Diminished Light: Void's Assault
The Hands of Time
Tani's head flew up as she fell to her knees. "Shina. What have you done?" Her eyes widened in horror as the size of the tornado raging before them grew, it's violent winds threatening to shove them all off the cliff as they stood trapped.
"The ground is shaking! We're goners!" Yamato cursed as he clutched Sora's hand protectively. A deep chuckle erupted in his throat and he squeezed her hand again. "Sora, if we get out of this alive, will you marry me?"
"What?" She stared at him stupefied, the angry storm long forgotten at her boyfriend's question.
"MARRY ME, SORA! I love you, and if we survive this, I don't think I could live one moment without you. I know this is spontaneous and that I don't have a ring, but will you marry me?"
Sora gaped in shock and suddenly threw her arms around him as she wept. "YES! I'll marry you, Yama."
Taichi blinked several times with his jaw hanging out before he finally registered that the ground was cracking behind him. "Shit. That's it! My best friends are getting married and I intend to be at their damn wedding so there is no way that I am going to miss it because of a stupid thing such as dying! YOU HEAR ME, WHOEVER THE HELL YOU ARE! YOU'RE NOT GOING TO BEAT US!"
"Everyone has gone loco," Rosa murmured, as she reached for Iori to steady herself.
"Facing death can do that," he replied, grabbing her shoulders as she began to fall backwards. He gritted his teeth as large chunks of the cliff broke off around them.
"I don't want to die!"
"We're not going to die!" Taichi growled, holding onto Tani's trembling form.
Iori closed his eyes as the cliff crumbled out from under them and sucked in a breath, reaching out for Rosa's hand as they began to fall.
"This is hopeless!"
Koushiro gave Takeru a bewildered look as they raced down the steep mountain in what the blonde felt was going to be a waste of energy. "I never thought I'd hear you say that being the Chosen of Hope and all."
"In case you haven't noticed, I haven't activated my damn stone," he replied through gritted teeth.
"With that attitude, I'm not surprise."
"Guys! This isn't the time or the place to have an argument!" Akina shouted, trying to retain everyone's focus on escaping from the avalanche.
"Takeru, please," Catherine murmured gazing towards him as she took his hand in hers. He hesitated a moment then slowly his fingers folded around hers.
He bowed his head as he picked up his pace to keep up with the others. "I shouldn't even be here. I'm a failure. We aren't going to make it and the others are probably dead as well. We've lost."
"No. There is still hope." She bit her lip a moment and drew a breath. "You were my hope. When things were hard with my mother, I thought of you and knew that maybe there was a slim chance that things could be different. Please don't give up on yourself because I never gave up on you."
Takeru skidded to a halt and stared at her. "But why?"
"Maybe…. because I love you. I was always afraid of what my mother would do if she found out…. and maybe she did, but I didn't care because I knew that as long as you stood by my side, that everything would be alright."
Michael spun around and swore. "What the hell are you two standing around for? This isn't a video game where you can pause if you need a bathroom break for crying out loud!"
She believes in me. She loves me. Me. Not Yamato. Not Taichi or Daisuke. Me. Takeru shook his head and grinned up at Michael. "We'll be okay. Nothing will keep us down. I understand now. You can't have hope in others unless you have it in yourself. Now I understand what Patamon was trying to tell me a few years ago."
A bright light flooded Takeru's body and quickly dissipated revealing a slate gray high necked ribbed shirt under a red zip up jacket with a pair of black pants and red sneakers. He pulled out his Power Stone and laughed at discovering that it was now red. "I did it."
"It looks like the avalanche stopped. Weird." Mimi frowned as she flipped one of her pigtails from her face.
"Works for me," Michael shrugged, pulling at his cap.
Koushiro nodded at the blonde writer. "I knew you could do it. Yamato would be proud of you."
"Yeah. So would Patamon." Takeru smiled then took Catherine's hand, and bowed as he kissed her knuckles in a gentleman-like gesture. "Merci," he said in thanks.
Tears flooded Catherine's eyes as she smiled back. "You're welcome, Takeru."
A low rumbling sound however pulled the celebrating pair apart, drawing their attention to the top of the mountain where a cloud the size of a skyscraper raced down the mountain side towards them like a runaway train.
