"I know of two men who were walking down the same path at the same point in the past, and it took that long (ten years) for them to reach opposite truths. So I was thinking I might be able to find my own truth if I spend ten years wandering."
Soujiro Seta—Rurouni Kenshin
For the first time in his life, Cody Hida stood in a courtroom and was nervous. Normally, the man would be completely at ease, his belief in justice guiding him, but this case was emotionally trying, tearing his heart in two.
It had all started a month before, sometime after the big DigiDestined reunion that took place after T.K. Takaishi finished his final book on their adventures. As if waiting for their celebration to be over, another evil swept the Digital World, and it was up to another team of DigiDestined to stop it. The quintet this time were from all over the world: Alicia Bailey from Sacramento, California, USA; Abena Tawiah Nkrumah of Cape Coast, Ghana; Xian-Wei Yuan of Beijing, China; Craig O'Connell of Dublin, Ireland; and Koji Nakata of Tokushima, Shikoku, Japan. Cody had received their names, ages, and pictures via e-mail, and was appalled to see that they were merely kindergarteners—much younger than the original team twenty-eight years earlier! He could still remember his words of fright: "They're doing it again. They're going to make more DigiDestined!" when he sent an e-mail to Izzy Izumi and the digital guardian Gennai. Sadly, there was little either of them could do. The process of choosing DigiDestined was now left to the last Harmonious One, Azulongmon, and Cody began to wonder if the Digimon was possibly senile after all this time.
And so here he was now, the prosecutor in court, trying to fight for the futures of these young individuals, using every ounce of information he'd managed to gather with the help of former Tamer Ryo Akiyama, who had long since moved to another world, but had spent so much time wandering dimensions that he felt he didn't have a home.
The other DigiDestined were in the back as spectators, the five new children in front. On the jury were several people of his own age—he recognized DigiDestined and Dark Spore bearer Takashi Kusao as juror # 3. It was their decision of whether he made a good case or if he had completely lost his mind.
"Mr. Hida, you may make your case," the judge informed.
"Thank you, Your Honor," he replied, bowing deeply and with great respect. He gathered his folder and went over to the board intended for photos. Somberly, he slid the first photo into place. "Rika Nonaka, born April 22nd, 1989. Date of death: unknown, but some time in 2007." The second. "Jeri Katou, resident of West Shinjuku for eighteen years. Whereabouts as of now are unknown." The third. "Ryo Akiyama, origin: Tokyo of this world. Currently living in Fukuoka, Kyushu of another world, but considers himself homeless." The fourth. "Takato Matsuki, original mental health: imaginative but healthy. Current mental health: deteriorating." The fifth. "Henry Wong, an avid computer game fan. Now shuns all forms of technology." The sixth. One of the new children shifted uncomfortably. "Koji Minamoto, born March 19th, 1991. Died August 10th, 2014." The seventh. The same child shifted again. "Koichi Kimura, born as a happy child. Has been taking medication to treat clinical depression for thirteen years to no avail. Currently lives with his mother." The eighth. "Matt Ishida, originally a budding musician. Has since become an astronaut." The ninth. "Willis Ford, a genius whose creations eventually turned on him." The tenth. "Ken Ichijouji, former child genius. Blacklisted as the Digimon Emperor and recently acquitted of charges of manslaughter against his brother." The cases were famous. Cody had made a name for himself defending Ken for not having realized the power of the Digital World in making the wish for his brother, Sam, to "disappear," and for defending him in the Emperor case on the grounds that he had not understood that the Digital World was not a game.
Cody respectfully bowed before the pictures and turned to face the court. "As you are all aware, we are here to discuss the future of the DigiDestined. Many of you may call me a hypocrite as I joined their ranks at the age of nine. However, I must express that I believe that even that age was too young." He then gestured to the board. "These nine people all had one thing in common: They were chosen to fight in the Digital World, ending their childhoods. While it's true that some of them needed the experience to build character, they lost much more than they gained, some of them even their lives." And with that, he began the first tale.
"In the case of the Digimon Tamers, there were no prophecies set forth to choose them. They came of their own accord. Some agreed to help fight; others wanted to have fun. But in the case of Rika Nonaka, the reason for becoming a Tamer was to be the best. She was obsessed with it, and never forgot when she lost a card game to one Ryo Akiyama. Following her first victory, she received a Blue Card and slashed it through her card reader, creating a digivice. When she realized what she did, she wished to have the strongest Digimon partner, and received one called Renamon.
"Rika didn't understand what she couldn't see. To her, nothing was real, not love, not emotion, not data. With that philosophy, she ordered Renamon to fight and kill each Digimon that stood in their way, much in the way that the former Digimon Emperor had according to the ruling. But Mr. Ichijouji got a far softer fate than Miss Nonaka. She was eventually tried for the murders and convicted. The rulers of that Digital World, the Digimon Sovereign, rushed to her aid, but they were unable to change the verdict: death. It is unknown when her sentence was carried out, but it is agreed that it was just before her high school graduation. Because deaths in the Digital World involve the digitizing of the victim's body, there was to corpse, so her diploma was placed in an urn and buried in the land of the Digimon Sovereign. That site has since been declared holy by some, but forbidden by others."
