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.
Campaign IBy the time Sam and I disembarked from the pod, both of us had a good rest, a few sandwiches, and I had a bit more cash in my pocket. Sam was not happy about that, but she kept that to her self for the most part, until I would ask every so often if I could buy her a drink. That always went over like a ton of bricks.
Our pod had dropped us off at the Yggdrassilian terminal near the planar gate to Ea. I had never been to Yggdrassil before this moment, and it startled me to see so many trees and such bright sunlight. The air was a mild seventy degrees and the greenery overhead was vastly different from anything I'd seen before. Being only a few years old had some disadvantages, such as inexperience.
The terminal was park-like, being filled to brim with trees, shrubs, and even ponds with fish in them. The whole place had an open air-feel to it. There were skylights everywhere that let in the natural yellowish light from the Yggdrassilian sun. The reflected sunlight from the water cast rainbow-ish ripples on the stone walls. You might say it was a converted temple of some sort. I could even imagine people kneeling in front of the raised platform that boasted a concert of sorts.
Around some of the benches were viewing screens of air-races from around Kishar. That was what caught my eye. I didn't know if they were broadcasting live, but I was still mesmerized by the races. A rather brutish looking Flymon had taken the lead in the amateur leagues, showing off strength rather than skill. He wasn't like V, I could tell. At least he had the sense not to show off.
"That Flymon is going to crash," I told Sam. When he did, I was going to laugh at his foolishness. Showboating like that was disgraceful and shameful. And not only that, but it was a disrespect to the other racers, the audience and the sport itself. One could only hope that if he won the judicatures would not award him his medal. And that was perfectly legal to not award the prize if the winner showed poor sportsmanship.
"Why do you think he'll crash?" She put a claw around my shoulder.
"His form is atrocious," I stated. "He isn't looking where he's going, he's showing off, and if he doesn't quit soon the second-placer is going to force him into a building." And let me tell you, Kisharian buildings hurt. They're reinforced stone with digichrome beams inside. "Come on," I shouted, startling myself. The Flymon had avoided crashing.
"This is the last lap in the Rookie League tournament here in Kishar Proper," the announcer announced. "This is also the most difficult leg of this race, having no prior warning of turns and a sharp u turn to run the course backwards."
Well, that might fix him. I decided that I didn't want to find out. I already knew he would win. Then the racing board would refuse him his prize and disqualify him for being stupid. That would bother no one but the Flymon show-boater. I snickered under my breath. He would be humiliated and never able to show his face again in the racing world.
I turned my back to the screen. Sam and I were supposed to meet a transport here in five minutes. It would take us to the front to meet up with our unit. Exactly where we were going was somewhere near the farm country that Yggdrassil is famous for. It's not quite as famous as the great forests, but still famous. But there seemed to be a battle going on for the farm country and its food supply. All of the residents had sided with us or else were turned into drones by the Enemy.
Out of fear maybe, some had decided to give up the farmland in exchange for their lives. That was the mistake that got them turned to drones. The males were programmed for the Enemy's military and the women were made into sex slaves. No one knew what happened to the youngest. I hated to think about it, personally.
A transport pulled by two Monochromon had just come in. Already troops were filling the roller's seats. "That's ours," I said to Sam. "Transport to hospital-097." That was our next station. Field hospital oh-nine-seven just a few kilometers back from the line of skirmish. Two more transports arrived not too long afterwards to take the remaining soldiers to their stations. Some of them would be fairly close to us, at the front. At any rate, we boarded and embarked on the last leg of our journey.
The transport was relatively full, and Sam had to use her strength to muscle us into a seat by the windows. She wanted very badly to see the passing scenery, which I couldn't place blame on her for. I too had heard that Yggdrassil was a very beautiful country. For the most part, what we saw had the same open feeling as the terminal did, including our sojourns through some of the major industrial areas, which were mostly lumber processing plants and mines.
There were a great many forests, and scattered villages through which we traversed. The villagers did not pay much attention to us. I theorize that it had something to do with regular transportation of heavy equipment through the area and that a small troop carrier was no more than a pesky fly buzzing in comparison. They simply went on with their business.
That experience did not last for very long, however, as we began traveling the reconstruction zones. Vast areas of deforestation had taken its toll on the landscape and the only colonies we noticed were downtrodden workers, replanting the lifeblood of Yggdrassil: the forests. The Enemy had burned, I found out later, about six million kilometers square after chopping down every useful plant in that same operation. Thankfully, most of the residents escaped with their lives.
