Author's Notes: So instead of working on The Answer for Persona 3 FES, I ended up getting distracted by other video games... First it was Devil Survivor, then Shin Megami Tensei IV, and then Devil Survivor Overclocked because not having a Compendium is difficult... That's... kinda the problem I have with Answer right now... That and I don't know how to deal with one problematic plot point... But anyway, here's Digimon Story Cyber Sleuth! It's another game I like, but dislike the ending. It's not the same as me disliking out P3 ended though... While P3 ended on a bittersweet note, it made sense. Cyber Sleuth's ending kinda felt like a cop-out for me since I kinda think it went against one of the game's main themes. Also... because there is no script for this game, I pretty much typed up the dialogue word for word while playing... I decided to do it this way as a test for how I want to work on Persona Q... but uh... yeah... this sure was an experience. Expect daily updates!
After accessing his usual chat site, Takumi quickly logged into his account. The monitor went blank for a while before a yellow logo greeted him with a cheerful voice. "Enjoy Chat!" He quickly tapped on the screen to access the server. "Welcome," the voice continued, "To Enjoy Chat!" A carousel of icons appeared before him. "Select a chat room."
Takumi maneuvered his cursor over a few icons before he spotted the private chat room he usually accessed. "Ah! There's Blue Box's icon!"
With a click, the voice made itself known again. "Please enter the password!"
After a few hesitant strokes on the keyboard, the high school student quickly typed in the rest of the long string of characters Blue Box set as this week's password. The light blue loading bar gradually filled as it verified the code and soon, the lock on the corner of the chat room's icon undid itself with a click.
"Welcome!" the Enjoy Chat voice told him as Takumi was finally let into the chat room.
Takumi blinked as a slew of messages from the other visitors scrolled past him. He quickly skimmed through them, trying to get a grasp of the current happenings between all of his online friends. As usual, it was just a slew of random conversations, but Takumi took it all in before he saw two avatars chatting.
Hattie: You watch TV yesterday?
yuki: I did! It was awesome!
The teenager ignored them though as he dove further into the chat room where the rest of his online friends were gathered. He brightened as he found a spot for his avatar in their circle. Everyone seemed hyped up for some reason and Takumi quickly did his best to catch up on the conversation.
Dark Night Satan: What? What is it?
Akkino: Hey guys! Ever heard of Digimon?
Blue Box: What's this all of a sudden?
Old Man Fanta: You're talking about Digimon programs, right? Those dangerous programs used by hackers.
"Digimon…?" Curious, Takumi asked a question of his own.
AI-BA: Dangerous? How dangerous, exactly?
Old Man Fanta: They can break through security, steal data… enter password-protected forums with ease…
Old Man Fanta: Those programs can do all kinds of nasty things! They're behind most of the incidents that have been happening.
Akkino: Wow, Digimon sound nuts!
AlgerN0N: My friend got his account targeted by them. (;_))
Love Crusher: No way…
U Starving: When did this happen?
Dark Night Satan: In some areas, Digimon roam around on their own…
Akkino: Wait a minute, Digimon can move!?
Old Man Fanta: It sounds like these programs have avatars. Kinda like monsters.
AlgerN0N: Digimon… like "Digital Monsters"?
U Starving: When did this happen, exactly?
Takumi blinked when a notification popped up with a chime. "Eh…? 'Navit-kun has logged in?' I've never seen that name here before…"
To his surprise, a saw popped up in the middle of the chat room floor and began cutting out a circle. A sleek robotic figure came out of the resultant hole and its LCD face display read "EDEN" before a pinkish purple smiley face replaced it. To everyone's surprise, it began to chat with them.
Navit-kun: Yoooo, what's up, people!
AlgerN0N: Whaaat, it's Navit-kun!
Love Crusher: Huh? You mean that EDEN mascot?
Akkino: Sorry man, no solicitations! Haha!
Old Man Fanta: What the heck? Why would an EDEN official come all the way out here?
Blue Box: …This was a private room, y'know? Just who are you?
U Starving: And what's with that greeting? Hardly suiting an official…
Akkino: Wait a minute… is he a hacker!?
Love Crusher: Speak of the devil…
AlgerN0N: For real!?
Navit-kun: That's right! I'm Navit-kun, the hacker!
Navit-kun: I have a fantastic present for all of you! Be sure to log in to EDEN tomorrow!
Navit-kun: Don't forget, now! If you don't login, I'll hack you!
Navit-kun: Buh-bye, now!
With that, the mysterious Navit-kun left the chat room the same way he entered. Takumi blinked at the screen as another chime and notification revealed to him that Navit-kun logged out. Everyone else in the chat room remained silent for a moment as they all took in what just happened.
Old Man Fanta: What the heck… Was that an actual hacker?
Akkino: No way, dude!
Love Crusher: Think someone's playing a prank on us?
Akkino: Sounds fun, don't it? Let's check it out!
Nobody responded for a while. Takumi lightly drummed his fingers on his keyboard as he figured out how he wanted to respond. "Eh…? It seems interesting…"
Akkino: What, don't tell me y'all are chicken?
Blue Box: You want to go, Akkino? What'll you do if it's a real hacker?
Akkino: This is just PR for an EDEN event, ain't it? A REAL hacker would be cooler, though…
Blue Box: …Sounds like I can't stop you. Fine, then I'll come with.
Akkino: What, is this a date now? You asking me out all of a sudden!?
Blue Box: …Anyway.
Akkino: Anyone else gonna come with us?
Old Man Fanta: Better safe than sorry. I'm out.
AlgerN0N: I'll pass!
Love Crusher: Me, too.
Takumi watched the other avatars scatter. He smiled though as he finally came up with his decision. He made his puppet-like avatar jump before replying.
AI-BA: I'm in!
And so the chatting continued for the three of them, although Takumi didn't comment much. He much preferred just listening while giving his opinion every now and then. Still, Akkino and Blue Box went on with their late-night gab fest. As always, topics were loose, with no real focus.
Eventually, dawn broke outside their windows. That was the day they were finally going to meet in EDEN. They spent the day much as they did the day before. And then, the appointed time drew near.
The ones and zeroes lined up in a non-descript pattern before breaking apart. The EDEN logo appeared before Takumi as he waited for the access point to fully activate. He blankly stared at the company name at the bottom of the logo as he did so.
"EDEN… by Kamishiro Enterprise," he thought aloud to kill the time. "An apple logo… Ah…? Like Adam and Eve? Kami is God, isn't it? I never realized that connection until now…" He smiled to himself as he further considered this line of thought, but suddenly the logo disappeared. "Ah… Time to go."
Takumi held up his hands and watched as the access point seemed to suck him into EDEN. He watched as the world around him turned white and soon it felt was as though he were zooming through the air. A great white sphere floated before him and he guessed that his destination was there. He stared at it in awe as he took in the wonders around him.
"So this is EDEN!" He brightly smiled at the sensation of flying through the digital landscape. "I never really had a reason to log on before, but this is amazing!"
