Okay, to attempt to explain why I'm revising this... I'm just really dissatisfied by the first version. As several people have drawn attention to, the characterization was lackluster, an assessment I can only agree with. That, and upon rereading, I feel like the amount of exposition was way too high for a thing less than 25k. So, yeah: Rewrite time.
Two teenagers stood outside a forest - a brunette garbed in jeans and sky-blue shirt; the other lavender-haired, dressed in jeans and a closed cowboy jacket. A white cat and an eagle-hawk were with them. All four waved goodbye to a huge horned eagle and the boy on her back.
When they were out of sight, the four began their walk back to the TV. They hadn't been walking long before an eerie feeling brought them to a halt. Shock filled the faces of the other three, and Kari didn't immediately understand why that was.
Then she did - saw a flickering effect that coated her hand, and more of her. A sensation resurfaced in her mind, a firm clammy grip around her arm.
"No," Kari murmured, wanting to scream.
"Relax," Yolei said, smiling for both Kari and for herself. "We've beaten the Dark Ocean before, and we'll do it again, as many times as it takes. Right, Kari?"
Gatomon smiled reassuringly at her human. "That's right, Kari."
Kari smiled back, and silently vanished. A world drained of color and a familiar lighthouse appeared before her eyes, cold air meeting her skin. The obsidian water surged and receded, almost hypnotic in its motion, reaching as far as she could see and further still. A curtain of mist blanketed the horizon from her, a bright spot far up on it that she didn't pay any attention to. Kari gulped, trying to forget that she was alone.
Without warning, a voice whispered, "Hello, Kari," in her ear. She froze mentally. The girl behind her smirked, watched her expectantly. For a moment, Kari's heavy breaths filled the air.
She made herself turn around. All that met her eyes was the beach; a distance away, she glimpsed a familiar tunnel.
"What's going on?" Kari stammered. Sweat broke out on her forehead.
"You know the answer to that," her own voice whispered coyly, again from behind.
Kari didn't have a clue what she meant. "Please, just leave me alone!"
"How silly of you to say," the other said, coldly amused. "Is there truly any part of you that thinks you can run or hide from the Dark Ocean, that it is in you to fight it?" Kari knew she could, but-
She broke off mid-thought, suddenly seeing something walk into her sight from beside her. The yellow-robed figure turned and Kari's stomach dropped, seeing her own face. This mirror of her had eyes that burned red-brown, and a smirk on her face that made Kari recall MaloMyotismon.
"Who," Kari trailed off, stammering the lone word. "Who are you?" There were a number of things she could answer that with, Hikari mused, but not just anything would do.
"I am what you are destined to be, queen of this realm," she replied sternly, a coyness in her eyes as she met Kari's. "I am the shadow which reached out for you on your second visit here. I am the inescapable victory over the light."
Kari looked at her, shock giving way to fear. Hikari smirked.
"NO!" Kari cried back. "I won't. Never."
"You will," Hikari countered, coyly. Kari gulped. "The only question is how much persuasion you need."
Kari stared frantically at her, breathing raggedly. She couldn't bring herself to move.
"A quick lesson will suffice, I think," Hikari told Kari, grinning. "You and all your friends have no chance of ever defeating the darkness. Would you like to know why?" Kari told herself to not listen. "You cannot win because the Dark Ocean's armies are endless," Hikari informed her. "This is not mere villainous boasting, Kari. I mean this most literally," Hikari trailed off, scrutinizing Kari. In her eyes, she saw nervousness.
"Look out to the sea," she commanded, gesturing calmly to it, "and know that there are so many Deep Ones that I can send a hundred to kill every human on earth, and still have one thousand times that number left." Kari inferred she meant those things the Scubamon had turned into.
"You're lying, there's no way," she bit back, fear laced in her voice. The image of those things attacking her friends filled her mind, resisting her efforts to will it down.
The way Hikari grinned made Kari believe her; that was the kind of smirk you only had when you knew you had the upper hand.
