Team Matrix backed against the wall as the dozens of metal creatures closed in on them, eyes blaring a demonic red. Closer they moved in on them, the gears on their body faintly audible to them at this distance and the clanking of their steel feet on the metal floor. The thing that made it even more terrifying was that the parts that the metal didn't cover revealed the identity of the Digimon underneath that was slowing being consumed by the living metal. It was like they were in a horror movie that they couldn't wake up from. Flint and the others had hoped that their disguises would help them blend in longer, but that was not the case.
"I didn't think it would end like this," cried Dan shaking in is robotic-skinned limbs. "Seriously. Death by cyborg Digimon is by far the most insane thing that has happened to us."
"At least we're going out looking good," commented Jack in a laid back tone. "Too bad for you Dan. You look like you just came out of the recycling bin."
"I wish you'd cut out with that attitude," stated Fonz through a speaker system from his giant chicken walker robot. At the top of the robot was a cube-shaped afro like a computer chip that occasionally discharged some electricity from it.
"We've been over this already," he groaned. "Something with this old robot shell is doing this to me. Though I have to agree that you do look quite lame dressed like that."
"I know," admitted Dan. "Still Rex's idea to wear a "Hello, I am a Robot" nametag did help out a bit." Rex replied to him with a series of beeps and clicks turning his head to try and look at Dan through the tiny camera hold in his costume. Since he got stuck in what he assumed was a robotic trash can Rex has not only had to deal with being bound again, but he couldn't even speak normally. He had to use his nose to type out a message and even then he didn't even know if he was going it right. "Thanks, Rex. That means a lot to me even if I don't know what you were trying to tell me."
"We're not dead yet," announced Flint trying to raise any morale in his team that he could. This was especially hard since he had been shaking almost the entire time since he laid eyes on these creatures. His heart was racing like crazy and he feared this was truly the end for them. "Fonz, did you figure out your weapon systems yet?"
"Well..." he began to say as he pressed a few buttons and brought up a jukebox that started playing the "Happy Days" song. "No. This robot is so poorly designed with a whole mess of worthless and random features that nobody could possibly figure out how to operate it. Who is the idiot who designed this thing?"
"Probably the same people who designed the water center," muttered Flint.
"What was that?" asked Fonz.
"Never mind," Flint instructed. "Keep trying and keep thinking everyone. We're going to need a miracle to get out of this mess."
As much as Flint wanted to believe in his own words he felt terror like none he had ever imagined before. He was amazed in his own ability to hide such a thing from the others, but he knew he was the second he fully accepted defeat he'd most likely open a floodgate of tears. Today had been simply a disaster and it started before he had even awoken.
Flint was running around in the dark. He tried desperately to catch his breath, but he was too tense to even breathe properly. "Where is everyone?" he cried as he searched for his team. Suddenly he heard a dying cry and turned to see Jack cleaved in two before his body dissolved into 1's and 0's before vanishing. "Jack!" His mind could barely wrap around the death of one of his friends when he heard another scream from Fonz who suffered the same fate and then Dan. "Fonz... Dan..."
"Why couldn't you save us," he could hear them state in the afterlife in a letdown tone.
"I tried my best," he whimpered feeling the pain well up into tears in his eyes. "But I still couldn't save you."
"Flint," said Rex in a weary voice. Flint turned to see him crawling towards him. He was badly injured, but the worst of it was his missing leg that had 1's and 0's floating out of it as he slowly met his end.
"Rex, don't worry!" he called out to him as he rushed over. "I won't lose you too."
Flint hustled as fast as he could to Rex, fearful thoughts in his mind causing his stomach to churn. He was only an arm's length away when he heard a cleaving sound come from right in front of him and saw the light fade from Rex's eyes. Flint tried to reach for Rex's outstretched hand, but dissolved into 1's and 0's before he could make contact and he was forced to watch his best friend's data float around him and vanish. Tears streamed down his eyes lost for what to do next. He felt so empty inside and life seemed pointless for him to go on alone. He didn't want to go on like this. He waited for his own death to come. Then before him was a pair of red glaring eyes.
Then he woke up from that nightmare.
Flint panted heavily, his entire body covered in sweat. Looking around, he discovered he was sleeping at their campsite where he had been the night before. Dan, Jack, and Rex were still asleep and Fonz was sleeping at his place and would join up with them for breakfast.
"That was the worst sleep I ever had," thought Flint as he took a dip in the water to clean the sweat from his body. He couldn't help but shudder at the thought of such a thing coming true. He was even haunted by closing his eyes, seeing those red ones glaring at him from the darkness. It took time and his friends awakening to finally put him at ease again. Still, he didn't want to worry them with what was most likely a side effect from that licorice, ice cream and anchovy pizza he had last night, but when playing Iron Gut Dare he refused to lose, even if it meant eating a pizza with anchovies on it.
