The five children and one Digimon stood in the middle of the apple orchard, staring at the farm and the team of Chosen Children in front of them. There was, of course, Wallace with Terriermon and Lopmon. Standing next to him was a fifteen-year-old boy with the same platinum blond hair and light blue eyes. He could have been Wallace's brother. Beside him was a small blue penguin-like Digimon. Nearby was a blue-haired, purple-eyed fourteen-year-old with a small white seal-like Digimon over one shoulder. He was messing with the curly brown hair of a fifteen-year-old girl with her glasses-framed green eyes glued to a book. Her red-and-purple Digimon threatened the boy, who quickly stopped.

"Guys," Wallace interrupted, pointing out his friends, "meet the Chosen Children: Wind Lord Paul Campbell, Sea Lord Al Kingston, and Lady of Earth Maureen Brown. Chosen Children, meet the new Fire Lord, Sam Roberts. And his friends, Lou Stoneheart, Michael Godwin, Steve Smith, and Maria Sanchez."

"Nice to meet you," Maureen greeted, putting down her book. She looked at Maria and offered a reassuring smile. "If there's anything you want to talk about that you don't feel comfortable talking to your brothers about, you can come to me."

"She's a little spacey," admitted her Digimon, "but she listens."

Paul stepped forward and informed Sam, "As Wallace and Al are so fond of saying, I run this team a lot like how Zordon runs the Power Rangers." He was met with several raised eyebrows from Sam and his friends. "Basically, it's the same rules. Number one: Don't use your powers for personal gain."

"Abuse them all you want," Al amended. "That's the fun of it."

"Number two: Don't escalate a battle unless you have to."

"They're beating the shit out of you, you beat the shit out of them," Al retorted. "It's only fair."

"Get the civilians out though," Maureen added.

"And number three: Keep your identity a secret."

"Walk around town bragging about this," Al advised.

"I think I like this guy," Steve whispered to Michael, who chuckled.

"So what do you say?" Wallace questioned. Everyone focused on Sam. "Are you in? You can always work independently in Manhattan; no one said you had to join a team—we've got wanderers. But it might be easier if we're all together."

"We don't have to leave out your friends either," Al added.

"They can be more help than we think," Maureen agreed.

"All right," Sam decided, nodding. "But we're not leaving these guys out of anything. They're in it too."

Paul extended a hand, and Sam shook it. "Welcome to the team."

Inquisition Diaries
By Akino Ame
Based on "Digital City Diaries" by Shaun Garin and Ryan Griffin
Disclaimer: Digimon belongs to Toei Entertainment and is distributed by Disney
Warning: This is rated T for DCD and "Survival Diaries" stuff and contains spoilers for both

Entry Two: "Not-So-Secret Origins"

As Sam and his friends quickly learned, the Cherub family farm, Summer Memory II, served as base of operations for the New York team and a convenient place to keep the Digimon when they needed to stay in the Real World for an extended period of time. They were quickly introduced to Elecmon, Gomamon, and Penmon and reintroduced to Terriermon and Lopmon before the Chosen sat them down in a few chairs and took their own seats near a computer. Right away, the new Digi-destined and support group could smell a lecture.

"As we've explained, we were chosen to handle the crisis in the Tal Veras area of the Digital World," Paul began. "The mission started to go horribly wrong, and our friend Colin tried to hold off Vamdemon long enough for us to escape. He came dangerously close to U-Factoring during the battle, and finally used his Life Siphon ability to transfer what remained of his life to his partner, Asuramon. The rest of us then took down Vamdemon by evolving all of our Digimon to their Perfection levels—and Wallace jogressing his to one of their Ultimate levels, SaintGalgomon. The Fire Bracer we left in Jijimon's care. A couple of days ago, it disappeared, and there were no signs of a break-in. We could only assume that it had found a worthy bearer. That would be you, Sam."

"All right," Sam replied hesitantly. "But what exactly are the bracers?"

"I'll handle this," Al volunteered. "Evolving a Digimon past the Adult level isn't easy. Most teams have an evolution device to help. For Odaiba, it's the crests; Edmonton has some random objects we haven't exactly sorted into a group yet... Basically, it's an item of power that provides the necessary power for such a large-scale evolution. You should see Odaiba show off sometime—they have probably the largest amount of Ultimates and beyond in the world.

