Flint and Rex looked over the edge and into the raging waters below. When they had signed up for the “Clam Bowl” Quest they pictured bowls of creamy clam chowder, not a deep pool of water surrounded by un-scalable cliffs. The treasure was somewhere deep down there and even if they were able to find it, they’d have no way to be able to get back up.
“This is hopeless,” moaned Rex, sitting by the edge and tossing rocks into the water. “There’s no way we can do this. We’d need to grow gills to get in and then wings to fly out.”
“Before we become flying fish,” remarked Flint. “We should see what Dan found on the other side. Here he comes now.”
Dan ran towards them and by the look of things, he had good news to tell them. “Hey, guys, I’ve found an area some vines are growing from the lake to the top of the cliff. I tested them and they are strong enough to support me so it should be no problem for you two.”
“Great,” said Rex, halfheartedly. “We solved that problem, but we still lack the means to find the treasure once we get into the water.”
“Not true,” stated Dan. “Now that we have a means of getting out, we can get some water gear. We’re off to BetaMart.”
“What’s BetaMart?” asked Flint.
“Welcome to BetaMart!” exclaimed the three Betamon at a small shack in town.
Flint and Rex looked at the small stand and were a bit disappointed about having to come back to town for this. They were hoping for something more spectacular like the Cat’s Cradle that they had been in just the other day.
“I’m Matt, the strongest,” said the Betamon in the middle.
“I’m Eric, the fastest,” added the Betamon on the right.
“And I’m Felix, the smartest,” finished the Betamon on the right. Flint and Rex looked at the three, but didn’t see any visible way to tell them apart. “So what can we do you today?”
“We’re in need of some gear and do you offer yourselves as underwater aids?” asked Dan.
“You bet,” said Matt. “So, what kind of gear do you need? Water wear? Breathers? Weaponry?"
“Everything, but weapons,” Dan replied. “We aren’t Rank 3, yet.”
“But Digitamamon said that if we succeed in this mission we’re get promoted to Rank 2,” commented Flint.
“So, you’re only at Rank one, then,” said Matt. “Guess that means you three are still new to all this.”
“Even so, we’re making a name for ourselves,” bragged Rex. “I’m sure you’ve heard of Team Matrix.”
“Doesn’t ring any bells?” replied the three Betamon in unison.
“Who asked you?” snapped Rex.
The Betamon grabbed some boxes and placed them on the counter. “Here’s some clothes we have,” said Felix. “I’m sure you’ll find something to your liking. Then we can fit you up with some breathers.”
“What are breathers?” asked Rex.
“They are miniature devices that compress air into a small container. They are used for breathing underwater,” explained Dan.
“Even I’ve heard of them before,” said Flint. “And the name is kind of self explanatory.”
Rex grumbled as he looked through a box of clothes. The others scavenged as well and inevitable found something to wear. Flint got a pair of light blue swim trunks that were yellow at the top. He also found an amusing snorkel with goggles. “Hey, check this out,” he said as he pressed a button on the top of the goggles causing a small set of windshield wipers to swish back and forth on the clear plastic.
“That’s so cool,” cried Rex excitedly.
“You get excited over every little thing,” commented Matt.
“You act just like a little kid,” added Eric. “Are you sure you’re going to be up to this?”
“Who asked you?” barked Rex.
“Childish Digimon always have such short tempers,” stated Felix.
Flint saw Rex was turning from blue to red in the face with anger and quickly searched for something to calm him down. “Hey, check this thing out,” he said in a friendly tone. He pulled out a yellow diver’s shirt. It was yellow except on the end of the sleeves and an anchor symbol on the chest. He pulled at it showing its stretchy properties.”
“Cool!” Rex shouted, taking it and putting it on.
“Childish,” sang the three Betamon in a mocking tone.
Rex was starting to turn red all over and about ready to pounce on his mockers when a shark fin shower cap caught his eye and took his focus off of the Betamon. “I’m going to get this too.” The Betamon just sighed, finding nothing else to say to Rex.
