Dreaming To Reality: 02 Remix - Chapter 4
Author: Yuki
Collaborators: Mouko
Content Rating: PT
Published: 2012-02-06 15:38:24
Tags: Digimon, Digimon Adventure, Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon 02, Adventure, Anime, Third Person, Dreaming To Reality, Hikari Yagami, Takeru Takaishi, Mimi Tachikawa, Daisuke Motomiya, V-mon, Patamon, Tailmon, Palmon, Ken Ichijouji

The rescue of Palmon is underway, but the Chosen are not quite prepared to find what the Digimon Kaiser has been doing with the Digimon he captures. The Chosen Children and Digimon must fight to free the captives without the ability to evolve.

Author´s Notes and Disclaimers:

This story takes place after Digimon Adventure. Digimon Adventure 02 has never occurred... at least, not as the anime or manga depicted. Dreaming To Reality: 02 Remix is a rewrite of Digimon Adventure 02 from the ground up, starting from not long after the original adventure of the eight children from Odaiba before taking us to the year 2002 where our story truly begins.

We have based this story on the Japanese version of Digimon Adventure, and as such the Japanese names and terms will be used. If you have not watched the original and uncut version of the show, we highly recommend that you do so. It's quite good.

Everything you knew about the adventure of 2002 has changed.

Chapter 5
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Takeru crouched amidst overgrown bushes, his expression grim as he peered past the trees towards the coliseum. He could see the entryway leading inside the monstrous building, guarded only by a couple Gazimon. The Gazimon, while typically the minions of most evil Digimon, were clearly not doing the job willingly – the vacant stare of their red glowing eyes and black ring latched around their throats told that much.

An alarmingly loud whine made Takeru jerk and duck back into hiding quickly.

“Aw man,” Daisuke said. “My clothes didn’t change to the cool ones.” He tugged at the sleeves of his soccer uniform, as though expecting them to somehow grow longer if he did and gain a flame pattern.

Takeru held up his finger and shushed the other boy, who jerked then had the good grace to look sheepish for speaking too loudly. Once satisfied that Daisuke remembered where they were and the seriousness of their situation, he checked to make sure that the Gazimon guards had not overheard the noise.

Daisuke craned his neck, struggling to peek around Takeru while still keeping low to the ground. “So what’s the plan?” he whispered.

Takeru did not take his eyes off the controlled Digimon as they stood at their posts, their posture unusually rigid, their eyes wide and unblinking. “I don’t think the Kaiser knows Patamon’s been rescued yet. We could pretend he’s still being controlled so he can ‘escort’ us in as prisoners.”

Daisuke let out a low hum, his eyes narrowing as he focused on the Gazimon. “Sounds like a good plan to me, but we’re gonna need to put a black collar on him like the ones they’re wearing.”

Takeru moved back so that he was completely hidden by the foliage and took the time to survey their surroundings carefully. His eyes eventually settled on Daisuke’s left leg, specifically on the shin guard, which had been halfway exposed by a sagging sock. “What about that? Can you get the straps off?”

Daisuke blinked at Takeru then leaned back before he followed the other boy’s gaze. His eyes lit up at the sight of the black Velcro straps holding his shin guard firmly in place, and he wasted no time in unlacing them from the plastic. “Great idea!”

Tailmon watched as Takeru accepted both straps and attached them together into one long strip before fastening them snugly around Patamon’s waist. From a distance, it was almost impossible to tell that the ‘collar’ was made out of fabric. “You could also mention you recovered the ‘escapee.’”

Patamon nodded. “I just hope no one looks me in the eye when they ask.”

Hikari tilted her head slightly, eyes narrowed in thought. “Try flapping your wings in front of your face and keeping your gaze away from them as much as you can. That should make it less noticeable.”

Tailmon glanced in the direction of the Gazimon, taking particular note of their glass-eyed stare. “I doubt they’re in a state to pay too much attention to details like that.”

“Mimi,” Takeru said, “you should keep watch out here.” He saw Mimi flinch and felt a wave of guilt at the look she sent his way. “The Digimon Kaiser will suspect something if he sees you, since he already sent you back earlier.”

Mimi felt her chest constrict painfully tight. “I can’t just stay out here and wait while Palmon is in there being forced to…” Her voice wavered until she choked, unable to force the words past her lips.

Hikari did her best to smile at Mimi, though she doubted that the gesture would give the older girl any real sense of comfort. “It’ll be okay.” She reached out to give Mimi’s shoulder a gentle squeeze. “We’ll bring Palmon back with us as soon as we can. Then we can all go home together.”

V-mon pumped his fists high above his head. “You can count on us!” He yelped when Tailmon shushed him, his ears drooping briefly. “Oh, right, it’s sneaky time.”

“Hey,” Daisuke said, raising his voice as much as he dared to get the others’ attention. He tore vines free from the trees with a grunt then tossed one to Takeru. “We better act like we’re really prisoners now.”

