Author's Notes: This is a digimon short story about my character, Strom, based on the RPG universe from Digimon: Civil War as seen here. http://www.serebiiforums.com/showthread.php?t=342953
Rated 14A for swearing and some gore.
Disclaimer: The only characters that I own are Strom, Ranney and Ishton. Everything else is property of other RPGers or the RPG.
The Dramon Empire was well into their conquest of the Harmonious Republic. The Sovereigns were long sealed away and those who rebelled against the Dramons were on the run. The Empire had a decisive upper hand against the rebels, who were driven into hiding. The neutral nations remained so; this included The Royal Hive, the Paleozoic Sovereignty, the Celestial Sphere, and several other smaller autonomous nations and tribes.
Some sided with the Dramons if they could, hoping to escape imprisonment or death. Others stood and fought with the rebels, seeking either vengeance or justice. Even some of the neutral nations such as the Oceanic Coalition and the Celestial Sphere provided direct or indirect aid to the rebel forces. However, some, such as the Paleozoic Sovereignty remained completely neutral, hoping to avoid any sort of animosity with either side altogether.
Strom the Spinomon was part of that Sovereignty. He served in the military under King Aegyptu, the ruler of the Paleozoic Sovereignty. His latest mission was to serve as a messenger between the Sovereignty and the rebels of the Harmonious Republic. The mission that he was tasked with bothered him greatly, for he was the one who was supposed to tell the Rebels that the Paleozoic Sovereignty would remain neutral and not offer them any assistance. Strom attempted to reason with Aegyptu, saying that they should help the Rebels not only indirectly but directly. He wanted them to take part in bringing an end to the Dramon Empire's conquest. Aegyptu admonished him and reminded him that he was his messenger, not his advisor.
Frustrated with the Paleozoic Sovereignty's stance and Aegyptu's thick-headedness, Strom left to travel on his own after delivering the message. He wandered the desert until he stumbled across a lone DinoRexmon, named Ranney, who was looking for the Paleozoic Sovereignty. The two decided to have a friendly scuffle and they came to a draw. The two formed a friendship and from then on travelled through the desert, eventually becoming best friends.
One evening they came across an oasis and decided to rest there for the night. A dim orange hue in the horizon faded into a dark blue as night overtook. Soon, the sun was completely gone and the dark, starry sky loomed over the desert.
“Sonic Slash Rain!” a voice roared.
A large, armoured orange dinosaur that resembled a spinosaurus (except the sail was replaced by gigantic metal blades flanked by rows of spikes) got down on all fours and launched a volley of blades at one of the several trees next to the large pond. The palm tree toppled down in a pile of finely chopped pieces of tree trunk.
“Nice shot, Strom!” a second voice called out. “But I can naturally do better. Ogre Flame!”
From a distance away on the top of a dune, a large, armoured and green Tyrannosaurus-like dinosaur unleashed a green flame from his mouth that hit the wood far below and ignited it to form a campfire. He trotted down the dune smugly, his massive, single toe claws on each foot digging slightly in the sand as he walked toward the Spinomon, where his height stood at about Strom's shoulders.
“Yeah, great work, Ranney. You hit a pile of lumber. I wish I had the skill you do to be able to accomplish that feat,” Strom said with a roll of his golden eyes.
“Heh, you're just jealous that I'm more accurate, Strommy. DinoRexmon will forever be the strongest dinosaur digimon!”
“More accurate? At least there was wind blowing at the tree when I hacked it to pieces. The only task easier than hitting that pile is hitting the ground in front of you! ...And it'd be great if you could watch the fire so that we won't be freezing again tonight. I don't fancy spooning, especially not with an ugly creature like yourself,” he said with a half-grin.
“Hmm...” the DinoRexmon mused, folding his arms across his chest before holding his foreclaws out to imitate a balancing scale. “Sleep next to a gruff, unattractive, sarcastic, male Spinomon or freeze my butt off on a cold desert night? ...I think I'll take turning into a popsicle.”
