Memoirs of Victory
Memoir Four: Secrets
December 18th, 2004
(Folder – Cave Entrance)
The cave is like many others in the Digiworld; gloomy and mysterious in a way that makes your flesh crawl. The air inside is cool, which is a positive, but also muggy and stale. Everything in here looks twisted and wrong. Even the stalactites bear down on us like some monsters teeth. There's a sense of danger around every rock, every corner, every shadow of this place; and I can't help wonder for what purpose we keep descending down this stone path.
It's creeping out my friends too.
"This doesn't feel right." Sora pouts, hugging close to Matt out of instinct. "How do we know we're going the right way?"
The boys answer is an uninterested huff. "This is the path that prisoners used to escape from Demon's dungeon. It's how word of Demon's plans escaped into Taichi's hands. This path was the catalyst for our final battle."
"Final battle, huh?" Matt yawns before peeking in my direction. "Sounds ominous Ta-i-chi."
He drags out each syllable of my name with sinister articulation. Jerk. I turn to glare at him, but he's not paying any attention anymore. Double-jerk.
We continue onward in relative silence after that. There isn't much to say. Or rather there isn't much I want to say.
How could all this be happening – now when our own world suddenly has turned its back on us? How can the life I've forgotten be racing back towards me?
How does he remember all this?
I'm thrown from my thoughts by a strange sound snapping in the distance. I immediately stop, suddenly hyper aware of everything around me, trying to locate the origin of that sound. My stance riles up Matt and Sora, who stop in their tracks and turn to face me. "What is it?" Sora asks.
I frown. "Does anyone else feel like they're being watched?"
The boy in the mask looks down to his device. "There does appear to be another presence not far from us."
"Which way?" Sora whispers.
"There," the boy points just past Matt's shoulder, to a dark area just beyond. "Just ahead."
"I'll check it out." Matt decides after a moment's hesitation.
"Be careful." Sora whispers back.
He nods, and then takes a couple of steps away from the three of us to have a look around. We're all silent, waiting for word from a sign from him. After several moments, Matt turns back towards us, shrugging.
"I don't see any –"
He is cut off instantly by a blur of blue.
We're all thrown into a panic, as a thick monster the size of a large dog slams hard into Matt's chest. It takes me only a second to realize that it's one of those creatures we noticed before, the little blue armless Agumon who only moments before were running for their lives.
"WaiyuuMahssklass?" I hear it growl, but it's hard to understand exactly what it means. I couldn't care less about what it says though. Its teeth are only inches away from Matt's throat. That's what matters most to me. The beast barks menacingly in Matt's face as my friend struggles to remove his attacker from his torso.
"Matt!" Sora races towards her boyfriends assailant, and I'm instantly reminded of an eleven year old with a mean bicycle kick. With a humph she hops once and kicks the little blue ball of a monster off of him with all her might. The creature in question sails in the air for a moment before landing again on his feet, apparently no worse for ware and extremely upset.
That voice belongs to the masked boy, whose body language reads of all sorts of confusion; standing somewhere between curious and horrified.
The monster in questions face flashes its own set of conflicting emotions: fear, and blind hate. It's body swivels between Matt and the boy, drool crawling from his giant maw. "TOohMahssksmaanss!"
By then it's too late. I had a mean bicycle kick myself once upon a time.
My boot finds its way into the little blue Digimon's underside, sending the distracted little critter flying through the air again. He lands several meters away from us, a and isn't so quick to jump up this time. It's eyes shift between the four of us in panicked fashion, as if realizing for once tha the odds were against him.
With a quick grunt the thing turns tail and rushes towards the opposite wall. Just as the crazy thing was about to slam into the stone it opens its mouth and takes a bite out of the cave wall. An entire chunk of stone is ripped into and before we know what has happened the little beast has drilled a hole in the wall with which to escape.
All too soon, things are quiet again.
The whole ordeal only took about thirty seconds.
"You alright?" I rush to their side in a heartbeat.
"Yeah." Matt glares at me but nods anyway. "Next time I volunteer to investigate strange sounds… will one of you punch me?"
"You got it." Sora giggles at him, and he rolls his eyes.
Before she can help him up however, SIGMA pushes his way through to Matt, looking at him with an intense blue glare. "Did the creature say anything to you! Anything at all?"
Matt makes a face. "Just… some gibberish. Why?"
SIGMA remains silent, rising from Matt with a huff and turning back towards the path. Matt glares at the back of his head, but takes Sora's hand.
"This is why we need our partners." I huff at SIGMA reaching down to help Sora pick Matt up off the floor.
He shakes his head. "It's much too late for that."
