The group had left the Aura Village the night before, and camped out under the stars, a mile or two away. The following morning had been anything but cheery for them. Many of them were racked with guilt from the Aura Village incident. They hadn't intentionally brought destruction to the village, but it was slowly becoming apparent that destruction and danger seemed to be following them, instead of them finding it.
“Gah, I still don't get it,” Tyson had said, for what seemed the thirtieth time since they had left the village. It was no midday, and they were walking, well on their way once again. “What do they mean, theft?”
“Probably this,” Brian said casually, holding up what looked like some sort of flash drive. The group had paused in their walking as Brian spoke up. The drive was brown in color, etched with some sort of symbol on the side.
“What's that?” Huey asked, leading Brian to demonstrate. He inserted the USB key into his digivice, and it lit up, continuing where it left of last, downloading data.
“Aha! That is one of the Keys we are to search for,” Bazamon spoke. Brian nodded.
“Yeah, I got it from their museum,” the other humans seemed rather shocked from Brian's admittance.
“You mean you stole it?” Maia asked, in disbelief. “After all we did to them—you stole it from them?” she demanded. Brian blinked.
“We needed it,” he shrugged. “What's the big deal?”
“Dick move, man,” Tyson responded, clearly not impressed.
“We took it long before Golemon even showed up,” Finnmon retorted, defending his partner. Brian nodded again, but it didn't seem to ease anyone conscience.
“Great, you're a thief. That's just perfect,” Maia spoke, clearly irritated.
“Well, we were told we need to collect them, no matter the cost,” Rakumon shrugged. As much as Tyson didn't want to agree with Brian, he did see his logic. Unfortunately.
“I may not agree with how he obtained it, but we do need them.” Bazamon added.
“To be fair, I did try to ask,” Brian shrugged. “But the Alraumon was all 'Absolutely not! It's important to us, and we don't even know why',” his voice was purely mocking.
“The important thing is,” Misumon spoke up, having taken residence atop Rakumon's head this time. “We have it.”
“Great. This is even more perfect. You all agree with this,” the girl huffed, before storming forward. Huey shrugged, following the girl, along with the digimon. Brian and Tyson lingered behind, watching her.
“What's up with her? I thought she was finally cooling off?” Brian asked, looking to Tyson. So far, he had gauged the two of them were friends, before they showed up here. At least somewhat. Since he did meet them together, long before they even got here.
“She was on watch last night,” Tyson replied. “She probably got to over-thinking again—and tired. She does that a lot,” he said, dismissively, waving a hand. “She'll get over it. Maybe. In a week.”
“Great,” Brian replied with sarcasm, before picking up his pace to catch up with the others.
*** *** ***
The group of eight had continued walking along the Western path the Alraumon had pointed them towards. After a couple of hours, they came to a small drop off, from the grassy area they were walking along. The trees were thick, but clearly sparse up ahead, becoming non existent past the drop off. The area ahead was a light-colored sandbar, which lead into a green-blue hued body of water. It stretched for miles, and left white foam against the shore. It smelt vaguely of ocean-scented body wash. The sandbar lead upward, leading to a small cliff, about four feet down, leading into the flowing water below.
“This must be the White River,” Finnmon observed.
“I don't think we'll be able to swim across,” Misumon started forward, jumping down from Rakumon's head. As she landed, she staggered slightly, but recollected herself. “We'll need a boat,” the beaver said, glancing back at their group.
“And food,” Rakumon reminded, rubbing his growling stomach.
“Probably a fire too,” Huey suggested. “It gets kinda cold here at night.” The group knew what they had to do, now all they had to do was do it. Everyone split up, some went out to chop down logs, a couple more gathered firewood, some food, and Tyson and Brian went to try to piece together fishing poles.
“Hey, are there even fish in that river?” Tyson asked. Brian shrugged.
“Not a damn clue,” the boy admitted, having grabbed a stick. He dug his hand into his pocket, pulling out a pocket knife. He flipped it open, and began smoothing out the wood a bit. Tyson arched an eyebrow.
“I didn't know you had a knife. That would've been helpful,” the boy muttered.
“When, exactly?” Brian asked, casually, filleting the wood. “I couldn't stab Golemon,” Tyson muttered something under his breath, before turning back to his stick.
“What do we use for string?”
“Man, you ask a lot of questions,” Brian sighed, standing up, moving over to the water. Misumon popped up, revealing several bundles of green in her little arms. Brian pulled up his red jacket's sleeves, before leaning down, to help her pull it ashore.
“This seaweed's pretty sturdy,” the beaver spoke, as she and Brian laid it out. “It should work well for the raft.” Brian nodded, picking up a piece of it, tugging at it.
“Might not be too bad for fishing, either,” he grinned, throwing a piece of it Tyson's way, without so much as a warning. Tyson heard the sound of something rapidly approaching, and turned his head to see. As he did, a wet, green, slimy string of something landed across his face. Brian laughed.
“...” Tyson pulled it off, a line of green running down his face in its place. “Ew.” he said, simply.
The sound of a falling tree could be heard not far behind them. Not long after, Finnmon and Rakumon drug the wooden mass towards the beach. “This is going to take a while,” Rakumon sighed. “I need food, to speed me up,” he muttered.
“No kidding,” Finnmon replied. “'Ey, get some fish, already!” he called.
“Shut up,” Brian called back, looking over his shoulder. “You'll scare them off!” He turned back to the makeshift pole, watching it float lifelessly in the water. He released a small breath. “I sure hope Maia and Huey can find some other food. I don't think we'll have much luck.” Tyson shrugged.
*** *** ***
It had been about an hour since they arrived. A few more trees had been added to their pile, and the group decided to break for food. A fire had been set up, roaring brilliantly before the group. The sun was in its final stages of setting, and everyone had been gathered around the fire. There was a large pile of fruits, some new ones, and familiar ones, such as Loms and a couple Squills, which Tyson retracted from. He felt a burbling in his stomach at their sight, but said nothing on the matter. He and Brian had managed to catch a few fish too, enough for one for each of them--aside from Misumon, who didn't seem to want one.
At the moment, the fish were propped up on sticks, hanging over the fire. Tyson was munching on a Lom as he waited. “I hope this raft idea will work,” he muttered, glancing over at the large logs. “I dunno how a bunch of trees float,” he added.
