Melody: MUHAHAH!!! And you though you had lost me forever, well guess what? You're all stuck with me!!. (Wow, I should really avoid Chinese food for breakfast.) Anywhoo, time for everyone's favorite event!

Writer's Applause:

Thanks to Takari Freek, anon (is that your actual name?), and karika88 (let me know if you want to be a moderator or not, and I'll send you the invite code)

Everyone's least favorite event:

Disclaimer: Forlorn Melody owns nothing but the Teen Titan's comic that she's currently raving about.

Darkness Chronicles: Escaping Darkness: Chapter 1: The Incubation

Real World Y: Asia: Shinjuku, Japan: Terrace Apartments: 3:11 P.M.

Sunlight streamed through a row of windows. The light fell on sheets and blankets, but could not penetrate the fabric. A large lump lay under the sheets, rising and falling in a slow but steady rhythm. Nothing could disturb the tranquility of that morning…except for the noise of the alarm clock. Loud raging music pumped from the alarm's speakers, startling the sleeping form on the bed. It shot up sitting, breathing hard. Rusty chocolate bangs stuck to his forehead with sweat. Ryo wiped it off as he pulled the sheets completely off his body.

Leaving the music on, Ryo pulled some pants on and glanced at the time. His eyes widened. How could he be late, today of all days? Ryo hurried to the bathroom and took a quick shower. Rika would kill him. As the water ran down his skin, Ryo's mind swarmed with ideas and excuses he could tell her. None of them seemed like they would work on his girlfriend. Ryo felt like an idiot. The one day he meant to wake up early that summer instead of sleep in, the one day he meant to actually use the alarm….

He dried off with a towel. Five minutes later Ryo stood completely dressed in front of the bathroom mirror. Ryo combed his hair purposefully, and realized his mistake. Instead of setting the alarm for AM, Ryo had set it for PM. Brilliant, Ryo, just brilliant. No doubt that he wouldn't live though nightfall. Hmm…would Rika stab him in the front, back, side or all three? At least Ryo would have an interesting demise, without his help. The Legendary Tamer shivered, he shouldn't be thinking about that right now. Grabbing his jacket, Ryo left the apartment.

A short walk later and Ryo arrived at the nearly infamous towers of the Hypnos building. Despite the firm's interest and involvement in inter-dimensional affairs, few people knew about it. Hypnos liked things that way, and its CEO would do everything in his power to make sure things remained so. Most people would stare in awe of the towers if they had the time, but Ryo gave them little thought as he walked through the revolving doors. He had been there so many times recently he had begun to think of the building as a second home.

Soon enough Ryo's elevator arrived at the correct floor, the top floor, a little too soon for Ryo's tastes. As it chimed open, Ryo took a deep breath before stepping into the hallway. He had no trouble location the doors, as they happened to be the only doors in the entire hallway. A single word spelled itself out across the frosted glass double doors, Hypnos. Ryo spoke his name evenly to the lock, and the computerized voice replied "Admission Granted, Welcome Ryo Akiyama." Great, and now every one would know immediately of his presence.

The doors slipped open and Ryo attempted to enter the room quietly and unnoticed. So much for trying. He hadn't passed through the doorway when someone chimed his named, or should he say someones. "Ryo! My man! How are you doin'?" Kazu called out as he ran over to his teen idol.

"What he said!" Kenta added as he followed his friend. Hmm….would Ryo give them some more autographs? His cousin still didn't believe him when Kenta mentioned knowing the Digimon King.

Ryo attempted to stammer out an answer when he met Rika's stare, or more correctly her glare. He hung his head ashamed, overhearing her huffing response. Right now he could expect nothing less from his girlfriend; thankfully she didn't plan on obliterating him yet. Even when Ryo heard her footsteps closing in on him, he didn't dare move. No need to delay his reckoning.

"What happened Ryo? Monodramon eat your alarm clock?" Rika asked, keeping her voice level.

Oh great, she used his real name. Ryo gulped out his answer quietly, not meeting her eyes. "Not exactly."

"How dare you Ryo Akiyama, how dare you." She seethed.

Ryo flinched. Still early for an apology. "It won't happen again." He whispered, not meeting her eyes.

Rika didn't answer, but turned to her other friends. They looked back at her, fearing a tirade. "Well?" She snapped.

