By Niki (NeeP) Paradis

Chapter Three: Chasing Jyoumon

    It was very quiet in the cave where everyone was sleeping.
    But that didn't last for long.
    Taimon rolled over in his sleep.  He threw his arm over his head to block out the sound that threatened to wake him up.
    "Taimon?  Wake up!" hissed a voice into his ear.  The leader of the group still slept, oblivious to the anxious note in the voice that was trying to get his attention.
    A sharp poke in his side got his attention, though.  Taimon jumped three feet into the air as the sensation penetrated his consciousness.  He yelped loud enough to wake everyone else up.
    Gomamon looked expectantly at the leader as he ruefully rubbed his side.
    "What's going on, Gomamon?" asked Taimon finally.
    "Jyoumon's gone missing," replied the little Digimon.
    "He what?!?" exclaimed the leader of the pack.  Everyone groaned as they became more and more conscious.
    Gomamon shrugged.  "He left a note outside."
    Taimon got up and followed the little Digimon out of the cave.  He looked at the note scratched in the dirt.
    "Not again," he moaned.  He turned to Gomamon.  "We better get everyone up."
    It didnít take long for everyone to get moving as they were all already awake.  And as the group moved to surround the small sea-mammal Digimon, they started to ask questions.  Jyoumon's partner answered them all the best that he could.
    "When did he leave?" asked Soramon.
    "Sometime during our watch," replied Gomamon.
    "Why didn't you stop him?" asked Tentomon.
    "I didn't see him."
    "Why didn't you see him go?" asked Matimon.
    "I fell asleep..."
    "Look, I'm sorry!" exclaimed Gomamon testily.
    "Where do you think he went?" asked Gabumon.
    "I think I know," said Gomamon softly.  "To that place in the river where we were having that water-fight."
    "But that is a half-day's walk from here!" wailed Meimimon.  "I donít think I can make it back over there."
    "Why would he go there?" asked Palmon.
    "I think it's where it finally sinks in that he's more than a kid with fur," replied Matimon.
    "I think it's more than that," said Karimon.  "I don't think I can explain it though."
    "Who knows?" exclaimed Taimon.  "Maybe he just liked the scenery or something."
    Soramon looked at Jyoumon's partner.  "But who will go with you?" she asked.
    "Don't worry about it," replied Gomamon.  "I can go by myself, then we can catch up."
    "But like Meimimon said, it's a half-day's walk from here," said Taimon.  "That'll take forever!"
    "Sure, if you go by land --with all of the dangers and stuff.  It's quicker if I swim.  I'll go get Jyoumon, then we'll swim back."
    "But youíre not protected," commented Soramon.  "What if you or Jyoumon are attacked?"
    "Uh...  "  The small Digimon was at a loss for words.
    "Why not take Jyoumon's Digivice?" suggested Gabumon.  "That way, one of you will have a chance of Digivolving."
    "Great idea," said Gomamon sarcastically.  "I'll just put it in my pocket."
    "But you really ought to take it," mused Izimon.  "The problem will be figuring out how to carry it."
    Matimon unslung Jyoumon's bag.  "Maybe there is something that we can use in here," he suggested as he went through the contents of the duffel bag.  "Huhn.  He's sure got a lot of stuff in this thing."
    Gomamon nodded, and rolled up his eyes.  "Tell me about it!  I was in that bag."
    Matimon finally pulled out a pair of shoelaces.  "I think we can do something with these."  He pulled out the Digivice and threaded one of the shoelaces through the holes in the clip.  It took some time as his claws made it difficult for him to do the job properly.  But he managed the job soon enough.  He returned the remaining shoelace back to the bag.  He headed towards Gomamon to secure the digital device around the little Digimon's neck.
    Gomamon backed away.  "You're gonna be careful with those claws of yours, right?" he asked.
    "What do you mean?" asked Matimon, looking with confusion at his sharp claws.  He seemed surprised that anyone would consider them as dangerous.
    "Here," said Meimimon, as she grabbed the Digivice from him.  "Let me."  She walked up to the small white and purple Digimon.  She knelt down by him, and tied the shoelace and Digivice around his neck.  "There you go," she said as she scratched him behind one of his ears.
   "Thanks, Meimimon," replied Gomamon as he blushed.  "Um, I better get going."
    "Good luck, Gomamon!" said Taimon.
    "Come back quickly," said Soramon.
    "I will," replied Gomamon as he ran for the river and jumped in.

    Matimon and Taimon watched as Gomamon swam away.
    "I hope the little guy will be okay," murmured Matimon.
    "Me too," agreed Taimon.
    "Don't underestimate him," said Gabumon.
    "He knows what he's doing," agreed Agumon.
    "Well," said Taimon thoughtfully, "I guess you guys have known him longer..."
    "He'll be fine, Tai," interrupted Agumon.  "He'll be back with Jyoumon before you know it."
    "I hope you're right," said Matimon softly.

    It was halfway back up the river when Gomamon found his partner sitting on the steep bank looking moodily at the river.  Jyoumon didn't seem aware of him at all.  The small Digimon sighed.  Then he took aim and soaked his partner with a well-aimed splash.
    "Jyoumon!  Snap outta it!" he shouted.
    "Huh?" asked Jyoumon as he finally looked at his partner in the river.
    "Why'd you take off like that?!?" demanded Gomamon.
    Jyoumon sighed.  "If you want to talk to me, come up here and talk, don't just start shouting at me."
    It was Gomamon's turn to sigh.  "Okay, Jyou.  Hang on."
    It took Gomamon a bit of time to reach his partner, because the bank that Jyoumon was sitting on was extremely steep, and he had to keep going until he reached a shallow part of the bank so he can climb up.  Then he had to walk back down the river until he reached Jyou.  When he had reached him, he sat down and waited for a few minutes.
    Jyoumon remained silent.
    Gomamon sighed.  "Do you want to talk about it?" he asked.
    "I donít know how to explain it, Goma," said Jyoumon.  "I know that everyone else has adapted to their new bodies, but I find that I just can't."  The Digimon-boy looked at his fur-covered hand with its four fingers, odd blue marking and black claws.  He then clenched the hand into a fist and sighed.
    "Maybe youíre trying too hard, Jyou..." suggested Gomamon.  "Donít fight it, and just enjoy it."
    "Easy for you to say.  You've always been a Digimon."
    "That's true, but I haven't always been Gomamon, remember?  I was Bukamon before you came to the Digi-World.  I became Gomamon for the first time shortly I met you."
    Jyoumon was confused, but at least he was listening.
    "Imagine this Jyou...  As Bukamon, I was a small creature that was capable of floating.  When I Digivolved into Gomamon, I lost that ability to float, or fly, if you want to put it that way --but I could swim, and I knew it --as soon as I Digivolved.  Remember when we were all falling into the river?  I had to do something, so I called up a fish net with the Marching Fishes.  There was no time to freeze up; I had to go with the flow, so to speak.  It was sink or swim."
    Jyoumon groaned at the puns.  "Those are awful," he said.
    "What I am saying is that if I froze up at that moment, we might have all been goners.  Anyway, what it all comes down to is this: Loosen up!  Okay?  What happens will happen."
    "Okay," replied the boy-Digimon.  He looked thoughtfully at his partner.  "You know, this is the most serious that I have ever seen you."
    Sea-green eyes looked seriously into violet ones, and then one of them winked.
    "Donít get used to it.  It'll probably never happen again."
    "Right."  Jyoumon sighed.  "I guess that you want to take me back now, huh?"
    "The others are getting worried."
    "Okay, lets go."  Jyoumon started back towards the way that they came, and then he looked quizzically at Gomamon.  "Why are you wearing my Digivice?" he asked.
    "It was the others' idea.  Just in case we are attacked or something."
    "I also discovered that it is water-proof too!"