“As long as we tie them tight enough, it should work,” Maia responded. The girl rubbed her arm a bit, feeling a chill, now that she no longer had her jacket. She never did get a chance to grab it from the village, before they left. She was pretty sure she wouldn’t have a chance to go get it back.
Brian took note of this, mid bite of one of the unidentified fruits. Finnmon said it was a 'grape root'. It didn't look too appetizing, but it did taste alright. He had it hanging in his teeth, and he started to remove his jacket. “You can have mine,” he started, to which Maia shook her head.
“I don't want anything from you,” she responded harshly. Brian removed the grape root from his mouth, glaring in her direction.
“Oh, come on, I did what I had to do,” he said. “You were all happy I came back a little bit ago, now you hate me again,” he shook his head in confusion. As he and Maia continued to bicker, which was mostly her telling him just how wrong stealing is, Huey had stood up, and wandered over to the fishing spot.
“Don't give me that,” Maia retorted. “I was happy you were back, until I realized you really are just some punk.” Brian retracted a bit, from her coldness.
“You know, are you always this pleasant? Or is it just that time of the month?” he snarled back, earning a growl from the girl.
“Do you have to act so cocky in order to compensate for something you're lacking?” the girl retorted, folding her arms as Brian's face twisted into annoyance.
“For your information, I don't need to compensate for anything. But you're too much of a prude, so I guess I can't prove that to you, huh?” He was the one taking in victory this time.
As they bickered, Huey peered into the water below. It reflected back at him with a cool, reddish-purple glow, due to the setting sun. He drowned out the noise around him, and crouched down a bit. He was at the drop off, which Tyson and Brian had used for a fishing spot.
The water was really quite pretty. He found himself thinking about the Digital World, and whether he actually liked it here, or if he was just tagging along because Tyson was here. Part of him did like it. The Aura Village was great, until it was attacked, and they were banished from it. Huey felt a frown cross his face at that.
I wonder if I can make Bazamon evolve, like Finnmon, Rakumon, and Weimon. The boy thought, looking out past the water. I wonder where that blonde guy is... Jett? He found himself now running along a string of thoughts. He was trying to make sense of what was going on here, and the peaceful setting ahead of him was definitely helping.
Though he didn't have much in the way of answers, he did know it was interesting here at least. It was something different, and something that he might finally have a chance to prove what he could do in. That was, of course, as long as Maia didn't hold him back. He glanced over at the blonde, still bickering with Brian.
She's always holding me back. Like I'm some helpless little kid that can't do anything. He scoffed, turning back to the water. He had seen Misumon wandering somewhere near by, but paid her no mind.
Huey looked down at the water. He could have sworn he saw it ripple. Must be a fish. He thought.
A fierce strike against the cliff-face caused the ground to rumble, and break apart slightly. Huey let out a loud yell, before he plummeted into the water below with a large splash. The fighting suddenly stopped, before Maia and the boys stood up. “Huey!” the girl called.
The blonde haired boy swung his arms rapidly in the water, fighting to keep his head afloat. He didn't know how to swim—and the water was far too deep for him to learn now. He coughed and sputtered.
Misumon dove in after the boy. She attempted to move towards him, but felt a powerful pain in her side. She cringed, realizing she was still injured from the previous battle with the Golemon. Before she had the chance to move, a couple of larger forms hit the water from above.
Maia's arm wrapped under Huey's, and held him up enough so he could catch his breath. Tyson swum around, motioning for the siblings to follow. Maia did so, carrying Huey along her side. They moved a few yards downward, reaching the sandbar. Her coughed a bit, but ultimately, didn't seem to be too bad.
“Huey! You have to be careful!” the blonde said suddenly. Tyson had taken off his coat before diving in, and thus, offered it to the younger boy. Maia snatched it from his hands, wrapping it around him tightly. She looked him deep in the eyes, before continuing. “You know you can't swim, so why did you get so close?” she demanded, worry clear in her voice and expression.
“I-I dunno,” the boy muttered, visibly scared from the events. He shivered, under the coat. Maia stood up, and moved him towards the fire.
“Give me your coat,” Maia snapped at Brian.
“Oh, I see, now it's good enough for—“
“Shut up! Give it to me, now!” the girl snapped coldly. Brian released an annoyed breath, before removing his jacket. Maia then wrapped it around Huey, sitting him down in front of the fire. She sat next to him, looking over at Huey with concern. “Are you alright?” she asked.
“F-Fine,” Huey nodded, still a bit shaken. This was one of the few times he was glad his sister was so over-protective. At least he knew he could always count on her to take care of him—even if it was in a smothering way. The boy breathed out, calming himself down.
Bazamon cautiously approached, reaching out one of his wings. He patted Huey on the back, comfortingly. Misumon also approached, shaking herself off, looking over at Maia. The blonde girl looked back at the digimon with an icy glare. The digimon took a step back, before Maia turned her back to the little digimon.
“You lied,” Maia's low, cold voice resounded among the cackle and pop of the fire. “You said I could count on you to help look out for him,” the little, white digimon adopted a slight look of guilt. Maia stood up the next moment, retaining her stance. “And you didn't do anything!”
“Don't even bother,” Maia cut her off, glaring back at the little digimon with a cold anger in her eyes. “You haven't done anything to help, despite you continually telling me you will!” the blonde had finally snapped due to the stress it seemed. “I knew I couldn't rely on anyone else to help! You're useless!” The girl suddenly snatched the D-Hub, clipped to her belt. She glared harshly at it, as if staring would cause it to shatter.
She opted for throwing it instead. It clattered against a tree, some yards away. “I don't want anything to do with this stupid world, or you—any of you! You called us here, and you can't even protect us! At least you can't,” she snapped, glaring at the other digimon as well. Though, her last words were clearly directed at Misumon. “I'm just—I'm done, with all of it!” she snapped, before storming off, in pure frustration.
There was a tense silence that had formed after she walked away. Huey looked harshly in his sister's direction, frowning. “See, Bazamon? I told you, she overreacts,” the boy muttered to his partner. The bird digimon simply shook his head. Whether he took anything of what she said to heart, it wasn't entirely known. Tyson and Brian, meanwhile, only stared on, unsure of how to handle the situation. Brian took a step forward, but Tyson cut him off.
“Let her be,” the amber-eyed teen insisted. “She'll cool off... you know, in a day or two, like I said.” Brian rolled his eyes a bit.
