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.
Most of the rest of out time in Ea was spent site seeing and generally enjoying our leave. A week's pass is something to be cherished above all things during wartime. Especially since we were both going to end up on the front in Yggdrassil. Soon enough, though, our time was spent and we had to ship out.
Our host, that oddly blue Greymon, and his FmU escorted us to the loading bay on the south side of the city. The walk was slow, just like it had been when I shipped out from Kishar. That had been a long walk too…
"Give it up!" Elder had just told us a rather terrible joke. "You shouldn't quite your day job," I told him.
After breakfast, I had only about half an hour to spend with everyone before I had to leave. Elder had decided to accompany me to the transport depot. Our two-man group was only ten minutes shy of the depot. We could see it, not too far off.
"If I keep losing people," he retorted, "I won't have much of a day job left to quit. Nervous?" I nodded. He could see my knees trembling. Miles went through the same thing, he said. But that was unconfirmed. "Just make us proud, alright?"
"Yessir!" I saluted. Elder shook his head and resigned himself to saluting back at me. "You don't have to worry about me anyway. The Suicide Corps will take good care of me."
"Eh? Probably." He rumbled, laughing at my remark. "You'll lighten the mood and improve moral," he told me. "Not much else could win the war." I knew he was right. An army won't fight without some kind of spirit.
"I'll let Drake take care of that one," I replied, half truthfully. I didn't much trust the Sovereign. From what I heard, he was funny, light-hearted, and only half serious when it came to the status of our war against the Enemy. "All I can do is hope to Creator that I'll make it through basic."
His voice dimmed. "You'll do fine. I heard from Miles two days ago and he evolved during basic." Clearly, this was a secret. A secret of the sort that one was not supposed to share with anyone until he had the permission to do so. "If you can do that as well, and possibly teach others to do so, you'll be fine."
I stopped and looked up at Elder's towering form. "I'll evolve, Elder. It's only a matter of time. Remember, I'm in for the long haul." He grunted, placing his huge claw on my shoulder. "It won't do me any good to hope for it though. I've got to make it happen."
"The Creator helps those who ask Him for aid." He said that like it was the meaning of life. "But He won't do all the work for you. You have to give it some effort as well." Nothing in life was ever easy. That seemed to be his common theme when Elder turned serious.
I'd learnt to listen to Elder, though. He had already spent fifty years in the war. That was equal to two and one half terms before he was discharged on medical grounds. Elder, I had also learned, faked his upright stance. Though I would never mention it normally, Elder's back was bent out of shape to the point where he had modified his body permanently to be a beast type.
This upright stance was an illegal use of the Body Modification Program that he had gained in the army. No one had seen his true form for at least a decade. And no one had mentioned it in at least a decade either. It was one of those rumors that you knew was true, but never tried to verify because of the awkwardness that the situation would bring. That, plus I was terrified of Elder when he got mad.
"I'll keep safe," I promised. "The only thing that'll keep me from coming back in one peace is death." He smiled and looked about the street ahead and behind us. "What's wrong," I asked.
No one was on the street. "Come with me," he ordered and pulled me into an alley. "Undoubtedly you've heard the rumors about me." I nodded, having a faint idea of where this was leading. "I showed this to Miles, and all the rest. Now I'm showing you. I want you to remember this when you go into combat so you don't end up a cripple like me."
"You aren't a cripple, sir." He wasn't. A beast type was perfectly acceptable for any form of Digimon. "You're perfectly normal," I said, sincerely believing it. "Nothing that I know of you would count you as a cripple."
He fogged up, beginning to shut down the BM program. The alley was almost immediately filled with a white mist so thick that I could not find my way if there was a fog horn three feet in front of me. I backed up, trying to give Elder a bit of room.
"Grey," a voice came out of the mist. "Grey," it said again. It wasn't Elder's voice. It was strangely feminine. "Grey!" Someone tapped my shoulder. "Snap out of it Grey!"
Sam tapped my shoulder gently. "Grey…" she kissed my neck. "What's wrong?" Her Muspelshiemian accent was shining through clearly. "Are you alright?" I looked at her, smiling. She smiled back, her stubby, little fangs glinting in the Ean "sunshine".
