Disclaimer: I do not own Digimon. I do not own Heroes of Olympus. What do you think I woulda said instead?
Summary: Sequel to The Lost Tamer. This whole situation was really starting to get to TK. He'd hardly slept, barely eaten, and every digimon he came across seemed to want him dead. He'd only survived this long thanks to Patamon whose name was about the only thing he could remember about his life before all this. Now he's run into a group of kids called the tamers who may have the answers he seeks, but they aren't talking. He'll have to trust them, though, if they have any hope of saving the world before it's too late.
Author's Note: Written for the Novel with Prompts Challenge found on the Digimon Fanfiction Challenges forum. The prompt for this chapter is "scab".
Reminder: I post all review replies on my personal forum topic found right here on this site. Just navigate to the little button at the top of the screen to Forum to Anime to Digimon to Digital Connections. The topic you are looking for is called "Blurring Boundaries: And so it begins..." Or you can go to my profile and use the direct link there!
THIS STORY IS A SEQUEL. If you have not read The Lost Tamer, I highly recommend you go back and read that first. This story is definitely written with the assumption that you've read that. That being said... TK has entered the building! Ah, I have been waiting for this for a while. I am pretty nervous about this story. Everybody who has been reading TLT knows that every time I write a Tamers character, I always get a little nervous... and now I'm going to be writing a bunch of them. At least I'm just slowly easing my way into it. Ah well. We made it, folks!
This whole situation was really starting to get to TK.
The digimon on his tail should have been destroyed three days ago when Pegasusmon Equis Beamed them right off of a cliff back in Virus Valley. They should have been destroyed two days ago when he and Patamon dropped a large bolder on top of their heads outside of a Tyrannomon cave. They definitely should have been destroyed this morning when Angemon speared them with his Holy Rod by the Server Swamps.
No matter how many times he and Patamon destroyed them and watched them explode into tiny bits of data, they just kept reforming like one hellish nightmare after another. They couldn't even seem to outrun them.
He reached the top of the hill and tried to catch his breath. Patamon gave an exhausted sigh from his perch on top of his head. How long had it been since they had last encountered their pursuers? Maybe two hours. They never seemed to stay gone longer than that.
The past few days, they'd hardly slept. He'd given every little scrap of food that they could find to Patamon to try to keep his energy up, but they hadn't exactly come across any 5-course meals lately – only seeds and berries off of trees and even some particularly green grass that TK tried not to judge Patamon for, but he knew it had to be a new personal low. TK's clothes were torn, burned, and stained with sweat and mud.
He'd only survived this long because of Patamon, and Patamon had only survived this long thanks to pure dumb luck. The digimon – Vilemon, they called themselves – didn't seem all too bright, but that didn't make them any less dangerous. TK had scratches and cuts all over his arms and back that were now very attractive scabs from being unexpectedly jumped by the creatures. He even sported a nasty bite on his shoulder that he was pretty sure was going to scar. Patamon could only protect him from so much. Neither of them could keep going for much longer. Patamon was already fighting to stay awake, and TK – well, he wasn't very far behind him. Soon he'd collapse from exhaustion, and then all of the running and hiding would be for nothing when the Vilemon would be suddenly faced with an unmoving target.
But where to run?
He scanned his surroundings. Under different circumstances, he might've enjoyed the view. To his left, desert crevices and hills rolled along the horizon, dotted with hutted villages and scattering of dead trees. To his right, the flatlands of the open desert marched west – or what he thought was west anyway. Sand dunes and a beautiful array of oranges and reds beat off of the glassy landscape. A herd of Mammothmon grazed along the shrubbery down below – several dozen digimon who probably did not want their morning breakfast interrupted by two Vilemon, a Patamon, and a filthy human.
A vague sadness weighed on TK's chest. This area reminded him of something, something he couldn't quite grasp in his fragmented memory. But he knew it had to do with Kari – the only person he could remember from his past. His memory of her was frustratingly dim. He'd had a dream the first day he'd woken up here promising that he would see her again and regain his memory – if he succeeded in his journey.