Misumon only stared in Maia's direction. Finnmon and Rakumon moved over, the latter leaning down a bit. “Don't mind her. Tyson said she can be grumpy, you know?” the digimon asked, but got no response from Misumon right away.
“Humans are a pain in the ass, sometimes,” Finnmon muttered, folding his arms over his chest. He looked in Maia's direction, quite scornfully.
Misumon finally released a small sigh, before following it up with a huff. “Fine, let her be grumpy,” she instilled, trying her best to come off as cold. It wasn't too convincing. She scurried away, near the water's edge, several yards from their camp site, but stopped to grab the lavender digivice as she went. Rakumon and Finnmon watched her go.
“She's really down,” Rakumon muttered, frowning a bit. “What can we do to cheer her up?”
“Get her a new partner,” Finnmon retorted.
*** *** ***
Some time had passed since the argument. Things had since then cooled down, but Maia was still clearly angry. There was a thick, awkward silence that laid over the entire group. No one had really spoke a word since earlier. Maia now sat next to the fire, knees to her chest, and her crossed arms resting upon them. She still retained that angry glare on her face. Not far from her, Huey and Bazamon had since fallen asleep. Rakumon wasn't far from them either. Finnmon was a short ways away, his arms folded, leaning against a nearby tree. He looked quite relaxed, but was actually watching.
Specifically, he was watching Misumon. The little beaver hadn't moved an inch since earlier, and just sat there, staring out into the water.
Tyson, meanwhile, was some ways away. He stood near the point where Huey had fallen into the massive river earlier, staring down into it. The brunette heard footsteps in the sand resound behind him, and he turned back. There was Brian, lightning up another cigarette of his. “Only losers do that kinda crap, you know.”
“Man, you sound like an anti-drug commercial,” Brian muttered back with a chuckle. He walked up next to Tyson, both of them now glancing out at the river. “What the hell is up with her, anyway?”
Tyson released a small breath, scratching the back of his head a bit. “It's a long story... I could give you all the details, but it's not usually something she likes me talking about, you know? Sensitive subject,” Brian shrugged at that.
“What's it really matter?” he asked before inhaling. “Excuses don't make up for what she said, even I thought that was harsh.”
“It's not really an excuse, I dunno,” Tyson shrugged, placing one hand in his still-damp pocket. “But because of that stuff, she's really protective over Huey. She goes nuts if something bad happens to him. You think this is bad, you should've seen the time he got hit by a car, a couple years ago.”
Brian blinked, glancing at Tyson. “Hit by a car? Damn.” Tyson nodded.
“He wasn't too seriously injured, just managed to break an arm. He ran out into the street, wasn't looking, boom,” he re-enacted the scene with none-too-subtle hand gestures. “I haven't seen Maia go off on someone so harshly before—though I couldn't blame her. The dumbass didn't watch where he was going, anyway,” Tyson sounded a bit annoyed when he spoke—clearly it had affected him too.
“So, you and Maia are like... Huey's parents, then?” he said, half-jokingly. Tyson chuckled.
“Huey thinks I'm awesome,” Brian laughed at that, leading to a minor glare from Tyson. “...He's kinda a brat when it comes to his own sister, well, a lot of things, though. I think it's her smothering. And the fact he's spoiled like mad.”
“I wish she'd smother me like that,” Brian laughed. Tyson rolled his eyes, not too sure if Brian was joking or not.
“I try to help keep an eye out for him, but in serious situations like this, Maia goes all nutso, and won't really let anyone near him. She's pretty dead-set on doing it herself. She's stubborn like that.” Tyson admitted.
“What a crazy girl,” Brian admitted, glancing back at the fire, along with Tyson. “You two aren't too touchy-clingy for being in a relationship, are ya?” he asked finally, leading Tyson to stagger.
“No way!” Tyson snapped back. “She is not my girlfriend,” Brian laughed at the boy's response.
“Good, then you won't mind me making my moves,” Brian mockingly patted Tyson on the head, leading to the latter boy's scowl. He started back towards the campsite by a couple steps, only for Tyson to call out.
“Hey,” Brian glanced back. “Why is it just yesterday, we hated each other... and now, we're talking like we're friends, or something?” Brian shook his head, grinning a bit.
“Don't worry, Tyson, I still think you're just as much of an idiot now, as you were then,” Brian never lost that grin, before turning back towards the campsite. Tyson scratched his nose a bit, in confusion. That kid made no sense to him. Maybe it was something about they were even, now? Then again, Tyson still wasn't too fond of the jerk, but he was becoming more tolerable as time passed.
Slightly more, at least.
Tyson glanced to his side, seeing Misumon still in her same spot. She wasn't too far from them, so the boy wondered if she had heard their conversation. He moved his way over to her, plopping his rear on the sand below. “What'cha doin'?” he asked the little digimon.
“No idea,” Misumon responded, retaining her gaze forward.
“Did you hear our chat?” the beaver nodded. “She probably didn't mean it, you know,” Tyson reminded, shrugging a bit. “She talks before she thinks sometimes—which is annoying, 'cause she's always griping at me because I never think before I act. Same thing, isn't it?” he seemed to be rambling.
“Maybe she's right,” Misumon muttered. She stared at the device in her clutches, which was giving off a dull glow on the screen. “Maybe I'm just not cut out for this sort of thing. I couldn't do it before, I can't do it now,” the digimon's ears fell back a bit. Tyson wore a lop-sided frown at that.
“I thought the same about Brian,” Finnmon's voice came from behind the pair as he walked up, stationing himself on the other side of Misumon. “You know, just some wimpy, little coward who only wanted to run away from danger,” he glanced at Tyson, bearing a small grin. “I should thank you for helping to slap some sense into him.”
Tyson chuckled, “well, he annoys me, sometimes.” The boy looked at the green digimon again. “Why did he come back?”
“Well,” Finnmon started, folding his arms again. “Part of him came back, just 'cause he wanted to prove you wrong.” Tyson couldn't help but to feel a bit confident at those words. “But I also think he realized that as long as I'm around, he can count on me to keep him safe.” Tyson nodded.
“I kinda feel the same about Rakumon. He's my buddy, but he's also there to protect us,” the boy muttered, wearing a much more calm smile now. “And if he isn't, I know the rest of you guys are. We got a pretty awesome team-thing going.”
