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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Nine: It's a Long Journey Home
Amber light from the window to his right draped the unpleasant room with its glow. The window was lacking a pane, so the sunrise’s warmth was especially striking. The floor beneath him was littered with rubbish and rubble, with various spotlights made from holes in the ceiling above highlighting certain objects as if it were a gameshow; a broken gun, a blood-stained knife and a child’s teddy bear. Dust had settled across them all, and everything else in the room, giving everything a dull appearance to it all. In the distance, there was loud explosions and the sounds of planes overhead occasionally. The booms of the planes shook his chest, vibrating his eardrums and making him jump every single time. So… this was Japan.
Over the past few days—at least it felt like it had been that long, but with all the travelling it was impossible to have any concept of time—they had been all over. His brain could barely comprehend the variety of things he had seen. First,
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Eight: Rest and Digest
The wooden doors slid open with a loud bang. “Hallo, hallo, hallo! One and all, I come bearing gifts great and small!” Gimi was stood with a long metal trolley that had thirteen plates. He wheeled it in and then staggered backwards. “The air is funky in here. What happened last night?”
Alex glanced over at Rori and then back at Gimi. “N— nothing!” he stammered.
“Talmon is still absent I see.” Gimi lifted a metal cloche off one of the dishes and lifted the plate up. With a flash, it vanished into thin air and then he continued pushing the trolley into the room. “Rightio, who’s first?”
“I’m starving, yo!” Zalyea rubbed her stomach.
“Me too, yo!” Gaimon was already back to her hyper self.
Felismon opened one eye from the windowsill where she laid, light spilling in from it across her body. Yawning, she asked, “Feed me?”
“I could eat.” Tyler coughed, spluttering as
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Pyrrhic Victory
With a flash, they appeared in Gimi’s house, being almost thrown out of the hurried Digiportal.
Leomon landed on a sofa with a loud thud and groan as the crimson sofa struggled under his cumbersome frame.  
“We’ve never ported this perfectly,” Tyler muttered, looking around. He noted that they had the extra Digivice of Rori’s, however Aleena’s hadn’t helped too much previously so there had to be another factor at play.
“Digital Anchor.” Gimi got up from a green chair across from them. His kimono was navy blue in colour today. “Like a homing beacon for you to catch on to.” Gimi turned his head towards the raucous yelling and banging going on outside and frowned. “I’m relieved it worked.”
Tyler looked over too and noticed that the doors and windows were boarded up. It was lucky that they hadn’t appeared outside by the looks of things.
“Many thanks for the help.” Gimi lifted Leomon u
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Six: Ghosts of the Past
The intense heat bore through his body immediately like needles made of fire. Taran looked up and saw a powerful sun beating down on him from above, looking even bigger than usual, and then felt sand swirl into his face. He wrinkled his nose. This place was nasty. Where even were they? They had just been somewhere grassy and now this was a desert. What was going on? Was this man magic? Could he pull a rabbit out of his hat? Taran looked up at Matt, feeling a foreboding presence emanating from him.
“I bet you’re wondering what happened.” Matt unzipped his black jacket. “Whew, it’s warm.” He fanned his hand against his face and wiped his forearm against his brow. “We should get out of this heat soon.”
Taran looked over at Matt and pouted. He had let all this people get hurt. They could have saved them and yet they did nothing! He tore his arm free from Matt’s grasp and then crossed his arms across his chest firmly. He was so angry tha
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Five: Keep Your Chin Up
Something tickled his nose, flicking back and forth and then he heard little scratching sounds. Slowly, Taran opened his eyes and saw a big fluffy brown thing on his face. He felt his heart thud hard against his chest and his mind race as he wondered what it was. Whatever it was flew through the air as he sat bolt upright. A bear? No, too small. His eyes skimmed over it as it shot across the forest floor like a lightning bolt. A squirrel. He breathed a sigh of relief as it scurried up into the trees, leaving behind the nut it had been holding. Taran looked around for Matt or Hououmon but neither were there. They had left him. Pumon was still sleeping soundly on the floor and the fire was just embers now—little charred remnants of the roaring flames from the night before. He rubbed his head, the bright light shining through the gaps in the branches an unwelcome visitor to his spinning head. Covering his eyes from the sun as he looked up into the sky, he watched a bird fly overhead
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Four: Campfire
Taran scrabbled up the fence, terrified as the thin metal wires dug into his little hands.
“TARAN!” Mrs Adené screamed, her voice vibrating in the still night air.
He looked over his shoulder at her, freezing from the blustering wind that constantly blew through his pyjamas. There was no way he was going to go back there but he couldn’t move any further. Something about her fierce gaze petrified him like she was Medusa from his bedtime stories.
“Get down this instant!” She pointed her finger firmly at the muddy ground.
Taran stared at her vacantly. She was literally shaking with rage. Slowly, he shook his head; he was unable to vocalise a response.
Mrs Adené turned to one of the men in black clothes next to her. In his hand was something that shone silver in the moonlight. That shape… was it a gun? “Take him down. Just…” She glanced at Taran, her voice hesitant, “Don’t kill him.” She was going to shoot hi
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Three: Faster
Taran plodded upstairs. Why on earth he was still putting up with all of this was quickly becoming lost after eating yet another unsatisfying meal of salad. Holding one hand on his stomach and the other on the slippery wooden bannister, he looked up the stairs and exhaled heavily. Climbing all these steps was so tiring. With each touch of his foot to the staircase, his stomach grumbled. Glancing over his shoulder, he lamented that he would much rather slide down the bannister and steal some food but, sadly, he had promised to be good.
“You used to love that painting when you were young.”
Taran snapped his head towards the voice, scanning around the dimly lit staircase. In a dark alcove between the two floors, he was sure he could see something. A hand grabbed his wrist firmly, tugging him into the shadows, with another hand clamping over his mouth as he tried to yell out. Screaming and kick into the darkness, he clenched his eyes shut hoping they would let him go. And then
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-Two: No Man Left Behind
Rori watched Aleena, gritting her teeth to hold back the tears brewing. Seeing the one she looked up to in this state was… soul-destroying. Steeling herself, she clenched her fists and saw Andrew walk over from a door at the back of the room. His black suit was pristine and the Digimon next to him certainly wasn’t G-Mon. A new partner? It was a huge boulder with arms made from interlocking rocks and a stern expression. Her Digivice buzzed.
Geomon, Champion level, Data, Nature Sprits, Metal Empire.
Don’t get stuck in his Quicksand attack or you might just go missing!
Aleena coughed, blood spurting out onto the floor.
Rori rushed to help her but Aleena’s arm flew out, pushing her back.
“I’m fine.” She turned to Andrew. “Digivolving G-Mon is like polishing a turd—pointless.”
“Aleena, please,” Talmon muttered as his eyelids closed against his will.
“I’m fine,” she hissed, angry.
Talmon t
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Literature
Chapter Thirty-One: The Dragon Emerges
“Energy Burst.” Talmon panted weakly, spitting the energy ball at Alice.
Alice dodged at the last second, allowing it to hit the floor.
Aleena felt a smile spread across her lips despite the pain as she saw her partner standing up for her. He truly was her best friend.
Talmon slowly stood up, walking over. “No one hurts Aleena, no one,” he stated flatly, his furry brow furrowed into the most serious glare she had ever seen from the excitable rabbit.
At her hip, Aleena felt her Digivice flailing about. Looking down, she saw sky blue lights dancing out from it. The knife in her wrist twisted and she gasped in pain, although it was difficult to understand how more pain could be caused at this point. As she opened her mouth, a tornado of blue energy erupted and flew straight at Talmon, wrapping around him and encasing him in a Digivolution egg.
“I should…” Simon began, appearing from the shadows.
“No.” Alice glared at her partner but ha
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Literature
Chapter Thirty: No Alternative
“I’m sorry I was the one chosen to stand in your way, but I truly respect what you are trying to stand for.” King cracked his neck. “And I wish you luck.”
“If you respect me that much then stop fighting!” Corinne yelled. This was awful; her entire belief system was being challenged.
“I’m afraid I can’t do that.” King ran forwards and Corinne ran away, hoping to keep distance until he tired, as stupid as that sounded.
The two Digimon looked exhausted as Corinne ran past, making sure not to get too close to them as they recovered from their last exchange of blows. “Holy Strike!” a blast of light flew over Corinne’s head, exploding the wall behind her as she continued running.
“Crescent Moon Crush!” The ground shook as the two Digimon exchanged another bout of luminous attacks.
The bright lights clashed again in her peripheral vision and then Kings fist swiped for her head.
Ducking underneath,
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Literature
Chapter Twenty-Nine: A Promise
“We can still delay them by torturing them, right, Tony?” Trish asked as they nonchalantly walked over.
“I guess.” Tony looked at the gun she was idly swinging in her hand unsurely.
“Don’t back down now!” Vipermon leapt out of the hole, injured but mostly fine and Baernmon followed soon after.
“Yo, delay us for what?” Zalyea yelled. What on earth were they on about?
“Just stay back, Zaylee,” Len warned.
Tony pointed his bat. “We gotta delay you so Lord Kayran can run a few experiments on—”
Trish punched him in the arm. “Shut up, Tony. You never start monologuing. It’s pathetic.”
“Sorry, Trish,” Tony mumbled as they stopped a little away from Len and Zalyea.
“Baernmon, you and Vipermon finish off these pathetic excuses for Digimon. We’ll take care of the owners.”
“Yes, Trish.” Baernmon shot at Zalyea like a bullet. “Rocketgirl!”
Gaia
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Literature
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Not A Good Idea
Iceangemon thrust his staff into the ground. “Frozen Throne.” He turned to Len and Zalyea. “Try not to fall over.”
Len watched him fly forwards as a small humanoid Digimon burst out with a blue metal bird helmet on its head. With wings and feathers adorning the pale blue skin of the body, it looked like a creepy cross between a bluebird and a pre-teen girl.
“Baernmon!” The Digimon flew at Iceangemon, the jetpack on its back bursting into action.
“Gaiamon!” Gaiamon winked at Zalyea. “I’m here, yo!”
“Vipermon!” A large green snake, easily seven foot in length slithered across the ground with the horn of its bone helmet pointing at them.
“Hand of Emotion!” Iceangemon unleashed a beam of blue energy from his fist at Baernmon but the latter avoided it, flying around behind Iceangemon.
“Wind Torrent!” From the open mouth of the helmet, a tornado of wind burst out, throwing Iceangemon backwar
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Literature
Chapter Twenty-Seven: Assault
Loading her gun, Aleena holstered it into her belt and turned to the others. “Get your Digimon out.”
Zalyea scoffed. “I know you did not just—”
Tyler placed a hand on her shoulder as he pressed the side button of his Digivice and a purple portal formed, releasing Idomon. “Just this once, Zalyea.”
“Whatever.” As Zalyea and the others released their Digimon, they were noticed.
“Who are you?” A RODAF agent rushed over, his black suit proof that he was a base agent and not a field agent. This would be easy.
“Talmon.” Aleena ran at him, diving into his chest before he could take in the situation. As she knocked him to the ground, she stood back up and continued to run.
From behind, Talmon said, “Energy Burst.”
Unfortunately, they had still raised suspicion and an alarm began to blare. Looking around, she kept her cool and blocked out the sound. “Leomon’ll be in the research labs.” Tur
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Literature
Chapter Twenty-Six: A New Life
Taran looked around the entrance hall that he had been left in. A blue flash caught his attention, originating from a crack in between the closed doors that Aleena and the others were behind. He swallowed back in a mixture of fear and nerves; how was he supposed to just live here now? Right now, he had never missed his family so much.
The entrance hall was as grand and spacious as the rest of the house had been. From the door, and continuing all the way up the staircase—which split into left and right about halfway up—was a black rug with lots of men holding swords on it made from gold thread. The white marble floor was shining as brightly as the mirrors hung on the walls, which made it a little hard to see, and the sounds of people moving about made him nervous. A faint scent of food drifted from somewhere else, but Taran didn’t dare venture to find out where. There were also a few paintings on the walls, but Taran didn’t recognise any, save for the one at the
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Literature
Chapter Six: The Odd Couple
Leon watched Alice leap off ahead of him; she landed gracefully on the ground and then dropped her black bag to the ground.
He climbed out after her, Oobmon floating by his side. “What you doing?”
Alice withdrew a manila folder from her bag and handed it to him. Immediately after, she withdrew a short blade from the bag and attached it to the small of her back as well as four sacks that jingled like bells. Each sack was hung around her waist, two on her front and one on either hip. The bandages around her ruffled in the windy weather, which was blowing about the tassels on his hat, while her black attire allowed her to blend into the darkness that surrounded them.
Leon opened the folder as Alice withdrew a rifle and tossed her empty bag into the plane. They were to eliminate everyone in this sect of Parricidium before dawn broke. Parricidium was the most powerful resistance to RODAF. It was imagined that they had close to around one hundred million members, excluding the sy
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Literature
Chapter Five: History 101
King clenched his fists, eyeing her nervously. He was clearly intimidated by her reputation. But he needn’t be. In truth, so many of her victories relied on that ability. She longed for the days where she had more time to pursue fighting by other means. Her World Record titles would not remain unbroken forever. And now she’d finished with the female opponents and the lightweight male opponents in MMA, she needed more of a challenge. King could provide a test for her. To see if she was still up to scratch.
Alice measured his height, weight, and muscle density at a glance to determine his reach, power and speed. This would be a battle of speed, rather than strength, if she were to play to her strengths. She slowly walked towards him, being closer before the battle started was beneficial. Without the bandages or training weights on her body, her vision was unhindered and her speed increased. Her mind flashed back, interrupting her battle stratagem.
* * *
Cursing inwardl
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Amber light from the window to his right draped the unpleasant room with its glow. The window was lacking a pane, so the sunrise’s warmth was especially striking. The floor beneath him was littered with rubbish and rubble, with various spotlights made from holes in the ceiling above highlighting certain objects as if it were a gameshow; a broken gun, a blood-stained knife and a child’s teddy bear. Dust had settled across them all, and everything else in the room, giving everything a dull appearance to it all. In the distance, there was loud explosions and the sounds of planes overhead occasionally. The booms of the planes shook his chest, vibrating his eardrums and making him jump every single time. So… this was Japan.