"I'm surprised to see you up so early, Flint" commented Dan setting up for breakfast. "Normally you and the others don't wake up until you smell breakfast cooking, but all of you are already awake."
"Why not?" replied Rex happily as he did some stretches. "We're finally going to go on another adventure and after this one we're finally going to move onto Rank Three."
"I'm just making sure I get some breakfast," yawned Jack still feeling sleepy. "That's why I always make sure to tie a bell around Rex's tail when he's asleep so I get up when he does."
"That's what this is for?" cried Rex as he looked at and wagged his tail. "And you told me that my tail was thinking of leaving me for a better bottomed Veemon." Flint and Dan just stood there silently. "I'm surprised I fell for that as well."
"Well why don't you guys join Flint for a dip while I get breakfast done," suggested Dan. "Fonz should be here soon too."
"After being adrift for all that time," groaned jack. "Do you really think I want to go swimming?"
"Last one in is a rotten Digi egg," declared Rex as he did a cannonball into the water and splashed Jack soaking him from head to toe.
"Nothing like the return of daily life to get us back to normal life," growled Jack before he jumped in after Rex and swam frantically to catch Rex. Rex paddled away keeping just out of Jack's reach to keep him coming relentlessly.
"Is everything alright?" asked Dan to Flint. "You seem a bit quiet and lost in thought today."
"Just a bit excited," Flint told him using a small white lie to hide what was truly bothering him. "We'll be Rank Three before we know it and be one step closer to finding the Infinity Zone."
"I figured it might be something like that," replied Dan as he gathered some food from their stock. "This is going to be a bigger change than what we did going from Rank One to Rank Two. First off, we'll have to relocate ourselves to a different Treasure Hunter's Guild facility that houses Rank Three members. There you'll get to see what kind of stuff is available for members of the guild with some experience and success under their belts."
"Like what?" asked Flint curiously.
"Yeah tell us!" exclaimed Rex piggybacking an exhausted Jack back to the shallow water beside Flint.
"I wouldn't want to ruin the surprises, but you already know more difficult and rewarding adventures will await and we'll be able to carry weapons with us."
"I've been thinking a bit about that," said Flint. "I figure something to compliment my close range style of combat would be good."
"Well I want a big soul stealing holy sword axe bow of unstable might and coolness," stated Rex. "Also it should be able to summon barbecue-smoked ham whenever I want." Rex licked his lips at the thought of such an overly complex and bizarre weapon that only his mind could have conceived.
"No comment," Jack said. "I don't even know where to begin, but I'm sure Freudmon would love picking your brain.
"I doubt we'll have access to anything that, uh, fantastic right off the bat." Dan informed them. "Weapons are usually a lot more expensive than regular gear. I hope you guys saved some money from all the jobs we've done."
"No problem there," Flint stated. He had been determined to save up for something strong from the start. Just the thought of what he might find, kept him from thinking of his nightmare.
"I wish you told me soon," groaned Rex. "I spent amount of it so I might not be able to get my really cool weapon."
"Do you even know how to hold a sword axe bow weapon thing?" asked Jack.
"Everyone knows you don't hold it," explained Rex like it was common knowledge. "You wield it with your heart."
"Right," replied Jack skeptically.
"What are you planning on getting, Dan?" asked Flint. "You've got the muscles to wield some heavy equipment."
"True, but I'm not sure if I'm much of a weapon guy," Dan admitted.
"That's fine," said Flint. "And Fonz is probably going to use his use that bow of his again. I can;t wait to see him use it. I missed out last time."
"It was awesome," Rex said. "He took down Faust's hot air balloon with one shot."
"So, he fired a static strand of fake hair from his wig," mumbled Jack uncaring about that. "Don't you want to know what kind of weapon I'm going to get?"
"Not really," Flint replied showing as little interest in what Jack had to say as Jack had about Fonz's weapon.
"Is breakfast ready yet?" asked Rex ignoring Jack entirely.
"Few more minutes," he replied as he checked the pot.
"None of you care?" cried Jack, though a rumble in his stomach reminding him of his own hunger and figured they weren't interested in anything else but filling their stomachs now.
"Someone mention my name?" asked Fonz as he came up to the lake. "Cause my afro is pulsing so I know my name's being said."
"Hey Fonz," Jack said. "Want to know what kind of weapon I'm going to get when I get to Rank Three?"