    They walked for the better part of the afternoon.  Gomamon knew that swimming would be faster, but he didn't want to pose that fact to Jyoumon, who was starting to get moody again.  Instead, he decided to concentrate on a more immediate situation.
    "Hey, Jyou?"
    "I'm starting to get a little hungry... and a little bit tired.  Wanna take a break and get something to eat?"
    Jyoumon seemed distracted.
    "Huh?  Oh, right.  Food.  Yeah, we better call it a night and get something to eat before we sleep, huh?"
    "Something like that."

    It didn't take long before they found a cave.  It wasn't very large, but it was obvious that there was more than enough room for the two of them to walk around.
    "Oh, wow," muttered Gomamon.  "Another cave.  Just what I've always wanted."
    Jyoumon just shrugged.  "It'll do."
    "Maybe for you, but personally, I'd love to spend the night in a five-star hotel."
    No comment.  Gomamon looked to his partner.  Jyoumon's eyes were downcast, and he was in another one of his funks.  The small Digimon sighed.
    "Earth to Jyou...  Snap outta it!"
    Jyoumon's head turned to face him.  "Sorry, Goma...  I know what you said, but still, it's hard.  Maybe what I need is to be by myself for a bit, to clear my head."
    "I dunno if that is such a good idea, Jyoumon..."
    "Look.  I'll start the fire, you go find something to eat..."
    "But what about you?"
    "I'm just not very hungry..."
    Gomamon gave his partner a worried look.  "You're not hungry?  You know, for a Digimon, that's not healthy, Jyoumon."
    "Goma, please.  I'll be fine.  I just need a few minutes to think about what you've told me, that's all."
    "Fine!" Gomamon harrumphed.  "Sit and sulk.  I'll be back later."  Without another word, the little Digimon turned and stomped off --or tried to, considering his flippers.
Jyoumon watched his partner leave, then sighed.  He walked towards the cave while picking up firewood along the way.  He went inside, looked around, then laid out a fire.  He shook his head as he realised that he had forgotten that all of the matches were in the duffel bag that Matimon was carrying.
    "I guess I have to do this the old-fashioned way," he muttered as he began to rub two sticks together.  He grunted as he worked.  "It figures.  I'm a Digimon with a water-based attack and I need to start a fire.  It's just not my day."
It took a little time, but he managed to get the fire going.  He looked around the cave some more.  It was about the size of his bedroom at home.  Wish that I had a bed to go with it, he thought.
    Satisfied that the cave will be warm enough for the night, Jyoumon sat down on the floor of the cave.  He didn't mean to upset Gomamon like he did, but he really needed to be by himself to think for a moment.  It still was a shock to his psyche --having fur, huge claws, not needing glasses, not having allergies...  He had been plain ol' Joe Kido for as long as he remembered, and he wasn't sure that he could stomach what being Jyoumon was all about.  Being able to swim, after a lifetime of being afraid of the water and having a special attack was just plain creepy.  He didn't think he would be able to handle it, despite the fact that he had been a Digimon for almost two days already.
    He sighed.  He didn't want to come back to the Digi-World in the first place.  But two worlds were relying on him to fulfil his role as the Digi-Destined of Reliability.  And he wasn't about to let either of them down.  But, the problem was the fact that he simply wasn't cut out for adventuring.
    He shivered. It bothered him that he wasn't a Digi-Destined anymore, nor human for that matter.  He knew that the prophecy depended on the Digi-Destined being human.  And if the prophecy can't be filled then there would be no way of him ever returning home.  The thought chilled him.
    He shivered again. He wasn't really cold, but it would have been nice to have his sweater-vest with him.  He felt a bit odd wearing no clothes --not that he needed them.  Short white and blue fur covered every inch of his body and it was more than enough to keep him warm.  He likened the feeling of having fur to that of wearing a skin-tight pair of fuzzy pyjamas.  Different, but not uncomfortable.
    "That's enough Joe," he muttered to himself.  "Youíre a Digimon now.  You shouldn't be moping around in self-pity like this."
    "What's this?" asked a gravely voice, breaking into Jyoumon's thoughts.  "One of my Digimon-Destined, all by himself?"
    Jyoumon turned around sharply to look into the goggled visage of Frankenmon.

    Gomamon was getting worried.  So worried that he had lost his appetite.  And that was not normal for him at all.  He sighed as he thought about his partner.  Jyoumon was much moodier than usual, and this time he wanted to be alone.  Gomamon knew that something was wrong, because usually, Jyou was more than willing to talk his problems over with him.  But things were different than usual, especially with the way that Jyoumon has been acting lately.  And with Piedmon and Frankenmon after all of them, the worse thing he could do is to leave his partner alone.
    He sighed again.  Maybe he was getting paranoid or something, but he had a feeling that he better get back to the cave as soon as possible.  If he was wrong about the feeling of dread that he was having, he would chalk it up to being around Jyou too much.