Over the past few days—at least it felt like it had been that long, but with all the travelling it was impossible to have any concept of time—they had been all over. His brain could barely comprehend the variety of things he had seen. First, after the desert they had appeared underwater but they managed to sneak aboard a submarine and then they were back on a snowy mountain where they met a nice Digimon called Frigimon. They jumped back, this time to America, but found it easy to bounce straight back to a forest with a lake in the middle. Matt and Mimi had lingered there for a while before they managed to find a TV screen to suck them back away, this time to Paris. There was a lot of English-speaking people in Paris, and everyone seemed to be really happy and friendly but before Taran could try some of the nice fancy bread they went back to another stupid desert. Luckily, they bounced back to Africa quick, got out of there and then did a volcano, the north pole, a weird house with creepy puppets, Iceland and a creepy castle before finally popping out in Japan.

“Home sweet home, eh, Mimi?” Matt said, chuckling dryly.
“Let’s just find some electricity and get back out of here,” Mimi replied shortly. Both of their partners, who were crowding up the space inside, slipped out of a particularly large hole in the roof above and disappeared.
“Call if you need us, Mimi,” Rosemon’s distant voice chimed.
“We will,” Mimi called back, smiling briefly.

Taran looked at their faces; they seemed like they were in pain. Walking slowly over to the nearest window, he peered outwards. What he could see was: husks of buildings, which had been burned to ash and rubble, a sky blackened by smoke clouds, a street littered with potholes and burned out cars, and no one—not a single soul—in sight. He turned back and looked up at the two of them. “Was this your house?”
Mimi smiled and shook her head, her brown eyes sparkling. “Maybe a long time ago. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Highton View Terrace.”
Taran pondered why they were here then. So far it had been some random places, but Matt had said this was home. “So why is it your home?”
“Don’t you remember?” Mimi said, putting her hand on his shoulder and gazing out the window. “We’re Japanese. This is our country.”

Before Taran had time to even work out why this was happening, Matt called over.
“The stairwell seems clear. Let’s head down and try find a TV.”
“Okay, Taran, off we go!” Mimi led him out of the room, albeit a little reluctantly and they started down the stairs.
Taran looked around himself. This was awful. It couldn’t be a home. A home was somewhere nice and warm and it had all your family. This place had none of that. “Are we going outside where all those booms are?”
Mimi glanced down at him, her face contorting as she seemed to think of a response.
“Just for a bit.” Matt held out a hand and stopped dead in his tracks.
Taran furrowed his brow. Why would he want to go out there when he could be safe in here? “But—”
“Shh,” Matt hissed. He looked around. “I think—”
From behind, someone said something but in really weird words.
Matt glanced back at the man, as did Taran and Mimi. The man was holding a big gun towards them and he responded using the same weird words but Taran was only able to pick out one that he knew; ‘Digimon’.
At the mention of the word, Taran reached down to look at his Digivice but felt cold metal press into forehead, forcing it back up. As he raised his gaze, he saw that he was facing down the barrel of a gun and felt himself shake like a leaf. Was he going to die?
Mimi interjected, holding out a hand and grabbing the end of the gun. She calmly said a few of those weird words and then looked back at Taran.
Reluctantly, the man lowered his gun and nudged them down the stairs they were on.

They continued to walk downwards until they reached the ground floor but they didn’t go out the door. Instead, the man walked over to a vending machine. He glanced back, his dark brown pupils sizing them up before he tapped something into the machine. Was he hungry? Why was he getting a snack now of all times? The vending machine moved, slowly and loudly, to the side with a Chunk Clunk. The man looked back at them. “Kuru.”
Matt followed the raven-haired man, his shoulder-length dirty hair hanging out of the helmet he wore, glancing back at Mimi and Taran.
Mimi looked over her shoulder at the other man, who was, like the man in front, wearing a black jacket and trousers and wore a black helmet on his head. He had a long gun pointed at them and prodded it hard into Mimi’s back.
Taran got angry. Why was he being so mean? But before he could do anything, Mimi ushered them after Matt and the other man.

They descended into the darkness, their footsteps echoing as they bounced off the stone walls. Taran nearly tripped up every few steps, struggling to find his way on these steep steps with no vision. Mimi grabbed his hand, which was a relief. “When we get down there, agree with everything we say,” Mimi whispered.
Taran had no idea what she meant. What if they told him to never see his family again? Or to jump off a bridge? His parents had warned against peer pressure but why would Mimi ask him if it wasn’t for a good reason? “Why?”
“Just—”
“Damare!” the man from behind barked.
Mimi gently stroked Taran’s hand and then began to move her finger in a ticklish pattern.
Was that a T? Or was he imagining it? No, that felt like an R. Then a U. S… and another T. He sounded it out in his head when he felt Mimi’s hand slip away. Looking down at where he knew his hand was, although he couldn’t see it, he whispered, “Trust?”
“Damare!” The man pushed him out into a slightly brighter room.

Taran’s eyes stung as they adjusted to the light and he felt a stern hand force him to his knees. Looking around, he saw men just like those who had caught them all around this huge rectangular room. They were stood silently with guns in their hands. Others walked around, entering and leaving via various other black tunnels that could lead to anywhere. Dim bare light bulbs hung overhead, sprinkling a dull light onto the dirty brown flooring. Wait. This was just mud, it wasn’t even flooring.

Footsteps slapped onto the mud ahead and a man walked towards them. He was wiry and slim, with eyes that looked like they hadn’t seen sleep in years. His sunken face and pointed nose made him look like the Bogeyman. The almost translucent white skin didn’t help matters, especially when his shaggy black hair was stuck to the sides of his face, presumably by dirt and sweat. Unlike the other men, he didn’t wear a helmet, and had a black roll-neck jumper instead of a jacket. His black boots stopped in front of them and he nodded to the two men, swinging his bony hands behind his back and clasping them. He spoke some more of those weird words at Mimi and Matt.
Mimi and Matt glanced at each other and said nothing.
The man raised an eyebrow and sighed tiredly. “Korosu.”
“Yameru!” Mimi exclaimed. She panted exhaustedly and looked at Matt, shaking her head. Quickly, she began to speak in that weird language again, so fast Taran couldn’t pick out a single word. She looked at Taran briefly while talking and then back at the man. When she finished, she gasped for air and looked at the man in expectation, her chest rising and falling rapidly.

“English?” The man said, looking at Taran.
He didn’t look particularly threatening, but now Taran could understand his abrupt speech it was a different matter. Taran definitely felt afraid. He nodded, gulping. Last time, being English had got him in trouble but Mimi told him to just agree to everything.
“You are saviour of the worlds?”
Taran looked at Mimi.
“Me, not her!” he snapped, clicking his fingers and pointing at Taran and his eyes. “Saviour, yes or no?”
Taran nodded, feeling sweat build on his forehead.
He narrowed his eyes. “Prove it.”
“How is he supposed to—?” A gun struck Matt across the head before he could finish talking and his face was pushed into the dirt, where he grimaced but didn’t resist.

The man clicked his fingers. “Korosu.”
A gun touched the side of Taran’s head. He knew what it was without looking this time. And couldn’t help but freeze up entirely. His head was blank.
“Wait, please! He can save us all! Stop all of this mess that happened! He can unite the two worlds again! Please!” Mimi cried.
The man looked at her, not speaking. “You think he can stop all of this?” He asked, raising his hands. As if by magic, the room shook and the light bulbs swayed. Dust spilled down from the ceiling, falling onto Taran’s hair and dripping down onto his face and clothes. “No.” The man shook his head. “No one can save us from the war his people wage. The bombs they drop on our women and children. The bullets they put through my friends. The Digimon they killed.”
“He can!” Mimi almost had tears in her eyes. “He is the child of light. The one from the prophecy. The bearer of the two holy crests. Homeostasis chose him!”
“Then homeostasis will save him.” The man moved his finger.
A gun cocked loudly against Taran’s head.
“Wait, don’t!” Mimi screamed, trying to get over to Taran but another man grabbed her, holding her firm.

A bright golden flash erupted and golden sparks arced outwards, crashing into all of the men and throwing them across the room. Vines wrapped around Matt, Mimi and Taran and tugged them across the room. Taran felt his head spin. He hadn’t even had time to be emotional about the situation and now it was over. What had just happened?

Hououmon stood in front of them and a huge hole, formed by smashing apart one of the tunnels, was behind.
Rosemon looked around nervously, her vines now like spears, one in each hand as she searched for an enemy. “Sorry it took so long, Mimi.”
“I’m more sorry I couldn’t get these men on side. Right now, we need allies more than we need enemies. ”
“Maybe we should leave.” Hououmon said as they quickly noticed themselves being surrounded.
Matt cracked his neck. “Luckily, that old man likes to watch TV.” Matt pointed at the small TV that was now near them. It crackled in between a weird comedy show and a cartoon, fizzing uncontrollably. “Ready?” His eyes flashed blue and then they were gone.

With a thud, they were tossed out into a grassy area. Matt shook his head. “Going like this is so unreliable.” Pushing himself to his feet, he dusted himself down and glanced around.
Mimi helped Taran into a sitting position next to her. “Well, I guess we have went on a really long, random route to get to where we need to be. But I’m pretty sure it was the fastest route.”
“Pretty sure?” Matt sighed, rolling his right shoulder to crack it. “Why wasn’t Izzy the one to turn himself into data?”
Taran still felt really shook up. He could have died back there. He stared ahead, at the stone wall in the distance with a house looming behind, but he wasn’t looking at it; not really, at least. He was lost inside his head. What was most confusing was that he just nearly died and instead of being afraid of it happening, he now felt a reason for everything. This was really serious and maybe he hadn’t been thinking of it like that. He looked up at them. “Have you ever seen anyone die?”