"Jeri Katou," he continued after a moment of silence, "lived a life that would never be in any fairytale. Her birth mother died when she was young, and she never accepted her stepmother. When she finally received a digivice and partner Digimon, she thought everything was finally better, but he was killed while trying to reason with another Digimon. In their world, Digimon don't come back from the dead. She was used as the power source for a matter-eating creature before breaking out of her depression. For years, she was completely normal until Rika's death. Rika was her best friend, and her trial and execution had devastated her. But rather than become depressed, she demanded revenge, ultimately claiming it by taking over the Digital World, and eventually the Real World under the name 'the Digimon Queen'—a macabre reference to her friend. Rika had earned the title some years back, and Jeri assumed it to avenge her death." There was actually a tone of pity in his voice, one that wouldn't have been there for Ken.
"Ryo Akiyama had been called by Gennai to help defend the Digital World on many occasions. On one such one, he learned that his Digimon partner was the same creature he was fighting. A DNA digivolution was forced between his borrowed partner and his real one, and the Tamer and partner moved to another world. But Ryo was not the kind of person that could remain in one place for very long, and his new Digimon was too wild to control. After wandering the Digital World for ten months, he returned home and befriended the Tamers. Rika became his closest friend, appropriate as he had been the one to defeat her in that card game. Following her death, he began wandering the dimensions until he was convinced that he could no longer run. He has moved back home, but still wanders when he needs to. If not for him, I'd never have learned all the information here aside from what is from my own world." He mouthed a "Thank you" before beginning another silent moment.
"Takato Matsuki had a healthy imagination, but he was always respectful to his friends and peers. But when Jeri's partner was killed, he lost his sanity and forced his partner to become a bloodthirsty monster. He recovered, as did his partner, but after Jeri's rampage, he has fallen to dementia similar to schizophrenia. Jeri is having him treated in the finest possible mental institution, a sign that she is still loyal to her friends.
"Henry Wong received his partner while playing a computer game. He later had to say goodbye to his partner because of a computer program that would not allow for the Digimon to remain in the Real World. Once a computer specialist, he slowly came to loathe cybernetics and anything in connection to them. He lives as a hermit in the Digital World—a contradiction to his hatred of technology." There was a longer moment of silence this time for both victims.
"The next picture is of Koji Minamoto, but I need to concentrate on his brother, Koichi Kimura, for a moment," he explained. "Koichi was chosen almost by accident—he'd fallen from the stairwell at the Shibuya train station of another world while trying to follow his newly discovered twin brother, Koji. While his body was eventually taken to the hospital, his soul connected to an Armor Digiegg-like artifact called the Spirit of Darkness, and he was told to fight against his brother, much in the same way the Digimon Emperor fought the DigiDestined…"
"Objection!" the defendant interrupted. "There is no relevance in these stories, and so they should not continue."
"But there is," Cody insisted, "and you will see it soon."
"Very well. Objection overruled," the judge ruled. "But please get to your point more quickly, Mr. Hida."
"I will, Your Honor. Thank you." There was no time for moments of silence. He hoped the victims would forgive him for that. "When Koichi finally did come to his senses, it was after Koji had spent a great deal of energy trying to save him. They were eleven at the time—normally the magic age of the DigiDestined until recently. Koji had always been a loner, and because of the Digital World, he finally opened up to the world. But it was not meant to be that way. He succumbed to a heart attack at the age of twenty-three. He died just as he had lived most of his life—alone. There had never been any cases of heart disease in his family, and his lifestyle never allowed for it. But he did receive a powerful Spirit and was then forced to take on the opposite, one just as powerful. This other Spirit was Koichi's, and he never got over the guilt. He is unable to work and will soon be placed in the hands of psychologists.
"But because Koji was part digital and the world he came from allowed for reconfiguration, he has a reincarnation, one that was brought to this world. He is among you at this moment, if you realize his identity or not." He stared directly at the second Koji as he said this, staring without seeming to. The boy had known of his heritage for quite some time, it was obvious, and he seemed very guilty at the revelation of what had happened to Koichi.
"Matt was in the spotlight for quite some time as the lead singer of the Teenage Wolves, but following the attack on his concert on Christmas of 2002, he was unable to maintain a private life. Heading to the stars is his way of running from the constant invasions of privacy. Ken, of course, became the Digimon Emperor, following the same philosophy as Rika Nonaka. He was sent to the Digital World at too young an age to realize that any wish he made could be granted, including his wish that his brother would 'just disappear.' Willis was given two Digimon, and thinking that he could control a third, created one that made utter chaos of the Internet in 2000. The virus that attacked it then returned and attacked one of his own Digimon, and he, my fellow DigiDestined, and I were forced to stop it. But there is one child that I didn't place on the board because he is standing before you now." He paused for an interruption, but everyone was too caught up in his last line to do so. "I was forced to go against every one of my principles and lie and kill. I never recovered, nor has anyone else in league with the DigiDestined. And so I am asking you, members of the jury, to please allow this amendment to be put into effect that no child under the age of fourteen must be forced to go to the Digital World. It was meant to be that these children would save the world, but in the end, the world was thrown into an irreversible spiral of destruction. If this continues, we will end up just as the world where Jeri Katou sits on the throne, or where two of the most important powers of either world are now useless. Let these children be children."
The jurors called for a recess in order to make their decision.
I must apologize for this. I was doing it in preparation for another fic, "To the Stars," in which similar questions are asked. The idea wouldn't leave my head, so I had to write it down. Not a whole lot of action, but it's kind of hard when the story idea is similar to the movies Inherit the Wind and Twelve Angry Men. I wanted to do one so bad on Cody, so I had to do this. Rules for reviewing are always in my profile, so if there's anything you want to say about this, abide by those regulations. Till then, I'll be editing "With Broken Wings," and writing "To the Stars."