Takeru caught the vine easily and looked it over for a moment before nodding. “Yeah, you’re right.”

It took a while of awkward fussing with the vines, but eventually the majority of the group managed to tie their hands in a way that appeared secure, but were loose enough for them to squirm free. Mimi served to give the group a once over to make sure their bindings appeared convincing enough to fool the guards. “Don’t forget to struggle a bit or they’re not going to fall for it.”

Takeru turned to Patamon, holding up the end of the vine for his partner to take. “Ready, Patamon?”

Patamon nodded before quickly replacing his nervous smile with a disdainful sneer. “Okay, prisoners, march.” He lowered his voice into a growl as he spoke, trying his best to appear more fearsome, but he wound up sounding as though he was suffering from a particularly nasty sore throat.

Mimi watched the others leave their hiding place, crouching down behind the bushes so she could remain out of sight while still seeing them off. The tethered group had to be careful how they moved – walking too closely risked knocking one or more of them down, and too far apart meant risking the vines coming undone and unraveling their disguise. The Chosen of Purity felt her stomach twist as she noticed the Gazimon turning their dull eyes towards her friends when they drew closer to the coliseum. She had hoped that they would simply stand there and accept the charade at face value, but they crouched, their muscles tense and ready to spring, claws and glittering in the light. They flashed their large fangs in vicious sneers that were perfectly mirrored.

The Gazimon to the left was the first to speak with a voice that was high-pitched and slightly strained with a growling undercurrent that was uncomfortably reminiscent of stone scraping glass. “What’re you doing?”

Patamon suppressed the urge to gulp and glared back at the Gazimon. “I’ve captured prisoners for the Digimon Kaiser.”

The Gazimon on the right perked his ears and straightened up, his eyes darting between Patamon and the tied up Chosen, as though he had no idea who to focus his attention on. “Prisoners?”

The first Gazimon barked out a laugh that sounded both cruel and forced. “I don’t think they’ll last that long in the pit fights.” She walked along the line of alleged prisoners before jabbing a claw into V-mon’s stomach with mercifully not enough pressure to cut him. “This one especially.”

V-mon yelped in pain and surprise, jerking back. “H-hey-!” He bared teeth at the Gazimon. “What’s that supposed to mean!?

“Hey!” Daisuke shouted. He moved in front of V-mon to prevent the Gazimon from getting to him again, forcing Hikari and Tailmon to follow quickly, lest their bindings be tested by the yanking of the vine. “V-mon can kick your butt!”

The Gazimon raised her eyebrows at Daisuke and took a moment to rake him with her unnaturally colored eyes. She let out a hollow laugh, her lips pulled back in a smile as convincing as one painted on a patchwork doll. “Stupid human! No one can take down the Digimon Kaiser or his followers.”

For one terrifying moment, Patamon feared that Daisuke was ready to break free and blow their cover. He gave vine a tug and raised his voice in a cutting tone. “No back talk, prisoners!”

A grimace marred Takeru’s features as he glanced back at Daisuke. It was a tricky thing trying to walk the line between protesting prisoners and people who were suspiciously mouthy to their jailers. He pulled lightly on the short length of vine tethering him to the dark haired boy, careful not to loosen the bonds holding their hands supposedly secure. He tried to silently convey the urgency of their situation with his eyes as Daisuke looked his way, hoping that the newest Chosen remembered to play along so that they could get inside before they generated too much trouble.

The Gazimon still standing near the door pointed towards it. “Take them to the prison. The Digimon Kaiser will want to deal with them personally.”

“Of course,” Patamon said. “You heard him, prisoners! Get moving!” He led the group forward, forced to blindly guess the direction they were supposed to go, as he knew that asking would be terribly suspicious. Once they were safely out of sight of the guards down one of the adjoining hallways, he let out a deep sigh, his body sagging with relief. “That was close…,” he whispered.

Daisuke blinked. “It was?”

Hikari held up a finger in front of her lips and let out a hissing breath between her teeth while taking care to make as little noise as possible. “We don’t know if there might be guards patrolling the halls too.”

Daisuke scratched one of his faintly pinked cheeks. “Oh, right,” he whispered. “Sorry, Hikari-chan.”

Takeru surveyed their surroundings with a wary eye, searching for any sign of controlled Digimon wandering around as they tried to make their way to the prison. Fortunately, there was little more for him to look at than brownish gray stone and the occasional flickering candle set into tiny alcoves in the walls. “Let’s keep going. I don’t know how long we have until the Kaiser gets wind of us.”

V-mon grumbled under his breath, his lashing tail smacking loudly on the ground with each step he took. “I so can kick their butts.”

Daisuke nodded, his expression an almost perfect imitation of the scowl firmly set in the dragon Digimon’s face. “That’s for sure.”

Tailmon’s ears canted back as she looked around. She walked at the end of the train, sporting a slight limp that she did her best to conceal from her comrades. The air was tinged with the faint scent of blood, and she could detect the faint sound of someone crying far off – no, there was more than one, their pleas and sobbing overlapping to a wordless noise that was despair personified. “This place is… where the Digimon Kaiser has Digimon fight for his amusement.”

