Arukenimon and Mummymon are back, thirteen years after the end of 02. They have settled into a neutral good alignment for now, agreeing to help the grown Chosen Children from time to time, and Arukenimon is openly attempting to allow herself to accept Mummymon as a partner (in the wiggly eyebrows sense), but it's an uphill battle.
Chapter One: Incubation
It was dark and cool on the road, the sky flat, empty and grey with high clouds. Arukenimon had ratcheted her seat back as far as it would go and was staring distantly up into the featureless evening. Beside her, Mummymon kept watch on the road ahead, his face innocent with the pleasurable work of driving.
He found it strange and wonderful, that he didn't feel the need to look over at her. He knew she was there. And he knew she always would be.
He looked over at her anyway.
She noticed him and made a dissatisfied noise. "Eye on the road, cyclops."
Chuckling, he obeyed, and the jeep purred away across the prairie.
And a pastel butterfly floated over its tracks on frantic wings.
Some time later, Arukenimon spied a television screen sticking out of the edge of the tall grass. It proved too great a lure to the sleepy Digimon, and so they packed up and locked the vehicle and returned to the Real world for the night.
Gennai breathed in the sweet-smelling steam from his cup of tea and sighed it back out, but it failed to calm his worried nerves. Something was wrong, something was off. He knew and felt this world, was in sync with it. He could tell there was a beat out of place, a flat note, a buzz. But he couldn't pin the feeling down.
He couldn't rest.
His investigations turned up nothing, his eyes out in the Digital World blind to what he felt. Sighing with annoyance piled on top of worry, he resolved to call on Koushirou in the morning for assistance in locating the source.
A bright shape on the edge of his vision surprised him, almost making him spill his tea. It was one of the butterflies, the manifestations of Oikawa. Their shape was symbolic of the human's joy as a part of the Digital World. But right at the moment it seemed anything but joyful, flitting manicly before him.
Over the years these creatures had gained more and more apparant sentience and strength, and Gennai was now certain they would become a direct avatar of the human they represented. Already he was able to understand many of the messages they wished to convey to him. He had come to trust them- to trust Oikawa- for help in watching over this world.
But to his added frustration, Gennai found the thing shaped like a glittering Digital insect was too upset to communicate anything to him.
Three more showed up a few minutes later.
And they kept coming all night.
Arukenimon woke up with fuzzy eyes and smashed something near the bed that looked like an alarm clock, but the noise kept coming. She frowned and rolled over, pulling the sheets over her head, trying to ignore it, and came up against a large grey back.
She grimaced and rolled back over, reaching for the noisy object. The copy Digivice from the Chosen Children, Koushirou's latest all-in-one device. She sighed dramatically. She couldn't believe she'd agreed to be at their whim. To help them. The very thought. She sniffed and answered the call. "What do you want?"
"Arukenimon.. Hello." Iori's face blinked onto the screen. Some of her annoyance boiled away at the sight of the young man she ocassionally admitted was her friend.
"Hello, yourself," she continued in the same tone, getting the rest of the way out of bed. "You woke me up. What do you want?"
"Well.." He seemed uncomfortable, reluctant to say, and she frowned. He was never like that. Not anymore. "I'm not sure. I was in the Digital World last night, and.. something didn't feel right." He frowned as if it was his fault. "I wanted to make sure you two were alright. And to ask if you've noticed anything."
"Nothing unusual," she shrugged. "We weren't in the Digital World all night, though."
"Oh.. I see. Well..."
She scowled a little, his worry transfering to her. "We'll be returning after breakfast, anyway. If I see anything, you'll be the first to know."
He smiled, far brighter than such a little thing called for, and thanked her. She hung up, annoyed. It wasn't such a big deal, her offering help. Not like she was going out of her way or anything.
"Who was that, my dear?" Mummymon asked, up as well and still hugging his coat like a security blanket.
"The Hida boy," she answered, digging for her hairbrush. "Checking on us."
