A world we all shared, a battle we all fought, a memory we all retain.
Takeru sleepily glanced over at the calendar, the once-mighty bearer of hope resting peacefully in his warm bed, his brown-furred, semi-batlike digimon perched adorably on his bedpost. The day had finally come to pass, it had been four years now… Four years since it had all began, since he had met Patamon, since he had changed so much.
Rolling over, the bearer of hope got out of his bed on that warm August day, simply wanting to see them again. It wasn't Hikari or Yamato so much, he was still in close contact with them, but Koushirou had his computer club, Jou was constantly studying, and it seemed he had drifted apart from the one he once trusted as leader. Sure, Miyako, Daisuke, Iori, and Ken were around, and it was fun being with them, but… Even if he had shared many an adventure with them, it seemed that adventure had passed him by, even with the battle with the Kaiser and Black War Greymon's destruction of the holy stones, it still hadn't stuck with him in the same way. Piemon's fall, Angemon's sacrifice, even gently flying in search of his brother, grasped in Birdramon's talons; that was the past he remembered.
That said, he quickly left his apartment, for he was, well, impatient. He did want to see them again, to be together with those seven, no, those fourteen once more. They had grown apart, after all, but they would always be bound by the digital world.
"And I went through every one of those adventures… I'm probably closer to that world than any of the other chosen. And I miss it… I really do, I can't say I liked the carnage, and I can still visit that place, but I did like being able to adventure in the digital world. Even though I can still visit the exact spot where Angemon died, or where I first met Patamon, or even when Taichi found me after returning from Earth, I'd like to have some new memories, I want to adventure in the digital world one last time."
The so-called "batpig" digimon nodded cutely but wisely from atop his head, muttering something like "I do, too."
And with those thoughts running through his head, he walked to that park, walking under that same tree where they had all sat but one year ago, thinking back to when he played outside in a setting not unlike this one, saying goodbye to Patamon after all they had been through.
"At least he's still with me, if nothing else. And Patamon has been with me through everything, even as the other chosen had their roles diminish, and new ones joined us, he's still stayed by my side."
The blonde glanced upward, smiling at his digimon partner, not seeming to care about the other people walking through the park, until his body came up against another, while a distinct bumping sound, and then the noise of one falling against grass and dirt came into his ears.
"Sorry," Takeru yelled, stammering a quick apology, his head turned to the soft cover of grass to see who it was he knocked over. "Sora?"
He glanced down at the orange-haired girl lying on the grass, her outfit oddly feminine and conservative for the tomboyish bearer of love. "Then again, I haven't seen her much lately, and she did seem somewhat like that last year, after all."
The girl brushed herself off and got to her feet, looking at the golden-haired adolescent, but unable to place his identity at first. Of course, she soon noticed the Patamon on his hat, so even if he did look different, there wasn't much doubt of which person it was she was speaking to. "Takeru? Is that you?"
Takeru's cheeks flushed with a bit of crimson, embarrassed that he had knocked her over without noticing, and besides… Was Sora always this cute? He thought, mentally smacking himself for thinking such a thing.
"It's been four years now…" He said, thinking once more of those days long gone by.
Takeru had close memories of all of them, of course. Jou's diving to save him from Mega Seadramon, his crest of sincerity finally glowing, Taichi's meeting up with him soon after he came back to the digital world, or even just talking with Tailmon over Hikari's wounded body beneath Mugen Dramon's city…
But it seemed however small those memories he had with Sora in that world were, even if it was just a bit of time in Mugen Dramon's city, flying with her on Birdramon, unaware of the darkness nearly consuming her, or just trying to get through to her when her crest wouldn't glow… Still, those memories were strong, even if they seemed almost irrelevant, he might as well have been saving the digital world just a few days before.
After all, even if he had lived almost all his life in the human world, it was the digital world where he had truly lived, and he was closer to it than any of them.
"Four long years…" Sora answered, seeming to think back to those same events. "Are they coming?"
"I don't think they can forget." Takeru answered, his voice seeming to have an odd, sagely tone to it. "After all, it's changed each and every one of us."
Sora nodded. "But still, save that small bit of time with Yamato… We're all close, sure, but… None of us have fallen in love, and now we're even starting to drift apart." She thought, a look of sorrow clear on her face, even though she wasn't thinking of any of the ones they had lost.
"Sora, what's wrong?" Takeru asked, moving to put a comforting hand on her back.
Sora Takenouchi did not respond, seeming lost in the past. "Sora?"
"Takeru…" She answered, her mouth turning into a faint smile. "He's still worried about me. But this time, he's not just a child, he has his own problems to worry about."
As Takeru continued searching for the source of Sora's troubles, his hand resting softly on her body, the bearer of love seemed as lost in thought as ever.
"I've said those words before, haven't I?" Takeru asked, thinking back to that flight, that overriding concern for the older girl, even as he was searching desperately for his own brother.
"And I responded in almost the same way. I didn't tell you last time either." She finished, smiling in amusement at how similar things were, and Takeru smiled back.
"I missed you…" Takeru stated sadly, feeling a need to catch up with her, to learn where their separate paths had taken them. "I was wondering--" He began, his voice having an oddly serious tone to it, even as he talked so casually. "What've you been up to?"
The orange-haired girl shrugged. "Not much. Things have actually been pretty boring this last year or so..." She answered, her voice trailing off as she thought about that uneventful time. Or maybe it was longer than just one year… At least HE had that second adventure. I didn't even take an active mentor role, other then those few times, I merely stayed in this world… "On a day like this... I only want to go back to the digital world."
"I know what you mean…" Takeru said longingly, taking out his D-Terminal to send a message to the others.