“You won't have to if you just watch the fire, but no... of course I'm gonna have to watch it because some people can't pay attention for over ten seconds even if their tail is on fire!”
“Gah!” Ranney leaped into the air and spun around to look at his tail. “My tail's on fire?!”
Strom palmed the top of his snout with his claw as a result of his needlessly panicking friend. “I forgot... you're not big on metaphors...”
Ranney chuckled sheepishly and sat down in front of the fire. “Heheh... Oh...”
The Spinomon rolled his eyes and sat by the fire, near Ranney. “So, if you're done hopping around like you've got a MetalSeadramon clamped onto your tail, why are you trying to get to the Paleozoic Sovereignty, eh?”
“I've got a better question! Why are you trying to get away from the Paleozoic Sovereignty? And don't deny it, Strom, because I know we're not lost and you're leading us in the way I came,” Ranney countered.
A growl came from the large dinosaur's throat as he glanced over to Ranney. “I asked first.”
“Yeah? Well I asked last,” said DinoRexmon with a smile.
“There's no arguing that,” Strom said with a voice matted with sarcasm. With an air of reluctance, he submitted. “Fine... I left the Paleozoic Sovereignty because they're selfish cowards. Their stance is totally neutral so that they'll save their own hides while the rest of the world is being overrun by those Dramon scum.”
“I can see why they're doing that. Nobody wants to be in a war... but you have a point, too. Wanting peace is fine, but it does seem selfish when everyone around you is being attacked. Fear can be powerful, though.”
The Spinomon nodded appreciatively. “So... It's my turn. Why did you want to go to the Sovereignty?”
Ranney looked at Strom while prodding a burning log with his toe claw. “Well... My brother went there when the Dramon started taking over places. I stayed in our village just in case it was attacked. Luckily, it never was. I want to go find him... Strom?” The DinoRexmon gazed at the distracted Strom curiously.
“Yeah, okay, Ranney. I just thought I heard something, is all,” Strom answered, scanning the dunes around the oasis.
“Don't worry about it; it was probably just the wind,” Ranney explained.
“Famous last words...” murmured Strom, shifting closer to the fire.
“Even if it was somebody, which it isn't, we'd be able to take them, right? The strongest and second strongest dinosaur species around? They wouldn't stand a chance!”
“Let me guess, I'm strongest, right?”
“Hah! In your dreams, Strommy!” Ranney mocked while his gaze was distracted by sparks that flew up from the crackling blaze before them toward the equally bright stars above.
“Speaking of which...” Strom said before lying down on his stomach, curling his tail around himself and shifting comfortably in the sand by the fire's side. “I think I'll dream of kicking your butt now.”
“You do that, Strom. I'm gonna stay up a bit longer,” said the smaller, green dinosaur digimon.
“Don't let that fire burn out. And... for a DinoRexmon, you're not that bad, Ranney,” the nestled Strom said, glancing over with his one open eye.
Ranney smirked from across the fire. “Strom! That almost sounded nice!” The Spinomon merely rolled his eyes before closing them once more. “Well, thanks. You're not that bad for a Spinomon, either.”
A smirk crept onto Strom's face as he relaxed his muscles. “G'Night, Ranney; tomorrow we'll talk about where to go.”
“Okay. Don't let the bed Kuwagamons bite!” Ranney added.
It wasn't long before the large dinosaur was sound asleep and breathing deeply. Ranney rolled another log through the cool sand and into the fire before adding a small Ogre Flame to keep the flames burning steadily. The desert was completely dark aside from the blaze, which cast light onto the two nearby dinosaurs and a few of the oasis' trees. For awhile Ranney just sat and stared at the fire, either in deep thought or simply mesmerized by the flame. Apart from the popping and crackling of the burning logs, the quiet night didn't offer a sound.
Ranney sat partially down wind from the bonfire, close to the oasis behind him. His eyelids began to close and he started to nod off. An unnatural buffet of air, however, struck his back and immediately jolted him to attention. The DinoRexmon jumped and turned around, looking about attentively. "Hello? Who's there?" he called, quiet enough to not wake Strom.
