Through trial and error of the interface of the mysterious handheld, several of its functions became apparent. The Scan command was able to give information about Digimon within a certain radius. Lloyd tested this on the residents of the shrine. From afar, he could see a few of them talking to Trance. A Patamon fluttered awkwardly to hover around the Renamon's head. The tiny Kudamon floated also, yet with complete stillness. Len seemed to be the most boisterous among them. He pushed on him and yelled, "What is going through your spacey head right now, you can't leave!"
"Preparations" meant saying goodbye to his friends. Makes sense, it sounds like we're going to be gone for a while.
The next command on the device, Status, tracked Renamon.
Rena C D NSp 11 G 240 H 400 E
Now that he had the time to navigate all the menus, the earlier array now had more detail available by tapping on each piece.
When the device referred to a Digimon, it left out the "mon."
To save space on the screen, I assume. Why do they all need to be mon? Oh, I guess it's like a file extension.
C stood for Child, although Lloyd wasn't sure that was entirely accurate for Renamon. Maybe that has to do with what Anahata said. He's probably close to adulthood unless there's some kind of coming of age ritual.
Data was Renamon's attribute, which is what the D meant. Len and Kudamon had a "Vaccine" attribute. It had no significance to Lloyd yet, so he thought to ask Trance about it among other things.
NSp meant Nature Spirit, while again Len and Kudamon had VB for Virus Buster. These classifications were confusing. What was the significance?
The remaining numbers were much easier to understand. 11 GB was the size of Renamon's data. Health and Energy were familiar enough in games to not need further thought.
There was also a map feature. It was only possible to navigate Kitsune Forest for now. Following the map was a section for contacts, but none were listed.
"Ready to go?" A voice came from right next to him. Trance had approached without his notice.
"Ah! Sorry. Yes, let's get going." Tamer and Digimon embarked on their journey by stepping through the secret barrier. It was no less jarring for the human this time than the first. The fox went ahead without regard to Lloyd's delay. "Excuse me, Trance? Do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" Lloyd's tone was full of cheer and enthusiasm.
Trance stopped and turned around. Once Lloyd caught up to him, he said, "That would be fine." His face was stone. Those icy blue orbs seemed to emit a harsh glow. It was kind of creepy, but not intentionally so.
"Can you explain what the significance of 'Data' and 'Vaccine?'" As well as 'Nature Spirit' and 'Virus Buster?'
Trance swiftly marched through the forest while he answered his tamer's questions about Digimon. He kept looking straight forward and didn't make eye contact often. "Data, Virus, and Vaccine are the three attributes. There is a balance to the whole world and all of the Digimon in it. The attributes are either weak or strong against one another. The differences are subtle and not absolute, but some Digimon are better at fighting against certain ones. Vaccine Digimon have attacks that are strong against evil Virus types. However, they are not as effective against Data Digimon, which are generally neutral.
"For example, Len's species, Leppamon, is a Virus Buster with the Vaccine attribute. His kind excel at tracking and eradicating evil Digimon, and they revel in the hunt. Virus Busters are a Digimon family, a grouping of species that share similar abilities or traits. The Virus Busters are known to wield magnificent holy energy. The Nightmare Soldiers and Nature Spirits are other Digimon families, and there are several more as well."
"Uh...I see," Lloyd response stumbled. "I think I understand." The truth was it was still a little murky. Perhaps it will be more pertinent later in the game? "Um, I hope you don't mind me asking... Did your parents name you Trance? Is it a nickname?" That face would belie all but the strongest emotions, so he could only hope he didn't strike a nerve by asking a personal question.
"Parents?" The Renamon actually turned to look with a raised brow. "What are parents?"
Lloyd pondered a moment before asking his next question. "How do Digimon reproduce? How do you...propagate? Do you grow old and die?"
"Oh. Once we get to a certain stage in our lives, we die. Then our data is recycled into a new form. So in a way, we are all immortal. When one dies, another is born. As I said, there is an absolute balance to the world. But what are parents?" Trance was as eager to learn about his strange new companion as much as Lloyd wanted to learn about Digimon.
The birds and the bees. This isn't going to be easy. "In my world, to make a new being, two of the same species have to... You see, they... Each of them gives up a part of their data and combine it. Neither of them has to die to make a new life. We still grow old and die, though. So, did your friends give you that name?" Lloyd wanted to change the subject. He was flushed from his awkward attempt at explaining sexual reproduction to a computer program.
Trance was too embarrassed himself to give any notice. "Actually, yes. Many Digimon are called by their species name but others have unique given names. They call me Trance because they say I'm always lost in thought, a daydreamer. I don't know if I like the insinuation of being oblivious, but it is what everyone calls me."