    "Here you are, all alone, and without anything to remind you of your sense of self..." said Frankenmon in an eager voice.  "This is too good an opportunity for me to pass up."
    Jyoumon was spooked.  He stood up suddenly and tried to scrabble away.  But he didn't get very far before he hit the wall.  He pressed himself against the wall of the cave, trying to inch his way around his opponent in an effort to get away, but the tall Digimon was blocking the exit.
    So he tried to retaliate.
    "Fountain Blast!" he shouted and spat his attack at the sinister Digimon.  But Frankenmon blipped into his other dimension to avoid the water and came right back out.  He grabbed at the boy-Digimon's shoulder and held him tightly.
    Jyoumon struggled against the grip of the mad scientist Digimon for as long as he could, but it didn't take long until he tired out. He glared at the other Digimon for some time before he could talk.
    "What do you want with me?" he said at last.
    "You are going to help be further my studies, my boy," commented Frankenmon.  "This halfway state is not for you."
    "Studies?  Halfway state?"  Jyoumon was confused.
    Frankenmon brought out his metal wand and held it in front of the other's face.  "Just look into this," he said in a wheedling voice.  "This won't take a minute."  Of course, remembering what had happened the last time when everyone looked at the wand, Jyoumon shut his eyes tightly.
    Nothing happened.
    "Just kidding," chuckled Frankenmon.
    "Huh?" Jyoumon opened his eyes in confusion.  He looked at the wand that was still in front of his face.  It was cool and silver and harmless looking...
    It went off.  The blinding flash burned its way into Jyoumon's mind and body.  He gasped in pain as the burning sensation went through the core of his very being.  The mad doctor-Digimon chuckled.
    "You're a gullible young one, aren't you?"
    "Hey!" shouted Gomamon from the entrance of the cave.  "Leave him alone!"  The small Digimon charged at Frankenmon.
    "Well, I must be off," he said as he watched Gomamon getting closer.  "I'll come back in a couple of days to see how you look," he said to Jyoumon, reaching over to affectionately scratch him behind his ears.  Then he disappeared into his tear in reality.
    Jyoumon slid down the wall and sat on the floor.  There was a sick feeling in his stomach.  And it wasn't just from the jolt he had received.  He also ached all over, like he had just been beaten up or as if he were having growing pains.
    "Jyou?" asked Gomamon as he reached his friend.  "Are you okay?"
    Jyoumon groaned before replying.  "I ache, but I'm all right."
    "It's my fault, I shouldn't have left you."
    "No, it's not your fault.  I asked you to leave.  Neither of us knew that Frankenmon would have found us."
    "I guess not, but I was supposed to be taking care of you.  It's a Digimon's job."
    "Relax, Goma.  It's all right."
    Gomamon came to rest beside Jyoumon.  "What did he do to you?" he asked.
    "I really donít know," sighed the other Digimon.  "He said something about continuing his studies and that I was stuck in some halfway state."  He yawned.  "All I know is that whatever he has done with that flash show has made me very tired."
    "Donít you think we should find a safer place first?" asked Gomamon.
    "Well, according to Frankenmon, we have a couple of days before he comes to check on us," replied Jyoumon.  "There's no real reason to keep moving --at least not at the moment."
    "You sure?"
    "To be honest, I donít think I can move.  I'm so sleepy, and it will take at least a good nights sleep before I can move without hurting."
    "Alright," sighed Gomamon.  "Sleep if you have to, but I donít think I can.  I'll feel better if I kept watch."
    "Okay, if you want," Jyoumon gave his partner a tired grin.  "As if you were able to stay awake through a watch before..."
    "Watch me."
    Jyoumon curled up into a ball.  "No thanks.  I'd rather sleep.  See ya in the morning."
    "Yeah...  Good night, Jyou."

    Jyoumon was dreaming.

    Joe Kido was backstage, getting ready for an awards presentation.  He was nervous as tried to straighten his jacket for the sixth time.
    He didn't know what kind of presentation it was though.
    He checked his appearance in the mirror.  But it wasn't the face of the young teenager that he was supposed to be that he saw in the mirror.  The reflection that looked back at him was that of a young man of about 16 years.  His hair was chin length and parted in the middle.  Not the most practical, but it suited him, he thought.  He wore a smaller pair of glasses, unlike the other pair that a certain 13-year-old should be wearing.
    "Hey Joe," said a voice behind him.  He turned around to see Tai standing and grinning at him.  This Tai was also older than he should be, and he was wearing a school uniform of some type.  He wasn't wearing any goggles, and Joe thought that Tai looked rather peculiar without them.  "You did great, man," said Tai.  You really deserve this award."
    "Thanks Tai," was all that Joe replied.
    An eleven-year-old blonde kid ran up to him.  It took Joe a moment to realise that the boy in question was T.K..
    "Congratulations, Joe!" he said.
    "Thanks, T.K.."
    One by one, the other kids, all older than they should be, came forward to congratulate him.  Joe shook a lot of hands with a look of confusion on his face.
    "But what kind of reward am I getting?" he murmured to himself.
    "Don't you know?" asked a soft voice.  Joe turned to face a nine-year-old boy with close-cropped brown hair and dark green eyes, who was studying him seriously.  Joe has never seen this boy before in his life.  "Then I guess it's a surprise, then," said the boy with a shrug.  "But don't you worry, Joe.  You really deserve this."
    Two more strange kids came up.  One of them was an eleven-year-old boy with short spiked reddish-brown hair, wearing a red and blue flight jacket and what appeared to be Tai's missing goggles.
    "You're the best, Joe!" said the boy, giving a thumb's-up.  "Congrats!"
    The other new kid, a girl with long purple hair, wearing a flight cap, glasses and a vest, shook Joe's hand.
    "Wow!" she said.  "It's great that you have gotten so far!  Things can only get better from here on!"
    "Thanks..." Joe didn't know what to say.   The three kids then waved and walked off, before he could ask them what their names were.
    Suddenly he was on stage.  The other kids were all seated at tables, with their respective Digimon partners.  Even the new kids seemed to have Digimon of their own.  Joe looked around for Gomamon.  But he couldnít see him at all.
    Then he noticed that someone was walking up to him.  It was a young boy, of about eleven years old.  He had bright red spiky hair that was tied back with a purple headband.  His bright green eyes looked through what appeared to be Joe's old glasses.  Freckles covered his round cheeks, and they made the kid looked rather impish.  He was wearing a white and black tee shirt, white shorts, and white, purple and black sneakers.  He was also wearing Joe's sweater-vest.  The oddest thing about the boy were his fingernails, which were completely black.  The boy looked at Joe, smiled and winked at him.
    Joe could've sworn he KNEW this kid from somewhere.
    "Are you nervous, Joe?" asked the boy in a very familiar voice.
    Joe took a second look at the boy as he placed a name to the voice that he just heard.
    "Goma...?" he asked.
    "Yep, that's me!" replied the boy.  "Goma Kido, your little brother, remember?"
    "Little brother...?" asked Joe in surprise.  "How...?  When...?"
    "Never mind that!" said Goma.  "It's almost time."
    The human Goma gave him a hug.  "Now don't be frightened," he said.
    "Frightened?" asked Joe.  "Why?"
    "Don't you worry about it."  With a parting wave, Goma went to the podium.  He gave Joe a wicked little grin and started to speak into the microphone.  "Ladies and Gentlemen," he said with impish laugh, "I'd like to present Joe Kido, nominated for the 'Most Likely to Have a Nervous Breakdown if Turned Into a Digimon' Award."
    "What?!?" exclaimed Joe.  He looked around at the audience.  All of the gang were now in their Digimon forms.  Even the new kids were Digimon.  He looked down at himself and realised that he had become a Digimon again as well.
    "What do you mean?" demanded Jyoumon.  "I'm not going to have a nervous breakdown!"
    "Yeah, right!" shouted Matimon from one of the tables in the audience.  "You have already had one.  One more shouldn't be difficult."
    The other Digi-kids laughed.
    "I wonít have a nervous breakdown!" insisted Jyoumon loudly.
    "Prove it!" demanded Taimon.
    Jyoumon took a step back and realised that he was now standing on four legs.  "I won't.  You'll see."  Then Frankenmon came out of the side curtains.  He strode up to him and rubbed him on the head like a dog.
    "Now you will have no choice but to prove it, m'boy!" he chortled evilly.
    "What do you mean?" asked Jyoumon.
    "You'll see," replied the mad doctor Digimon.  "Wake up and find out."