Matt dusts off his trousers, but his eyes never take their skeptical gaze of SIGMA. "What was that thing?"
"A Gaossmon." SIGMA explains, examining the hole in the stone briefly before turning back to us.
Sora frowns. "Gaossmon?"
He nods. "A subclass of the Agumon line. They're subterranean creatures with poor eyesight and a terrible appetite. They attack with Kilo Flame and Headbutt." I can feel the boy sneer behind that mask. "As violent as they are unintelligent."
Sora extends her lip. "That was kinda mean."
SIGMA shrugs. "They are Gaossmon. Nothing more, and nothing less."
Platinum blond hair, pale brown eyes and a crooked smile that belies the pain inside.
I shake off the image. "Let's get moving before he comes back."
Sora fidgets behind me. "Maybe we should go back to the surface."
"No." The boy in the mask states with finality. "Every second we waste is a second that those scouts get to finding the Digimental."
He turns and walks on with a huff. I sigh. Things seem to be spiralling out of control. But we have to keep pushing forward. No matter what.
December 18th, 2004
Twenty Minutes Later
(Folder – Cave Recesses)
We've gone much deeper than I would have expected, and it's only getting darker. It's at the point now where the three of us have taken out our digivices. The natural energies inside give us light in the darkness, though it isn't much. Along the cave walls our lights pick up the remains of torch holders and emblems, abandoned like the rest of this ruin.
"Is it just me," Matt muses. "Or does anyone get the feeling this hallway was used recently?"
I shake my head. "It does feel like someone else is with us."
"But what kind of creature would live all the way down – "
A hand is across her mouth before she can scream. Her wide eyes stare off at some blue figure not far off. It takes a moment for my eyes to adjust, allowing me to see the creature more fully. It's a pale tint of blue, with white streaks. Sharp fangs and claws at the end of each leg tell me that this long tailed creature isn't to be messed with lightly. We pause on the road and crouch low, hoping the creature hasn't seen us.
"What is that?" Matt asks.
SIGMA ignores him once again, instead musing to himself the way Izzy does when he finds a new program to hack. "Interesting. I didn't think…"
The boy turns his masked head to face me. "This is a Salamandermon… or a kind of Salamandermon. Lift your digivice."
Matt shakes his head. "It'll see us."
"That is doubtful." Is all the masked boy will say.
Curious, I lift my digivice. Just above the row of fangs are two giant eyes the color of tar. Something is definitely wrong with them; it's near-white lids droop lazily across them and appear to have never moved. I lift the device higher and can see the iris, pale and dead, limply rolling about the near black socket.
"It's blind." I whisper, and that causes us to relax. Doesn't make us feel any better though.
"Incredible," says the boy behind the mask. "To think that it could survive such an alteration."
Sora bites her lip. "Did the digimental do this?"
SIGMA is quiet for a moment. "It is possible."
"Possible? You mean you don't know?"
"I have only ever seen two humans utilize the power of a Digimental. And only one could truely control it."
"...Tai?" Matt frowns and turns to me. They all do, as if waiting for some big answer.
I can only shrug my shoulders.
"You really don't remember do you?" The masked boy asks me, placing a gloved hand on my shoulder.
I sigh. "I remember. Bits and pieces. The big stuff; you, the Digimental... our terrible war. But... It all feels like a dream."
"This must be frustrating for you."
I glare at him. "It's annoying as hell."
"Sorry to interrupt your trip down memory lane," Matt snorts. "But how are we going to get around?"
I frown. "We're not, lets double back. I'm sure there is another path that will lead to–"
"Shh!" SIGMA raises his hand quickly to silence us. "Just because it is blind doesn't mean it can't hear us."
We all shut up, eyes wide. But it's to late. I look up and notice that the Salamandermon… or whatever this monstrocity is now… has lifted its deathly head up into the air. It's dead eyes continue to roll sideways, but it's forked tongue darts in and out of its mouth, very much active. Suddenly it growls, it's arrow shaped head turning towards us with malice.
Our blood runs cold. The Salamandermon raises it's neck up in the air, it's nostrils flaring. It can's see us. But it can smell us. And it doesn't like us one bit. I wave for us to back up, hoping that we can double back and lose this thing in one of the hallways we came from. But before we run for our lives, something else manages to save us.
There is the sound of a bell tone roar.
The sound causes the creature to stop in it's tracks. Us too. We look at the reaction the blind monster makes at the sound of the far away dragon, suddenly not so frightened of it anymore. It's legs are literally shaking. A second roar sends the creature skittering away, down the hallway away from us.
I shake my head. Today just gets stranger and stranger.