Henry's father coughed lightly, before gesturing to Shibumi to speak. He in turn sighed before continuing. Shibumi gave each of the Tamers a look of grave seriousness, and his gaze lingered on Jeri slightly longer than the others. Rika glared at Shibumi in exasperation as she noticed a hint of a smile in his eyes. If that Monster Maker gave away their surprise for Jeri, Rika would make him pay. Taking notice of Rika's glare, the light disappeared from Shibumi's eyes. Taking a deep breath, he spoke with his soft, intelligent voice. "We have discovered a disturbance in the Digital World. My colleagues and I tried to take care of it ourselves, but it looks like you'll have to go to the Digital World yourselves to solve the problem."

Takato saw the worry in Jerry's eyes, and held back a laugh. Boy, would she be surprised when they finally stepped down on Digifirma. He couldn't wait to see the look on her face. The Tamer's unofficial leader smiled at Jeri and some of the worry left her face as she met his eyes. She even managed a small smile, making Takato blush deep scarlet. Next thing he knew, someone's finger had poked his side. "Ah!" He shouted, jumping out of the way.

"Pay attention, Takato." Henry teased.

"Yeah, okay…sorry." The unofficial gogglehead of the Tamers muttered as he blushed a little deeper red before his skin finally stopped burning.

Ryo decided on another attempt at redemption. "So when do we leave?"

Shibumi turned to face his colleagues. "As soon as my team gets the gate ready."

"Come on man, it'll be only a few more minutes!" 'Hot Dog' hollered in reply.

"Ha! More like a couple seconds!" His Asian counterpart retorted.

The end result actually happened between the two guesses, with in 30 seconds of the second estimate. With a brilliant burst of light, a gate materialized at the center of all the supercomputers. Across the room the Tamers, even angry Rika, stared at it in amazement. For some reason digital forms always seemed more magical when they formed in the Real World. Yamaki clicked his lighter open and shut a couple more times before addressing the small crowd. He, like Shibumi, also adopted a serious look on his face, but Ryo couldn't help but notice the slight upturned corner of his lips.

"You will take this gate to arrive on Digiphirma. Once there, you will track down the disturbance and await further instructions." Yamaki directed.

Takato and the others nodded. "Let's go guys!" He couldn't help but smile, and by this point he didn't care if it ruined the surprise. As he entered the port, he glanced back at Jeri. She seemed really confused. Oh well, Jeri would figure it out soon enough.

Digital World Y: Digiphirma: 3:20 P.M.

They all landed, as before, with a loud painful SMACK! And, also as before, they returned to consciousness in small craters the size of a go-kart. Takato glanced over at his partner's crater, or at least he thought his digimon laid in there. "Guilmon?"

He saw two golden eyes staring down at him from a crimson face. "Takato?" Guilmon replied, tilting his head curiously.

"Waah!" Takato cried, not expecting Guilmon to sneak up on him like that.

Guilmon tilted his head innocently, and then ever so slowly he reached down with his red claw and….tapped Takato on the shoulder. "Tag, you're it!"

Takato laughed as he jumped out of the crater. He chased after the red dinosaur, without a care in the world. Laughing, Kazu and Kenta watched and argued over who would win. Henry smiled at them, knowing the winning never mattered in a game of tag. As those five seemed to enjoy themselves, the others in the group seemed strikingly aloof. Jeri stared at the boys wondering what the heck had happened to their mission. Rika and Ryo faced the other way, forgetting about the pretend mission all together. Their eyes traveled over the landscape, a place that seemed different than before. It looked scarred, torn, battered, and broken.

"Could it be the D-Reaper?" Rika asked with her voice barely above a whisper.

"Somehow I don't think so, Rika." Ryo answered, not wanting to utter what he really thought caused the disturbance. He could almost hear that hissing voice in his head. Why, after all these years, did that experience still haunt him?

"Are you okay?"

Ryo looked down to notice that Rika had been staring at him for a while. He coughed awkwardly. "I'm fine." Plastering a smile on his face, Ryo tried to ignore the growing knot in his stomach.

She laid a hand on his shoulder. Ryo stared at the unusual gesture. "You sure about that, Akiyama?"

Her unofficial/official boyfriend looked away. "I'm sure." He didn't sound like it.

Inwardly Rika fumed, but she refused to show it. Now wasn't the time to pick a fight with her Ryo. Jeri hated arguments. But still…Rika hated it when Ryo kept her in the dark. He always seemed so carefree and fun-loving, but Rika knew better. Ryo had a darker side, one that only a few people could see. Rika wondered if Cyberdramon existed as a living form of Ryo's secret thoughts and feelings. She shook her head. Hopefully he would tell her soon.