    Jyoumon woke up.  That was the strangest dream...  Then he realised that all of his aches and pains were gone.  He shook his head in wonder and looked around for his partner.  He found him lying not even two feet away, snoring soundly.  I knew that he wouldn't be able to stay awake, thought Jyoumon with another shake of his head.  Then he chuckled.
    "Hey, Gomamon!  Wake up!" he said loudly to his partner.  Goma jumped straight to his flippers and feet.
    "I'm awake!" he shouted.
    "Now you are, you mean," laughed Jyoumon.  "I knew you wouldn't make it."  Then he noticed that Gomamon was staring at him strangely.  It was as if he had become an alien creature.
    "What?" he asked, spooked.
    Gomamon just stared in amazement.

    "Hmm?"  Izimon looked up from his computer to his partner.  "What is it, Tentomon?" he asked.
    "Have you got a moment?  There is something that I want to show you."
    "Just give me a moment.  I want to cross reference this first."  Izimon kept tapping at his computer. These new talons of mine make it really difficult for me to type, he thought as he struggled with his information inputting.
    The red beetle Digimon put a pincer between Izimon's nose and the computer screen.  "Now, Izimon," he said testily.
    "Hey!" exclaimed the bug-boy Digimon.  "I'm trying to work here!"
    "And I'm telling you that if you donít put that computer down right now, I am going to throw it into the river, then I'm going to give it to Taimon to try and start it up again."
    "You wouldn't dare!" exclaimed Izimon.
    "Try me, Izi.  Do you think that it is worth it?  You come with me now, and we can leave your computer with Soramon."
    They glared at each other for a few minutes.
    Izimon sighed.  "All right.  You win.  Let's go."  He shut off the power to his laptop, and closed it.

    They left the portable computer with Soramon and took to the sky.   It amazed Izimon how easily he adapted to flying.  It was as if he had always knew how --even though he only had the wings for almost two days.  He figured that flying would be the one thing that he will miss most when he returned to his human form.  He tried to suppress a whoop of joy as he sped up and passed Tentomon.
    He wasn't completely successful.
    "Are you enjoying yourself, Izimon?" asked the bug Digimon.
    "Uh..."   The bug-boy Digimon was at a loss for words.
    Tentomon laughed.  "You donít need to hide the fact that you're having fun from me, Izi.  Now tell me the truth.  Are you having fun?"
    Izimon stopped to hover in mid-air.  Then he spread his arms, spun around and laughed.
    "This is great!  Is flying always this much fun?"
    "It is for me.  Why?  Are you finding something other than working on your computer fun?"
    "This is so --Prodigious!" exclaimed Izimon.  "I would never have thought that I would enjoy flying!"
    "That's good to hear."
    "Where are we heading, Tento?  What is this thing that you wanted to show me?"
    Tentomon pointed to a near-by mountaintop.  "Over there.  To see it best, we have to reach the top of the mountain," he said.  "And we have to hurry."
    "Because it is something that's time sensitive.  We're almost there," encouraged Tentomon.
    They soon reached the top of the mountain.  At its peak, there was a small patch of grass, suitable for sitting on.  There was just enough room for the two of them.  Tentomon landed on the flat surface, covered his wings and sat down.  Izimon landed beside him, folded his wings and sat down.  The cool evening breeze ruffled hair and attennas.
    Izimon was confused.  It was a very nice spot.  He wondered why Tentomon would bring him to such a pleasant looking place.  He looked all around, expecting some hint of trouble or any problem at all.
    "What is it that you wanted to show... oh!"  Izimon was suddenly captivated by a Digi-World sunset.  Brilliant colours streaked through the sky, ranging from yellow, to red, to purple and to blue.  The few clouds in the sky turned green and blue.  The 'sun' itself, was a glowing ball of red and gold.  Izimon felt the last golden rays warm on his face.
    Both Digimon watched the sunset until it sank behind the horizon.
    "Well?" asked Tentomon.  "What do you think?"
    Izimon was speechless.  His mouth opened and closed a couple of times without saying anything.
    "It was beautiful..." he managed finally.
    "I knew you'd like it!" exclaimed the other Digimon.  "It was just a matter of separating you from your computer."
    "It was so..."  Izimon didn't know how to describe what he just saw.  'Prodigious' was his favourite word, but it wasn't the right word to describe what he was feeling.
    "Fantastic..." he said finally.  It came closer to what he had in mind.
    "And we had the best seats in the house," chuckled Tentomon.  "Would you like to see sunrise tomorrow?"
    "Yeah.  I believe I would."  Izimon stood up and put a three-fingered hand on his partner's armoured shoulder.   "And, Tentomon?"
    "Yes, Izimon?"
    "Don't mention it."
    No further words were needed.

    Taimon was standing the first watch that night.  He sighed as he used his mini-telescope to scan the area.  Agumon came up to him.
    "Any sign of them, Taimon?" he asked.
    "No, not yet."  Taimon brought the telescope down away from his face.  "I know that Jyoumon's a worry-wart and he complains a lot, but right about now, I wouldn't mind him being around...  To make suggestions and stuff.  He's good at that."
    "They will both be back soon, Tai," said Agumon.  "Gomamon may be small, but he's really tough, and he's quick.  And Jyoumon's smart.  They will be both fine."
    "I hope you're right, Agumon.  I hope you're right."
    Taimon put his telescope back to his eye, and looked towards the horizon.
    "Huhn.  Izimon and Tentomon haven't come back yet, either.  I wonder what they are doing..."  Taimon started to search the sky for the two flying Digimon.
    "Why?" asked Agumon.  "Are you worried?"
    "No!  Well... maybe a little...  Izimon left his computer behind with Soramon.  He never leaves that computer anywhere."
    Agumon grunted.  "Thatís true."  The he pointed to two small figures in the twilight.  "Hey, Taimon!  Do you think that's them?"
    Taimon focused his telescope onto the small specks.  "Yeah," he said in relief.  "That's them."
    The two of them watched as Izimon and Tentomon came down for a landing.  Shortly after Izimon touched ground, Taimon came up to him and grabbed him by the arms.
    "Where the heck have you been?!?" he demanded.
    "We went to watch the sunset," replied Izimon.  "It really was something..."
    "You mean to tell me that you went off somewhere without telling anyone where you were going, just to watch the sunset?!?"
    "Well, yes, but..."
    "But nothing!  It's bad enough that I have to worry about Jyoumon and Gomamon, without having to worry about you two!"  Taimon began to shake Izimon violently.
    "I take it that they're not back yet, huh?" asked Tentomon.
    "Nope," replied Agumon.