The zones did hold some refugee sectors. Some of our doctors and nurses had been diverted to the tent cities to treat injured, diseased, or dead citizens. Chaplains had been rerouted there as well to help survivors cope with the devastation. One bright point in this was that the concentration camps were now being put to better use, though morgues are not highly wanted at any time. I had heard that oh-nine-seven was a converted camp.
I looked away from the window. Sam had not been watching for a while, I could tell. She held my claw tightly, and stared down at her feet. "It's so sad, isn't it?" I asked. She nodded. I could see her face, she having placed her helmet in her pack. She did not smile. "Are you alright?"
She nodded again, and I knew she was lying. How could she not tell me what was wrong? Sam trusted me, didn't she? I tried asking again and failed to get a response from her. "If you want to talk about it," I told her gently, "you know that I'm here for you. Just remember that." Afterwards, I turned back to the window.
The remains of a cathedral still stood, surrounded by one of the worker colonies. That was where the effort was being put in, its solitary form still bright in the midst of shadows. A single shaft of sunlight luminocified an unbroken stained glass pane. "Sam, look at that—"
She looked, and then a flicker of a smile showed itself. "Even in darkness, the Creator shines through," she mused. When she mused, she felt better. I don't know much about the Creator, but I was sure glad to see her lighten up. It seemed to me that whenever she remembered the Creator, that that was when she became content. "Gray, do you know that I used to have family out here?"
No, I did not know that. But the information presented lent itself well to well to her prior attitude of depression. I hesitated on keeping up with the subject. Obviously she did not like to dredge it up. "I didn't know that."
"Almost this exact place," she said. "They were forced out with the annexation of the forest and herded into a camp." Wow—maybe she did want to talk about it? Who knew? Sam could be unpredictable, and she did not oft talk about her family. This conversation needed to be handled delicately.
So what could I say to her? Apologizing would not help her but to reinforce the fact that her extended family had been long dead in the camps. "Were you close?" I asked instead.
"My elder brother's family," she told me. I had assumed that she was an only child. "He had two sons, and an FmU of them, plus six." Sam most likely never met them, but only saw pictures. I wondered if she joined the Corps for that reason—to avenge their deaths. "We were close, I suppose."
That was a definite yes. I did not specialize in psychology, but as a generalist I knew the field well enough to make a prognosis. She had joined to make sure that the survivors had their chances increased, and so that she could undo the Enemy's damage effectively, not cause even more trying to fight him. We passed the cathedral in silence and spent the rest of the time the same way. There was nothing more to say.
At present, Sam and I stood by our roller chatting with the Monochromon who had pulled it. Both of them were a friendly lot, and one of them had been using an alternate form due to a shortage of natural Monochromon. Sam pulled her canteen, seeing that either of them could use a drink and gave a ration to each of them.
"So do you come from Gaia then?" I asked. Most of their species did come from the mountains. "I always wanted to see the Impossible Mountain. Seems like it's too big to be natural."
"Wer actu'lly gert thart a lort," the right hand Digimon told me in a classic Gaian accent. "Norp. Wer're from Sourthern Gaia. Nerver sern the Mount'n. Great place I he'r." Southern would probably make him a Tsunomon clansman. Interesting, considering I've never heard of a Tsunomon evolving into a Monochromon.
"Yerp, nerver bern ther'."
"Salute!" Sam and I snapped to attention. Our new commanding officer had just arrived and was headed our way, making rounds before the official inspection of our ranks. He nodded to us and saluted half-heartedly. "Carry on, then, Captain." I nodded.
"Did he seem alright to you," I asked Sam and the Monochromon. "He seemed sort of—dead if you know what I mean." Sam did, and said so. I watched the Digimon pad off toward another group of soldiers, and the same thing occurred.
"Too murch t'r drink, me thinks," said one of the beasts. "Lert 'em walk irt off." He was probably right, I thought. But why would an officer be drinking? He was possibly depressed about something. I didn't know, but it had me worried about him. "Well, we bertter be goring."
"Pleasure meeting the two of you." Sam was always just so polite to people. I could learn from her. I shook my head and offered my parting words as well. From what I knew about her, she took her farewells quite seriously. Too seriously in my opinion. Then again, this was war and no one knew if they would be able to wake up the next morning.
"Yes," I replied to a question of some sort. "Sam, inspection in two minutes. I think we should be going as well." She acquiesced quietly and stepped aside with me to join the influx of Digimon. There were quite a few of us at hospital nine-oh-seven, a rather large place to me.
I was right in the fact that this was a converted camp. It was probably the largest in Yggdrassil. The walls at least had to be a hundred feet high and were thick enough to support a barracks and however many turrets and the like there were. Millenniumon kept the place up as well, no problems that I could see. It was a fortress like I had never seen.