"OH SHIT!" Michael shoved his hat more firmly down on his head, took Mimi by the hand and began the race once again with the other Chosen sprinting closely behind them.
Harsh bands of rain slashed against the five Chosen as they ran blindly through the storm. Drenched and freezing, they struggled to get as far from the beach as possible. The wave thrashed violently, the heavy winds threw the salty ocean water haphazardly around like confetti.
"I used to like the rain. I think I've changed my mind." Wallace sputtered as water was tossed in his face. Angrily he wiped at his eyes as he came to a pause. "Yeah. It's official. I hate the rain!"
"This isn't normal." Ken said softly, his fingers intertwined with Miyako's.
"I'll agree with you on the hating the rain, Wallace. My hair is going to be one big fuzz-ball when it dries," Ami said in exasperation. "I should have never gotten it permed."
"It looks nice though…. I mean when it's dry…and now. It looks good," Jyou said between shivers before launching into a fitful of sneezes. "This really does suck."
"The waves keep getting higher too," Miyako nodded. "If they get much higher we might find ourselves swept out to sea."
"I don't think I can run anymore," Ami panted, pushing her soaked curls out of her face and rubbed at her arms. "I'm so cold!"
"We don't have much in the way of a choice."
Wallace glanced behind his shoulder and cursed at the size of the wave growing behind him. It definitely had more height than his apartment in New York. "I think we're in trouble."
The others looked as well and took off at a sprint as their adrenaline kicked in full gear.
Hikari stared in disbelief at the fragments of the glass sphere scattered on the floor. She scrambled towards the closest pieces and watched in horror as her brother and the friends he was traveling with were facing off with a tornado as the cliff they were trapped on began to break away. Another shard revealed the race from the avalanche and yet another one, displayed the hurricane with a growing tsunami. "How could you? How can you allow your sisters to die just like that?"
"They mean nothing to me. They're just insignificant nothings that always got in my way," Shina hissed then shrugged. "They were always better liked than I was. Made me sick."
"They loved you. You're the stupid one to throw family away." Tears slid down Hikari's cheeks as she fought to maintain a calm demeanor. "You need to wake up, Shina. WAKE UP!"
The sudden intensity in the brunette's voice startled her to the point that she unconsciously stepped back. Shina blinked as the girl began to glow once again. "What are you doing?"
Hikari shook her head as she slowly rose to her feet, bracing herself against the wall as she pulled herself up. "The only thing I can do; fix things."
"But…" Shaking her head, Shina watched as the wall in front of Hikari crumbled revealing several jagged, multi-colored crystals. Shina frowned and clutched her hands into fists. "I'm not going to let you stop me! I'll destroy you if it's the last thing I do." Suddenly a dark light erupted around her as she touched one of the crystals. "If I can't stop you one way then it'll have to be another."
"What?" Hikari gasped at the sight of Shina. Rather than the jagged violet locks, they were now chin length and she was clothed in a black jacket and baggy jeans with a green top. Oddly she looked three years younger. Curiously she turned to where Daisuke was still lying unconscious and threw a hand to her mouth. His spiky hair was a bit longer, but the state of dress was completely different. Rather than wearing blue, he was now in a sleeveless version of the jacket he wore during his first adventure to the Digital World. Under it was a dark blue shirt with brown gloves and dark brown shorts. It was something she hadn't seen since she was fifteen. Hikari glanced down at her own state of dress and nearly cursed. She too looked as she had at fifteen. Gone were the purple skirt and top. Instead she wore a short tied around top in dark pink over a lavender colored shirt with tight jean shorts that went a little past her knees and white ankle length boots. "What are you doing?"
"If I can't kill you, then I'll erase you and all those other idiots from existence!"
Relief filled Tani's eyes as the tornado mysteriously disappeared. Just as she was about to relax however, she noticed something very wrong. "Oh no."
Taichi frowned as he realized that the danger was nowhere to be found. "What? The tornado is gone so we're in the clear."
"No, something else is wrong."
"What?" Rosa's eyes bugged out as she realized that she was a lot shorter than before. "Aye caramba! I've shrunk!"
