Digimon Adventure D2: Maximum

Three Years Ago...

"Promise me, Takeru."

The small boy, barely past the age of nine, couldn't bring himself to answer the elder boy. He couldn't believe what was happening. His right eye stared wide in disbelief, beneath the mass of bandages wrapped around his forehead and over his left eye.

"Promise me," said the voice of the older boy, this time with more emphasis and urgency.

"I..." A half-chocked whisper emerged from the boy's lips. His throat felt painfully dry, but he forced himself to continue. "I promise."

Calm and serenity slowly appeared on the face of the elder boy as he heard those words. "Good," he whispered. "Then go. Go now, Takeru!"

The small boy forced back his tears, knowing that he couldn't afford the luxury of crying anymore, and not just because of the bandages over his eye. He nodded, and obeyed the elder boy, running away as fast as he could.

When he had first discovered this other world, this 'Digital World,' it had been a little scary at first, but he had gotten used to it over time. The inhabitants of the world, the 'Digital Monsters' or 'Digimon,' were strange and alien at first glance, but after all the time he had spent among them he had almost become completely accustomed to them, becoming less and less afraid of even the most terrifying and evil ones. In this world he had been forced to grow up, and consequently he had begun to think of the world as a second home. Or perhaps even a first home. He had never been that fond or attached to his living situation in his own world.

But then everything had changed in the blink of his left eye.

The small boy Takeru quickly lost track of how long he had been running, but that didn't really matter to him. His final destination was clearly marked out to him. All he had to do was continue running down the road until he found her and took her to safety.

Sure enough, he found her and her Digimon partner waiting by the road. She seemed confused, but Takeru was out of breath from his run and did not have the time or the strength to explain anything to her. Instead, he took her by the hand and bid her run with him. Her Digimon partner, still fresh and full of energy, easily ran beside them.

They found the Digital Gate that was to take them home to their world at the end of the road. Only then did the girl stop and protest, demanding an explanation. She refused to enter the Gate without answers.

"Where is everyone else, Takeru?"

He bent over, placing his hands on his knees as he gasped for air. The boy had barely heard her question. The sound of his bounding heart was deafening in his ears.

"Where is everyone?" she asked again.

The boy felt that he had recovered enough to give an answer. "We have to go now," he gasped.

"Where is everyone?" she asked for a third time. Then came the question that the boy had dreaded most. "Where is my brother?"

The boy wouldn't raise his head to look at the girl. Instead, he turned his gaze to the Digimon partner. "Tailmon, please. We need to take her to safety."

The Digimon, resembling a white cat with green gloved paws, seemed to hesitate. On the one hand, she was obligated to protect the human child she was bound to, at all costs. On the other, she was obligated to help her partner, and was herself curious as to what was really going on.

"Takeru, answer my question!" said the girl, her voice uncharacteristically raising. This was the first time either the boy or Tailmon had seen her on the verge of becoming angry.

"Please," whispered the boy. "We need to cross to the other world first."

"Where is my brother?" she screamed.

He swallowed and readied himself, taking a deep breath. He was preparing to make an answer.

"Where is he?" she said.

The boy wrapped his arm around the girl's waist and pulled her to the Gate. Immediately she began struggling, lashing out at the boy with her arms and legs, but no matter how she resisted, the boy would not let go. Though she was larger than him, and much stronger, little by little he led her to the Gate and jumped in. Tailmon followed, having done nothing to help either one. To the Digimon, it seemed the appropriate compromise between protecting her partner and obeying her partner.

In a flash of bright colors and lights, they were gone from the long road. Now they stood on green field, under a bright blue sky.

"Let me go Takeru!" she cried. "My brother!"

Despite all the pain and beating, the boy managed to find the small white and gray device he was looking for in her pocket: the Digivice. Once he had it in his hands, he let her go.

"Give me that back," she demanded, realizing what he had taken.

"I can't let you go back," he whispered, hugging her Digivice and his own to his chest to protect them from the girl's hands.

She lunged at him, tackling him to the ground and tearing at his arms to get her Digivice back, but the boy kept them clutched to his chest despite all the scratches and beatings.

He didn't know how long they struggled, but eventually the girl tired, and fell down next to him, breathless and exhausted. Tailmon came up to her side and helped her lie down, making sure she was comfortable before taking a seat beside the two.

For the longest time, no one said a word.

"I hate you," said the girl at last. She had never said those words to anyone before. The concept of hate had seemed completely alien to her, until then.

Still, the boy did not reply, though he loosened his grip on the two Digivices.

"I will never forgive you," continued the girl. "Nothing you ever do will make up for this, Takeru."

All the scratches and bruises on his body didn't hurt nearly as much as those words, but in his heart the boy knew the pain of breaking his promise, (no, his promises), would have hurt much worse. He slowly closed his eyes and sighed.

When they had both calmed down, the boy quietly made a new promise to her. And he made a silent one to himself.

Maximum v1.0

Courage to Face Adventure:

Flamedramon vs Monochromon


The German title Kaiser derives from the Latin title Caesar, while the English title Emperor derives from the Latin title imperator. This reflects the influence of the Latin Roman Empire on western civilization.

The Japanese title Tennō derives from the Chinese words Tiān and Huáng, commonly translated as Heaven and Emperor, respectively. This reflects the influence of the Han Chinese Empire on eastern civilization.

Ichijouji Ken was born a Japanese citizen, and as far as anyone knew, purely of the Yamato ethnicity. Yet for as long as he could remember, he had held a strange fascination with western civilization and felt a strong feeling of kinship with the great men of Latin, Germanic, and English civilization. He had eagerly dived into the study of German and English, and could now speak both languages almost fluently. When he had needed to choose a title for himself, he had chosen the German title Kaiser. It seemed suitably imposing for his purposes.

When he was in his home world, he made a distinction between west and east. In this alien world, this Digital world, he made a distinction between conquered and unconquered.

He snapped his fingers. In response, several black rings hanging from his belt suddenly came to life, disconnecting and suddenly floating up into the air. The rings began to spread out into the dark forest that stretched out in front of him.

He checked the bracer on his left forearm, which had something resembling a small touchscreen computer, decorated with black patterns mounted on its outer side. It was his D2 Digivice, the keystone of his Empire in the Digital World, and it reported the progress of his rings. Any Digimon captured and bound with a ring would immediately fall under his total control. When he was satisfied, he turned to leave, and suddenly stopped.

In front of the Kaiser stood another boy, around the age of twelve, like him. Unlike the Kaiser, this boy seemed to have some European descent despite being Japanese-born, as evidenced by his yellow hair and blue eye. This boy's yellow and green clothing contrasted with the dark blue and gold of the Kaiser's costume, and seemed to characterize the two as being fundamentally opposed to one another.