As it was his first visit, an introductory AI began speaking to him via his goggle-style Digivice. "Welcome to the digital garden of EDEN! EDEN is a metaverse providing several revolutionary services in a new generation of digital content. Bountiful entertainment, including shopping and movies… Everything from corporate transactions to political administrations… Everyone's needs are met. I will be more than happy to introduce some of the available services that will be a part of your daily life."
"Eh…? Daily life? So some people log on every single day, huh? That's pretty impressive…" Takumi mused as he continued skimming through the world.
"The future of the net is not behind a screen. It is intuitive virtual reality through the use of avatars. I do hope you enjoy using our cutting-edge cyberspace services."
The curious boy waved his right arm a few times. "This really does feel like my actual body… That's pretty cool…"
"EDEN is a human network connecting the world to the future, run by Kamishiro Enterprise," the AI concluded as he landed on what felt like solid ground.
"And touchdown!" he smiled, his bright blue eyes gleaming in excitement. He reached a hand up to his goggles and cut the introductory transmission before it could offer him anymore help on the workings of EDEN. "Well… I'll get a better feel for EDEN by experiencing it myself. Now… Let's see…" He took a good look at his surroundings. "The entrance to EDEN. This is where we promised to meet." Takumi tapped his goggles to have a display of the time appear before him. "I'm here a little earlier than we'd agreed on. I'm guessing Akkino and Blue Box still aren't here." He glanced around him again and didn't see anyone who could be his chat friends. "This'll be the first time I've met them outside a chat room." He closed his eyes and sighed as he considered something. "I don't know what their avatars look like, though." He opened his blue eyes again and smiled. "But I should be able to figure it out! I'll try making small talk with the EDEN avatars in the area!" With a nod to himself, he quickly set off in search of his online friends.
Takumi spotted a man wearing an orange hooded vest and blinked as he seemed out of place. The man stared back at the red-haired boy but said nothing.
After a few more seconds of staring, Takumi decided to walk past him with a shrug. He's a bit suspicious, but I guess he's not doing anything wrong…
The teen asked around if anyone had seen or knew anyone by the handles "Akkino" or "Blue Box" but didn't discover anything. He did pick up a few interesting rumors about EDEN though, although how monsters and ghosts worked in a cyber world eluded him. Eventually, Takumi let out a sigh as he stood in front of the entrance pavilion.
"They aren't here after all…" He crossed his arms and looked out over the entrance from his high vantage point.
Nearby, a boy wearing the uniform from his high school noticed him. "Looking for your friends?" he asked.
"Yeah, I am," Takumi nodded.
"If they're not here, did you try looking in the community area?"
"It's an open area just like the entrance, so you can get there from any terminal." The boy pointed at the round access point Takumi had noticed earlier when he landed.
"Oh, I see…" Takumi nodded. "Alright, thanks." He started down the stairs again and laughed at himself. "I guess I showed up too early after all." He tapped his goggles again. "There's still time left before our meeting!" he told himself. "Let's check out those other areas then!"
"This is the Community Area," Takumi said to himself as he landed. He curiously looked around and noticed the atmosphere here was much different from EDEN's entrance. "I like this place. It's quiet and relaxed." He flinched when the calm tranquility was sharply interrupted by his Digivice's Talk feature. "Who could it be?" He accepted the call only to see Navit-kun appear on the digital screen. "Huh!?"
"Hey there! It's me, Navit-kun!" The robotic figure happily jumped up and down as he reintroduced himself. After a while, it flashed Takumi an annoyed frown. "Just one sec~ You're behind schedule, silly! You're gonna be late! Hurry up! Come to Galacta Park in Cron!" Navit-kun began smiling again. "Your two friends arrived a little while ago and are waiting for you! I have a gift for you all, but everyone has to be there first! Buh-bye!"
Takumi frowned to himself when the call was abruptly cut. "Cron?" His eyes widened as he recognized the name of the area. "Isn't that the dangerous area full of hackers? Even I've heard the rumors of that area…" He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. "Okay, calm down. No need to panic." He opened his eyes and smirked. "I wonder what he meant by a 'gift'? Anyway, let's go to Galacta Park in Cron!" He started for the terminal but paused when he realized he had a slight problem. "I've never even been to EDEN before, let alone anywhere near Cron. How do I get there?" He scanned his surroundings again and noticed people scattered here and there. "There might be someone here who knows though. I'd better ask around!"
The teen frowned as he wasn't really getting the information he needed, but he pressed onward anyways. Everybody seemed too focused on their own enjoyment of EDEN but it was abundantly clear that the vast majority of users tend to avoid the deep underbellies of it. This only fueled Takumi's curiosity over whether Cron was truly deserving of such a reputation. Eventually he found someone who seemed to know something so walked up to the businessman standing near the scale replica of EDEN.
"Excuse me? Can I ask you something?" Takumi tapped him on the shoulder.
"Kinda busy here?" the man glared at him.
"Sorry, but it's my first time in EDEN and I wanted to know how to get to Cron," Takumi politely smiled.
The man's eyes widened. "What? You want to go to Cron!? But why!? It's lawless, and filled with hackers, besides!"
"So I hear, but…"
"If that's what you're into, we're done here," the man shook his head. "Go talk to a hacker if you want to know about it. There's a hacker-looking thug near the entrance."
"Hacker…?" Takumi blinked as he remembered the suspicious hooded man from before. "Oh! I see! Alright! Thanks, mister!"
The man sighed as Takumi started for the terminal. "Don't blame me for your foolish decision. Grow up and take responsibility for yourself."
"It can't be that bad," the teen shrugged as he returned to EDEN's entrance. He looked around for the hooded man and approached him without reservation. "Excuse me!"
The man frowned as he lifted his head to look at Takumi. The high school student stared at him with curious blue eyes before the hacker smirked at him. "Heh… 'I want to go. To Galacta Park, in Cron.' That's what you think you want. Isn't it?"
"That's right!" Takumi nodded with a smile.
"I'll show you the way." The hacker took out his cell phone model Digivice and sent a link to the curious teen. "This is the URL. To the area. Take it."
"Alright! Thanks!" Takumi verified the link and hurried towards the terminal. "Now I can go to Cron!"
The hacker crossed his arms and smirked at the younger male's excitability. Heh… Another hacker is to be born, huh?
Takumi couldn't help but let out a yell as he glided through cyberspace. He watched layer by layer of EDEN pass him as he dove further into the world. He soon noticed though, that the deeper he went, the darker EDEN seemed to get. "Huh… I suppose it is sketchy-looking… but it still can't be that bad…" He felt his body begin to slow down as he neared his destination and he spotted a hooded black-haired boy. "Huh? Could that be…?" The taller boy on the ground looked up at him with a scowl on his face. "Blue Box?" Takumi guessed, but he couldn't confirm it as he continued past him.
The boy wearing the hooded coat raised an eyebrow as he studied Takumi. "AI-BA, huh? So he's finally here…" He shook his head as he returned to the park. "Well… I'd better give up my ghost hunt…"
Takumi continued his examination of his surroundings as he prepared to land and spotted the decrepit park as well as someone already there. "Ah…! This must be Akkino then!"