"I should wait for them, but I just miss it so much." Sora began, stating thoughts she would normally keep silent, but she seemed to be opening up around Takeru, perhaps because she thought a fellow chosen child would understand. "This is an odd request, I know, but… Could you please take me to the digital world?"
"Sure," Takeru answered, nodding. He turned to grab his digivice, but…
"Wait, there's no computer around here," The one who had once saved the digital world pointed out. "I'll take you there, just find me a portal."
"Thank you…" Sora spoke, as if her greatest desire had just been granted. "So, shall we be going?"
Takeru nodded, and the two walked off together, unified by a desire to return to that place.
After a bit of walking, conversing happily some more as a slight breeze blew against them, they realized not one of them knew precisely where to go. It was a Friday, so the computer labs would be taken, and as for going home, they were afraid their families would get the wrong idea.
So they continued walking, and with nowhere to go, eventually they turned and walked back to that park, yet saw none there. Have they forgotten? It's nice, spending time with Sora like this and all, but… How could they have forgotten?
They hadn't forgotten, of course, they couldn't, not one of them. People may move on with their lives, but adventures like those in the digital world were some that few could forget. And in time they arrived at that park in Tokyo, all sitting under that wide, leafy tree once more, again reminiscing about past days.
"Maybe we should go back there… It just doesn't feel right, sitting here in the human world." Takeru said longingly, and many nodded in agreement, though Ken seemed not to have much in the way of happiness about this day of remembrance. Then again, after what he had done, it was only natural he wouldn't want to return.
"I'll stay here," The former Kaiser said, sorrow still in his voice, even if it had been almost a year since those deeds. "MY time in the digital world isn't of the sort I want to remember."
"Okay!" Miyako said, her old energy returning. "Digital gate, open! Chosen children, let's rock!" she yelled, holding up her red D-3 and using the words she had spoke fifty times before, if only speaking them this time for nostalgic reasons. Still, it wouldn't have felt right to say anything else, especially on a day like this.
And so they went, traveling through a spinning vortex, painted with light shades of many a color and pinkish bubbles behind them, until they emerged in the soft grasses of the digital world. The world would have seemed odd to most humans, with greenish and reddish trees with bark a clear blue towering above, but as unnatural it would have seemed to most of their kind, to them it almost felt like home. Even if they were not digimon in body, their spirits were equally tied to that world, after all, so how could they find that world unnatural?
"Finally…" Mimi spoke, her voice holding a soothing, pleasured tone. "I can finally see Palmon again."
The others were not quite as pleased, but then again, they also weren't an ocean and a continent away from any who could open gates between the worlds either. Still, it was relaxing, to say the least.
"It's been so long… I don't think we've all been in the digital world since Belial Vamdemon's defeat." Yamato spoke, laying his head softly on Gabumon's fur. "And even still, some of us haven't done much of anything here since the defeat of Apocalymon…" he added, gazing upward through the trees at the clear, pinkish skies.
"And even though people say life goes on, that life's adventures never truly end, it's just so boring these days in the human world." Sora added, her voice heavy with a mourning tone, seeming to echo of a spirit both far-off and lost. "I know it would cause so much suffering, I know how many casualties it would bring, but I do want another adventure, anything's better than this boredom…"
Takeru looked sympathetic, his feelings almost the exact same. Sure, Yamato had his band, Koushirou had the web, Jou had his studies, and Taichi and Hikari certainly had a bit of excitement, if nothing else, mentoring the dark seed children. "But we have none of that."
And even as the others reminisced, content with their past being just that, a distant memory, those two chosen longed for more of those adventures that were once so common for them.
And so they walked the trails of File Island, looking over where they were once hungry, lost and confused, waging a hopeless war against an unseen enemy. "Things are different now", she thought, remembering that time so long before. "The mountain that was Devimon's lair is now just some tourist attraction, at least the island's whole again and no longer in pain. Seadramon, Monochromon, digimon like that still roam the wilds, but great cities have sprung up as well, and it's a lot safer than before. Still, it's the same digital world, under the same pink sky, the same sort of Goburimon and Modoki Betamon stomping through the forests, the same world where we changed so much."
"But still… It's… Boring now." "There's no more warfare, but also no more discovery, no more realizations, no more excitement. Never again will I feel that fear, will I be afraid I can't save this world, but I won't feel the happiness that comes with a true victory, or even wander happily into uncertainty, Piyomon by my side… And I can't say that doesn't make me sad, because it does, it makes me so sad… I just wish I had another adventure, I don't care anymore about what destruction it will cause…
And as she walked through those forests, she still saw the faint outlines of the digimon she had fought.
"Sora, you're losing it," Part of her said, but the rest of her ignored that message. Holding out her white and blue digivice, she spoke. "Piyomon!"
"Piyomon shinka, Birdramon!"
The pink chocobo digimon spread her wings, now orange, large, and fiery. Her body became more eagle-like, and her mouth an odd, toothed, semi-draconic sort. "Sora? Why have you called for me?"
"I… Don't know…" she answered, unable to explain, thinking of how her adventures had ended. Digitamas falling from the sky, a picture with Andromon, that Botamon hatching, and then… Goodbye to Piyomon, and perhaps she died that day. After all, she hadn't even joked around with them since that seemingly ancient time, save the occasional first day of August, a time that was perhaps the only one she could look forward to…
Sure, her parents accepted her now, and she knew they loved her, even if her mother was commanding and her father was always away. But she was the holder of the crest of love, yet she still hadn't found love. Then again, she had given up the power of her crest, could she ever love again?
It seemed these days, Piyomon was all she had.
