Disclaimer: Hello, don't sue me. I don't own Digimon or anything remotely related to the topic except a few original characters and a certain plot idea to be implemented into this fic. As always, review or else I'll torture you to death with really lame jokes about plastic army men.
The start of the fourth lap was impressive. Orange Guy had successfully smoked out all of them, causing half to fall back and almost half to crash. The few who managed to keep up with him were all wind-elementals, using their abilities to funnel the haze behind them.
I had to admit I was beginning to enjoy the race. Sam was completely enthralled in it, immersing herself with all the foodstuffs the vendors had to offer. I was actually enjoying her enjoyment more then the race, now that I think about it. But her enthusiasm for the sport was overshadowed by one thing: her enthusiasm for Orange Guy.
I would guess that out of the thousands of fans watching, she was the biggest. She wasn't obnoxious or anything like that, though. She cheered with the rest of the crowd, but she remained with a certain dignity befitting her clan.
They held position in the military. Her clan was small, but extremely powerful. The Chibimon clan accounted for several of the admiralty and one of the Nobles.
Nobles and Sovereigns: The Digital World's government is quite simple. There are three Nobles and four Sovereigns. The Nobles bring the subject of deliberation to the Sovereigns and conversely, subjects from the Sovereigns to the People.
The people vote on whether a law or ordinance should be passed on to the Nobles. When the people pass a law, the Nobles pass it onto the Sovereigns for them to decide whether or not it should be ratified.
On the flip side, the Sovereigns can vote on laws to be suggested to the People. If they pass it, the Nobles vote to pass it to the General Public. After that the People vote to ratify it or not. Very simple procedure.
The votes work on a simple majority. Usually, this works on a yes or no basis. More then half of the registered Public voters must vote for or against the issue. Two out of the three Nobles must vote yes or no; and three out of four Sovereigns must vote for or against.
In the event of a tie in the Public vote, a re-vote is scheduled. Within the Sovereigns' vote, the Nobles are brought in to settle it. And due to the number of Nobles, there can be no tie between them.
For each plane, a smaller variation on this theme is used for 'state' government.
As I was saying, the Chibimon clan holds a decent portion of the political scene as well as military. But more then that, they are powerful fighters. And because of that, they carried themselves with all the pride due them.
This was how Sam held herself at the tournament. She was undoubtedly dying to scream her head off, but she wouldn't. That impressed me all the more. She would cheer and applaud and smile and stand, but she would not embarrass herself.
Orange Guy had made eye contact with her briefly at the start of the fourth lap. Then he powered through the still lingering smoke. Already, he was clear of the strait away and making the first turn.
The others passed by a few seconds later, the number-two racer clearly frustrated by the whole ordeal. He pushed himself all the harder though. And he was making progress.
The monitor and announcer were going wild over Orange Guy's almost certain win. They'd never seen anything like it. A racer staying in the lead for the entire race was unheard of. But then again, Orange Guy being overtaken was unheard of too.
The second-placer, an extremely small Kabutarimon, was coming up on Orange Guy's rear without him knowing. That is until the announcer announced it, quite to the dismay of the Kabutarimon.
Orange Guy proved to have even more talent as a Data User, blinding the racer almost completely with a strong, reddish light emanating from his body. The glowing ball of light sped up, forcing his wings to work harder than they were designed for.
Number Two was still gaining on him, shattering the course speed record for the second time this race. The light from Orange Guy dimmed and went out and Number Two became Number One, forcing Orange Guy to dive out of the way of the oncoming competitor.
I looked at Sam. She was in shock, staring at Orange Guy's attempts at regaining the lead. She suddenly looked like she was going dance. I checked the monitor, making myself go into stunned oblivion.
He was overtaking the Kabutarimon again. The battle was raging for first and it seemed that Orange Guy might win it. They were entering the third leg of the lap, where they were not allowed to interfere with the other racers except by passing them. They could still use their abilities to help themselves, though.
Putting a tailwind behind him, Orange Guy propelled himself forward with incredible speed, moving under the Kabutarimon and then jumping back up to the same altitude as soon as he was clear.