Although it had been her idea to check it out in the first place, the girl wearing the pink hooded jacket seemed rather lost and clearly out of place. She glanced around herself nervously, unsettled by the thought of being alone in such a seedy area. "Where did everybody go?" she whined before a moving dark grey and yellow mass caught her eye. She brightened when she spotted Takumi coming in for a landing. The girl puffed up her cheeks in annoyance as soon as he was close enough. "You have gotta be kidding!" she called out to him. "You're late! Soooo late!"
Takumi only gave her a bright smile as he placed his hands at the side of his hips. "Sorry I'm late! I'm Aiba Takumi, but call me Takumi. Would you happen to be Akkino, by any chance?"
The girl smiled back and nodded. "Oh, hey! Yep, I'm Akkino! This is your first time in EDEN, right? My real name's Shiramine Nokia! Nice. To. Meet. You!" Takumi flinched when Nokia suddenly blew up at him. "NOOOOT! You're late! What were you doing!? Leaving me alone in such a dangerous place. How would you feel if you were in my shoes?"
The red-haired boy let out a nervous laugh. "I guess it is dangerous for a girl like you to be out here alone…" Takumi curiously looked around. "But what about Blue Box?"
Nokia paused. "You're asking if Blue Box has shown up yet? Oh, he showed up all right. But what does that even matter?" She crossed her arms and pouted. "Like, can you believe this? He's all, 'Oh, I've got to go and find a ghost,' and all of a sudden he's running off by himself. That's how he rolls, apparently! One hundred percent full of himself! Thinks he's all that just because he's got good looks or whatever. And so like, what? The Ghost of the Pale Boy? I've heard the rumors but don't know the details. What does he even plan to do if he finds it? I mean, ghosts in cyberspace? That's unscientific! It doesn't even make any sense! Not that I'm scared or noth—
The boy with black hair from earlier suddenly appeared behind her. "Boo!" Nokia let out a terrified shriek and hurried to Takumi's side. "Whoa, easy," the older boy smirked at her. "Overreacting a bit there, aren't we?"
"Oh, jeez, Arata-chan," Nokia frowned. "It's just you. I… I thought you were a ghost."
Arata rolled his eyes at her. "Sheesh. You don't have to act all tough by coming to a place like this if you're chicken, you know."
"Hey now! You're the one who ditched me in that 'place like this', Arata, you slimy little no-good—"
"Oh, just shut your trap. Anyhow…" The raven-haired boy looked over towards Takumi. "We've never met before, have we? I'm Sanada Arata. Nice to meet you and all that."
"Likewise," Takumi cheerfully smiled. "I'm Aiba Takumi!"
"Hey now, that's no proper introduction!" Nokia shook her head. She waved her hand towards Arata as she spoke to Takumi. "You must've put two and two together by now, but this is the person behind Blue Box! He's not what you imagined, is he? In the chat, he's kind and considerate, like a reliable big-brother figure, right? When I first met him, I was really weirded out! He's surly, self-absorbed, got this weird look in his eye… I mean, talk about a waste of good looks, right?"
"H-huh…?" the red-haired boy crookedly smiled as he didn't know how to answer her.
Arata shook his head. "Leave the stupidity for later, okay?" He looked around the area pensively. "So, while I was waiting, I took a little look around. I thought that 'Navit-kun' fellow who called us here might be around."
"What!?" Nokia seemed surprised at that. "I thought you were looking for a ghost!"
"Well, I was doing a little of that too," the older boy shrugged. "But in the end, I found neither. Rather, there wasn't anyone around to be found. You'd think there'd be one or two hackers in an area like Cron, no matter how dangerous it is."
"So the rumors are true then…" Takumi wistfully breathed. He flinched when his Digivice rang again, but even though he didn't pick up, the phone function activated itself.
"So very sorry to keep you waiting. I'm Navit-kun!" the cheery robot returned. "I've got something for all you good boys and girls who showed up here today! This is the miraculous power to change the world!"
Takumi felt a shiver run down his spine as his avatar began to flicker with static. "Eh!?"
"Huh? What?" Nokia stared down at her own avatar. "What is this?"
Arata scowled. "It's hacking! We've all been hacked!"
Takumi quickly took a quick look at his account settings. He became confused when he didn't really notice anything out of place, but he soon paused when he found a new program listed in his Digivice menu. "This looks like it's been forcefully installed… Digimon Capture?"
"Whoa. This Navit fellow is no slouch," Arata said, a bit impressed. "He broke through my firewall like it was nothing."
"Digimon… Capture?" Nokia frowned at the program that was now on her phone-like Digivice.
"It's a hacking tool that's been making the rounds with hackers lately," Arata explained.
"Wait, so when you say 'Digimon', you mean like, 'Digimon' Digimon!?" Nokia asked.
"Yes, those Digimon. The ones you're so interested in," Arata sighed as he pulled up a few digital displays and began checking out the program for himself. "Hmmm… There's a certain kind of data known as 'Digital Monsters' that you can 'capture' by scanning, this thing says. Ah, so 'Digimon' IS short for 'Digital Monster'."
"What?" Nokia didn't seem to believe it at all. "Whoa, hey, hang on! Digimon are like nasty programs that hackers use, right? So then…!? That means…" She shook her head. "Have we become hackers!?"
"Well, I suppose you could put it that way," Arata shrugged, seemingly unfazed by the whole ordeal. "Well, it's no big deal. Hackers are nothing out of the ordinary nowadays."
Takumi closed his eyes as he took in the situation. "I suppose…"
"No way! Nuh-uh!" Nokia frowned. "Hacker's are bad news! I am NOT doing this! I don't want any part of this!" She pressed a few buttons on her phone. "I'm gonna delete this program!" She tapped the screen a few times but blinked in confusion. "Ah, what? No way, you've gotta be kidding me! I can't uninstall this thing!?"
"Leave it be," Arata warned her. "The program's protected. Who knows what'll happen if you force-delete it."
"W-what do you mean?" Nokia asked in panic.
Takumi opened his eyes and shook his head. "It's alright. I mean, just because you have the program, it doesn't mean you have to use it. Still… I think it's worth—" he paused as something caught his eye. He looked over towards the path leading deeper into Cron and noticed someone running away. "H-hey!" Nokia and Arata turned towards where he was looking at. "So that was Navit-kun? Or could that be the ghost everyone's talking about?" No wait… Both those things don't really have solid footsteps… A hacker then?
Before Takumi could voice the rest of his thoughts, Arata immediately took off after whatever it was. "Don't let him get away!"
"Arata, hold up!" Nokia tried to reach out for his jacket but just missed. "Why are we chasing him?" She turned towards Takumi and shook her head. "I… I'm out of here! I'm going home, you hear!?"
"That's alright," Takumi shrugged. The two turned towards the path leading towards the terminal point but they saw something that made Takumi pause while Nokia froze up. "Huh… A firewall?" He frowned as he looked back towards where Arata disappeared to. So it was a hacker…
"W-what is this?" Nokia frowned. "It wasn't here before. What's it doing here? Did some hacker do this too?" She nervously looked behind them at the path Arata took. "Is… is this telling us to keep going onward? Are they not letting us go home?"