This new boy smiled, though his eye was deathly cold. "Hello Ichijouji. It's been a while."

"Not nearly long enough, worm," replied the Kaiser dryly. "I must admit you did catch me by surprise. I would have expected you to be down in the forest, trying to save the inhabitants from my Dark Rings."

"Come now, Ichijouji," laughed the boy coldly. "If we catch you and bring you down, your little Empire goes with you. We catch you, and it's our victory." The boy held up his left arm, revealing a bracer similar to the Kaiser's own, though instead of a touchscreen computer, it bore a device decorated with green patterns, a D2 Digivice.

The boy's smile vanished, and his voice became stern. "Reload, Terriermon."

A light flashed from the D2 mounted on the boy's arm, and suddenly there was a small white creature, resembling a cross between a rabbit and a dog. It had large oversized ears, adorned with green stripes and tips, flanking a small horn. In height, it came up to about the knees of the two boys.

As soon as the creature had appeared, the touchscreen computer on the Emperor's left armed beeped and projected a holographic image of the creature, along with a small box of text describing it.

Terriermon: Child level. Vaccine Attribute. Beast Type. Nature Spirits. Breath Attack: Blazing Fire. Special Attack: Petite Twister.

The Kaiser seemed unimpressed. He snapped his fingers, and suddenly the ground began to shake as a large dark form emerged from the forest. A large horned dinosaur like creature marched forward, a large black ring wrapped around its midsection.

This time it was the other boy's device that reacted. The green D2 projected its own holographic image of the dinosaur creature.

Monochromon: Adult level. Data Attribute. Dinosaur Type. Nature Spirits. Breath Attack: Volcano Strike. Melee Attack: Horn Strike.

"Have fun trying to find me again," said the Kaiser nonchalantly as he turned to go. His Monochromon slave quickly took a fighting stance and positioned itself between the two boys.

Terriermon stared the much larger creature down and laughed. "What, we can't beat one of your pawns?" he taunted.

The Kaiser paused and glanced back at the boy and the Terriermon. "If you insist," replied the Kaiser, snapping his fingers again. A second Monochromon, also bearing a Dark Ring around its midsection, emerged from the forest and stood in position beside the first as the Kaiser vanished into the shadows of the woods.

Terriermon sighed as he studied his two opponents, though he did not dare show any remorse over his previous comment to the boy. He glanced at the boy, and saw that he was looking down at his right arm. "Takeru, the two of us alone can take them," said Terriermon. "Let him rest."

The boy, Takaishi Takeru, looked up from his right arm back to Terriermon. He hesitated for a moment, but nodded. "Alright, let's go."

There was no point in rushing. The boy had long since learned what his true loyalties and true priorities were. If he was late for his appointment later in the day, he was late. If necessary he would skip it entirely. He only ever returned to the other world when there was nothing more he could do for this Digital World, his true home world.

Motomiya Daisuke was a strange boy to most people. For one thing, he had a pair of aviator goggles strapped around his forehead. It had attracted stares at first, but over time his peers had gotten used to it. What no one ever got used to was his fantasies of other worlds.

"I'm telling you, I'm not making this up!" he would say as he described his recollection of armies of ghosts and phantoms and a Vampire Lord, of an alien land appearing in the sky. "Just because no one else seems to remember doesn't mean it didn't actually happen!"

Because he was a strange boy, he didn't have many friends. His classmates tolerated him because though he was strange he was often entertaining when he went on his rants, and they played with him in club sports because he was halfway decent on the soccer/association football field. But outside of the classroom and sports fields, the only ones who would really talk with him were other outcasts.

Inoue Miyako was a year older than Daisuke, and somehow managed to be even less popular than he. Whereas Daisuke was at least accepted by others for his competence in sports, Miyako wasted away in social exile in the school computer lab as the one of only two members of the school 'computer club.' The other member was a small quiet boy three years younger than her, Hida Iori, the only person she had ever known who had never made any comments about her eccentricities.

Observers thought of them as an odd trio, but this opinion may not have been entirely justified. If they talked to one another, it was mostly out of the coincidence of them not having anyone else. With their differing ages and differing activities, they rarely ever saw each other in school itself, and only ever really interacted on the walks to and from school.

On one particular day, Daisuke had not walked with the other two, instead opting to get to school early to play a casual game of soccer with some other boys. No one had invited him, but no one asked him to leave or complained when he joined the game.

It seemed like any ordinary day at the beginning of a spring term, and Daisuke quite enjoyed the weather and the feel of physical exertion in the morning. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

He missed a pass, which was careless of him, and the ball ended up glancing off a bag and flying into the air. As he was the nearest, it was up to him to retrieve the ball. He found it the hands of a boy he had never seen before.

"Sorry, sorry," said Daisuke quickly as he ran over to the edge of the field, where the passing boy had managed to catch the ball. He smiled apologetically and held out his hands expectantly for the ball.

The other boy only stared.

Daisuke found this behavior quite confusing, and looked the other boy up and down. This passing boy had yellow hair, with bangs that obscured the left eye. The right eye of the boy was blue. All this was good evidence that the other boy was a foreigner, but the general shape of his face was rounded rather than the more angular and blocky shapes Daisuke had learned to expect of foreigners from the depictions of them in his manga and anime.

"Maybe he's only half-foreign," thought Daisuke to himself, as he didn't know anything about Mendelian genetics or recessive genes.

Caught up in his own thought, he was surprised by the boy suddenly throwing the ball back, and only barely caught it.

"Why do you wear goggles like that?" the other boy asked quietly in perfect Japanese. If he was a foreigner, he still spoke like a native speaker.

The question was also surprising for Daisuke. Though others had certainly thought his choice of apparel was odd, few had ever asked him about it directly. And something in the way the other boy had phrased the question seemed like the boy didn't think the fashion choice was odd in itself, but why Daisuke in particular should choose it.

Daisuke stared back at the boy and frowned. "They look cool."

An unreadable emotion flashed in the other boy's right eye. He closed his eye and half-smiled. "I suppose they suit you, in a way."

Unsure what to make of that comment, Daisuke looked the boy and down and blurted out, "Your hat suits you."

This seemed to amuse the other boy even more, to the point that he even let out a soft half-laugh. "Thank you," he said quietly, pulling the brim of his hat forward to hide his eye in its shadow. Without another word, he resumed walking past the field toward the school.

"What a weird kid," thought Daisuke.

"Daisuke, what are you doing?" shouted one of the boys on the field, reminding Daisuke that he was still in the middle of a game.

"I'm coming, I'm coming," Daisuke called back, turning and kicking the ball back into play.

After the game, Daisuke returned to his classroom, and thought nothing more about the foreign-looking boy that had passed by the field. The homeroom and English teacher was writing out something on the board.