The ranks were standing forward of the wall and Sam and I split ways so we each could join the mass in our proper places. My subordinates had been here for a while, I could tell. Each wore a grim expression, the fighting would continue for a while here, and they all knew as well as I that the bodies would keep coming. One of them, a lieutenant saluted me as I took my place beside him. I saluted back.
"All of this gloom seems to be out of place in Yggdrassil," I commented on the soldiers. My personal belief was that it was a tactic of the Enemy to drain morale among us and weaken our fighting spirit. The lieutenant replied without turning.
"Yes," he said. "But you try living in this place for a while and keep your hopes high. With as many deaths as we see, it becomes a daily struggle." I nodded imperceptibly. He had a valid point. This was quite unfortunate to me, however. And what about the reports of the Enemy's backing down?
"I heard that the Enemy was falling back to Anshar," I asked.
"Yes, he has had his army resort to cannibalism to keep fed. All of their supplies are made from the dead." I struggled to keep from gagging and throwing up. He was a sick creature. Of all the vileness in him, this deed was the top of the mountain. "Not just food, the supplies of ammunition are compressed data and their shelters are made of the same materials."
"You mean he can keep bodies from dissolving?" Theoretically, I had heard it was possible. Our laboratories were working on the same thing to maybe give patients a chance to be revived before breaking into their component data. And the Enemy had created a way to do it, and was using the data to supply his troops? Desecration of the dead was a serious offense in the Digital World, as was cannibalism.
"Keeps them alive if he can, kills them if he cannot." Every law we had—or nearly every—law was being broken by the Enemy. Just when it seemed that he could not get any viler, you found something like this to make you hate him even more. I hated thinking about him, what he was doing, him. "Imagine the Digimon, the ones whose consciousnesses aren't being released after death."
And there came a whole new perspective. After death, when a Digimon is broken into component data, his conscious is released to become a Shadow, or to reincarnate. But having your data compressed and reused? The torture that those would-be Shadows go through is unconceivable. Some things were most definitely worse than death, and I believe that the Enemy had just found one of those things.
The base commander was only a few yards from us now, the same one who had offered that melancholy greeting to Sam and I. He seemed more confident now, more dignified a Digimon than before. I confess that it gave me some amount of comfort seeing inspecting us with the same scrutiny that we had received in basic training. A small measure of security in a harsh world was all a soldier really needed.
He approached and looked at me, seemingly knowing what I was thinking. His stern, weathered face had seen people like me since the war began. He had been like me at one point: Young, inexperienced, but was ready to play the hand dealt to him to the best of his abilities. That was the kind of Digimon worthy of respect.
He came close to me, putting his face only inches from the tip of my snout. "Captain," he said, low so only those in our immediate vicinity could here, "Captain, you are the kind of Digimon that this army needs. I foresee you going a-great many places, and doing our world a service to be remembered for all times."
"Permission to query the Base Commander?" He was rather disturbing my sense of orientation with the predictions. The commander had gone from a doleful old man to having fire inside him that would be difficult for even the Enemy to put out.
"Permission granted, Captain."
"How do you figure that I'm going places?"
"Gift of prophecy, Captain. Call it a blessing from the Creator." He moved on then, leaving me to awe at the revelation. Modern-day prophets were a rarity, only a few existed out in the open. The others, I assumed, were gifted for their congregations or for other purposes not disclosed to outside sources like myself.
But there stood one of them. He had spoken to me, prophesized over me. His words did not give me a free ride by any means, though, and I knew this well. Prophecy held true, always, but not limited to the original subject. If I did something stupid and got myself deleted, it would go to someone else. One might think of it as a birthright being passed on to the second born if the eldest finds himself dead.
I had to be careful. Sam had to be careful. A narrow escape here and a brush with death there would zap up a guy's luck too fast. One had to stretch it out. I had to stretch it out. Yes, I'm superstitious and I thoroughly believe in luck. If I found a charm, I'd hold onto it like white on rice. When I took my first steps out of basic, in Ea, I had found a miniature conch shell. I picked it up, thinking it might come in handy in case I needed to sound an alert. So far, it had done nothing fore me. But the conch is a good luck symbol anyway.
The Base Commander had finished his inspection by now, and had dismissed us all to go our ways and return to duty stations if we were on shift. I decided to do a bit of exploring during my time. The towers were off limits, of course, to anyone but those who maintained them and worked the turrets mounted on them. However, the labs and the prison block were free access. I would need to find my quarters anyway, which most of the hospital's compliment had been housed in converted cells.
