Setting the Stage
His mind was a jumbled mess. There was some order in there, but not in the sense of rational thought. He had the ability to make choices and could think about things rationally, so he could be considered sane. Then again, he acted without reason, constantly fulfilling a role that he had never chosen, so he could be considered insane. He considered himself neither. Those labels meant nothing to one who had only one purpose. That goal, that urge, that ultimate purpose drove everything he did, and it was simple: to destroy.
How many digimon had met their ends at his hands? And how many places had been laid to waste by his power? And how many years had he gone on, marching to the beat of a drum that only he heard and that all others could only wonder about helplessly?
Well, he was old. Very old, in fact. Ancient beyond any other creature in the Digital World, that was certain. Then again, he could only be considered old if one accounted for how many times he had been reborn the same way. Yes, he had been reborn in Primary Village for millennia. This body was not so old, though. He had only been in this body for… what was it? A few decades, maybe? He had first ventured to Earth seven years ago, so he was at least that old.
It was the First Crossing, as they called it. When the first few digimon crossed from the Digital World to Earth, the doorway had been momentarily opened and he, always the opportunist, had ventured out to seek more things to destroy. In Japan, there had been the Agumon and Parrotmon incident in Heighten View Terrace. And in Colorado, that young Willis boy had become one of the world's first Digidestined with his twin digimon. And he, too, had crossed over, not seeking a human partner to share energy with, but the malevolent energy he needed to grow strong. He was not disappointed; there was enough to build him up to be more powerful than ever before. Here, among the humans, he had grown strong. There was much energy to be had, and even greater numbers of things to kill.
There was no doubt about the resilience of both worlds, however. Earth and the Digital World had both faced numerous threats these last few years. The Dark Masters had warped the Digital World into their own private domains, yet fell once divided before the Digidestined. Apocalymon, now there was a truly twisted creature. Misery and Resentment made flesh, he had really brought true evil and power to the table. And yet he, too, was destroyed. No other digimon shared as much with him as Apocalymon, for both were single-minded, born behind the wall of fire. And then there was Myotismon. Now that was an admirable digimon: defeated twice, only to come back each time. Such will, such tenacity, such relentless cruelty! Still, he'd made the mistake of allying himself too deeply in Dark Energy, relying on it to make him strong, but not realizing how it would scatter before the light.
He was not like Myotismon, however, and he always learned his lessons. He was not wielding Dark Energy or any other kind of energy but that which came naturally to him. It was derived from a certain source, that was certain, but he was only as strong as his victims were weak. And his victims were everyone, all beings in both worlds, feeding him the energy he needed to kill them all.
Those names, those great evil digimon, all had one thing in common and he was no exception: the Digidestined.
Yes, that was the trade off of this. The two worlds were coming together, sharing with one another. He was able to use the humans to his advantage, but there was no clearer example of the two worlds helping each other than the Digidestined. Those guardians of both worlds were the biggest stumbling block ahead of him. He could hide from digimon on Earth, if necessary, and he could hide from humans on the Digital World, but both were accessible to the Digidestined.
He was familiar with them. He had faced them before. Some of the very first, in fact, although they didn't have such a name in those days. Yes, years ago, he remembered facing them. There were no Mega digimon at that time. Only Ultimates existed, not counting creatures like Azulonmon, and he had been one of the most powerful. And then those digimon had shown up. There was another presence with them. Not a physical one, but it was as though some great forces were behind each of them. They digivolved and managed to defeat him. And then they had left, mysteriously as they came. He hadn't learned until much later what had really happened. All the recent news this year had made it clear.
Those first Digidestined lived on Earth, communicating with their partners through TVs, video games, and computer screens. Talking, urging, transferring energy to make them strong. He hadn't been prepared for them, but now he knew how dangerous they could be. There were those first few, what were they called? Ah yes: Hirogi Hida was one, father of one of the new Digidestined. And Yukio Oikawa, whose disconnection from the Digital World led to his misery, his possession by Myotimson, and ultimately, his role as a new guardian force of the Digital World.
Yes, those Digidestined had been strong, yet they were nothing compared to today's children. And there were so many of them, and he knew, no matter what they did, they would come for him.
But there were only five that would face him, and those were the ones that he was waiting for. All others would be mere interference, and he wasn't going to let them meddle.
There were actions to be taken. If he took the necessary precautions, there was no reason that he could not win this battle. There were only a few that were meant to face him, and they would have to work alone, without interference with the others. And he would need help himself, to speed things along and to test these children to see how good they truly were. Boy Scout's motto: "Be Prepared."
He chuckled at that last thought. The idea of him as a Boy Scout! No, he wouldn't be helping old ladies cross the street; he would be slaughtering those children like livestock, and he would enjoy every minute of it.