"Our team has the Force Bracers—five bracers with powers based off of the Western elements: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth. The fifth is Spirit, the soul, the heart, the intangible force that gives a drive to live."

"Sounds like Captain Planet," Steve whispered, getting a snicker out of Michael. Al, meanwhile, grinned and nodded.

"Yeah, Steve, it's exactly like that. Only our powers don't combine for any specific purpose. And even if they did, we're afraid of risking Carter from Edmonton or Koushiro from Odaiba finding out. They're the mad geniuses of their respective teams, and they'd go crazy trying to experiment on us."

"So what's jogressing?" Maria asked. "And U-Factoring?"

"Jogress is a term used to describe the joint evolution of two Digimon to create a higher level one," Maureen explained. "Odaiba, again, is the best example just by the sheer number of things possible there."

"There's got to be something in the water," Al said with a grin. "Taichi and Yamato can jogress their partners, WarGreymon and MetalGarurumon to become Omegamon, then evolve him to Susanoomon. They can also pull off a partner jogress, which is just what it sounds like: a human jogressing with a Digimon. The Taichi/WarGreymon hybrid is called AncientGreymon, and the Yamato/MetalGarurumon hybrid is AncientGarurumon. And I don't even want to mention Hikari."

"Okay, but what about U-Factoring?" Lou added.

"Now this can be something dangerous," Paul warned. "As you know, there are two classifications for the partnered humans: Chosen Children and Digi-destined. Chosen Children have some kind of supernatural ability—a power of some sort that no one can seem to explain. No one's really sure if it's caused by a connection to the Digital World or if it creates the connection. Digi-destined are your average, run-of-the-mill kids. But both are capable of the U-Factor.

"I forget who came up with the name, but U-Factor is short for 'Uberfy-Factor,' a point when a Chosen Child's powers become insanely strong. It's a one-time only thing that happens only when the Chosen's life is in extreme danger that even their Digimon can't get them out of. For a Digi-destined, it results in powers; but for a Chosen, it can lead to loss of control over their powers or worse. The side-effects are usually ironic in nature, such as the time Dr. Doolittle—James, in Edmonton, who can talk to animals—wound up turning himself into a were-jaguar. He still can't completely control the transformation."

"What do you mean 'completely'?" Al quipped. "He can't control it at all, last time he complained."

"But in all seriousness," Paul continued, "for certain people, a U-Factor is dangerous. For some of us, it could be deadly, and we would definitely die. If Hikari from Odaiba U-Factored, she could take out the entire world. If it was Wallace…well, his power is Fate Manipulation, which allows him to alter the destiny of anyone he chooses—to a certain degree. We're not sure what would happen, but it's possible he'd be a god."

Sam shot a glance to his new friend, the kid he'd thought to be entirely out of his mind. There was a sudden serious look on Wallace's face at the mention of what he was capable of. Had Sam known beforehand that Wallace was possibly that dangerous, he would have held off his talk with Lou to help him fight off that Cerberumon.

"Don't be like that," Maureen said suddenly, making him look up in surprise. "Sorry, my power's empathy. I can pick up on these things easily. But don't worry about Wallace. He can take care of himself. And he's got Paul and his Digimon watching out for him."

"Some other things you should know," Wallace added, quickly changing the subject, "there are times where we openly interfere with the Real World. For example, do you remember the planes heading for the World Trade Center in 2001?"

"How can we forget?" Michael replied. "That's the whole reason why Bush ran into war with Iraq and Afghanistan."

"We're the ones that stopped the planes from crashing," Wallace informed. "Paul got the premonitions a few hours before it started. I managed to get the terrorists off of two planes headed for Washington, making sure airport security caught them and the FBI found out who they were. Then the Digimon caught the planes as they were about to crash and brought them to a safe landing in the water. While Whamon helped ferry the passengers to safety, Deramon and Garudamon gave the on-board terrorists hell." There was a grin on his face as he recounted this. "Good times."

"Everything you need to know about the Digi-destined is on this disk," Paul informed, holding up a CD-ROM. "Koushiro made these for the new recruits, but Maureen thought it would go over better if we talked to you first. It contains a link to the messageboard, so you can introduce yourself and the support staff to the other Chosen and Digi-destined all over the world.