Number Two tried the same maneuver, but failed when Orange Guy started descending on him, forcing him to go lower. Number Two dropped back to avoid going any lower and crashing.
Fifth lap. Orange Guy maintained his lead for the first few microseconds as Number Two put a headwind in front of his adversary and an even stronger tailwind behind himself.
Even I was growing anxious to see what was going to happen. The crowds had all but fallen silent as they continued to battle it out for first place. Sam was gripping the rail so hard it was about to crack. I was literally on the edge of my seat, wanting to see the finish line crossed.
In the obstacle course, the battle took on a whole new form. Both players were taking turns trying to force each other out of the raceway. If they did that, the other would be disqualified immediately. But nothing either of them did would do anything to deter the other.
Number Two tried going over and pushing down on Orange Guy with a burst of ice-cold air. He succeeded in taking the lead, but only for a small fraction of a second as Orange Guy pumped with an unbelievable rush of energy to take the lead. He ascended rapidly and braked, driving his fellow contestant to a dead halt and down to the ground in order not to hit him.
That maneuver to avoid injury cost him the race as it effectively disqualified him by going out of bounds. With the Kabutarimon out of it, Orange Guy resumed his ride to the finish line at a more leisurely pace, but still managing to lap the last place competitor. He glided in with the final speed reading only two hundred and ninety five kph.
The hushed audience exploded, including Sam, who forsook her dignity for just a moment to lift her hands and shout for joy. I watched her, smiling at the display from a normally reserved Digimon. I thought she looked pretty there, bathed in an aura of exaltation.
But to the point, she was happy and so was I. An hour later, we were pushing our way through the throng to the front. Sam wanted to see the awards ceremony, hoping for the chance to meet Orange Guy. I knew she wouldn't get the chance, but I wasn't about to disappoint her.
Finally, after ten minutes of pushing, shoving, and generally making fools of ourselves, we made it to the front. Sam got into view just as Orange Guy took to the podium. The two lower stands were supporting a pleased looking ExVeemon and a Stingmon in third position.
The announcer was standing in front of the podium, only a few feet from where we stood. Sam was all smiles. "Welcome," the announcer said into a microphone. The crowd hushed. "Welcome again to the awards ceremony for the fifteenth annual Ean Air Racing Tournament."
The people whooped and hollered and the announcer put up a hand to quiet them. "Third place," he said, being handed a medal of bronze-digichrome alloy, "Bate, Stingmon racer from the city of Adama." The insect Digimon bowed and excepted the prize gratefully. He mouthed a quick thank you and the announcer moved on.
"Taking second, an ExVeemon formerly from the city of Anshar! He calls himself Arson." Again, the racer bowed. He seemed grateful just for the fact that he didn't have to cross paths with Orange Guy.
But the announcer moved on to Orange Guy just as quickly as he had come to Arson. He smiled a big, Etemon smile, holding a furry hand to silence the masses. "And our champion, an unknown Digimon with an amazing amount of strength." The throng interrupted him.
He quickly quelled them and continued with his task. "V!" With that simple letter, the crowd erupted in the loudest manner possible to cheer him on. He too bowed gracefully and gratefully, accepting a gold medal and the cup along with it.
I thought it funny to see his monstrous form bowing, his feathery wings folding, and his claws fumbling with the trophy. But it struck me odd that his wings were feathered and not the typical leather. Dragon Digimon usually didn't have anything like that.
Oh well, I thought, still keeping my eyes on Sam. Another puzzle for another day. Anyway, as far as Digimon standards go, he was quite hansom. It didn't matter anyway. He won fair and square, so I couldn't begrudge him anything except his unintentional stealing of Sam.
I groaned when I saw Sam approach the podium. I rushed to her side, hopefully getting across to V that I was her date. She smiled at him. He looked over her, but said nothing. Then he looked at me and grinned.
He jumped down from the podium, startling both of the crowd and us. Folks filed by and congratulated him while Sam and I stood aside waiting. Twenty minutes later, the people dispersed and the three of us were alone.
