"DemiDevimon was right," sighed Sora. "I'll never get this stupid crest to work."
"Don't say that, Sora," said Biyomon. "Maybe it didn't work today, but I'm sure it will some day!"
Sora didn't want to be too pessimistic in front of Biyomon, so she let it rest. She sighed and stretched out her legs. It had been a long day. Less than an hour ago, she and Biyomon had been attacked by a strange Champion-level Digimon. It was a little too strong for Birdramon, but the crest of love would not respond, so they ended up flying away in escape.
Now they were in the desert - it seemed like half the stupid continent of Server was desert - and settling in for the night. Birdramon had started a fire before dedigivolving, and Sora had a little food on her. It wasn't much to live on indefinitely, but - what else was new.
Sora was usually a patient person, but being attacked by wild Digimon, having no idea where her best friend was, being almost alone in a hostile world, feeling hot, dusty, sweaty and tired, she felt was enough to try the patience of a saint. She had sand in her shoes, and her arms were itching like crazy from the dust, and - oh dear, she was starting to sound like Joe.
She glared at her crest. It had brought her nothing but bad luck.
"The fire is so nice and bright and warm, isn't it Sora!"
Sora frowned. "Like we need to be any warmer in this stupid desert. It would be nice if we had more food to cook over the fire."
"We'll get some more food tomorrow! Don't worry, we've always managed to forage up something!"
"Yeah, we can eat some more delicious grass or something."
"They say grass is very healthy."
"Maybe for cows."
"Sora, are you upset about something?"
For some reason this simple question, asked in Biyomon's innocent, childish voice, annoyed her. Wasn't it very obvious?
"Biyomon, could you be quiet?!"
Biyomon sniffed, hurt. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to say something wrong."
The two sat there in uncomfortable silence for a few moments. Sora watched Biyomon, who stared into the fire unhappily. It looked like she had successfully spread her bad mood, but now that her momentary impatience was gone, she felt bad. What was wrong with her?
"No, I'm sorry, Biyomon. I shouldn't have snapped like that. I guess I'm just upset because of... well, everything, I guess."
"I understand, Sora."
The two exchanged small smiles. Sora felt ashamed of being so impatient and pessimistic. Things weren't so bad, really. She had the best friend she could ever ask for right by her side, and she knew that Biyomon really did understand - at least as much as Sora had told her. She was still alive, and reasonably healthy, and so were the others - hopefully - and, well, thank goodness for small miracles.
"To be perfectly honest, sometimes I wish I hadn't gotten the crest of love at all," said Sora.
"Oh no, don't say that, Sora! The crest of love's just perfect for you!"
"But I mean... what do I know about love? I just bit your head off when you were only trying to be nice, and I left my friends behind. How selfish is that?"
"You had an idea about how to find Tai and you didn't want to lead the others on a wild goose chase. You were worried about your best friend and didn't want to inconvenience your other friends. There's nothing selfish about that."
"Love's just... confusing. I've never even had a boyfriend. I'd rather play with the boys than try to go out with them."
"That's not the only kind of love. There's the love between us two!"
"And I'm really glad we have it, but it doesn't seem to be enough to make my crest work..."
"Don't you ever believe what that liar DemiDevimon says, Sora!"
"But the more I think about it, the more I think he's right..."
"Then don't think about it! Love's not about thinking anyway, love comes from the heart!"
"I think love's a hard thing to live up to."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I mean that everything to do with love has a lot of hard things mixed in with it. I mean, take me and you. I'm so happy we're friends, and we've gotten really close, but some day we're going to have to leave, and it's going to really hurt."
"Don't even think about that!"
"And there's me and Tai. He's my best friend but sometimes I wish I didn't love him so much, because of how much it hurts now that I don't know where he is. It seems like love's some sort of burden."
"That's right. When you love someone, it hurts you all the more when you have a fight or when you're worried about them. When you love someone, you can't really feel free or happy, because you're tied up in another person."
"But that's not a bad thing, is it?"
"I don't know. I guess I sometimes wish I could break free from the bondage of love. It would make things easier."
Biyomon was quiet for a moment, and Sora looked at her. She expected the bird to reply, as usual, with some kind of optimistic question or kind reassurance. But she didn't.
"Sora, when you talk about the bondage of love, it reminds me of the old story of how the first Biyomon got the shackle around her leg."
Sora looked at the metal shackle on her friend's leg with interest. She had never really thought about it before. "I haven't heard you mention this story before. I'd like to hear it if you can tell it to me."
Biyomon brightened. "Sure! Every Biyomon knows that story!
Many, many years ago, a Yokomon digivolved into the first ever Biyomon. This Biyomon was the only one of her kind at the time. She was happy to have wings and legs so that she could move far away, and she wanted to go on adventures. She left the Yokomon village where she left and set out to see the world. But after a while she began to notice that a lot of other Digimon had others of their kind. In her travels she met a herd of Gizamon, and a school of Otamamon and Gekomon, and a pair of Kuwagamon, and a whole buncha things like that.
But she could never find another Biyomon. She started to feel sad and felt that maybe it wasn't worth being a Biyomon after all. Although she had her new wings and a new attack, when she was a Yokomon she had others of her kind and a place where she belonged. You see, all Biyomon are very loving Digimon. We work best if we have someone we love around us!