He saw nothing but the calm oasis behind him. Ranney blinked and scratched his head. “Oookay... Maybe it's time for some beauty sleep. I think I've been up too long.”
The DinoRexmon then turned back toward the fire. As soon as he did so, he heard a whooshing sound along with a familiar gust of wing. Ranney was about to turn around again when suddenly two muscular, cobalt arms clad in gold bracers wrapped around his snout and forced his mouth shut. He let out a muffled cry and struggled against his attacker. A bright, green light that appeared under his head suddenly got his attention. A beam sword that had extended from the digimon's bracers hummed and rested dangerously close to Ranney's neck.
“If you yell, this will end badly for you,” said his attacker's voice. “We just want to talk... over on the other side of that dune.” He forcibly turned Ranney around to face a long linear dune which rose up on the other side of the oasis. A silver-armour donned, dragonoid knight landed in front of the two.
“Gotungir, sir,” the Slayerdramon said, looking at the blue, humanoid dragon that held Ranney.
“Ishton.” Gotungir nodded. The UlforceVeedramon X who wore light-fitting armour looked down at Ranney. “Come with us quietly or else my friend will be forced to kill your friend in his sleep. Understood... Ranney?” Ranney's eyes widened, but he slowly nodded, nevertheless. “Good. Ishton, help me take him; I am not about to be impaled because of my own carelessness.”
“Of course,” Ishton complied, walking over and grabbing Ranney's torso. The two Dramon then flew over the calm oasis pond and apex of the dune before flying down the slope and landing at the bottom, completely out of Strom's view if he should wake up.
Gotungir and Ishton then dropped the DinoRexmon, releasing him. “Okay, what's the big idea?! And how did you know my name?!” Ranney growled.
Gotungir kept his Ulforce Sabre drawn in case Ranney tried anything. The azure knight gazed at the dinosaur in a composed manner. “We have a proposition... no... more of an ultimatum for you,” he said bluntly.
“What?” asked Ranney, puzzled by what he could possibly want.
“First things first. We have your brother, Ranney.”
The DinoRexmon's eyes widened in terror. He looked back and forth between the two Dramon and then glanced around, hoping to see his brother somewhere. “...What?! Where?! You're lying!”
“His name is Ramus. 'Ranney and Ramus Nychus', isn't it?” Gotungir said matter-of-factly with a veiled smug grin on his face.
The horrified DinoRexmon gasped. “No...” he whispered, taking a few seconds to mull over the Dramon's words. Ranney then glared at Gotungir and snarled viciously. “Where is he?! Bring him to me! Bring him to me now! Let him go!” he barked.
“We will; we promise... under the stipulation that you will complete your end of the bargain,” responded the calm UlforceVeedramon X.
“Listen here, Horns-for-brains, you're going to give my brother back to me RIGHT NOW!” Ranney said, emphasizing the last two words in a roar.
“That is not the deal, Ranney,” Gotungir answered firmly.
The DinoRexmon let out a savage yell and lunged, claw-first, at Gotungir. The cobalt officer didn't so much as flinch at Ranney's charge. Instead, he cast his Slayerdramon companion a look. The more bulky dragon knight wasted no time in swinging around his segmented Fragarach sword. The golden blade coiled around Ranney's forearms and neck, halting him in mid-air, with barely any space to spare between Ranney's lethal claws and Gotungir's neck. The Slayerdramon then swung the sword to the side, tightening the grip on the dinosaur and yanking him to the ground away from Gotungir.
“Easy, Ishton,” Gotungir heeded, walking toward the incapacitated Ranney and crouching down in front of him. “Maybe you would fancy talking now; you have no other option.”
Ranney grimaced and nodded reluctantly, knowing full well that he was beaten. “...Why do you have my brother? What do you want with Ramus?”
“It is not him we want; it is you... or, more accurately, your friend.”
A look of shock and confusion appeared on Ranney's face. “...What? Strom?”