Should he try to cross the desert?
It was oddly tempting. It was the desert that was causing the tugs of familiarity after all. Something to do with the desert and Kari… He could almost delude himself into thinking that going out into the desert would bring answers instead of death. But the logical part of him pointed out that he'd had trouble finding water while walking through the Digital World's version of a rain forest; walking into a desert would probably be suicide. But maybe it'd be suicide for the Vilemon too. Maybe they would die of dehydration before he did. Unlikely, but it was a decidedly dark yet nice thought.
He hesitated for another reason beyond logic. The only thing he'd had to guide him this entire time had been his instincts, and while he wouldn't exactly say they had been on point (he really could have used a little bit more luck in the food department), they had at least gotten him this far. His instincts had been continually guiding him south, and right now, something was sending them off like a homing radar as they tingled like crazy. He was close to something. He was close to something important. But how could that be? There was nothing on or around this hilltop.
Patamon suddenly perked up on top of his head. "They're coming back."
TK resisted the urge to groan as he whipped around to stare back the way they had just come. He couldn't pick out the Vilemon exactly, but he trusted Patamon's nose. A hundred yards down the slope, something disturbed the tumbleweed and shifted the sand. An excited screech ran up the hill.
For the millionth time, TK wished that they would just leave him alone. They had told him that they could find him because he lit up like a Christmas tree – whatever that meant. Something about being a tamer with a strong heart, which sounded like a load of rubbish to him. Even so, TK and Patamon had tried "dimming" their lights to the best of their ability. They'd rolled through mud, splashed through creeks, and even tried to think dark thoughts, but apparently, a tamer's light was hard to put out.
TK scrambled up the west side of the summit. It was too steep to descend. The slope plummeted eighty feet, straight to the desert floor where a gathering of mostly dead bushes and sharp rocks waited for him at the base.
"Great," TK said. "Dead-end. I walked us into a dead-end."
"Well, think of it this way," Patamon said, "at least if we jump, it'll probably hurt a lot less than letting the Vilemon tear us to shreds slowly."
TK looked up at his partner with a slightly disturbed expression. "I think you went a bit too serious with the dark thoughts, Patamon. That's a bit morbid."
"This isn't dark thoughts talking. This is hunger. I'm so hungry," Patamon said.
TK sighed. "I know."
He stared off across the desolate landscape, looking for inspiration anywhere. Every so often, a data stream of pink energy would shoot down from the world floating in the sky above. The stream would pick up everything in its path before disappearing. He and Patamon had learned early on to avoid those streams at all cost in fear of ending up halfway across the world, but right now, he'd give anything to have one open up right on top of him.
He slung off his backpack. He'd woken up with it on his back about two months ago, and including the supplies that had already been in it (which wasn't much), he'd been foraging for provisions every time they stopped. He dumped everything out onto the dusty ground: a green basketball jersey with the number 12 on the back, a few paperback novels, a water bottle, a white rag, his D-Terminal, several pens, and a Ziploc baggie filled with some sort of berries he'd found a couple miles back – all sentimental objects that he figured must be from his past, but nothing that could serve as a parachute or sled.
"Please tell me you have enough energy for one more digivolution," TK said.
"Only if you have a miracle in that backpack," Patamon said.
Great. That left him with two options: jump eighty feet to his and Patamon's death, or stand and fight. Both options sounded pretty bad.
He cursed under his breath and scooped everything back into his backpack before pulling his green digivice off of his belt.
The little device didn't look like much, just a miniature little handheld computer game, but it was key to TK's survival so far. Somehow, the little device connected him and Patamon in ways that he didn't fully understand or remember. Every time he held it, he felt stronger and braver somehow, and he liked to think that his strength was Patamon's strength in that moment. As long as he had his digivice, there was always hope.