Misumon remained silent, staring down at the digivice. They understood the whole concept of teamwork, and friendship between human and digimon. They all had their bonds with their partners already—even Bazamon, who had yet to evolve. He was still acting as Huey's better conscience, and Huey was never over expecting of him. Rakumon and Tyson were like a couple of lovable dorks that were good friends, in such a short time. Weimon and Jett, they were silent confidants in each other. Finnmon and Brian were more alike than they were different, and Finnmon even grew a bit of assurance in the boy. All of them had ways to relate to their partner.
All of them except herself.
Tyson stood up, dusting the sand off himself. “Alright, guys, I'm gunna crash. Don't stay out here all night, Misumon,” he added with a small wave, before heading back.
“So,” Finnmon spoke up, after Tyson had returned to the fire. “Why didn't you tell anyone you took such a nasty hit in that Golemon fight?” the digimon asked, arching a would-be eyebrow. Misumon glanced away.
“I should be able to handle all this, even if I do got a little bruise,” the digimon responded coolly.
“Just don't push yourself too much. You'll end up like her,” he pointed back at Maia, before turning his back to them.
“What do you mean?” Misumon asked, before he could leave.
“I'm just saying... you both expect way too much out of each other. Her, more than you, but it's the same thing, really. You can't force your partnerships,” the digimon continued, not facing towards her as he spoke. He sounded like he definitely knew what he was talking about. “You just gotta let them happen. Do your best—because trying too hard is gunna break you.”
With that, he walked off.
Why are humans so complicated?
*** *** ***
The next morning eventually came around. Maia sat up, hearing the shuffling sounds of Brian walking around the campfire, or what was left of it. Over night, it had turned to a red smolder of ashes and burnt wood. “Morning, sunshine,” Brian's voice sounded through the otherwise quiet area.
Maia chose not to respond, and instead, simply sat herself up. She rubbed her eyes, brushing off her clothes. They had mostly dried over night, at least. “Still mad?” he asked.
“What do you think?” the girl shot back, before standing up. She continued brushing the sand from her body, not looking at the boy. Brian sighed, before the flick of a lighter could be heard.
“How long are you going to be like this?” he asked. “You know, I finally thought you were coming around,” he admitted, leading Maia to roll her eyes at him. She stormed past him without so much as a word, moving over to the trees the group had laid out the night before.
Brian followed, but as he did, gave a swift(though admittedly not too hard) kick to Tyson's backside. The boy yelped, before groaning. He mumbled some sort of curse that Brian didn't hear, before rolling around, in attempts to go back to sleep. Huey was still sleeping too, as was Rakumon and Bazamon. Even Misumon had fallen asleep somewhere out near the water. Finnmon had stationed himself by a tree—he and Brian were the last pair on watch for the night.
“It's a sunny day, and we're on the beach, cheer up, would you?” he told Maia.
“Can you not take a hint?” the girl returned, shortly. “I won't cheer up until we get far away from this stupid world.” She looked over their components for the raft. There was plenty of seaweed, and a few vines that had been gathered from the forest yesterday. There were five logs, which should be enough for all of them.
“Can you not relax? Like, ever?” Brian asked. “You know, chill out. Stop thinking about everything so much.”
“No.” Brian deadpanned.
“Because, someone has to keep their head on straight, here,” she scolded, now moving to inspect the vines and the seaweed. She sure hoped this would manage to hold up. The river didn't look very rapid, so they should be able to float across.
“Is anyone really stupid? I mean, besides Tyson—but even I gotta admit, he can manage,” Brian started up again. Maia was a bit surprised as his hand moved over top hers, as she held the bounds for their boat. “You're not the only one here, remember.”
“It doesn't matter,” Maia tore her hands away. Brian exhaled the smoke from his mouth as she did so. She was so stubborn. “Why do you care, anyway? I thought I told you I didn't want anything to do with you.”
“Because I hate seeing such pretty girls so mad. It's really not that attractive—well, it can be. In your case, maybe.” He chuckled, leading Maia to return a glare at him.
“Can you ever take anything seriously?” Brian blinked at that question, pausing for a moment. “I mean, do you even care about anything other than stealing, and ridiculously bad attempts at trying to get attention?”
“Maybe,” Brian shrugged. “I mean, I'm over here talking to you, aren't I?”
“It's not the same,” Maia rebutted. “You're doing it because you think you're going to impress me.”
“Is it working?” Brian asked with a coy smile.
“Absolutely not,” Maia replied shortly. Her tone wasn't nearly as cold as it was a short while ago. It was now snippy, and more along the lines of annoyed. Brian chuckled a bit. “What?” the girl demanded, looking at him sharply.
“Come on, we got a boat to build,” Brian spoke, ignoring her question, picking up a piece of the vine. They worked in silence, moving the logs next to each other, further down the bank. They began bounding the vines and seaweed strongly, making sure it was secure. Brian gave the strongest tugs he could muster. It had held up great so far, not even so much as a flinch, despite his added kicking.
“By the way,” Brian spoke up again, tying another vine into place. “It's not just about you, you know.” Maia looked up at him with a mix of annoyance and perhaps a bit of confusion. “We're kinda turning into a team. Dysfunctional, at best, but a team none the less.” The boy continued tying. “I hate Tyson, but I'll work with him. Finnmon's pretty cool, once you get to know him too.”
“Is this going somewhere?” Maia asked.
“All I'm saying is,” Brian finished the next knot, giving it an extra firm tug. His hands slapped against their raft, and he looked directly at her. “The only reason I got Finnmon to evolve is because we helped each other out. He helped me, telling me what a little pansy I was.” Maia didn't entirely want to hear this, but she listened none the less. “And I helped him by supporting him, you know, looking at him as an equal. Having his back. He's my friend, I guess, not just my protector.” The expression on his face told the girl that his words were entirely true. It was annoying.
There was a small pause.
“Man, that sounded really corny.” he sighed in defeat. “This place is making me nice, and I don't like it.”
“Well, then I guess this place still has a lot of work to do,” Maia muttered back, shortly, before turning away to gather more bounds for their raft. Brian opted to follow her again. “Don't you have someone else to bother?” Maia asked.