This Biyomon found that she couldn't dedigivolve into Yokomon, so she decided to try to digivolve instead. Maybe her digivolved form would be like one of the other Digimon in the digital world, she thought. So she started training. She started picking fights so that she could beat other Digimon and become stronger. After a while, word spread about her and some Digimon would hide when they saw her coming. Others went after her for a challenge, because they wanted to digivolve too. Nearly every Digimon thinks it's important to digivolve, you see.
So the first Biyomon had become very strong, but now her heart had become cold and mean because she always tried to fight Digimon instead of make friends with them. She wondered why she wasn't happy and figured it was just because she couldn't find any Digimon like her. Then one day she met a Hawkmon."
"What's a Hawkmon?"
"Hawkmon are handsome Digimon! They're Rookies like us and they're about our size, but they're boy birds. Anyway, when the first ever Biyomon saw him, she thought - here is a Digimon that is a little like me. He has wings too, and a beak, and he is about my size. She felt happy and realised that she had finally found the Digimon she was looking for. She loved him right from the start and knew that she didn't have to be alone any more. The Hawkmon liked her too and thought she was a very pretty Digimon.
But she had gone so long without talking nicely to Digimon, that she had completely forgotten how. She flew up to speak to him and to make friends, but all she knew how to do by now was to fight. She didn't want to, but this is kind of like a fairy tale, so I think that was all she could do. So she attacked the Hawkmon and killed him.
After that, she was so full of remorse that it tipped the scales and she finally digivolved. She digivolved into a hideous monster and wherever she went, Digimon were afraid and ran away. All she wanted now was a friend but she looked so scary and evil that nobody would go near her. She felt very sad because when she had finally found a friend, she had killed him. She wished she could turn back time and go back to being a Biyomon again. More than that, she wished she hadn't killed Hawkmon and that he was still alive.
It was very unusual for anyone to want to dedigivolve. Most Digimon wanted to digivolve again, if anything. She travelled the digital world for a hundred years, trying to find someone who could tell her how to dedigivolve. But everyone was either too afraid to answer her, or just didn't know how. And she went to Primary Village and found the digiegg of the Hawkmon she had killed. She carried the egg with her on her travels but no matter what she tried and no matter how long she waited, it just wouldn't hatch.
At the end of the hundred years, the monster cried herself to sleep as usual and then she had a funny dream. A creature like a very small Angewomon with short red hair - now that I've met you, I think it might have been a human like you! - told her that only the power of love could free her from her Champion form. It asked her if she loved Hawkmon enough to give away her life for him.
The human said that if Biyomon was truly sorry, she would make her into Biyomon again, but that she and all Biyomon after her would be a slave to love - that for as long as they lived, they would only live for someone else. This was all that Biyomon had ever really wanted, so she agreed.
When she woke up, she found that she was Biyomon again. She had never looked so pretty, because now all the hate and ugliness had gone out from inside of her. It had been destroyed in the hundred years of wandering the digital world. But now she had a shackle on her leg. The human from her dream had put it there to make sure she would never attack anyone again except when protecting someone she loved. With that shackle, she was a slave to love, just like the human had said. She could never fly away from the one she loved, and she often felt worried and sad because she cared so much about them.
But all this didn't matter, because just after she woke up from her dream, the digiegg hatched. The baby Digimon digivolved quickly and became Hawkmon again. I guess they lived happily ever after. But since then, every Biyomon that has ever been hatched has always had this chain around their leg to make sure they can't do what the first Biyomon did and get caught up in hurting innocent Digimon. And it's the same with me."
"Wow, that was quite a story..."
It was quite a story, because it left Sora thinking a lot of things - and took her mind quite off her previous unhappy thoughts.
"You bet! I think it's true too!"
"I believe you. You know, it almost seems as though I've heard part of that story before..."
"That's funny... I don't think I ever told you that before..."
"So what's it like? Being a slave to love, I mean?"
Biyomon frowned. "Well, so far we've been together all the time so there haven't been any problems. Sometimes it hurts me when you're upset. And it would be really, really bad if you did go away... but you know, Sora, everyone is a slave to love. Everyone has someone they really care about and hurt for sometimes."
"You're right, Biyomon. I guess sometimes we just have to focus on the good instead of on the bad, right?"
"Right! Love's s'posed to be a good thing! It is a good thing! It makes me feel strong! It's gonna make me digivolve right up into an ULTIMATE Digimon! It's going to be exciting!"
Sora laughed at Biyomon's sudden enthusiasm, and couldn't help catching a little of it herself. She looked at her crest. Well, whether it shone or not, she still had the friend she loved most right next to her, and that was worth more than some digivolution.
She lay down on her back and looked up at the sky. After living in a city for eleven years, she still found it hard to get used to the environment here. She couldn't hear any cars, or the familiar sound of her mother muttering as she arranged flowers, or the air conditioner humming. There was no ceiling either. There was just a crackling fire, and endless desert all around her. The sky seemed very big and she felt very small. She really was in the middle of nowhere...
"Biyomon, you'll never leave me, will you?"
"Nope, not ever," reassured the bird Digimon, and she waved her foot at Sora. "This proves it!"