Takumi brought a hand up to his mouth as he considered his options. "Arata could be in trouble. Let's go after him!" He took a few steps forward but noticed Nokia wasn't following him. "We might find an exit there too. Let's go look."
"No," Nokia shook her head and took a few steps backward. "I'm not going. I won't."
Takumi frowned as she was clearly shaking like a leaf. He sighed as there was no helping it if she was too scared to proceed. Still, it wasn't as though he could just leave her here. "Alright, then I'm going on ahead. If I find a way out, I'll come back, okay?" Nokia responded with a nod and Takumi made his way deeper into Cron.
Takumi stopped walking after a while and frowned when he realized Cron was more expansive than he thought. "Does the Cron area stretch all the way back through here?" he asked himself as he stared at the path before him. "It feels totally different from the cyberspace areas on the upper part of the EDEN Network." He brought a hand up to his mouth as he scanned for any sign of his friend. "There's no trace of Arata. He may have gone further inside." He sighed before starting off again. "I should be careful," he told himself.
The further he went, the more uneasy he felt. Takumi slowed his pace when he spotted a wispy glow ahead of him. He blinked a few times to make sure it wasn't a trick of his imagination or a glitch in the network, but soon, he was sure that what he saw in front of him was a ghostly boy. Still, it was only just for a few seconds before the figure vanished completely.
"What was that!?" Takumi nervously frowned. "Was that really…?" He paused as he sensed something further down the path on his right. He quickly turned to face whatever it was. "Urgh!" Takumi winced as his avatar flickered again.
Although it should have been impossible with this cyber body, Takumi was forced to get down to his knee when searing pain spread throughout his being. He closed his eyes to catch his breath and when he opened them again, he looked up to see the figure ahead of him once more.
He kept his blue eyes forward despite his vision being blurry. No… It's more glitchy than blurry, Takumi frowned. "Just what's going on…? This can't be normal…" He took in deep ragged breaths as the ghost boy disappeared again.
A moment later, he reappeared directly in front of Takumi. The red-haired boy lifted his head and took in as many details as he could before the specter could fade away again. Despite the flickering, Takumi managed to discern the other boy's black hair and dark eyes. His expression was that of a rather blank pout and Takumi winced when his vision glitched even further, forcing him to close his eyes.
The red-haired boy collapsed backwards under the strain but he forced himself to recover. Opening his eyes again, the boy was now standing above him, staring into his bright blue eyes. A hand came up and Takumi did nothing as the boy reached out for him. He couldn't have moved even if he had wanted to so he closed his eyes as he sensed something being loaded into his Digivice. No… he momentarily paused to think it over. This is just like when Navit-kun hacked us… Something's being loaded into… me…?
Takumi frowned as a message popped up on his Digivice. "Kioku no Danpen has been inscribed."
After a while, the flickering and glitching stopped. Takumi slowly rose to his feet and looked around. "What was that?" He closed his eyes to think before shaking his head. "Cron's as dangerous as they say. Who knows what might happen here?" He sighed. "I'd better hurry up, find Arata, and get out of here." He opened his eyes to look at the path ahead of him once more, but he tensed up when he saw someone approaching him. "Is that…!?"
A boy with grayish white hair paused before Takumi and studied him with his light grey eyes. "What's wrong?" he spoke in a soft voice. "You look like you've seen a ghost."
"Well, yeah…!" Takumi frowned at the strange boy. "I just saw a ghost that looked like you!"
The other boy tilted his head to the side. "You saw a ghost… that looks like me?" Takumi nodded in response, prompting the light-haired boy to bring a hand up to his mouth. "If that's true, that ghost might have been me. Some call me the 'Wraith of EDEN'. They say I am not of this world."
"Really…?" Takumi took a moment to examine the boy. No… I don't think so… This person and that ghost… I'm pretty sure they're not the same. Similar, yes… but… there's something different between them… I just can't put my finger on it though…
"The truth is simply that I'm rather elusive and tend to turn up unexpectedly. That's all," the boy shrugged. He noticed Takumi still had a wary expression on his face so put on a small smile. "Please, relax. I'm not a ghost. I am very real here in EDEN."
Takumi kept his gaze level with the strange boy's. "So why are you here?"
"I exist to guide those who are lost, like you."
The boy realized he would have to be more direct with the blue-eyed boy. "You've just had a program installed, Digimon Capture, which marks you as a hacker. But you are still merely a fledgling."
"Eh!?" Takumi's eyes widened in surprise. How did he know that? "What of it?"
"There are hackers with a wide variety of different goals here in EDEN," the boy continued to explain. "Chivalrous ones who find and report security holes. Thieves who steal accounts to rob money and data. Others are just out to prove their skills. Truly, a wide variety." The boy seriously gazed into Takumi's blue eyes. "What kind of hacker do you want to be?"
Takumi closed his eyes to ponder the question before shaking his head and frowning at the weird boy. "How am I supposed to answer that when I have no idea how hacking works?"
The boy hid his amused smile behind his hand as he considered what to do with the new hacker. "You are indeed a fledgling if that is your only response. Not even hatched from your egg yet. You're free to become a hacker, if you want. Or something else altogether. It's up to you," he decided. "What led you to this is neither here nor there. You came here because you were interested in hacking, and now, because of that, you've got the 'Digimon Capture' program. Isn't that right?" Takumi curtly nodded. "I would therefore recommend you give the remarkable power of these 'Digimon' programs a try."
The red-haired boy closed his eyes again. "Digimon…?" It didn't take him long before he opened his eyes and flashed the boy a smile. "Alright then. I've been meaning to check out the program on my own later, but if you're here to teach me…"
"That's fine," the boy smiled back. "Now, to commemorate your birth as a fellow hacker-to-be…" He lifted his head. "I shall present you with your first Digimon. There, behind you," he pointed towards the area behind Takumi. "That is a Digimon program."
"Really?" Takumi quickly turned to see three strange creatures climb out of the strange blocks decorating Cron. "Ah…!"
"There are three different type of Digimon here," the boy nodded to him, "but you can take only one. Which will you choose?"
"Only one?" the blue-eyed teen sighed. "That's a bit disappointing…" He noticed his Digivice was already booting up the Digimon Capture program and it identified the three Digimon before him. Takumi took the time to fully study the three Digimon before deciding. "The excessively adorable animal type… The possibly fragrant plant type… The mechanical-looking machine type…" Takumi crossed his arms and frowned to himself. "Argh… Such a difficult decision!" he said with his eyes closed.
The boy shook his head at him as he watched the new hacker ponder his choice with such a serious expression. "You seem to be unable to make up your mind," he said in amusement.
"They're all so cute and cool…" Takumi sighed, opening his eyes.
"Well, I suppose I might as well teach you how to use the program then," the boy shook his head. He chuckled a bit. "Perhaps if you're skilled enough, you can attempt to capture them all..."
"Can I really!?" the red-haired boy eagerly asked.
"If you can…" the other boy shrugged. "Okay, let's bring you out of your shell. Several steps are required to obtain a Digimon. If you discover or encounter a Digimon program, run a scan, and then acquire the analyzed data. Those are all done with Digimon Capture. You can use that without any restrictions. But just because you got the analyzed data doesn't mean the Digimon program itself is yours."