Dan decided on a diving outfit as well. It was red with a black pattern on it. He also had his goggles from earlier, knowing they’d be help for their aquatic expedition as well. A propeller device also caught his eye. As the Betamon explained it attached to his tail and would spin in the water to help move him forward. Rex quickly grew excited about this, until they told him his nub of a tail was too small to use something like that.
“And now, here are some models of breathers,” said Matt. “They come in different styles, but they all only hold up to an hour of oxygen.”
“We’ll get two each,” replied Dan. “Better safe than sorry. We don’t know how long we’ll be underwater so we better be prepared.”
Flint was able to slip his breather into his snorkel. Rex used his banana bandana (that he’s still upset his mistook over his original one) as a mask to keep his breather near his mouth. Dan got a breath that is attached to a pair of nose plugs. Once they were all set they paid the Betamon for it all, including their services as aquatic aids and were off, back the Clam Bowl. Of course, Rex and Flint were in for a surprise when they arrived.
“Jump?!?” they cried together.
“You heard us,” replied Matt. “You don’t get the chance to make such a big leap into a pool very often. You have to seize the opportunity when it presents itself.”
“But this isn’t a pool,” shouted Rex. “We’ll die if we do something like that.”
“Yeah,” added Flint. “Besides there’s some vines we can climb down on.”
“Well, you can’t expect things to get any easier when you go up to Rank 2 and beyond,” explained Felix.
“If you aren’t comfortable with this sort of thing, you might as well stay in the kiddy pool,” finished Eric. With that, the three Betamon jumped together into the drink and made a big splash. Flint, Dan, and Rex watched to see if they were alright. They emerged just as their splash ended.
“What now?” asked Rex. “Do we jump?”
“Are you crazy?” shouted Flint. “We’re taking the vines.”
“I’m surprised at you two,” stated Dan. “You guys showed a lot of promise and now you’re turning into wimps.”
“No way,” retorted Rex in defiance.
“We’re not going to let a little ten story drop scare us,” added Flint. “We’ll show them that we are meant for better things than the kiddy pool.”
“Who are we?” shouted Rex and Flint together as they crossed arms as per usual. “Team Matrix!” Their voices rang out and they held their pose. Unfortunately, the ground they were standing on gave way and caused them to spill over the side. They held each other tightly in terror as they fell, face-first into the water with a big splash of their own. They emerged as quickly as they could, gasping for breath.
“We’re alive,” gagged Rex.
“Hallelujah!” added Flint. They went to hug each other out of joy, but they stopped being afloat and began to sink into the water.
“That was the least graceful dive we’ve ever seen,” commented Matt.
“Now we’re just waiting for your friend,” said Felix.
They all looked at the edge, but they didn’t see any hint that he was about to jump. Then he appeared at the edge looking a bit embarrassed.
“Uh, guys,” he called out. “I’m going to take the vines.”
“What!?!” shouted Rex and Flint. “You told us to jump.”
“Well, yeah, but I’m happy in the kiddy pool.”
So, they all had to wait until Dan made his own way into the water. Dan and Flint were still fuming over that little incident, but let it slide for now. They donned their breathers and submerged into the water. Team Matrix each followed behind a different Betamon; Flint with Matt; Dan with Felix; and Rex with Eric. Underneath the water they discovered a cavern was hidden beneath the surface. They all proceeded cautiously; the only sound they could hear was coming from the engine of Dan’s tail propeller. For Flint and Rex, they found it quite unusual to be submerged for so long without needing to resurface for air. Using the breathers felt awkward and they had butterflies in their stomach from the mere thought of running out of air.
Both time and direction was soon lost to them as they reached the point that light would no longer reach them. It became pitch black, making their expedition even more treacherous. Flint and Rex hadn’t asked Dan why they needed the Betamon as aids, but they hoped that for whatever reasons, being able to safely guide them through the darkness was one of them.
The passage had them turning left, right, and down deeper into the earth; it was a surprise when the Betamon finally led them upwards and the sudden feeling of air against the skin was a welcome surprise to the team, not to mention the light produced from phosphorous and neon crystals glittering on the walls. It was a strange, cool light that lacked the warmth that the sun normally provided.