    Morning came, and to Taimon's disappointment, Gomamon and Jyoumon had yet to return.  The leader of the Digi-group sighed.
    "It won't be much longer before we have to start crossing the desert, Agumon," he said.
    "We'll be alright, won't we, Taimon?"
    "I hope so.  I hate deserts."
    "I know exactly what you mean."
    Izimon came out to talk to him.
    "Good morning, Taimon."
    "'Mornin' Izimon."
    "Everyone's awake and wondering about breakfast."
    "In just a minute.  I'm still worried about Jyoumon.  He and Gomamon still haven't come back yet."
    "Really?  How long will we wait for them?"
    "I think we can all talk about it after breakfast.  That should come first.  I always think better on a full stomach."
    "You're starting to sound like me, Taimon," exclaimed Agumon.
    "I do?"
    "Listen, Taimon..." began Izimon.  "I know that I'm not Jyoumon, but if he was here, he would suggest that we start preparing supplies for our journey into the desert."
    Taimon looked thoughtful.  Then he nodded.
    "Good idea.  So we'll have everyone gather extra and we'll prepare it for travel."

    After breakfast, everyone was starting to wrap up the remainder of the food in giant leaves.  While doing that, they started talking.
    "We're not leaving with out Jyoumon, are we?" asked Tiikeimon.
    "We might not have the choice," replied Matimon.  "We really have to get to Frankenmon's lab before it's too late."
    "Too late for what?" asked Meimomon.  "I mean, I don't remember a time limit being set."
    "You don't remember much, do you Meimi?" asked Palmon.
    "Just my shopping list," replied the green-girl-Digimon.
    "It doesn't really surprise me," murmured Taimon.
    "But Meimimon has got a point," said Soramon.  "Why do we have to rush?"
    "Gennai never said we had to," said Biyomon, supporting her partner.
    "I think that we might have a problem if we stay like this for too long," said Karimon.
    "Why do you think that?" asked Gatomon.
    "It's just that I just have a feeling that the longer we stay like this, the harder it is for us to change back."
    "Really?" asked her big brother.  "So, how much time do you think we have, Karimon?"
    "I don't know.  But not too long."
    "That really clarifies things," said Izimon with a sigh.
    "Watch your mouth!" Gatomon stood up and shook a paw in front of Izimon's face.  "Karimon knows what she is talking about!"  She turned to her partner.  "Right, Kari?"
    "I really don't know."
    Everyone face-faulted.
    "You know something?" asked Meimimon.  "Karimon hasn't been wrong yet since we came back to the Digi-World.  I'm gonna believe her."
    "That's a very good point," agreed Tentomon.
    "You're right, Tento," exclaimed Izimon.  "I'm sorry for doubting you, Karimon."
    "That's okay," replied the little cat-girl Digimon.
    "But what about Jyoumon and Gomamon?" asked Gabumon.
    Taimon sighed.  He looked around at his friends.
    "I hate to say this, but I think it would be best if we wait for those two for as long as it takes to prepare enough food for a day's march, then we better get going."
    "But if we were to change back and Jyoumon doesn't make it... " started Soramon.
    "Doesn't that cancel out the prophesy?" finished Matimon.
    "There has to be eight Digi-Destined to complete the prophesy, if we're missing one, Piedmon can still win," said Tiikeimon.
    "So we HAVE to wait for Gomamon and Jyoumon," finished Patamon.
    A sly sounding voice interrupted their conversation.
    "I'd worry more about yourselves, if I were you, instead of your missing companions."
    As one, all of the Digimon looked up.  Up above them, Lady Devimon hovered.
    "What now...?" asked Matimon exasperatedly.
    "Oh, come on, people!" exclaimed the evil Digimon.  "You all know the drill!  You fight, lose and die!"
    "Listen, lady!" shouted Taimon.  "It's obvious that we have a different drill in mind.  So, unless you want to be totally trashed by all of us, you better go!"
    "Now, why would I want to do all of the dirty work of fighting, especially if I can have someone else do it for me?"
    "What do you think she means by that?" asked Gabumon.
    "I think it means that we get to fight another flunky," replied Matimon.
    "Why don't you come down and fight us yourself?!?" demanded Biyomon.
    "I was told that I'm not allowed to fight you.  Sorry, kiddies!"  She laughed maniacally.  "Go get them!  'Dark Mushroomon'!"  Then she flew off.  The Digimon looked after the retreating form for a moment.
    "Uh," chuckled Taimon.  "Excuse me?  Dark Mushroomon?!?"  He started laughing.  Matimon joined him.
    "You gotta be kidding me!" he howled with laughter.
    "That does sound kinda silly, doesn't it, Palmon?" asked Meimimon.
    "I don't know, Meimimon.  Remember Dark Snimon?"
    A huge crash could be heard from the other side of the trees.
    "I wonder why these evil Digimon always seem to make their entrance from behind the trees?" asked Izimon.
    "Dramatic entrance?" suggested Tentomon.
    A huge black mushroom with feet and gloves crashed through the forest, pushing trees out of its way as it walked towards the group.
    "It's a little bit bigger than the ordinary Mushroomon," suggested Tentomon.
    "You think?" asked Agumon.
    Taimon stopped laughing as he looked up at the thing marching towards him.
    "Okay, guys.  I'm open to suggestions."
    "We fight him!" shouted Gabumon.  "Are you with me Matimon?"
    "Go for it!" exclaimed Matimon.

    "Gabumon digivolve into...  Garurumon!"

    The wolf like Digimon charged at the emerging fungus.  "Blue Blaster!" he cried out as he let loose with his attack.  Blue flames charged towards the Giant Fungus Digimon.
    "Noxious Gas!" shouted the huge mushroom as he retaliated.  He belched out a huge cloud of black vapour.  The smaller Digimon all gagged from the stench.
    Flame and black cloud met head on and ignited into a fireball.  The flames scorched both Garurumon and Dark Mushroomon.  But Matimon's partner was still in the fight.
    "Blue Blaster!" he shouted again.  This time the flames scorched the slimy looking hide of the monster.
    "Arrrrrgh!" shouted Dark Mushroomon and he swatted the wolf-like Digimon away.  Garurumon hit the sharp rocks at the edge of the battlefield, then landed on his side with a heavy thud.  He laid very still for a few moments.
    "Garurumon!" shouted Matimon.  "You have to get up!"
    Garurumon groaned, but struggled to get to his feet.
    But Dark Mushroomon had other ideas.  He marched over to the prone Garurumon, and giggled insanely.  "Fungus Stomp!" he shouted as he raised his huge foot to bring it down on his opponent.
    "NO!" shouted Matimon as he ran forward.  The huge squishy foot came closer to Garurumon.

    "Matimon digivolve into...  Yamatomon!"

    An enormous glow came over the running wolf-boy Digimon.  When the light dispersed, a taller, stronger Digimon was in his place.
    Yamatomon was a human-adult sized Digimon with beige fur with white stripes.  He had large hands with sharp ivory claws.  He had golden eyes and a black nose.  He was still blonde, but his hair was longer and wilder than before.  Tufts of hair of the same colour grew from his shoulders, and at the end of his long striped tail.  He stood balanced on the toes of elongated feet and he wore nothing but his green shirt.
    "Crimson Scratch!"  He dashed under the descending foot and used his long claws to make a long gash on the bottom of it.  Dark Mushroomon howled as he yanked his foot away.  But as Yamatomon and the others watched, the gashed healed almost immediately.
    "Okay," muttered Izimon.  "That didn't work..."
    The monster's huge fleshy hand came down and grabbed Yamatomon and picked him up.  Yamatomon tried to use his claws to pry himself free, but even though the huge mushroom was bellowing in pain, he wouldn't let the other Digimon go.
    "Now what?" asked Agumon.
    "Now it's my turn..." began Taimon as he stepped forward.  He was about to digivolve when he heard a couple of cries from behind him.