"I'm fine, Sam. I was just thinking about home again." She knew the feeling. We'd both space out sometimes. She looked at me and smiled. "The walk to the transport when I went to basic."
"Don't worry about it. I couldn't help but think about when I signed up too." Our escort stopped in mid stride and glanced back at us. Sam was on the ball and talked him into not asking any questions.
"A'right," he said in his broken accent. "Th' transp'rt station shou' be on'y a few blocks 'way." Sam smiled a bit at his Ean flavor. I think she must have liked it, and I would have loved to speak like that for her. But it was something that I couldn't get down right.
We had yet to learn the name of our host during our time in Ea. I had asked several times, and I always got the same answer: "Ya wou'dn't und'rs'and." He had this way of dispersing one's curiosity with that statement, but it never quite satisfied anyone. I supposed that everyone just said "Hey you!" when they wanted to get his attention.
And anyway, he was right. Soon we were waiting in a surprisingly empty terminal for our pod. Only "Hey you!" was with us at the time and we didn't much say anything for a while. It wasn't until Sam saw our pod come in that anyone said anything.
"I think that's ours," she said, none too cheerfully. "Number six thirty-two, right?" I looked at our tickets. They confirmed her guess; it was pod six thirty-two. "If we're ever back this way again, I wanna come and visit." She had directed herself toward the bluish Greymon.
"I hope y'all vis't again too." I could see it in his eyes, he was hoping we would come by again. I doubted if I would, though. We were all silent again for a bit, Sam and I standing claw in claw, close to each other.
"Final boarding call for pod six thirty-two!"
I sighed. It was time for us to say our good-byes and wish each other well. "Sir," I said, putting a claw on his shoulder. "Our time here has been productive and a good rest for the both of us. I hope you and your FmU do well and thrive now that Ea is free."
"Give m' r'gards t' th'Corps." I told him that we would and that we would remember him. The pod wouldn't wait for long though, and we said good bye one more time before joining the few other passengers who were headed to the same destination as us.
The pod was, as expected, almost completely empty. The pilot and his co-pilot were about the only others on board. Sam and I took our seats, cushy bucket seats facing each other with a table in between. Thank the Creator we had thought not to pack anything but what we needed because our one bag for the both of us didn't have to be stored.
"You hungry?" Sam nodded and pulled our bag out from under her seat. A deck of cards and two sandwiches were taken out and laid on the table between us. "Who made these," I asked, taking a rather large bite. "Pretty good for seafood."
"Interesting choice of vegetables," she agreed. It had a slightly fishy taste with a few greens and a slice of fruit. Tasted rather like a fish cake, I commented to Sam. "Mm hmm." She swallowed. "It's rude to talk with your mouth full."
"I don't think it matters during war." I glanced at the cards sitting on the table. I hadn't played cards for a while. Not since basic, I thought. I had to wonder if I could still bluff my way to a free duty shift.
I smiled, remembering the poker tournament. I had won the tournament on a pair of aces, bluffing and putting all in. The other guy, who had four of a kind, had folded and then when he found out my hand, he had threatened to bash my head in. He never did, and it had been more than a year and a half ago anyway.
"Game of cards? It might help pass the time," I suggested casually. Sam hadn't finished her sandwich yet, and I thought it odd that a BlackPialdramon was taking such dainty bites. I had almost finished in one gulp.
She gulped down her bite and shook her head. "I've heard the rumors. Winning a tournament on a high card? I'm not taking any chances." I had to laugh. Rumors always had a way of getting out of hand. "Besides, I'm not any good anyway."
"What did they tell you? I won on four-of-a-kind, not a high card." She had that look on her muzzle that said, "Oh, the guy who told me that is going to get it when I find him." It was the kind of surprised look that one finds when one produces a completely useless fact of trivia that falsifies another completely useless fact of trivia.
"Oh, that's just so much better!" We shared a good laugh at that. "Who deals," she asked pleasantly, taking the cards from the box. I switched on BM and told her I would deal. "Just for fun, or should we put some cash on it?"
"I wanna see if those stories are true, or if you're just being modest." She took a leather purse out from a concealed pocket within her chest armor. Two copper coins were placed on the table and she set the bag down with a metallic thud. "Two units ante."