“We made it,” sighed Flint, relieved they made it. He checked the gauge on his breather and found he had more than half the maximum supply of oxygen left.
“Oh, now we can finally get some fresh air,” exclaimed Rex, removing his breather to take a deep breath. However, he started coughing violently like he was going to cough up a lung.”
“What’s wrong?” asked Flint, as he began coughing a bit as well.
“Put your breathers back on,” ordered Dan. “There isn’t much oxygen in here and there might be some dangerous gases as well. We won’t be able to get any fresh air, it seems, until we get back the way we came.”
“We don’t have breathers,” explained Eric. “We’ll wait here until you are ready to head back.”
“Be careful, okay,” added Matt.
“And don’t let that kid out of your sight,” Felix finished, referring to Rex who promptly replied by sticking his tongue out at them.
Venturing further into this section of the cave, the trio noticed as the ground, walls and ceilings began to change. They became smoother and housed fewer and fewer stalagmites and stalactites. Then it appeared that the ground was laid out neatly with carved stones creating a walkway. This excited them greatly, indicating they were going in the right direction. Their suspicions were confirmed when they arrived at the seemingly universal sign of their goal point, a temple entrance. It was made of stone like the walkway, but shined brightly like diamonds were imbedded in it. Upon closer inspection they found it wasn’t diamonds, but something of just as great value, pearls. Hundreds, if not thousands of them were littered around the place. Excitedly, Rex and Flint gathered the treasure up in an attempt to get as much as they could. They weren’t sure how they were going to carry so much treasure out and turned to Dan who was busy examining the temple doorway. It was closed, but he was apparently looking for a way to open it.
“What are you doing?” asked Flint. “We’ve got treasure to gather and we’ve only got so much time to get out of here. We can’t afford to lollygag.” This was true as their breathers were nearing empty and they only had one spare each.
“I want to see what’s in here,” Dan replied, his tone serious with resolve that he wouldn’t be denied.
“What’s it matter?” asked Rex. “We only came to find the place and bring back some treasure and since we can’t carry a lot do we really need to bother?”
“I’ve never been to this temple. I have to see if it has any secrets inside,” he told them.
“What are you going on about?” questioned Flint.
“Oh, uh,” stuttered Dan, as he seemed to turn back. “Shouldn’t we see if the Chimera Fang will react like it did before? We have to check it out.”
“I guess,” replied Flint. “But it doesn’t feel strange like it did the last time. Still, we have a bit of time to spare so we could give it a quick look.”
Flint gave Dan a hand looking for a way to open it. Then finally concluded they only way in was to force the doors open. They pushed and tugged with all their might and after a few attempts it started to budge.
“Uh, guys,” quivered Rex, as he watched. He seemed strangely nervous. “I’m getting this strange feeling.”
“What do you mean?” asked Flint.
“It’s just like that time with those Fragment monkeys,” he explained. “I thought it was just due to the whole kidnapping thing, but it’s back again and a lot stronger. It’s telling me there’s something on the other side of those doors. Something big.”
“Relax,” informed Flint as he kept trying to open the doors. “There was nothing in the report for this quest about Fragments. We have nothing to worry about.”
“Actually,” corrected Dan. “The data was only what other teams reported. Just because they didn’t find any Fragments doesn’t mean there aren’t any. But we’ve come this far and I can assure you, nothing bad is on the other side of these doors.”
Famous last words, these were. For as he finished Dan and Flint managed to open the doors a crack and that was all it took for the torrent of water sealed behind it to gush out and in that water was the most monstrous sea creature any of them could have imagined. It had the head of a shark and the body of an octopus with eight long suction cupped tentacles.
The water knocked Flint and Dan towards Rex who was frozen in terror at the monster before them. He was only able to utter one thing from his mouth. “SHARKTOPUS!!!”
Flint grabbed Rex and they ran back the way they came, Dan not far behind and the sharktopus in hot pursuit, aided by the flowing water already raising the water up to their knees. Their running turned to wading and before they could tell the difference they were once again swimming, but this only gave the sharktopus the advantage propelling itself by leaps and bounds after them. They didn’t bother to look back at the beast, fearing it would be the last thing they would see; fighting it was also useless not only because they were at a disadvantage, but it was a freaking monster that picked bigger thing from between its teeth.