Mimi and Matt were utterly shocked, with Matt recoiling at the question. Mimi placed her hand on his and they looked at each other. “I don’t think that’s something we should talk about.”
Taran shook his head. “I want— I need to know.”
Mimi looked at Matt, a pained expression on her face and then back at Taran. “I’ve had some of my friends and family die, but I wasn’t there. Not really.” Mimi paused, her mouth open but no words coming out. “I’ve only seen one person die…” She half smiled, her lip trembling. “But that was enough.”
Taran could tell she was really sad and felt bad for asking but he had to know. He had to know who he was doing this for and why. If he was so magical then someone had to explain things. “All your friends—the old Digidestined—what happened to them?”
Matt nodded at Mimi. “Dead.”
Taran was speechless. Why did none of them do this like Matt and Mimi had?
“Tai died first, and it went downhill from there. Sora…” Matt shook his head. “She was…” He gritted his teeth, looking up at the sky and then shook his head. “Killed on TV.” Shaking his head, he added, “To make an example of us all.”
Mimi nodded. “Kari and Izzy died next. After that it was one after another… Yolei, Joe, Cody, Ken.” Sighing, Mimi grabbed Matt’s hand, squeezing it. “Just us left.”
“How did they die?” It was morbid curiosity at this point, but he couldn’t help it.
Mimi looked at Matt but he shook his head and said, “Killed. By the same people attacking Japan now. Anti-Digimon armies, run by the UK and America. It’s different now, lesser, but there’s still those that want rid of Digimon for whatever reason.”

Mimi stood up, brushing some grass off her dress. “Why don’t we walk and talk over to that house there?”
Taran got up slowly. He was done talking about that now. “How does Pumon get stronger?”
Matt patted Taran on the back and they began to walk. “Well, you already saw him Digivolve to Punymon, his Champion form, right?”
Taran nodded.
“Digivolution is activated, like I mentioned, when your bond is strong, so if you and Pumon keep good friends and keep fighting, you’ll keep getting stronger and stronger.”

Mimi stopped. “Matt, you feel that?”
Matt nodded.
Taran looked around then at the ground. “Feel what?”
“The connection to the human world is really strong here. It must have been used as a Digiportal recently.” Mimi looked around. “Maybe they’re in there.”
Matt grabbed Mimi’s wrist. “If it’s strong it means we can just jump here to anywhere we want. We promised to take Taran home, remember?”
Mimi turned back. “I just thought…”
“Probably just some of those rebels lurking around.” Matt nodded to Taran. “You ready to go home?”
“How do you know that’s where we’ll pop out this time?” Taran asked, frowning. So far, they had been everywhere but.
“I can practically feel it in the air.” Mimi inhaled sharply and grinned. Holding up a finger, she gasped. “One last thing. There’s one other Digimon who’s been a pain recently.”
“Who?” Taran asked.
“You can’t say his name. He has some ability that summons him when you do. But if you ever see this pop up on your Digivice, then get Pumon and run.” Mimi held out a hand to Matt, who handed her a pen from his jean pocket. She scribbled a name on Taran’s arm and then handed the pen back to Matt. “It’s been fun meeting you Taran. When the time’s right, and you’re ready, we’ll be here.”
Taran looked at her then Matt, and saw both their eyes flash blue before he was thrown out into the snow.

Looking up, he saw a very familiar front door.
The wooden doors slid open with a loud bang. “Hallo, hallo, hallo! One and all, I come bearing gifts great and small!” Gimi was stood with a long metal trolley that had thirteen plates. He wheeled it in and then staggered backwards. “The air is funky in here. What happened last night?”
Alex glanced over at Rori and then back at Gimi. “N— nothing!” he stammered.
“Talmon is still absent I see.” Gimi lifted a metal cloche off one of the dishes and lifted the plate up. With a flash, it vanished into thin air and then he continued pushing the trolley into the room. “Rightio, who’s first?”
“I’m starving, yo!” Zalyea rubbed her stomach.
“Me too, yo!” Gaimon was already back to her hyper self.
Felismon opened one eye from the windowsill where she laid, light spilling in from it across her body. Yawning, she asked, “Feed me?”

“I could eat.” Tyler coughed, spluttering as he pushed himself up, the covers sliding down his body to reveal his pale skinned torso.
Alex looked over quickly “Ty!” He was alright!
“Alex.” Tyler smiled warmly. “I assume there’s been consensual savouring of our collective recreation time while we recover?” Grasping his stomach, he breathed through the pain and looked over at Gimi. “Is everyone alive?”
Gimi looked over at Corinne. “See for yourself.”
Alex and Tyler both looked over at the blonde. The pale blue quilt covering her rose and fell slowly in time with her breathing.

“Time is still in discord between the two worlds so resting here is best for now.”
“Why is it in discord?” Tyler asked, wincing as he reached for a glass of water on the bedside table.
“Wibbly wobbly timey wimey.” Gimi blew a raspberry with his tongue. “Anyway, food time!”

After placing the plates down in front of everyone, Gimi turned to leave but Tyler stopped him.
“What about Aleena?” he asked hopefully.
Gimi looked back over his shoulder. “I’m sure I’ll find her soon.” He left, closing the door with a gentle tap behind him.

Alex looked down at the Full English breakfast in front of him. Until now, nothing really bad had ever happened. Even what happened in Japan didn’t compare to this. Someone they had got to know, and possibly even liked might be dead now because of what they did.
“Yo, let’s just eat.” Zalyea poked her scrambled eggs with a fork, the yolk leaking out of them both.

Alex pushed his clean plate away, sighing contentedly. “Len, how you doing?” Alex looked over at the younger boy; the emotional stalwart of the group hadn’t said a word in forever.
“I…” Len was staring at his food but it had remained untouched save for a knife stabbed into a sausage standing erect in the centre of the plate. “I’m fine.”
“Give ‘im some time,” Zalyea interjected, flicking a bean from her fork at Alex.
He ducked, gagging. Beans were gross!

Gimi appeared in a swirl of colourful blocks next to Tyler’s bed, whispering. It was too hard to make anything out but Tyler didn’t seem too receptive of whatever was being said.
“I don’t think we are the chosen you read about, Gimi. I think it’s time for us to go back to our normal lives and leave the Digital World up to someone more suited to the task.” Wait. Did he really mean that? Was he just giving up?
“After I send you all home, you won’t hear from me again?” What was happening?

Tyler looked at the group and spoke loudly and clearly. “We’re leaving as soon as Corinne is recovered.”
But they had stuff to do! Was he serious? “What about Aleena?” Alex blurted. Felismon slipped under his arm, purring, but he couldn’t think about her right now. “The ripple things? The message we got in the forest!”
“None of that is of our concern.” Tyler’s reply was cold.

Alex looked at Len who was spinning the spoon slowly around a bowl of cereal with his fingertip. Why couldn’t he say something! Do something! Fix this! “Len!”
Tyler looked over at the Asian boy. “Len?”
Len looked up through his shaggy blue and black hair, his eyes sunken.
“What do you think?” Tyler asked, smiling.
“I agree.”
“With me?” Alex asked, a grin beginning to form.
Len shook his head slowly. “Let’s give up.” WHAT?

Zalyea gasped. “You serious?”
“Len can speak for heself, Zal,” Gaimon interjected, nudging her partner.
“So, you disagree, Zalyea?” Tyler asked, his tone a little more morose.
“Damn straight!” Zalyea thumped her fist on the bed. “We didn’ do all this for nuttin!”
Tyler nodded. “That’s fine.” His grey-blue eyes drifted slowly over to Alex, resting on him firmly. “And you? Alex?”

Alex looked down at Felismon scraping the fish from each individual bone and felt his frustration reach breaking point. “I don’t want to give up this easily; I want to fight!” He felt his voice falter slightly. Was he being silly? His inner turmoil was shaking his conviction. Maybe adventures were just for little kids and it was time to grow up?
“Alexander, this isn’t our battle to fight anymore. Your recalcitrant attitude is helping no one.” Having his full name used like that was so embarrassing. Tyler didn’t do it to anyone else; just he alone was treated like a stupid child.

Alex fiddled with his blue t-shirt, trying to gather himself. The thought of speaking out again made his tongue feel ten times too big for his mouth. His forehead felt hot and his heart raced. Anxiety was creeping in from the deepest corners of his mind and taking a hold again.
“Alex, I know it’s difficult to comprehend my reasoning right now, but I assure you that you’ll thank me in the future.”
Alex shook the feeling away. Looking up, he mustered a smile. “Yeah, fine. Let’s do what you say.”
“Thank you.”

Tyler looked over at Rori hesitantly. “What about you? You are a member of our group now and have as much right to an opinion as any of us.”
Rori looked at them all briefly. “A group of kids shouldn’t be involved in all of this. Get rid of The Resistance.” Alex was in disbelief. She was part of RODAF. What could she possibly be scared of? They were an organisation that struck fear into the public everywhere. A group who no one would say the name of for fear of persecution.
“I agree.” Tyler nodded slowly.

Wait? Had he really just said that? He couldn’t have, could he?
“Yo, you can’t be serious!” Zalyea threw her hands up in the air. “This is ridiculous!”
In a tone almost devoid of any emotion, Tyler replied, “I’m deadly serious.”
“Tyler!” Alex managed to blurt his protest, anymore words failing to spew from his whirring brain. He didn’t want to throw all this away over a little blip!
“As leader, and without second in command present, I hereby enact the immediate disbanding of The Resistance.”
“Ty, yo! You can’t do this. We a team!” Zalyea was tearing up.
“What she said, yo!” Gaimon moved to the edge of the bed, her wide eyes glaring at Tyler.
Felismon’s tail wagged as she slinked to her feet. “I’ll still burn stuff and you can’t stop me.” She bounded across the room, landing on the windowsill. Her tail swished, firing off a ball of fire that scorched the floor. “See,” she muttered, yawning.
“Ty, please!” Alex begged, desperate.
“My decision is final!”

No one dared to speak for the longest time as they all tried to take it in.
“I’m glad.” Len placed the tray of food on the bedside table and looked down at his Digivice. “Glad this is over.” Surely he didn’t mean this?
“Len, bro. You don’ mean that. You just confused right now, ‘cause of—” Zalyea stopped, as if Felismon had snatched the tongue right out of her mouth.
“Because of what?” Len snapped.
“Len…” Zalyea muttered, her voice softer than it ever had been before.
“Because of this?” He lifted the hair from his forehead, revealing the scarred word beneath.
Alex gulped, trying to find words to express his feelings. He would make RODAF pay.

Rori placed her own tray to the side. “This is why it has to be stopped before one of you—” The word was left lingering. A word all of them heard but wasn’t said.

Alex knew in himself though. They had to do this. Someone chose them! “What about Aleena?”
“I’ll save her.” Rori looked out to the window. Talmon had slipped in and was stood next to Felismon. A half-eaten plate of food was next to them both and the Digimon’s arms paws were folded across his chest. “I’ll knock some sense into her and… and.” Rori nodded firmly. With conviction, she continued, “I’ll save her.”
Alex still didn’t even know what happened but he knew he had to help. “I want to help!”
“I don’t need a flirty puppy,” Rori said shortly.
He was so much more than that. How didn’t she or anyone else get it! No one was listening!

Orchidemon erupted from Rori’s Digivice in a flash of green.
“It’s time to go, Orchidemon.” Rori climbed to her feet, albeit a little unsteadily.
“You rest!” Orchidemon pushed her back into the bed. “Too early.”
“Yo, how you expect to fight them alone when we couldn’t all do it together!” Zalyea shook her head. “Honestly, girl, you stupid.”
Rori clenched her fists. “I’ll find a way. I have to.”

“What will Corinne say when she wakes up?” Alex asked, now looking at the slumbering blonde.
“She’ll understand the decision I made and ensure you all cease being so facetious,” Tyler replied swiftly.
All these big words served no purpose other than to make Alex feel small. “Says who?”
“Alex, Zalyea, you’ll just have to trust me. I want what’s best.” That stupid irritating tone again!
“You just want what’s best for you!” Alex growled. He couldn’t take this anymore.
Tyler’s tone was softer this time. “Alex…”
“You want the team to be over? Fine, you got me. I agree.” Alex folded his arms. He was never going to speak to that stupid black-haired idiot again.

Zalyea climbed out of her bed and went over to Len. “Len, remember what we promised?”
Len didn’t look up. “Yeah.”
“I’m still stickin’ by it, how ‘bout you?”
“I.” He faltered and started to cry, covering his eyes with his arm. There wasn’t a single time Alex could remember seeing him cry.
Zalyea climbed into the bed, wrapping her arms around him and pulling him into her chest.