Takumi crossed his arms and nodded. "Alright… So what do I do with that data?"
The boy's smile grew as it seemed this new fledgling was quick to learn. "First you must 'Convert' it. You must launch the Digimon program and implement it in cyberspace, first and foremost. Only then can it serve as a Digital Monster, a hacking program that is not to be trifled with."
"Seems simple enough…" The blue-eyed boy looked towards the three Digimon. "But… there's more, isn't there?"
The light-haired boy nodded his head. "Unlike Scan, Convert is not part of the Digimon Capture application. We hackers finally devised the technique needed, but certain rules were put in place regarding how it's used." His voice dropped into a stern warning, "In order to control how this power is exercised. Your chosen Digimon program will be weak, but it will grow in power and evolve," the boy continued. "As you gain experience as a hacker, your programs will become more powerful as well. Someday, immense power might be yours. When that day comes, responsibility will come along with it."
"Responsibility…?" Takumi curiously stared at the other boy.
"Hackers may be free spirits, but they must never succumb to chaos. Never that," he gravely shook his head.
"I see…" the hacker-to-be frowned as he tried to let it all sink in. He takes this all so seriously… I wonder why a person like him is a hacker…
"I'm sure most of this went over your head," the boy shrugged. "But tuck it away in a corner of your mind. Besides, merely having Digimon Capture gives you hacker status." He looked back at the three Digimon. "It's a special program, but…" he stood tall as he looked Takumi in the eyes. "A hacker's abilities, values and goals can all be seen in how well that hacker can use Digimon programs. Because protecting the order of EDEN is a hacker's first duty." He relaxed a bit and hid his smirk behind his hand. "I would be very happy if you would try to become that kind of hacker." Takumi placed his hands at his hips and tilted his head to the side, but the other boy didn't notice him staring. "After all, hackers have been with EDEN since its inception."
"Eh!?" Takumi's eyes widened at that. I never knew that! He paused though as he remembered he didn't even pick a Digimon yet. He looked back towards the three adorable critters jumping and playing with each other. Aw… How can I pick just one…? He shook his head and focused. "W-well, anyways… I can still have a Digimon, right?"
"You want the Digimon right now?" the other boy raised an eyebrow at the red-haired boy. Takumi smiled back and noticed how relief seemed to fill the boy's light grey eyes. "I see. You heard what I had to say and decided you wanted to become a proud hacker too." He nodded in approval. "Excellent."
Takumi inwardly chuckled to himself. Yeah… He's not a bad guy.
The other boy returned his attention to the waiting Digimon. "Well, then, follow the steps," he directed Takumi. "Start with a Scan. Have Digimon Capture running and target a—" he stopped speaking when a roar cut through the air.
"Huh!?" Takumi turned his head towards the direction where the sound came from.
A large creature with multiple thin tentacles coming out of it jumped out, startling the smaller three Digimon. They all ran off into the other area as the large Digimon chased after them. Takumi felt the need to go after them, so looked over to his guide. The other boy didn't seem too bothered by the situation though as he continued to stare at the path leading deeper into Cron.
"The Digimon I prepared for you went and ran away," he simply frowned. "Well," he shrugged it off, "there are plenty of other Digimon. We'll just find another… Wait just a moment." He paused for a moment and brought a hand up to his face. "That did surprise me, though, for a Digimon as tough as that one to appear in this area. It could have been released as a bad joke by a low-level hacker, or as an attack on me by someone."
"Never mind that!" Takumi cried. "I need to go after that Digimon!"
The boy frowned at him. "You want a powerful Digimon like that?" He sternly shook his head. "No. You can't handle it. Forget about it."
"That's not it! Those three Digimon! I have to help them!"
"You're… concerned about the Digimon being chased?" the boy stared at the redhead oddly, but Takumi adamantly nodded his head. "You're a curious one. Still, that's all the more reason to leave it be. You'd look foolish if you got hurt interfering in a fight between mere programs."
Takumi closed his eyes as he considered what he should do. He shook his head though as he already knew what it was he wanted. "I have to go help!"
The other boy took a moment to consider Takumi's decision but decided to go along with it just this once. "If that's what you want, then you should do it. Chase after it, if that's your decision."
The blue-eyed boy nodded quickly set off after the group of small Digimon.
It didn't take long before Takumi spotted the three Digimon tightly huddled together. They were cornered by the larger purple Digimon and without thinking, the boy jumped in front of them to protect them. "You guys!"
"Oh, boy," a voice sighed. "You really ARE new at this. Do you intend to face off against a Digital Monster unarmed?"
Takumi looked over towards the direction the voice came from and noticed the light-haired boy had been silently following him. "You…!"
"You truly are curious," he stared at the redhead. "No… You're just a soft touch." He nodded as he found a suitable description for the blue-eyed boy. "That's it." He hid a smirk behind his hand. "What a coincidence. I am both those things as well. Just this once, allow me to aid you." He shook his head at Takumi. "You needn't do anything for the moment. Watch and learn. This is how a real hacker uses their skills." With that, an even larger Digimon materialized behind him.
Takumi's eyes widened at the sight of it. "W-whoa…" That's pretty cool… He looked between the mechanical dragon and the chrysalis-like Digimon. It looks like I'll only be in the way if I stand here… He took a hesitant step back but paused when the three small Digimon behind him jumped in front of him. "H-huh…?" They looked up at him with determined expressions on their faces and Takumi understood what it was they wanted. He quickly responded with a nod and a smile before facing their first opponent.
The other hacker raised an eyebrow at the strange turn of events. "Well, it seems they want to fight with you. It may have been something of an ordeal, but those Digimon are now yours. Instruct them well, and master the program." He smiled at Takumi.
The budding hacker looked at the three new Digimon and his Digivice quickly registered them. "Terriermon, Palmon, and Hagurumon…" He nodded and smiled at them before noticing his goggles began beeping. Curious, he slipped them on, only to be surprised by the amazing amount of information being relayed to him. Details of all Digimon on the field were displayed before him as he quickly relayed commands out to his team. "All right! Let's do this!" he cried as he sent his team forward to battle the Digimon his Digivice identified as Chrysalimon.
Terriermon was the first to act as he charged straight for Chrysalimon. On Takumi's orders, he jumped into the air and shot a tiny blast of energy from his mouth. "Blazing Fire!"
Chrysalimon roared as he agilely dodged out of the way. "Data Crusher!" A bunch of tentacles shot out towards the doglike Digimon, but a tangle of powerful vines suddenly wrapped themselves around its limbs. Chrysalimon looked towards Palmon as she restrained him with all her strength.
"Stinky Stench!" Palmon lowered her head to point her flower at the large Digimon before spraying their opponent with a powerful stench.
Chrysalimon winced and became stunned, giving Hagurumon the chance to attack without reserve. "Haguru Attack!" The Machine Digimon forcefully slammed into Chrysalimon, knocking it to the ground.