“What do you and the holiday ornament want with him, you Celestial Sphere-reject?” Ranney sharply asked, prompting the nearby Slayerdramon to tighten the jagged coils around him. The DinoRexmon suppressed a cry upon feeling the metal begin dig into his arms and neck.
“Ishton,” Gotungir whispered harshly, scolding him upon noticing Ranney's pain. “You can’t leave any visible marks on him.” The hold immediately slackened just enough for the metal to exit his armoured scales. Ranney’s tense muscles relaxed slightly, but still made no attempt to fight against the bladed Fragarach. “Well, a Commandramon scout was out on patrol, checking the status of the Paleozoic Sovereignty, a day or so ago when he heard you two walking by. He concealed himself and followed you both. Your friend mentioned to you that before he met you, he was a messenger to the Rebels and that as soon as he delivered his message to their HQ, he left and then met you... I cannot tell you how annoying it has been for our scouts to find the Rebel’s headquarters; aside from the Rebels themselves, only the leaders of the larger nations and their most trusted messengers know where it is...” Gotungir said, smirking as he left his statement hanging.
“...You want Strom to tell you guys where the Rebels are.”
“That is entirely right, Ranney.”
“And what do you need me for?” asked Ranney as he narrowed his eyes.
“That’s quite simple, really. We need you to get Strom out of the Paleozoic Sovereignty’s borders. In all honesty, I would like you to get him to actually lead you to the headquarters, but it would be difficult to come into contact with you again, especially since Ishton here wouldn’t be able to watch over you two without being undetected,” explained the UlforceVeedramon X.
“Why do you need him outside of the borders? What happens then?”
“Then you attack Strom and we come in and take him prisoner. The Three Great Dramon would have my wings if I abducted a dinosaur within a neutral nation and potentially created an international incident. That is why I need him within the Dramon Empire.”
“Ohhh... I see,” said Ranney, nodding in understanding. “Well, in that case--Ogre Flame!” he shouted, feeling the burning hot flame rise in his throat. In the millisecond he blinked, Gotungir was suddenly standing right beside him. The Dramon forcibly clamped Ranney's mouth shut, routing the attack.
“Okay, Ranney, if that is your decision... it looks like we will have to kill your brother,” Gotungir nonchalantly said. Ranney's eyes widened. “It's a shame, too; he looked so hopeful when we told him that his brother was going to rescue him... All you would have to do is escort that Spinomon out of this territory and you two would be reunited. I do not want to be the one to have to tell him that you dismissed your own flesh and blood for a Spinomon you met no more than a couple weeks ago.”
Ranney shut his eyes and bowed his head. Gotungir grinned and released his hands from the DinoRexmon's mouth. “I... I'll do it...” Ranney whispered meekly. With saddened eyes, he looked up at Gotungir. “But only if you promise you won't kill Strom.”
Gotungir nodded. “By my honour as a Dramon, I give you my word that we won't kill the Spinomon.”
Ranney scoffed indignantly. “And just how much is your word worth? I trust you about as far as I can throw ya... and in the shape you're in, that's not very far.”
“Say what you want about me and the Dramon Empire, Ranney, but if there are two things that I value, it is honesty and living up to one's words... the latter of which is something my apprentice will never grasp,” he said, murmuring the last part.
“...You'd better...” Ranney sighed sombrely and looked at the ground. Guilt, fear, and sadness were already tugging at his heart. “...Can you get me out of this... sword now?”
The UlforceVeedramon X uncoiled the Fragarach from around Ranney and turned to Ishton. “Do you know what you must do?”
“Keep an eye on them from a distance; yes sir,” the Slayerdramon replied, straightening out the Fragarach so that it could be placed on his back.
“And your cover story, should the Spinomon notice you?”
“It's all worked out, sir.”
Gotungir nodded in approval and turned to Ranney. “And I will see you all tomorrow.” With that, he disappeared in an azure blur.
Ishton looked at the DinoRexmon. “You'd better hop to it before Strom wakes up.”
