Taichi's eys shoot open! He's about to jolt up when he sees Sora's familiar face staring down at him. Taking in his surroundings, he realizes his head is resting on Sora's lap.
Sora's eyes widen with joy.
"You're awake again!" She gasps.
"I…was dreaming…" Taichi mutters, trying to recover his wits and recall the details of a nightmare. He attempts to lift his head, but Sora gently lays him back down.
"Easy now," she says. "We're safe here. There's no need to push yourself."
Taichi complies, his face turning slightly red. However, Sora doesn't seem to mind. In fact, she strokes his hair affectionately as she looks down at him. The gesture seems odd to Taichi; Sora had never treated him this way. Yet, he had to keep in mind her amnesia.
"How long?" Taichi asks, somewhat trying to deviate from the awkwardity.
"What?" Sora asks, confusedly.
"How long was I out?" Taichi presses.
"Oh...uh...about an hour or two?" Sora replies, shrugging. "I...I carried you."
Taichi face turns even more red and he turns away from Sora. He then takes in his current surroundings.
The room they occupy is a booth of some kind, illuminated by the lights of two vending machines. In the corner he sees Agumon, curled and asleep. A single door and window adorn the wall farthest from them.
"Where are we?" He asks.
"Some kind of 'break room'?" Sora says, registering an unsure tone. "I don't know. The Geremon brought us here."
"They…what?" Taichi asks, baffledly. "What's been going on?"
Sora puts a finger to her mouth, motioning towards a snoring Agumon. Taichi eyes his Digimon partner who twitches somewhat, but continues his nap.
"Where's Elecmon?" Taichi asks, lowering his voice.
"He's…elsewhere," Sora replies, glancing up at the door. "A lot has happened."
"Well, after you passed out, we continued down the train tunnel for a while. Nothing seemed to be off until there was this rumbling—like an earthquake. Elecmon said it was Gran Locomon. A…train Digimon, if you can believe that. We were all nearly run over."
"Elecmon knew about it?" Taichi asks.
"He was…surprised," answers Sora, somewhat timidly. "But…yes, he knew about Gran Locomon."
"Seems like there's a lot that he knows…" Taichi remarks suspiciously.
"Well, that's…" Sora trails off, frustrated and unsure of what to say.
Taichi briefly inspects his right hand. The entire limb is as black as night, seeming to bend and absorb the light around it. His Digivice is still there, embedded within center of his palm. While the former pain is gone, he notes he can no longer feel any sensations whatsoever, like the entire limb had fallen asleep and could not be woken up.
"Is he responsible for this?" Taichi demands.
Sora is taken aback. "What?!" She gasps. "How can you even—"
Taichi lifts himself up very suddenly and brings himself to eye level with Sora.
"Think about it," he says angrily, "I wake up with a needle in my arm, Koromon is taken to some lab, and my Digivice is nowhere to be found. Next thing I know, Agumon goes savage, my Digivice reacts in a way I've never seen and then melts into my hand!" Taichi gets really close to her face and adds, "and my best friend can't even remember who I am!"
Sora's face turns sour. She turns away gets up, crossing her arms and heading towards the window. It's obvious to Taichi that she's trying to hold back some tears, but he pays this no mind, feeling he had every right to be angry with their current situation. Agumon shifts and stirs a bit, but continues snoring, deep in sleep.
"Sora," Taichi pleads, "tell me what you know. What's going on?" He then mentions the dream he had to Sora, trying to recollect the words he heard, but sparing some of the grittier details.
"I really don't know, Taichi," She says, her voice trembling. "In fact, I probably know less than you do at this point. But what I do know is that Elecmon didn't do anything except help you."
"He's hiding something," he asserts, "I want to know what it is."
Sora grits her teeth for a few seconds before she finally admits, "He…he was part of Etemon's operation."
"He what?!" Taichi gasps.
"I don't know exactly what he did," Sora replies. She turns around and gives Taichi a pleading look. "He just told me he was 'involved'. But that's all. He's ashamed of it, Taichi and he won't talk about it. Not even to me."