"...Is everyone okay?" I whisper.
Sora takes a deep breath before nodding lightly. "Yes. I'm fine."
"These things are getting bigger." Matt whispers staring off after the lizards escape route.
SIGMA nods. "Then we must be getting close."
Matt makes a face. "If you say so."
SIGMA ignores him. He turns with a sudden shift of the feet and heads deeper into the cave. I step forward, following, when I feel a hand on my shoulder. I turn to find a pair of blue eyes glaring at me.
"I don't like this Tai."
"Don't play dumb. This is getting way over our heads, and we're partnerless down here"
I knock Matt's hand off my arm. "We don't have a choice. I may not remember as much as I'd like, but I know what we're dealing with. If Daemon get a hold of it we're screwed."
"It would at least help if we knew what the hell this thing was!" Matt's voice raises in intensity.
I turn to find SIGMA a few meters off, waiting.
"Coming." I tell him. Swinging around to my disappointed friends, I keep my voice low but firm. "Stay, or come along. Make up your minds."
There's silence for only a few seconds before Sora answers. "I'm with you."
Matt's head swivels to her with eyes wide and confused, before he rolls them in the back of his head with a huff. "Fine. But this reeks Tai. And I think you know it."
I do. Theres something simply off about the whole thing. Something that happened that I can't remember just yet. But the Digimental is not to be taken lightly. If it falls back into enemy hands, the world could again suffer. Until that device has been safetly hidden once again, I can not abandon the mission. I need to see this through till the end.
December 18th, 2004
(Folder – Palace Secret Entrance)
Our wandering takes us down deeper into the darkness of the cave, the air around us becoming thick and heavy. It gets surprisingly cold the farther we go as well, with both Sora and Matt reapplying their respective winter jackets thanks to the icy chill. SIGMA presses on, his expression impossible to read with that mask across his face. We continue like this – awkwardly silent, and on constant alert – until we reach the most obvious end of our destination.
It's a pair of doors, huge and foreboding. Painted blood red and covered with spiked stubs, the whole thing looks like something straight out of a horror movie. Someone has taken this way before, for the doors lie ajar ever so slightly – enough that the four of us should be able to squeeze through.
SIGMA halts several meters away from the door, and raises a gloved hand for us to do the same. We crowd around him, our eyes locked on the obvious destination, staring at it in wonder and horror.
"There it is." SIGMA states beneath the mask. "The entrance to Demons castle."
"Inside this place is the digimental we're looking for?" asks Sora.
The boy nods. "Among other items of the macabre, yes."
"Somebody got there first." I growl.
"Then we shall have to hope your memory is faster. Come, we have to cross the threshold before one of those mutations arrives."
We haven't even gotten close to the doors before his voice stops all of us in our tracks. I turn with a raised eyebrow to find Matt Ishida, defiantly standing against us with arms crossed and blue eyes buried beneath a heated glare. I frown myself. "Matt?"
"Before we take a step further. Why?"
Sora shakes her head. "Why what?"
"We do not have time for this." SIGMA argues. "At any moment those Gaossmon–"
"Yeah I get it, the Gaossmon and the mutant things and Daemon are around. What I want to know is: why are they after you?"
SIGMA is silent for a moment, his body language hard to decipher. "What are you talking about?"
Matt takes a step towards him, refusing to uncross his arms. "Whenever they see you, these monsters stop what they are doing and they charge. Something about you makes them very angry. So. Why are they after you?"
SIGMA lowers his head, his eyes narrowing into a glare behind the mask. "They attacked you too."
"Yeah. Till they saw you. And then they completely let me go. Heck, one of them thought we were the same person."
SIGMA's expression remains cold. "So he did say something?"
"Yeah. 'Two Masks'… that monster was after you 'Mask man'. Or did you not notice them calling you that? What did you do to tick these things off!"
I step between them, facing Matt with a glare and grabbing his collar. "Ease off him."
He shoves me off, his expression a mix of annoyance and anger. "What? You're taking his side now?"
"Whose side? You're the one yelling. What are you accusing him of?"
He glares at me then turns his head. "I don't know. All I'm saying is I'm in the Digiworld without Gabumon and getting attacked by monsters who want to eat your best friend."
That hurts. "We're not best – "
"Matt, Tai! You're being loud," Sora shushes us.
Matt ignores her, the sides of his ears burning red the way they always do when I cross the line with a prank or a joke. But his fury isn't fully directed at me today. He slides past me with a hand and a little pressure and finds himself face to face with the soulless mask of SIGMA. "Admit it Majora. You've done something to them. Haven't you! Heck, I'm starting to wonder if these things even know what we're searching for. They don't seem to care about anything but eating you!"