"I think it's a nice name. That's right! I never had the chance to properly introduce myself. My name is Lloyd."
They asked questions back and forth as they walked. Eventually they made it to the edge of the forest. A clearing was up ahead. The sounds of rushing water echoed from the rapids of the river.
Before the two made it that far, Renamon held his paw in front of Lloyd to signal a halt. Long fox ears twitched. In a moment he had changed from calmly inquisitive to predatory. "We're being watched," he murmured. "I can smell it...a demon." He raised his muzzle in the air and sniffed.
The boy's gaze nervously darted in all directions. "Do you think we should get out of here quickly?" To him, there was no reason to participate in unnecessary battles.
"No," Trance snapped. "I will not let a demon defile this forest. After I clean up this filth, we will go." The Digimon assumed a fighting stance with his fists raised and his muscular legs readied like a loaded spring.
Well I'm not about to argue with that. Lloyd thought it best to stay silent and out of the way. He had to stay alert for his own sake, too. The device was procured to scan for the hidden stalker.
"You will do what? Ahahaha!" A dark menacing cackle came from nearby. From behind one of the fiber optic trees, a sliver of a devil emerged. His pure white form was impossibly slender and long. Leathery, tattered wings extended from the back of the Digimon. Long horns protruded from the sides of his temples. The devil bared his fangs in a ravenous manner. "I am going to tear you apart, nice and slow. Ahahahaha!"
Trance hesitated to make his move. Any other time, he would have dashed to the opponent before they could utter that many words. Something intangible pulled him towards the human. Logically, he had to protect the boy as the key to the answers he sought. More importantly, his foe was a familiar species. IceDevimon was an Adult stage Digimon. Without help from Len, he could almost never face an Adult and win. "Can you fight? What is your technique?"
The question caught Lloyd off guard. He shook his head. "W-What!? No, I can't do anything like that!" The request made him worry about his odds of success. You really expect me to help against that thing?
"No time for chatter! Focus on saving your lives! Icy Shower!" IceDevimon outstretched his wings and beat them. Dozens of icicles materialized in the air around the wings and were hurled at the adventurers. The attack came from far away enough that even Lloyd managed to jump out of the way.
An agitated grunt came from the fox. "So you're no better than a baby. Very well, leave this to me," he said with disdain. In the next moment, he leapt towards IceDevimon. A Renamon did not fight with brute strength. Like most Digimon, they had more strength than a human, but it had a body built for speed over power or defense. His plan was to close the gap and outmaneuver his enemy.
He dashed straight for IceDevimon, who slashed at a considerable distance with his claws. It was effortless to dodge. He expected this. All along he intended to circle around to strike from behind. He threw a jab with all of his might into the demon's spine.
While Trance did have the advantage of speed, their difference in overall power was too substantial. The punch was only a slight annoyance. IceDevimon spun around and knocked away his prey like a pesky insect. Trance immediately recovered and circled again. He darted in a random pattern to disorient his opponent. All the tamer could do was watch the graceful dance in awe. After one last feint, Trance vaulted above and unleashed his special technique. "Fox Leaf Arrow," he announced, somehow as even as ever. Leaves hardened by a glowing aura rained down with a wave of his arms.
IceDevimon's reaction was faster than it had ever been in the battle. "Zero Freeze! Ahaha!" From the demons eyes came a frigid aura that froze the air. He held a sheet of ice like a shield over him to block the attack. The leaves pelted the ice shield. Completely unscathed, the demon lobbed his conjuration aside and reached up with his spindly arms. His claws raked across Renamon's torso. It was enough to knock him to the ground.
This really isn't good. Trance, can you win? Should we run while we still can? Damn it, I feel so helpless. What kind of game is this, anyway!?
Trance stood up. He clutched his bleeding ribs. His assailant would show no mercy, however. IceDevimon's long arms seemed to stretch all the way to where Renamon stood. Once more he slashed. When his claws felt nothing but air, the target a mere image, he furiously turned around ready to continue his assault. Another Fox Leaf Arrow was already barraging him from behind. One of the fox Digimon's other talents, Kohenkyo, allowed it to create illusory images. The copy allowed him enough time to circle around without being noticed.
The frigid devil winced and covered his face with his arms. Sharp, pointed leaves stuck in his flesh like darts on a dartboard. "Grraahhh! Enough playing around. You're starting to annoy me. Icy Shower!" Being at a much closer range this time, his projectile attack was harder to avoid. Trance weaved in between the ice shards, but several glanced off of his limbs. One icicle impaled his right arm just below the shoulder. In that span of time, IceDevimon rushed in and clasped both hands tightly around his prey. He squeezed and dug his nails deep. "Not so nimble now, are we? I do so enjoy ripping apart helpless children. Ahaha!"