"No, we somehow lost a few years on our ages. How? I don't know," Yamato looked worriedly at Sora, her red hair was longer and in a flip. He scowled at the olive colored suede jacket he was now wearing silently declaring it had to be one of his worst purchases. Even more annoying he decided was his shorter choppy hair. "I think we lost three more years."
"What does this mean?" She whispered shoving her now growing out bangs out of her eyes and made a face at the jeans that looked like rejects from the 80s she was clothed in only they were paired with a tight black top.
"It means that somehow Shina or someone else has managed to use Akina's crest. We're in big trouble now." Tani made a face at her long hair and swept the strands haing in her face behind an ear.
Taichi frowned as he glanced towards Iori and Rosa both in equally different states of dress, trying to ignore the mess that was his hair now nearly mid-back length and pulled back in a loose ponytail. "But if we keep losing years then…."
"We'll disappear," Iori said softly glancing towards the odd state of Rosa's hair as it stuck out in every direction. She quickly pulled it down and grimaced at the idea of no longer existing.
"There has to be something we can do!" She pulled at the dangling sleeves of her top and sighed in exasperation.
"I seriously hope there is."
"You can't mean that!" Hikari swept back her shorter hair and growled as she launched herself towards the other girl, knocking her to the ground.
Shina bared her teeth as she struck her rival across the face. "It's too late, you bitch. The clock is going to continue moving back three years until you are nothing but a memory and even that will fade from existence."
"But you will destroy everything. Time will continue to decline until nothing is left. Do you really want to bring an ending to life itself? Things can change if you want it bad enough. You just have to try." Hikari released her hold on Shina and moved towards the wall. "There has to be something that you hold value to."
"You killed it."
The Child of Light rose to her feet as she lifted her head. She glanced briefly at a now twelve year old Daisuke, still lying unconscious on the ground. She drew a sharp breath and turned towards Shina without a moment of hesitation. "Then kill me. Leave everyone else be and kill me. That's what you want to do, so do it."
Koushiro looked nervously at the sky then back towards his friends. "This isn't good. We've seemed to have lost yet another three years. "I don't really know what to make of this."
"Shina must be using my crest," Akina whispered worriedly as she pushed her long bangs from her eyes.
"Why? What good is making us younger going to do?" Catherine inquired, trying to ignore the dainty blue dress she was dressed in at the prompting of her mother. She balled her lacy-gloved hands as her eyes began to flood with fear filled tears.
"If she pushes the years back too far then…. she could possibly erase us from existence. Time is very delicate and if manipulated the consequences can be drastic."
"And here I thought reliving my Aerith phase was bad!" Mimi covered her mouth with her hand as Michael gripped her other one. "Well, at least the avalanche is gone but instead we're going to all disappear!"
"There has to be some way to stop that from happening," he said reassuringly.
"How? Where don't even know where Akina's sister is never mind being unable to stop her."
"There has to be a way, even if we're not the ones to find it," Takeru urged as he put his hand on Mimi's shoulder. "We just have to be positive." If it helps, you'll be last to disappear since you're the oldest here."
Tears slipped down her cheeks as she dropped to the ground and drew her knees to her chest. "But I don't want to watch everyone fade away. Just the thought of it kills me inside."
"I would be first to go," Catherine murmured lowering her head.
"Don't talk like that!" Takeru lifted her chin and looked in exasperation at the others. "We can't think like that. There has to be-"
"Hope?" Koushiro offered.
Shina blinked in bewilderment at the brunette's words. "Are you insane?"
Hikari didn't falter and kept her voice firm. "I'm the one you want revenge on, not them. I'm the one that killed your partner. Not them and therefore this isn't about them. It's me. You want my blood so take it."
"Sacrifice yourself to save everyone else. Typical. But that won't solve anything." Shina scoffed as she began to pace. Suddenly her hair darkened and grew to shoulder length as she became even shorter. Her eyes were now a deep green, which seemed to glow behind her curtain of midnight hair. She seemed to laugh at the black tank top and sapphire blue jeans she now wore. "Gee, I have worn this since I was eleven. And I see you are still going through your pink phase. You know there are other colors out there."
I'm nine. There isn't much time left. She thought in warning as she glanced down at her pink dress.