As I watched V look her over again, I had to remind myself that I was enduring this for her sake. And then again when he spoke. "You're quite a looker, aren't you," he said extending a claw to shake.
As I stood and shook his claw in fake friendship, I had a chance to finally look him over good. He wore cloths, for starters: a pair of red trousers and a vest. He was at least an Ultimate, probably more on the lines of a Mega, and he was exuberant.
The only thing that gave any clue to his age however, was his voice. While it sounded young and friendly, he had a slight rasp; usually found in people from Northern Ansharian plane. And how he spoke in general gave away that he was at least a millenium Digimon (being at least a thousand years old).
But this all escaped Sam's attention as she was so enamored with the character. "And your relation to him is what?" he asked, referring to me. "I'm just wondering." I knew he was trying to play innocent.
Unfortunately, Sam bought in. "He's just a friend." Ouch! That hurt to the point where I actually winced. Neither of them noticed though. "His name is Grey. I'm Sam. Congratulations on your win."
This time, I sincerely shared the sentiment. "Yeah, congrats on that. You sure did something to that Kabutarimon, didn't you?"
"Actually, he had me on edge the entire time." That surprised me. A racer wouldn't admit to something like that unless they were retiring. "Especially at the end of the race. Scared me to death that he might cause me to crash."
I laughed and Sam glared at me. "Why did you race if you were scared to crash? It doesn't make sense." Again he surprised me with his answer. He told me that this was his first time racing. "First? You looked like you were a professional."
"That's just my age talking." I was right. But Sam thought it all the better. I knew she was about nine hundred years old. I was only about ten years of age. Comparatively speaking, I was an infant.
"I've got quite a few experiences going for me," he continued. "Fighting and flying and dodging other things are part of my job." I asked what his job was. Yet another surprise came to me. "I fight wild fires in Yggdrassil."
A frontline fire fighter. These guys were the heroes who took the time to put out fires in the middle of combat. He would be on the frontlines with us in Yggdrassil. I didn't know what to say to that.
He thankfully said something so I didn't have to. "I'm here in Ea for a few more hours, ya know."
"Do you want to eat something?" Sam asked. Oh, this was going to be a long day. "We know a great pub not to far from here," she offered. I didn't want to humiliate myself like this in front of someone I know.
"Actually, I can't." SCORE!
Thank God for that. I didn't want to deal with him for another two or three hours. "Oh, I'm sorry to here that. Why can't you come?"
"I'm not here on vacation. I actually work with the hurricane relief too." Hurricane season was on right now. The raging storms on the surface would kill anyone who went out there. "I just had a day off, but there's a storm heading south of here to New Atlantis."
So he was heading out. While I really did respect the work he did, I was glad that he had leave. Under any other circumstances, I might have been glad to see him go. Who knew, maybe I'd see him again later on.
"Ah. Well good luck with that," I said. "Seriously. Do your clan proud." He nodded and turned to Sam.
"It was a pleasure meeting you, ma'am." Sickening to me to see him play her like that. I had nothing but respect for Sam, and he was flirting like he wanted to go to bed with her.
Sam gave him her thanks and said the same. I extended one of my short, Greymon, arms to shake with. He took it a step too far, though and embraced both of us tightly. When he let go, he said it was good that he met both of us and turned to leave.
Good riddance, I thought. And good luck. He would need it if he were a part of the hurricane relief, especially since the season this year looked to be even worse then normal. Sam kept her eyes on him until he flew out of sight.
"I like him," she said.
"I know," I replied. Believe me. I know.
One hour later...
Sam was still dreaming of V. It was like she was floating on air. Nothing seemed to get her off her high either. I felt like I didn't exist. Sure she'd talk to me when I asked her a question, but the subject invariably went back V.
I liked her. She liked V. Neither of us knew him. And V was long gone. As far as I was concerned, this was a problem. "Sam," I said on the way back to our hosts' home. "I think we have a problem."