"However, there's one file on the disk you shouldn't touch yet. It's called 'An Extensive History of Chosen Events 1999-2021.' Wallace's Fate Manipulation can prevent you from reading it, but we wanted you to know first."

"Why not?" Michael asked.

"Think about it this way," Al replied. "This team has someone who can see the future—that's Paul, someone who can manipulate the future: Wallace, and someone who is in tune with others' emotions: Maureen. If they say that you shouldn't see the events of a possible future out of fear that it could cause some serious psychological damage, then don't do it. I have healing abilities, but I can't take care of that. So keep that in mind."

"When can we open it?" Steve asked.

Paul closed his eyes. "2005 to 2006. Definitely before March 31, 2005 and June 18, 2006." Sam and the support staff gave him a few odd looks with the extremely specific dates, but they trusted his judgment. "That's as much as I know for now—the future changes a lot, so certain things may happen to change that."

"Don't feel too bad about it, though," Maureen cautioned. "He hasn't even told us what's in that file. And he only knows because he had ominous feelings when we saw the Edmonton team a while back, when they got that history together."

"Anyway, we can show you guys the messageboard now if you want," Wallace said. "The computer here is a piece of crap, though. Did one of you bring a computer?"

"Right here," Steve replied, taking his laptop out of his backpack. He started it up and typed in his password before handing it over to Paul, who put in the CD-ROM.

"All right, I set up an account already for you, once we realized the Fire Bracer was missing," Paul explained, handing the computer to Sam. "Just put in an introductory message here, and explain to everyone that your friends are signing up as support staff. We've got a couple of support members on there already, so no one'll think twice about it."

"Okay," Sam answered, typing out a message. "Do I need to set up accounts for them now?"

"Nope," Maureen assured. "Koushiro will set up an e-mail account for each of them on his server, once he sees that message. Their board accounts will come right after that."

"Just have some fun looking around," Al advised. "Sometimes we work with other teams, like Edmonton, so it helps if you know a bit about the guys you might meet."

The support staff crowded around Sam as he looked through the messageboard. Edmonton and Odaiba were apparently hotspots of activity, with powerful Chosen Children and constant attacks. The powerhouses were definitely in Odaiba, though, with Yagami Taichi, Takaishi Yamato, Yagami Hikari, Ishida Takeru, Motomiya Daisuke, and Ichijouji Ken. Carter Windham in Edmonton had created a sticky thread for the powers of different Chosen and the U-Factors that had just occurred. But for Edmonton's team, there was a link to another thread, set up by Sean Gagne. It detailed cross-world adventures the Edmonton team had gone through not very long ago, resulting in new abilities for them. Steve's jaw dropped about ten feet.

"Konoha? Amestris?" Lou asked. "Konoha's from Naruto, and isn't Amestris the name of the country in Full Metal Alchemist?"

Wallace grinned. "You'd be surprised what's beyond our world."

"Oh, God," Steve moaned. "Alchemists and wizards and ninjas—oh my! Why can't we have the fun stuff?"

A circle of dark figures sat around a table in a dark room. Something very serious had come up that they needed to discuss.

"A new Digi-destined has been discovered," the leader noticed. "The new Fire Lord."

"That power will give us much trouble," another realized. "It's the most powerful of the Force Bracers."

"I thought that made it difficult to control," a third commented.

"The bracers are powered by the forces of the very elements themselves," the second explained. "None of them are simple to control but Spirit. But by its very nature, Fire consumes the power of he who holds it. A non-powered human bearing that bracer has no need to fear that danger, even if he gains powers by that so-called 'U-Factor.'"

"Yes," the leader agreed. "The Force Bracers open the bearer to that specific element. A U-Factor of a non-powered Digi-destined carrying one would be dictated by that bracer's element. A Chosen Child bearing anything but Spirit would be unable to survive the U-Factor. The element would overpower the natural power and tear the user apart. That is what happened with the previous Fire Lord. We must be very careful around this one. Any other questions?"

"I have one," a fourth commented. "Why is it so dark in here?"

The leader groaned, "So sue me! The fuse blew out." Everyone else began snickering, and someone asked, "How many evil overlords does it take to change a lightbulb?" The leader rubbed his temples and asked, "Any relevant questions?" No one asked anything else, and the snickering calmed down. "Good. Now, first we must test the Chosen Children. I have a plan for how we can determine their teamwork…"