A faint tremor ran through Hikari’s body at Tailmon’s words. She could not hear the Digimon’s suffering – her ears were nowhere near as sharp as her partner’s – but a part of her, some mysterious place in her heart that was irrevocably tied to the Digital World, ached with their pain. It tugged at her chest, as though someone had tied an invisible string around it. She trusted this instinct without question, inclining her head towards the right when they came to an intersection of the hallway. “Let’s go right here.”

Takeru glanced back at Hikari, but she was not looking at him. “Do you think Palmon’s still in the arena?”

Daisuke cocked his head slightly, perplexed at the question. “What do you mean? Where else would she be?”

Takeru switched his attention to Daisuke. “The Kaiser might’ve sent her after us like Patamon.”

Daisuke creased his brow. “So you think she might be wandering around out there looking for us?”

The thought left a sour taste in Takeru’s mouth, causing the corner of his mouth to curl. “Maybe. I– “

A sharp gasp from Hikari snapped the boys’ attention away from their conversation. As one, Daisuke and Takeru looked at her wide-eyed expression then followed her gaze ahead of them. At the end of the hall was bend, leading to an area that was poorly lit, save for the gleam of light that shone off metal bars and created vague figures of shapes of various sizes huddled in the dark. Whispers, whimpers, and crying grew more noticeable as the group drew closer to the cellblock, as well as the sickening smell of blood, waste, mold, and spoiled food that assaulted the senses of the Chosen Digimon especially hard.

Takeru snatched one of the candles so that they could have better lighting when they entered the cellblock, Hikari and Daisuke quickly following suit. Wide, fearful eyes of all sorts of Digimon, mostly Adult and below, watched them, the whispering growing to an almost fever pitch. Ugly purple bruises and red welts marred the skin of virtually every prisoner. The clothing of the few dressed Digimon were stained and in tattered, the torn strips being remade into makeshift bandages to patch up bloody cuts. Only a handful of Digimon were brave enough to go closer to the bars, but most retreated. Baby Digimon huddled together in the corners, while many sat quietly in the darkness, their faces masks of despairing resignation, and more than a few lay sprawled on the floor, unable or unwilling to so much as lift their heads to see the Chosen as they entered the corridor.

Hikari’s bound hands moved to cover her mouth. Her stomach churned, threatening to purge its contents. She held back the urge, but she could not stop the tears that blurred her vision from spilling down her cheeks. “How… how could he…?” Her voice wavered until she choked on a sob.

Daisuke looked through the cells, struggling to comprehend what he was seeing. The strangeness of the Digimon, of the very Digital World itself, still left him off balance, but the sight of such brutality was an entirely different alien element. He had heard about cruelty, experienced some first-hand, but the level was different from mere bullying. This was something he only heard about on the news or in history books, somewhere so far away that it could never really touch him, which meant that he did not need to think about it. This was one of those far-off places and these were people suffering right before his eyes. They were not human, but that did not matter. Once the shock wore off, his rage burned so bright that it exploded like dynamite, and he tore the vines from his wrists. “We need bust them all out of here!

Takeru clenched his jaw, gritting his teeth so tightly it ached. He forced the dark feeling inside of him in to a little ball and shoved it deep inside; he did not have time to deal with it right now, and he did not dare let it distract him. These Digimon did not need his anger, they needed his help. He glanced around for guards and then nodded when he saw that the coast was clear. Slipping out of the vines, he moved over towards the cell doors and checked the locks. “Patamon, can you break these?”

“I’ll try,” Patamon said. He flew over to the nearest cell. “Stand back!” He waited until the few Digimon that had been lingering near the bars to retreat, some scrambling back with fearful cries that made him wince in sympathy. “Air Shot!”

A blast of air struck the cell door, creating a loud clang that resounded through the prison with all the finality of a church bell rung for a funeral. Some Digimon screamed at the sound, causing many in the rest of the cellblock to retreat to the back of their prisons. A handful of the more listless Digimon raised their heads. As the echo of the attack faded, the crying of fearful baby Digimon replaced it. Unfortunately, the door remained standing without a single dent to show for all the commotion.

Daisuke glared at the door as though he could somehow destroy it with an angry stare alone before finally tearing his gaze away to look at V-mon. “Think you can break down that door, V-mon?”

V-mon nodded. “Yeah!” He crouched, tail lashing eagerly behind him before he charged at top speed towards the door, head bowed in front of him to take the brunt of the attack. “V-mon Head!”

The results were the same – just like Patamon’s attack, the door remained completely unscathed and the imprisoned Digimon reacted with alarm. V-mon bounced off the bars with a loud clang and landed roughly on the floor. He grimaced then rubbed his forehead and whined. “Ow…”

“It doesn’t work,” Takeru muttered as he crossed his arms. “I guess we should have expected that.”