"Honestly," he told him. "I thought you were more of a cheerleader egging us on in the fight or at most a meat shield."
"Hey I resent," Jack began to say before he thought for a moment. "Actually cheerleader sounds pretty good. It means I don't have to work as hard and when the fighting occurs I won't get hurt."
"Well meat shield, cheerleader, or whatever our special roles are, we need to stay energized so let's dig in," stated Dan indicating that breakfast was ready.
"So, I see you're sporting a green afro today," commented Rex.
"Well I felt like wearing something a little different today," he explained. "And once we reach Rank Three I can start sporting my attack afro's again and show you my true strength."
"That sounds awesome," said Flint. He and Rex looked on with awe imagining what other powers his afros had to offer. "Think we can come over some time to get some afros too?"
"The afro is my thing, understand?" he said with a bit of a threatening voice. "But I might be willing to set you up with hair styles one day."
"Sounds good to me," said Rex. "We'll have a lot of stuff to look forward to now, but let's not hurry when we still have plenty of breakfast to eat."
They devoured the food with a mixture of hunger and excitement coursing through them. Once they had their fill, they put all their stuff away for a final time before they set down the road to the Treasure Hunter's Guild facility.
When they finally went inside, they immediately realized something was amiss. The place was empty of any other Digimon, which was strange for so early in the day when everyone was waiting around to choose an adventure to go on. Even more unusual, the place was stripped and emptied as if it had been abandoned.
"What's going on here?" asked Rex. "We weren't away that long were we?"
"A few days, but this doesn't make any sense," replied Fonz. "Something must've happened. We need to find somebody and get some answers."
"We here's somebody," Jack stated looking over the counter. The others went to join him and saw he was standing over Digitamamon asleep on the floor.
"Good job," stated Fonz. "You sniffed out his wallet didn't you?"
"Uh, no," Jack lied as he slipped some RAM he got from Digitamamon into his pants pocket.
"Well let's wake him up anyway," said Dan tapping on his shell, only to receive nothing more than a few snores back. "His shell must be soundproof or something."
"Let me give a crack at it," replied Rex. He walked right next to Digitamamon and stared at him silently for a moment. He breathed deeply through his nose and placed his hands on the shell feeling for a weak spot.
"What are you doing?" asked Flint. "I don't care what he looks like; it would be murder to scramble him."
"I know that," he answered calmly. "I'm just feeling for the right spot. Then I'll hit him with a fully focused attack and wake him up." They all watched in wonder and confusion, not sure if even he knew what he was doing. Then he rammed into the shell with his head with all his might. This confirmed their suspicion that he was going to epically fail. "Didn't work." Then Rex fell backwards in a daze with a big lump on his forehead.
"Next," said Fonz looking at Flint and Jack.
"I could try to use fire to burn him out, but I might accidentally hard boil him," commented Flint.
"I was thinking the same thing," Jack added. "But..."
A tiny flame popped out of his finger no larger than one would get from a lighter. Everyone stared at the rather pitiful flame. While Flint's flames would have been too strong, Jack's couldn't even warm water. Fonz licked his index finger and then pinched the flame with his thumb and index finger extinguishing it. "Well, Fonz you're up."
Fonz simply took a few steps back and thumped the wall with his fist. Instantly, he awoke from his slumber. "Huh, who, what where?" he mumbled as he got to his feet. He looked around and saw the members of Team Matrix were gathered around him.
"How'd you do that?" asked Dan curiously.
"It's a cool thing," he explained.
"So, what are you guys doing in here?" asked Digitamamon as he got to his feet. "I must've forgotten to lock the door before I took my nap."
"That's what we wanted to know about," said Flint. "Where is everybody and everything here?"
"I'm afraid this facility is being closed," he explained. "You guys didn't drop by recently so you must've missed it. All the Rank One and Two members here have vanished after taking a certain mission. After the first few instances rescue parties were sent to help, but they vanished too. Before long most of the members here have vanished. Any that remained decided to quit than vanish as well, but I'm afraid even they are gone too."
"How do you know that?" asked Dan.
"Because they all sent out a distress signal from their DigiPads all from the same location and nothing else," he told them. "And without any members left here this place is shutting down and we're moving to a different facility. If you want I could bump you up to Rank Three now since I know you're all more than qualified for it, but also because you should get out of here before you go missing too."
"Sounds good to me," stated Jack nervously. "I'd rather not needlessly go on suicide missions with no payoff for me whatsoever. Nobody say anything stupid to make us go there."
"What about the Treasure Hunter's Guild?" asked Fonz. "Wouldn't they take more serious action than this if it is so serious?"