Alex felt so helpless. He would do anything to stop this feeling.
“Do you see now why I want us disbanded?” Tyler hissed.
“I…” Alex felt his resolve soften as he watched Len. “I’ll miss you all.”
“We don’t have to stop seeing each other, Alex. But we do have to stop these frivolous endeavours.” Tyler smiled. “Okay?”

Alex reminisced, moments flying through his head like a swarm of butterflies. The stupid fights they had when they first arrived and barely knew each other. Fighting in Central with their new partners. And then Japan, and the first time Felismon Digivolved. It was all over now. Memories would stay memories.
“Alex, for what it’s worth, I appreciate everything you’ve done.” Tyler coughed, gripping his chest. With a big inhale, he continued “I know that we will never forget each other.” He wasn’t dying, this was so soppy!
“What about Taran?” The female voice pierced the room, stopping time itself.

Corinne didn’t move, but she spoke again. “Are we going back for him, team?” Wearily, she called out, “Tyler?”
“Gimi checked the account and we’ve been paid. There’s no reason to return.” Tyler didn’t look at her.
“Wasn’t the plan to check on him after all this?” Corinne groaned.
“The plan changed.” Tyler looked down into his bed, biting his lip.
“Why?”
Tyler looked at her, his face contorted in anguish. “You should rest.”
Corinne pushed herself up. “I’m over the worst of it.” Looking at them all, she asked. “What’s going on?”

Alex couldn’t look at her after what had just happened.
Corinne, annoyed now, demanded, “Tell me.”
“The Resistance is over. Rori glanced around. “They all cared a minute ago.”
“What do you mean ‘over’?” Corinne took a deep breath in, closing her eyes, and then exhaled slowly.
“I disbanded the team.” Tyler swung his legs over the side of the bed. “In the best interests of the team—”
“Okay.” Corinne reached gingerly over to the juice on the side of the bed, taking a sip. “I agree with Tyler’s choice, for the record.”

That was the final nail in the coffin! This was not like Corinne at all. Had the world turned upside while he was asleep? “Corinne,” he stammered.
“Alex, Tyler is just looking out for you,” she insisted, massaging her rib.
How dare she be so condescending! “I can look after myself!”
Corinne shook her head. “Alex, I can’t take your side this time. Please, don’t make this hard for me.”
“Fine,” Alex grumbled. He would add her to the list of grudges.

“Tyler, can you help me take a walk?” Corinne pulled the covers off herself slowly. A loose gown clung to her body, with only a small white nightgown underneath. The scars and bruised on her pale skin were a sharp contrast to the purity of the clothes she wore.
“Just wait there.” Tyler rushed over, grabbing a grey t-shirt and pulling it on as he ran over. Blue pyjama bottoms, the same ones Alex and Len had on, covered Tyler’s bony legs. He allowed her to lean on him as she climbed out of the bed and they left slowly.

“I am not happy.” Alex crossed his arms firmly.
“Shut up,” Zalyea groaned, rolling her eyes.

* * *

As they got outside, Corinne nudged him. “Can we go to that spot, one last time?”
Tyler nodded, leading her out through the garden, which was being repaired by various Digimon, and across the verdant plain outside until they reached a large white rock shaped like a rabbit near the forest.

Corinne nodded to the rabbit. “Can you help me climb up?” She laughed coyly.
Tyler grunted a little as he helped her up onto the ‘head’ of the rock. Sitting down on the grass facing her, he smiled. This was nice. Just the two of them with no pretences of monsters or adventure.

“Remember the first time we came here?” Corinne lay back on the rabbit and looked up at the sky. A gust of wind caught hold of her dressing gown, pulling the loose knot open and fluttering the thin fabric around in the wind.
Tyler laughed, remembering. “Like it was yesterday.” He closed his eyes, picturing it. “You didn’t speak for at least an hour.”
“What changed?” Corinne’s voice was a little more sombre now.

For once, he couldn’t work her out. “What do you mean?”
“When did you become so defeatist?” Her head lolled to the side, her blue orbs locking onto his own.
“I thought you were on my side, he stammered.”
“Come on Ty. We both know that was a show for the others.” Looking back up at the sky, she muttered, “It wasn’t real.”

In some ways, he had known. She had never backed down like that before. It’s why she was perfect for second in command.
“What made you give up?”
“You did.” Tyler was so embarrassed. Had he really just said that?”
Looking at him with one eye, she asked, “What do you mean, ‘I did’?”

How on earth was he supposed to phrase this? “When I woke up and saw you like that… I couldn’t forgive myself.” Gripping the grass in frustration, he muttered, “I still don’t.”
Corinne exhaled exhaustedly, hissing at the end through gritted teeth and sat up. “What gives you the right to decide if I’m okay or not? I’m breathing, aren’t I?”
She was only barely breathing. How was he meant to explain that to her? “I couldn’t live with myself if you had actually—” He breathed deeply, shaking like the leaves that blew from the nearby trees. “Corinne, I care too much to see you get hurt.”

A little taken aback, Corinne said, “I knew what I was getting myself into.” Gritting her teeth, she held back tears and then yelled, “How dare you act like it’s your job to look out for me!” She breathed heavily, her chest rapidly rising and falling as she continued, “You didn’t even ask me how I felt about any of this. Well, guess what? I’m not freaking happy!” A tear rolled down her cheek and she coughed weakly, wiping it away.

Tyler, reached up but hesitated. “Corinne…”
“Maybe it’s best it ended this way.” Stopping looking at him, she growled spitefully, “Before we got any closer.”
“What do you mean?” Why was she being so complicated?
Corinne sighed. “Your mum told me all about how you’re so terrified of losing anyone since your dad left that you never let anyone get close to you.” Shaking her head, she added, “She even said that she thought we might be changing you—that we might be helping.” Biting her lip, she clenched her fists. “She— She told me that maybe if we came over next Christmas she could finally see you be happy again.” Inhaling her deeply, she hissed, grabbing her ribs. Through the pain, she growled, “How wrong was she?”

“Are you okay?” Tyler stood up, moving towards her but stopped when she held out her hand.
Corinne shook her head and relaxed, moving her hand away slowly. “You don’t get to decide if people get close to you, but you do get to choose if you stick around.” Looking at him, her eyes watering, she said, “We all got close to you, Ty, and you’ve chosen to leave us.” She wiped her eyes, albeit with a little difficulty and relaxed back. “I just want you to know that you compare this to your dad. This time, it’s you who left. You gave up.”

The words stung, as he assumed she had intended. Gritting his teeth, her fought back the tears. “Cori, I didn’t want to ever see you in pain again. Why can’t you understand that?” he yelled.
“You weren’t there when I was in pain in Japan, were you? I nearly died then and you weren’t there.” Shivering, she pulled the white dressing gown tight around herself. “You let that slide. So, I’ll ask again: what’s changed now?”
“This time it was my fault!” Tyler looked down at his bare feet, which were now beginning to feel cold on the hard earth beneath his feet. “I could have helped but I didn’t. If I had just stopped us from going…”
“I was the one who said we would help, not you. I knew what might happen and I made the call. It was my responsibility.” Softer, she asked, “Tyler, please, just tell me?”

Words to explain how he cared in a different way failed him. With such an expansive vocabulary, he fell at the final linguistic hurdle.
“Tyler, I need to know.” She smiled gently. “We lost Aleena, and I understand that—I really do get it—but that doesn’t mean you give up.” Wincing, she breathed sharply through her nose. “She fought under her own steam, with or without us.”
“It’s not Aleena.” Why was this so hard?
“Then what is it?” Corinne glared at him. “I’m wracking my brains here, Ty.”

Taking a deep breath, he took the plunge. Clenching his eyes shut, he exclaimed, “I really care about you and I want to be able to be with you and not worry if you’ll wake up or that next attack will kill you. I want to worry about which flower to buy you: roses or orchids. I want to worry about what to call our children.” He opened his eyes a crack and bit his lip, noticing she hadn’t said anything. Why hadn’t she said anything? “You asked me what had changed and I said you but you’re right, that was a lie. I’ve changed and I just can’t do this anymore.”

Shaking her head, she screamed, “You have absolutely no right to do this!”
“What?” he managed to stutter. What had he done wrong?
“You can’t expect me to just eat that up and follow blindly?” Blood flecked onto the white dress from a reopening wound. “I love these adventures. I love being with everyone. I love how every day isn’t the same! But, Tyler…”
He felt the ground swallow him up and longed for the words to never come. “Corinne, don’t.”
“I don’t love you.”
With a flash, they appeared in Gimi’s house, being almost thrown out of the hurried Digiportal.
Leomon landed on a sofa with a loud thud and groan as the crimson sofa struggled under his cumbersome frame.  
“We’ve never ported this perfectly,” Tyler muttered, looking around. He noted that they had the extra Digivice of Rori’s, however Aleena’s hadn’t helped too much previously so there had to be another factor at play.
“Digital Anchor.” Gimi got up from a green chair across from them. His kimono was navy blue in colour today. “Like a homing beacon for you to catch on to.” Gimi turned his head towards the raucous yelling and banging going on outside and frowned. “I’m relieved it worked.”

Tyler looked over too and noticed that the doors and windows were boarded up. It was lucky that they hadn’t appeared outside by the looks of things.
“Many thanks for the help.” Gimi lifted Leomon up in his arms as if he were no more than a child and walked over to the door. That old man was abnormally strong for his short stature.

“Silence!” he roared with such ferocity that it imbued Tyler with a little fear. Not a single sound was heard anywhere; even Alex and Zalyea kept silent. This was a side of Gimi they didn’t see too often. “Leomon has been freed thanks to the Digidestined. How do you repay them? You act like idiots! No soup for any of you!” And the quirky idiot was back.
Tyler could hear grumbling and then soft footsteps as the Digimon, presumably, left.

Gimi turned back to them, closing the door. “Go to the bedroom and rest. I can’t imagine you all have much strength left.”
Tyler placed Aleena’s bag down and turned back to Gimi. “We need to talk.”
The others turned back wearily, looking at him. None of them could bare to move much longer, with Alex carrying Corinne with Zalyea’s help.
“Later, later.” Gimi turned into cubes of data and vanished with Leomon, neither of them leaving a trace.
Tyler cursed under his breath that Gimi had avoided him but sighed and followed the others through to the bedroom where eight neat pale blue beds were waiting for them.

As Tyler got into bed and closed his eyes he heard a gentle sobbing but not one of them said a word, all feeling the same about what they knew to be true. About what they had faced there. These demons would surely haunt them all for a long time.

* * *

Tyler woke up, slightly startled, to see a strange face right in front of his. He tried to panic but everywhere was too sore to allow him much movement.  
“I said my Digi-Beauty soup would do the trick.” The Digimon, with grey hair proclaimed. “Now onto the oversized cat.” She walked across the wooden boards to Talmon and Tyler lifted his head up, being all he could do, and saw Alex stirring slightly but no one else was making a sound.

The strange Digimon dipped a silver ladle into a deep vat in the middle of the room and withdrew it, green liquid spilling from the utensil as she carried it back over to Talmon. Carefully, but liberally, she poured it over Talmon’s exposed body. At this point, Tyler realised how sticky he was. He was also stripped to nothing but his boxers but was too exhausted to do anything about it. Presumably, this thing was a she by its voice but Digimon didn’t strictly have genders unless they said so themselves. Gender could even vary within the same species. The Digimon walked over to Leomon and stuck her tongue into his mouth. “Baba Milk!” White liquid slipped from their lips, trickling down Leomon’s face. She then leant back and swung her broom about. “How dare you not respond to my healing!” Tyler really hoped she hadn’t done that to him.
“Please do not hit me, Babamon.” Leomon coughed and sat up.
“To be expected.” Babamon thudded her broom against the wooden flooring. “I am great, after all.”

She stepped back and allowed Leomon to stand up. “Now, get back to work, you lazy freeloader!” She hit him repeatedly with the broom until he ambled out of the room and then she turned back to Tyler. “Did I say you could stop resting? No!” Waving her broom at him, she ordered, “Go back to sleep!”