Already bored, Daisuke slumped forward on his desk after taking his seat and sighed. His mind began wandering over his fantastic memories that he wouldn't let go and his pure fantasies he never revealed to anyone.

How could everyone else be so content with life as it was, he wondered. After seeing all the strange and exciting things he had seen as a child, all he could ever think about was going beyond the dull monotony of everyday normal life. He wanted an adventure, like in those fantasy manga series he spent so much time reading when he should have been doing schoolwork. At this point, he'd settle for a less fantastic and more realistic adventure, like attracting attention on the soccer field and being recruited from some prestigious all-star team.

Daisuke sighed again. He'd even settle for the appearance of a mysterious transfer student.

The teacher called attention to the front. From the look on his face, he was clearly just as tired and bored with his life as a teacher as his students were bored of him. "We have a new transfer student this term," he said in his usual emotionless and dry tone. He glanced at a paper in his hand, checking something.

"Our new transfer student has a weak body, and will likely be absent quite frequently for medical reasons," continued the teacher, looking back up at his class. "Please treat him kindly," he said, but from his bored eyes it was clear he didn't care either way. He gestured toward the door.

The yellow-haired boy, the same one from the field, stepped in. This certainly perked Daisuke's interest, and he straightened in his seat.

"My name is Takaishi Takeru," said the boy quietly as he bowed to the class. "I apologize for the inconvenience. Pleased to meet you."

The class chanted the customary response. Daisuke noticed a few of the girls seemed to have taken a particular interest in the transfer student. "It's only because of the yellow hair and blue eyes," Daisuke grumbled to himself. "If it weren't for that, no girl would find him interesting at all." He also told himself he was definitely not jealous.

"You can take that seat next to Motomiya," said the teacher.

The boy, Takeru, briefly glanced over at all the empty seats in the classroom before looking back at the teacher. Only then did the teacher remember that the new transfer student would have no idea who Motomiya was.

"Motomiya is over there," clarified the teacher, gesturing over toward Daisuke's desk.

The foreign-looking boy nodded and went over to his seat. He sighed and gave a half-smile to his new neighbor. "Nice to meet you again," he said quietly. "Motomiya Daisuke, was it?"

"Yes," said Daisuke. "Here's how to write it," he added, scribbling his name on a piece of paper and showing it to the other boy. The foreign-looking boy studied it and nodded.

Now that he was closer and had a better view, Daisuke noted the boy's face seemed a bit haggard, and there were bags under the boy's eye. If he didn't know any better, Daisuke would have said that this boy had not slept in days.

Though he couldn't quite explain it, Daisuke seemed to feel an instinctive aversion to the boy. No, it wasn't because he a was a foreigner, Daisuke told himself. It was something about how this other boy carried himself, how his expressions seemed somehow forced, as if his face moved to look the way it thought it should rather than actually reflect real emotions beneath the surface. It made the boy unreadable.

But at the same time, this very instinctive aversion only excited Daisuke all the more. Yes, he was old enough to know to put aside childish fantasies away and know that what he read was only fiction, but Daisuke still had a nagging hope that a mysterious transfer student could still inject some excitement into his life, no matter how small.

"Maybe he really is foreign, with family in Europe, or maybe America," though Daisuke to himself. "He could feel isolated, and then open up to me because I'm sitting next to him, and then try to befriend me, and then invite me to Europe or America or wherever over break." He smiled at the idea. That would be a decent enough adventure. How many kids his age could claim to have gone to a different country? It wasn't much, but it was something.

From the corner of his eye, Daisuke thought he saw a glint of light. He turned slightly, and saw the edge of something metal just poking out of the sleeves of the other boy.

"Could you please show me the way to the Computer lab?"

Motomiya Daisuke nearly jumped in surprise at the other boy's question. The entire school day, the other boy had not said a word unless prompted. Only now, at the end of classes, had the boy finally said something of his own volition again.

As he regained his composure and packed his bag, Daisuke coughed awkwardly and nodded. "Sure. I was actually on my way there." He blinked, and quickly added, "Not that I know much about computers. I just happen to know someone in the Computer Club here. Are you thinking of joining it?"

"No, sorry," said the other boy quietly as he shouldered his bag. Daisuke noted the bag was a lot larger than most school bags, and had been packed to the point of bulging and straining the seams.

"What does he have in there?" wondered Daisuke, remembering the glimpse he had of something hidden in the other boy's sleeves.

Setting his questions aside, Daisuke led the way down the halls of the school building. It was a large facility, housing within it both an elementary school and a junior high school. The two schools technically each had their own building, but they were connected by halls both at the ground level and near the middle of the buildings. Access to the computer lab required they take the stairs up to the middle level hall.

As Daisuke had expected, Inoue Miyako, a bespectacled girl with long hair, was already there, typing away at one of her pet programming projects on one of the computers in the row closest to the door. He had not expected Hida Iori to be there as well. The younger boy, his hair cut straight and even in contrast to Miyako's long tangled hair, was seated on the computer adjacent to Miyako, but instead of using the computer he seemed to be meditating.

"Is that you Daisuke?" said Miyako as she heard the door slide open. She began to turn toward the door. "You know, you still owe me for that... Hello!"

The elder girl brightened at the sight of the unknown face, and quickly left her seat to go to the door. "I am Inoue Miyako," she said to the new boy. "It is written like 'Kyo' as in 'Kyoto.'"

Daisuke crossed his arms and shook his head. "You are so creepy, Miyako."

Hearing this, Miyako cast a sideways glare at Daisuke. "What is so creepy about introducing myself?"

"I know your real intentions," replied Daisuke.

The youngest boy, Hida Iori, suddenly opened his eyes as he sensed the distress and quickly left his seat to intervene. He stepped forward beside Miyako and made a slight bow to the new boy. "I am Hida Iori, third year. It is a pleasure to meet you."

Iori's sudden intervention had the desired effect, and Daisuke and Miyako backed away from another. The newcomer bowed in response to Iori's greeting. "Takaishi Takeru," he said quietly. "I am a new transfer student. I am in Daisuke's class."

"Welcome to the school then," said Miyako brightly. "Would you happen to be interested in the Computer Club? I'm the president, and we are always looking for new members!"

Daisuke rolled his eyes. "'We?' You're president because you're the only member."

"Not true," growled Miyako. "Iori's always here with me."

"Iori can't be an official member, because third years can't officially join clubs."

"Who cares about being 'official?' He's here so he's a member!"

"I don't mean to interrupt," said Iori quietly. "However, I feel that it would be rude to ignore out new guest."

"Oh, no," replied the other boy quickly, waving his hand dismissively. "Don't worry about me. I was only interested in learning the location of the Computer Lab."

"But what's the fun in using a computer without having someone else there to share the experience?" said Miyako, smiling again. "Please, I highly encourage you to join. If you have limited experience with computers, I can give you one-on-one lessons, like I have with Iori."