The light-haired hacker calmly smiled as Takumi really was a curious new addition to the hacker family. Despite it only being his first battle, he was able to lead his Digimon with great efficiency. Still, the boy thought to himself, he has much to learn before he can call himself a proud hacker of EDEN. "Mugendramon!" he called out to his mechanical dragon. "Mugen Cannon!"
Takumi's eyes widened as he saw the Ultimate-level Digimon charging up its heavy blasters. "Everyone! Get back!" His Digimon quickly returned to him as Mugendramon mercilessly unleashed its attack on Chrysalimon. The blue-eyed boy watched as Chrysalimon faded into data before turning to look at Mugendramon and its master. So that's what a fully powered Digimon can do… "Amazing…" Takumi was quickly shaken out of his thoughts when he heard his Digimon cheering before him.
Pushing his goggles back up, Takumi knelt down before the small creatures so that his height wouldn't intimidate them as much. "You three… You were amazing!" He held out his gloved hand to them. "I'm Aiba Takumi. It's nice to meet you." Takumi let out a yelp as they all pounced on him for hug. The new hacker laughed as he familiarized himself with the Digimon.
The other hacker recalled his Digimon and smiled at the new prospect's rather easygoing personality. He's actually trying to make friends with Digimon programs…? He might just be softer than me. He cleared his throat to get Takumi's attention. The redhead looked up towards the light-haired hacker curiously. "It's very rare to obtain a Digimon without scanning it through Digimon Capture, and yet here you are with three of them. What's more," he pensively brought his hand up to his mouth, "for programs to like a person…" The Digimon smiled up at Takumi, causing the veteran hacker to shake his head. "Everything about this is odd. You'll probably be an 'irregular' element among hackers."
"Irregular?" Takumi blinked at that.
"Anyway, you are free from your shell now," the boy proudly told him. "The rest is up to you. I shall take my leave."
As he turned, Takumi called out to the odd boy. "Wait! I'm looking for my friend who came this way! He's a bit older than me and has a pretty mean gaze."
"A young man with a nasty look in his eyes?" the boy paused. "Ah, the other 'irregular' one. Him?" Takumi nodded and the boy pointed towards the path leading deeper into Cron. "He was headed to that area over there."
Takumi craned his neck to get a better look of how deep the area was and frowned. "Do you know what's over there?"
"That used to be the old EDEN entrance area," the boy answered. "The remains of EDEN's creation. Its forgotten dregs. Proof of that lies in the fact that an original logout zone remains there, untouched. It's lock-protected and can't be used, but a hacker could probably deal with said lock."
"I see…" the redhead crossed his arms as a thought came to him. For a hacker, he sure knows a lot about EDEN…
"Yes, if you wanted to leave this place, it would be a good idea to use that logout zone. That boy should be able to unlock it in a snap," the grey-eyed boy hid his smirk, "as long as his skills haven't waned, that is."
"You mean… Arata?" Takumi blinked. I know Arata is good at programming and stuff, but… is he a hacker too?
"Why are you surprised?" the boy asked with a slight frown. "Don't tell me… He hasn't told you?" Takumi shook his head. "In that case, it's not my story to tell," the boy stated. "It's better to hear it directly from him."
"I guess…" Takumi frowned as the other boy turned away again. "Hold on. One more thing…" The boy didn't move as he waited for Takumi to continue. "I didn't catch your name."
"That's right. I haven't introduced myself." He turned around to directly face the new hacker. "I am Yuugo," he nodded to Takumi. "Yuugo of Team Zaxon. If you want to become a top-tier hacker, then you should seek us out. Our doors are always open." With that, he finally left.
Takumi closed his eyes to take the time to digest all of the information he just learned. Yuugo… of Team Zaxon? Is that a hacking team? He's not a bad guy since he wants to protect EDEN, but he sure knows a lot about the network... Just who is he really? He opened his eyes and sighed to himself. "Well, no sense thinking up conspiracy theories. Anyway, Arata was headed to that area over there. Yuugo also mentioned that there's supposed to be an old logout zone there." He smiled down at his Digimon before remembering something else. "We might be able to log out so I should go get Nokia."
Nokia took a deep breath as she finally worked up enough nerve to go further into Cron. She looked around for a sign of Takumi or Arata but stopped when she didn't find anything. "Where did those two go? L-like, could hackers have maybe—" She jumped when she heard footsteps nearby. She slowly turned to face the direction the sound was coming from and distinctly heard two voices.
"Hurry! Hurry!" A small orange dinosaur ran across the digital field.
"Wait a moment!" Another strange creature with a horn and wearing a fur cape chased after him. They both spotted Nokia and quickly ducked behind a wall.
The dinosaur cautiously took a peak around the corner. "Quietly…" He let out a grunt when his friend pushed down on his head to get a look too.
Takumi retraced his steps through Cron carefully, but soon a scream caught his attention. Worried that Nokia was in danger, he quickly called out his Digimon and started running towards her. He paused though when he spotted her. The girl was being circled by two other Digimon and Takumi figured they were rather harmless, considering they didn't seem like they were going to attack. Still, he approached them cautiously with his Digimon out, just in case they were dangerous.
Nokia looked at the two creatures circling her and let out a few squeals. "W-w-what are you!?"
The orange dinosaur stopped running and looked up at her. "Umm… Who are you?"
Nokia was a bit taken aback when it spoke to her. "It… it can talk!?" She relaxed a bit and blinked at the creature. "It's so… cute!" She nervously began to introduce herself. "M-m-my name's Nokia. What're your names?"
"Me?" the dinosaur smiled. "My name is Agumon!"
The fur-wearing Digimon shyly hid behind his friend. "I… I'm Gabumon."
"Agumon and Gabumon?" Nokia giggled. "What weird names!"
"Hey, they're not weird!" Gabumon looked up at her.
"You're the one with the weird name!" Agumon nodded in agreement.
"As if! My name's not weird!" Nokia chuckled.
Agumon paused. "Huh?" He looked over towards Gabumon and saw that he noticed it too.
The girl blinked at the two Digimon. "Huh? What's wrong? Have my totes adorbs good looks stunned you speechless?"
"I can smell something," Agumon whispered. "Something… familiar."
"Wait, what?" Nokia frowned. "Me?"
"Yeah," Gabumon nodded. "Familiar and reassuring."
"Uh, what!?" the girl's face went red. "Come on, this is kind of embarrassing…" She put on a big smile. "Sorry! Guess my naturally alluring pheromones are working full-force today."
Agumon laughed. "See, you ARE weird!" He noticed a weird human with three Digimon accompanying him and tensed up.
Takumi waved at them. "Nokia! It's good to see you safe."
"Oh, Takumi!" Nokia brightened when he returned. "Where the heck have you been!?"
"Yikes!" Gabumon shook his head. "It's another scary person!"
"I'm sick of being chased around," Agumon complained. "Run!"
"Wait! Calm down!" Nokia called out to them. "This is a friend of mine!" The two Digimon didn't listen though and ran off. She let out a long sigh. "They're gone. Just what were those cute little critters?" She shook her head before facing Takumi. "But never mind that. Who are they?" she asked, pointing at the three Digimon following him.
Takumi smiled at his team. "They're my Digimon!"