"Please… Could you take me flying? I… I want to fly with you one last time," she asked weakly, and the phoenix digimon swooped down, allowing the girl to climb on the large, orange talon. Hugging the bird's leg, she happily sat as her digimon zoomed up, looking down at the odd, familiar forest below. "Thank you…"
After a soothing flight, she was set down from the bird, to where her friends had found themselves once more. A cliff above the village of beginnings, the same place where they had once stood as they watched the world be reborn.
She still had that picture, the one Andromon once had them take, that last bit of commemoration of that magnificent time. And for three years, apart from her digivice, that was the only memento she had. And there they were again, that same place, but something felt… Missing, not right, out of place, like it should have been there but had somehow faded away. "Has anyone told Andromon and the others about this?"
"Right, we should tell them… It just wouldn't be right any other way," Taichi responded distantly, ignoring the metal footsteps in the distance.
"Hello," A mechanical voice stated dryly, a faint bit of longing creeping in. "Chosen children, it's been a long time."
Taichi shifted his head to the right, and he saw Andromon's familiar form in the distance, along with the shadowy outlines of a centaur and an ogre.
"Ogremon!" Mimi yelled, running up to embrace the virus-type digimon.
On any other day, the green digimon would have taken his club and walked away, why, even back then he left soon after that picture. But at the same time, for all his talk about being an evil virus-type, even for all the blame he had affixed to that girl for his rival's death he simply had to return, return to that place where they had all once stood, and it wouldn't be right without the others.
Andromon and Kentarumon walked more slowly in the background, and had it not been for the chosen children running up to them, they would have arrived peacefully. Instead, they found themselves excitedly hugged, even the four-legged Kentarumon forced to the ground by the strength of Koushirou and Mimi both jumping into his short brown fur, taking out his thick legs from under him and, despite his rearing up, making pathetic efforts to move as a biped, and much flailing about aimlessly, he fall to the soft, dirty ground, smiling with happiness.
"And to think I've always concerned myself only with prophecy… Still, there is that one bit that hasn't been fulfilled," The centaur digimon thought sadly, and then stopped thinking of such things, for he had the digital world, and he was at last remembering those days of old. "And I was one of the few watching over its rebirth, and these children saved it for us."
Still, they played happily in that world, most forgetting their sorrows and boredom. Most, at least.
Daisuke, Miyako, and Iori were silent, as they had been since the gate opened, wanting to give their predecessors some time to themselves. It would be a lie to say they hadn't been a bit envious, but then again, the envy went both ways, everyone liked their adventures in this world. Still, they were a bit bored, they didn't have the memories the others were reliving, after all.
And for that reason they wandered, seeking out mementos of their own, later adventure. The spot where Oikawa died, in some random portion of the digital world they couldn't even locate, no matter how much Iori wished to place flowers on his grave.
Their other memories? The Kaiser's base, home to one of their greatest battles, the base that had exploded so bloodily? Or perhaps the place of Black War Greymon's death, on a now-crowded street in Tokyo? It was harder for them, to say the least, but still, there was that one place, that place where the holy stones met, where the chosen had at last met the gods.
Quietly summoning Aquilamon, with Daisuke and Iori behind her on the red eagle, they flew back to that spot, remembering their own adventures.
After all, even if they were all chosen, even if they were bound by that same world, the memories of that world were different for everyone. But they all cared for it just the same, even Ken Ichijouji, waiting sadly in the human world, still had much he loved of the digital.
In that park in Tokyo, that place where but a year ago the other eleven chosen had sat, the Digimon Kaiser sadly rested. "I would like to go back there. But after what I've done, I certainly don't deserve to ever again touch the soil of the digital world. Dark seed or no dark seed, those were my hands just the same, I don't even deserve life after what I've done."
The people in the park continued to walk, some hand-in-hand on some date, some just happily playing in that small bit of Japanese wilderness. Not one noticed the black-haired youth up against a tree, seeming on the verge of tears.
Normally, this would be Wormmon's place to console him, to think an insect could be so loving, it may have seemed odd to some. Then again, appearances were often deceiving; to think that an eleven-year-old genius had brought terror to the digital world was far more odd, and far more true, as he remembered all too well.
Wormmon was in the digital world, of course, the former Kaiser had found some excuse to send him away. After all the digimon I've brought pain to, there could be nothing more wrong than letting me spend this day with Wormmon by my side.
Ken Ichijouji had once thought he had accepted his past, but after what he had done, after the horrible deeds he had committed, deeds which would be called "crimes" were he not the source of all rules in that place; there could be no acceptance.
And so he continued to wallow in sorrow.
Meanwhile, those who had once defeated the dark masters continued to remember, this day was the sort that even a cursory glance at the calendar would send any of them into a long spiral of memory.
And in the digital world, walking by the places where they had once fought so many battles, places with so many memories attached. Visiting an old neighborhood on some special day, hanging out with old friends, to some extent that was what it was, certainly. But their memories were stronger than most, their experiences more powerful, their struggle the sort that even if it was filled with tragedy, some still would weep that it had ended.
Ogremon, Kentarumon, Andromon, their digimon partners, even Gennai had managed to take some time off. Four years ago, add Yuki Darumon, Meramon, a bunch of Otamamon and Gekomon, and many digimon now dead, and it might have been the resistance to the dark masters.
But the Otamamon and Gekomon, for all their loyalty and hero-worship, had finally given in and left their foreign princess. Meramon had his mountain, Yuki Darumon his foreign wasteland, and with all the casualties brought to the digital world in that horrible war, the dead had not yet risen, nor would they for some time.
Still, the remains of the group still felt something like completion, if only because they were with each other again, in that same place, talking about that common past.
"Remember when we were talking in that cave, and you and Leomon were still at each other's throats?" Mimi asked, her memories flaring up, but then again, whose memories weren't?