Staring up at the ceiling, Vademon found himself hoping that it would suddenly cave in on him and end this tedium.
He had come to this place, this penitentiary in the jungles of Server, several years ago. He regretted that day, so long ago, when that little winged freak DemiDevimon came to him with a proposition. That Digidestined, Izzy, who had given up his curiosity and who had nearly become his victim, was also responsible. Indeed, it was the Digidestined in general, poking around where they shouldn't have belonged. They were the reason his precious pocket reality, his own little universe, was destroyed. After the Dark Masters were defeated and the Digital World returned to normal, he had been charged with working with Myotismon and sentenced to twenty years in prison. It had been about four years now, staring up at this ceiling in this tiny, metal cell, and he was already going nuts.
It was a mistake! He was just trying to make a living! Instead, he'd almost gotten himself killed. He supposed the Digidestined thought he was dead, and, locked up as he was, he might as well be. Oh, there were others that got off lucky, like Digitamamon. He was paid to hold up those kids and he got to keep his restaurant, while poor Vademon was stuck in this cell, his perfect mind going to waste.
"If I ever get out of here, I'll get my revenge on those brats," he swore to himself, much as he had every day for the past year. "They think I'm dead, but I'll let them know exactly what they did to me. Even if they did save this world, it was not my problem to begin with. I had my own little reality, my tiny dimension, and they took it from me!"
"Shut up in there!" one of the guards yelled at him through his door.
"You arrogant Rookie punk!" he spat. "If this steel wasn't between us, I'd show you just how powerful an Ultimate could be against the likes of a physical and intellectual weakling like yourself!"
"You're a pushover with out your beam gun, ya large-headed geek!" the guard laughed. "Now keep it down or we'll put you in an even smaller cell!"
He sighed and sat down once again upon his slender, tentacle-like legs. Sure he wasn't the toughest digimon in the world, but he was definitely the smartest. He was certain of that and his various devices more than made up for his lack of physical strength. If he could get his gun back, he would blast that guard back to Primary Village before he knew what hit him.
He was about to lose himself in more thoughts of delicious vengeance when he was jolted onto his back. Outside, there had just been an earth-shaking explosion. He went to the slit of a window he had and looked outside. One of the guard towers had been completely destroyed and the smoking rubble was scattered all over the prison yard. The guards, a collection of Guardromon and Mekanorimon rushed at the woods just outside the prison wall. Launching grenades and twin beams at whoever it was, it appeared that whoever had been so bold as to attack the prison was done for. However, as they all rushed into the thick jungle, there was explosion and every guard that had rushed into the trees was thrown out upon the yard. Immediately afterwards, what looked like a beam of pure black, like the fabric of the midnight sky itself, blasted from the jungle, blasting the trees nearby to splinters and scorching the fronds of the jungle plants to ashes. The beam hit a Mekanorimon dead on and it shattered into tiny shards before deleting, plowing through it and seven other digimon behind it like they were tissue paper. They were deleted so quickly that if he had blinked he wouldn't have even seen their destruction. Then something else dashed out from the flaming jungle, towards the prison and out of his view.
He stepped back from the window when his cell shook as if in an earthquake. He fell over and couldn't even stand as thunderous explosions racked the cell. He heard horrible screams and sounds of destruction as the attacker ripped through the prison. He couldn't tell where it was, but it sounded like it was trying to simply destroy the entire building and everyone in it. He ducked and covered his head, cowering in a curled up ball.
Then, quite suddenly, the noise stopped. All he heard was the sound of the roaring fires in the jungle nearby.
"Are you going to cower in that cell all day?" someone asked, startling him.
"What? Who are you?" he demanded fearfully.
"I'm the guy who has your ticket to freedom," the stranger said. He then realized that whoever it was stood right outside his cell wall. He went to the window, but couldn't see him.
"What do you mean? Are you hear to rescue me?" he asked hopefully.
"Sure, sure," the stranger said. "I'll have you out of there in a jiffy, my large-brained invertebrate friend, as long as you agree to do me a favor."
"What kind of favor?" Vademon asked.
"Oh, you'll want to do this one," he chuckled. "I want you to help me fight the Digidestined."
Vademon was interested, but still wary. "The last time I helped someone do that, I ended up in here. What makes you so sure you can fight and win?"
The stranger gave a good-humored laugh. Then, in an even, sharp voice that made his skin crawl, he gave him a single order: "Look into my eyes."
The stranger brought his eyes to window and stared into his, as if he could see the dark recesses of his twisted soul.
Vademon screamed and backed up the door, lost before the devastating eyes of this monster. "Don't kill me!" he begged. "Please! Don't kill me!"