"Those are… Digimon!?" Nokia turned her head towards where Agumon and Gabumon disappeared. "Then those little cuties were Digimon, too!? But…" She knit her eyebrows together in confusion. "Both those Digimon and these ones here… They don't seem like bad programs."
"They're pretty cool, don't you think?" Takumi nodded.
"Digimon, huh?" Nokia mused as she stared at her phone. "Having cute critters like them around could be pretty okay. Maybe this Digimon Capture thing won't be so bad after all."
"Well, not all of them are cute. We were attacked by a pretty nasty one earlier," Takumi told her. "It'll be bad if Arata encounters one on his own so we'd better get going."
"What!?" Nokia stared at him in surprised. "There was a violent wild Digimon too!? Whatever it was sounds super-duper scary!" She worriedly looked over Takumi's shoulder. "Arata's in the area through there? I'll go with you. Let's go find him!"
After a while of wandering through Cron, Nokia stopped to think something over. "Something feels really strange. Like this all happened before when I was a kid. It's like I've met you and Arata before…" she told Takumi who was staring at her curiously.
"What do you mean?" he asked. "We've met a bunch of times before in the chat."
Nokia shook her head. "No, not like we had met yesterday in chat or anything like that."
"Are you sure?" Takumi crossed his arms. "We're in the chat room so much that we're pretty familiar with each other."
She blinked at that. "Huh? Like, maybe… Yeah, maybe…" she paused as she couldn't come up with the words to explain it. "Something's strange." She took a moment to think it over some more let out a shriek when her avatar began flickering again.
Takumi winced as something within him resonated with Nokia. His eyes widened when the image of five children flashed in his mind. They seemed familiar, but there wasn't enough detail within the image to quite make them out. He quickly looked around for anything suspicious but couldn't find anything else out of the ordinary.
"What…?" Nokia looked around too. "What was that? Did… Did you see it?"
"Yeah," he nodded to her. "I did…" Maybe Nokia was right… This is strange… but oddly familiar… What could it be? He frowned to himself as a strange feeling of sadness washed over him.
"Again with the hacking!?" Nokia whined. "Honestly! What is WITH this place!?" She quickly started off again. "Let's go! Arata should be up ahead, right?"
Takumi stayed behind for a little while longer to check the area once more. "Is this related… to that ghost boy?" He shook his head as now wasn't the time to be delving into such thoughts. He quickly followed after Nokia but felt a shiver run down his spine. He simply dismissed it though before catching up to the red-haired girl.
Arata frowned as he looked around the old terminal point. "What was that image just now? A child? I am SO weirded out." He shook his head to clear his thoughts. "Damn it. I wanna know what that was!" He placed a hand on his head. "Whoa… This really does not feel right." A voice behind him caught his attention and he checked to see who it was.
"Ah!" Nokia let out a sigh of relief. "There it is! There!" she pointed at the old terminal. She spotted Arata and frowned at him. "Hang on! You're running off by yourself!? You can't just think about yourself, you know!"
"Well, at least we're all safe," Takumi shrugged. The two of them approached Arata, but Takumi soon paused when his avatar flickered. He looked over towards his Digimon and noticed they were just as tense as he was. "Something's wrong…" he muttered as he looked around for anything remotely dangerous. He lifted his gaze when a bright light caught his attention.
He watched as the light grew into a nautilus shell pattern. From that light, a strange creature emerged from it and landed before them.
Takumi quickly pulled down his goggles to run a scan but he blinked when the Digimon Capture program was unresponsive. Is that not a Digimon!?
Behind him, he sensed Nokia beginning to tremble. "What… is this…?"
Arata seemed confused too. "What's that? Is that another Digimon?" His eyes widened though as a horrible thought came to him. "It can't be! The 'Black Monster of EDEN' people have been talking about? They say it devours your data." He called out to the two younger teens. "You guys, this way! Run! Whatever that thing is, it's a real menace, that's for sure! I'll break through the lock on this thing! Log out, then get away as fast as you can!" he urgently told them before pulling up a few monitors to begin his work.
Takumi clenched his fists as he took Arata's advice. He started towards the older boy, but noticed Nokia wasn't following him. He turned to look at her only to see her frozen in place due to fear. "Nokia!"
"Hey, I told you to run, didn't I?" Arata called out to her. "Go on, get out of there!"
Nokia's knees shook as she willed her legs to move, but she was still rooted in place. "Uh… Ha… Ha…"
"Hey!" Arata yelled as the strange creature was now slowly approaching her.
Nokia watched as the monster inched closer but she still couldn't find the strength to move. She flinched when the slimy beast reeled back to attack, but suddenly, two Digimon appeared in front of her. Nokia gasped when she noticed it was Agumon and Gabumon. "H-hey… It's you guys…"
"We'll protect you, Nokia!" Agumon declared.
"G-get out of here, Nokia!" Gabumon bravely tried to exclaim.
"Ah!?" Takumi looked down at his Digimon and they nodded to him. He quickly rushed forward to join the battle. "We can't lose!" he told his team as they took their positions beside Agumon and Gabumon.
"Baby Flame!" the small dinosaur Digimon spit out a fireball as Gabumon quickly followed suit.
"Blazing Fire!" Terriermon offered his support.
Palmon shook her head to scatter spores on their enemy. "Plant Shock!"
Hagurumon growled as he spit out a dark cog. "Darkness Gear!"
Takumi frowned as the attacks didn't do a thing. "Are we not strong enough…?" he muttered to himself. "Everyone! Forget about doing damage! Just make sure you don't get hurt!" His eyes widened when he saw the creature prepare an attack his Digivice labeled as Erode Device. "Look out!"
The creature sent out its tentacles towards all five Child Digimon, knocking them backwards. Gabumon groaned as he picked himself up off the group. "What should we do? It's too strong!"
"I…" Agumon frowned. "Why am I so weak? We have to help Nokia and the others!"
Takumi knelt down to help his Digimon up. "Everyone…" Takumi frowned to himself before looking up towards the locked gate. "Arata! Hurry!"
Arata finished inputting the string of codes necessary to activate the terminal. "Okay!" he called out. "The lock is taken care of. You can log out!" He frowned when Nokia still wasn't moving. "Come on, Nokia! Hurry!"
"But what about them!?" Nokia worriedly asked.
"Don't you get it? You're holding them back!" Arata scolded her. "They can't do anything until you get away!"
Nokia clenched her fists as she realized he was right. She looked over at Agumon and Gabumon. The two Digimon were pelting the monster with fire again but to no avail. She forced herself to turn away from them and ran towards the terminal to log out.
Once she was gone, Arata looked over to Takumi. "Takumi! Nokia's logged out! I'll go next! You hurry on after us, okay!?"
"Just get going!" Takumi called out before turning his attention to his team. "Everyone, we're leaving!" He recalled his Digimon back into his Digivice and pushed his goggles back up before looking over towards Agumon and Gabumon. "You two…!"
"Just run!" Agumon called out.
"We'll be fine!" Gabumon reassured him.
A part of the redhead didn't want to leave them behind, but it did seem as though they could take care of themselves. "Alright!" He nodded and started for the terminal. He didn't dare look back at the battle or else he'd be tempted to rejoin it, but from the sounds of things, it wasn't going well.