"Yeah… And then even when I tried to kill him, even when I cared only for our petty rivalry and ignored the world we lived, he still saved me. And then he got himself killed without even letting our rivalry finish," he spoke, the ogre digimon putting a bone club to his face, unwilling to admit his tears. "And he didn't even have the courtesy to grab my hand before dying." He finished talking, his voice ailing with a mix of sorrow and the sort of anger one has at the recently deceased.
"I'm sorry…" The former bearer of purity said sympathetically, her empathy still strong. Then again, unlike the others, her digimon could still reach her fully evolved form, perhaps with the digi-core she was still pure of heart.
Whatever it was, it certainly made her more… Able to touch the hearts of others, though it can't be certain what word should be used to describe such a thing, it's a difficult concept to describe. There is a reason such an imprecise word as "purity" was used, after all. And the loveless Sora certainly couldn't help but look upon her old friend with envy, wishing that the Skull Satamon could have been defeated some other way. "Damn, couldn't they have adapted quicker? If only I had Piyomon with me more," she mumbled silently, but her digimon still knew the feeling she had.
"There are many points on which a life can turn, many decisions with unforeseen consequences. Couldn't one of them have stopped me from having to lose my crest?" She thought, a teardrop forming in her eye as she silently shouted at the fates.
Piyomon nestled against the human who had changed her life, but sadly, it did nothing for her. Though it couldn't be said if anyone else noticed, if they did, the former bearer of love didn't realize.
And sad she remained, even as the others happily remembered those times, even if she didn't see nearly as much tragedy as the others, sorrow was all she could feel.
No, not just sorrow; that foolish, selfish wish remained, that wish for yet another adventure. One last time… I want to go to the digital world again, to watch as Piyomon fights those battles, to feel that sort of strong emotion one last time.
And when they finally went their separate ways, leaving that plateau above the village of beginnings, Sora's sad wish remained.
Leaving the world she called home once more, saying good-bye to her family… A terrified landing, a stingray-shaped hole in the sky… A megalomaniac with a thing for theater and pain, A silver haired armored sea snake, a demented, wooden puppet, and a mechanical, fanged dragon. Jou almost falling off a cliff, Chuumon wounded and crying over his past, over the dark masters' victory and Sukamon's death… A four-colored mountain, an endless climb, and a terrified first encounter swiping away any arrogance, confidence, and hope they had once had, a hope it took Holy Angemon and Takeru's crest to restore.
And not once did she cry, not once did she even mind. But now…
Now, in this world of peace, either the human or the digital, they were both peaceful. Not that war is good or anything, she had seen what it had done to her friends, even the survivors, but couldn't there be something better?
There had to be something better than this boring, inert time. There had to be those times that tested people's souls, those times so often described in both legends and anime, those times when life was interesting enough others could look at it for entertainment.
But she hadn't had any of those times for four long years… No, this boring time of peace was all she had, since she had given up the powers of her crest, she had not even had love. Even when it seemed the normal of humanity, the most mundane of the common people had found such a thing, while the one who once held its crest still could not.
But for all the power to grant wishes it was said to have, the digital world could not find a way between the boring inertia of peace and the bloody horrors of war.
As Sora made her fateful wish, Takeru was still reflecting, reflecting on a decision that may someday prove to have changed the world, though its effects had not yet been seen. "I hate the darkness, for four years I've only wanted to see it vanquished. My digimon relies on the powers of light, every single one of my enemies has relied on the powers of darkness, and in this cosmic struggle between good and evil, it seemed clear where I stood."
"And then I chose balance over victory, and darkness lives on. Is this boring life Seiryu's revenge?"
"No, it can't be. I left the towers standing, yet victory is as clear as ever, good reigns supreme in the digital world still. Perhaps I simply failed to preserve the balance, and maybe it really is that important that neither side can win."
"Should I serve the darkness?" he asked, as if the air would respond to his question. "No, I can't. There are too many people I'd have to betray, and I could never hurt any one of them."
Still, the thought was tempting; though he'd much rather fight for good against an overpowering darkness, than for evil against an overpowering light. "Sure, Hikari-chan's happy, of course she is. But what about those of us who never finished our adventure?" He thought, then an idea shot through his head, which he quickly discarded as too insane. "The dark ocean… We were not meant to go there, and there's a difference between adventure and suicide."
But he could think of nothing else, and shrugging, added one more thought. "But what then? I guess I'll just have to find happiness in this time of peace, but can that really be done?"
But as he looked to the sky, he did not see any hope of happiness, save that which comes from remembering the happy times of days long gone. But if those memories were all he had, and if the future was lost to him at the age of twelve, what sort of life could he lead?
Confused, he simply resolved to take things as they came, though he hoped they would be more interesting. If nothing else, even if it was supposed to have been lost to him, even if it made no sense, he still had hope, even if it was hope he lacked but seconds ago.
But how could that hope be realized? And would he forever regret what he would have to do?
Morning turned to midday, and from there to night, and the paths of memory continued. But for all the happiness the others could feel, the sorrow in Sora's heart remained. In time, the chosen felt they had seen all they had to in that world, and there was still their home, under the apartment-lit skies of Tokyo, and still something Tailmon had to do.
"I saw him last year, didn't I? His spirit's probably passed on or something, even if he wants to see me again, I don't think he can without some important message." The feline digimon said, remembering times far more recent than the rest. "Hikari-san… Can we go back now?" She asked, her tone showing that she clearly thought this request important, as if returning to somewhere she had left behind.
"Sure," the former bearer of light answered, nodding in understanding. "This is important, and we're not as connected to what happened back then, but with the human world..." she began, leaving the rest unspoken as Takeru reached for his digivice… "Digital gate, open!"