"Not again!" Ami wailed as she gripped her dark pigtails and burst into tears. "I don't want to disappear!"
Jyou grimace as he rolled up the sleeves of his polo shirt. "This would be the year after the first time we enter the Digital World…. I mean the first group," he added with a glance towards Miyako and Ken.
Miyako looked sorrowfully at her boyfriend and pushed her glasses back up her nose. "We're running out of time."
"You and the other have a bit more time than Wallace and I have," he replied grimly as he shoved at his shorter hair. "Hopefully it won't come to that."
"The idea of no longer existing kinda sucks," Wallace sighed crossing his arms over his baseball jersey. "I mean it was nice to have the storm go away, but I think I'd rather deal with the storm."
"Yeah, but the reality of it is that if something isn't done soon we'll be losing two Chosen, present company excluded," Miyako urged.
"What do you-"
"Iori and Rosa," Ken nodded solemnly in understanding. "They should be seven now."
"And since we seem to regress in threes, they only have two more regressions left before… they're gone."
Miyako sank to the ground and wrapped her arms around herself. "I feel so helpless and there isn't anything we can do. How do we fight something that isn't even right in front of us?"
Ken said nothing and sat next to her, drawing her towards him comfortingly. He looked at the others and saw the same question reflecting in their own eyes. Deep down he wondered if there even was a way to stop time before it ran out.
Hikari closed her eyes as she felt time shift around her once again. She was six, in a pink sundress with a matching headband in her short hair. I have to do something, but what? She looked up towards the dark haired eight year old and thought hard. "So we're back to before we even had digimon partners, were you still mad even then?"
Shina flinched as though Hikari had slapped her. The angelic girl looked up at her with wide brown eyes. "I-I don't know."
"Taichi, my brother started really getting into soccer about this time. He really loved soccer and one day tried to teach me to play. It was cold out but I really wanted to play with him, to make him proud because soccer was one of his favorite things to do. Well, I kicked the ball with him for a while even though I was starting to get sick. After that everything is kind of foggy. But I had gotten really sick and almost died. But even after that, I still looked up to him. And even though he became really over protective of me, even now, I still love him." Hikari paused a moment and gave Shina a tiny smile. "The funny thing is that I was scared that he was upset with me because I couldn't kick the ball too well."
"Why are you telling me this?"
"Because. You have sisters and I know that it's not exactly like having an older brother, but they are still your sisters and a part of you. No matter what happens they can't help but love you, especially if you've been through thick and thin."
"Yeah, right." Shina rolled her eyes and turned away from the small girl. "You're just saying that garbage to see if you can convince me to change my mind, and I won't."
Hikari drew in a breath as they lost three more years. "I've met Tani, your older sister. She dated my brother. They were close and though she didn't talk to him about you and her other sisters, she told me."
"And what did she tell you?"
"She was worried about you. You always locked yourself in your room and picked fights with everyone. She didn't like to see you like that, alone and mad. It made her sad."
"Yeah right. She was just saying that. She didn't care about me."
"Yes she did! People care, you just have to open your eyes. She told me one time you jumped off the swing when you were little but had jumped too far and hit the monkey bars. She was so scared because your head was bleeding and you wouldn't open your eyes. Ami got scared too and so did Akina. Everyone was scared because they thought you had died and they didn't know what they'd do without you. Your mom and dad were scared too. Everyone cried because you didn't wake up for days but you did and that made them happy again."
Shina turned away as she blinked rapidly. "I remember. I broke my collar bone and my arm. Nearly broke my neck. Tani always visited me after school and brought me a new manga to read to me. Akina snuck in junk food and Ami… would tell me what was going on in school and gave me Mr. Hoppity to keep me company while I was in the hospital." She sniffled as she glanced down at her left arm recalling the brightly decorated cast that was once around it. "They threw a huge surprise welcome back party when I got home. There were balloons, streamers, a cake and a huge 'Welcome Home, Shina,' banner." Tears fell from her eyes as she thought back nostalgically. "Akina and Tani both helped me catch up so I didn't have to be held back a year. If it wasn't for them…I would have been."
"See? They really do love you," Hikari whispered. "You can't just think about the bad stuff. Bad things happen but it's the good stuff that we have to remember otherwise everyone would be sad and people are supposed to be happy not sad."