"Would you like to see it for yourself?" Hikari asked faux-innocently, gaze drilling into Kari's eyes. "It is true that your friends can kill a fair few thousands of them, but all strength has its end."
A gasp escaped Kari, the image of them all dead in her mind, tears starting to break loose.
"Turn around," Hikari commanded sternly. After a moment, Kari hadn't, and Hikari spun her around. Mute dismay filled Kari's face at the sight, her scream dying in her throat.
The mists over the Dark Ocean had cleared, laying bare the waters. The sky above was dark, pure and endless, empty apart from the silvery moon. Patches of ocean shimmered with the moon's light, the lighthouse quietly spinning its dark light on the waters as well.
The creatures had risen from the abyss; numerous pairs of red glowing eyes stared at her, a swarm that reached as far across the ocean as Kari could see. Moments passed while she looked back at them, mute and motionless, and more of their kind emerged on the surface.
"Perhaps you might like to know this also," Hikari whispered to Kari. "There is more than them here in the World of Darkness. Think of Angewomon, alone against ten-thousand LadyDevimon and Myotismon." She liked that, a good round number. "How good do you estimate her chances?"
Kari didn't really listen, her attention on the dark water that had risen around her. Body going limp, she fell forward, onto her knees. A familiar pain, heat and cold mixed, washed through her; she couldn't bring herself to react.
"Heed also this lesson," an unfamiliar voice sounded in her mind. "There is the power to heal and create, and the power to taint and destroy. There is the Darkness and the Light, and they can be either in equal measure. All that matters is what you choose for your Light to mean."
A sense of calm returned to Kari at that. It went against everything she had ever learned about the Digital World, yet... she liked it.
The waters rose up around Kari and Hikari. Her vision stopped working. Her voice told her that she should not be concerned, for it was merely the natural consequence of not having eyes for the moment. She decided against questioning that, didn't really want to. The warm and wide embrace of another mind around and against her own consumed her, and she relaxed into it.
Memories faintly registered to her, ones that she was certain hadn't been part of her long yet felt... she couldn't think of a proper word, other than 'natural'.
She remembered being fourteen years old when the Dark Ocean called her and Gatomon back. The twisted spirit from the Dark Ocean's depths had homed in on her developing depression, promised that the Dark Ocean would give her power enough to put Tai and all others to shame if she would only embrace it.
Cody and Armadillomon had Biomerged together into Vikemon on that adventure, and Matt and Gabumon later into MetalGarurumon. At the end, they had regaled her with the sight of them charging to battle against the Deep Ones.
She remembered being sixteen years when she heard it call, and brought her alone to it. The twisted spirit had then simply taken her over, amused by her crying pleas to go home and be left alone. Back then, she had remembered these things too.
In that world, the claiming of the light had released the hordes from beyond into the biverse. Armed forces and Digidestined alike fought back, but they were grossly outnumbered by the Deep Ones. A month was all that it took for the Deep Ones to take the two worlds.
After they had, they showed humanity a new way to live. A new order of being that would free them from the laws of both the human race and their reality, where every human could live forever and revel in whatever struck their fancy.
She remembered being seventeen years old, giving herself to the Dark Ocean in exchange for the safety of the worlds; she had seen no other option after Ophanimon had died fighting the Deep Ones. For months, the twisted spirit had tormented her, whispered truths and shown her visions that often made her fall asleep crying. One day, she had simply accepted. No more tears, no more pain.
"It truly is hopeless," she thought. She imagined she would have smiled at that knowledge.
Silence reigned around the area, a demon squid emerging onto the beach. His eyes shone with anticipation and blood-colored light, while the master and Deep Ones watched the waters.
A head of chocolate-brown hair emerged first from the water, the radiance of her red-brown eyes unmissable among the faded colors of the space, her face framed by two locks of hair down to her chin. It took little more than a moment for her to emerge fully onto the beach. She was garbed in the yellow robes, looked paler now, Dagomon imagined that her friends might say.