It's impossible to read SIGMA's expression beneath the mask. "What are you asking me?"
Matt catches the boy by the collar and brings him in close. "Just what I said: these monsters keep attacking us. And I think that you know why. Don't you?"
There is a silence, dreadful and unnerving. Neither of my blonde companions says anything, though their eyes are doing a whole lot of glaring.
Sora lays an arm on her boy-friends shoulder. "Matt?"
I cross my arms behind SIGMA. "What is your problem?"
Matt doesn't budge, burning holes into SIGMA's mask. "I don't like being left out of the loop. I don't like random magical things I've never heard of. I don't like mutant Digimon trying to kill me because I'm hanging out with some Freddy Krueger wannabe. And to be perfectly honest, I don't like you. So. Start talking."
There's a tense silence after that. No one gives way. Matt is glaring at SIGMA. SIGMA is staring back. Sora stands behind Matt in confusion, and between them is me, struggling to keep everyone together long enough to keep us alive down here.
The tension is disrupted however, by the distant sound of a bell-tone roar.
"The creature," I swallow spit. "It isn't far away."
SIGMA whirls around on his feet, passing me and entering inside the hidden doorway. "We have no more time for arguing. We must – "
A blur of blue silences him.
The thing came out of nowhere with the tenacity of a pit bull, catching the masked boy by the back of his lab coat and dragging him to the ground with his teeth. Sora and I rush forward, but by the time we reach him the monster has already sunk its teeth into his arm. He screams beneath the mask, his voice cracking through the pain. A swift kick from Sora's heel sends the little blue devil careening away, and I rush by his side.
"Are you hurt?"
Beneath his mask, I see blue eyes blink in an effort to wake. "I… I am fine."
I bite my lip, noticing his wounds in the corner of my eye. Your wrist isn't supposed to bend that way. "Your arm is broken."
SIGMA struggles to sit up. "I am fine… quickly, we must hurry."
We all turn in the direction Matt is shouting. The Gaossmon has gotten up, crouched on its haunches and growling at us with intense fury. That's not what has Matt rattled.
Behind that Gaossmon, the small orbs shine in the darkness like stars, and the glint of pale white teeth can be seen in what little illumination the cave can give. There are several more eyes in the darkness, with each second another pair, until it's evident that the pack of Gaossmon outnumber us by quite a lot.
"There are so many of them," Sora says breathlessly.
"They followed us down," SIGMA spouts from behind the mask. "The earlier attack was only one scout"
"Great. We're screwed." Matt huffs in terror. I'm almost inclined to agree.
One by one the Gaossmon step out of the shadows, their beady eyes locked onto their prey - us. The four of us try to back away from them, knowing that we wouldn't be able to outrun them on foot. But, even partnerless, we'll give them a good beating before they tear us apart. Small victories, right?
They step towards us menacingly, drool caressing down their maws, until a familiar sound stops them all in their tracks. It rings again, shaking the little cave expanse and leaving us all uneasy. I hold my breath.
The bell-tone roar is closer.
I turn back to SIGMA, concerned. He cradles the device on his arm in an effort to protect the injury, his eyes betraying none of the pain he should be feeling. "How… fortuitous." He mumbles beneath his mask.
The Gaossmon begin to stop where they are, their heads pointed skyward, golden eyes searching the ceiling for signs of the coming mutation. The one in front, SIGMA's attacker, focuses directly above us, before turning down to glare at SIGMA. "Monstarr…"
It doesn't have time to tell us who it's talking about.
The massive shape of the bladed blue monstrosity breaks through the ceiling; all bulk and steel and death. The horrible sound of its roar echoes throughout the chasm like an organ in a haunted cathedral, its massive form barreling at an alarming rate towards the Gaossmon pack on the opposite side. The little blue things have little time before the monster hits the ground, hard. It tears through the side of the ledge like nothing, it's razor like horns and spines breaking through rock and stone with ease.
Gaossmon dash left and right of it in an attempt to escape, but not all are so fortunate. Some are crushed upon impact; some swiped by it's dangerous spiked tail, and some unlucky digicores are riped apart by it's fangs.
The monster is huge. Definitely champion or higher, steel blades shooting from it's back and blue-green scales covering its body like ancient armor. Up close I can see what appears to be tubes all along the monsters body of flesh and steel, jutting out unnaturally from its sides. It hangs a moment in the unstable crater it's created, before opening its mouth and slamming it hard onto the ground. It takes me a moment to notice that it's digging; through the side of the ledge it just landed in and under the stone and earth.