The day was still the same; they would have been sailing back on Ikkakumon at that hour four years ago. But it seemed the past was off by two days, as they were not united in the human world, (Save Hikari, that is) but separated in the digital. Sora's sorrows would not leave that place, and she too seemed nearly paralyzed, unable or unwilling to move. Daisuke, Miyako, and Iori had left long ago, but this was not their day; this was for a past they had not seen. It would have been like Yamato celebrating the day of the first battle of Hikarigaoka. Sure, they were reminiscing off afar, but they had to give the first group of chosen some space. Takeru still sat by where the holy stones met, Ken rested in that park in Tokyo, some things did not change. Mimi was at the cemetery, after all, this was the closest she could get to the day Wizarmon, Piccolomon, Whamon, and Chuumon died, and she had never truly stopped mourning. And Yamato…
Yamato was off with Gabumon again, searching for the place where he had once found his answers. Even if he didn't show much, he hadn't ever really recovered. Much as he joked with his band mates, it felt empty and hollow, the friendship he had once held as a crest was gone.
And for what? To cleanse the digital world? A noble idea, sure, but sacrifices never took to sacrifice easily. Taichi a weeping coward, Koushirou apathetic, Sora loveless, Takeru in despair, Hikari in darkness, Mimi impure? "That… Can't happen…" He uncharacteristically gasped, horrified by the thought, the souls that seemed to be gone while the empty shells remained.
"And there were still those times… Takeru and Hikari opened their digimentals, even if digimentals aren't quite as strong as crests, after all, and Angewomon did appear that one time. If Hikari's light is not gone, then perhaps there is a way. It's quite ironic, I never thought the dark ocean would be the source of my last hope."
Comforted by this thought, Yamato did not notice the sadness in Gabumon's eyes, how even in the digital world, in Seiryu's sphere no less, he seemed cold and distant. "So that was the price I paid."
Koushirou, for all he had withdrawn into the internet, had not wholly lost his curiosity. The urge was still strong, he had time, and the spot did have some memories attached to it. Kabuterimon's birth was a rather important incident, to say the least.
But that was not what brought him here, even if the others reminisced, no sacrifice could end his curiosity.
And if he was correct, then the world's source code was in that place. But when he reached out, trying to press the on switch and decipher the world, his hand fell numb. "I… I can't do it… I'm afraid."
Tentomon looked at him, and at last he understood his human partner.
Taichi had not yet had those situations which required courage, such a thing was valuable and made one leader in life-or-death struggle, but in times of peace was not nearly so important, so he was fine. This era of peace may not have suited him like it did his sister, but it wasn't as bad as it was for the others, and he had adapted to a new life, bound to the others only by memories.
If the others could say the same, then perhaps it wouldn't have happened. But how could a new world survive, when the peace, strong as it was, only had two who desired its protection?
But this was not the time for an end, for now was the time of memory, even if most of the memories were bittersweet and the happy ones few and far between.
And for that reason, if nothing else, he looked to his past. But at the same time…
Piccolomon, the lessons he learned there, he wanted to go back to that wise digimon and that mysterious cave. But as he crossed the sea to Server, he remembered what happened beyond the time of Etemon.
Piccolomon was gone now, dead, data waiting to be brought to a new form. Leomon too, Whamon, Chuumon, hordes of Numemon, thousands of smashed digitamas, and it was only a great bit of luck that prevented him from adding Andromon and all the chosen children to that list. And those casualties were all because of his "mighty leadership", his courageous attacks that caused way too many casualties, while a better one could have often thought up a wise plan.
"Had Koushirou led us, or even Yamato… I let friendship fade, and so many digimon paid the price. My successors, they fought an enemy far stronger than their own digimon, digimon they should have had no chance against, and they still won. Takeru, Daisuke, half the time I wasn't sure which of them was in charge, but whoever it was... Had he led us, Leomon would be here with Ogremon, I would still be able to talk to Piccolomon now, Wizarmon would have lived… I am a failure, even if we won, it's in spite of my deeds, I failed us all. I'm no leader."
Agumon, for all his efforts, could not console the former bearer of courage, who now lacked the courage to lead.
This is not our time.
At least my dreams have come true…
Light's victory, is it any better? Shall I turn to darkness?
I'm afraid… What may I learn?
Leomon… Chuumon… Whamon…
I wish it would return…
So that was the price I paid.
I'm no leader.
The day of memories may be on some levels a happy occasion, but for many, it brought only sadness.
On the first night of August, for the third time in the past five years, Wizarmon's spirit was at that TV tower in Tokyo. And it was there that Hikari and Tailmon now went, for they had an old friend to visit.
A standard mage's hat, a young girl and a tearful cat crying over the dying mage's body, even as he spoke those words of thanks. An angel, awakened by the death, and then a victory at last over that horrible vampire demon.
Hikari's light had awakened, its power has not diminished since, and the one who had tried to slay her yesterday now held a bond with her as strong as any.
And this was all because of Wizarmon. To either of them, forgetting Wizarmon's tale would be nothing less than forgetting the source of their existence.
So even though the winds were strong, even though Masaharu was the only one who had cleared them, even though at any moment they could be found by someone, taken, and questioned, and even though the night was scary indeed… Nothing would dissuade them, and so the still-young girl and her white cat crept along that balcony, searching for the ghastly, warm presence of a true friend.
The day had ended for the rest of that first group of chosen, the skies were now dark--dark as they could be in urban Japan at least, the air was cool, and the chosen were in the human world, though there was no prophecy this time around. The skies would not be darkened by the wings of many bats, there were no fallen people to invoke the name of the undead king, and the clock had struck the hour of the beast with absolutely no effect.