Hikari looked at her hands, a familiar sensation of uncertainty coming over her. She considered a change of clothes. "Perhaps the pink shirt and yellow shorts."
"Are you well?" Dagomon inquired. He did not expect that the memory upload had gone awry, but the possibility existed. Caution was nobody's enemy.
"Yes," Hikari answered, smiling. She pondered how best to proceed. The idea of ending it early occurred, a thought she dismissed. They deserved better. "But let us attend to business." The look in Dagomon's eyes shifted. Hikari's smile faded a bit at that sight.
"I have no particular thoughts for a battle plan," he replied. "I will send them allies, and otherwise leave the whole affair up to you."
Hikari's smile returned. She thought that it would be fair that way. "Good luck."
Moments of silence passed, Dagomon's physical form flickering in tricolore static before he vanished altogether. No great surprise showed on Hikari's face at the sight, nor on any Deep One's.
An idea occurred to her. The difficulty of it made her uncertain. She resolved to do it, nonetheless. "Perhaps she will appreciate the effort."
"ALL HAIL HIKARI," the Deep Ones chorused. Hikari didn't react. "ALL HAIL THE LIGHT-BRINGER."
Yolei glanced anxiously around the apartment's living room. All nine of her closest companions were within her field of vision, her gaze aimed squarely at the wild-haired brunet on the couch. Everyone - and in Tai's case his actual mother, the narration commented - looked back at her, with varying degrees of uncertainty and concern.
"C'mon, Yolei, don't try and build up the suspense here," Tai joked, cheerfully defying the mood.
"Besides, if this is about anything serious, it's best if we don't waste any time," Cody added. Armadillomon nodded his assent.
"Kari's been kidnapped, back to the Dark Ocean," Hawkmon answered promptly. The silence turned almost deafening. Ken frowned pensively, thinking up solutions.
"Okay," responded Davis, straightening in his seat. He punched his palm. "Let's just get over there, kick the asses of everybody standing in our way, and get her back."
Patamon breathed a sigh of relief, a smile growing on the guinea pig thing's face. TK voiced his agreement. Yuuko couldn't say she knew what this 'Dark Ocean' place was, but she got the gist of things.
"So, what's your plan?" Yuuko asked. Tai focused, looking expectantly around at them. To his dismay, none of them seemed very sure.
"I don't think we can have one, Mrs Kamiya," Ken answered. "We don't really know anything about the dimension she's been taken to, or what kind of creatures there are over there." Yuuko could see the dilemma in that.
Tai frowned, almost scowled. "So what, you're just going to go in with guns blazing and search the whole dimension," he stressed the words, "until you find her?"
"I know, Tai, but it's the best we can do right now," Cody answered. Tai still wasn't happy.
"Let's look on the bright side," Hawkmon broke in, hoping to ease the mood. "On the way here, we've asked Izzy to contact Gennai and arrange another power-boost from Azulongmon, and maybe recruit back-up from around Tokyo."
"We can't wait for that," TK protested. "Right now, Kari could be going through," he trailed off, biting the memory down, "through who knows what. Davis is right, we need to go now." TK looked expectantly to Ken when he finished.
"I'm sorry, TK, but I don't think that's our best option right now," Ken replied. TK glared, but didn't answer. "Besides, I'm not sure if I actually can open the portal anymore."
"I like those ideas," Tai interjected, a grin on his face. "Who do you guys have in mind for help?"
"Well, you guys remember Rika?" Cody asked. Wormmon looked peevishly at him. "Me and Armadillomon got curious last month, and went to check if there's a Rika in our world, and it turns out there is. She has a Kyuubimon, and they could really help."
"Wouldn't hurt to ask," Yolei said, annoyance in her eyes at the memory of that adventure.
All in all, it reassured Yuuko to know that Tai and his friends would do something to help Kari.