Tailmon narrowed her eyes. “If a Child attack could damage the bars, the Digimon would have escaped by now.” A bitter knot of resentment tightened in her gut as she turned her glare to the bandages that covered her wounded body. “It has to be a stronger attack.”

“Child attack?” Daisuke said as he turned towards Tailmon, his face still twisted in rage. “What do you mean?”

Hikari felt a bit awkward trying to figure out how to explain evolution simply, particularly in such a terrible place. Now was not the time for a long explanation, but this was information Daisuke needed to know. “Child level is an evolution stage for Digimon. They’re stronger than either baby level but not as strong as an Adult.” She shifted uncomfortably after she saw the uncomprehending look in Daisuke’s eyes. “It’s probably easier to show you or let Koshiro explain it when we get back.”

“I’m a Child Digimon,” V-mon said, helpfully. “Chicomon was my first Baby form, with Chibimon as my second.”

“Patamon’s also a Child Digimon,” Takeru said, “but I’m going to evolve him to Adult to break the bars.” He drew his Digivice and turned it towards his partner. “Ready, Patamon? Evolve!”

Patamon nodded, expression grim then thrust his arms and wings high into the air before shouting at the top of his lungs. “Patamon, evolve!”

Silence lingered as the group watched Patamon, the air charged with tense anticipation. Seconds ticked by as nothing changed, no glow of evolution, no mystical transformation, and no change in his posture. A slight quiver ran through his body as beads of sweat collected on his forehead, willing with all his might for his body to transform.

Daisuke looked from Patamon to the others and back before scratching his head. “Uh, was something supposed to happen?”

Takeru was unable to respond at first, confusion preoccupying his thoughts as he stared unblinkingly at Patamon. Reluctantly he lowered his arm and relaxed his stance. “Yes… Something was supposed to happen.”

Patamon finally opened his eyes so he could look down at his small, slightly tubby body with dismay before he turned towards Takeru as panic began to bloom inside his heart. “Something’s wrong! I can’t evolve!”

Tailmon canted her ears back until they pressed hard against her head, ignoring the minor pain that sparked from her injuries. “What… what’s happening?” She forced her gaze away from Patamon to look at her partner and comrades, but found only anxious and confused looks that mirrored her own. “Did the Kaiser do something to keep us from evolving?” Her eyes drifted down to her bandaged arms as she wondered if she would be unable to evolve, or worse, that should she lose any more of her power she might revert to Plotmon and never change back. “Is that even possible?”

The very idea caused Hikari’s insides to clench. She slowly shook her head, more from denial than knowing the answers to her partner’s questions. Given what they learned so far from the Digimon Kaiser, it was not outside the realm of possibility, and that made the evil Chosen Child an even more terrifying an opponent. “Maybe you’re just hungry?”

Patamon shook his head and threw his arms out to his sides. “I’m a little hungry, but not enough that I can’t evolve!”

“I was able to evolve earlier,” V-mon said, his voice bright and cheerful despite the anxiety in the air.

Takeru took his moment to consider the situation, lightly touching his hand to his chin. “It might be a side-effect from that dark ring? Patamon was wearing one earlier.”

Daisuke broke out in a wide grin. “And V-mon hasn’t ever been collared by that creep so he can still evolve!” He turned to his partner. “Then why don’t you show us how it’s done, V-mon?”

V-mon blinked at Daisuke. A nervous glint came to his eyes before he hesitantly nodded. He did not feel confident that he could evolve on demand; it was instinctive, so knowingly invoking it was new to him. Still, he refused to disappoint Daisuke. “R-right! You bet! I’ll evolve to the best Adult you’ve ever seen!” The small blue dragon raised his arms. “V-mon, evolve!”

An unpleasant sense of déjà vu settled over the Chosen as the seconds ticked by and V-mon remained unchanged. He held his posture for nearly a moment before a scowl appeared on his face and he began to pump his fists frantically while hopping in place. “Evolve! E-evolve, evolve, evolve!”

Takeru sighed as he looked away from V-mon then slowly shook his head. “I don’t think this tells us anything. V-mon is a newborn, so it’d stand to reason he wouldn’t have the power or experience to evolve to an Adult yet anyway.”

V-mon finally stopped flailing about to jut out his lower lip as he crossed his arms. “I… I’m sure it’s the Kaiser’s doing! There’s nothing wrong with me!”

“Hey!” Daisuke shot Takeru a glare as he placed his hand on top of V-mon’s head. “V-mon already evolved twice in a row and that was after he first hatched! It’s gotta be that darn Kaiser messing with him!”

Takeru touched his hand to his chin, his gaze going distant as he thought back to their first meeting with V-mon. “That’s possible,” he said after a moment. “When V-mon evolved, we were in a different area.” His eyes turned towards Patamon. “There must be something in this area that’s preventing evolution.”

