"Lloyd! Evolve me now!" Trance snarled. Not once did he take his eyes off his foe. The fox wanted to make every precaution against being flattened like a bug. There was no way to even damage Raptordramon without evolving.
The tamer hesitated for the moment but wasn't going to let his partner be endangered by his inaction. He initiated the evolution sequence with his DAIS. Now that the quadruped form was more familiar to Trance, the transformation became natural and swift. Renamon somersaulted towards Raptordramon. During the jump, the energy released by evolution enveloped him. He gracefully landed on four paws. Kyubimon faced the fearsome metallic dragon on equal stages of strength, or so he believed.
"Fox Tail Inferno!" the bewitching beast roared as he unleashed nine ghostly spheres of blue flame from his many tails. They were aimed at the body parts not covered by armor, but only a few hit their mark. Raptordramon growled in anger. He certainly felt the burn of the fire, although the effectiveness was still less than what Kyubimon hoped. It barely singed the golden fur on the exposed limbs.
Raptordramon snorted in amusement. "I am a dramon. You thought fire would work? Give up! You'll never be
able to hurt me!" He stomped on the ground with all his might and the cave trembled with it. He assumed an arrogant stance as if challenging Trance to prove him wrong.
While they both grasped for a strategy to overcome the impregnable armor, there was one thought that occurred to both Lloyd and Trance -- that he was probably right. As far as Trance knew, if his flames could not harm his opponent, his physical attacks surely would not. He had no experience with calling on any other techniques as Kyubimon. The wall presented to him, the utter futility he felt, prompted an acknowledgement of shortcoming to be addressed. And he wanted to win even more. It was infuriating.
Lloyd realized another shortcoming, the shortcoming that both combatants shared. Their power relied on an outside source.
If I can get to him, maybe I can stop this battle without Trance getting hurt. He's definitely in shape but... I am a lot bigger than him. All I need to do is take his DAIS.
Kyubimon charged at full speed. He dodged the predictable claw swipe. The inferno consumed him and his body became energy itself. "Fox Flame Dragon!" Trance announced as his blazing serpentine form coiled around Raptordramon's body. Blue flames flared up all around the cybernetic reptile and caused him to howl in pain.
"Raptordramon! Shake him off!"
The newcomer was distraught over the first sign of possible injury. Is his armor really that superior? He's not taking his eyes off the battle. Now's my chance. Lloyd carefully approached. He stayed close to the cave wall on the way over to partially conceal himself and paused to make sure he hadn't been noticed. On the last stretch of the distance between him and the other tamer, he threw caution to the wind and pounced.
At the last moment before Lloyd reached for the DAIS, he was noticed. "Hey! What are you doing?" the younger boy asked.
Rather than try to snatch the DAIS from him, Lloyd got in as close as he could before he swatted. The device was knocked out of the boy's hand and fell to the ground. It was intentionally knocked in the direction away so that Lloyd would be between the boy and the device. They both made a mad scramble for it but Lloyd had the benefit of being much closer. It also helped greatly that the older tamer was taller and had longer reach.
"Give it back! What the hell are you doing!?" the boy said as he grasped for his stolen device.
Lloyd held it up high above his head and out of reach. "Call off the fight, now! Or I'll smash it!" he ordered.
Raptordramon was able to take hold of the fox just as it reverted from his energy body. Kyubimon screamed in distress as he was squeezed by the metal monstrosity. Sharp Digizoid claws scratched away flesh, leaving gashes all over Kyubimon's belly. Streams of blood ran down the dragon's arms. "You lose," he grunted and hurled the limp body against the coarse cave wall.
"Not quite," Kyubimon responded with a labored breath. He struggled to balance on four shaking limbs.
Lloyd didn't have to check his own DAIS to know that Trance had no more to give. He had to end this now. "Call off your DIgimon right now!" he shouted as loud as he could.
"Ward!" the boy called desperately.
Instantly, the hulking Digimon looked back at his tamer. Only now did he notice that Lloyd was there. "Get away from Garret!" he roared as he stomped towards them. His claws were outstretched, ready to attack.
The sight of such a fearsome creature charging at him was enough to scare the wits out Lloyd, but he relied on the belief that they would not destroy their means of evolution. To protect himself, he held out the DAIS as a shield.
"Ward, idiot! If you break that you can't evolve! Stop the fight!" Garret pleaded. There was much anger and frustration in his voice. He didn't want to lose at all, let alone like this.
Raptordramon's jaw dropped. It took moment for the situation to sink in. "We...lost?"
Garret could not look his companion in the eye. "It's not your fault. It's his fault for cheating!" he spat at Lloyd.
Raptordramon's energy level started to decline when he was no longer kindled by the heat of battle. Ribbons of data spun into the air as excess energy was released. The once colossal body of the dragon shrunk as he devolved, and now stood the shortest of the four of them. A squat, muscular purple dragon hung his head in dejection. He fell to his knees from the weight of this realization. "My win streak," a less threatening Child's voice mourned.