He'd woken up with this device in his hand his first night in this Digital World – two months ago? More? He'd lost track. He'd found himself in the middle of a wooded clearing wearing the same brown cargo shorts and green t-shirt that he was wearing now. His green backpack had been next to him with Patamon sleeping on top. He'd reached for a hat that hadn't been on his head, leaving him with the vaguest feeling that he'd lost something. And then he'd realized he had. He had no idea how he'd gotten there, who he was, and only an elusive memory of who Patamon was. Those first few days had been the worst as the fear and terror of being all alone in this strange world had threatened to drive him insane. If Patamon hadn't been there to keep him calm, he wasn't sure what he would have done. But eventually the talking monsters and strange physics of the world became second nature. And then the digimon attacks started…
Right next to him, a familiar voice jolted him back to the present: "Found you!"
TK yelped and threw himself away from the Vilemon, almost falling off of the edge of the hill.
It was Vilemon Number One – the cheery one.
Okay, considering he was constantly trying to kill TK and destroy Patamon, cheery was probably not the best word to describe him, but it was the only one that TK could come up with. Compared to his partner, this Vilemon was practically friendly. Even now, he was grinning at him.
Well, Vilemon always grinned. They were little devils covered in gray fur that stood only up to TK's waist, but what they lacked in size, they made up for in power. Both of them sported red tufts of hair that traveled down their backs, heads that were way too big for their body, four gray wings, and naked yellow hands. Their white fangs glimmered in the daylight, shining out of their perpetually open mouths.
The most horrible thing about them? The smell. TK knew that he personally probably didn't smell very good; he hadn't seen a shower since digi-knows-when. But the Vilemon's stench was so pungent that it sent TK's stomach rolling anytime they got too close. It was like a combination between sewage and the back of a dump truck. It was awful. Vile, even – a pun that TK couldn't help but think every time he encountered these digimon, and one he was really starting to hate. TK wasn't sure what it was about them that made them smell so bad, but he figured if he ever needed to clear a room fast, he would just chuck a Vilemon in there. It would work wonders.
"Urgh, I think I'm going to be sick," Patamon said.
TK waved his hand in front of his face, trying to wave away the stench. "Where's your buddy?"
"Around," Cheery Vilemon said. "Why do you have your digivice out? You know you can't destroy us. We don't even have to fight. We could be friends. I'd hate for us to be enemies when we destroy you."
"Vilemon!" The second Vilemon (the one that TK thought of as the angry one) appeared on TK's right so fast, he didn't have time to react. Fortunately, he was too busy glaring at his partner in crime to pay him much attention. "I told you to sneak up on them and destroy them both!"
Cheery Vilemon's grin wavered. "But, Vilemon… We can't kill them before we're friends!"
"Of course we can, you dimwit!" Angry Vilemon turned toward TK and bared his fangs.
This Vilemon looked exactly like his partner, except that his grin somehow managed to look more menacing.
"You've led us on quite a chase, TK Takaishi, with that pathetic partner of yours, Patamon," Angry Vilemon said.
"Hey!" Patamon protested.
Angry Vilemon ignored him. "But now you're trapped, and we'll have our revenge!"
"But first, do you like hopscotch? It's a fun game to play with friends," Cheery Vilemon added. "I'm really good at it. Vilemon over there gets way too frustrated, though, and I've been looking for a new buddy to play with."
Angry Vilemon snarled. "Vilemon! Get your head on straight! They are the enemy, not our friends. Or have you forgotten that they're the ones that sucked up all of our brethren in that Destiny Gate of theirs?"
TK stepped back. Loose scree tumbled down the hillside, and TK knew if he took a wrong step, he'd be following the pebbles very shortly in a freefall tumble through the air. "Look, guys, we've been over this. We don't remember this Piedmon dude you used to work for."
"And I definitely don't remember sucking up your friends in a Destiny Gate or whatever," Patamon added.
"Right!" TK said. "So, can't we just call it a truce, and be friends instead?"
Cheery Vilemon gave his partner a pouty look, which was hard to do with the plastered on grin still on his face. "Can we?"
"No!" Angry Vilemon's red eyes bored into TK. "I don't care what either of you remember, tamer! We remember it as if it were yesterday!"