“Go kiss a Breakdramon,” spat Ranney before making his way up the side of the sandy dune. As he walked, he watched the shifting sand bury his claws with each step that he took. He grimaced and angrily blasted the sand in front of him with the Ogre Flame he had been holding in in the base of his throat. The blast left a glass encrusted crater in the sand from the sheer heat of the dinosaur's attack.
Ranney sighed and reached the horizontal crest of the dune. He looked down at the oasis and saw Strom still asleep by the dulled fire on the other side of the pond. “Forgive me, buddy,” he whispered miserably.
The DinoRexmon then began to make his way down the slope toward his friend, for what would undoubtedly be a sleepless night.
The sun shone down on the desert from directly overhead. Heat waves from the scorching sands obscured the distant horizon. The land was treacherous for those not suited for it. Luckily for Strom and Ranney, their species were quite at home in the desert. The Spinomon led the way, walking through a small trench at the base of two adjacent, linear dunes. He looked back at Ranney.
“You're surprisingly quiet, Ranney. Usually you're hopping about like the sand's on fire, but you're not your happy-go-lucky self today. Something eating you?” Strom asked.
Ranney shifted insecurely and looked off to the side. “No... I just had a bad sleep. That's all,” he explained, giving him a small smile at the end.
“Maybe I should be thankful then,” said the Spinomon, smirking.
“Heh heh... Yeah...” Ranney said forcibly, his facade breaking slightly near the end.
“You're sure you've changed your mind about going to the Paleozoic Sovereignty? What about your brother?”
“My brother's... He can wait. You were right; we need to take the fight to the Dramons,” Ranney said, attempting to not appear sulky or worried.
“And how do you figure we should go about that?” Before Ranney could answer him, an afterthought hit Strom. “Oh yeah! Before I forget, where did you go last night, Rann? I woke up for some reason and you weren't around.”
The DinoRexmon froze in his tracks, the whole of his insides seeming to tighten up. “Oh, uh, I had to, uh, pee!” Ranney responded hastily.
“I'm sorry I asked,” mumbled Strom.
“That's when a Scorpiomon came across me,” he added. “He said there was a refugee camp on the Dramon side of the border who was starting a resistance. He said they were planning to join the Rebels when they got enough digimon. Maybe we should go there...”
Strom thought about it carefully and folded his arms. “That's odd... I didn't see any Scorpiomon tracks this morning.”
“Oh, you know them... they dig everywhere. Arachnids, y'know?”
The Spinomon grinned and nodded. “Well... yeah, that sounds like a good idea, Ranney... except for the fact that we have no idea where this camp is. Oh, and the fact that we'd be going into Dramon territory, which is dangerous enough without the fact that we'd be going into Dramon territory having no idea where the resistance camp is, if there even is one. It'll be the day when I take a Scorpiomon at his word, for Sovereign's sakes... but other than that, it's a good idea.”
“I thought you said you wanted to fight the Dramon Empire!” Ranney protested.
“Yeah, but I also said I wanted to live,” Strom retorted.
As they debated, Ishton flanked them on the dune to the right. He used the crest of the dune for cover, hiding on the side opposite to the dinosaur digimon. The Slayedramon panted and sweated intensely as he trudged through the thick sand in full armour. The noon sun superheated his metal armour, heating it up to unbearable levels, to the point that an egg would fry if cracked on him.
It wasn't long until he fell to his knees. “For crying out loud!” he snarled, ripping off his helmet and chest armour, revealing his cobalt scales. “I'd rather be doing disciplinary work than spend another minute out here! I don't know how those two can stand it.” Ishton growled, now carrying the armour he removed, and popped his head up over the crest for his occasional check on the two dinosaurs in question.
Suddenly, Strom stopped walking, ceased arguing with Ranney and looked around, prompting the Slayerdramon to duck down. The Spinomon raised a claw, signalling to Ranney to stop. “We're being followed,” Strom whispered. “Don't look around. Act normal.”
The DinoRexmon grimaced. “It's probably nothing.”