From the pouch at my side I slipped out two units onto the table before us. As I shuffled the cards, I noticed her intense gaze which seemed to be fixed on the deck. "Watching to see if I'm cheating?"
"Watching to see if the cards are cheating," she replied indifferently. "Never trust the dealer if he has anything to gain," she added as an afterthought. I think it was meant to be for her, so I didn't say anything.
"Five-card." I dealt out the required cards and sorted through my hand. Jack of spades, ace of diamonds, three of hearts, two of hearts, eight of hearts… Flush. I would go for a flush. It was my best bet.
Sam had already calculated the odds on her hand. "Ten units," she slid the coins into the center of the table. "Fold or call?"
I hesitated for a moment, not letting it show at all though. "Call," I said thoughtfully. "And raise you five unites."
"Call." She laid down two cards and drew. I did the same, not thinking for an instant that her smug look was real. She knew how to hide her emotions. "Check," Sam told me.
She raised her head and then her brows. "You can't be serious, now can you?" She didn't want me to fold. "With all those rumors floating around about how good you are, I'd think you would want to make good on them."
No, I didn't want to make them any truer than they already were (which wasn't very). It had been my desire just to have a friendly game. But that didn't work out quite well, because Sam put money on it. I thought she took the game rather too seriously, but it wasn't for me to judge.
"No," I replied. "Fold. Care to play again?"
"You bugger." She smiled and took the box of cards. "I'll deal," she told me, and then started shuffling. "Take a good look at those credits, Grey, because they won't be there for long."
I laughed at that. She certainly had confidence in herself. "Deal," I said. "You'll have to do a lot better than that to get my money." She did deal, and dealt me a five of spades, a spade ten, a club ten, a diamond jack, and deuce of hearts. A pair of tens on the deal isn't bad. I had to wonder if she didn't do that on purpose though. I knew she was good with her hands, very creative and devilishly clever.
"Ten units." I laid a silver coin with a cross in the center of both sides on the table. "Call, raise or fold, Sam?" I tried to smile innocently, and failed. She too laid down a single silver coin and slid it to the center pile.
"Call," she said calmly. "And raise you five units." A second coin was produced, half-silver and half-copper with a large eye in the center. "Fold?" I told her no with a pointed emphasis on the "n" and laid down the proper amount of cash.
"Call." Pair, Gray. Go for the pair. I put the three undesirables on the table face down and waited for my draw. "Five units." The draw had given me a ten of hearts, but I wouldn't let her know that.
"Raise you five."
"Call and raise by five." Another fifteen units were placed in the center pile. She looked at me skeptically, then back down at her hand. I could tell she wanted to fold, but I also knew she wanted to go on. She was a stubborn Digimon. More stubborn even than Miles.
"Call," she stated finally, and with some hesitance. She laid her cards down, face up with a smile. "Two pair, Aces high." Aces high in a double pair were not bad. But it certainly didn't beat three-of-a-kind.
"Three-of-a-kind." I took the pile, now up to a hundred and fifteen units.
I think now would be a good time to explain exactly what units are. Obviously it's a type of money. A coin to be precise, the Digital World doesn't use paper money. The unit is the standard currency for all regions controlled under the Sovereigns. The increments are as follows: one half (called a bi), one, five, ten, twenty-five, fifty, seventy-five, one hundred, and five hundred. In comparison with the dollar, one unit is worth about ten. So one hundred and fifteen unites is quite valuable.
The single unit piece is a small copper coin with a sickle on either side. I'm not quite sure of the representation of the sickle is, but it seems that it signifies the farms and plantations. A bi is a unit cut in half. Simple enough.
The five-unit piece is half-silver and half-copper and has a large eye in the center of the main face. The eye would probably represent something like the government. While it is important, the government is not as important as some other things.
A ten-unit piece is small silver coin. The cross is an illustration of the medical corps. Each branch of the military had a coin. The ten-unit piece was ours. On the secondary face of each coin, from here on out, is written an inscription in our own language. It is roughly translated to, "Lord be with us" on the ten-unit piece.