When Lloyd heard Trance cry out in agony, he knew he had to do something. If he didn't he would be the devil's prey just the same. "Hey!" he shouted. He mustered what little confidence he could. "Hey, don't think this battle is over! This whole time I've been watching your moves and I know I can beat you! If you're really so strong, fight me!"
IceDevimon let Renamon fall limp. He grimaced at Lloyd. "I don't like being interrupted, you insolent child! Do you so badly want me to dismember you first? Fine. I do like it when they are feisty, after all. Well, come on then. Don't just stand there."
"You're so weak, I don't have to move to defeat you! I'll charge up my attack and blast you away from right here!" Lloyd barked. If he hadn't said his words so forcefully, they would have come out broken. He was neither a skilled liar or the confident sort to begin with. He held his hands in front of him as if he were preparing some sort of magic.
"Don't be ridiculous. I won't let you do anything but scream!" IceDevimon roared as he took flight.
The sight of the demon charging in his direction was enough to mortify the boy. He couldn't make himself move. "Zero Freeze!" The aura emanating from IceDevimon's paws enveloped the human and encased his body in ice from the shoulders down. All the way down to his feet the crystals formed. Lloyd was securely attached to the ground. "You were saying? Oh, that look on your face is so delectable. The fear is so very palpable that it brings me great pleasure. Hahaha!"
Lloyd shuddered as his face was gently caressed by razor like nails. He struggled to break free of the ice. It was futile. He looked past his captor to the fox.
Trance was slowly pulling himself up. The gashes and bruises covering his body had taken their toll. Something else had given him the strength to stand. Instinct was telling him to protect his companion at all costs. He felt invigorated, but he was not sure why. A halo of light surrounded him. The light pulsed and intensified until it was blinding. His form faded into the consuming aurora as his data was rewritten.
Under the ice, in Lloyd's pocket, the device beeped and vibrated, not that he had time to reach it even if he weren't bound. His expression changed from fear to bewilderment. IceDevimon took notice and turned to watch as well.
Renamon emerged with a different body. He was now quadrupedal and had nine tails that burned with white-blue flames like a ghostly candelabra. Renamon had evolved into the Adult species, Kyubimon. With this new power, he no longer feared the outcome of this encounter. Instead of making his move, he merely stood perfectly still and glared. "This battle is over."
"I wouldn't be so sure. One more step and I slice his throat!" IceDevimon spat while holding his claw around Lloyd's neck.
Kyubimon did not hesitate. "Fox Tail Inferno." He flicked his tails towards them and shot nine orbs of mystic flame. IceDevimon abandoned his hostage and distanced himself from the assailant. The attack instead hit Lloyd, but it did not burn him. The flames felt warm. The boy felt the ice that trapped him melt away. "What's wrong? Afraid to melt?" Trance taunted the demon.
IceDevimon tried one last time to desperately save himself. "Zero Freeze!" The icy blue aura was focused into a beam.
In the same instant, Kyubimon launched another attack. "Fox Flame Dragon!" While he sprinted at the foul devil, the flames on his tails wrapped around his whole body. It happened too fast for human eyes to perceive, but at some point during the charge his body ceased to be and became entirely composed of fire. A discharge erupted from that entity. A form like an eastern dragon blazed ahead and passed through both the Zero Freeze and IceDevimon. When Kyubimon halted his charge and the flames died down, IceDevimon's data was already disassembled into infinitesimal particles.
"Lloyd, are you alright?" he asked as he walked over to his tamer.
"Yes, I'm fine, but what about you? What happened!?"
"It would appear as though my training and meditation have finally been rewarded. I evolved and am now Kyubimon, an Adult," Trance replied. "Shall we continue?" he asked with a cool smile.
So that's how it works. Was that just a convenient coincidence? How can he be so calm after all that? My legs are jello.
"I-I'm sorry," Lloyd stammered. "Can we take just a quick break? I'm feeling dizzy." He took a seat on the grass. "That was incredible, though. I thought for sure I was dead."
"We should not linger too long. It will be dark soon and we should get to the next village before then. Hop on."
"Um...Hop on? Like ride on your back? Are you sure that's okay?" the boy asked nervously.
"Yes, we'll make much better time this way. Len used to carry me when I was tired or injured. Come on, then." Trance hunched down so that Lloyd could climb up. He was certainly the right size for riding. Even so, it felt strange to ride a mount that talked back to you. "Hold on tight, I'm going to stretch these new legs."