Jeri stood in the midst of all of them, dwelling between the organized chaos and the suspicious tranquility. Puppet in hand, she scanned each of their faces, trying to gauge what had happened to her friends. After a serious moment of thought, she concluded that they had all lost their sanity. With a firm look on her features, Jeri decided that she alone could bring them back to their senses. "What is going on!?" She grimaced, realizing, that in yelling, she had made her voice go even higher than usual. Stupid vocal chords.

Everyone froze, Takato in particular. He lumbered his way towards Jeri sheepishly, and stopped a little too far into her bubble. "Heh, sorry Jeri. Um….right. Guys we have an important mission to accomplish!" Takato pumped his fist into the air, trying to regain his composure.

His words were met with some yeas, some smiles, some nods, and some rolling of eyes. Rika did most of the rolling, as she folded her arms. "So, where to, Gogglehead?" She asked mockingly.

Takato pondered her question thoughtfully, tactfully ignoring her teasing. He glanced at his COM link, eyeing the location of their destination, in relation to their current location. Doing some quick conversions in his head, Takato squinted. Squinting his eyes liked he seen actors do in the movies, he pointed with determination. "That way!" The unofficial leader of the Tamers ordered with all seriousness that made him seem sarcastic, as he marched down the desert.

With a few quizzical glances to each other, the Tamers followed behind him. Two lagged a few stray feet behind, their minds focused on something besides Jeri's surprise. Rika kept her gaze on Ryo, watching him carefully. Meanwhile he kept his gaze on the distance, most likely pondering things he thought she couldn't understand. Rika's eyes narrowed. She didn't need him to protect her. Ryo shouldn't think that he had to bear his burdens alone. As if he heard her thoughts, Ryo turned to look at her with an apologetic look. His girlfriend glanced back, weaving her fingers through his. He smiled slightly, if only for an instant.

You can't hide from me Ryo.

He jumped inwardly, hoping Rika didn't notice the tension running through his veins. Oh great, she did. Ryo closed his eyes briefly, as if that could convince the monster to leave him alone. Like that monster even existed anyway. They defeated him years ago, right? Squeezing her hand, Ryo attempted to cover for the sudden tight squeeze moments earlier. Shooting him a look of disbelief, Rika let go of his hand. Frowning, Ryo tried to ignore his heart sinking deeper within his chest. Then again, perhaps it was for the best, Ryo couldn't afford for Rika to get hurt because of him.

Adorable really, attempting to protect others from yourself.

Ryo shivered, trying to shake those kinds of thoughts from his mind. He had to be his usual carefree himself, if only for the others. Today hadn't been meant for him, but for Jeri. Today the Tamers worked to cheer her up. Today Ryo would force a smile upon his face, a smile that only Rika could see through. Well, hopefully only she saw through him. At least Ryo thought the others didn't see through him. Suddenly he felt really exposed. The vast open desert didn't help. Trying to focus on the landscape instead of his vulnerability, Ryo noticed something.

The Digital World had changed, and it hadn't changed for the better. Around the Tamers lay vast expanses of scared earth. Ryo looked around more carefully, but he didn't see any life. This desert had been abandoned. He must have been the only one to notice. His heart sank to his stomach as he recognized each one of the empty habitats his friends, and sometimes his foes, used to dwell in. It made him feel sick. Who could have caused this?

Isn't it obvious, Akiyama?

Another shiver went down his spine. His eyes stared blankly at the horizon, at the subconscious notion that if he stared hard enough, he might actually see what he knew was there. Before Ryo realized it, his shoe collided with something rather soft, sending him face first into the dirt. Ah, dirt, not just any dirt, highly density packed, cracked, head splitting dirt, it had been a while. If only Ryo didn't land on something else as well, or someone else for that matter. Groaning, he met emerald green eyes, eyes caught between shock and awe.

A whine shot through the air. "Not fair!! How come he always lands on you?Everyone knows I'm the cooler guy…." Kazu trailed off, and Ryo didn't care to let his concentration center on the blabbering fan boy. Gah, Rika must have been rubbing off on him. Or had he always been this cynical? Swallowing, Ryo tried to center his thoughts on something besides paranoia.

Eventually they came to rest, and Ryo sat down with an unvoiced sigh. Rika joined him wordlessly. In a rare act of affection, she leaned on his shoulder. Numbly he leaned back, and wrapped his arm around her, staring at the horizon. How long could he keep his secret, and still keep her safe?

Melody: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaand, I think I'll end it there. At least the first chapter anyway, it took me forever to write this, mostly because no one (that I know of) has sent me ideas. Comments or ideas are still welcome, whether in the form of a review or an email.