Tyler leant back and closed his eyes, afraid of being hit, and heard her talk.
“Five spiral fractures of the ankle bone, bruised skull, compressed lumbar vertebrae, bruised scapula, internal and external bruising and numerous skin lacerations.” Babamon sighed. “You poor thing…”
He knew exactly who she was on about and cursed that he had let it happen. This was never going to leave him—how he had just allowed something like this to occur. He should have stayed in her place.

“Can you save her?” It was Gimi.
“I’ll do what I can.” Babamon shuffled about. “I’ve consulted Nog, Gimi.”
Gimi didn’t reply for a while. “Nog? You know how I feel about him.”
“You Digital Guardians all hate each other, Gimi. But, Nog has been around longer and I needed to know what to do about him. Gennai is still missing too, of course, so you lot will have to start getting along soon.”
“What of the trouble in the city? Does Nog know about that?”
“There are similar problems over in his area.”
Gimi grumbled. “I’ll be out there.”

Tyler felt sleep tug at him, and as much as he tried to resist in the hopes he could find out more about Corinne’s recovery, he felt himself fall into darkness.

* * *

Len continued to look up at the ceiling as Gimi walked in. He had counted the tiles many times now.
“I bet you are all staving Marvin!” He couldn’t feel hunger, or thirst. He just felt tired.
Alex’s stomach growled loudly at the mention of food.
Zalyea groaned. “Same ol’ Alex.”
Felismon bounded about the room, excitable somehow. “I’m hungry too, don’t be slow.”
“I’ll be back with food for you two as well, Len, Rori.”

Len just wished the ground would swallow him up. He didn’t want to live anymore.
“Yo, what’s wrong with you two, you ain’t said a word?”
He didn’t want to reply to Zalyea. She wouldn’t understand.
“Len, man, you all healed now, we can forget ‘bout that silly fool,” Zalyea said. She was persistent but he really didn’t care.
“Len? You okay, buddy? Rori, my beautiful flower, how about you?”

Len ignored Alex too, hoping they would just go away and leave him alone. He didn’t know nor care why Rori also wasn’t talking but he was glad she wasn’t.
“They’ll be fine. You should be more worried about me, my paws are sore,” Felismon whined.
“They look fine to me, besides, Rori is a pretty girl.” Alex was an idiot.
“Well you should look closer,” Felismon said alluringly.
“Ow!” Alex yelped. As if he had fallen for that. Without looking, Len knew Felismon had scratched him but he just didn’t care.
“You’re so uncaring.” Felismon pounced onto Len’s bed and looked back at Alex. The feeling of her paws on his body was dull, as if there were several inches between her and him but he knew she was basically touching him through the thin blanket. “I might leave you.” She leapt onto the windowsill, walking along it slowly.

“We both know you would miss the free meals too much,” Alex called.
“I can get my own meals.”
“But you’d rather have free ones…” Alex teased.
Felismon bounded from the windowsill back to Alex and curled up in his lap. “Maybe I’ll keep you, for now.”
“Len, Rori, what you doing, yo?”

Len closed his eyes, hoping that he would wake up and it would have all been a dream.

* * *

Len’s eyes fluttered open and he saw it was dark everywhere. It was night time. Alex’s loud snores masked any other sound and when he looked to his left, he saw Zalyea sleeping soundly. Slipping out of bed, he walked over to the door. He was still weak on his feet and his arms were sore but he managed to pull the door open and head into the bathroom nearby with relative ease.

As he walked in, he pulled the white string to his right and the light above flickered on, illuminating the small room. Len turned back and pushed the door closed, making sure to lock it; he didn’t want to be disturbed. He walked across the laminated floor quietly—using the wall for support—and moved over to the mirror. The room was sparse, with just a mirror above the white sink and a porcelain toilet. A gentle breeze drifted in through the small open window but it was refreshing to his otherwise dull senses.

Len looked into the mirror and was shocked by what he saw. He had known what had been done to him but seeing the reality of it was something else. Clearly, healing it had been impossible for Babamon. Slowly, he moved his hand up to touch the scars on his forehead. He tapped them gingerly, grimacing at the pain that flew back into his head when his fingertips graced the troughs in his skin. These scars from that evil woman weren’t going to heal, of that much he was fairly certain. However, that paled in comparison compared to the word she had written across his head.

He traced the letters on his forehead and felt a twang of pain in his heart as he did so. It was on whole different level to the physical ailment. Using one hand to hold his blue and black hair back from his forehead, he grabbed a flannel from the sink and turned on the tap. Len thrust the flannel under the hot running water and then began to scrub his head angrily. He was trying to scrub it away—trying as hard as he could to remove that word from himself.

Blood began to trickle down on his face, mixing with the tears he was crying and slipping into his mouth as he clenched his teeth together. The metallic salty taste clung to his tongue, making him feel sick. Slowly, he lifted the flannel away and saw the scar was still there, clear as day on his blood drenched face. He roared in anger and punched the mirror—shattering it and sending glass across the room—and then staggered backwards, shocked at what he had done.

He hit the wall behind and slumped onto the floor, crying softly so that he didn’t wake anyone. The tears and blood dripped from his chin onto the floor, quickly forming puddles around him. In the corner of his eye, he saw his forehead in a large jagged shard of glass. “I’m not,” he whispered, seeing Trish’s face appear in the glass. He flashed back to her carving into his head and felt his whole body clench up. “I’m not!” he yelled, punching the shard of glass to shatter it.

Lifting his fist back up, he looked at the blood dripping from it. It trickled down, the chunks of glass embedded in his knuckles. “I’m not…”

* * *

Zalyea leant against the bathroom door, her back to it. She rested her head back, hearing everything that was going on in there but being unable to do anything about it. It was the worst thing to be able to hear and not help. She had seen what Patricia and done to him—and she would never forgive that evil woman for as long as she lived—but all Zalyea could do now was listen and try not to cry.

* * *

Len heard gentle snoring coming from the door and sniffled, his eyes having dried up already. He got up and walked over to the door slowly, curious as to who was outside. Pulling it open slightly, he peered outside and saw Zalyea sleeping against the door and no one else about. Walking back over to the remnants of the mirror, careful to avoid the shards of glass on the floor, he pulled his hair back over the scar and wiped his face with the hand towel. He plucked the shards of glass from his hand and then grabbed the first aid kit from the under-sink cabinet, getting a bandage out to dress the wound.

He looked at Zalyea as he wrapped his hand up, hoping she wouldn’t wake up and felt guilty for what he was putting her through. Walking back over to the door, he placed one hand behind Zalyea’s head as he opened it fully and then rested her head down gently. He stepped over her body carefully but piercing green eyes appeared in the darkness ahead and then he saw red hair.
“Rori?” he asked, pretending to be sleep dazed.
Rori looked down at Zalyea and then at the door opposite the bathroom. Pulling it open, she grabbed hold of Len’s t-shirt and dragged him into it with her.

Rori pushed him gently into the middle of the room, shutting the door behind them. The room appeared to be a storage room for tables and chairs.
Len opened his mouth to speak but Rori’s finger on his lips stopped him.
Looking him in the eyes, she slowly moved her other hand up his face, lifting his hair out of the way.
Len had no idea what to do. She was going to see it. Looking into her gentle eyes as they glistened faintly of gold around the pupil, he saw the moment she traced over the word with her eyes.
Without a word, she let the hair flop back down.

They stood there without speaking for what felt like forever, although Len could see by the clock near the door that it had only been a few seconds.
Rori slowly moved her finger away from his lips.
“Rori, what’re you do—?”
Rori’s lips touched his and he didn’t know what to do.
Feeling bad, he tried to move away but she kissed a little deeper and he found himself enjoying it now. Reaching up slowly, he placed his hand against her face and began to kiss her back. A cold draft blew through the room, tickling their bodies and fluttering their clothes about.

Rori moved away and looked him in the eyes, smiling.
He stared back into hers as they glistened, smiling now too.
Rori leaned in, her lips puckered.
Len looked away, unable to make eye contact. “I don’t love you, Rori.” He looked at her small bare feet on the wooden flooring, hoping that he would see them leave without a word. He wasn’t sure why he had felt the need to say it but he knew he had to.
“I don’t love you either.” Rori leant back.
“Then, why are you doing this?” He looked back up, into her shiny orbs. Was she up to something? Was this pity? Where had it come from?
Louder, she retorted, “Why aren’t we doing this?”
Without a response to give, he looked back down at her feet guiltily.

Rori stepped away from him, walking backwards until her ankle caught against a chair leg and she fell over onto her bum, her limbs sprawling and grasping all over for balance.
Len laughed a little. How could he not? He stepped closer, holding out a hand towards her heaped body but still trying to stifle his laughter.
Rori scowled. “It’s not funny.” She folded her arms at first, adamant not to accept but eventually she sighed and took his hand.
He pulled her up but found as she got back to her feet, their faces were touching. The intimacy of the moment consumed him. Thinking straight had faded away now. Maybe this would be okay. A good distraction. He leant in, closing his eyes slightly but Rori looked away.
“You were right, I was stupid.” Rori turned her body away from him. “I was just being over emotional like usual.” She sighed and clenching her fists, she said, “I’m an idiot.”
Stepping back, he asked, “What do you mean?”
“Just… nothing.” She didn’t look him in the eye, instead her eyes moved across the furniture. “Just horny teenagers, I guess.”

Len tried to stammer a reply but nothing came. “Horny?”
Rori blushed slightly. “I’m just going to go. For what it’s worth, I’m sorry, Len.” Turning, she climbed over the heaped furniture carefully and left without another word.
As the door closed, Len sagged onto the floor again and tried to gather himself, unsure what to do next.

* * *

Rori looked at Zalyea briefly, her green eyes dancing over the sleeping girl as she thought about what she and Len had just done. No doubt Zalyea wouldn’t have been happy about it but Rori didn’t care. Right now, she just needed to work out what she needed. Losing her two closest friends was playing on her mind. After losing her parents, she hoped for stability, strength. And she thought she had found that in Leon and Aleena. But now… she wasn’t so sure anymore. Sighing, she headed back to the room, hoping to get some sleep before Len and Zalyea came back.

As she walked in, she was confronted by Alex in the doorway. He had presumably woken up due to Felismon, since the window was open and the feline was absent. A chilly wind hit her, freezing her still.
“Hey, gorgeous.” He yawned, stretching. “What you doing?” He rubbed his eyes with his knuckles. “Can I help?”
Rori smiled briefly, but slipped past him, trying to ignore him. She was planning, thinking, trying to work out her next step and distractions would only hinder her. However, right now, the compliment had made her blush because she couldn’t imagine feeling less gorgeous at the moment. In fact, this was the lowest she had ever felt.
“Don’t ignore me, I know you can hear me,” Alex called. “At least tell me what’s going on.”

Rori turned around and saw Alex walking over. “What do you want, Alex?” she asked, noting that she had snapped slightly. Nothing made sense anymore and her head felt like it was fighting her heart. Being away from nature and her friends left her feeling vulnerable, exposed. She felt exhausted mentally, physically and spiritually. She was just sick of the Digital World and everything to do with it. As soon as she could, she would get away from all of this but then she couldn’t. Aleena needed her help. So, did Leon. The internal conflict was tearing her mind apart piece by piece.
“No need to be so mean.” Alex scratched his head, yawning. He yawned a lot. “I just thought you might want some company in your bed.” He winked, grinning.
Rori sighed despairingly. “I’m not in the mood. She turned away, walking to her bed.

“I saw you that night.”
Rori turned back to look at him. What did he mean? “What night?”
Alex casually rocked on his feet. “The night that Aleena left, I saw you crying and holding a photo of some boy.”
Rori felt her cheeks flush red, this time with anger, and charged over to him.
Alex retreated until he was against his bedframe.
Rori continued getting closer until she was leaning over him as he bent backwards to try and escape. “You saw nothing,” she growled through gritted teeth. How dare he watch her!
Alex fell backwards onto the bed. “But—”
“But nothing!” The only thing that was stopping her from beating him up was that stupid grin and how it reminded her of him.