The other boy scanned the room, and his gaze settled on a clock hanging from the wall. "If you don't mind me asking, about how long do you stay in this lab?"

"Oh, it varies," replied Miyako. "Some days we stay all the way until the building closes. Some days we don't even come to the lab at all."

"How long will you be here today?"

"Well..." Miyako glanced over at Iori. "Iori and I were actually going to head out soon to pick up some snacks and then come back later, but we don't have to if you're..."

"No, that's quite alright. Don't do anything out of your way for my sake. I only want to do something really quick on the computer, than I'll be on my way."

"Are you sure? At least stay for some snacks. We could..."

"Thank you, but I am in a bit of a hurry today." The boy half-smiled apologetically.

Miyako shrugged. "Well, if that's the way it is." She reached out and grabbed Daisuke's arm. "You, on the other hand, have to come with us."

"What?" said Daisuke, attempting to wrench his hand from the girl's grip. "Why?"

"To help us carry snacks obviously."


"Don't lie, I know you don't have soccer club practice today!" Miyako began heading to the door, dragging Daisuke after her. Iori gathered his bag and quickly followed after them. As they reached the door, Miyako turned back and said, "It was nice meeting you Mr Takaishi. Let's meet again real soon, okay?"

The boy nodded and half-smiled. "Definitely."

Iori made a slight bow. "It was nice meeting you." He closed the Computer Lab door after him.

The boy waited until the sound of footsteps had faded away, before turning to the nearest computer and pulling up his left sleeve. He brought up his left forearm to bring the green D2 mounted there toward his mouth. "Terriermon, are you awake?" he spoke toward the device.

The screen on the D2 flashed and blinked as the device's inhabitant made his reply. "Couldn't really sleep actually. I hear you made some new friends today."

The boy shook his head. "Let's just get back to work already."


The boy aimed the D2 at the computer monitor and waited for the devices to synchronize. The computer monitor suddenly became blank white, and began emanating a light that was far brighter than it should have been physically capable of generating. As it did, the boy noted that his green D2 Digivice was vibrating at an unusual frequency

Something was off this time, but the boy didn't know what. He shook his head and forced himself to focus. Whatever it was, it could wait for future investigation.

"Digital Gate Open."

The three were about halfway down the hallway, before Daisuke snapped his fingers and said, "Hold on a minute, I forgot that I was supposed to pick up some stuff I left in the Computer lab two days ago."

Miyako frowned and turned around. "You better not be trying to worm you way out of this."

"Picking that stuff up was why I was heading to the Computer Lab in the first place today," said Daisuke defensively. "The new kid just happened to be looking for the Computer Lab too, so I brought him with me."

Miyako narrowed her eyes and stared Daisuke down. "Fine, but we're going to escort you back. Come on, Iori."

Daisuke sighed and rolled his eyes. "I'm not trying to run away. Seriously, you're way too suspicious for your own good."

Miyako made no reply, and the three went back to the computer lab, in time to see an unearthly light leaking from the bottom of the door.

"What the...?" Daisuke ran up and slid the door open.

As he did, a faint white beam of light struck him the chest, knocking him down on his back. Daisuke quickly lifted himself up into a siting position to find that out of the light had emerged a small rectangular device about half the size of his palm. A second and third beam of light reached Miyako and Iori, dropping an identical device into their waiting hands.

"What is this?" wondered Daisuke aloud, taking the small device from his chest and climbing back to his feet. Somehow the device seemed familiar, as if he had seen it before. He did remember a friend of his once showing him something like that device.

The three looked back into the Computer Lab. The light from before had faded somewhat, and they could see that it was coming from the computer monitor that Miyako had been working on previously. The transfer student Takeru was gone. The three entered the room and approached the monitor cautiously.

Miyako leaned over and studied the computer screen. On it was a program she had never seen before. It resembled a sort of video player, displaying an image of a forest. "I don't remember installing or even seeing anything like this before," she commented.

"Hey, look at this," said Iori. He held out the device in his hand. "Look, these things began vibrating when we entered the room, and they vibrate more the closer they are to the computer."

"Did these things somehow come from the computer?" Miyako shook her head and laughed. "No, that would be ridiculous."

Daisuke said no word, but instead held out the device in his hand toward the computer screen. As Iori had said, the closer he brought it to the screen, the more it vibrated. However, he also felt that the closer he brought it, the warmer it felt in his hand. It was a pleasant feeling, actually.

"Maybe we should all hold out these things," said Daisuke.

Miyako blinked. "What are you expecting to happen?"

"Let's just try it."

Miyako shrugged and aimed her device at the computer monitor. Iori did the same.

The next thing they knew, the entire world had become a blur of flashing lights and colors.

"What in the world...?" But before Daisuke had finished speaking, the lights were gone. The whole computer lab was gone. They were in the middle of a forest, but not any forest they had seen before. The trees were bent and twisted in ways unlike any tree they had ever seen before, and their leaves were an unnaturally looking blue-green. Rather than covered by rough bark, the tree trunks were completely smooth and silvery, as if they were made of metal rather than wood.

The three looked all around at the strange alien forest around them.

"What the...?"

"Hello there!" said a new high-pitched voice. The three turned toward it and froze.

Before them stood a massive dinosaur like creature with a single large horn. Tough armor-like black scales covered its head and back. The three instinctively froze at the sight of the large creature, too surprised to even scream.

"Hi," said the high-pitched voice again. A small white form poked its head from behind the crown of the larger black creature, and waved. "Nice to meet you."

The three were still too surprised and terrified to respond.

The white creature hopped over the crown of the dinosaur and slid down the larger creature's head to the ground. "Don't mind Monochromon, he's not the talkative type, and he's a bit worn out from all the fighting he did before we freed him last night," said the creature as it landed. It made a small bow toward the three. "Hi, I'm Terriermon, Takeru's friend. You are Takeru's friends too, right?"

"It... it talked," whispered Miyako, turning pale. "It talked..."

Terriermon tilted his head to one side. "Yeah, I talked. Am I saying something wrong." He tilted his? head to the other side. "Sorry if my Japanese isn't very good. I don't speak it very often, but I'm getting better. I prefer Cantonese, but Takeru doesn't speak that." He laughed. "And you should hear his French. So bad! I end up having to correct him most of the time. Imagine that!"

Miyako finally worked up the nerve to shriek.

Terriermon cringed and held his large ears as Miyako shrieked. "Please, don't do that! You'll attract too much unwanted attention! The Dark Tower is still up in this area, and there are a lot of Ring-controlled Digimon patrolling!"

Miyako didn't hear the small creature's voice, and turned to run. "Wait!" said Iori. "We shouldn't get separated!"

