CHAPTER 9 (part 3)

Rik did not want to wake up after that terrifying fall. But there was now grass under him, and the call of a bird testifying to reality. He opened his eyes. All around light gleamed off of a landscape of ice. Winding to the horizon was a body-length wide trail of lush grass, occasionally bordered by spindly, African-looking trees. Rik was lying on the grass, and above him was a tree.

Rik closed his eyes again. This was weird...but real. No more falling through half-reality. He got up from where he had been sprawled as though he had fallen out of an airplane and turned around and saw the people-and things-there. A blonde girl with hard eyes was sitting up, leaning on the side of a small, blue horse-monster. Next to them, the name came to him slowly, Echomon stared expectantly up at Rik. Behind them were three monsters and a human; a stocky yellow-skinned reptilian shoving at a groggily rising humanoid with blue skin, twin crests off the back of his head and a long, thin whip-tail with a bulb or tuft at the end. It had no nose, simply three slits on either side of its neck, and wore a shimmering robe. Behind it was a dinosaur-like reptile, muscular and tall, which was walking away across the ice, and a thin black-haired girl, still lying in the grass.

Rik waited a moment, then they were all awake or getting to their feet. The blonde, fierce looking girl looked around. "So this is it."

She seemed to know what she was talking about. "Where are we?" Rik asked.

She looked through him with calm, green eyes. "The digital world. So what's your partner's name?"

What about my name? The black haired-girl in the back of the group, wearing tattered black clothes, then asked, "Digiworld like Digimon the show?" She turned to watch the dinosaur-monster carefully cross the ice a few meters away.

"Yeah. I'm Nari...hey, you, Digimon!" The red and green saurian stopped and looked back. The blue humanoid put a long-fingered hand on Nari's shoulder.

"Greetings, Nari, I am called Jorian. What's going on?" His yellow monster looked up.

"You're in the Digiworld, here to save it. I'm your partner, Agumon." The-person?-called Jorian looked confused. Nari somehow got all of them, including the saurian, in a circle around the grass. Nari stood in the center, the undisputed leader. She pointed to herself.

"I'm Nari. This," –the horse-"is Gallopmon. So that's Jorian, and Agumon. And..." She was pointing to Rik, waiting.

"Ah, I'm Rik, that's Echomon." The little creature was now sitting on the grass near his right foot. Nari turned her back to him, and pointed at the little girl and dinosaur pair. The girl hesitantly answered,

"Syntyche."

They all were looking at her big Digimon now. "Velasamon." He snarled. "But I'm not a partner."

"I think you are." Syntyche showed them what she had in her hand, a blue machine. "I'm not dumb, I've seen the show. This is a digivice."

Echomon pressed his own yellow digivice into Rik's hand.

"We are the Digimon tamers." Nari said, looking dramatically around the circle. Velasamon growled but did not leave. Rik wondered why he was so upset.

Jorian asked, "But I still don't get this. Isn't Digimon an old show?"

"It's only like three years old." Nari said.

"No." Jorian protested. "I saw an ad for it the other day. It's antique."

Nari shook her head. Rik wanted to know what Jorian was. Nari was continuing,

"We were called here for a reason." She looked at her Gallopmon. It spoke in a soft female voice. "There is an evil rising. A new kind of Digimon."

Velasamon hissed. Nari turned to him. "What do you know about this?"

Velasamon only shook his head.

"So what do we do now?" Rik asked. "And Jorian, no offense, but are you human?"

Jorian's whiteless blue-black eyes widened, and Rik prepared an apologetic speech in his mind. But Jorian said, "Of course not." He spread his arms and lifted the crests above his small, triple-tipped ears. "I am a Velonri."

Rik was confused. Nari asked, "Where are you from?"

"Earth." He tentatively answered. "Aren't you?"

"Sure..." Nari replied. "but are you from another planet?"

Rik thought the confused look on Jorian's face must match his own.

"I came to Earth when I was three or so from the generation ship from Veloria."

Little Syntyche said, "What year was it?"

Jorian counted back for a moment then answered, "2092."

Nari gasped. "The Digiworld must have been able to call a Digidestined from the future. Woah."

"What time is it now?" Jorian asked.

"2010." Nari said.

Jorian looked up at the sunless, bright sky. "How do I get home?"

"I don't know." Nari said. "But we should move from here. The path is to follow."

She turned to go. And darkness born down on them, sweeping fast from horizon to horizon. The humans and Jorian gasped. It was now effectively night-dark.

"Ah, I think that was supposed to happen." Nari said. Rik did not feel very relieved.

They continued walking.