Their muscles ached and their sense of direction was escaping them before long. Team Matrix knew they had to get away fast before their strength gave out. Luck was on their side as they spotted a small side passage. Flint and Rex got in first, but as Dan tried to make his way in got stuck by his ample gut. Full of anxiety Flint and Rex pulled his arms with all their might to put his other half to safety and they did so with only seconds to spare as they saw dozens of sharp pointy teeth snap right where Dan’s legs had been.
They rested in their small nook; relieved it hadn’t filled up yet, but was on its way. They swapped out their breathers for their second pair once it ran out of air. They were in trouble if they couldn’t find a way out before they ran out of oxygen.
“This is your fault,” cried Rex. “We didn’t have to open that door and I even said I felt something bad was behind it. Now we’re stuck in here to suffocate, drown, or get eaten.”
“Rex, calm down,” gasped Flint breathing heavily. He was feeling the strain from the pressure as well. He would have lost it if Rex hadn’t snapped first. “We can’t blame each other. We have to stay united to find a way out.”
“No,” said Dan sadly. “He’s right. This is my fault. I was so curious about that temple I acted irrationally and put us all in this situation. I’ve put others at risk again because of my arrogance.”
“Again,” thought Dan and Flint.
“But no more,” Dan stated in a voice that sounded like he was about to repent. “I’ll keep him busy and you guys get out of here while you can. Don’t look back.”
“Don’t go,” cried Rex. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it.”
“You’re a part of Team Matrix,” added Flint. “You belong with us, not some sharktopus’s dinner.”
Their words only caused Dan to hesitate for a moment before he went back into the water and slid out through the hole.
“We’ve got to stop him,” said Rex, getting back in the water.
“I’m with you, but how are we supposed to keep him from getting eaten, let alone save ourselves?”
“Don’t worry,” said Rex, confidently and gave Flint thumbs up. “I just remembered something that will put that sharktopus in its place.”
They emerged from their safe haven to see Dan floating by himself in the water. The sharktopus had been swimming around in anticipation for them to emerge. It caught sight of Dan and charged at him. Flint and Rex swam into action to save their friend. First Flint grabbed hold of Dan and dragged him to away. Rex then took his place readying himself to stop the sharktopus singlehandedly. Singlehandedly was the quite literally what he intended. He heard that one can scare off a shark by punching it in the nose and despite this beast being well beyond the typical size of a shark and only half of one he assumed it would have the same effect.
Rex had to time this properly to compensate for the water’s resistance. When the sea creature was close enough that he could see the blood veins in its eyes he punched. He closed his eyes, not wanting to see his end if this didn’t work. He felt his fist make contact with the rubber-like nose of the sharktopus and it came to a stop. Flint, Dan, and Rex stared in awe, in disbelief that Rex had stopped the creature.
“(Ha!)” Rex exclaimed, though his words were garbled by the water. He was ecstatic at his victory, but it was short-lived as the best opened its mouth as wide as it could giving Rex an up close and personal view of the creature’s countless rows of teeth enormous tongue and uvula in the back of its throat. It then lunged to eat Rex whole and there was nothing they could do to stop it. Rex closed his eyes again.
“SNAP!!!” it clamped its mouth shut. Rex could feel himself being swallowed as the current dragged him down its throat.
“(Rex),” cried Flint, hugging Rex.
Rex opened his eyes, surprised to see his friends sooner than he expected. “(Oh, guys),” he sobbed. “(I didn’t think it would end this way. I was hoping it would involve me attempting to eat an entire ocean of fudge).”
“Just like a kid to have such bizarre fantasies of death,” mocked Felix.
Rex looked and saw the Betamon, Matt, Felix, and Eric were with them now. “(How did you get in the sharktopus’s stomach?)” he asked.
“You weren’t eaten,” Eric explained. “I dragged you away at the last second. I have to say, for a kid you’ve sure got guts, but is it me or does the water feel warmer around here.”
“(You can’t give me a compliment without insulting me can you),” groaned Rex.