Hikari shook her head. “It doesn’t matter right now if this is the Digimon Kaiser’s fault or not. We need to figure out a way to open these cages before we’re discovered.”

Tailmon limped away from the group towards one of the cages. “Let me try.” She held up her hand and watched as she clenched it into a fist. It almost felt ironic that her hands were the only place where she was not badly injured – her gloves had taken the brunt of the damage. The memory of how she was attacked was still fresh in her mind, how all seven of her comrades were manipulated by the Digimon Kaiser like mindless marionettes. He taunted her when she hesitated to attack them at first, and then for pulling back her strength so that she would not hurt them so badly. A couple cheap shots with that whip of his only made the ugly feelings towards him burn more, as it reminded her far too much of him. Her lip curled upward to expose her fangs and she barely suppressed the urge to growl as she drew back her fist and unleashed every ounce of her anger towards the Digimon Kaiser at the bars. “Cat Punch!”

The cell door collapsed inward with a shrieking of metal that tore through the eardrums of everyone gathered as it echoed through the cellblock. The prisoners cried out in pain and fear as they fled to the far wall. The Chosen could not help but flinch back from the sound, save for Tailmon. The door, nearly folded in half, teetered for a moment, before it fell, bursting into data as it crashed to the floor with a resounding clang.

“Alright!” Takeru said. “That works!”

Tailmon nodded, her mouth set in a thin line, as she took a moment to survey her work as well as her hand before she limped her way to the next cell. Hikari followed her, keeping a slight distance so as not to interfere with the feline Digimon’s work. One by one the doors fell and were deleted. The rest of the Chosen were left with little more to do but watch her work or keep an eye out for guards. Some of the captives stirred, a few brave enough to dare inching their way to the door, but none made a move to leave their cells.

V-mon blinked at a small cluster of Digimon who stared back at him with eyes filled with uncertainty. “C’mon!” He made wide gestures around him before pointing towards the way they came. “Let’s go before the guards show!”

A child size Digimon made from gray rock with large gold eyes – a Gotsumon – spoke in a quiet, timid voice that was as rough as sandpaper. “Is… is this a joke?”

Hikari did her best to appear reassuring as she smiled at the Digimon. “It’s okay. We’re taking all of you out of here.”

Daisuke rubbed his nose and grinned. “Don’t worry about the Digimon Kaiser.” He thrust out his thumb before pointing it towards the ground. “We’ll handle that jerk if he dares show his face.”

The air was thick with tension as the seconds ticked by in silence. A handful of the prisoners managed to gather their courage and carefully stepped out through the empty doorways, as though cautious of a trick or a trap. When no unfortunate fate befell them, a swell of energy overcame the others watching from within the cells and countless voices clamored all at once as Digimon rushed towards freedom.

“L-let me out, let me out!”

“I want to escape too!”

“I don’t want to be here anymore!”

“Calm down!” Takeru said, raising his voice above the din of the numerous near hysterical cries. “Don’t panic, you’re going to be fine now!”

Hikari held up her hands in an attempt to get the attention of the Digimon scrambling from their cells, some clawing over or trampling each other in their desperation to escape. “We’re going to make sure you all get out of here. Just keep your voices down before the guards hear us.”

Tailmon ignored the chaos, her eyes narrowed as she focused on the last cell. Light from the outside spilled into the otherwise gloomy room from a large passageway in the opposite wall. Through it, she saw stone seating in the distance. “This cell’s empty and the door leading to the arena’s open.” She swept her gaze briefly through the stands, seeking any sign of the Digimon Kaiser, before she focused on the arena proper. A splash of color amidst the gray-brown stone made her eyes widen. “It’s Palmon!”

The rest of the Chosen rushed to Tailmon’s side and quickly saw what she did. To their horror, Palmon was still acting under the Digimon Kaiser’s thrall, using her Poison Ivy attack to whip an Elecmon without mercy. It lay on the ground, unmoving, save for an instinctive flinch accompanied by a pitiable yelp that came with each strike that added a new cut, welt, or bruise to its battered skin.

Takeru felt his insides clench at the sight. “Patamon!” He turned to his partner. “I know she’s our friend but… you’ve got to attack that dark ring on her! That’s the only way to wake her up!”

Patamon nodded, his expression grim. “I understand, Takeru.”

“Daisuke!” V-mon said as he crouched forward and balled his fists, ready for permission to attack.

Daisuke nodded and thrust out his finger in the direction of the arena. “Go get her, V-mon!”

“Right!” V-mon said. He charged through the cell and into the arena, Patamon following right behind. Only a meter away from Palmon, he lunged for her before she could spot either of them coming. “Hopping Kick!”

The attack cry caught Palmon’s attention. She turned in time to receive V-mon’s kick directly into her stomach. She let out a choked cry as the air rushed out of her and her body was sent flying backwards. She hit the ground hard, skidding for a few moments before she slowly slid to a stop. “U-Urgh…”

Daisuke jumped as he pumped his fist into the air. “Alright!” he cheered. “Go for the ring, V-mon!”