Sam joined me some time later, after she had settled into her small room, which she shared with a second nurse of agreeable temperament. I too shared a cell, as it turned out, with none other than a Leomon. He was also the sort of person that one desired as a bunkmate, though not as much as I liked another draconic Digimon. I never seemed to bond well with beast-types. However, this particular Leomon seemed to enjoy my company, and I his.
Since our hospital was so large, the cells were quite expansive, each having housed close to eight Digimon in their original use. Two beds, two tables, two desks (each fully equipped with writing utensils for mailing letters back home), and enough room left over to dance in if I could dance.
"How long is the tour standard in Yggdrassil," I asked the Leomon, who I now knew as Crash. "I heard that I should expect to be here for a while."
"You should. I've been here for about a year now, and the Sovereigns haven't seen fit to move me yet." Conversation with him revealed that he had also been transferred from Ea, though from a different outfit than mine. "This has been the best station yet for me. My home is just over the Capital Mountains, about two thousand clicks east. For a Leomon, the natural habitat is important to functionality."
"That's why you were on the mainland in Ea?" He nodded. Crash had been one of the fortunate Digimon to be able to work in Ea outside of the storms' reach. Ea did have two continents, small albeit, but big enough that one could not see the ocean when far enough inland, and was protected from storms. "I was on that island camp," I told him. "They had Sam and I treating victims of Camp sixteen-eleven"
"Ooh… I heard that was pretty bad." I nodded, thinking of Art and his old friend, the Agumon that had told me he was going into the Army as soon as he recovered. A tear swelled at the edge of my vision and I blinked it back. "…Told me that there were Digimon locked in perpetual nightmares."
"Yeah. You couldn't get near them," Sam was saying. "We had to sedate them with darts and then drag them off to quarantine while the labs worked on ways to break the mental blockage."
"When we finally found a way to fix the problem," I said, recomposing myself, "we went back to check on them, out of the five hundred sixty there were ten left." Crash's eyes widened on his leonine face for a moment, then returned to normal size. "They had torn themselves to pieces. Those we released from the nightmares suffered irreversible psychological damage."
They had turned to blubbering masses of jelly afterwards; irrational fears having invaded their core-data and corrupted them. Barely coherent mumbling sounds emanated from their mouths. One some occasions, you could catch a word, usually something along the lines of not being able to go on, or sometimes a sharp scream about the pain.
"It's a good thing that this place was abandoned," Crash told us. "For the most part, this place hasn't ever been used for anything until now. Either the Enemy transferred all the captives to other camps, or built this one and never had the chance to use it." I was glad for a change in subject.
"Yep," I agreed. I thought that this place was rather well kept up. It was clean, fresh, up beat compared to my last mission. "I take it the courtyard wasn't always so green?" I was talking about the greenery that made for a pleasant place for patients to recover. It had to have been brought in later. Millenniumon would never have done it himself—or maybe he did.
"It was actually greener. We had to tear up an acre or two of lawn and garden to cut down on water consumption." Greener? Was this place a mansion or a camp? I knew water was scarce here. The well that had run here was now drying up, and we had to pump water from other sources, deeper down in the earth.
Sam smiled. She had met the Agumon who had enlisted my help to find Art. Understanding dawned within me, and I couldn't contain a momentary lapse in composure when I realized that this place was the Beast's private palace. "He used this as an escape, Crash! Millenniumon wanted to escape the Enemy just as much as his captives!"
"Except he couldn't," Crash said, recognizing the seeming truth of the matter. "He has some sort of restraining device on him, like all the drones. We saw plans when we found this place, schematics for a double shock-collar." So the terrible Beast was a slave too? No one would believe it except for anyone who ever saw this camp.
The Sovereigns never would believe it, and would only rarely set foot into a hospital zone, let alone one that had been the former palace for the Beast. As soon as we were done with the war, the rulers would destroy every last vestige of the Enemy or his servants. It would take a miracle to save such places as monuments to lives lost.
I sighed. "It's getting kind of late, I think." Sam checked a watch on her belt and agreed, mentioning that she had an early duty shift the next morning. "Good night then, love." I gave her a parting kiss, and she held me close to her for a moment before leaving. Crash watched the spectacle and then turned switch off the lights when we were settled for the night and after Sam had left for her own cell.
"Adios, Gray," he said.
"G'night," I replied, yawning. I suddenly felt a desperate need for sleep, not really being tired before but knowing that a doctor needed a clear mind for his work. I closed my eyes and let the dream world consume me, quite to my satisfaction.