    "Jyoumon digivolve into...  Joaiomon!"
    "Gomamon digivolve into...  Ikkakumon!"

    Ikkakumon came charging out of the trees behind the group and into the battle.  On his back, balanced a blue-furred humanoid Digimon with long sharp claws.  Ikkakumon barrelled straight towards the legs of Dark Mushroomon while the blue Digimon leaped off of his partner's back towards the hand that was holding Yamatomon prisoner.
    "Jyou...?" asked Yamatomon.  "Is that you?"
    The blue-furred Digimon actually chuckled.  "Actually, it's 'Joaiomon' now.  Let's concentrate on getting you outta here."
    "Right!"  Yamatomon nodded.
    Then Ikkakumon crashed into Dark Mushroomon's legs, knocking him off balance.  Both Yamatomon and the blue-furred Digimon took the opportunity and drove their claws into the fleshy hand.  Under the combined forces of the two Digimon, the huge fungus had no choice but to let go.

    The group watched the battle from a bit of a distance.
    "Huhn," muttered Taimon.  "At least we don't have to worry about where Jyoumon and Gomamon are anymore."

    The two tumbled to the ground and quickly recovered.  Yamatomon finally got a good look at his rescuer.  Pale blue fur covered his entire body, and there were a few white spots on his back and legs.  Both hands and feet were extremely wide with long white claws.  His large green eyes peered from under a shaggy blue-black mane.  White marks were also under his eyes, and at his hairline.  He had a long wiry tail and long ears that stuck out of the mane at the top of his head.  Joaiomon wore nothing, but didn't seem self conscious about it.
    "Shall we defeat this guy?" asked Yamatomon in a mock-serious voice.
    "Sure," replied Joaiomon.  "Then we can have mushroom soup for lunch, right?"
    "Why not?"
    "Then you better get busy, guys!" shouted Ikkakumon.  "This guy may be squishy, but he's tough!"  The huge sea-mammal Digimon backed away from Dark Mushroomon then launched his attack.  "Harpoon Torpedo!" he shouted.
    The missile imbedded itself into the flesh of the huge mushroom and detonated.  A huge gaping black hole could be seen.  Then it slowly began to re-generate.
    "Oh, no you don't," muttered Yamatomon.  "Frozen Slam!"  He let loose with a blast of icy energy that penetrated the open wound of the evil Digimon.  The fibrous wound iced over, and it stopped healing.
    Dark Mushroomon used his other attack.  "Noxious Gas!" he shouted as he spat out the poisonous fumes.  Everyone tried to hold his or her breath.
    "Pressure Spray!" shouted Joaiomon as he spat out a high-pressure water attack that washed the deadly fumes away.  The huge mushroom roared in frustration and prepared to try again.
    "Hey! Joaiomon!" shouted Ikkakumon.  "I don't like the language that this guy is using!"
    "Yeah," agreed Yamatomon.  "You better wash his mouth out!"
    "Okay," Joaiomon said and attacked again.  "Pressure Spray!"
    Just as the giant fungus was about to release another Noxious Gas attack, Joaiomon's Pressure Spray hit him right in the mouth.  While the evil Digimon was distracted, the others attacked again.
    "Harpoon Torpedo!" shouted Ikkakumon over and over again as he released each attack.
    "Frozen Slam!" shouted Yamatomon repeatedly as he used his attack to freeze up the wounds before they could heal.
    Meanwhile, Garurumon managed to make it back to his feet.  It was obvious that he was hurting, but it was obvious that he knew what he had to do.
    "Blue Blaster!" he shouted over and over again as he released his attack of blue fire into the open wounds and the open mouth of the evil Digimon.
    Dark Mushroomon has been completely distracted by the other three Digimon that he totally forgot about Garurumon.  He was trying to summon up another Noxious Gas attack when the stream of blue fire entered his mouth.  Poisonous gas mixed with blue fire.
    The giant fungus detonated.
    Everyone ducked as flying pieces of fungus went everywhere.
    "We did it!" shouted Joaiomon.
    "Sure did!" agreed Yamatomon.
    The two clasped arms for a moment as the pieces of mushroom dispersed in an explosion of pixels.

    Taimon was relieved.  Dark Mushroomon was defeated.  Everyone was safe.  He watched as Yamatomon, Garurumon, Joaiomon and Ikkakumon all shimmered with dispersing energy as they devolved.  Ikkakumon became Gomamon, Garurumon became Gabumon, but Yamatomon and Joaiomon became something else entirely.

    The gang reached the four other Digimon.  Gabumon was trying to catch a small puppy-like Digimon that was bouncing around him, wearing Matt's crest of Friendship.
    "Hold still, will you?!?" he exclaimed.  "I need to make sure that you're okay."
    "I'm fine, I'm fine!" retorted the small Digimon.  "You're the one who's hurt!"
    "It's not so bad," insisted Gabumon.  "Thanks for saving me..."
    "'Yamamon'!  I'm Yamamon!  And you're my friend.  What else could I do?"
    Yamamon was a small white puppy-like Digimon with blue eyes, pointed ears, a brown nose and a thatch of blonde hair.  He bounded around his partner on all four paws as he examined him to determine the extent of the damage.
    Taimon laughed.
    "Hey, Yamamon!  Does the cute widdle puppy want a tummy-rub?"  he asked as he bent over and held out a hand.
    "Get lost," replied Gabumon's partner.
    Gomamon was standing protectively over what seemed to be a smaller version of himself, only grey and without claws.  A small dark curl fell between the tiny creature's blue eyes.
    "Come on out, Jyou...   It's all right now," coaxed the small sea-mammal Digimon.
    "It's 'Jojimon'," said the small creature, "and if its all right with you, I'd like to stay here for a few more moments."
    "But the others are here, and we have to get moving," insisted Gomamon.
    "Okay, I'm coming."  Jojimon padded out from the safety of his partner's flippers, almost banging his head on the Digivice that Gomamon still wore, and looked at the others that were standing over him.
    "Let me guess," he said in his slightly squeaky voice.  "I'm cuter than the dickens, aren't I?"
    "Yes, you are!" exclaimed Meimimon as she reached down and picked the little Digimon up.  She cuddled him and stroked his tiny head.
    "Hey!  Wait-a-minute!" Jojimon yelped.  "You just can't...  Uh...  Um..."  Then he relaxed as he discovered that he liked the sensation of being petted.  A look of bliss came over his face.
    "Maybe getting petted wouldn't be so bad..." mused Yamamon softly.
    The others laughed.
    Gabumon was standing motionless, barely aware of what was happening around him.  Then his eyes rolled into his head and he toppled over onto his side.
    "Gabumon!" shouted Yamamon.  He dashed to his partner's side.  He put his little brown nose to his face.  "Wake up!  You gotta wake up!"
    Jojimon leaped from Meimimon's arms and ran to Gabumon and studied the bloodstain that was spreading from a spot on the back of the lizard-Digimon's fur coat.  "He's losing too much blood.  We have to find a place where we can patch him up, before he loses anymore blood."
    "Like where?" asked Taimon.  "There's no place like that around here."
    "Hey!" cried Tiikeimon from the sky.  "I see a place!  And it's sorta close by!"
    Izimon flew up to join him.  "He's right," he said.  "There's a mansion not too far from here.  And it's about half a day's travel."
    "What?  Frankenmon's Laboratory?" asked Yamamon sarcastically.
    "No," said Izimon.  "That's still a couple of day's away in another direction."
    "What do you think?" asked Taimon to the rest of the group.
    "I think we should go for it," said Soramon.  "We can't just stay here."
    "But how will we get Gabumon over there?" asked Biyomon.  "He can't walk."
    "Then we'll carry him," said Yamamon simply.
    "We can't carry him," said Taimon.  "He's too big."