Patamon gave Palmon no time to recover from V-mon’s attack, unleashing one of his own as his friend was crawling to her feet. “Air Shot!”

Palmon barely had a chance to pull herself up onto one knee before she was hit again, the blow sending her flying into the arena wall. The black ring cracked, due to the impact, the attacks, or a combination of both. The fractures quickly spread until the collar broke apart, the pieces shattering into bits of data that quickly disappeared. She grimaced and rubbed her stomach as she leaned against the wall. “O-ow…”

Patamon felt a wave of relief when he saw Palmon blink open her eyes, which were their normal dark green once again, and landed beside her. “Are you okay, Palmon?”

Palmon rubbed her stomach and let out a plaintive whine as she turned her teary eyes to Patamon. “M-my tummy hurts…”

“Palmon,” Takeru said, the name coming out like a sigh. He hurried out into the arena to Palmon’s side, closely followed by the rest of the Chosen. He extended his hand to her with a smile on his face. “Let’s go, Mimi’s waiting for you.”

Hikari took a moment to savor the feeling of relief after they freed one of their captive friends then pulled out her D-Terminal. “I’ll let Mimi know that Palmon is safe.”

A loud voice suddenly boomed through the arena as powerfully as an explosion. “Hunting Cannon!”

“Look out!” Tailmon cried out as she tackled Hikari to the ground, saving her partner from an object that whizzed just barely over Hikari’s head. An explosion immediately followed, destroying a large portion of the arena walls. Large chunks of rock that used to be the seating caused the cell they came from and those adjacent to it to cave in, cutting the Chosen off from the prison.

Takeru jerked his head, whirling towards the explosion. “What!?

“Hikari-chan!” Daisuke shouted after he realized how close the attack came to hitting his friend.

Hikari shook her head slightly then focused on Tailmon. She noticed some of the white bandages had turned a dark shade of pink. “Tailmon! Are you okay?”

Tailmon’s breath came between her teeth in a pained hiss as she held her side, her muscles tense. “I’m fine.” She paused to swallow hard. “This is nothing.”

Takeru sought out the source of the attack and quickly saw the opposite gate into the arena was open. A lone red eye glared from the dark. A tall figure stepped out from the shadows, revealing an armored Digimon with one eye, chains around its wrist, and a centaur body. The Chosen of Hope reeled as he immediately recognized their attacker. “Centarumon!?

“Look!” Patamon said as he pointed towards Centarumon’s neck. “There’s one of those black rings!”

Daisuke looked from V-mon to Centarumon then Hikari and Tailmon before focusing on the collapsed wall. A large portion of the seating, about half the size of the soccer field he practiced on that morning, had been reduced to little more than rubble. He found his mouth suddenly far too dry as he slowly turned back to face the brainwashed Digimon. “Th-that’s an Adult, right?”

Takeru nodded as he backed away slowly, his body tense, ready to dodge another attack. “Yes, that’s an Adult.”

Palmon shook slightly as she looked around. “W-what’s going on?” Tears spilled down her cheeks as she began to tremble. “M-Mimi!”

Centarumon swept his gaze across the arena, focusing on each Chosen in turn. “You have been found guilty of treason against the Digimon Kaiser.”

“Digimon Kaiser?” V-mon scoffed. “You mean Digimon Keister, right!?

Tailmon’s tail puffed up despite the bandages when she saw V-mon pat his rump. “Be careful!” she shouted, her voice slightly strained due to reopening her wounds. “He’s still an Adult!”

Centarumon’s gaze focused on the small cyan dragon that taunted him. Sparks danced across the barrel of his arm cannon as he dug at the dirt with one hoof a moment before he charged at V-mon. “Jet Gallop!”

V-mon yelped as he leapt out of the way of Centarumon’s attack. His eyes flew open wide as he watched the ground explode where he had been standing only seconds before. “Yow!”

The near miss made Daisuke’s chest lurch, his body flooding with adrenaline. “Careful, V-mon! That guy’s fast!”

“Keep your distance, Patamon!” Takeru shouted.

Patamon hardly needed the warning, but he nodded as he flew high above Centarumon. He took a deep breath then blasted it at the Adult, aiming for the black ring around Centarumon’s neck. “Air Shot!”

Centarumon turned in time for the air pressure to hit his helmet with a resounding clang. His narrowed eye focused on Patamon as he took aim with his sparking arm cannon. “Hunting Cannon!”

“V-mon Head!” V-mon shouted his attack at the same time as Centarumon, lunging forward to ram his head into the Adult Digimon’s leg. Centarumon teetered off balance as V-mon’s head collided with the side of his knee, nearly falling over. The shot went wild, arcing high into the air before it obliterated rows of seats far from any would be victims. When the one-eyed Digimon recovered he swung his arm at V-mon, but the little dragon ducked back and out of the way.

