ve just been so busy since DarkKnightmon’s defeat. It sounds bad, but it just hadn’t crossed my mind…”

    OuRyuumon sighed a bit. “So that’s a no…” he spoke. “I understand.”

    “It’s a ‘not yet’,” Alphamon told him. “Right now we’re busy with the Dark Area and the Metal Empire. However, once these things begin to calm down, I promise I will think seriously about it…”

    The Captain of the Strike Forces nodded uncertainly. “Okay… You’d just tell me if you didn’t want to, right?” he asked him.

    Alphamon smiled at him. “I wouldn’t string you along, OuRyuumon. You know that,” he reassured him. “Those feelings haven’t gone away; I just need time to think about it. I want to be able to put effort into us, and I can’t do that with all these other things going on.”

    OuRyuumon returned the smile. “Yeah, okay… But on one condition.”

    Alphamon raised an eyebrow. “I thought I just left the negotiation table,” he spoke with dry humour. “Yes?”

    The dragon folded his arms. “You tell me what that personal problem was.”

    “Yeah!” UlforceVeedramon called out from ahead of them. “We were wondering that too!”

    “You were supposed to be improving on that whole ‘handling the burden by yourself’ thing, Alphamon,” Dynasmon chimed in with a grin.

    OuRyuumon’s face grew blood red. “You two were eavesdropping?!” he shouted in a fluster.

    “Naturally,” a smirking UlforceVeedramon said. “We wanted to know why you two were acting so weird.”

    Alphamon smiled a bit and closed his eyes. “I’m sorry. You’re right. I should have said something,” he conceded. “I just didn’t want you all to be distracted during that meeting with the Council. I’ll tell you what happened.”

    UlforceVeedramon and Dynasmon slowed down to walk with them as they passed by the various statues outside of the council building. “Go on,” Dynasmon urged him, eager to know what was secretly bothering him.

    “I went to visit Bagramon,” Alphamon stated plainly.

    The three Digimon walking with him suddenly stopped, leaving Alphamon to saunter for a few more strides before he realized that they had all halted.

    “What?” OuRyuumon demanded.

    “Bagramon?” Dynasmon asked incredulously.

    “The guy we fought against during the Night of Falling Stars?” UlforceVeedramon inquired, arching an eyebrow.

    Alphamon turned around. “…Yes, him,” he answered calmly.

    “Why?” the azure dragon knight wondered. “I mean, visiting your parents, sure, but why would you want to see him?”

    “He’s DarkKnightmon’s brother,” Alphamon explained, closing his red eyes.

    OuRyuumon gritted his teeth at the mention of DarkKnightmon’s name. “That doesn’t really explain it…”

    UlforceVeedramon scratched his cheek with a finger before turning to Dynasmon. “I thought DeadlyAxemon was his brother,” he stated curiously.

    “He was his new ’brother’. They weren’t actually related. Bagramon was his real brother,” Dynasmon explained.

    Alphamon sighed and walked over to a nearby bench to sit down, being careful not to sit on his cape. “I felt that I owed Bagramon an explanation,” he told them. He looked down with a light grimace. “After all… it was I who deleted DarkKnightmon.”

    “You still feel guilty…?” OuRyuumon wondered with a concerned expression.

    “…If I’m honest… yes, I have been feeling guilty,” Alphamon responded with sombre, thoughtful eyes. “I know that maybe I shouldn’t, given what he’s done, but he was once a very good friend of mine… a brother, even.”

    UlforceVeedramon winced. “Oh… Sorry, Alphamon. It’s easy to forget that you two used to be friends,” he said understandingly.

    “Have you been keeping this in all these months?” Dynasmon asked him.

    “I suppose, a bit…” Alphamon sheepishly answered. “They were my own problems. I didn’t want to—“

    “—bother us?” Dynasmon finished, walking up to him. He lightly flicked the Digicore Interface gem on Alphamon’s forehead with his claws. “So much for working on that responsibility complex. We’re your friends. And part of being a good leader is trusting your subordinates.”

    “…You’re right,” Alphamon said, smiling slightly and rubbing his forehead. “I’ve been trying to do that more, but I suppose it’s not as easy as I thought…” He stood to his feet. “I have talked with Omegamon about it a few times.”

    “Okay, but you can talk with the rest of us about it too, if you need to,” Dynasmon encouraged him,

    “I know. Thank you… Though, I don’t think I need to now. I feel better after speaking with Bagramon,” the leader of the Royal Knights responded.

    OuRyuumon walked over. “What did he say?”

    “We just talked about blame and forgiveness. It helped to put things in perspective for me,” Alphamon explained.

    Dynasmon frowned but nodded quietly.

    “I’m glad it helped,” UlforceVeedramon said. “But how was Bagramon? I mean, he was part of the Heavenly War… Is the Choir still after him?”

    “Those wars were a long time ago,” Dynasmon told him. “A lot has happened since then. Digimon change.”

    Alphamon nodded in agreement. “He seemed enlightened… He’s just a sage living in the Argent Mountains now. It’s just too bad DarkKnightmon and I couldn’t put our differences aside like I did with Bagramon. At least... not until it was too late,” he said, the last part in a murmur.

    OuRyuumon looked at Alphamon sympathetically. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

    The Lord of the Empty Seat sighed but smiled faintly. “Yes… It’s just been a long, tiresome day. We should head out,” he told them.

    Dynasmon nodded with agreement. He suddenly raised an eyebrow and tilted his head. “Hey… where’s Paildramon?” he asked aloud.

    “Right behind you, Sir,” she said from directly behind him.

    “Gah!” Dynasmon flinched with a yell of surprise. He spun around to face her, flustered. “Have you been taking lessons from Karatenmon or something?!”

    Paildramon blinked with confusion. “N-No, Sir Dynasmon. Sorry?” she sheepishly apologized, not expecting to startle him.

    UlforceVeedramon laughed.

    “Er, did the meeting go well?” she asked them.

    Alphamon nodded. “Yes, thank you,” he told her. “We have their full support, it seems.”

    Paildramon sighed with relief. “That’s good to hear…”

    “Worried about your dad embarrassing you?” UlforceVeedramon teased her.

    Paildramon blushed a bit and glanced away. “Somewhat,” she admitted.

    “He was quite reasonable,” Alphamon assured the dragon woman Digimon.

    “Anyway… I guess I’ll check into an inn or something since Dynasmon’s going to be busy tonight,” UlforceVeedramon said, flashing Dynasmon a grin. “Are you three staying with your parents?” he asked Alphamon, OuRyuumon, and Paildramon.

    He received three affirmative responses.

    “In that case, why don’t we all go to a bar before we call it a day?” UlforceVeedramon suggested mirthfully.

    “I think I’d rather just head straight home,” Alphamon replied.

    “Oh, come on! It’s barely sunset,” OuRyuumon urged him, pushing him along. “You’re as bad as a Jijimon.”

    “Yeah, loosen up a bit!” Dynasmon agreed, pulling Alphamon by the arm.

    “G-Guys!” Alphamon complained as he was pushed along.

    UlforceVeedramon laughed and looked at Paildramon as they began to follow after them. “Hey, at least now we can enjoy the rest of our visit here…”
     

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