“Naw, Tyson's still asleep,” Brian said dismissively. “Besides, I figured we could keep chatting. I think this is the furthest we've gotten without you yelling at me.” He seemed pretty proud of that. As he followed Maia into the trees beyond the campsite, a branch went flying back at him.
He ducked, just in time. “Yes, that does count as yelling,” Maia said before he had a chance to say anything. Brian grumbled, pocketing his hands.
“Aren't you even curious? I mean, you already know Tyson—and Huey obviously.”
“I don't want to get to know you,” Maia returned. “Like I said, I just want—“
“Want to get out of here, and get back home, yeah, I know.” Brian finished for her. “But I think until we get there... you should try not to worry so much. It really makes you—well, you know what I said about angry girls.” he chuckled. Maia shook her head. The girl was attempting to gather some vines hanging down from a tree. Her height was just a bit too short to reach, much to her annoyance.
Brian grabbed it for her, pulling it down, carefully, as not to rip it. “Believe it or not, we're all in this together,” he had that annoying look again. The one where it seemed like what he said was actual genuine.
“I still think you're a punk,” Maia retorted.
“It's okay, I still think you got a stick up your ass,” Brian returned with a sly grin.
*** *** ***
It had been a few hours. With the awakening of Tyson, and Huey as well, both of which seemed to be alright despite yesterday's events, they had assisted in tying the raft together. Finnmon and Rakumon brought another tree over, and Misumon gathered more seaweeds.
All in all, the boat was coming along nicely.
Brian had taken out his knife, after having gathered a couple of long sticks. He smoothed them out, and attempted to turn them into a pair of make-shift paddles. He didn't know if they'd hold up, but it was worth a shot, at least.
Maia had taken up the duty of gathering their brunch for the day. It would be mostly fruits, but it was really the best they could do. Fishing would take too long, and they'd have to build another fire to eat. The girl had a lot on her mind. A lot of it was about Misumon, and about what Brian had said earlier.
He had adjusted. She knew that he was different, at least a little bit, from the first day they got here. Originally, he had flat out avoided a fight—and even became angry when it got brought up. He was a lot more aloof on his first day or so, but he seemed to grow quite accustomed rather quickly. Tyson fit in right away, no doubt equating this world to some sort of game. She wasn't sure how Huey felt about it—much less anything, lately.
They'd been here for about four days now. Maia hadn't adjusted in the least. If anything, she'd only taken it harder than she might have had to. But who else would look out for them? Brian acted like he cared, but Maia didn't believe that entirely. Tyson was too gung-ho and goofy to really pay attention. Huey was too young. The digimon, she didn't know the digimon. For all she knew, they could be just using them to further their goals. She didn't know what any of this place was about.
All she knew is that she didn't understand it. Maia had always been the type to not only fear, but scorn, that which she didn't fully understand. Then again, what possible motives could they have? They seemed like they just wanted to save their world. Tyson did have a point, too, 'what if it was Earth'? Maybe I was being too hard on her. Mid-thought, the girl glanced at the digimon known as her partner, helping with the raft.
Maia breathed out, donning a momentary saddened look, reflecting her thoughts.
“Hey,” Tyson's voice cut her off. The girl shot up, righting herself immediately, looking towards him. “Can I have my GameStation Portable back yet?” he asked, pleadingly. Maia could have easily compared him to a pathetic, little puppy dog asking for food.
“Er,” Maia flashed back to originally taking the game. She had placed it in her jacket. It's clunky size managed to fit quite well. She also recalled how she had left her jacket at the bath-house, in Aura Village. “Well, it's back at Aura Village,” the girl said, almost sheepishly—but she wasn't the type to show outright weakness towards Tyson.
“Awe man, are you serious?” Tyson replied in a far more dramatic fashion than he should have. “That thing cost me 200 bucks!”
“Well, serves you right, for messing around,” Maia retorted. “Why did you even bring it in the first place?”
“You seriously need to stop that,” Tyson snapped back, in a surprising show of annoyance.
“Stop what?” Maia asked, quirking an eyebrow. The aura she was giving off told Tyson she was not about to actually listen to anything he had to say.
“That,” the boy repeated. “Acting like you know what's going on, like you're the only one of us who knows what they're doing!” he shot back. Maia shot a glare in reply. Tyson stood there, fuming, for a moment. He seemed like he was trying to find the words to continue. “You act like a mom—no, you just try,” he spoke finally. “But you're so wrapped up in the fact that you think you're right all the time—you never even consider what you're doing to everyone else. Except Huey! All the time! You...” Tyson lost his words again, but quickly found them. “You're a... a buh. You're just ridiculous!” he snapped finally.
Maia stared back at him, her glare wasn't softening in the least. Tyson growled in annoyance, putting his hands to his head, ruffling his hair. He stormed away with a number of growls and unintelligible words. Maia quickly looked away from the direction he had gone, and a small frown lit her face.
She huffed, before continuing. They had work to do.
*** *** ***
“Overreaction, much?” Brian asked, offhandedly, as Tyson joined him, their partners, and Huey and Bazamon. Tyson seethed a bit, folding his arms sternly. “It's a game. Woopee.”
“It's more than that,” Tyson retorted, still clearly annoyed. Brian couldn't exactly argue with that fact.
“I know what you mean, Tyson,” Huey added in, leading to a glance from the older boy. Tyson looked like he had something to say, but instead, blew out a breath of air. He didn't want to get any more mad than he already was. He actually sort of regretted what he said, and he glanced back at the girl in question.
She was probably already starting to feel a little guilty. Maybe. She usually regretted when she acted like this—even if it wasn't apparent. “Why are girls so complicated?” Tyson asked, not realizing he said that out loud.
“That, my idiotic friend,” Brian started up, in a matter-of-fact tone. “Is a question man has asked since the dawn of time. I really don't think there'll ever be an answer.”
The work continued on the raft. They had taken a small break to eat—of course, it was just as awkward as the night before. All this fighting and arguing had really been getting on everyone's nerves in some way. Tyson had calmed down from before, but was still abnormally quiet. Even the digimon had adopted a silence among the group.
After their awkward meal, they continued. The raft had finally been finished, not too long before the sun was at its high point. Brian sized it up. Six logs, a ridiculous amount of bonding courtesy of seaweed and vines, as well as trimmed edges, thanks to Misumon's teeth.
The two make-shift paddles were also ready. “If only we had some kinda sail,” Huey said. “Then it could be an actual ship,” at this, Tyson laughed.