"And you trusted him?"
"I had to!"
Taichi looks at Sora crossly, but is left unsure of what to say. She sighs, and combing her fingers through her hair. Taichi stares at her as she does so, somewhat mesmerized. For a moment, looking upon her without her helmet, he cannot help but think how pretty she is. Beautiful, even. Then, becoming bashful, he shakes his head slightly and looks away.
Sora returns to the bench, apparantly not having noticed Taichi's brief infatuation with her. Sitting beside him, she turns to folding her arms grumpily.
The pair of them don't speak to each other for another heavy stretch of time.
"I'm hungry," Sora says at length.
"Yeah," Taichi replies, "me too." He looks at the vending machines curiously.
"Already tried that," Sora says, guessing his thoughts. "Agumon pried them open earlier but they're completely empty. Elecmon said he'd try to find us something."
"Did he?" Taichi asks, "How long ago was that?"
"I don't know." She shrugs, "an hour, maybe?"
Neither one of them had any way of telling the time.
"He's very…reserved," Sora says, breaking another long moment of silence.
"Elecmon?" Taichi asks.
"Yeah," she replies.
"I think you mean 'secretive'," Taichi asserts.
Hesitantly, Sora admits, "Yes, alright, he's very secretive," then, hastily, she adds, "but he also risked his life for me-for us! Not to mention the Tsunomon…"
She proceeds to tell Taichi about what had happened after he fell into unconsciousness...
"…he leapt back onto the tracks to retrieve them, even when the train was coming. He was almost buried by all the Geremon. Lucky for him, I didn't follow his instructions."
"You went in after him?" Taichi asks in astonishment.
"Of course, I did!"
"You managed to save him, then?"
"Yes. Naturally, he yelled at me to save myself, but I couldn't just sit there and do nothing, y'know? Anyway, I managed to pull him out right before Gran Locomon hit us. We cut it pretty close. But something…strange happened afterwards…."
Taichi nods and motions for her to continue.
"My body started glowing, Taichi! It was the same as what had happened back when we were trying to get Koromon to wake up—only this time, much brighter."
Taichi ponders this and reaches into his shirt, pulling out his tag and Crest. Greymon's evolution was heralded by his Crest becoming illuminated. Given Sora had been bereft of both her Crest and Digivice, he puzzles over this strange phenomenon. How could she glow without it?
"I was wondering about that too," She says, guessing Taichi's thoughts. "You told me you started glowing right before Greymon evolved."
"My Crest seems to activate whenever…" Taichi trails off.
"Whenever you're being brave?" Sora suggests.
"Anyway," Sora continues, "The Geremon were all in awe of me. Which was...awkward..." She shudders, "but, whatever. Elecmon said they hated the light, but they were all…drawn to me. Like I was some kind of goddess."
"They didn't attack you?"
Sora shakes her head and giggles a bit, "they told me I was the most 'beautiful' thing they'd ever seen. Elecmon wouldn't let me live it down; but then he told me I should request to be brought before their leader."
"Yeah, he was completely serious."
"How would he have known...?"
"I'm getting to that. The Geremon lead us through a network of sewers beneath the facility. Lucky for us, we no longer needed Elecmon to zap the ceiling since I'd basically becoming a living flashlight."
"Were you still carrying me?"
"No, Elecmon took over. The Geremon offered, but Elecmon thought it best you were carried by a pair of arms and not…eyestalks."
Taichi suppresses a chuckle but Sora takes notice.
"See?" she says "He might have his secrets, but Elecmon has a kind heart."
"I guess…" Taichi admits, shrugging. "And how was Agumon doing?"
"He was…restless," Sora says tentatively. "He didn't overreact like before, but he definitely wasn't comfortable with the whole situation."
"Is he…okay?" Taichi asks pointedly. He looks over at his sleeping partner.