“No, it's a digimon. I have a scent... It's coming from up wind, so...” Strom's eyes stealthily scanned the crest of the dune to their right. Ishton remained perfectly still on the other side, ceasing to even breathe. A gust of wind blew up towards them from the other side of the dune. Strom noticed that sand blew over the crest towards them in all but one place. “I have them...” he whispered. “Blue Prominence!”
Strom fired a burning, azure beam from his mouth. It burst through the sand, just below the apex of the dune, punching through the barrier. A yell sounded out through the explosion of sand and glass.
“Errrgh... Don't attack! I'm coming out...” a voice called out.
Ishton emerged over the dune with his chest armour and helmet under one arm and the other arm raised in the air. A minor burn from Strom's attack was visible on the side of his raised arm. The Slayerdramon cautiously tread down the slope towards them and cast a glance at Ranney. Upon seeing his species, Strom glowered and readied himself.
“Don't attack. I'm not an enemy,” Ishton said.
The Spinosaurus digimon gave him a scrutinizing grin. “Oh really? Well, everything about you seems to disagree, Dramon.”
“No, you don't understand!” the Slayerdramon said, dropping the armour and sword he carried and raising his other arm above his head.
“Please. Enlighten us, hm?”
“I'm... not with the Dramon Empire. Yes, I'm a Dramon, but I'm a renegade or a 'defector' might be more accurate. When they began their conquest, I couldn't believe what they were doing to the world. I wanted nothing to do with it. ...I fled. Me and some others who thought like me. We started a camp not far from the border. Soon, others showed up... others who felt betrayed by the Dramon Empire. Soon more and more showed up... and we had enough power to engage in small skirmishes against their military,” Ishton explained, looking between Strom and Ranney as he did so.
“You wouldn't be lying in order to get out of a bind, would you?” Strom asked, not entirely convinced.
“No! I would never do something so cowardly! You have to believe me.”
Ranney stepped forward, still rather unsure of himself. “Uhh... Strom? He... well... maybe he means that camp that I mentioned. ...I think he's telling the truth...”
“Your friend is right!” Ishton remarked.
“Hmm...” Strom grunted, still looking carefully at him. “...Okay then, so you're a Dramon rebel, but why were you following us?”
Ishton glanced at Ranney. “A Scorpiomon came by earlier and he mentioned a pair of strong dinosaur digimon who might be interested in joining us, so I thought I'd check it out. It appears I should have come by in the evening instead,” he said with a chuckle.
Strom grinned. “Heh, maybe that's the reason the Dramon Empire hasn't attacked the Sovereignty; nobody in the right mind would trek through the desert on a day like this.”
“Nobody except us, it seems,” added Ishton, good-naturedly.
Strom chuckled. “I guess anybody going up against the Dramons aren't in the right mind to begin with, eh, Ranney?”
Ranney forced a smirk. “Yeah...”
The Spinomon offered his claw to Ishton. “I'm Strom and this is Ranney. No hard feelings about almost blasting you, I hope.”
Ishton took Strom's claw and shook it. “Of course not. One can never be too careful these days.” He looked over at Ranney and proceeded to shake his claw. “Nice to meet you, 'Ranney', was it?”
The Slayerdramon released his grip and looked back to Strom. “Where were you two going, if you don't mind my asking?”
“We were just debating whether to seek out your camp or not and, as luck should have it, you, someone who knows how to get to that rebel camp, show up to make our chances of death slightly less likely,” Strom remarked. “This is either our lucky day or another unlucky one.”
“Hah. I assure you it's the former. Come with us and help us win victory against the Dramon scum.”
“That's about the best offer from a half-naked Dramon that I'll ever get to hear,” Strom said, smirking. “How about it, Ranney?”
“Uhh... Yeah. Sure thing, Strom...”
“Is something the matter?” asked Ishton, pretending to be surprised at Ranney's disposition.
“Ah, don't mind him. He's just a bit prickly from a rough sleep,” Strom explained. “If you have food at your camp, he'll be back to his old self in no time.”
“We have plenty of that,” the Slayerdramon replied.
Strom shot Ranney a grin. “Great! Lead the way!”