“I just thought you might want to talk, honey?” Alex said, smiling uneasily. He had his hands up defensively, holding them out as if she were a rabid animal.
“No, and if you ever bring him up again, you’ll see a different side of me.” Her nostrils flared as she struggled to rein in her anger. The air quickly became very still. In that moment, you could have heard a pin drop. As it was, the gentle breathing of the others resting filled the lull.  

Alex gulped, hopefully in fear. “I’ll keep it between us.” He kept eye contact with her as he slid up his bed and under the covers. “I promise.”
Rori didn’t take her eyes back off him for a little while, trying to make sure that he knew how angry she was. Getting him back… Rescuing him was an impossible challenge and she didn’t want to be constantly reminded of it. Right now, all she wanted was her friend back and to be happy and healthy with Orchidemon by her side.

Climbing into bed, she realised that she wasn’t mad at Alex, she was mad at the situation. It was unfair to treat him so badly when he had done little wrong to her. “Goodnight, Alex,” she chirped.
“Good— Goodnight?” Alex confusedly stammered. “I hope you sleep tight…?”
“Goodnight, Alex,” Rori repeated tiredly. She just wanted to go to sleep so she could stop thinking, just for a moment.

* * *

Aleena opened her eyes slowly, unsure of where she was or if she was even alive. Her head was swimming with faint recollections of what had happened and now she was trying to piece them together to get the full picture. Her vision was white and blurry, distracting her from her thoughts. “Is it— is it over for me?” she whispered. It felt like her brain had been liquefied and was sloshing about in her head as she struggled to regain any kind of focus. The cold flooring beneath her felt fairly solid as she laid on it but she wasn’t sure what it was made of. Her body was too weak to move just yet and there was pain all over. Some of it felt like the time she had her appendix removed so she presumed they had done surgery on her; that’s if she was still alive.

Opening her eyes wider, Aleena stared up at the ceiling. “Where am I?” she muttered, still trying to make sense of the flashes of memories. Rori had left. Before that, she said goodbye to Taran. And then? Had she committed suicide at some point? No, there was more after Rori left. A familiar face. “Kayran!” Aleena yelled, bursting bolt upright. She looked around desperately, but the small room she was in was empty and white. Excruciating pain tore into her body and she fell back onto the floor, convulsing involuntarily in agony.

“Cat got your tongue, Aleena?” Kayran!
“What have you done to me?” Aleena screamed through the pain, determined to show him that she would not be beat by a few injuries.
“I’ll let you wait and see, I think it’s better that way.” The crackle of a microphone. So, he wasn’t in the room. “You’re still fresh out of surgery, so I think it’s best you rest for now. Honestly, I’m surprised that you woke up from the anaesthetic that fast. But, you always were special.”
Aleena looked up, just about managing to lift her head. “You know when I get out of here, I’m going to separate your head from your body,” she growled through gritted teeth.
Raucous laughter filled the room and then the intercom clicked off.

Eventually, the intense pain subsided, becoming gentle ebbs and flows at her wounds. She managed to push herself up against the wall, albeit with difficulty, in order to inspect the wounds in more detail. Whatever they had done involved messing around inside her body, she could tell that much. They would have definitely put a new tracking chip in but she was sure they had done more. Rubbing the back of her neck, she winced as she felt the fresh scar. There it was.  

She gazed around the room, trying to see if there was anything of note but the room was just four white walls with a matching roof and floor. It was a little disorientating and there were no discernible weak points. Rolling her head to the side, she rested her cheek flat on the cool wall and tried to remember anything. She just wanted to be able to piece some of what had happened together.

Sighing, she realised she couldn’t remember anything and gave up. He must have knocked her out and kept her under this whole time, which meant the only memories she had wouldn’t be of much use anyway. It could have been days, weeks even, since her last wakeful moment.
“Aleena?” The voice roused her from her exhaustion and then it spoke again. “Is that you, child?”
She turned, looking, and saw Bertha sat on a white seat in the corner of the room. That was her. “B—” It had to be fake, but she was wearing that old grey poncho she would always wear. And the pinafore. There was no way. “B— B—”

“It’s me, child, aunty Bertha. Lord Kayran invited me in to keep you company, my sweet pea.” There was no way he would do something that nice for a start. Not without a reason. What kind of game was he playing?
“Bertha…” She looked at the woman, trying to see any differences to work out if it was an actor or not. There was no way this was the real Bertha but she looked and sounded exactly the same. “I watched you die.”
“No, child, you’re mistaken.” She smiled. “Lord Kayran looked after me. I’m fine, see.” She moved her arms a little, laughing gently. That was her laugh!
“Y— you’re dead.” Aleena couldn’t believe her eyes. There was no way for her to believe what she was seeing.
“I’m in front of you, child. Open your eyes!” She started laughing again, flooding Aleena’s memories with recollections of when they would have fun together. But those times were over. Bertha was dead.

Aleena winced in pain as she pushed herself up to her feet. She still had to use the wall to support herself but she was managing, just about, to stand. “You can’t be.”
“Don’t push yourself, my sweet.” Bertha reached out tentatively.
“You can’t be her!” Aleena yelled, shaking from anger and strain as she held herself up. This was some sick joke.
“I’m here now, Aleena.” She beckoned towards herself. “Come hug me, child.”
“You’re not real!” Aleena screamed, tears spilling from her eyes. This was a foreign feeling. This weird sadness inside. She didn’t really remember feeling like this too often and she never cried at things this silly either. What was happening to her? “Go Away!” Even though she knew she was quick to anger, it was also never normally this quick.

Bertha shook her head, no longer looking Aleena in the eyes. “Aleena, darling.” She looked up scathingly. “I watched you grow up, and this is how you repay me? Disgusting!”
“Shut up!” Aleena screamed, grabbing her ears so she didn’t have to listen to the lies anymore. She started crying more now, unable to control it. Kayran had done something to her—to her emotions. She wasn’t sure how but he had amplified them. He was inside of her head.
“This is the last time I’ll speak to you; you were awful child anyway. Good riddance.” Bertha stood up and walked over to a door that formed in one of the walls.

“You’re not real!” Aleena screamed, bursting across the room and thrusting her fist towards a shocked Bertha in attempt to stop whatever trickery this was but a wound on her abdomen reopened as she charged. Staggering, she tried to keep moving forwards but fell straight past the old woman, landing on her face. Aleena started to cry, but she wasn’t sure why. “You’re not real!”
Bertha looked back as she walked out of the door, shaking her head.
Aleena reached for the door, trying to get free but barely able to move her arm. Her fingertips graced the door briefly before it slid closed and disappeared again.

Tutting. “You shouldn’t treat people like that, Aleena.”
Aleena didn’t have to look far for the voice as the familiar round face came into view as he knelt and looked at her with pity.
“This is why everyone hates you. We only pretend to like you because you’re crazy.” This was his voice.
“You’re not real…” Aleena muttered. She couldn’t even fathom this. He wouldn’t be a part of any of this even if he was alive.

The wetness from her blood began to spread up her body as she felt her consciousness wane.
“You’re going to die in this cell. You’ll never leave and I hope you bleed every. Single. Day.”
Aleena began to sob louder and yelled, “Leon wouldn’t say that, go away!”
“I am Leon, Aleena.” The blond boy smirked. “And I am saying it.” He looked at her hair. “Who has hair like yours anyway? Green is a disgusting colour.” He wouldn’t say that. Leon made jokes but he never insulted her.
“You’re not him!” Aleena screamed, lashing out but her fist went straight through the body as it fizzled briefly and then eventually vanished. This was too painful and no amount of telling herself it wasn’t real could fool her brain.

Aleena rolled onto her back, panting from exhaustion. “Stop this!”
“What about me, am I real?” Not again.
The intense heat bore through his body immediately like needles made of fire. Taran looked up and saw a powerful sun beating down on him from above, looking even bigger than usual, and then felt sand swirl into his face. He wrinkled his nose. This place was nasty. Where even were they? They had just been somewhere grassy and now this was a desert. What was going on? Was this man magic? Could he pull a rabbit out of his hat? Taran looked up at Matt, feeling a foreboding presence emanating from him.
“I bet you’re wondering what happened.” Matt unzipped his black jacket. “Whew, it’s warm.” He fanned his hand against his face and wiped his forearm against his brow. “We should get out of this heat soon.”

Taran looked over at Matt and pouted. He had let all this people get hurt. They could have saved them and yet they did nothing! He tore his arm free from Matt’s grasp and then crossed his arms across his chest firmly. He was so angry that Matt made them leave all those poor people in the fire.
“And now you’re thinking we could have saved those people.” Matt looked at Hououmon and nodded. “Well—”
“Don’t be too harsh on him.” The bird Digimon glanced at Taran and then flew off in a swirl of wind that was very welcome in the imposing heat.
“Like I’m ever harsh,” Matt grumbled.

Matt watched Hououmon go, protecting his eyes from the sun with his hand and then looked back at Taran and shrugged. “We couldn’t have.” He sighed. “Hououmon may look strong but she isn’t the fighter she once was. We were outmatched.” Thrusting his hands into his black jeans, he whistled. “Just how it goes sometimes.”
“We could have done something!” Taran exclaimed, stamping his foot. Why wouldn’t Matt listen to him? Why did no one ever want to listen?
Matt rolled his eyes. “Just like Tai,” he muttered, half smirking.
It was infuriating to be looked down on like this! Taran furrowed his brow firmly to affirm his anger to Matt.
Matt’s voice was gentle, sympathetic even. “Look down at Pumon and tell me what we could have done with him in that state.”
Taran looked down at Pumon. He felt awful for putting the little Digimon in that state but there was no other choice, was there? And Pumon would want to help too! “But—!”
Matt pointed at Taran accusingly. “And your ribs are bruised. Sticking around there was a bad idea for both of you.”
Gingerly, Taran touched his chest and winced. He was right, they were sore but Matt was fine. Hououmon was fine. They could have done something! “But that’s not fair!”
Matt nodded. “No one knows unfairness better than me, buddy. Trust me.” He pointed at Taran’s Digivice. “It’s flashing.”

Taran looked down slowly, trying not to allow himself to be distracted by any adult tricks.

Withdraw Digimon into Digivice? Yes or No?

It would help Pumon like last time so he had to. He tapped yes and Pumon was sucked into the Digivice in a flash of blue light. Thrusting the Digivice back into his pocket after checking Pumon was safely inside, he glared at Matt.
“We didn’t have that back when I was around.” Matt chuckled. “Would’ve been useful a couple of times.”
Taran pinched his cheek. Nope, he was awake. “What do you mean when you were around?” As far as he could tell, Matt was still around. Taran looked at him and tentatively reached towards him. Was he dead? Was he a ghost? That was really spooky.
Matt looked down, smirking that annoying smirk.
Taran looked at him cautiously and then prodded Matt. “See, you’re solid like I thought. That means you’re real.” Taran crossed his arms triumphantly and a gust of sand blew in between them. In his stubbornness, Taran ignored it blowing into his face but ended up spluttering and trying to scrap it off his tongue.
Matt pulled at his black jacket. “So I am.” He smirked. “But it’s not that simple—”
“Why don’t we have this conversation somewhere else?” It was someone else. A woman?

The pink haired woman walked towards them, flicking her head back and allowing the wind to blow her curly shoulder length locks behind her like a cape. She winked, the bright sun making it hard to look at her. “Well, hi there! You must be Taran!” Her brown eyes washed over him with warmth. “I’m Mimi. Tachikawa Mimi.” She was stunningly beautiful and yet motherly too. “Why don’t you say hello now?”
Her smile was so welcoming that Taran couldn’t help himself; he ran over and wrapped his arms around her tightly, sobbing into her burgundy jumper. Anything was better than Matt and it had been so long since any nice women had been near him.
“Oh.” She patted his head comfortingly, rubbing it gently. It reminded him of home. Of when he would be sick and his mum would look after him; of biscuits and flat cola. “It’s okay, it’s okay.”
Taran looked up at her, his face smeared with tears and snot. “I was so scared.” He stepped back, wiping his face with his sleeve. He had realised how weird this was for him to do. It was really rude, actually. “I— I’m sorry.” He had latched onto her for no reason. And she was a stranger, no less! His mum and dad had warned him so much about stranger danger and he was here surrounded by strangers constantly.
She knelt to his height, smiling. “I bet you were super scared all alone. And yet you were such a big boy. I’m real proud of you.” Mimi wrapped her arms around him, patting his back, which elicited sharp pain. “It’s okay now because we’re here and we will look after you.”
Taran snuggled into her hug, trying to ignore the pain that came from him being touched. Something about her reminded him so much of his mum. Even the tone she used was motherly.