“The S.S. Piece of Junk,” the amber-eyed boy grinned in a silly manner, crossing his arms.
“Well, enough messing around, let's test it!” Rakumon said, excitedly. He and Finnmon moved behind the boat, along with Tyson and Brian, and they began pushing it forward over the sand.
“Who wants to be the guinea pig?” Brian asked, mid-pushing. He huffed, forcing all his strength behind it. The boat hit the water, and did most of the work itself. A lone vine acted as something of a pulley, which Tyson quickly grabbed onto as it went out. Brian looked around. “Any takers?”
Rakumon and Finnmon swam out, climbing onto their raft. “Check it's weight management,” Bazamon spoke calmly, flying out to join them. He perched himself atop their raft, noting the surprising smoothness of it. That smoothness was completely destroyed as Rakumon and Finnmon began jumping up and down, all around.
Bazamon nearly fell over, squawking as he did so.
“Seems pretty sturdy!” Finnmon called back, giving another jump. The boat's structure didn't flinch. “Come on, let's get moving!” Tyson and Brian pulled the boat back to the shore, allowing for everyone to climb onto it. Tyson went first, followed by Huey, then Misumon.
“Hop on, I'll push it back out,” Brian told Maia, who seemed to be hesitating for a moment. Why was she holding up now? “Come on, don't tell me you're scared of water. You dove in fine, last night,” Brian reminded her, leading Maia to shake her head.
“It's not that... it's just,” the girl released a small sigh, before a quick add-on. “Never mind.” Brian looked at her curiously, before she climbed on. He shook his head, before moving behind the boat, pushing it out. He managed on his own, thanks to the softened sandbar. He climbed on, as it fully hit the water. Finnmon and Tyson lent him a hand in getting onto the raft, fully.
“Away we sail, into the wild blue yonder!” Tyson declared, boldly, mockingly placing a hand above his eyes. “...I wish I had a pirate's cap,” he frowned.
“Think we'll find anything to plunder?” Huey asked, jokingly. Tyson chuckled back at him, before the pair began acting like a couple of silly pirates. They each grabbed a hold of the paddles, and after a quick explanation from Tyson, Huey and himself began moving the boat forward. Upon observation, Tyson had no real idea how an actual paddle really worked, as far as steering went, but it did manage to move the boat forward at least.
Brain, meanwhile, took out his package of cigarettes, looking down into the box.
“Awe man,” he whined. “Almost empty,” he frowned. He was almost surprised when he got no witty remarks. Tyson was too busy rowing the boat, singing some tune about not tipping it over. Maia had been quiet, the whole time. It was still a bit awkward, all around. Removing one of the white sticks, Brian closed it thereafter, replacing it in his jacket pocket—which he had regathered, once Huey was finished with it.
“I wonder how long this river goes on for,” Finnmon spoke up, glancing onward. Rakumon had also been attempting to help row the boat, but quite unsuccessfully, was using his claws. Bazamon had taken to resting his ever-weary soul, and Misumon was in a similar state as Maia. Both were oddly silent. Misumon had set Maia's digivice down on the boat, near the girl, without so much as a word.
“Hopefully long enough to get rid of this tension, huh?” Brian asked, rather loudly. It didn't even warrant a glance. “Wonderful,” Brian leaned back again, resting on one arm.
“Why do you think they call it the White River?” Bazamon asked, this time, showing that he was not quite as asleep as he made it out to be. Finnmon shrugged, Brian mimicked him.
“So, anyway,” Brian spoke up again. “What's life like in the Digital World?” he was bored—he needed something to entertain him. “Do you guys do this all the time? I mean, like a survival-camping trip?”
“Naw,” Finnmon waved a dismissive, finned hand of his. “I'm from the Agarta. Big city, lots of buildings, biggest trade market in the Digital World. It's really populated, with all sorts of Digimon. It's one of the biggest trade spots, ever,” Finnmon sounded quite proud as he described it, leading Brian to grin a bit.
“Sounds like my kinda city,” he beamed.
“Most digimon enjoy the simple pleasures life has to offer,” Bazamon added in this time. “Food, recreational activities, sometimes games, sight-seeing, plenty of wonderful pass times. The Digital World is a beautiful place, I only hope you all get the chance to see it as more than just a dangerous, dreadful place.”
“That sounds kinda cool, Bazamon,” Huey said, joining the chatter. A quick glance back showed that Rakumon had taken his place in paddling the boat along. “You guys sound a lot like us,” Huey added with a grin.
“What about cars, trains, stuff like that?” Brian asked, once again. Finnmon and Bazamon looked at him in a confused manner. “Er... transport?”
“Most digimon are capable of traveling themselves. In Cirro City, we have an Aquilamon Air Service,” the bird continued. He sounded longing of his home, but didn't seem too outwardly upset this time. “It's really quite fascinating. They take you all around the marvelous city, and you can see the castles, reaching into the clouds. It's simply breath-taking, and I do miss it.” There came the saddened tone again.
“What do—“ Brian paused. There was a small rocking of the boat. He looked ahead, sitting up fully. “Try to steer without hitting rocks!” he called up to Tyson. He and Rakumon glanced back with a shrug each.
“The water's totally clear,” the boy said in his defense. The boat rocked again. Huey stood up quickly, looking around. His face twisted into a bit of concern.
“L-Last night,” he started up, looking around the now-still waters. “I saw some rippling, but... I thought it was just a fish,” maybe they imagined it? “That's why I fell in...” The boy suddenly felt himself tense up as he looked out ahead. The entire group had caught on to a large, white arm of some sort, lingering over them.
“That, my boy, is no fish,” Bazamon said, eyes widening as it drew back.
“Move it!” Brian called to Tyson, shooting himself up. They didn't have nearly a chance to avoid in the large raft. In the blink of an eye, the white arm crashed down against their boat. The logs were split into pieces, and the entire group was hurtled into the cool water below. The hand retreated into the dark depths along with the kids.
The sudden change of their surroundings took a moment to sink in. Maia quickly looked around, waving her arms slightly, to keep herself in the same spot. She saw Huey, struggling to bring himself back up, and instinctively attempted to move forward. Tyson got to him first, though, and carried him right up. Brian wasn't far behind, signaling to Maia to do the same.