"That's nice. Can I have another kiss?" he asked, leaning against her obnoxiously while she tried to fix her bangs.
She pistol-whipped him with the brush handle, though not as hard as she once might have. He backed off and rubbed his head, but she suspected it was just for show. "No. Your breath reeks."
He shrugged and moved out of her reach towards the bathroom. "So does yours," he answered, with an affectionate, mischeivous smile.
He disappeared around the corner and a pillow thudded into the wall where his head used to be.
Two hours and five deliciously unhealthy human breakfasts later, the two half-Digimon returned to the Digital World. The jeep was covered in morning dew, which Mummymon scowled at like it had just insulted his mother. Arukenimon caught herself about to chuckle, and shook her head instead, as her partner hastily and unnecessarily toweled his machine off. "It lasted more than ten years on its own in a forest, you know," she pointed out. "A little dew won't do a thing."
Mummymon shrugged without looking up from his work. "I know it's not like a Real car. But... I don't know. I like to fuss over it."
She snorted a little. "You, liking to fuss over something? What a shock."
But he just chuckled and wiped down the passenger seat. "What would you like to do today, my dear? Driving day again? Or something else?"
She shrugged. "The Hida boy asked us to keep an eye out for strange things."
"You mean Iori?"
"Yes, Iori," she snapped.
"I mean, he asked you to call him Iori," he continued, doing his best to look innocent.
"OK! IORI! Look, I'm calling him Iori!"
He chuckled, and she fumed. He swept up beside her, and she slowly turned to face him, scowling. "I'm sorry, muffin. You know I love you."
She made a horrified sneer at the term of endearment. "Shut up."
"Aw, Arukenimon, you know it's true."
"No, really, shut up. Stop talking."
"-You're everything to me, my stars, my sky-"
"Like the flowers love the morning sun after a long night, I love you."
"I like," she snapped, "the dark."
"Oh.. well then like the bats love the approaching dark of night, I love you."
"Bats kill in the dark of night," she hissed.
The innocence in his eye this time was genuine. "They're hungry."
She sighed and rolled her eyes. He really deserved some violence for that. She couldn't resist that, could she?
She reached out, grabbed Mummymon by the front of his coat, and slammed him up against the door of the jeep. His arms shot back and he grabbed the top of the seat to keep himself from falling in. She leaned over him, fist still twisted up in his coat, and watched him blush.
"Muh.. er.. My dear?"
"Learn," she intoned, right in his face, "some better lines."
"I kind of like what the bad ones get me," he replied, grinning winsomely.
The Digivice's ring piped up shrilly, wrecking the moment. Arukenimon scowled and let her partner up. "Twice in one morning? And you thought they wouldn't pester us," she grumbled, answering the call. "What?"
"Good morning, Miss Arukenimon," Koushirou greeted her, and skipped straight to the point. "There's an unusual.. reading very close to your current location, would you two mind having a look?"
Aru's eyes narrowed. "And how do you know where we are?"
"Via your Digivice, of course."
"You mean you can track us with this thing?" she spat.
"Well, just passively... I can trangulate any Digivice's location using the relay times between it and two of our transmission sources, that's all. We aren't checking up on you all the time, if that's what you're implying."
Arukenimon hmphd. "And I can trust you."
"Yes, you can," Koushirou answered matter of factly.
She grumbled. There really wasn't any arguing with that.
Mummymon piped up. "Does this have something to do with whatever Iori was worried about?
The human blinked. "Iori? I'll talk to him. Thanks for the info. Well, if you don't want to go that's fine. We'll send-"
"No, no," Mummymon waved his hand. "We'll be happy to go. Won't we, Arukenimon?"
She looked daggers at him. "Sounds fantastic," she muttered.
The Digital Guardian continued to doggedly follow the trail of butterflies, through Gate, over field, over road. By morning there had been a huge collection of them at his home, hovering, fluttering frenziedly, a disorienting pastel storm. Worse, they were trying to project something to him, but all he felt was desperation. Then they had gone on the move.