Luckily, Miyako didn't get very far, before a hand grabbed her wrist. She turned and saw the foreign-looking boy, Takeru, emerging from the shadows of the trees, now wearing some sort of torn and dirty cloak over his shoulders. His face was deathly pale.

"Oh, you're back Takeru!" said Terriermon cheerily, hopping past Daisuke and Iori to jump into the boy's free arm. "I suppose you heard the scream."

Takeru did not reply, but instead looked at Miyako, and then to Daisuke and Iori, his wide eye betraying his total shock. "You guys... Why are you guys here?"

Daisuke and Iori stared back at him blankly. "Hey, I don't even know where 'here' is," said Daisuke. "One minute, we were in the computer lab, and then there was a flash of light and we found ourselves here."

Iori, slightly more helpful, held out the white and gray rectangular device to show Takeru. "This came out of the computer first."

Takeru's face somehow turned even whiter when he saw the device in Iori's hand. He let go of Miyako's wrist, but his presence had seemed to calm her enough so that she didn't appear to want to begin running again.

The Monochromon behind Daisuke and Iori suddenly stiffened. It raised its head and sniffed at the air. Takeru and Terriermon immediately realized what the gesture meant.

"They know we're here," said Takeru. He looked to the three. "We need to get you three out of here." Without another word, he pulled up the sleeve of his left arm, revealing his green D2, but his face became grave as he saw the screen. "No good, the Gate collapsed. We need to find another one."

"We can take them to our camp in the cave," suggested Terriermon. Takeru visibly hesitated, but Terriermon quickly added, "I mean, do we have any other option?"

"Monochromon won't fit through the entrance, so he can't come with us," said Takeru. "We can't leave him behind."

Hearing this, Monochromon growled angrily, apparently offended by the unsaid implication that it could not defend itself.

"That's not what I meant Monochromon," said Takeru. "But we're still looking for your brother, and it wouldn't be right for me to abandon you now."

Monochromon only growled again and turned away, stomping off. Terriermon sighed and shook his head. "Monochromon can take care of himself. He knows this forest better than we do after all, and it's not like he has to worry about another wave of Rings or anything."

Takeru nodded. "In any case, these guys come first." He turned back to the three.

All three of them were staring at him as if he were just as alien to them as Terriermon and Monochromon. "That dinosaur thing understood you?" said Daisuke.

Miyako, having regained her composure took a more combative stance. "Alright, you clearly know about this place," she said, pointing at Takeru accusingly. "Where are we? What is this place? What is that thing? I want answers, now."

Terriermon's ears shot up and he turned his head, looking off into the distant sky. "They're getting closer," he warned Takeru. "I hear one coming in fast from the air."

"I'll explain once we get somewhere safe," said Takeru to the others. "Please, for now, we need to get to the camp."

Miyako glared at Takeru suspiciously and crossed her arms. Daisuke didn't look to happy with his reply either. Iori's face had hardened into a nearly unreadable stoic expression that seemed almost judgmental.

"Please," said Takeru. "You have to trust me. We're in danger out here in the open."

As if to further reinforce his statements, a low buzzing sound slowly became audible.

Miyako pouted, but said, "Fine, let's go. But this better be a good explanation."

"Stay close and don't get separated," said Takeru, motioning to them to follow as he began heading back into the shadows of the trees. "It's not too far, but we have to hurry. If they find us, we'll be at a big disadvantage."

Daisuke shrugged and followed after Takeru and Terriermon, ducking underneath low tree branches as he tried to keep up. Iori also followed without a word. Miyako pursed her lips and frowned, but took up the rear of the group as they worked their way through the forest.

The buzzing sound from before became louder.

"So," said Daisuke as he struggled through the underbrush behind Takeru. "You said your name was Terriermon?" he addressed the small white creature on Takeru's shoulder.

Terriermon turned and glanced back at Daisuke. "Yep, I'm a Digital Monster, or a Digimon for short!"

"And that dinosaur from before?"

"Monochromon? Yes, he's a Digimon too. Pretty much all natural inhabitants of this world are Digimon, with only a few exceptions."

"This world?"

"We can explain more when we get to camp," cut in Takeru. He glanced up at the sky through the gaps in the branches above. "Can you hear it? It's almost on us."

"No," said Terriermon, his ears raising up. "It's already on us."

Takeru froze and turned to the others, holding up his hand to signal them to be quiet.

There was a roar, and all eyes looked up in time to see a dark green insect zoom over them. The creature was massive, almost the size of Monochromon. Though it resembled a praying mantis, it's blade arms looked like they were made of actual metal. A Dark Ring was wrapped around its thorax.

The green D2 on Takeru's arm sprung to life.

Snimon: Adult level. Vaccine Attribute. Insect Type. Virus Busters. Special Attack: Shadow Sickle. Heavy Attack: Slam.

"The Kaiser couldn't have picked a better hunter," whispered Takeru. "Snimon has sensitive hearing. Normally they aggressively use it to hunt down Virus attributes, but with that Ring... We need to be careful."

"But can it really hear us in this forest?" said Daisuke. "Even then, how's it going to get to us with all these trees in the way?"

The air was pierced by a loud shrieking sound, and Snimon suddenly appeared above them again, slashing its bladed claws. Dark violet energy blades emerged from the air where it slashed and rained down upon the trees, easily slashing them apart.

"Like that!" said Takeru to the others. "It's found us. Run!"

The others needed no more encouragement as Snimon made another pass over them, shrieking and raining down more attacks on the trees. As the branches collapsed all around them, a rock wall slowly came into view. Takeru pointed out toward a small cave entrance, barely visible unless explicitly noted. "There!" he called. "Get in there!"

The shrieks of Snimon slowly faded in the background as the creature flew away, confused as to how it had lost track of its prey. Takeru quickly led the others down through the cave until they reached a central round cavern, illuminated by sunlight pouring from a single small hole at the top of the dome ceiling. Directly underneath the hole was a small rock pedestal, on which was set a single red and orange egg-shaped stone with a single large metal blade emerging from one side. Beneath the blade was a small symbol resembling a sun.

Daisuke looked around, noting an improvised bed of moss and twigs and the remains of a camp fire. "Do... Do you live here?"

"For now," replied Takeru. Terriermon hopped off his shoulder and took a seat by the rock pedestal. Takeru stretched his arm out to the room, motioning to the others. "Please, sit. Rest. We should be safe for now."

Miyako immediately dropped and took a seat on the improvised bed. Iori quietly sat down on the bare rock and dirt floor beside her. Daisuke preferred to remain standing, and opted to lean against the wall.

Takeru inhaled deeply and sighed. "Welcome to the Digital World, I guess," he said quietly. He lowered his eye. "I'm sorry that you had to come here."

"Where is here?" said Miyako impatiently. "How did we come here?"