Mimi stood back up. “It’s so hot!” She exclaimed, pulling off her jumper and tying it around her waist. Underneath it was a loose knee-length pink dress and a gold locket that hung around her slender neck. Mimi stretched her arms and then turned to look at Matt. “Couldn’t you have chosen somewhere less hot? Or we could even go to a mall or something—somewhere enjoyable!”
Matt shrugged. “I guess.”
Rolling her eyes, Mimi asked, “Is Hououmon not back yet?”
Matt looked towards where Hououmon had flown. “Maybe something happened.”
Mimi walked over and punched him in the arm. “Don’t joke like that.” She looked back at Taran. “How about Matt gives you a piggy back and we head somewhere safe? Does that sound like fun?”
Taran chewed his sleeve and then nodded.
“You shouldn’t chew that.” Mimi tutted. “Well, Matt?”
Matt rolled his eyes and turned around, crouching down. “Hop on.”

As Taran stepped towards Matt, he felt his vision swim, becoming blurred, then normal, then blurred once more before it turned black.

Waking up slowly, Taran felt stinging pain on his chest and back and felt cooler, much cooler. His head lolled onto the hard surface in front of him; he listened to the sounds around him, too weak to move. The soft swirling of the sand as the breeze passed over them, and then… talking?
“Are you sure about this, Matt?”
“What other choice do we have? We have to do something.” Matt spat.
“I know that, Matt. Don’t you think I know that? I have always been there with you. But, maybe sometimes Tai was right. Maybe sometimes there was another option but to fight?”
Taran lazily opened one eye and saw Mimi walking along and then realised someone was carrying him. Wind tickled his legs and he realised he was now wearing shorts; the same breeze flapped the t-shirt on his back about, keeping him cool.
“There’s no time for that!” Matt snapped. “If we don’t do something soon then both worlds will be destroyed.” As Matt spoke, Taran felt the vibrations from the surface in front of him and realised he was being carried and the change in clothing meant they had changed his clothes. Had they seen him naked!?
“I know that!” Mimi looked down and then grumbled under her breath. She glanced back up at Matt. “Of course I know that. Don’t treat me like some ditzy blonde American!”
“You know I would never… Mimi, you know that this kid is the only one who can save us; save everyone.” Matt sighed deeply, the deep breath louder in the ear Taran rested against Matt’s back. “And until we can find Gennai, I don’t see another solution.”
“That’s true…” Mimi fiddled with the hem of her dress. “But what if he’s not strong enough?” She looked at Matt, her eyes shaking. “What if he dies like the rest?”
Taran gasped. Were they on about him?
“Oh, Taran, you’re awake!” Mimi exclaimed, smiling and wiping her eyes. “And just in time, we’re here.”

They slowed to a stop as they reached various little mud huts; with thatched roofs and holes for windows, they looked like something out of a history book. Atop the tallest building stood Hououmon, perched carefully on a wooden symbol of a bird that protruded from the centre of the roof.
Across from her was a new Digimon. Would she attack them? Taran quickly withdrew his Digivice but Matt spoke before the Digivice could.
Matt exhaled tiredly. “You had us worried!”

Rosemon, Mega level, Data, Wind Guardians, Nightmare Soldiers, Jungle Troopers.
Her Forbidden Temptation can make even those with strong will fall before her.

“It’s just you, Rosemon.” Matt crouched down, allowing Taran to climb off. “Long time no see.”
“Rosemon!” Mimi exclaimed, holding out her arms.
The Digimon in question looked like a flower woman. Her head was made of a large rose except for the area around her red lips. A green floral cape adorned her slender frame, which was clad in a revealing red one-piece. Black boots encased her long legs and vines snaked over her body, culminating in trailing ends which she held tightly in her fists. “Mimi!” The Digimon flew over quickly and wrapped her arms around Mimi, lifting her into the air and spinning around. “You’re okay!”
“Of course I am!” Mimi laughed, hugging the Digimon back. “I’m so glad you’re alright!”

Matt gestured towards the two with his thumb. “They’re partners, like you and Pumon.”
“Why haven’t they been together, then?” Taran asked. Withdrawing the Digivice from the pocket of his shorts, he looked down at it. Despite the brevity of their time together, Taran felt a connection closer than with any of his other friends with Pumon. “I don’t ever want to be apart from Pumon.”
Matt smirked. “When you get older, friendships can get more distant but retain their strength. Rosemon had an important mission and had to be away for a while, but me and Hououmon kept Mimi company in the meantime.” Matt glanced around and murmured, “Seems the Digimon from this village aren’t here.”

Taran nibbled on one of the long green sleeves of the top he had on. It had a white chest piece, which had BunBoy emblazoned on, but was much thinner than his BunBoy pyjamas and welcome in this heat. “Is Hououmon your partner?” Taran looked up at the bird Digimon. “She’s super nice.”
Matt chuckled. “She is nice.” He withdrew the little silver Digivice from before and looked down at it. “No, Hououmon isn’t my partner. My Digivice hasn’t been active in a long while, I’m afraid, Taran.” He held up the fizzing screen of his Digivice, covered with scratches and muck. Standing up, he sighed. “But it’s okay. Because Hououmon’s partner is gone too. So, we keep each other company.”
Taran felt himself well up. This was so sad. “Where have they all gone? Will they come back?”
“I’m not sure.” Matt said. He slipped the Digivice back into his pocket. “Probably not.”
Taran began to sob. This was really scary and not fair! Why did this have to happen?
Matt looked down. “Don’t cry!” He knelt on one knee and grumbled, “Tai was always better at crap like this. Heck, even Joe was better.”
Taran gasped. He had said a swear. Sniffling, he exclaimed, “You shouldn’t say that!”
Matt mumbled under his breath. “Mimi, a little help?”

Mimi was placed back down by Rosemon and gestured towards the largest house. “Let’s talk in here. Rosemon and Hououmon can keep watch.” She walked inside and Rosemon stood next to the open doorway.
Matt got up and walked over. “Come on, we can explain everything and then we can take you home.”

Everyone kept promising to take him home but no one ever did. Why did everyone keep lying to him? Taran folded his arms and stamped his foot. “No.”
Matt turned back and raised a quizzical eyebrow. “No?”
Taran nodded firmly. “No.”
Matt sighed and ran his fingers through his blond locks. “So, what... You’re just going to stand there forever?”
Taran realised the flaw in his plan but was too stubborn to admit it. “Maybe.”
“As stubborn as Davis,” he grumbled and then Matt shrugged. “Fine. Then we’ll all just leave you here.” Matt placed a hand next to his mouth and called, “Hououmon, Rosemon, Mimi, we’re leaving. Taran is staying here.”
Mimi poked her head out. “What?”
“You heard me. Let’s go. He can stay here and get eaten by Yokomon when it gets dark.” Matt threw his hands nonchalantly behind his head, interlocking his fingers, and walked away.
Mimi rolled her eyes and stepped back inside. “Whatever, but we have to get going soon.”

Taran loosened his arms slightly. “Eaten?” He didn’t want to get eaten.
Matt turned back and flashed a mischievous grin. “They’re huge scary beasts that come out when it gets dark and feed on any naughty children they can find.”
Taran shook his head. He wouldn’t fall for this! “You’re just fibbing!”
Matt threw his hands up. “Well, we’ll see. It should be dark in a few hours so you’ll find out soon. But, we’ll be long gone by then so no one will hear you scream.”

Taran bit his lip and felt the fear creep up on him. What if this was real? Would they just come and kill him? Away from home? Away from his family? No one would ever know. Opening his mouth, he began to sob loudly. He didn’t want to die like that!
“No, wait. I was just lying!” Matt grabbed onto Taran’s arms. “Stop crying!”
“Matt, what did you do?” Mimi walked out of the house.
“I just joked and said Yokomon would eat him.” Matt shook Taran. “I was joking, stop crying!”
The pleading from Matt was no comfort to Taran. They were going to eat him and no one would save him!

“Matt!” Mimi rushed over and wrapped her arms around Taran while simultaneously pushing Matt away. “Taran, he was just lying. Yokomon are cute little pink Digimon that are so lovely and friendly. They actually live in this village! The only unfriendly thing around here is Matt.” She picked him up in her tight grip and then set him back down, holding out her hand. “Now, stop being silly and let’s talk things through.”
Taran sniffed, his eyes sore from the crying as he looked at her. She seemed sincere. He nodded, albeit a little reluctantly. “Fine.” He wiped his eyes with his sleeve and then gripped her hand. Matt was so mean!
“Ooh this is so cute!” Mimi exclaimed, pointing at the BunBoy emblem on his chest. “I have to know where I can get one in my size. Preferably in pink too.” She winked.
“You can get BunBoy stuff everywhere! Mum always takes me and buys me lots and lots!” Taran exclaimed. He loved BunBoy. It was his favourite character!
“Well, maybe you can take me after we get you home,” Mimi chimed.
“He reminds me of Ryoko,” Matt mused.
Mimi glanced back at Matt and then set Taran down inside the house. In hushed tones, she hissed, “Matt, it’s been a long day. Please don’t bring up my dead son.”
Dead? Her son was dead? Taran wasn’t sure how to feel. Was that why he was here? A million questions flooded through his mind as he stared ahead blankly at the sun-baked mud wall ahead.

Mimi looked back at Taran. “Sit down and we’ll talk.” She said, smiling.
Right now, that was the last thing Taran wanted to do. Everything was just so confusing at every turn! He spun to look at them, frowning. He wanted someone to just tell him what exactly was going on! Ever since that night when Aleena came no one had ever truly even told him what all of this was. Why him?
Matt waltzed in slowly and slumped down onto the raised mound of mud that ran around the edge of the circular hut. Straight ahead of him, on the right of the hut was a small television that was fizzing with static.
Taran slowly took a seat a little away from Matt, facing the exit. If he had to run at least he could run straight out the door this way. However, for now, he wanted some answers and they were the only people who could give him them.
Mimi sat down next to Matt and the two of them looked at him. “I guess we just start from the start, right? Unless there’s anything specific you want to know.”

Taran looked down at his muddy white trainers and thought long and hard. Honestly, he had been through so much right now there wasn’t just one thing he wanted to know. He felt like everyone was hiding everything from him and no one ever thought about how that made him feel. Well, it made him feel really crummy. He clenched his hands on the edge of the seat and frowned. “Why me? I’m not special. I’m just… Just Taran.”

Mimi smiled and then looked at Matt and then back at Taran, a little shocked. “Well…”
“Taran, remember I said you were special. With two crests?” Matt looked at Mimi and nodded.
Taran nodded slowly. “Yeah.” What were they getting at? That just meant he got to have some extra stuff but he would give them away if it meant he and Pumon would be okay.
“That isn’t the first time that’s happened. Two crests I mean.”
Taran frowned. So, this wasn’t even special? Were they just tricking him and making him think he was special? “So, why—?”
Matt held up a hand. “Let me finish.” He sighed. “As I was saying. It’s not the first time, but, with you, something very different happened.” Matt seemed to stiffen up. “The crests of light and hope are special themselves. And to have both…” He clenched his fists tightly.
Mimi rested her hand gently on his fist, rubbing it. “They never thought it would happen. Or need to happen.”

Taran nodded slowly. So, he was chosen or something? Like in all the stories? “Why did it need to happen?”
Mimi smiled weakly. “A long time ago, before Matt or I were born, there were a group of five who sealed away a great evil behind a wall of fire.” She leant back, resting against the curved wall of the hut. “Put simply: that wall is failing and what they sealed is coming out. We’ve done our best to stop this and we succeeded.”
“So, what’s wrong?” Taran blurted. This all sounded very scary. He chewed his sleeve nervously. “Will it get us?” This was like a scary midnight horror movie.
Mimi sighed exhaustedly. “Don’t interrupt, it’s rude.” She sounded just like his mum! His mum would probably agree with Mimi, too. “There are people out there who want to undo what we’ve done and they’re very good. It’s only a matter of time before they beat us… and when they do.” She looked at Matt and nodded.
“When they do, the crests of hope and light are the only thing that can stop it. That’s the prophecy.” Prophecy? This all sounded crazy! Like a story, and not even a good one!