Shina gasped out loud as though something had snapped. She stared at the small girl for a moment and realized that she no longer felt animosity towards her. "Oh God… there has to be some way to fix this." She raced towards Hikari and clasped her tiny hands with her larger ones as she knelt before the girl. "Help me. You have to help. I was wrong and I…. please help me fix this!"
Hikari gazed up at her as her eyes flooded with tears. "But I don't know how."
"Please! There has to be something you can do. We're running out of time." Shina turned her head and looked at the tiny form of a three year old Daisuke still lying motionless from where she had left him. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry," She wept drawing the girl in her arms as she cried. "This is all my fault and if there is something I can do to fix it, I'd do anything. ANYTHING!"
"I don't know what to do. I'm sorry too." The little girl bit her lip as she too cried. "I don't want to lose everyone."
Shina wiped her tears away and rose to her feet. She drew a breath, took one of Hikari's hands and led her towards the crystals. "Let's do what we can. If we concentrate on the crest then maybe we can stop it. Help me."
Hikari looked at the older girl and help out her hands. "No matter what, we'll save everyone even if we die, we'll save them."
"Yeah, lets do this," Shina grinned as she pressed her hands against Hikari's and closed her eyes as the young girl did so. Suddenly a vibrant glow erupted around the two girls swirling with color. One by one the crystals burst spraying the two girls with shards of glass as a violent wind whipped around them, but they refused to budge, pouring everything they had into correcting Shina's mistake before it was too late. Their skin seemed to blister and freeze from the rapidly changing temperatures, yet they squeezed their eyes shut tighter and held back any cry or scream of pain until it seemed unbearable.
Finally weak and completely drained they collapsed with only thoughts of their loved ones on their minds.
Taichi opened one eye then the other and fell backwards from the weight on his lap. He stared wide-eyed at Iori and gaped in shock. "You're big again!"
The teenaged boy chuckled and shook his head as he climbed off the leader. "So are you. Um, thanks for watching out for me. There's not too much a one year old can do."
Taichi grinned. "Well, I guess you could say I had experience with Hikari. So I guess we're all back to normal?"
Tani smiled as she looked up at the brightly shining sun. "It seems like it."
"It's actually peaceful here," Sora smiled as Yamato enveloped her in his arms. "I wonder what happened."
"I don't know. I have to say that was the oddest storm I have ever been in. All those colors and that wind, it was really weird. But I'm thankful for whatever stopped it before it was too late."
"Me too. I was really afraid I'd disappear and never see anyone of you again. Especially you, Iori," Rosa said as she hugged his arm and leaned her head against his shoulder.
He blushed and nodded. "Yeah. Me too."
"I wonder what do we do now?" Sora looked to the others who shrugged.
"Why don't you follow me," an uncannily familiar voice said from the shadows to everyone's surprise.
"Is the night club wannabe storm over with?" Mimi glanced around then shrieked as she realized that they were their previous ages once again. "We're back to normal! Well, as normal as we were when we first got here. I don't have to relive anymore of my bad fashion statements!"
Michael laughed as she threw her arms around him in glee. "I'm just glad that we aren't going to be erased or whatever."
"I think we all agree on that one," Koushiro smiled.
Akina sighed as she leaned against him in exhaustion. "I don't know what happened but I'm glad that's over."
"I don't want to go through that again." Catherine said as she pushed one of her curls from her face. "I'd rather deal with the avalanche."
"Well, we're all alive, so this has to be a good thing," Takeru smiled. "And if we're alive then the others should be too, right?"
"Unless the D-terminals start working, we won't actually know," Koushiro replied shaking his head.
"There is that."
A voice behind them chuckled prompting the six startled Chosen to turn around and gape at the figure. "Or you could come with me and find out what is really going on."
"We're alive? The strange storm didn't kill us?" Ami shoved her tangled hair from her face then gaped at the size of her hands. "I'm not a kid anymore! I'm….still twenty. Wait, I'm supposed to be twenty-three."
"Better than being stuck at five or younger," Miyako snickered, relieved that things were finally calm once again. "I hope the others made it."