The formerly terrifying Digimon looked as though he were about to cry. Ward's Child stage had a metallic coat only on the claws. His wide, expressive eyes had bright yellow irises. Some sort of vestigial wing protruded from both forearms. His triangular draconic face had wide spines protruding on either side. His long skull was topped with a gold pointed crest. He was strong and formidable in this stage as well, but he was far from displaying that.
"Okay. You got what you wanted. Now give it back!" Garret demanded.
"Not so fast," Lloyd slyly remarked as he pulled his leverage out of reach once more. "First thing. There's a defenseless Digimon back there that you terrified. What were you doing?" I can't say I'm comfortable with extortion but it works like a charm.
"What, him? We didn't want to fight him. We only fight strong enemies. We're here because of the Digizoid. I thought it might be the key to Ward's next evolution."
"Next evolution? So Digimon can evolve again?" Lloyd asked to confirm what he already believed to be true. This could be a big deal considering the observable difference between a Child and Adult Digimon.
"You haven't been here long, have you?" the snarky teen taunted. "You're lucky if you haven't had to face a Digimon that's evolved from Adult. That's called a "Perfect" stage. They make Adult Digimon look like shit. A lot of stronger Digimon have weapons and armor made out of Digizoid. We thought if we could make Raptordramon all Digizoid, he could evolve to Perfect."
Trance had stumbled over to the conversation. His tamer noticed something amiss just as the data evaporated from the fox's wounded frame. Renamon nearly fainted, but willpower kept him from falling down when he tripped. When his partner came to catch him, he pushed away and insisted, "I'm fine."
Lloyd knew there was no breaking that stone, so he continued his conversation. "To what end do you seek power? Do you know anything significant about this world, what we're supposed to do?"
With reluctance, Garret admitted, "I don't know exactly what the 'end' is. I don't know why I'm here or what this place is, other than what Monodramon there tells me. But this game is awesome! We're going to keep fighting until we beat it."
"It? What is it?"
The boy shook his head. "I don't know. There are parts of the game that are too dangerous for only Adult Digimon to go in. The way to find out is getting stronger. So that's what we're going to do."
A little brash and I'm not fond of babysitting, but he's exactly the kind of ally we could use. If we team up it will be safer and easier to find what we're looking for. I'd make sure it's okay first.
"Trance? I think we should team up with them."
"What!?" exclaimed the other three in unison.
"Who said I'd team up with you!?" the astonished boy asked.
"Well, won't you?" Lloyd replied sincerely. He tried to be friendly and earnest. "We'd have a much better shot at completing the game if we did. I'm not looking to take credit for your win streak or anything. But if we traveled together, we wouldn't worry as much as getting outnumbered or overpowered. You know that what I'm saying makes sense. An alliance in both our best interests."
Garret and his Digimon exchanged glances and nodded. They made up their minds rather quickly. They wanted to win, and having an ally meant they could have a stepping stone to the top. "Okay, fine. We'll work together for now. Just so you know, we're going to want a rematch someday."
He turned out surprisingly easy to win over, a relief for Lloyd who didn't feel too confident after Olivia abruptly left him stranded with more questions than answers.
Trance, who wasn't meant to be left out of the decision, was contently silent. He had no objection to the help, especially after the walloping he just suffered. He could use strength like that to make sure he didn't end up in dire straights. When he reverted to Renamon, his lacerations were transformed away, but the damage remained. He could walk, but he could not bear to fight whatsoever in this condition. And yet he masked his pain the best he could manage.
"Then it's settled. Look, I just got here yesterday. I know barely anything about this place so anything you know could be useful. Also, did you find out if Digizoid could aid with evolution?"
"No. My theory didn't work. The Digimon here explained that what is mined here is used to make armor, weapons, tools, and stuff, but Perfect Digimon with Digizoid have it embedded into their code. It's created from their own data. But I did find out something else. There's these two wandering Digimon that cause trouble everywhere. Turns out they have been spotted in the mines. They've gotta be important characters or a special quest or something."
Leave the theories to me, kid. Still, it's worth investigating. Anything is worth checking out at this point. "Well, alright. What do you know about them?"
"Not much. They are twins and they wreak havoc for other Digimon. The rumors say that they can do really crazy things, like change the programming of the world itself. I don't know what kind of magic that is, but everyone talked about it like it was something special."
"And they're here?"
"Yeah, they are supposedly roaming the tunnels looking for something. It has the other Digimon here all uptight and scared, too."
"It's pretty hard navigating this place, but we should try using our DAIS scanners anyway. Here," Lloyd said as he finally gave back Garret's device. As it was taken from his hand, he wondered if he had made the right decision. Only time would tell.