Taran chewed on his sleeve. “I have to do all this alone?”
Mimi slid closer to him, pulling it out of his mouth. “Anyone who touches the beast is placed under the effects of a curse. Even indirect touching like Digimon attacks curse both Digimon and partner. That curse places a timer on a person’s life of just an hour. Anyone who helps you will die.”
Taran retreated inside his head as his body wouldn’t respond. So, did this mean that he was going to die too? He felt his head swim like his brain was a whirlpool. He was only 8; he couldn’t die now. He hadn’t even hit double digits yet.
Mimi touched his hand and it snapped him free of his trance. “We’re not sure how it reacts to the crests of hope and light so you may be safe but none of your friends or family will be able to be with you. You and Pumon will fight alone when the time comes.” She rubbed his hand. “I’m so sorry.”
Taran nodded slowly. But he didn’t have to do this, right? They had already fixed the problem so he could just keep living. “What if I don’t want to do this? What if I just go home?”
Matt grabbed his Digivice and squeezed it. “We’ll do all we can to help you when the time comes. Even if it means we die.” So, it was coming no matter what? How long did he have? He didn’t want to think about dying now.

Taran stood up, stepping back from them. “B— but…” He had to get away. Away from here. Anywhere but here. “I…” He staggered backwards, thoughts racing through his head until he tripped and fell, hitting the ground hard and blacking out instantly.

* * *

He felt his head clearing up and could hear people talking.
“Maybe we can do it without him, Matt. It’s so much for him to bear.”
“No. If we don’t get rid of this thing then everyone’s lives will have been for nothing. Tai, Sora, Kari.” The man choked up on a fourth name, unable to continue. Taran recognised those names from somewhere. “All of their lives will mean nothing! Homeostasis chose him for a reason. The crest of light isn’t just given out to anyone,” the male voice hissed angrily.
Taran opened his eyes, looking up to see Matt and Mimi stood over him.
Matt clenched his fist. “And I can’t let that happen. Would you want—?” Matt paused.
“Go on, Matt. Say it. Would I want Ryoko’s death to go to waste?” Mimi shook her head. “Of course not!” She shook her head, tearing up. “But do I want this boy’s life to go to waste? Do you?”
Taran groaned, trying to make them aware he was awake. He didn’t want to listen to them fighting anymore.

“Taran!” Mimi exclaimed, kneeling down. “You’re up.”
Matt crouched down on his other side. “Let’s sit you up.” He lifted Taran up and propped him against the mound of mud, sitting opposite with Mimi. “Now, take your time. Don’t rush or move too quickly. We forgot to mention that when IceDevimon attacked you he cut into your sides pretty badly. We bandaged you up but you’ll have to move slowly for the time being.” The two sat either side of the door, through which Taran could see the sun going down and the heat was definitely dissipating.
Taran lifted his top and saw bandages all underneath, tightly wrapped around him. They made it a little hard to breathe too. Leaning back, he felt his head sting and snapped forwards, trying to focus. He was still too groggy to talk.
“You hit your head pretty hard too, so be careful with it,” Mimi added, reaching forwards almost instinctively and then retracting her hand.

“I just realised we didn’t explain everything else. We got so caught up in all that business that we forgot.” Matt glanced at Mimi. “I bet you want to know how we got here so quickly and how we plan to go to Britain quick too?”
Taran nodded slowly. It had to do with his blue eyes, that was Taran’s best guess.
“Well, there’s a reason me and Mimi look so good considering we’re nearly six-hundred years old. We’re made of data.”
Taran felt his jaw visibly drop. But they were people, not programs. Weren’t they?

Mimi’s eyes traced over Taran for a second before she looked at Matt with an exasperated look and Taran realised how dumfounded his expression had been.
“I’m sorry. I don’t get it.” Taran reached to chew on his sleeve but stopped as he saw Mimi’s brown eyes rested firmly on him.
Mimi nodded. “I didn’t think so.” She gave Matt a side-eye before continuing. “Right now, everything here is digital and things in the real world aren’t. Digimon straddle that boundary when they go to the real world because they’re still digital but real world rules apply. The same goes for me and Matt. Well, to an extent. Our lives in the real world are even more limited and transient.”
“But…” Taran couldn’t understand. They were human, right?
“Before things turned completely sour and the Kamiya War happened, both Matt and myself decided we would want to live on for some time longer. We spoke to Gennai and he made it possible for us to live indefinitely; for infinity. He transformed us into data-based lifeforms by killing our real forms and simultaneously uploading our data to the digital world.” Mimi threw her hands up. “I’m not really a science person. Izzy would know better.” She gripped her locket, looking down and pausing. When she looked back up, her eyes had softened. “But us, right now. We’re not real. We died a long time ago… and so did everyone we knew.”

Matt touched Mimi’s arm, albeit a little hesitantly and rubbed it. He looked back at Taran with his blue eyes now lighting up with excitement. “The only way I was ever going to be able to visit Mars was if I ensured my body could be more robust and able to stand the test of time and the different forces in space.”
“You’ve been to Mars!” Taran exclaimed. “So, you’re an astronaut! That’s so cool!”
Matt laughed. “I guess.”
“You’ll give him a big head if you’re not careful,” Mimi warned, laughing. “As for me, I had some more personal reasons.”
“She just didn’t want to get old,” Matt whispered, although it was loud enough for everyone to hear.
“Shut up!” Mimi shouted. “Anyway, this change wasn’t all it was built up to be. In order for us to maintain a form that isn’t quite our own, we have to consume data relevant to our real-world selves.”
Matt nodded. “This was easy at first. There was lots about us dying and things we did in the past but now we have to use tenuous links with RODAF and other Digimon-related bodies to keep ourselves from becoming corrupted.”
“Tenyoous?” Taran asked.
“Weak links,” Mimi said, smiling. “However, with these bodies we can hop in and out of the Digital World more freely. Kind of like the Digiportal function on your Digivice but more exact. While in the real world, though, our bodies began to degrade rapidly due to their instability. So, we can’t even live our lives in our own world for more than a few hours without breaking down and being lost into oblivion.”

Taran found this a lot to take in again. Everything they said sounded so scary. Was this really better than not knowing anything? He wasn’t sure. “Wait!” He remembered something he wanted to ask. Back in Alrik’s town it was really weird when Alrik and Pumon could talk easily. “Why can Digimon talk to people who aren’t English?”
Matt and Mimi began to laugh.
Taran frowned. That was mean. They were picking on him. “Hey! Stop laughing.”

Mimi took a deep breath in. “I’m sorry, it’s just, we’re Japanese and our Digimon never had a problem speaking to us.” He had noticed they looked a bit different to anyone he had ever seen before but he just thought maybe people looked different in different cities.
“But I can understand you.” Taran frowned. “So, can I speak Japanese?”
Mimi shook her head. “Not quite, sweetie. Matt and I learned pretty much every language in our five-hundred-year break. But, Digimon and anyone in the Digital World all become plurilingual while they’re here.”
“What’s—?”
“It means speak more than one language,” Matt said. “It’s not exactly accurate. It’s more like live translation which is heard differently by everyone present. Digimon have this live translation even in the real world.”

Taran was trying to understand but it was hard. He was going to have to move on. “What about Punymon?”
Matt nodded. “Digivolving?”
Mimi looked at the sky. “We best get moving, Matt.” She stood up, brushing herself down and grumbled about the mud. “Let’s go, Taran.” Her eyes flashed blue and the TV screen lit up bright blue. “Let’s jump there first and keep jumping till we get back to the British Digital World.” She stepped towards the TV and was sucked in.
Matt’s eyes were also glowing blue as he picked up Taran. Rosemon stepped inside and was sucked through the TV and then Hououmon poked her head through the roof, also being sucked in.
Taran could feel the TV pulling at him but Matt’s steadfast grip was keeping them firm on the ground.
“Taran, I want you to know we’ll do everything we can to keep you from harm.” Matt nodded and then they flew into the TV.

Midnight Pondering

Mon Apr 7, 2014, 5:39 PM


Copyright 2010 Journal Skin by Airamneleb


Okay, so the old entry was a bit old now and redundant. I'm going to write something else... Hrm.

So, I've been suffering from writer's block recently and that really sucks because I wanted to ideally get my dream fanfiction released by the end of March and it's now April. Oopsie. I call it my dream fanfiction because I started it probably around three years ago now for a random drabble contest on a forum and then it really gripped me and ever since then I've wanted to finish it. It's what got me back into writing Original works so I'm always thankful for that and it introduced me to the world of fanfiction and how intense fandoms can be (I never knew people could get so angry about fiction!). Basically, at the moment I'm doing four or five things with the story.

1 - I'm rewriting it each chapter from the start (up to chapter six) so that it can be beta'd and undergo the final rewrite. However, the current chapter just isn't gripping me, despite being action packed, and so we can't really move on with the editing.
2 - I'm trying to finish the story but I'm stuck with which scenes to put where because I'm up to a sort of filler area before the final plot arc of the story. I've got a few ideas but not enough for the chapters I have left and yet also too little to fill the few chapters I have left (I'm at chapter 41 and I want to finish by chapter 54)
3 - I'm going through and writing in scenes that I forgot or couldn't be bothered with the first time around. To do this I jump from chapter to chapter following a single POV and then go back to the start with a different POV. It can get really tiresome but it's currently the only thing I'm making any progress on.
4 - I'm trying to finalise main character designs but I'm having a lot of trouble with them because I can't draw well so they don't match the image in my head. I'm also trying to think about side character designs and how important they are to the story.
5 - I'm trying to write my two projects with HawkRider but both are slow paced at the moment because we're at a tricky part of the plot that needs to be carefully handled and so the plot juices are drying up.

Anyway, so yeah... I'm a little bit pickled at the moment because I'm also trying to juggle college work alongside all of these thought processes which can mean late nights (like tonight). And now I'm ranting on Deviantart, which I've never done, rather than getting any work done for anything. I procrastinate far too much for a normal human being. Just the other day someone asked me when I last saw my girlfriend and I replied "But I'm busy!" the response was "All you do is play games and sit on facebook." While not 100% accurate it's pretty god damn close. I'm lazy and selfish. Someone motivate me~

Oh, I just noticed that this skin is so nice but my entry doesn't fit it so I'll end on something kinda dreamy. A mini (sort of) extract from my story:

"We fight every day. You may not think it but your heart fights to keep you alive; your brain fights to keep you conscious and your muscles fight to allow you to move. Every moment you spend breathing is a fight. Eventually you have to lose the fight, and while that may seem scary it's just the ending to a beautiful story. Don't let your story drag on."

  • Listening to: Technicolor Eyes - Backseat Goodbye
  • Reading: My story
  • Watching: Family Guy
  • Playing: Tales of Graces f
  • Eating: Dairy Milk Chocolate
  • Drinking: Tea

Journal History

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KumoFuzei

Artist | Hobbyist | Literature
United Kingdom
Just some dude :)

Site for D:SR = digimonsolsticereprieve.wordpr…
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:icondykroon-chan:
dykroon-chan Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2018
Happy birthday =)
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Pimsan0 Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2018
Happy Birthday!!
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ARCGaming91 Featured By Owner Oct 5, 2018
Happy Birthday, friend. :)
Super Fantastic Golden Platter Cake 3D Rainbow Cream Cake with candles 50x50 icon Soda Cake with candles 50x50 icon 
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MomentousGoomba39 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2018  Student Traditional Artist
Thanks for the :llama:!! ~ :D
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KumoFuzei Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
No problem, thanks for the llama back! :) 
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Jai302 Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2018
Thanks for the Lama!
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KumoFuzei Featured By Owner Feb 19, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
np :) 
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LightLuxCollie Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Thank you for the llama! ❤️
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KumoFuzei Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2018  Hobbyist Writer
Np :) 
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THX by AmazingTash  
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