Ken nodded squeezing her hand reassuringly. "At the last regression Iori and Rosa would have been one so as long as they were losing years at the same rate we were…. They should be okay."
"I think I'd rather relive my childhood through pictures, not actually being that age again," Wallace nodded heavily as though exhausted. "I 'd rather forget about my Power Rangers phase and never have to remember that ever again."
"Too much TV isn't good for you anyway," Jyou laughed shaking his head at the disgruntled blonde.
"There wasn't much to do when growing up."
Ami clasped her hands behind her back as she look up and sighed. "I wish we knew what we're supposed to do now. The storm is gone for good and we are back to being the ages that we had started out with."
"Stating the obvious, but you do have a point," Miyako nodded.
"How about I grant your wish? All you have to do is come with me," a bemused voice said from the distance to the amazed Chosen.
Wallace blinked several times and drew a hand over his eyes. "Why am I even surprised?" He shook his head and led the others towards a grouping of trees. "All I have to say is you better have some good answers."
"Hikari…. Hey, Hikari. Wake up."
A soft moan escaped her lips as she squeezed her eyes shut tighter moving her head away as a hand lightly slapped her face again.
"You really are alive," the voice gasped.
Hikari opened her eyes and found herself staring into Daisuke's wide hope-filled eyes. "Daisuke? You're alive!" She threw her arms around him as she cried into his chest. "I thought you were dead. You weren't moving for so long and I…. I was afraid that I'd never see you again."
He wrapped his arms around her and stroked the back of her head. "Yeah I was afraid I had lost you too. I woke up and you and that other girl were unconscious. I thought you killed each other or something-"
"Shina!" Hikari quickly pulled away and turned around to find her former nemesis lying very still. She slapped the young woman's face sharply. "Shina! Wake up! Please wake up. You can make things better just open your eyes."
"Hikari…" Daisuke touched her shoulder as tears slid down her cheeks.
"She's not as bad as you may think. She was misled and hurt and she can't be dead! If it wasn't for her we would have faded from existence."
Daisuke looked at the other young woman and pulled Hikari to him, allowing her to cry on his shoulder. "I'm sorry."
"Why do I keep losing people?" She froze at her words and pushed away feeling guilty. "How is your mom?"
"She's in remission again….she –she relapsed after you had left, I mean after you had moved but…. Wait. You remember?"
"Everything, and I still love you, Daisuke. More than anything."
He stared at her a moment then smiled. "I still love you too, Hikari. Always have."
"And I'd still love to be able to get some sleep without you two lovebirds crooning. Oh God, I feel like I have hangover…"
"Shina!" Hikari spun around gave a tearful smile to the young woman.
Shina groaned as she rubbed at her face with elbow length teal gloves covered hands. Her eyes were once again sapphire and her hair was choppy in a deep shade of violet. She wore a short teal tank top over a longer royal purple t shirt that barely reached her belly. Over that was a sleeveless black duster that almost reached her ankles with matching pants and combat boots. She looked up at Hikari and laughed. "I can't be mad at you anymore. You're just too cute like a little faery. Not as short as Ami though. I think you might actually have a few inches on her." Without another word she gave the Chosen of Light a hug as Daisuke stared in shock at them.
"Um, did I miss something?" He scratched his head wondering when they had all of a sudden become friends.
Hikari laughed and grabbed his hand. "Daisuke, meet Asukai Shina, one of Tani's younger sisters. Shina, meet Motomiya Daisuke… my boyfriend."
Shina gave the teenaged boy a playful punch to the arm. "Even though I have only met Hikari for a short time I have to say that if you EVER hurt her, not only are you going to have to worry about her brother kicking your ass but me as well!" She grabbed him by the collar of the shirt and shook him a bit to drive in the point.
"YES MA'AM!" Daisuke drew in several deep breaths once the young woman released him and sent his girlfriend a look. "You and your family and friends. Speaking of kicking some ass, I think Nitoni deserves my shoe up his, what do you say, Shina?"
"Dai! That won't be necessary!" Hikari grabbed onto his arm and pulled hard.
"If you three are done, I believe there are some people that are very eager to see you again," a voice said from the corner of the room.
Daisuke's eyes widen in bewilderment. "Hey! It's Gennai! What are you doing here?"