So it was easy to say "The day had ended," easy to expect the chosen to return home, having remembered their past, and then just letting it slide for the next three hundred and sixty-four days. This would not happen, this could not happen, and as Sora walked the sidewalks of Japan's biggest city, it seemed she was seconds away from tears.
But Takeru had a promise to keep. "That's all, just a promise," he thought, not willing to admit he followed for any reason but duty. "I have to take her back there. We're all friends, I can't see her like this, she's done too much for all of us… If not for her, we could easily have fallen apart…"
Those were his thoughts, at least. In truth, the wind was strong today, his clothing was still the loose sort one expects in summer, and his words were more like "Brrr" than any deep reasons for following his friend.
Sora continued to walk, not looking back, not even certain where she was going. All she knew was that she wanted a future, but it seemed she would forever be frozen in days long passed.
And Takeru continued to chase after her.
"Wizarmon…" Tailmon said thoughtfully, still remembering, but no longer able to contain her excitement. "I'm coming, Wizarmon!"
"Tailmon, you could fall!" Hikari yelled, her voice overwhelmed with concern as she chased the feline digimon.
But while Tailmon was a quadruped with incredible balance, Hikari was not. And that very thing she feared would happen to Tailmon quickly happened to her instead.
In other words, she slipped on some water and skidded helplessly off the edge.
"Hikari-san!" Tailmon shouted, quickly turning around and scampering back, running without the caution one usually has on such a narrow place.
"Tailmon…" Hikari said, her hand slipping off the white ledge. "So, this is my end… It's only natural I die on the anniversary of that day…" She mumbled, her voice resigned and uncaring.
And then, as the strain of holding on became too much, she let go, closed her eyes, began to drop, and then felt a clawed hand grabbing her own.
"Wizarmon wanted you to live…"
Hikari nodded. "Let's go." She said forcefully, pulling her body back onto the ledge. "After all Wizarmon did… I can't die here, I can't make his death go to waste."
And so they continued to walk carefully, seeing the sorcerer's ethereal form far in the distance, wanting to hear his voice one last time.
"Is light better than darkness? I thought it was, it was only natural I'd rather Hikari-chan win then Piemon or Vamdemon…" Sora thought, still filled with sorrow as she wandered the streets of Tokyo. "But these days I'm not sure…"
"Today I returned to the digital world, it should have calmed my spirit… But all I can say now is that I miss my adventures of old even more."
A tear dropped slowly to the sidewalk, and it seemed no one would notice, why would anyone care about the tears of one sad girl? She had resigned herself to such a thing, so when she felt the brush of that comforting hand against her skin, it seemed that much odder.
"Yamato?" She blurted out, turning her head to face whoever it was. "Takeru, it's you…" The orange-haired girl said, her tone apologetic in nature.
Takeru stammered, trying to get some words out, something that would make his friend feel better. "I can still take you back there, if it will help..."
Sora Takenouchi smiled, but it was a false smile, a smile that did not deserve to exist with the depth of her sorrow underneath. Not that Takeru's statement wouldn't make her smile, but she just didn't see how the digital world could help her now, she had gone there so recently…
"Then again, I have stayed in this world for four years, and nothing's changed… Nothing more will come for me here, there is no quest waiting for me, there is nothing here but this life."
"Takeru-kun… Could you take me back to the digital world?" It was an odd request, she had been there so recently and left it so soon, but there was still that feeling that she would find nothing in this world.
The former bearer of hope nodded, feeling a bit of what had once been his attribute once more. And after a bit of sneaking around to find a computer, those words were spoken again.
"Digital gate, open!"
And so they returned, casting their selves away once more on that island of adventure.
"Chosen children, please, save this world…"
"We did, didn't we? Piemon, Metal Seadramon, Pinnochimon, Mugen Dramon, all dead, spiral mountain's been gone for years. So why must we feel this pain?"
Yamato wandered in that cave of darkness once more, still just as torn as the last time his crest wouldn't glow. He didn't have a tag to hold up to himself and look at, horror in his eyes, but his emotion was just the same.
"But Gabumon can still become Garurumon… How can this happen without the crest? The digivice is just a tool, without friendship it's worthless, I've seen that… So maybe there's still, y'know, hope?"
But looking around that illusory cave, it was hard to see any of such a thing. And when Gabumon chomped on his leg, trying desperately to bring him out of his misery, his cold blue eyes didn't even notice.
There was still that image from before, and no glowing bearer of light to distract him from Jureimon's words this time, those words spoke in that forest by the reflecting lake.
"No offense, but even if I felt like talking, it wouldn't be to a tree."
"So, you're still stuck in the same place, still the same old jerk you always were."
Gabumon's look was one of rage back then, the sort of rage that wants to make you jump at someone, slap them, and tell them to shut up. But as Yamato listened, his emotions had turned to sadness, the same sadness he felt now.
"That's right, go on, but you'll never learn how to change. You'll always be as you are right now."
"So is Taichi still my rival? Is it because I never defeated him, was I meant to be the leader?" The thought was tempting, the idea that all he would have to do would be to have Garurumon tear Greymon in two and his life would actually have something other then this eternal, friendless stagnation. "It would certainly be easier than this…"
And now, Gabumon's look was the same sad one he had when Jureimon's words had lured Yamato to fight against his closest friend.
"Even if I do attack Taichi, it will still be the same as before. Hikari won't interrupt it, and the digimon will be in weaker forms, but the battle would still just be the past repeating itself yet again. I'd still be a slave to the past, win or lose, no different then I am now."
"But last time I didn't win."
"Friendship, loyalty, comrades. You were hurt so much to prove it to me, that those ideals were more than just words… But can I count any of the others as my friends, after we grew apart so easily?"