Hours passed and Ishton continued to lead Strom and Ranney westwards towards the border. The sun shifted to a forty-five degree angle. The sun was less intense than at noon, but still shone brightly down on the trio, despite the fact that they were nearing the border and thus the lusher and moderate territory of the Dramon Empire. Strom found amusement in watching Ishton border-line hop in front of them due to the hot metal armour he wore from the belt down.
“I don't expect you'll be making any more trips to the Sovereignty while in full armour, eh, Ishton?”
“I sincerely hope not,” he grumbled. “We'll be within the Dramon Empire's territory once we make it to the grassland up ahead.”
Ranney looked up at Strom apprehensively. “Hey, uh... Strom? Can we talk for a few?”
“With moments away from walking into the enemies' den? Now seems like a good time, yeah,” said Strom, slowing down to walk beside his friend who took back to looking at the ground.
Ranney forced his eyes to meet Strom's, though he could barely bring himself to look at him. “Strom... Uhh... I want you to know that you're my best friend... and whatever happens, you'll always be my best friend... Remember that, okay?”
Strom looked at him and smiled. “Yeah... You're my best friend too, Ranney, but let’s not get all sappy, okay? It's bad luck. And I'm not about to let you get taken down by some flying salamanders or anything... no offense, Ishton, if you can hear this... so don't start talking like this is going to be the last time we'll see each other.”
“Thanks... but that's not it,” Ranney said, now feeling worse than ever.
“Then what's up?” asked Strom, noticing that there was definitely something more than a rough sleep going on with his friend.
Ishton cleared his throat, halting on what was now grass. Strom and Ranney looked around, hardly noticing that they ceased standing on sand several metres back. Ahead of then, what was once a sea of sand was now a sea of grass and hills. “We're in the realm of the Dramon Empire now; let's rest here for the night.”
“Are you crazy? We're right by the border! I don't think the Dramon Empire is the type to leave their borders unchecked,” Strom protested.
“Trust me, Strom; I know Dramon. The border guards already did their rounds in this section for the day. They won't be back until tomorrow,” Ishton calmly answered.
“I don't know...” the Spinomon said, still uneasy at the idea.
The Slayerdramon gave Strom a look. “Patrol only ever checks this area in the morning. Nobody else comes near it. All the security is up northwest, with the Paleozoic Sovereignty's neutrality down here and all. That's why my camp is near here.”
“Then shouldn't we just go to your camp from here?” Strom asked.
“It's not that simple. It's an underground operation. First I have to go and contact my people, then I'll bring them back here. It's not as if we have a literal camp sitting around; we would surely be found out!”
The dinosaur digimon growled. Ishton folded his arms across his chest and stared at Strom. “You do trust me, don't you, Strom?”
Strom wondered about it for a few moments, weighing in on Ishton. “...I suppose... Fine. Do you think we should wait, Ranney?”
The green dinosaur stalled before answering. “Yeah...”
Strom sighed. “I guess we're waiting then...” He looked over to Ishton. “Just try not to let any unwanted guests tag along when you come back.”
Ishton nodded. “Until then.” The Slayerdramon turned and walked toward through the grass until he disappeared over a hill.
The Spinomon sat down on the ground and craned his head to look at the visibly distraught Ranney. “So... Are you going to tell me what’s wrong?”
The green dinosaur grimaced and sat down with his back to Strom. “I can’t... I’m sorry.”
Strom shrugged and lay forward on the grass on his stomach, proceeding to rest his chin on his folded arms. “If you say so... but I’m here if you need me.”
Ranney didn’t respond. The two sat in silence as the sun slowly began to sink in the direction that Ishton left in. It wasn’t long before sleep overtook Strom. He was out long before the edge of the sun even touched the green hill horizon. Needless to say, Ranney was too anxious to sleep. The thoughts of his brother’s safety and his imminent betrayal of Strom plagued him all day.
“I can’t betray my friend... but if I don’t, they’ll kill Ramus... and Gotungir promised they wouldn’t kill Strom... Oh for the Sovereign’s sakes...” Ranney thought, grimacing as he looked over to Strom.