In a matter of seconds the monster is gone.
For a while everything is quiet. The entire Gaossmon pack is left decimated, a hole hangs in the ceiling, and a tunnel the width of a school bus lays in the center of the cave.
And that isn't even the worst of it.
I only look up for a moment, but that moment is all it takes to send the blood racing along my body in fear. Cracks begin to form in the ceiling, forming from the gaping hole above us allowing the light of the sun to bear down inside. Dust floats down to us from the roof of the cave at first, then pebbles, then small stones. It comes to me in one frightening second.
The cave is about to collapse.
"Quickly! Inside!" I shout, but by then it is already too late.
Huge chunks of rock start dropping to the ground around us, some very close to striking us. I don't remember yelling at Sora to get SIGMA inside, though I must have, as she nods and catches the boy by the good arm and drags him through the door. Matt and I try to follow suit, when a boulder very nearly catches me in the skull just before we enter the door. Matt and I look to the ceiling. Above us a massive stalactite is set to fall, and if I'm right it'll hit both me and Matt straight down our middle, killing us both.
We share a look.
Without warning both of Matt's palms find their way into my chest. He pushes, hard, and I stumble on my heels from the velocity. The next thing I know I am dropped painfully on the ground on the other side of the doors. I take a second to process what has happened, and before I can scream for him the stalactite has fallen where I had just stood. Dust and smoke pour briefly through the door before hundreds of boulders and the like begin piling in front of the entrance. By the time the whole thing is over I realize that the doors have been blocked off, leaving the three of us on one side…
And Matt Ishida on the other.
I panic, the idea of a world without the annoying four-time-jerk filling my heart with sorrow. "Matt! Matt, answer me buddy! Are you alright!"
At first I hear nothing, and I fear the worst. But then, behind the crimson door I hear the faint sound of a cough and low obscenities. "…Barely." He mutters. "Darnit, there's dust all over my good jeans."
Sora's brow furrows. Pushing me away she begins pulling rocks away from the pile with frantic pace and incredible focus. "Hold on hon'," she says with determination. "We're gonna dig you out. Don't worry."
"I'm fine," I hear him say. "I'm not buried underneath thing. There's just a wall of crap between us now. It's going to make me going forward with you… difficult."
I can hear his tone. "…are you sure?"
"Yeah. Looks like you three are on your own."
"That's not how it works Ishida!" Sora barks from her side. She's pulling what rocks she can away from the door, trying to claw her way out. "We're coming to get you, don't worry!"
"The Digidestined of Friendship is fine," SIGMA states impatiently. "We must continue."
"We are not just leaving him like this." Sora turns sharply, brown eyes glaring at the two of us.
I bite my lip. Her fingers are starting to bleed. "It's just a little further. We'll be there and back before you know it."
Her glare narrows. And now it focusses on me. "I'm. Not. Leaving."
"…Go with 'em babe."
She blinks and turns back to the rubble. "Matt?"
I hear a shuffle from behind the ruined doorway. "There's a little tunnel left over here. Looks like it leads away from the door and into something else…There's air coming through. It may be a way out. If it is, I'll try to call someone to let them know what's happening. Whatever's jamming us can't be jamming the entire area. I'll find reception somewhere. Besides… If this digimental thing really is as important as Tai says it is, you have to find it. And fast."
As always, Matt makes sense. That doesn't make Sora feel any better for leaving him mind you. Her pretty face remains scrunched into a pout as she tries to think of an appropriate retort that'll shut up her boyfriend. But nothing comes, and with a huff she leans away from the rubble. "Okay."
"I'm fine Sora, really." Matts voice is teasing and patient. And then it chills. "I'm not the one you need to worry about right now."
I frown but say nothing.
Sora doesn't seem to register what he's tasked her with. She takes a breath to control her emotions and nods once at the ruined door. "I love you."
"I'm not dead." I hear Matt snort and I can imagine him rolling his eyes. And yet, without a moment's hesitation afterwards, he states quite softly, "I love you too."
"C'mon," I tell her. "We're inside now. Just a little further."
Sora lingers a moment longer by the mess at the door. I hear her take a breath and then she rises, quickly and quietly to face us. Her eyes are shimmering with a fire I haven't seen in a long time. A fire that' is directed at me. "Alright then. Let's go find this digimental. It is important… isn't it?"
"Well Tamer? Lead on."
Her words cut through me. She's angry. This won't end well between us. But we have to go deeper. This is to important to simply ignore. And if Sora Takenouchi has to be mad at me for it… then so be it.
Without another word I turn and head in the direction of the final battle for control of this continent, falling further and further into darkness.