“We got trouble, guys!” Rakumon's voice rang out, sounding oddly distorted from the water. Digimon could breath underwater—and talk? The girl shook her head, that was hardly of concern at the moment. Finnmon, Rakumon, and even Bazamon was there... but where was Misumon?
“Maia, move it!” Finnmon called suddenly, causing the girl to turn herself. She released an involuntary gasp, taking in water. She struggled, unable to avoid the large, white hand sweeping towards her. The digimon attempted to move forward, but their forms weren't built for speed underwater.
A sudden, strong force hit the girl in the side, forcing her away from the tentacle. It had struck something else. Maia's brown eyes opened, seeing Misumon's form be brutally knocked away by the tentacle. She had been thrown downward, the force must have been strong for her to move at that speed.
She struggled to get herself up once again. Maia thought back to prior moments, where she had seen the digimon. An incredible guilt had set over her, before she seemed to realize she no longer had breath to keep up that train of thought.
A hand grabbed her arm, and hiked her up.
Breaking the surface, she coughed and sputtered. “Try that again, you might drown,” Brian reminded, at her side. “You alright?” Maia nodded, regulating her breath. She looked back down at the water. Various ripples could be seen, no doubt evidence of the fighting—but none of that was a concern to her really, at the moment. She immediately recalled something, and looked around. There it floated, not far away, her D-Hub—and she immediately reached for it. She fiddled with the buttons for a moment, before being able to get vision of the fight, from Misumon's perspective. The screen was blurry, and she could make out little more than static blurs. It did clear after a few moments.
The girl looked as if she was struggling with herself. Tyson and Huey, the latter clinging to a piece of their raft, moved over to the pair. In a few moments, Rakumon was thrown out of the water, before splashing back down some yards away. “Rakumon!” Tyson called out to his partner, nodding to Brian and Maia, before he went after him.
The large, white beast that had attacked them finally emerged. His body looked something like a white sea monster. He had two of those large hand-tentacles, and row of sharp teeth mid-way down his head. He seemed to lack eyes—he came off as some sort of horrid, Cthulhu-inspired creature.
Brian drew his D-Hub, quite surprised to see it still worked. “Gesomon. Champion Level, Virus, Deep Savers,” Brian read off. “It's attacks are Devil Bashing, and Deadly Shade.” He visible winced at the names. They didn't need a D-Hub to tell them that this guy was frightening.
Finnmon bobbed up, Misumon right next to him. Bazamon came up as well, but continued, flying above the water. “Guess we know where the name 'White River' comes from,” Finnmon muttered in annoyance.
“We cannot fight this thing in the water—Misumon!” Bazamon turned to the little beaver.
Maia could only stare as the determined little beaver gave a nod. She could see her wince. Again. She thought back to earlier... She had caught it a few other times, but paid it no mind. She was a digimon—so it was fine, right?
The girl questioned that judgment as Misumon moved forward. Finnmon was swept aside, heading towards the kids. Bazamon could get no closer, and was shooed away. Misumon shot through the water, with the distant call of her attack. “Bubble Slam!” she slammed her tiny body, head on, into the larger, white creature's.
The Gesomon retracted, slightly, but seemed ultimately unharmed. His fierce tentacle swung down at the beaver, leading Maia to feel her heart momentarily stop. Misumon, get out of there! She shouted mentally.
“Devil Bashing!” The hulking sea-monster cried out. His massive arm-tentacle drove into Misumon's, eliciting a cry of pain from the little digimon. She was sent bounding down into the water below, a large splash left in the attack's wake. The Gesomon dove in after her, to finish her off.
“No, no, no,” Maia muttered, barely above a whisper, looking into her digivice. The screen was blacked out. She began looking around her. Tyson and Rakumon hadn't returned. Finnmon was still dazed from the hit—Bazamon couldn't even get into the water and move effectively. What happened to counting on them? They weren't going to back her up?!
“And I helped him by supporting him, you know, looking at him as an equal. Having his back. He's my friend, I guess, not just my protector.”
The words Brian had spoke that morning rang clear in her mind. She couldn't just stand by while Misumon got hurt... Misumon had protected her so much, and she didn't even have the... common decency to look out for her even once. She had been hit hard the previous battle, and still hadn’t fully recovered—and still, she protected Maia. Even after all she said.
“Dammit!” the girl spat suddenly, earning a glance from both Brian and Huey. The girl's arm moved out, snatching onto what was left of one of the paddles. It was broken, before, now having a sharp point to it.
“What in the hell do you think you're doing?” Brian demanded, suddenly.
“You said we're supposed to have their backs, right?” Maia asked, glancing back at the water for a moment.
“That isn't what I meant!” Brian snapped back at her, clearly agitated by what he knew she was going to do.
“I've already screwed up,” Maia spoke lowly. Her eyes tightened for a moment. “I was too hard on her—and all she was trying to do was help. And now...” the girl drew in a deep breath. “I have to help her!” she dove into the water, before she could hear another protest.
“Maia!” Brian snapped loudly, leading Huey to a rare look of fear.
*** *** ***
Misumon could be seen below, struggling to force herself to move. Gesomon moved in slowly, seemingly enjoying his prey. His arm whipped up, preparing another strike. This one would finish her off—then he could move to the others. He swung downward, and Misumon could only crack an eye.
The monster digimon suddenly howled in a bubbling yell, retracting his arm. A sharp pain struck the digimon in the side of his large head. Misumon's blurred vision fought to focus on the culprit. She was more than surprised to see her, of all people, having thrust a sharp stick into the digimon's head. Maia? You...
The Gesomon snarled, before swinging around.
Maia only now realized just how stupid that act of heroics was. At least she bought Misumon a few moments—if she wasn't already... Maia shook the thought. The girl attempted to swim backwards, but had little chance as one of the tentacles flew up at her side. Before Maia could react, it suddenly wrapped around her tightly.
“I've never tasted human before...” the Gesomon's disturbing voice sounded through the water, and his grip around the girl tightened. She could feel the very life being forced out of her—she couldn't hold her breath any longer, and released a sharp breath.
I hope you guys keep an eye out for Huey, Maia thought, woefully. And Misumon, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it—it was my fault too, not just yours. The girl could do little more than revel in saddened thoughts. She had no way to escape this monstrosity. She didn't think the others would get here in time either—after all, what she did was ridiculously stupid, and she had no back up.