"Wait, we can't go yet…. We have to stop-" Shina began be she was interrupted.
"They're already gone, Shina. Now if you'll come with me. I believe we have much to discuss," Gennai replied firmly.
The three Chosen exchanged glances and followed their long time guide through a swirling portal.
Tani frowned as they stepped into a dark desolate field. The sky was dim and the place looked void of all life. "Where are we?"
"I think I'd prefer to stay where we were," Rosa whispered stepping closer to Iori. "This place gives me the chills."
Taichi nodded slowly and glanced towards Yamato and Sora. "Yeah, but there is something familiar about it. Plus how did Gennai get young again?"
Yamato agreed. "I don't know the answer to that but I do have a really bad feeling."
"Um, is there a door number two anywhere?"
Sora spun around and cried out in joy. "Michael! Mimi! Koushiro! Takeru! You're all here!"
"Sora!" Mimi raced towards her best friend and threw her arms around her. "I'm so glad to see that you're okay!"
"Me too! I'm engaged."
"WHAT?!" Mimi froze then looked at Sora and squealed. "I get to be a bride's maid!" She jumped happily up and down as she hugged her best friend even tighter. "I'm so happy for you!"
Takeru tripped as he overheard the two now sobbing girls. "What? Ya-Ya.. .You-you… She- you…WEDDING?!"
Catherine grabbed onto his arm to keep him steady and smiled. "We're so happy for you both. I'm sure it'll be a beautiful wedding."
Yamato laughed at his little brother's shocked expression and ruffled his blonde hair. "Give it time. But I see you two are back together. I wish you two the best."
"I- We-- aren't getting married!" Takeru paused then turned to Catherine with a concerned look on his face. "Are we?!"
She blushed deep red and brought a hand to her face in embarrassment. "Um, lets give it a few years. I don't think either of us are ready for that, " she replied meekly.
"Is anyone else getting married that I should know about before I pass out from shock?"
"Who's getting married?" Miyako glanced inquiringly at the group of Chosen as she stepped through a different portal. "And what the hell happened here?"
"Yamato asked Sora to marry him!" Mimi cried out to the lavender haired girl who paused in surprise.
"He did?" She squealed loudly and ran towards the bride to be. "Oh wow! This is so incredible!"
"TANI! AKINA!" Ami burst into tears and sprinted towards her siblings.
"Ami!" Tani hugged her sisters as they all cried. "I missed you all so much." She pulled away and gestured towards Taichi. "Ami, Akina, meet my boyfriend, Yagami Taichi. Taichi, these are my sisters."
Taichi grinned at the two girls. "Nice to meet you."
Akina's jaw dropped. "Wait, you didn't tell us you had a boyfriend. But I guess that's okay because this is my boyfriend." She grabbed Koushiro by the sleeve and yanked him over.
Taichi laughed at the sight of the red haired computer whiz's face turning as bright as his hair. "So, you really did have a girlfriend and I was seeing her older sister."
"Yeah, small world," he chuckled weakly.
Miyako grinned at Takeru and elbowed him. "So are you two back together again?"
"Yeah, I don't think I'd have it any other way," he smiled. "Things better between you and Ken? You aren't getting married, are you?"
Ken choked at the question and put his arm around his girlfriend. "Not planning on it at the moment…." He angled a look at Miyako. "If that's okay with you?"
"I'm in no hurry."
"And it looks like love must have been in the air," He gestured towards where Rosa stood next to Iori, her arms wrapped around one of his as he chatted with Koushiro. "Looks like her crush on me is long dead."
"Good thing to because I'm not giving up on you without a fight."
Takeru laughed at the couple and scratched his head as he looked at the other Chosen talking enthusiastically at the chance of being reunited.
"Aren't we still missing people," Wallace inquired as he approached them. "I mean this is great and all even though the location sucks but…."
"Daisuke and Hikari aren't here," Ken finished.
Catherine looked fearfully at her friends. "You don't think.."
Takeru squeezed her hand tightly and looked down.
"Where did the party come from and where's our invite?"
Silence fell as everyone turned at the sound of a confused voice. "Did I miss something?" Daisuke looked at the other Chosen then at Hikari.