“(Uh, not to ruin this moment,” said Flint. “(But it’s coming!)”
With that the Betamon gestured for the members of Team Matrix to hang on to them and they swam for it with all their might. It was amazing just how fast they flew through the water. They weaved through stalagmites and stalactites while the sharktopus bashed through them with ease. At the rate they were going they knew it wouldn’t be long before they made their way to the entrance, but what would they do then? They knew that they had to climb the vines to get out and the time it would take was far too much. They’d be eaten the second they hit the surface. At least that’s what Dan, Flint, and Rex thought, but as they reached the straight shot back up to the entrance the Betamon swam faster than ever. They thought they were trying to widen the gap, but that wasn’t the case, at least not entirely.
As they hire the surface they shot into the air with fantastic force, like a bullet fired from a gun. They climbed higher and higher, but the sharktopus did the same, its mouth wide open to catch them. Rex and Flint waved their arms like crazy as if that would make them get higher faster. As they all reached the climax of their jump they were so close to the being eaten they could smell its breath. As they descended again, Flint, Dan, and Rex clawed at the walls to avoid falling into the water. They held on tightly to their Betamon companions, returning the favor for saving them. Ever so carefully they made their way to the vines and climbed the rest of the way up and collapsed on the nice soft grass. They were all so tired they didn’t move from where they fell for an hour.
“Well, our work here is done,” said Matt. “If you ever need aquatic aids again don’t be afraid to call.”
“After all that?” stuttered Rex. “We all almost got eaten and you can shake it all off?”
“Hey, it’s what we do,” replied Eric. “We’ve taken on jobs with sea creatures that eat that kind of thing for lunch.”
“But this was certainly an interesting one,” added Felix. “We’ve heard you can scare a shark off by punching it in the nose, but we’ve never known someone foolish enough to actually try it. Wait till everyone hears about Rex, the Sharktopus puncher.”
Everyone, save for Rex broke out laughing. It hurt a bit due to every part of their body being sore. “I’ll take that as a compliment too,” said Rex.
The Betamon soon left, leaving Team Matrix. They decided to call it quits for the day and head to their campsite to eat and rest. They’d report to the guild in the morning that they found the Clam Bowl. Flint and Rex weren’t sure how they’d handle looting it as it was, but Dan assured them they had their ways. Flint and Rex were a little disappointed they lost most of the pearls they had started collecting. Only Rex had a handful left that he placed in his bandana and one that somehow got stuck in his nose.
“Guys,” Dan began. “Thanks for saving me even though I didn’t deserve it.”
“We told you,” replied Flint. “You’re a part of the team. We won’t leave a man behind.”
“Yes. And because you have so much trust in me I should be willing to tell you both what I’ve kept hidden. But, not yet.”
“Oh, now you got me all curious,” wailed Rex. “Why not?”
“It’ll take too long and I’m sure you guys want to start eating as soon as possible.”
“I can be patient then,” said Rex as they made tracks for their home.
Jack, the Impmon snuck down the hall quietly. He had been with the cloaked Digimon for a while answering their questions as best he could. By best, of course, he bled out every last bit of RAM he could get to help “refresh his memory.” He made quite a bit of money, but the greedy guy wasn’t satisfied and took the opportunity to see if he could find some more. He went into somebody’s room and began sifting through some boxes.
“Come on,” he grinned. “I’m sure there’s got to be some more RAM here that I haven’t got my hands on.”
His searching came to an abrupt half as he heard someone opening the door. He hid inside a locker and peered through the opening to see one of the cloaked Digimon enter. Once they closed to door behind them they removed their cloak revealing themselves as a Frigimon. Jack saw this as strange as he suspected it to be a virus type Digimon, not a vaccine. He watched further then saw something that made his heart skip a beat. He saw a tattoo on its arm. At first he attempted to deny that he was mistaken, but then the Frigimon moved towards the locker and stopped just close enough for him to get a closer look. He saw the tattoo up close and it confirmed his suspicions.
“The Excavation Guild,” he thought and a moment later the tattoo opened and a bright, glowing eye peered out from the tattoo.