"How to explain this..." Takeru knelt down in front of them and drew a line in the dirt with his finger. "Imagine that you're an ant, living in this line. To you you can't see outside the line." He drew another line intersecting the first at a very small angle, nearly parallel with the first but not quite. "But imagine then that you walk along and reach an intersection with another line, and even cross over to the other line. Before, you couldn't see the other line, but the line was there all along. You keep walking on the new line, and then you get further away to the point that you can't see your old line."

"Wait, wait, wait," said Daisuke, stepping forward and waving his hand. "That sounds like a bunch of fancy nonsense that's dodging the real point." He brightened and smiled like never before. "What you're saying is, we're in a different dimension."

Takeru avoided Daisuke's gaze. "Well, in a sense, but it's actually a bit more complicated than..."

Daisuke clapped his hands together enthusiastically. "I knew it! Ever since the sky opened up the way it did three years ago, I knew it! No one else would believe me, but I know what I saw! I saw a whole new world, with forests and oceans, and giant monsters walking around!"

"Most of the world saw it," said Takeru quietly. "But the sad truth is that memory is a fleeting thing. Without a tangible record, people forget even the most startling things so easily..."

"I think we're missing the more important question," interrupted Miyako. "How do we get home?"

Daisuke turned around to Miyako, incredulous. "Home? Forget home! We're in a whole new dimension! A whole new world! We should totally start exploring! Have an adventure!"

Iori cleared his throat. "I don't wish to dampen your enthusiasm, but I don't think such ideas on exploration or adventure is feasible. We were just attacked and had to run in here for shelter."

"My mom and older sisters will throw a fit if I don't get home soon," said Miyako. "I help them run the shop in the evenings. They'll think I ditched work and I'll get into so much trouble!"

"Relax Miyako," said Daisuke. He gestured toward Takeru. "I mean, this guy here is proof enough we can get back home to our world easily enough, right?"

Takeru was silent for a while, but said, "You all came here at a bad time. We are in the middle of a war in this world. I will get you three home to your world as soon as possible."

"Wait, a war?" Daisuke looked back to Takeru. There was a glint in his eyes.

"We aren't the only humans in this world," said Takeru quietly. "There's another human who calls himself a Kaiser, who seeks to conquer this world. He erects Dark Towers to mark his territory, and binds Dark Rings to the bodies of Digimon to control them. My partners and I fight a guerrilla war against him."

"Then we should totally help you, right?" said Daisuke, the light in his eyes growing.

Terriermon stifled a snigger. "And what do you hope to accomplish without a Digimon partner? Sure, a human may be able to face a Child-level like me, but against an Adult-level like Snimon it'll take all your effort just to keep your head. All defense and no offense is no good, no good at all."

"But these things," began Daisuke, drawing the small device. "These things came from the computer for us. They're how we got here, right? They must be. We must have gotten them for a reason. Like, we were destined to come here."

Takeru's expression grew cold as soon as he heard those final words. "Destiny doesn't mean a thing," he said harshly. "Destiny is..." He regained his composure and quietly apologized for his outburst. "Those things that brought you here or Digital Devices, Digivices. Ignore them. You three need to get home as quickly as possible. This isn't your war to fight."

"Even if you had a partner, you two wouldn't be able to do much," added Terriermon. "The Kaiser is somehow able to prevent Digimon from evolving to higher forms, so you won't be able to power your partner up to face him. Unless you have a Digimental as an alternate power source of course."

"Digimental? Do you mean that thing?" Daisuke pointed over to the pedestal. "Is that yours?"

Takeru turned his head to glance at where Daisuke was pointing. "That? That is..." He paused for a moment. "That is not mine. It is a Digital Elemental, or Digimental for short. It's a power source that must be unlocked by its chosen bearer. I was not chosen for that one."

Daisuke casually approached it and reached out for it. "Unlocked? How?"

"Wait!" Takeru jumped up immediately. "Don't touch it!"

But Daisuke had already lifted the small object from the pedestal effortlessly. "Hm? Why not?"

Seconds later, the entire room began to shake. A faint beam of light bloomed from where the object had sat moments before. Daisuke felt the small device in his hand vibrate, and he looked down on it just in time for it to change shape. It grew larger and more rectangular until it was an exact replica of the D2 Digivice mounted on Takeru's arm, only colored blue instead of green.

Takeru stared in disbelief. "You... you unlocked it. Your Digivice became a D2..."

Terriermon's ears shot up. "I hear a Digimon."

The faint beam of light emerging from the pedestal faded, revealing a small blue reptilian form curled up in a fetal position. Both Takeru's and Daisuke's D2 Digivices reacted to the new form immediately.

Vmon: Child level. Vaccine Attribute. Dragon Type. Dragon's Roar. Melee Attack: Buzzing Punch. Heavy Attack: Vmon Head.

The blue bipedal digimon bore a small yellow V on its forehead, from which it derived its name. As it gently landed on its feet atop the pedestal, it blinked and studied the room. Once its gaze fell upon Daisuke, egg-like Digimental still in his hand, it immediately smiled and ran up to him. "You lifted the Digimental of Courage, right?" asked Digimon happily. "You're the one Ryo said to wait for!"

Daisuke blinked, looking from the object in his hands back to the creature in front of him. "Wh- Who's Ryo?"

Takeru adjusted his hat to hide his eye in its shadow and turned away.

The Digimon opened its mouth to reply, but then hesitated and scratched its head. "Huh... I don't remember..." For a moment, it looked sad at its inability to remember, but quickly brightened again. "I'm Vmon. What's your name?"

"D- Daisuke..."

Vmon looked back Daisuke to the others, who had both jumped to their feet in surprise at his emergence. "And are you Daisuke's friends?"

Miyako shifted uncomfortably at being addressed by the creature, but Iori gave a small bow and replied, "I am Hida Iori. This is my friend Inoue Miyako."

"Nice to meet you two!" said Vmon cheerily. He turned back to Daisuke. "I've been waiting for you for a long time now! You lifted the Digimental of Courage, so I'm your partner now!"

Daisuke blinked. "Partner...?" He glanced over at Takeru and Terriermon, and a smile crept over his face as he looked back to Vmon. "Partner...!"

The sudden shaking of the ground interrupted Daisuke's thoughts. Small rocks began to fall from the ceiling. Daisuke and the others looked around wildly. "An earthquake?"

"No," said Takeru, looking up to the ceiling, where the hole at the top was crumbling open to reveal the form of a quadruped dinosaur and a large green insect: a new Monochromon and the Snimon from before. "They found us! Get back!"

The others needed no further instruction, and immediately retreated back to the tunnel as the ceiling gave way and the Monochromon broke through and crashed upon the pedestal, shattering it. A large Dark Ring was wrapped around its midsection, and its eyes glowed a malicious red. Terriermon immediately charged his breath attack and fired a burst of green flame. The larger Digimon turned its head toward the blast, protecting its ring. Terriermon's flames glanced harmlessly off its armored head.