"He seems okay now, although his face was downcast most of the time." She then points at Taichi's blackened hand, adding, "I think he blames himself for what happened to you."
"He does?" A grave look crosses Taichi's face. "I need talk with him. He shouldn't be so hard on himself."
Taichi gets up, about to wake his partner, but Sora stops him.
"Elecmon gave him a bit of a pep talk along the way, trying to cheer him up. Let him sleep for now, he might need the energy later."
"Fair enough," Taichi says, sitting down again.
Sora peers at Agumon intently, watching thin trails of steam rise from the Digimon's nose as sleeps
"You know," she observes, "he's not so bad when he's not…y'know, trying to burn everything in sight."
Taichi chuckles a bit. However, his thoughts journey to the SkullGreymon incident and all the events leading up to it. Pangs of guilt prod him as he thinks about all the abuse he had put his partner through just to achieve that evolution.
"You know, Sora," he says, "you tried to stop me from making Greymon evolve that first time."
"I did?" She asks, looking at Taichi curiously. "You mean when he evolved into SkullGreymon?"
He nods, "I should have listened to you. You were right."
"I guess it's nice to know I have good instincts," She says, shrugging modestly. "But, surely I wasn't the only one, right? Someone else must have questioned you…"
"In fact, you were the only one who did…"
Suddenly, it dawns on him: the others had trusted him so implicitly that none of them sought to question his motives or his actions.
"Even when I was clearly wrong," Taichi realizes, "nobody else said or did anything."
"But you weren't 'clearly wrong' though, were you?"
"Huh?" Taichi looks at her inquisitively. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, it's not like you could have known Agumon would have evolved the wrong way, right?"
"I…" Taichi thinks for a moment.
"None of us really knew anything," Sora reminds him. "We still don't! Especially me, since...you know," she taps her head. "But, from what you told me about our adventures before, you hadn't mislead us."
"Now that I think about it, I feel like I just got lucky all the time," Taichi says grumpily.
Sora shrugs, "well, doing anything in our position probably would have required some luck. You found Facility 009 in spite of the storm, Elecmon found me in the middle of the desert, we happened to find a breach in the wall of the train tunnel when we needed it, and we also found my Digivice-"
"You found it?"
Sora nods and continues her story from before. A bright smile appears on her face as she talks about the next part:
"The Geremon eventually brought us into a cavern deep underground. I thought I it would be frightening at first, but…it was beautiful! The walls were lined with these silver rocks that glittered as I passed by. The Geremon said it was pure platinum, and called the cavern a 'Platina Mine'. They said they hadn't ever seen it glow that way before. There were other Geremon there, plus some Numemon and Scumon too. They were fawning all over me."
"But...the Numemon..." Taichi obsverves. "You weren't bothered by the smell?"
"That's the thing," she explains, "they said the Platina Mine actively converts their…well, their poop into platinum." She wrinkles her nose, "I don't know how or why. I don't even want to know, to be honest. But...that's just the way it works."
"Gross…" Taichi says in disgust.
"Very," Sora agrees, "but at least it didn't stink up the place.
"Anyway, as we continued, we arrived at a particularly large section of the cave with some kind of platinum reservoir in the middle. The room even the two platinum-coated Scumon guarding it. When, they asked us who we were, Elecmon said, 'Tell Platty that an old friend has come to visit'."
"He…what?" Taichi asks in befuddlement.
"I know, right?" she says "I was confused too. Elecmon never mentioned he knew anyone below the facility. But, he knew who their leader was."
"Doesn't it bother you?"
"I…" Sora doesn't say anything for a good long minute before finally admitting, "…yes. It bothers me."
She goes quiet again, staring into space, no doubt deep in thought.
"Well...?" Taichi asks, breaking the silence.
"Hmm?" she replies.
"Did you meet him?"
"Huh?" Sora looks lost.
"'Platty'," Taichi says, "Did you meet him?"