    While the others were debating, Karimon rummaged through the duffel bag that Joe brought and took out some bandages and with Gatomon's help; she began to wrap bandages carefully around Gabumon, fur-coat and all.
    "You'll be okay, you'll see," she said as she worked.
    There was no reply.
    "That's a lot of blood," said Gatomon.  "Jojimon?  Do you think he'll be okay?"  There was no reply.  Gatomon turned her head and saw that the small Digimon passed out.  She looked to Gomamon.
    "What happened to him?" she asked.
    "He doesn't like the sight of blood," replied Gomamon.  "He held up for as long as he could."  He used his flipper to gently shake his partner.
    "Hey, wake up, Jojimon!" he said.  The tiny Digimon stirred.
    "Hmmm?  What?"  he said in a sleepy voice.
    "Do you think that Gabumon will be okay?" asked Gatomon.
    Jojimon tried to avoid looking at the blood.  "If he's bandaged, and given a lot of fluids to drink, he'll have a better chance."
    "A good chance?" asked Gomamon.
    "A better chance."  Jojimon shrugged as well as he could with his tiny flippers.  "I'm not a doctor.  I only know a little bit of first aid.  But I think a few days of bed rest would make a great difference."
    The others sighed.

    "We need something to carry him with," said Izimon, "like a travois."
    "A what?" asked Palmon.
    "A travois.  It's like a sled.  We can drag Gabumon over to the mansion that way."
    "Well," said Taimon.  "Let's get started."  He turned to the others who were looking after Gabumon.  "You four look after Gabumon, okay?  The rest of us will build something to carry him with us."
    "A travois," repeated Izimon.
    "Yeah, what he said."
    "We'll look after him," replied Gatomon.
    "Leave it to us," nodded Gomamon.
    "Good.  Glad that's settled.  And Jojimon?"
    The tiny Digimon looked up.  "What is it?" he asked in an apprehensive voice.
    "Welcome back."
    "Uh, thanks..."

    They all had a little something to eat from the reserves that they prepared earlier that morning.  Then they got to work.  Using claws and various attacks, they cut down trees and branches of appropriate size.
    "Boom Bubble!" cried out Patamon as he used his attack to knock off a decent sized branch.
    "Swinging Kick!" shouted Soramon.  She used her secondary attack to knock over a small tree.
    The others helped out as they could.  Yamamon only watched.  Bubble Blow is not a particularly strong attack.
    "Hey, Yamamon!" shouted Taimon.  "Give us a hand here!"
    "Hang on..." called back the puppy-like Digimon.  "Yamamon digivolve into...  Matimon!"  The wolf-boy replaced the puppy.  He looked at his hands as if he was relieved to have them back.  Matimon grinned as he attacked a tree.
    "Claw Strike!" he shouted as he used his attack to knock down a tree.  It fell with a resounding crash.
    Other branches and small trees were knocked down as well.  Everyone pitched in to pick them up, and using what rope that was in the duffel bag, plus vines that they found, they tied the wood together in a type of sled.
    Taimon grabbed the handles of the travois.
    "Hey!" he exclaimed.  "This will be easy!"
    "But Gabumon isn't in it yet," said Agumon.
    "Oh!"  Taimon sheepishly rubbed the back of his head.
    Everyone rolled their eyes upward.
    "Let's go get Gabumon and get ready to move out," suggested Matimon.

    Gabumon was conscious when they got back to the others.  He looked at Matimon and the travois.
    "You really didn't have to go through all this trouble for me," he said.  "I can walk."  He tried to get up.  Gatomon and Karimon pushed him back down.
    "We'll need the travois either way," said Gatomon.  "If you try walking now, it won't be long until we're gonna need it to carry you with anyway."
    "Just rest, Gabumon," said Matimon.  You're the lucky one who gets to ride today."
    "If you really think that I should, Matimon..."
    It took some effort, but with the help of almost the entire gang, Gabumon was settled in the travois.  He was covered with large leaves to keep warm.
    Taimon got hold of the handles and lifted them up.  He tried to pull but it was apparent that he couldn't.
    "Arrrrrgh," he said.  "Gabumon, you really have to start laying off of the ice-cream."
    "Hey!" exclaimed Gabumon and Matimon at once.
    "Sorry, it's just that it isn't so easy to carry it now..."
    Matimon took a turn at lifting.  He managed to drag the travois a couple of feet before he had to put it back down.  He grunted.
    "I can only lift it so high to get it to work right," he said.  Any higher, and the edge drags and it isnít so easy to pull.  He grabbed the handles again, and pulled the travois while he was hunched over.  The travois went smoothly, but Matimon had to put it down and stretch.
    "Izimon's got the right height," suggested Tentomon.  "Why not let him try it?"
    Izimon got in between the handles of the travois.  He tried to pick it up, but his pincer-like hands couldn't get a grip on the wood.
    "Sorry guys," he said.
    "I can walk..." Gabumon began.
    "NO!!!" everyone else shouted.
    "I can do it," said Jojimon.
    "You?" asked Matimon.  "Aren't you a little small to be pulling anything?"
    "Not as Jojimom," protested the little Digimon.  "But as Jyoumon."
    "But, as Jyoumon," interrupted Meimimon, "aren't you the tallest out of all of us?"
    "Yeah," continued Soramon.  "And if Matimon is having trouble, what makes you think that you will have an easier time?"
    Jojimon looked at Gomamon.  The white and purple Digimon shrugged.
    "I guess that I will have to show you..." the tiny Digimon said.
    He padded out from the crowd.

    "Jojimon digivolve into...  Jyoumon!"