"Normally yes, but there are likely other problems in other regions and when it comes to priorities the higher ranked areas come first. I hate to say it, but for the most the lowest ranked members are pretty much on their own when problems arise."
"You can't be serious," shouted Flint. "They'd just abandon them when there's a chance they can still be saved. Everybody, we're going."
"Oh, what did I just say!" cried Jack. He grabbed Rex's semi-conscious body to the door.
"Huh?" moaned Rex as he started to come to. "What's going on?"
"We're going to face out destiny," answered Jack in a pissed off tone. "And by destiny I mean death. And by death I mean a hail of gun fire. And by gun fire I mean I have no idea what we're walking into because it is too vague to tell so far. The point is we're doomed so you better learn to get over with living."
"What?" asked Rex confused. "Am I dreaming?"
"That's the spirit," cried Jack. "It's like a wonderfully horrible dream we'll never ever, ever..." Before he could continue, Fonz slapped him in the face.
"Pull it together man," he shouted slapping him several more times across the face making his cheeks swell a bit and turn bright red.
"Thanks," Jack said as he took a few deep breaths. "I needed that."
"Hey, when it comes to being cool, I'm the king," Fonz said.
"Are you sure your team is really up for this?" asked Digitamamon to Flint and Dan while he looked at the other three.
"We might goof around a bit, but we manage to rise to the occasion," explained Dan. "And I doubt we'd be this relaxed if we didn't believe we could succeed in the first place."
"Well if you say so," the egg Digimon sighed, not entirely sure if he could believe that.
"So what is the place that all the other teams have been vanishing at?" asked Flint.
"The Metalwork's Factory," he told them.
"This dump is the place?" asked Jack as they reached the old abandoned building. "Why is it the one location we find with no trouble has to be a place that looked decrepit and be the location other Digimon have been disappearing from? There better be some good treasure in here."
"Have you forgotten why we came here in the first place?" asked Dan.
"Yeah, but who says we need to go home with empty pockets?" asked Jack. "Just about it."
"He does have a point," muttered Fonz as he fumbled through his thoughts.
"Fonz actually agrees with Jack," gasped Rex.
"No, let me explain," said Fonz. "Jack's right. Getting here was much too easy. Not even the easiest Rank One mission should be this simple. Something smells fishy about this place. We better be careful."
The inside of the factory looked even worse than the outside. The steel beams that supported the room were rusted over every inch of them. Light only shined through the broken sections of the filthy windows. There were some machines and conveyor belts, but it was hard to tell if any of it was still operational. In a way, this place looked like it was a graveyard for machines.
Just being here, Flint couldn't help but recall his dream from this morning. He had felt so confident that they could solve this mystery with ease, but now he felt like he was in a horror movie and questioning the logic of going in further instead of getting out while he still could. He never had the chance to consider that option as they heard a sharp sliding sound as the steel gate went down over the entrance and sealed them in.
"How'd that happen?" cried Rex as they all ran to the door. "We're stuck now."
"Two feet of steel blocking the door," observed Dan. "And I bet the rest of the place is just as secure even if it does look like a mess. The windows are too high and none of us can fly. Yeah, we're stuck alright."
"Well this pretty much confirms that there's something really wrong here," added Fonz. He looked at Jack noticing how calm he looked.
"Like we'd have left even if the entrance wasn't locked," he said and the others couldn't deny that either.
"Then we'd better move carefully," said Flint. "No matter what comes at us we can't panic."
Flint's words were then quickly preceded by the sound of clanking footsteps coming from the path leading deeper into the factory. They waited silently as they grew more numerous by the second as well as louder. Then they saw a bunch of red lights appear from the darkness of the passage. Finally, the creatures stepped forward into the light.
"It's Digimon," said Dan in surprise. "Think it's the missing Digimon."
"But what about all that stuff on them," commented Fonz as he stared at the metallic parts that were covering all of the Digimon on different parts of their bodies. It wasn't so simple as if the metallic parts had been attached to them, but it looked as if it was a natural part of their body that continued off of their flesh. If they had gotten a closer look they would have seen the metal was actually thousands of tiny metal scales covering their bodies and slowly spreading to cover them more. The red lights they saw were actually coming from their glowing red eyes that looked forward soulless of any kind of emotion. "It's like they're cyborg Digimon."
"Think they're called Cymon?" asked Rex.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," stated Jack. "What kind of idiot would name them Cymon?"
"It doesn't matter what they're called," said Fonz. "The point is they're coming at us and they don't look friendly. Any ideas Flint?" Flint didn't answer. "Flint?" He couldn't stop shaking and staring at their glowing red eyes.