"Oh!" She says, trying to find her place in her story. "Yes! Yes, we did! As it turned out, Platty was a Numemon—but very much unlike any of the others we saw. His skin was made of platinum and he had a pair of golden wings on his back-like some kind of angelic Numemon. He decorated himself with all kinds of jewelry too. Although, I have to say, none of this stuff improved his image much. He was still pretty much as ugly as any of the other Numemon." She shrugs, "Anyway, Elecmon told me to treat Platty like royalty."
"Do you know why Elecmon called him 'Platty'?"
"Some kind of nickname, maybe?" Sora shrugs. "I never got a chance to ask."
"What happened next?"
"So, Platty and Elecmon had a conversation. I didn't really understand most of it and for some reason, Platty kept calling Elecmon 'Rusty'."
"'Rusty'?" Taichi asks. "Is that another nickname?"
Sora shrugs again. "Platty even said something about how Elecmon was 'a lot smaller than when he remembered.' Elecmon actually insisted that he not be called by *that name* anymore. He kept on giving me worried glances whenever Platty said it."
"Seems like I'll have quite a few questions to ask him," Taichi notes.
"I think we both will," Sora replies. "Elecmon also asked Platty what he knew about the return of the Metal Empire. Platty said he wasn't aware of anything. It didn't take me long to realize that Platty was really absent-minded. I don't think he was very smart. The only thing he did mention was how 'the Groundramon have begun digging again.' I didn't understand what that meant, but Elecmon said it was troubling. Sometime after that, I happened to notice that Platty was wearing Digivice around his neck."
"Was it yours?" Taichi asks.
"Yeah," she replies, "That's what I thought too. It was coated in platinum which is why I hadn't noticed it at first. When I drew attention to it and he told me that the Geremon had found it and brought it to him a while back. He refused to let me have it, though, and said he liked its 'bling' far too much to just give it away." She glances towards window and adds, "Elecmon is still negotiating with him."
"Why are we here anyway?" Taichi gestures about the room. "Shouldn't we still be with him?"
"Well, when Elecmon showed Platty what had happened to your arm, he took one look at it and ordered us to leave."
"He wouldn't tell us. Elecmon seemed confused as well, but Platty said that you and Agumon would just bring unwanted attention."
Sora shrugs, "he wouldn't give us a straight answer. He just wanted you guys gone as soon as possible. So, the Geremon brought us here."
"Any idea where 'here' is?"
"We're near some decommissioned train station. Only I guess that's not so true anymore, given Gran Locomon is using it now. But it exits through a nearby stairwell leading to the surface. We just have to wait for Elecmon and then we can be on our way."
"Yeah…" Taichi is left unsure of what to say next.
"We should question him," Sora suggests, "I've a lot of questions myself; about the Metal Empire, the D-Brigade, how he got his nickname, how he knows about PlatinumNumemeon…"
"Sora…I was thinking about what you said," Taichi says pensively.
"You said the others trusted me, even when they didn't know everything," Taichi reminds her. Taichi's eyes are set on Agumon as he says this, thinking about it deeply.
"Taichi…" Sora begins to say.
As if on cue, a latch clicks and the door to the room squeaks open. Agumon suddenly awakes and looks to Taichi and Sora.
"Taichi, you're awake! I'-" he begins to say. Then, noticing the door, he takes up a defensive position in front of the two humans.
"It's just me, rookie," Elecmon says, sidling inside. He looks at the other three and they at him for a few good minutes.
"Taichi, I…" Elecmon begins to say. However, he becomes tongue-tied. Very subtlety, Taichi notices that the fox is trembling. Almost as soon as Taichi notices this, however, Elecmon regains his bearing. For the first time, Taichi realizes the Digimon has a rather militant demeanor. Elecmon seemed to prefer to stand on his hind legs for the most part, even though he would walk around on all fours. Doing so made him look somewhat regal and important, as it the stance was well-practiced.
Taichi gets to his feet and asks him, "Did you get the Digivice?"
"Did I get the…? Oh!" Nervously, Elecmon fumbles around a bit and eventually produces the Digivice. "Here! Here it is!"