Hikari cradled Tailmon in one arm as she ran over to the fallen Elecmon, picking it up as quickly as she could manage while still being mindful of the injuries both Digimon sported. She darted for Palmon, knowing that she could not carry all three at once, but she saw no place that would be safe for them to hide from Centarumon’s deadly attacks. The door the Adult Digimon came through had closed sometime during the battle, leaving them with only the option of climbing out of the arena, but that would leave them completely vulnerable to attack. She turned to Takeru as she huddled by the wall, shielding the three Digimon with her body. “We have to find a way to get Tailmon and the others out of here!”

Takeru spared Patamon a quick glance as his partner dodged a wild swing from Centarumon before he hurried to Hikari’s side. He picked up Palmon before taking Elecmon from Hikari. “We’ll just have to hold onto them for now.”

Daisuke focused entirely on the battle, feeling a rush of excitement and pride as V-mon dodged around Centarumon’s legs, striking them as often as possible, and rendering it impossible for the controlled Digimon to fire the cannon or charge. The newest Chosen Child jumped in the air, waving his fists around and whooping wildly. “Go V-mon! Kick his butt!”

Tailmon grimaced as she squeezed Hikari’s arm, practically sick with frustration. “If only I could…!” She had used a lot of her energy breaking the cell doors, and the tackle she made earlier aggravated her wounds. It was a struggle not to give in to the instinctive urge to go unconscious. There was nothing left in her to assist this fight.

V-mon hopped out from beneath Centarumon when the larger Digimon split the ground with a violent strike of hooves where he had just been standing. “Boom Boom Punch!” He spun his fists around in a windmill as he pummeled the Centarumon in the chest and collarbone, aiming at the black ring as best he could, but the Adult reared back, letting the front legs take the brunt of the blow.

Takeru’s eyes darted about the arena until he saw Patamon soaring in an arc to come up behind Centarumon. “Don’t give him a chance to retaliate!”

Patamon nodded and went into a nosedive, colliding into the back of Centarumon’s head and striking the helmet with a loud clang. “Air Slam!”

Centarumon thrashed and staggered back from the attacks before drawing back on his hind hooves and slamming his front ones down, forcing V-mon to jump back with a yelp. He lashed out at Patamon with both arms once he recovered his bearings, forcing the flying Digimon to take a sharp arc to avoid the blow. “I will crush you gnats!”

Daisuke tensed as he watched V-mon barely evade Centarumon’s attack, the ground cracking where his partner had been previously standing. “Get on his back, V-mon!” he shouted. “Ride him!”

V-mon yelped as he failed to dodge one of Centarumon’s swipes and was backhanded onto his tail. He skidded across the ground with a grunt, but was quick to return to his feet. He glanced over at Daisuke then nodded sharply. He charged at the Adult Digimon then leapt upwards, flipping over Centarumon’s head so that he could land on the controlled Digimon’s back. “Gotcha!”

Centarumon bucked his hind legs in an effort to dislodge his unwanted rider. “Get off of me!”

V-mon nearly fell, but managed to hook his legs around Centarumon’s middle so that he would not be sent flying. Once he recovered, he shot the Adult a cheeky grin and slapped Centarumon’s flank. “Not a chance!”

Centarumon swung his cannon back at V-mon, only for the Child to duck his attack. “I’ll delete you into data!”

“Thousand Wing!” Patamon spun around in the air until he became a miniature tornado and collided with Centarumon. The centaur-like Digimon was caught completely off-guard by the attack and howled in rage, as he was sent staggering back by the blow to his neck. A crack appeared on the dark ring’s surface that spread until the wicked device crumbled to pieces and disappeared into data.

Takeru could not help but grin from ear to ear, as he watched the ring disappear. “You got it! Alright!”

Daisuke pumped his fists into the air. “Alright! You did it!”

Hikari exhaled as the tension left her. “Thank goodness.”

Centarumon ceased his struggling and blinked his red eye repeatedly as it ceased to glow. He shook his head to clear it then looked around at everyone. “Chosen Children. You’ve finally returned.”

Takeru was the first to approach Centarumon. “Centarumon! Thank goodness, you’ve returned to your senses.”

V-mon blinked as he looked around, still straddling Centarumon’s back. “Huh? Fight’s over?”

Hikari smiled as she moved to join Takeru by Centarumon’s side. “I’m so glad you’re back to normal, Centarumon.”

“I apologize for attacking you,” Centarumon said. “I’m afraid the Digimon Kaiser’s Evil Ring made it impossible for me to disobey him.”

The term caught Takeru’s attention. “Evil Ring? Is that what that thing that was controlling you is called?”

Centarumon nodded as he brought is armored hand to his neck where the dark ring used to be. “Yes. The Digimon Kaiser’s Evil Ring controls Digimon absolutely. The more we resist, the more we lose ourselves to their evil power.”

Palmon fidgeted, anxiously. She was not sure of what was going on anymore, though she was somewhat reminded of their first adventure in the Digital World. However, there was something else far more pressing on her mind. “What’s going on? Where’s Mimi?”