"I'll prove it again to you if I have to!" Gabumon shouted, desperately trying to reach Yamato's unhearing ears.
"Of course you will, you're my digimon…" Yamato said, bending down to embrace the reptile wrapped in wolf fur. "But…"
"Can I trust the others? All we have is that memory. And I sacrificed my friendship, didn't I?"
"Friendship did mean a lot to me. But all the friendship I had was given up to seal the digital world, and now there is only isolation." Yamato said, his look one of deep sorrow, his eyes providing a window to a suffering soul.
"No, there's not only isolation." Gabumon responded, and Yamato finally listened. "I'm still here for you."
The former, no, the bearer of friendship nodded, at last convinced he had something. But still, it was something from before, the same sort of ending as last time, and it seemed he would always be a slave to his past.
There were some, however, who only wished they could hold on to that lost part of their past. But none of Tailmon's tears touched Wizarmon's body, nor could she even put a paw to his cape anymore, for all she tried. The wizard digimon was ethereal now, after all, and seldom if ever appeared in his ghostly state. In other words, Wizarmon was but another ghost of the past that could not move on, like all of them in some ways, but more literal than most.
After all, digimon weren't meant for an afterlife, they were supposed to be reconfigured. Pumpmon, Gotsumon, Dark Tyrannomon, their spirits were probably haunting some spot, even though it couldn't be said which one…
"Wizarmon, I missed you!" Tailmon said, her normally unblinking eyes tearful just to see him again.
Wizarmon's reaction was different, to say the least, and far more serious. "I do want the three of us to spend time together happily, I really do. But that is not why I've appeared to you today, Tailmon."
"What?" The feline digimon asked, her "what" a mix of surprise and a "what are you saying" type of reaction.
"In the digital world, there is a balance between light and darkness." Hearing this, Hikari nodded, even though she did wish the balance could end and light prevail. "Be warned, the darkness is not yet defeated, and it may very well gain allies that are... Not typically on their side."
"Not typically on their side? Do you mean…" Hikari began, all but certain what was meant by this, but this was not something she would accept easily.
"Yes, I do." Wizarmon spoke quietly, a sorrow in his voice that he lacked even when he met his end…
Hikari froze. Daisuke, Miyako, Iori, they had problems with even killing a digimon they didn't even know… She did too, for that matter, but she had by and large been able to put that aside when the fate of both worlds was at stake.
But to hold up her digivice and evolve Tailmon, facing Takeru for her life? To make her digimon evolve, with the knowledge that such an evolution was only meant to bring her friends harm?
"I… I can't accept that." Hikari responded, unwilling to yield even to reality. "Wizarmon, I know you mean well, and I know what you've done…" She said, trailing off as she remembered how the blue-robed mage died, remembering his final words.
"Don't be sorry….I don't have any regrets. If I hadn't met you, my life would've had no meaning. I'm glad that you and I were friends."
"Thank you for everything, Tailmon."
A tear dropped from Hikari's face as she remembered, remembering the sort of death we would all prefer, but still a death she brought upon the wizard digimon.
Until the words of that very digimon broke her out of her memorial trance.
"I know you can't. I simply wanted you to know…"
And with that, Yagami Hikari nodded, some odd sort of determination on her face, even though she knew not what she was determined to do.
The former Digimon Kaiser lay against the great tree's soft bark, the wind seeming to be his only comfort on this oddly cold august night. "Ken-chan, you can't forget the past forever." Though I wouldn't want to remember it either, if I had done such a thing."
"I know." Ken answered softly, his soft and gentle voice seeming incapable of belonging to one who had done those horrible deeds. Though come to think of it, his voice was different back then, even his eyes were different.
But even when he wandered into the village of beginnings in that torn, broken state, his outfit, hair and eyes all so different than before, the digimon had still recognized him for who he was.
"But I can't bring myself to reminisce about those days at all, I still want to forget."
"I know…" Wormmon responded, unsure of how to continue. "But can you?"
Hearing those words, the image of Kimeramon's composite body appeared in his mind, remembering the monstrous digimon he had once created, and remembering what happened to it.
And much worse, what happened to his digimon partner, events he would try no longer to think about, but the wounded green insect bursting in his arms was simply something he could not stow away in his mind.
"Wormmon…" He said, throwing his arms around the insectoid digimon. "Don't die…"
The insect digimon would have smiled, if his species could do such a thing. Instead, he merely felt an incredible happiness, nestling into Ken's gentle arms.
Butterflies, as a species, were not native to the digital world. Sure, there was some odd, theorized armor evolution of Wormmon from ancient times, but the resemblance between a creature like that and those flapping creatures was tenuous indeed, if for no other reason than the size.
A speck of light, that was what it appeared to be, just an ordinary speck of light. Iori blinked, putting a hand up to his face, thinking it just some speck trapped in his eyelid, then felt a wingtip brush against his finger.
"Yukio?" he asked, remembering that man who had but a year before caused that whole adventure, suffering and all.
And look at me, so rarely even in this world… Oikawa dies just to come back here, and I casually dart back and forth, spending almost all my time away from here.
The butterfly continued to drift softly in the breeze, seeming as if it wanted to see Iori one last time, to thank him or something of the sort.
"Iori, let's get going already." Daisuke shouted from off in the distance, already prepared to leave.
"Daisuke-san… I can't go yet, please let me stay." he spoke, bowing politely for good measure.
And with that, Motomiya Daisuke nodded and turned back, walking towards the one who inherited curiosity.
for all the pain it had brought Ken… Daisuke was still pleased that
such an adventure had happened. "Thank you, Oikawa-san."
"This is a day of memory… Shouldn't there be some memory I can look back on happily?