The butterflies seemed more excited about this last jump, and as he crossed to the last location, he saw why. It was a beach strewn with computer monitors and conch shells, with a small, glowing spring flowing into the Digital Ocean - a potent and little known source of energy. And there were butterfiles, everywhere - it looked like all of them. With his arrival, they all began to swarm together.
His eyes widened. "No - wait," he called out. "Oikawa, stop - you can't do it like that, it won't work!"
But they continued anyway. In the center of the glowing swarm, a faint silouhette appeared. A thin yet deep voice wafted on the air. "My..." it said weakly. He struggled to make out its words. Thought, perhaps? - no.. "Fault... My fault..."
Gennai stared, grimacing, wishing they - he - would listen to him. "Yukio - it's ok, we'll fix things. But don't try to reconfigure yourself! You're not strong enough. It could destroy you!"
"I have to try," the outline of a man murmured. "It's the least I can do. Or - all I deserve."
But as the creatures packed closer and began to lose their shape to the mass of energy, the form inside seemed to flicker. Oikawa shouted with shock, and hundreds of butterflies winked out, scattering their energy on the wind.
"Stop, damn it!" Gennai yelled. "Didn't you already learn this lesson? Let me try to help you!"
The glittering digital insects calmed, stopped trying to force themselves together. A ghost-like image of Oikawa remained at their center, pale and translucent. He was dressed in dark guardian's robes, on his hands and knees, breathing deeply.
"It'll be ok, Yukio," the guradian reassured him.
Yukio shook his head. "This is my responsibility."
Gennai frowned. "I know you feel responsible for this world, but-"
"No," he insisted, standing laboriously up, and the butterflies frenzied, packing close around him once more. "You don't understand - I have to go there!"
Before the digital guardian could make another move, there was a bright flash and a pulse of energy. When it faded, Oikawa Yukio stood before him, pale and drawn, eyes closed, still surrounded by dozens of butterflies. His robes billowed a little in the breeze, and then he fell bonelessly to the sand.
Gennai cursed, rushing to his side, and finding him unconcious and barely alive. He squeezed the man's cold, white hand. "Too much devotion, and not enough sense... Still the same old Yukio," he scolded, pulling out his D-terminal.
It was time to call Koushirou.
A quarter of an hour later the Half-Digimon companions were on foot, trekking hard up the hill at the edge of the prairie, into rocky ground. "Nearly there, darling," Mummymon assured her, watching the guide projected by the little Digivice. At the top, he stopped, daunted. They were at the top of a cliff, with a forest spread out before them.
"Fantastic," Arukenimon sighed, and shifted into her spider-like Digimon form. She took the infernal piece of technology out of her partner's hand and studied it. He changed as well, into a wiry, well-armed Undead type, watching her curiously. Finally she dropped her arms and sagged a little in defeat. "Ugh.. well, it's down there. Come on.. Get on."
Reminded pleasantly of old times, he vaulted up onto her round back. He dodged one of her antlers as she turned to ask if he was ready. He nodded, and she jumped.
His stomach lurched and the wind whistled in his ears, but with his companion's steady shape beneath him, he grinned. This was the life!
They crashed through a few slim branches and Arukenimon landed expertly between the trees. A few moments passed, and then the spider woman looked annoyed again. "You can get down now."
He chuckled sheepishly and obeyed. They reverted to their usual forms, and Arukenimon studied the device again. There was something in the air down here, something almost familiar... "This way," she led.
They hadn't gone far when they emerged into a small clearing, where the bright sun shone down on ground that was ash grey. They stopped, and stared, equally surprised. The clearing looked just like the adjoining forest, only the whole area was grey and black. A small basalt monolith was set, leaning slightly, into the ground near the center.
And a cluster of slimy, dark grey Digieggs was nested at the bottom of one of the trees.