"He's gotten smarter since we last fought him," said Terriermon.

"Must have learned a few things from watching us free his brother," answered Takeru.

Snimon fired off its sickle attack through the hole, slashing the walls and floors of the room and sending up clouds of dust. Amidst the obscuring clouds, Monochromon opened its mouth, filling the room with a faint orange glow as it charged its breath attack.

"Daisuke! Get everyone out of here!" called Takeru. "Run!"

Iori and Miyako fled down the narrow path toward the cave's entrance with Daisuke and Vmon covering the rear. As they ran, Daisuke was suddenly aware that Takeru and Terriermon had not run with them. He looked back, just in time to see the flames of Monochromon's attack emerge and lick at their heels.

"Daisuke, use the Digimental!" called Vmon.

"How do I do that?" They had now left the cave, returning to the forest. As they did, another stream of flame rocketed out through the opening after them, forcing them to jump aside. Daisuke was slow on the move, so Vmon had to tackle him to knock him out of the way.

Daisuke blinked and groaned as he got back onto his feet and dusted himself off. "Thanks Vmon."

"We have to use the Digimental if I'm going to have enough strength to fight back," said Vmon. He was beginning to look desperate. "You have to use your courage. Hold it up and say 'Digimental Up!'"

Daisuke did as he was told, lifting up the Digimental in his hand and saying "Digimental Up!" Nothing happened.

"No," said Vmon. "You have to really mean it! You have to use your courage!"

There was an explosion, blasting apart most of the cave's entrance. All eyes turned toward it just in time to see a white serpentine form winding out amidst the smoke and dust of the blast, Takeru riding atop its head. A moment later, the serpentine form glowed a light pink and shrunk, revealing Terriermon and leaving both him and Takeru floating in midair for a moment before they crashed into the ground. Monochromon emerged after them, horn ready and aimed at them.

Takeru quickly forced himself back up into a kneeling position. His left hand gripped his right arm, preparing to pull up his sleeve. From where he stood, Daisuke could see blood dripping from the other boy's arm and hand.

"Daisuke!" pleaded Vmon again.

But Daisuke had barely even heard his call. His arm was already beginning to raise the Digimental in his hands a second time before Vmon had even opened his mouth.

"Digimental Up!"

The next moment Vmon appeared as if he were surrounded in flames and growing taller and leaner. The Digimental seemed to shatter in Daisuke's hands, and its pieces flew toward Vmon and expanded in size just as the Digimon was. The flames dissipated, revealing a tall reptilian form armored in red and orange, a single blade emerging from its forehead like a horn.

Blazing Courage, Flamedramon.

Flamedramon: Armor level. Vaccine Attribute. Dragon Type. Dragon's Roar. Ranged Attack: Knuckle Fire. Heavy Attack: Fire Rocket.

Daisuke stared. "Cool..."

Without a word, Flamedramon charged, intercepting Monochromon and sending the larger Digimon crashing into the trees.

Takeru took the moment to take Terriermon into his arms. "Are you alright?"

"Been better," said Terriermon as cheerily as he could. "Moumentai~"


"It's Cantonese for 'No problem.' I just need some rest."

Takeru nodded and held up the D2 mounted on his left arm. "Return, Terriermon." Terriermon glowed and flashed, vanishing into the device.

The light of the screen of the D2 flashed. "Ah, that's much better," rang the voice of Terriermon from the D2.

Takeru pulled the sleeve of his left arm down over the bracer and the D2 before running back to rejoin Daisuke and the others. "Daisuke, don't just stand there, Flamedramon won't be able to do this alone."

Daisuke blinked and looked at the other boy in confusion. "What? What can I do?"

"The strength of an Armor-level Digimon varies more than that of any other level, depending on how much power of the base Digimental it can access. You've unlocked it yes, but unlocking it and calling its strength are two very different things. You're still unfamiliar with 'Courage,' so right now Flamedramon hasn't unlocked anything close to his true potential. He can't be nearly as strong as Monochromon as he is now."

"So... what do I do?"

"We serve as another pair of eyes for our partners," replied Takeru. He pointed at the Dark Ring around Monochromon's midsection. "No matter how strong the controlled Digimon, the Ring is always the weak point. We break the Ring, we break the Kaiser's control over the Digimon. Help your partner find an opening in the opponent's defense to hit the Ring!"

Monochromon had recovered from its initial surprise at the its new opponent, but was now fully recovered and staring Flamedramon down. The smaller Digimon fire off blasts of flame from his claws, but these glanced harmlessly off Monochromon's heavy black armor. The larger Digimon opened its mouth and fired its own flames. Though Flamedramon swatted the blasts aside with his claws, it was clear that each parry took a great deal of strength, and his breathing was beginning to become labored.

Seeing its flames stopped, Monochromon forward. Flamedramon quickly caught the horn in his arms and braced it against his shoulder to avoid being gored, but Monochromon continued to press forward, threatening to crush the smaller Digimon.

Daisuke watched helplessly from the side. "What do I do now?"

There was a roar, and suddenly a second Monochromon burst from the forest and rammed its head against the shoulder of the first Monochromon. It was the same one that had greeted Daisuke and the others when they had first arrived in the world.

The surprise caused the controlled Monochromon to instinctively jerk its head up, sending Flamedramon into the air.

Daisuke saw it. "Aim for the Ring!" he called.

Flamedramon erupted a sudden aura of flame and dived headfirst down upon the controlled Monochromon like a rocket of fire. He crashed into the Ring, shattering it, before rolling aside and reverting to Vmon, sending a beam of orange light flying from his body into Daisuke's blue D2 Digivice. Daisuke looked at the screen, and saw an 8-bit image of the Digimental appear.

Some distance away, the still controlled Snimon hovered, watching the battle. From the Ring around the Digimon's midsection, the Kaiser watched all through his surveillance system as he sat in the dark room he used as his command center.

The Kaiser leaned back in his chair as he studied the monitor in front of him, only one of the many monitors and keyboards arranged around him like a dome. He frowned. "Another one? As if two weren't annoying enough..."

A small green Digimon resembling an oversized caterpillar crept up beside the Kaiser's chair. "Ken-chan, I came to tell you the time..."

"Yes, yes, the time," growled the Kaiser. He rose from his seat and scratched the back of his neck, which had begun to itch. "There's never enough time."


"Stop calling me that, maggot," spat the Kaiser, kicking the small Digimon aside as he made to leave the room. "You're taking the night shift as always. I had better not see any losses when I come back tomorrow." His hand tightened around the whip coiled into a small loop on his belt. "Or else..."

The small worm cowered against the chair, but nodded. "Yes..."