"I remember the battles, each and every one of them. I remember Wizarmon, Chuumon, Piccolomon, the Numemon. I can still think back on the Pyocomon village, catching Piyomon, and I remember all too well that loveless feeling that for so long forbade the crest of love from glowing..." Sora spoke, her tone a mourning and solemn one, even for all those memories meant to her. "I wish there was some memory I could simply rejoice at, some time I could look back at and be truly happy."
Takeru heard those words, and thought back on his own memories… They weren't entirely happy either, but he was the bearer of hope, that feeling when his digimon evolved and brought when it seemed all was lost… It was a feeling so many knew in some way, be it from a team making a great comeback, a revelation that brought happiness to their darker times, and it was that feeling he had at least now.
But even those memories had sadness in them. After all, hope may be said spring eternal, but hope is often simply an attempt to survive a crushing life, an all-encompassing despair. Angemon came on the verge of Devimon's triumph Holy Angemon the same for Piemon… And even hope didn't always save the world, as he knew all too well from the time of that holy stone.
And then he spoke.
"Then we'll create that memory." Takeru answered, smiling as he grabbed Sora's arm. "It's still the first of August; we are in the digital world." He added, that uninhibited feeling of "why not" taking over his mind.
And as he began running, Takenouchi Sora followed, her emotions a mix of wonder and hope. "Hmm? Takeru-kun, where are you taking me?"
Takeru merely smiled and continued to pull her along, running as the ground seemed to slope further and further downward, until they found themselves tumbling, then more tumbling, until they ended up collapsed at the hill's base, together in some wet grass located unknown part of the digital world.
"Still, it's the same… It's still that same experience as before, losing ourselves in this world." Sora spoke, still not convinced of Takeru's hope for a future.
"No, it's not. This time, we're here to enjoy ourselves, this time, we're happy."
At hearing this, the former bearer of love's face turned into a wide smile, but the sorrow remained underneath it all.
"After all, this can't last… Today's special, we'll be back to the same old boredom tomorrow."
"But Takeru-kun's finally regained hope," she thought, choosing to leave the implications for her tucked away in her mind, as thinking of love right now did not seem like it would bring any happiness.
Still, she would try to enjoy this day, hoping at last she could have a happy memory. So she did her best to forget the sorrow that lurked beneath, to let go of her reliance only on memory… And with that thought, she resolved to feel happiness today, to create a day in the digital world she could remember only with fondness.
But even with that vow, the similarities were there. It was still a sad day, she was still questioning her ability to love, she was with Piyomon for most of it… And much as she tried, she could not forget that similarity, nor could she ignore that she would soon have to say goodbye, and with something like that she could not follow what she had resolved.
"Thank you, Takeru-kun…"
And with that, the former bearer of hope smiled once more, no longer fearing for Patamon's fate or mourning this era of peace.
For all the work of the gods, the recent history of the digital world was not a happy one. In the last twenty years or so, they had seen bloody anarchy, demons, outright destruction, rebirth, slavery, and then near-destruction again. Yet for all the horrors that world had seen, the digital world had forged so many interesting ones, made so many digimon grow too soon, created the times that would test us all. And after such a time, even the digimon could not easily adapt to these years of peace.
Andromon patrolled Factorial Town again, as he was programmed to do, as he had done many times before. There was once a time when his patrols had found an enemy, when the domed city had found itself a Kaiser. And then the gates were overrun, the tower was erected, the black rings flew, the Guardromon were reprogrammed, and all he had done for defense was undone in minutes.
"To think Hikari's tears would have brought me back, to think that a girl so young could have done so much…" Come to think of it, though, Hikari was no ordinary girl, "ordinary girl" is not an appellation used for those who become radioactive monarchs at the age of eight and are summoned to R'lyeh at eleven.
After all, those wars did change us… They may have entered the digital world as children, but I can't say the same for when they left, and every digimon who lived through that time changed just as much.
"Every digimon who lived through that time..." Who was it now, Kentarumon, Yuki Darumon, Ogremon, and a few Otamamon and Gekomon? Meramon had passed on now, he was aging, sure, but… It felt like everything was slipping away, like they were all either dying off or leaving this world, while he stayed behind, ruled by his memory.
if Hikari is special, it wasn't just her tears that did it… It
was the strength of that time, the times we all went through, the
power of our memories."
"I miss it… I really do, I can't say I liked the carnage, and I can still visit that place, but I did like being able to adventure in the digital world. Even though I can still visit the exact spot where Angemon died, or where I first met Patamon, or even when Taichi found me after returning from Earth, I'd like to have some new memories, I want to adventure in the digital world one last time."
"There are many points on which a life can turn, many decisions with unforeseen consequences. Couldn't one of them have stopped me from having to lose my crest? I want to go to the digital world again, to watch as Piyomon fights those battles, to feel that sort of strong emotion one last time."
One wish, one desire, twelve sorrows. It was said that the digital world was ultimately a mix of computer information and people's dreams, but for four years it had ignored the wishes of the chosen children of old.
Then again, today was the first of August, the fourth anniversary of that oft-remembered time, and the day all their sorrows had come together. Boredom, sadness, this was not the time of victory so many had hoped for.
If any day was a day of miracles, this was it, be it Devimon's fall or the arrows of hope and light. But to grant the wish Sora and Takeru, no, the wish all the chosen children save Hikari had made, and a desire that even she had, tucked away in some unknown corner of her heart…
The digital world had suffered enough already, war had been so common a state of affairs, the gods could not simply create a monster and watch their world feel even more pain, and it could easily endanger worlds beyond
But even now it was crying, crying for those lost days of happiness. And it was their duty to grant wishes, and they did owe the chosen children, no matter how much it pained them.
Beneath the digital world they lurked, and it was at last their time.
And so it began once more.