"Daisuke! Hikari! You're alive!" Ken called out as Miyako laughed and waved at them.
"And you're still a gogglehead!" She flipped one of her braids behind her ear and ran towards them.
A huge grin formed on Taichi face as he spotted his little sister and raced towards her, scooping her in his arms and swung her around. "You wouldn't believe how glad I am to see you here."
"Not half as happy as I am too see you, big brother," she laughed as he put her down. She turned around and smiled at Tani. "I'm glad to see you too. But someone else will be happier. Come on, Shina. It's okay."
"Shina?" Tani gasped as the young woman awkwardly exited the portal.
"Hi everyone." Shina gave them a small wave then dropped her hand. "I'm sorry. Things got out of hand and I wanted to tell everyone I was sorry. I'll just go now…"
"Shina!" Tani took a few steps forward and paused. "Please don't shut us out again. "Please."
Shina looked from one sister to the next and bit her lip as she bowed her head. "What the hell." She raced towards them and hugged them tightly as they sobbed in each other's arms. "I was so stupid, I'm sorry. I'm really sorry."
It was not entirely your fault, Shina as Hikari had said." Gennai approached the group of Chosen and nodded at them. He withdrew a wooden box from his robes and opened it. Multi-colored lights flew through the air and towards the possessor of it's chosen color, illuminating each Chosen's tag. "Courage, Friendship, Love, Purity, Knowledge, Faith, Hope, Light, Harmony, Time, Darkness, Sympathy, Kindness, Miracles, Fate, Truth, Dreams, Justice, Spirit, and Strength. Each of you has one of these qualities that make you a Chosen and therefore you once again are tasked with yet another challenge as the new Guardians of the Digital World."
"Guardians?" Taichi questioned. "But what about the other Chosen? Do you mean we are the only ones left?"
"The other Chosen are no more. Their memories of the Digital World as well as anyone outside of you who stand before me are no more. If you chose to accept the task the future you, Taichi and you, Daisuke had seen will be no longer exist for there are consequences to changing time. You can either go back to the reality you had left, or take the journey as you are but return to a reality that is altered from the one that you had previously lived in."
"Does that mean we would stay the same age we are now?" Sora glanced thoughtfully at the guide who nodded gravely. "Well, at least we'd have a fresher start."
Daisuke stepped forward. "Does this task include finding the digimon?"
"Yes it does. This ruin you are standing in is what is left of the Digital World. Without the digimon the world has deteriorated. You were all in what is known to be the garbage file, where obsolete data of the world was dumped."
"We were in the garbage?" Mimi gaped and wrinkled her nose in disgust. "Ew, now I need a bath!"
"You smell fine, Mimi," Michael laughed as he squeezed her shoulder.
"So where are the digimon?" Hikari inquired.
"In a world like no other. I will grant you a few tools to use during your journey but the rest is up to you if you wish to go to retrieve them."
Taichi ran a hand through his hair and readjusted his goggles. "I'm game. What's another adventure if it means I can see Agumon again."
Tani took his hand and nodded. "Together we can do anything."
"This will not be easy, I will warn you. Those that wished to destroy you through Shina's actions may be present, but without your aid, all will be lost to the Digital World," Gennai said firmly.
"We're Chosen and therefore its up to us to save the Digital World. I don't think there is a person among us that will protest in saving it at all costs," Daisuke said firmly. The other Chosen chorused their agreements.
"Very well." Gennai waved his hand and a portal appeared before them. "Its all up to you. May you be victorious."
One by the Chosen left through the portal, unaware of what challenges they may face but knew in their hearts as long as they worked together everything would be okay.
Author's Notes: And so Void's Assault comes to an end. This chapter was stuck for so long I didn't know how long I'd have to wait for it all to come together. Ironically enough, the last half fell into place New Years Eve and New Years Day. And now it's officially my longest chapter.
The next half to this series, yes series, will be out in about a month. I have to create the world they are entering still and want to make sure I have what I need before I even try to jump into writing it. There are a lot of loose ends, some of which may be tied up next, others, which may have to wait until the following parts.
Thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed. I hope you enjoyed the first half of Diminished Light and look forward to sharing the next half of it in Diminished Light: Chosens' Quest.