Wormmon: Child level. Virus Attribute. Larva Type. Jungle Troopers. Ranged Attack: Silk Thread. Special Attack: Sticky Net.

As Daisuke fawned over Vmon and their victory and Iori and Miyako looked on, Takeru saw to the two Monochromon brothers. Though a bit sore and tired, neither seemed to have been hurt beyond superficial scratches to their heavy black armor scales, which would be shed and replaced by new scales as the Monochromon grew anyways.

"We thank you very much for your help," he said to the elder brother, the one that had been freed first and helped turn the tide of the previous battle in Flamedramon's favor. "If it hadn't been for you, we might have suffered some serious losses today."

The elder brother growled softly in such a way that it almost resembled a purr. The younger brother nudged Takeru on the arm with its nose, having smelled the blood there. Takeru shook his head and patted the Monochromon on the horn. "I'm fine," said Takeru, guessing the Digimon's concern. "Terriermon will be fine too. The only thing you hurt was his pride."

He cleared his throat before continuing. "I know you two have both been through a lot, and that I may be asking too much. Still, I must ask if you wish to join us in our Resistance against the Kaiser. I will not lie: it is a hard fight, and you will put yourselves in danger if you join it. You may fall victim to a Dark Ring again. I understand if you would prefer to hide away instead."

The two Monochromon growled, as if offended by the very idea that they would not join the Resistance against the Kaiser.

"I thank you for your devotion to the cause," whispered Takeru, patting the two on their horns. "If you will excuse me, I must now attend to..." He paused and glanced over at Daisuke at the others. "To my friends."

Excusing himself, Takeru went to rejoin with the others. "Time to go home," he said.

"Already?" said Daisuke. "But it feels like we've only just arrived."

"Speak for yourself, we've been here for hours," said Miyako impatiently. "My mom is going to kill me..."

"Say, where's Terriermon?" asked Daisuke.

Takeru raised his arm, revealing his green D2. The screen flashed. "In here," said Terriermon from the device. "We Digimon can stay in the D2 to rest and heal. It's also handy for not getting caught by others when we go over to your world."

Daisuke brightened and looked at his blue D2. "So that means Vmon can come over with me!"

Vmon stiffened. "Hey, I don't know about going inside some little thing like that..."

"Come on, don't you want to see my world? I'll show you around! It'll be awesome!"

"It sounds cool but I really don't want to get inside..."

"Get in there already!" interrupted Miyako, causing both Daisuke and Vmon to jump. "I want to go home as quickly as possible."

Daisuke and Vmon straightened and nodded. Daisuke held out his blue D2 toward Vmon, but nothing happened.

"It's voice activated," explained Takeru. "The command is 'Return.'"

"Return Vmon."

With a flash, Vmon had become light and been absorbed into the screen of the blue D2, just as the Digimental of Courage had been earlier. Daisuke checked the screen, and sure enough, there was a small 8-bit picture of Vmon's face. The screen flashed as Vmon spoke. "Well... this isn't so bad... Hey, the Digimental of Courage is in here too!"

Daisuke chuckled as he studied his D2. Takeru took the moment to approach and coughed awkwardly to get his attention. "Daisuke, can we speak privately for a moment?"

"But what about going home?" said Miyako. Beside her, Iori was also beginning to look anxious to return home.

"It will be just a minute, I promise," said Takeru. He led Daisuke a small distance away, into the shadow of the trees, and only began talking when he was sure Miyako and Iori were out of earshot. "You were able to lift the Digimental. You unlocked it."

"Did I? Unlocking it was as simple as lifting it up?"

"Only its chosen bearer can lift it," replied Takeru. "The Digimental of Courage would not suffer me to touch it. Whenever I did, it burned my hand."

"Really? Well, I guess I did a pretty good job then," said Daisuke beaming. "This means Vmon and I can join the fight against the evil Kaiser, right? This means Vmon and I can have all sorts of cool adventures in this world, fighting evil, saving the world..."

"Daisuke, listen..." Takeru frowned and looked down at the ground. "You, Miyako, and Iori, you three were given Digivices, meaning that you were chosen to be protectors of this World against any threat."

"Alright, that's what I was saying..."

"Daisuke, listen, this is serious. It's not all fun and games. To be a Chosen Child... It can be a painful experience. Seeing as you have already unlocked the Digimental and met Vmon, it may already be too late to turn back, but this isn't something that can be taken up lightly. So long as Miyako and Iori still haven't met partners and their Digivices are still in their base form, I think they may still have a choice."

Daisuke frowned. "But if were chosen, we should answer the call. It's destiny.

Takeru flinched at the last word, but nodded and sighed. "Daisuke, do you intend to go back with Miyako and Iori?"

"Of course. Why wouldn't I? I need to get back home."

"I think it would be best that you not tell anyone about what you saw today. Try to convince Miyako and Iori of the same."

"No one would believe us anyways," laughed Daisuke, remembering his old claims about the world in the sky. "Sure, I could try showing them Vmon, but then they'd totally freak out and try to take him away, right?"

"Exactly," whispered Takeru, lacking the other boy's optimism. "Part of the responsibility of protecting this world is protecting its secret."

"Alright, so how about we head back now? Miyako looks like she's going to go crazy at this rate."

Takeru nodded and led Daisuke back to the others. He had the other three stand around him so that the four of them formed a small circle, and then held out his green D2 at the center. "The base Digivice cannot open a Gate, only access already opened ones," said Takeru. "The D2 is required to open a Gate, but it requires a per-existing closed Gate to be present. There is such a closed Gate here. I will send you three back home now."

Iori understood the implications of what Takeru had just said. "Wait, you aren't going back with us?"

"This world is my home," replied Takeru in a neutral voice. "I leave it only to fulfill my responsibilities in the other world, like getting an education."

Iori looked at the older boy in wonder. "But..."

"I've been living here for a while now," said Takeru. "I know my way around here. Terriermon and I can take care of each other well enough."

"You'll be in class tomorrow, though, right?" asked Daisuke.

Takeru lowered his gaze, but nodded. "Yeah. I will. Hold out your Digivices, everyone." As the others obeyed, his armed stiffened and his voice became commanding. "Digital Gate Open!"

With a flash of light, Daisuke and the others found themselves back in the Computer Lab, while Takeru stood alone in the forest of the Digital World. He lowered his hand and returned the green D2 to the bracer on his left arm before turning to reunite with the two Monochromon brothers. The Kaiser never operated at night, so night was when Takeru made most of the counter-attacks. Having two more allies would be a big help.

The screen flashed as Terriermon spoke up. "What a day."

Takeru nodded. His hand drifted to his back, where he felt the bag on the back of his belt, and the two items that were stowed inside it. First, he felt the small rectangular shape of an old harmonica. Then, his fingers traced the round outline of a pair of aviator goggles.

"Destiny huh...?"