    Everyone gasped.  What they were seeing could not possibly be the same Digimon that ran off two nights before.  But it was.
    All of his markings were the same as before, but there was nothing human about Jyoumon. He was now a Digimon that resembled a cross between a seal and a dog.  Instead of standing on two feet, he now stood on four paws.  He had a few of the same features as Gomamon, like the shape of his head and wickedly sharp claws.
    The others stared.
    Jyoumon sighed.  "What?" he asked in an exasperated voice.  "Haven't you guys ever seen a Digimon before?!?"
    "What happened to you?" asked Meimimon.
    "Who did this to you?" asked Tentomon.
    Jyoumon sat on his haunches, and shrugged.  "Frankenmon did this to me.  He was saying something about continuing his studies, and that he didn't think that I should stay in the 'halfway-state' that I was in.  I guess this is my 'Full State'."
    "But why did he do this to you and not to the rest of us?" asked Izimon.
    "He said something about me being by myself and not having anything to remind me of my sense of self --whatever that is."
    "You're awfully calm about this," commented Taimon.  "You were freaking out before.  Why the change?"
    "What's the point of panicking?" asked Jyoumon.  "It's not really practical."
    "Now, how is this new body of yours gonna help us with the travois?" asked Matimon.
    Jyoumon got up and walked over to the travois.  He put a paw on one of the handles.
    "It's simple, really.  You make me a halter from the vines and then you can harness me to the travois.  It's at my chest level, so it won't be hard for me at all."
    "You can do that?" asked Karimon.
    "Sure.  I might need some help to get over the really rough spots, but this new body of mine's got great endurance.  I can do it."
    "If youíre sure..." started Taimon.
    Large violet eyes looked at the leader of the group.  Then Jyoumon chuckled.
    "Relax, Taimon," he said.  "I'm still me.  If you want to hear me complain, just wait for a while.  I'll probably be hungry then."
    More vines were easily found.  With Jyoumon's instructions of the most suitable knots for the project, Meimimon and Soramon worked on the fashioning of a harness.  The others asked Jyoumon about the story of what happened to him.  The blue-spotted Digimon told the story of what happened with Frankenmon the night before, as well as what happened when he woke up.

    It was morning in the cave where Jyoumon and Gomamon spent the night. And Jyou wondered what was wrong with his partner, because Gomamon wasn't talking.
    "What is wrong with you?!?" demanded Jyoumon.
    "Um, that's a new look for you, isn't it, Jyou...?" asked Gomamon finally.
    "What do you mean?" asked Jyoumon.  He tried to get up, but his body didn't seem to want to respond properly.  It was like his body wanted to roll onto its hands and knees while he wanted to sit up.  "What's wrong with me?" he started to ask as he looked down at himself.  He was shocked into silence at what he saw.
    "I've changed," he said finally in a barely audible voice when he was able to speak again.
    "Yeah," replied the other Digimon.
    Jyoumon rolled over and shakily stood up.  Four stout legs supported his body with ease.  He looked down at his front feet.  Three heavy claws tipped toes hidden by thick fur.  He lifted his paw to his face to study it closer.  I have no thumbs, he realised with a shock.  What am I going to do?
    "I don't have hands," he said numbly to his partner.
    Gomamon didn't say a thing.
    He turned his head and looked down his back and at his thick tail.  What little that he could see in the dim light told him that all of his markings were the same.  He twisted his head back around and ducked it down to look at his belly.  It was covered with short white fur, and it tapered off towards his tail.  He looked at his hind legs.  Thick with muscle, they looked strong enough to run for long distances or to paddle through the water for extended periods of time.  While he was standing, he noticed that his weight rested on the toes of his hind feet.  Heavy wicked looking claws tipped the hidden toes.
    He took a couple of stumbling steps.  His body adjusted immediately and Jyoumon was dismayed to find that like everything else he found he could do since he became a Digimon, his body knew exactly what to do and how to act.  He headed out of the cave and towards the river to get a look at his reflection.  Gomamon followed behind, actually silent for once.
    Jyoumon reached the bank and looked down to the surface of the water.  He gave a small cry at what he saw.  Then he stepped back.  He shuddered for a moment then went back to look at his appearance again.
    His head had rounded out.  The shape of it resembled more like Gomamon's than like any human's.  His ears were the same as before, but now they were higher up on his head.  He had a muzzle, and his nose was hidden under the fur of it.  His large violet eyes seemed larger than ever and they were still bordered with their blue markings.  And his thick blue-black hair had become a mane, spilling down his neck and onto his spotted back.  He stood silent for quite a few minutes.
    "Jyoumon?" asked Gomamon.  "Joe?  Are you okay?"
    "Yeah, I'm alright, Gomamon."  Jyoumon turned away from the river, and walked towards his partner.  "I'm definitely not human anymore, am I?"
    "Well, no..."
    "That's okay.  I guess I kinda gave it up when I gave up my sweater and glasses."  Jyoumon sighed.  "But I will admit that I'm a little upset with Frankenmon for doing this to me."
    "You're taking this better than I thought you would," started Gomamon hesitantly.
    Jyoumon snorted.
    "Lemme guess.  I was the leading candidate for the "Most Likely to Have a Nervous Breakdown if Turned Into a Digimon" Award, right?
    "Something like that..."
    "Well, I decided that I will not let it get me too down, okay?"
    "Sure, Jyoumon."
    "Nothing that I can do about it anyway."  Jyoumon sighed.  "I do miss having hands though..."
    There was a huge stretch of silence.
    "You hungry?" asked Gomamon, breaking the uncomfortable silence.
    "You bet.  Any ideas what to have for breakfast?"
    They looked at each other for a moment.
    "Fish!" they both cried out at once, and jumped into the river.

    "Looking for breakfast helped take my mind off of my problems," said Jyoumon as he held still for the fitting of the halter.  Then Gomamon and me decided that it was time for us to catch up with everyone."
    "We were pretty close when we heard the fighting," said Gomamon.  "So we digivolved and joined in."
    "And that's when we saw you," said Matimon.
    "Yup!" agreed Gomamon.
    Jyoumon walked over to the travois.  He stood between the handles as Izimon, Agumon, Soramon and Tiikeimon held them down at Jyou's chest level.   Matimon and Taimon secured a crossbar to the handles and Jyoumon's halter.  When they were done, Jyou did an experimental pull.  The travois moved easily.
    "I think we're ready to move," commented Taimon.
    "Let's go then," said Matimon.  "The sooner Gabumon can heal, the better."
    The group cheered as they and the travois were on their way.  Gabumon was sleeping fitfully, but otherwise seemed all right.  Jyoumon didn't seem to have any trouble with his load and kept pace with the others easily.  Gomamon paced him, unconcerned over his partner's change.
    Taimon hung to the back of the group with his partner and little sister.
    "I hope that we can get there in time," commented Karimon in concern.
    "To the mansion?" asked Gatomon.  "Or to Frankenmon's hideout?"
    "Both," said Karimon.
    "I'm more worried about reaching the mansion," replied Taimon.  "For Gabumon's sake."
    "But we have to reach Frankenmon's very soon too," said Karimon.  "For Joe's sake."
    Taimon looked ahead to where the former human boy was walking and talking with the others.  "Jyoumon's sake?" he asked.
    "No.  For Joe's sake."
    Taimon stopped suddenly.  Karimon and the others kept walking pass him.
    "What do you mean?" he asked to his sister's retreating back.
    There was no reply.

Chapter Four

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