She had a knack for doing that. Doing stupid things to protect the people she cared about.
She felt her vision and conscience fade, and blacken. Gesomon was succeeding in his death-by-asphyxiation. The girl barely noticed a dull, purple glow coming from the device still clutched in her hand. The brighter one below, however, forced her to crack open one of her brown eyes.
“Maia!” she could hear the distant call of a familiar voice, coming from the light below.
“Misumon... digivolve to...!”
The little, white beaver's body began to break apart. Beneath it was a grid-mesh of purple, making up her shape. That shape was surrounded in a blue of codes, 0s and 1s. The code wrapped around tightly, before bursting into a flurry of bright light. Taking place of Misumon's previous form was a now much larger figure.
A streak of purple and white struck the Gesomon, forcing its tight grip around Maia to release. The girl floated aimlessly, unable to comprehend what was happening—or much more. Her breath had long-since left her. She could barely make sense of what was going on around her.
She felt a gentle, but strong force move beneath her, and a quick ascension thereafter. They broke the water, with Maia clinging tightly to the big ball of fur. She coughed furiously, taking in a number of deep breaths. She held the side of the dark-purple fur, before cracking an eye.
Her eyes were met with a large, teal pair staring back at her. The girl took in what she was holding onto. A large furred creature, decorated in white fur with light-purple stripes, a massively sized dark-blue tail, and a beaver-like posture. The digimon's large head bore a small grin.
“You alright?” the digimon asked.
“M-Misumon?” Maia asked, eyes wide with surprised. “You...” she seemed to be at a loss for words.
“I know, I'm awesome,” the digimon chuckled. “But you were pretty awesome too. Stupid,” the digimon added, “But awesome.” Maia couldn't help but to grin a little bit at the digimon.
“Maia!” Huey's voice actually rang out this time, leading the blonde to look back. He, Brian, their partners, and a recently returned Tyson and Rakumon swam in their direction. About the same time, the Gesomon bobbed on the surface, looking positively enraged by the recent events.
“You go take a rest, I got this,” the beaver assured, sinking slightly into the water. Maia only nodded, and released her. She was still working on regaining her breath—and her sides hurt like crazy from that crushing tentacle, but all-in-all, she was still in one piece.
“Maia! Are you crazy!?” Tyson demanded, at a loss for anything better to say. “You... Man, that was something I wouldn't even be dumb enough to do.” He was more than surprised to see Maia quite passive about what he had said.
“I think that makes you a hypocrite,” Brian spoke in a chiding tone.
“I guess,” Maia said, glancing back at Castorimon as she charged the Gesomon head on.
“Sis, that was awesome!” Huey sounded positively ecstatic as he exclaimed his words. Maia glanced at him, more than surprised. Huey hadn't called her 'awesome' since, well, ever. “I made Brian take me down so we could go help you but Misumon got there first, and you stabbed that thing—it was so cool!”
Maia couldn't help but to smile at his words.
“You don't see Tyson stabbing digimon,” Brian added, somewhat impressed as well.
“I didn't see you attacking any either,” Tyson shot back. Maia wouldn't lie—she did feel a bit of a confidence boost from the praise. She felt an actual connection with Misumon. Not out of simply protecting each other, but something a little more relate-able than that.
She trusted her. She looked back into her lavender D-Hub, taking in the the battle from Castorimon's eyes.
Castorimon charged at her opponent, grinning broadly. “You fugly little sea-rat, you're going to regret slapping me around.” She snarled, before diving into the water swiftly. Her form was much larger and faster than Misumon could have ever hoped to have been in the water. “And you're definitely going to pay for trying to squeeze the life out of my partner.”
Castorimon felt proud to say those words. Maia and her were finally partners now—they had reached a level of trust in each other that wasn't there before. Now, the only real obstacle left was this Gesomon, which Castorimon was quite confident in the fact it would be easily handled.
Castorimon's black claws clicked together, before spreading apart quickly, tensing up. The gave off a blue aura of energy, that began to spread around her body like a wild fire. The glow intensified, and began to swirl around her, creating a mass of bubbles, which were wound so fast, they popped apart.
A whirlpool of water condensed before her body, and the digimon's teal eyes set on the Gesomon ahead. “Ready for this, big boy?” There was no response. “Of course you aren't,” the beaver grinned, once again, before drawing her clawed hands back, forcing forward.
“Aqua Whirl!” a powerful whirlpool shot out, sucking in the Gesomon in an instant. He was wound around by a powerful, damaging black hole of water. He could feel his body began to tear apart at the speed and intensity of it. A gurgled, distorted cry escaped from the beast. It finally died out, leaving him winded, injured, and physically gasping for a chance at recovering himself. He attempted to run.
“Tail Crush!” Castorimon's strong voice rang out, before a powerful force struck his head. There was a loud crack at the contact, before the digimon went flying downward. His body turned to static, before reforming itself into a mass of data, which floated upwards.
Castorimon followed it, breaking the surface. “Woo! I can totally get used to this,” the digimon beamed, showing a new found confidence. She swam over to the kids, only to see Maia raise her digivice. The girl glanced at her partner, and stopped before the press of a button.
Words didn't need to be said, as the look on Castorimon's face told her all she needed to know. She recalled her originally telling them what the digivice could do—and the none-too-pleased tone in her voice. It was some sort of disrespect, it seemed.
“Climb on, guys, we gotta get to shore, already,” Castorimon lowered herself slightly, allowing the others to make their way onto her back. Maia, tough, waded for a moment, reaching a hand out to the beaver's muzzle.
“I'm sorry, Misumon,” she said, finally. “You know, for everything I did and said. I should have realized that... well, everything, I guess.” Castorimon nudged her head forward a bit more, into something of a hug for the girl, which she returned.
“Come on, let's get out of here,” Castorimon offered a grin, which Maia returned. She clung to the dark-purple ring of fur around the beaver's neck, before climbing up. The digimon shot off towards the other end of the gaping river, much faster than the 'S.S. Piece of Junk' could manage.
“This is a nice change,” Finnmon said, after a few moments, causally laid out on the back of Castorimon. “Letting you carry me around for a while,” he chuckled.
Castorimon returned a mock chuckle. “Shut up, or you'll be swimming,” she chimed in a rather threateningly-nice manner.
To Be Continued...