Taichi nods at Sora who reaches out to receive the Digivice.
"I…I had to pull a few favors," Elecmon explains, "but what matters is we got it back, right? Although I'm not sure what we're going to do about the platinum…"
Just then, as Sora's hand touches the item, the platinum cracks and shatters! The Digivice glows, shining brightly. Then, slowly, the light fades. Everyone stares at the it in bewilderment, wondering what just happened.
"That…that glow," Elecmon asks Sora, "That must mean it's yours, right?" Elecmon asks Sora.
"I...I guess so?" Sora replies. She glances at Taichi for answers, but he just shrugs. Sora then takes the Digivice and inspects it closely. "It looks like the metal is corroded a bit. I hope it still works."
"We won't know until we find Piyomon," Taichi asserts. He then looks at Elecmon. The red fox returns his gaze, setting his teeth on edge.
"Well done!" Taichi says at length, nodding at Elecmon respectfully. "So, what's next?"
The other three look at Taichi with bewilderment.
"Taichi, you're not going to—?" Sora whispers to him. However, Taichi lifts a hand up to her and shakes his head. He then addresses Elecmon again:
"Elecmon, whatever…secrets...that you're keeping from us, well…I just hope you have a good reason."
Elecmon doesn't say anything, but continues to look at Taichi in astonishment. Then, he turns his head away guiltily. Taichi approaches the red fox and kneels down, getting at eye level with him.
"Elecmon, I'm trusting you," Taichi says, placing his good hand on the Digimon's shoulder.
Elecmon turns and looks Taichi in the eyes. "I...Thank you, Taichi," he says.
Taichi nods in response and gets back to his feet.
His determination renewed, Elecmon rubs his chin thoughtfully and announces, "First thing's first. We need to get some food."
"Platty didn't have anything?" Sora asks.
"All they have down there is cave moss and algae," answers Elecmon. "And, considering they've been wriggling their slimy bodies over everything..." he sticks his tongue out in revulsion. "We're desperate; but we're not that desperate."
"Eggs, Taichi!" Agumon suggests gleefully, "Let's try to find some eggs!"
"Hah!" Taichi says, smiling cheerfully at his partner. "If we're lucky, we'll find a fridge lying around like we did on File Island. Then, you can eat all the eggs you want."
Agumon jumps for joy, shouting, "Eggs! Eggs!"
The next moment, the four of them depart, ascending the stairwell leading to the surface. Elecmon leads the way and Taichi notices how exuberant he is, like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Sora, however, continues to look at Taichi perplexedly.
"What was that about?!" She whispers to him, "weren't you going to question him?"
"It's like you said," he reminds her. "Nobody ever questioned me, but you all still followed me."
"That's…" Sora starts to say. However, she stops herself as she thinks about it. She nods soon after, but even so Taichi sees that she looks uneasy.
"He hasn't led us astray, has he?" Taichi asks.
Sora shakes her head.
"Then I think it's best that we continue to follow him."
However, as they continue upward, Taichi inquires, "I do have one question for you, Elecmon."
"Oh?" Elecmon asks, "Just one?"
"Just one," Taichi says.
"Okay," Elecmon says, "I suppose one question wouldn't hurt."
"Your nickname," Taichi says, "Why were you called 'Rusty'?"
Elecmon looks at Taichi in disbelief. Eventually, to Taichi's surprise, the red fox begins to laughs out loud. Tacihi can only look at him quizzically. Had he said something funny?
"Are you sure you want that to be your only question?" Elecmon asks him.
"...Yes?" Taichi says, unsure of himself now.
"Very well," Elecmon says in acquiescence. "So, you know about my nickname?" He then addresses Sora, "I assume you told him about Platty, then?"
"So, 'Platty' is short for 'Platinum Numemon'" Elecmon explains.
"Yeah, I figured," says Taichi.
"As for 'Rusty,'" Elecmon clears his throat, "'Rusty' is short for 'Rust Tyranomon'."