The dark shadow of night began to loom over the desert behind them, casting a deep hue of blue across the ground. The DinoRexmon’s gaze shifted between Strom and the direction Ishton went. Movement in the far distance caught his eyes. Ranney squinted and saw Ishton and a party of Dramon returning.
“No... Not yet!” gasped Ranney. The green dinosaur hastily walked over to the sleeping Strom and looked down at him with deep sorrow. Ranney felt a tightening in his chest and tried to ignore the tear that entered his eye and rolled down his snout. “... I’m sorry,” he whispered as he raised his foot above the Spinomon’s head. “You truly are my friend, Strom.” With that, he brought his foot down on Strom’s head, eliciting a sharp grunt from the sleeping digimon as he was knocked into a more stable unconsciousness.
Ranney rubbed his eyes with his claws before turning around to face the approaching Dramon squad. The first thing that Ranney noticed were the two metal colossi bringing up the rear. He figured that the two Machinedramon would be the ones who would carry Strom. At the front of the group was none other than Gotungir, slowly walking towards him with a smug disposition that made Ranney want to rip him apart. The DinoRexmon’s heart jumped when he looked past the UlforceVeedramon X’s wingspan. Behind him was Ishton, who was now back in full armour and leading along the form of another, similar-sized DinoRexmon.
“Ranney!” the figure called out as the group grew closer.
Ranney sighed a breath of relief and dashed towards him. Gotungir sidestepped and allowed the two brothers to embrace. After what he considered an acceptable amount of time, the cobalt Dramon cleared his throat. “As promised, your brother. He’s unharmed, a few bruises aside.” Gotungir looked over at the unconscious Strom who now donned a deep cut behind his right horn. “And in return, we have our neutralized Spinomon, who looks like he should be out long enough for us to take him back to base and secure him. Good job, Ranney; you lived up to your side of the bargain. You may take your brother.”
“Who’s that, Rann? What deal did you make?” Ramus asked, looking from Strom over to his brother.
“Later, Rame...” Ranney murmured, still feeling terrible despite the fact that he was reunited with his brother. He looked at Gotungir. “You promised you wouldn’t kill him...”
“And I will personally see to it that he lives,” Gotungir reassured him.
“You’re... You’re not going to pull some loophole where you horribly mutilate him but still keep him alive, are you?” Ranney asked worriedly.
Gotungir exchanged glances with Ishton before shooting a confused look at Ranney. “I think not... And even if we did consider that, I would have had your friend talking long before it came to that, so you needn’t worry either way.”
Ranney scowled. “Good... because you listen to me, ‘Goat-tonguer’ or whoever you are; if you break your promise, you’ll be very, very sorry... You and Fish-tin, over there...”
Gotungir smirked. “I will not betray anybody’s trust tonight... which is more than I can say for you.”
The DinoRexmon narrowed his eyes and turned around, bowing his head slightly. “...Let’s go, bro. It’s a long way.”
Ramus nodded and stood beside him. He looked at his brother’s face and blinked. “Ranney, are you... err...” He trailed off upon noticing the tears remerge in Ranney’s eyes.
The UlforceVeedramon X chuckled, having picked up on this. “How touching... I seem to have struck a sensitive chord.”
The DinoRexmon swung his head around and glared deep into Gotungir’s eyes. “One day you’ll get yours...”
“And I will be waiting...” Gotungir replied before turning around to motion to the Machinedramon to get to work taking Strom. “Ishton, you supervise these two. I will return and tell Daehak to make the preparations.”
“Commander Daehak, sir?” Ishton asked curiously.
“Yes. He got his Deputy Commander to take over for the night. For some reason, he expressed interest in this project. Maybe it’s due to the importance of the information the Spinomon has.”
As the two Machinedramon took hold of the unconscious Strom’s arms, the two DinoRexmon brothers started walking away, toward the desert and the Paleozoic Sovereignty. Ranney looked over his shoulder, casting a final look at Strom, before turning back forward and walking into the night.