"Well, mostly," Cheery Vilemon said. "It's kind of fuzzy. Are you sure he's a tamer, Vilemon? I could have sworn he was called something else…"
"Hush, you! You're an idiot. Of course he's a tamer. What else would he be? But back to what I was saying – you are the ones that destroyed our legion of Vilemon. Most of us still haven't found our way back out of the World of Darkness yet. It's all your fault!"
TK didn't really get that. There was a lot he didn't get, but this whole business about the World of Darkness was a whole other thing. He got the distinct impression that every time Patamon destroyed these guys that this other world was where they were supposed to go, but something was going wrong in the process. All he knew was that the whole thing was giving him a headache. Talking monsters and digivices and being a chosen one or something or other – it was enough to make him think he was crazy if it weren't for the fact that he all knew it was all completely true. Even though his memory was erased, he knew that Patamon was his digimon partner the same way he knew his name was Takeru Takaishi. After the first week that he'd spent hiding under some large digital tree, praying to wake up from his nightmare, he'd eventually come to accept that this crazy messed-up world of digital monsters was his reality. Which, so far, had pretty much sucked – excluding Patamon, of course.
"Is it too late to say we're sorry?" Patamon said.
"Look, how about we call it a draw?" TK said. "We've only destroyed you both about two dozen time, and… you've yet to kill us. That seems pretty even, right?"
"You've gotten lucky, that's all!" Angry Vilemon screeched.
"Actually, if you add in all of the Vilemon that he defeated when we worked for Piedmon, I think it'd be closer to fifty," Cheery Vilemon pointed out.
"You're not helping!" Angry Vilemon growled. "We'll get him this time. We have a new patron on our side – one that can't lose! And as long as Patamon doesn't reach ultimate, we still have a chance! The Child of Hope will die today!"
"The child of what?"
"Hope!" Cheery Vilemon said. "That's you, by the way. It's because of your crest – but you're not wearing it. How odd. Did you lose it?"
TK instinctively looked down toward his chest, as if he were looking for a pendant around his neck. But nothing was there. He tried to think. He didn't remember anything about a crest or being a Child of Hope. Then again, he didn't remember much of anything. He sure didn't feel very hopeful now.
He glanced over his shoulder and down the cliff. The plunge was starting to look more and more inviting, especially when compared to those claws. He didn't really want to die like this, but he was really starting to run out of options. TK gripped his digivice. His mind whirled with panic. He needed a plan, but he was drawing a very painful blank.
Keep them talking, he thought. Buy some time.
"Before you slash us to bits," he said, "mind telling us who your patron is? I'd love to meet him one day."
"You would?" Patamon deadpanned.
TK sent a glare upward toward him.
"Oh! I mean – absolutely."
Angry Vilemon sneered. "Our Lord Huanglongmon, of course! The one who found us and brought us back from oblivion! You won't live long enough to meet him, but the other tamers will soon face his wrath. Even now, his armies are marching toward the portal. On the day of the summer solstice, he'll awaken, and the armies will march into the Human World and cut down every living thing—"
"I can't wait to see the Human World!" Cheery Vilemon said. "I bet it's really nice."
"Why do I put up with you!?" Angry Vilemon charged toward his partner. He slashed his claws up and down Cheery Vilemon, cutting him into ribbons.
TK knew that it was now or never. "Patamon…" he muttered. "I'm going to need you to dig deep."
"TK, what are you thinking?" Patamon asked nervously.
"I'm going to need you to dig really deep."
Cheery Vilemon had exploded into data, but he was already starting to reform, like a sand castle reforming on its own. "Why'd you have to do that, Vilemon?" he gurgled out the whine as his half-made face began to reconfigure two feet off the ground. "I thought we were friends…"
Angry Vilemon turned his glare onto TK and Patamon. "Your turn."
TK turned and leapt off of the cliff, Patamon screaming overhead, and cried out with every ounce of desperation that he had, "Digi-Armor Energize!"