The twenty-five-unit piece is the Navy's coin. It is entirely silver, except for around the outside, which is copper. An albatross, of all things is printed on the main face with the words "Third day" complimenting it on the other side. The inscription, for the record, comes from the fact that the Creator created water on the third day.
A fifty-unit piece is entirely silver with no exception. It is ridged on the sides and about the same size as a five-unit coin. The main face shows a simple island. The Marines have this on their coin "Faith preserves us."
The seventy-five-unit piece is a bit larger, with a gold ring around the outside. On the main face is a battering ram throwing down the gates of some huge structure, the symbol of our main army. They were fighting the enemy right now, laying siege on the city of Yggdrassil. On the opposite face is written, "The gates of Hell shall not prevail against us."
The one hundred-unit coin is a silver center ringed with gold. On the main side of the coin is the symbol of the Celestial Guard: a three-pointed star where the upper two points are curved upwards holding a disk. Engraved on the other half is their motto, "Baring the weight of peace on our shoulders."
The last piece is the worth five hundred units. It is a solid gold disk of the same size as a single unit coin. A rather complicated starburst pattern takes up the main face of the five hundred unit piece, with a single word in our language on the back: "Tok". Oddly enough, it is the only word that's spelling can be accurately translated. "Hope".
"One hundred fifteen units…" I sighed. "Quite a bit of finance, isn't it?" I thought maybe we should've switched to a pleasant round of go fish, but Sam wouldn't have it. She gave me the cards and told me to deal.
I dealt myself crap. Deuce of hearts, king of clubs, diamond ace, five of diamonds, and jack of hearts. I would fold, then Sam would be angry that I folded, and it would go on this way until Yggdrassil.
"Check," she said, smiling. Either she was trying to bluff, or she was just happy that we were playing another round. "Call?"
Her smile disappeared almost instantly and was replaced by a look of sinister disappointment. "Fold? After you took that nice big pot?" I held firm. I couldn't win if I tried. She knew it too. "Are you quite sure?"
"You don't want me to let you win, do you?" That's always a good way to get out of something. It's considered the most evil thing in the world to let someone win a game, duel, tournament or anything of the sort. One could almost call it a mark of shame for both the "looser" and the "winner".
"No, I don't want you let me win. Another round?"
"If you want, we could play a different game." In my mind, I was thinking of something that one usually doesn't put money on. "I'd rather not push my luck any farther, Sam."
"Fair enough. I don't think I could stand loosing like that again." Muspelshiemians are known for their tempers. I couldn't stand to see her loose like that again either. Who knew what she might do to me? Throw me out the airlock…
"What are you thinking," Sam asked me suddenly. "You have that far-away look in your eyes again. And be honest."
Honesty? That would be the same as suicide. But it wasn't a good idea to lie either. She would be able to tell. (I'm a terrible liar). "Honestly? Completely honest and you won't get angry?"
"That depends on what you were thinking," she smiled sweetly. Most serpents smile sweetly before they bite. "So—" she moved to sit next to me "—what were you thinking about?"
"I had a mental image of you throwing me out the airlock." Quite to my surprise, she only kissed me lightly. It was times like this that I thought my heart would explode. Maybe she would chop me up into little bits…
"I love you. Why would I toss you out the airlock when I could cut you up and keep a piece to remind me of you?" She was joking. I knew she was, which was a relief to me. I'd not had much experience in the field of women, so whether I did something right or wrong was over my head.
Briefly I wondered how long we'd been at sea and how long our trip was supposed to last. I did some mental arithmetic. We'd left the terminal about eleven o'clock and the watch at the front of the cabin said noon. Only an hour had passed for us. I figured about a ten hour trip to the plane's gate and then we'd be marched with the rest of our company to the front.
"Sam," I said. "We should probably get some…" She was already asleep. She had fallen asleep while leaning on my shoulder. I don't know how comfortable she was, but the warmth of her body was quite appealing to me. "I think I'll take your lead, Sam.
A/N: Not much happened here, did it? Oh well. It served its purpose and now it's on to Yggdrassil and the front lines. Will they meet V again? Doubt it, but it's always a possibility.
Dedicated to INSDragonclaw: Ha! I finished it!