Hikaru smiled gently at Palmon. “She’s waiting for us outside. We’ll go meet up with her once we free the guards too.”

Takeru frowned, wondering just how many guards there were in the coliseum. “But how? We can’t fight everyone when we can’t evolve.”

Hikari turned to Centarumon. “Could you help us, Centarumon?”

Centarumon scraped the dirt with his hoof before bowing his head. “It would be my honor, Chosen Child.”

Tailmon looked at her paw for a long moment before redirecting her attention to the others. “We need to do this fast, before the Kaiser returns.”

Patamon and V-mon nodded vigorously and replied in the same instant. “Right!”

The squeal of joy Mimi made as she saw Palmon almost caused the gathered Chosen to wince as they watched her lunge for her partner, scooping Palmon up in a tight hug as tears welled up at the corners of her eyes. “Palmon! Palmon, you’re safe!”

Palmon sobbed with relief as she clung to Mimi just as fiercely as her partner did to her. “M-Mimi-!”

Hikari smiled, enjoying the wonderfully warm moment of reunion between Chosen Child and Digimon. She hesitated to interrupt it, but she could not help but think of the rest of their friends who were still lost to the Digimon Kaiser’s control. “Now we just have to find the others so we can free them too.”

Daisuke felt a great sense of satisfaction at his string of victories and cocked a crooked smile as he straightened up, eyes bright and energetic. “Yeah, and V-mon and I can break their Evil Rings too! Come on, let’s go looking!”

Takeru looked over at Daisuke, his smile fading as he shook his head and made a negative noise. “For now, we should head back. The Digimon trapped here have already fled and the Digimon Kaiser might show up at any time, so we shouldn’t stick around either.” The Chosen of Hope glanced at Tailmon, who was visibly sagging against Hikari. He hesitated say it aloud, but it was obvious Tailmon was still greatly suffering from her earlier injuries and would not be able to handle any more.

Hikari nodded as she followed Takeru’s gaze to her partner. She pretended not to notice that Tailmon’s tough act was no longer working, but it was hard to keep her worry from showing. “Right. Koshiro can use his laptop to search the Digital World faster than we can on foot.”

Daisuke looked around at the others, surprised to see the joy from moments ago replaced with unease and concern then let out a groan that came rather close to sounding like a whine. “Aww… come on, really? We’re on a roll here!”

Palmon rested her damp cheek against Mimi’s collarbone as she closed her eyes. “I want to go home,” she said, her voice coming out as a tiny plea laced with exhaustion and strained due to stress.

Mimi stroked the petals atop Palmon’s head gently. “I want to go home too, Palmon.” She turned her eyes to the others in a silent plea.

Daisuke stared at Mimi and Palmon, their tear filled eyes wrenching something in his chest, then quickly looked away. A surge of guilt hit him so strongly that it left him flustered and rubbing the back of his neck. “Okay, okay, fine.”

Takeru looked at Daisuke with a small smile on his face before he drew out his Digivice. “Digital Gate, open!” He had barely finished speaking when he realized his error. “Oh wait, Hikari has to–”

A flash sparked from the Chosen of Hope’s Digivice, engulfing the entire group in an instant, leaving no trace of them behind in the Digital World.

The Digimon Kaiser stood silently on top of an Airdramon’s head as he surveyed the damage from high above the coliseum. His Dark Tower was still standing, but all his prisoners and guards had escaped. Even his new toys Patamon and Palmon were gone, and it did not take much effort to figure out what had happened.

A low growl rumbled at the back of the Digimon Kaiser’s throat. “When the cat is away, the mice will play.” He tapped his leg lightly with his coiled whip. It was going to take time and resources to recapture all the little mice the children set loose and put them back in their cells. He needed to punish them, and especially the guards. Those traitors fled with the rest of them once the collars were gone. Not that he expected loyalty from a Digimon.

The Digimon Kaiser’s eyes narrowed, the muscles in his jaw tightening. “Those insects think this is anything more than a nuisance to me? That’s more insulting than anything else they’ve done today.”

With a snap, the Digimon Kaiser lashed out his whip at thin air. The Airdramon cringed back, even though the strike had come nowhere near its skin. “Get to work! A thousand lashes to whoever catches the fewest escapees!”

A mighty roar rumbled up from down below – a large group of controlled Digimon ranging from Child to Adult had been gathered outside of the coliseum, their eyes piercing red in the gloomy twilight. In the dim light of evening they looked like living shadows as they spread out, disappearing into the forest around the coliseum to become monsters that hunted the innocent and unwary in the dark.

The Digimon Kaiser watched his minions disappear with his arms tightly folded across his chest. Once they were gone he tilted his head, directing his gaze to some point in the distance. “Hmph. They think they can just come in and challenge me in my own game?” A smile that was mostly teeth slowly appeared on his face. “Those newbies have no idea who they’re dealing with.”

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Chapter 5
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