"Come on now, who am I?" he chuckled. "You know the answer right?"
"You're… you're the… the Dark One!"
"Well, that's not my favorite one of my nicknames, but it's one of them," he acknowledged. "Anyway, don't be afraid. I'm not here to kill you. I'm here because I need someone of your intellectual talents to do me a little favor. Help me out and the lives of all Digidestined will get a lot more complicated. It will make them much more vulnerable and easy for me to deal with."
Vademon swallowed. "What if… what if I don't help you?"
The stranger laughed mirthlessly. "Have you ever wanted to know how much pain you can endure before you actually die from it?" he asked.
Vademon felt his blood turn to water and wobbled uneasily on his tentacles. "No," he squeaked.
A huge hand blasted right through the thick steel and seized him around his scrawny neck with icy, merciless fingers. "Then why don't you keep it friendly and cooperate, okay?"
Vademon nodded emphatically.
"Good," he said, releasing him. "Well, let's get you out of there so you can get to work."
A mere moment later, the entire wall of the cell was ripped clean away, thrown aside like it was a pebble.
Vademon stepped outside, shaking at the impressive display and looked around. He looked back to the prison and saw that the entire building had been completely destroyed, the walls ripped down and reduced to piles of rubble. Every cell had been destroyed and he realized that he was the only survivor of the Dark One's attack.
"You destroyed… the entire prison? And all the guards and inmates as well?"
"Of course," he replied matter-of-factly.
"I had some time to kill, I had some digimon to kill. Why not?"
Vademon shivered again and turned to get a look at his benefactor. He gawked at the sight.
"Why, you're a… you look like a…"
"I know what I look like," he said. "But I'm not what you think. This is just a little disguise that helps me get around in the human world and it will be perfect for getting me close to the Digidestined."
The Dark One chuckled and Vademon found himself laughing as well. "You… you really intend to destroy them?"
"And you're going to help me," he added. "You get your revenge and my protection, and I get to eliminate the last obstacle between me and my destiny. It's a win-win situation, eh?"
Vademon nodded, smiling cruelly. "How can I serve you, Master?"
The Dark One handed him a piece of paper, which he quickly examined. "These are the schematics for an advanced satellite system created by some of the Digital World's top scientists. It was intended to be a way to stabilize energy fields across the planet. It was abandoned with the onslaught of evil digimon like the Dark Masters, the Digidestined serving the purpose of guarding this world. However, the system is still in place. You, Vademon, are going to go to the nearest control station, a mere twenty miles away, and hack into that system and use it to cover the digital world with a new energy. Something more… conducive to our purposes."
"What energy is that?"
He then took out a small box, latched shut. Snapping the latches open, he lifted the lid and displayed the object inside to Vademon. It was a small, spherical orb with a polished, smooth surface. It was no larger than a softball, and it was covered with black, white, purple, and gray swirls like a marble. An eerie violet light emanated from it, and just looking at it captivated him. It filled him with a sense of unease, but it also drew him to it and his hand unconsciously crept towards it.
"Oh no you don't!" the Dark One said with a laugh, shutting the box, snapping Vademon back to his senses. "This is a Dark Core; a concentration of dark energy that I spent a long time creating. This is your power source, but you can't touch it, not directly. You can't control its power and touching it would probably kill you. Got that?"
"Of course," Vademon responded, bowing respectfully to his new leader.
"Your allegiance will serve you well in the times to come," the Dark One told him. He then handed him a small, familiar object. "Yours, I presume?"
"My Beam Gun!" Vademon cried.
"Well, now that you've got your toy back, you should get moving. Eliminate anyone that gets in your way and wait for me to contact you in a few days. Don't leave that station until then."
"I see," Vademon said. "But what will this all do? What purpose will spreading out this energy serve?"
"Oh, you'll find out," the Dark One laughed. "I'd love to stick around and chat, but I have some kids to torment. I'll be expecting them very soon, so just be patient. You and I are gonna have a good time."
He opened his eyes. He was back on Earth now. Vademon was probably on his way by then. And the Digidestined? Well, these precautions would bring them out of hiding. There would be no confusion, but he still had some work to do. As far as he knew, there weren't any Digidestined in Texas, but there was a good possibility that they were here. He wasn't sure how he knew, but he had a gut feeling that they were near. They were near and they would cross his path very soon.
The stage had been set. Now, this show as old as the Digital World itself was going on once again and he had never felt so sure that this time the ending would be in his favor.
He would be ready. All that remained was for the Digidestined to make their move and for him to be there to crush them all.
To be continued…
(Next Episode: Mimi, Michael, and Jin contemplate their new task and the search for new allies takes them north of the border, but is their adversary three steps ahead of them?)