She looked at me funny. I could tell she had no clue what I meant. "I mean you have a problem. Nine chances out of ten says that we'll never actually see him again." Either she was still clueless, or she didn't like the truth. "Sam?"
She sighed. "I know we'll never see him again." That was good news for me. But there was always something else. "But I can't help thinking about him. It's like he's a Mind User that won't get out of my head."
I thought about that for a moment. He could be charged with a crime if that was the case. But he was powerful. I don't think anyone could have taken him on without being seriously injured.
There wasn't anything I could do about that, but I could do something for Sam. "Did you know that these domes are under millions of pounds of pressure per square inch?" She shook her head. "The dome itself is made of dentenite, but it's reinforced with gold digichrome alloy."
"What does that have to do with anything." I love it when she asks such simple questions.
"I'm here to support you," I told her. "That guy was a jock. He was a hotshot who was just in it for the money. I honestly don't think he wanted a relationship. He just wanted to get you in bed with him." She slapped me hard.
I don't think it's an exaggeration at all. I knew she thought it was; hence why she hit me. The look was etched on her face plain as day, too. "And I'm here to keep out stupid people like that." Breaking protocol, I switched on the BM program and wrapped an arm around her.
She sighed, but didn't say anything. And she didn't remove my arm either. That was a good sign. "I don't know who he was," I said quietly. "But he doesn't deserve the likes of you. You deserve better." I looked up, watching the airways. "This is a beautiful city, though."
"Mm hmm." She was depressed, still. Or thinking. I didn't know which. It was like she was comparing me to him. I knew I'd loose the battle if she kept at it.
"What do you think of it here?" She wasn't attentive. She just nodded, ignorant of everything around her. I moved in front of her, forcing her to stop and look at me. She was taller, of course, so it was a slightly awkward position.
Nevertheless, I think I made my point. She looked at me, finally making eye contact. "What is it?" she asked. "It's a beautiful city, sure."
"Sam, what did I say before that?"
"That the V was a jock and that I deserved better."
My height grew as I fully engaged the BM program. We were now at eye level, facing each other. Hands replaced my claws and I cupped her face. "I know you deserve better. I don't think I deserve you in any way, shape, or form. But I would give anything to be something to you."
I think I saw a tear. I held my breath, hoping beyond hope that she would understand. And then it happened. I heard the words slipping out of my mouth. I betrayed every feeling I'd had for her since we met. In those few seconds, something changed, and I didn't know how she felt.
"Wha? Grey?" Her face was expressionless. I couldn't read her face or her thoughts. I was blind to her feelings now. And I didn't like the sensation.
I knew exactly what I said. I had told her what I felt. She had heard me clearly, but she didn't understand it. "I love you," I said.
She did? That was surprising to me. How did she know? Was she lying to me when she told me she wasn't a Mind User? I was completely stunned. I couldn't speak, I couldn't breath, my stomach was in knots, and worse yet, she hadn't told me how she felt. Needless to say, I was going crazy.
And then, "I love you too." With her helmet off, as usual, she put her clawed hands on my shoulders. I brought her closer. For a moment, I paused, wondering if she was being truthful.
She removed all doubts from my mind when she kissed me. I had never known such bliss in my life. An eternity later she pulled back, looking embarrassed but happy. I wasn't embarrassed in the slightest. But I was sure happy. Ecstatic is more like it.
We started moving again. She wasn't depressed, though. We were hand in hand, total opposites: me from a small, ratty FmU, and her from probably a large, prominent Family Unit in Muspelshiem.
I thanked the Creator beyond what I'd ever thanked Him before. I wanted to shout it to the heavens, to be heard on the surface. To sing and shout and whoop and holler like the crowds at the race.
But for the sake of not drawing anymore attention to a blushing Paildramon, I kept my jubilation to the Creator and myself. And from the gleam in her eyes, Sam was doing the same.
A/N: Well. It's about time that one got done. In the spirit of the "dedication wars," I'd like to dedicate this chapter to INSDragonclaw and his comrade Girgash the Dragon for their persistent nagging on me to finish this chapter. Read and Review, as always.