"Ah! Agumon!" Gabumon cried out as his friend was knocked aside. He brought up his arms to guard against any incoming attacks now that he was alone, but to his surprise, the creature ignored him. His eyes widened as he realized where it was going. "No, wait!"
Takumi felt a chilling presence behind him and it caused him to lose his footing, still he remained steady. He thought he felt something brush past his foot and that moment of panic resulted in him tripping towards the terminal. He desperately reached out towards the access point but his vision flickered into static once more.
Within him, he heard the voices of children. "Find us…" they begged him as the world faded to black.
Takumi didn't know whether he had made it to the terminal or whether the monster had got him. All he knew was that his Digivice was giving him an extremely concerning message but that had to mean he was still alive in one form or another.
An unexpected error occurred during the logout process for Aiba Takumi—
The logout process cannot continue…
The logout process cannot continue…
The logout process cannot continue…
…The logout process will continue.
Logout successful. See you at your next login. Thank you. EDEN is a human network connecting the world to the future, run by Kamishiro Enterprise.
Takumi took in deep breaths to calm his heart rate. He kept his eyes closed so he could reorganize his thoughts without visual distractions. Still, the noise around him didn't really help because cars were honking incessantly around him. I'm alive… he thought. But where…? The boy slowly opened his eyes and blinked when he noticed something strange about his hands. H-huh…!? It's not just my hands… My entire body…! He stared at the light blue mass that made up his being. W-what's going on…!?
Around him, the cars were getting even noisier and he sensed that he was drawing a crowd since he was keeled over in the middle of the street with such a weird appearance. He decided to ignore them though as he tried to make sense of what was going on with his body.
"Um, excuse me… Isn't that dangerous?" a woman nearby ask.
"What's up with that kid?" a man mumbled. "Yikes…"
Soon a shrill voice cut through the air. "You there! What's with making such a scene in broad daylight? You want me to arrest you? Do you!?"
"Um, officer!" a passerby kid called out. "Over here!"
A woman wearing an officer's uniform snapped at the boy. "Who you calling a police officer? I'm a detective! Don't judge a book by its cover! I'll arrest you!" She tensed up when she noticed Takumi's form on the ground. "Huh? What the…?" the woman stared at the boy with wide eyes. "What is that!? What's going on? Urgh, that's gross! So gross I'm gonna arrest you! Right here on the spot!"
Takumi remained still though as he continued taking deep, heavy breaths. In the distance, he made out a car speeding through the streets. Momentarily pulled out of his jumbled thoughts, he quickly focused on the sound to figure out where it was coming from. He tensed up when he realized the car was behind him, but he knew he wouldn't have time to react to it judging by how fast it was moving. He flinched though as a gleaming black sports car with gold accents swerved around him before it came to a screeching halt in front of him.
The boy blinked when the right car door opened for him, revealing a woman with long blonde hair, a pink lens sunglass-style Digivice, and a long black scarf with thin gold lines running through its length. The lady chuckled as she studied Takumi. "You have an interesting appearance… I'm very curious. Handle it! Before it gets worse!"
It seemed as though she were offering him a ride and seeing as his only other alternative was being arrested for no reason, Takumi quickly entered the vehicle, never mind the consequences. He pulled the door close behind him despite the detective woman's protests in the streets.
"Stop that car! I'll arrest you! Wait!" the woman screamed as the car sped off.
Takumi let out a sigh of relief but he couldn't fully relax yet. He looked over at the strange blonde woman with a frown, slightly grateful that his appearance made it difficult for any sort of expression to be discernible on his face. Just what did I get myself into? He studied the sports car for a while before making it out to be an imported Alfa Romeo Montreal. Well… this sure is fancy… but for some reason... I feel strangely at ease...
The woman curiously eyed him as she drove. "I'm more used to strange phenomena than most… but I've never seen the likes of this before," she mused. "Can you hear my voice? Are you able to speak?"
"Yeah, I can hear you…" Takumi blinked in surprise. "Huh… I can… talk…" He raised his right hand up to examine it. He opened and closed it a few times before deciding that he really was still in control of his strange body. It felt extremely different though. It's super light… like how it was in EDEN…
"That's good," the mysterious woman said, pulling him out of his reverie. "I wasn't sure what I was going do if you weren't human."
"Ah… would I still be considered human like this?" he humorously asked. "How did I even get this way?"
"I see," the woman smirked. "So you have no idea what it is that happened to you."
"Pretty much," Takumi nodded.
"If you have questions, ask them now," she told him. "I'll answer whatever I can."
Takumi's mind immediately went to Nokia and Arata. "My friends! Where have they gone!? We logged out from the same terminal in EDEN…"
"No," the woman shook her head. "There wasn't anyone else around. Just you. You're wondering whether the same thing might've happened to your friends?"
"Well, of course," Takumi sighed. He felt rather relieved since if Nokia and Arata weren't around, there was probably a high chance that they didn't end up with whatever condition he had.
The lady must have sensed his thoughts because she shook her head at him again. "I see… I can't tell you to not worry about them, but your first priority should be taking care of yourself."
"Then, do you know what's happened to my body?"
"It looks like your body is in an extreme digital state, as if it were a cyberspace avatar, yet somehow here in the real world."
"Ah…" Takumi nodded in understanding. "That makes sense since it feels just like when I was in EDEN."
"If that's true, then this is a very interesting phenomenon," the woman mused as she made a sharp turn.
Takumi glanced out the window and frowned as he couldn't recognize what street he was on. "Um… where are we exactly?"
"Shinjuku," she simply replied. "I was out working, looking for something, when I came across you here."
"Really…?" Somehow, Takumi found it very unlikely.
"You might not believe that, but it's the truth," the woman shrugged. "I'm headed to my agency's office in Nakano. You can tell me the details when we get there."
"Agency?" the boy brought his hand up to his mouth and closed his eyes. He opened them again when he had one last, very important question to ask. "Who are you?"
"Who am I?" the woman blinked at him before she realized something too. "Ah, I haven't introduced myself yet. I should have done that earlier, but you were such a curiosity it completely slipped my mind. Sorry," she said with a small smirk.
"Better late than never," Takumi shrugged. "But I guess it's rude to ask someone to introduce themselves without introducing yourself first. I'm Aiba Takumi."
"Well, Takumi, I'm Kuremi Kyoko," the woman told him in response. "I'm just a humble detective."
"A detective, huh?" Takumi crookedly grinned.
Final Notes: Because the game's audio is in Japanese, I decided to use the family name first naming scheme. Also, I'm going to be using the original Japanese names for the Digimon when I can. Same thing for their attacks. I should thank Wikimon for being such a reliable site for attacks since I'm too lazy to look up in the game the proper in-game attacks each Digimon can learn. And technically, if you try really hard, you can make any Digimon any inheritable attack, so I'm just going with their signature attacks... Oh, and since there's Digimoji in the game, I decided to just literally translate that into romanji. That's all for now. I'll probably explain a few more things during tomorrow's update since this is just the game's prologue.