Disclaimer: I don't own Digimon.

The Way of the Children
Chapter Three:
The Unknown Forces

(Iwao Kitagawa; Itadakimasu, West Shinjuku, Tokyo; September 30th; 5:54 PM)

Iwao had just plopped down into his seat, sharing a table with Ari, Hisashi, and Kazuki, his plate loaded with food, and his drink glass filled to the brim, when the explosion happened.


The entire restaurant rocked; the chandelier dropped from the ceiling and smashed against the ground. Tadao, who was nearby, threw himself over Aya. Less than a second after that, the covered window next to Iwao shattered, glass shards flying everywhere.

Something—or someone—rammed into him, and they both toppled to the ground, rolling under the table. "You idiot," a voice hissed, and Iwao realized that it was Hisashi, his left cheek bleeding. "Don't just stand there gaping." And with that, he charged through the tablecloth and out, back into the screaming fray.

Iwao blinked, still not registering what was happening, then he too went back out. Blowing his ginger hair out of his eyes, he stared. In the center of the restaurant was a Digimon. And it was roaring mad.

Pearl-white fur was in disarray over the Digimon's black, swarthy arms. His right arm was a mechanical device that Iwao had never seen before. And worst of all—the Digimon's eyes were wild, darting around and around the room.

"What…what is that?" Iwao choked. His hands were screaming with pain, and something was trickling down his neck but he didn't care. All he wanted to do was get out of there, because something was wrong…terribly wrong….

"Get everyone out!" Takato was yelling. "The smallest go first! Don't stop until you—" He was cut off as the Digimon, furious with the shouting, swung his right arm and knocked Takato into the counter, where he slumped, unconscious.

"DAD!" Ari screamed, trying to rush forward. Kioshi, standing near her, immediately leaped in her path and wrapped his arms around her, restraining her. "Let me go! Let me go!"

Kioshi's reply wasn't as loud, but whatever he said, it made Ari go limp. Then, unexpectedly, she turned and sobbed into his chest. Kioshi didn't say anything; he just held her.

"It's a Gorimon," someone whispered from beside him. Iwao jumped—and promptly knocked his head against the table. He whipped around furiously and saw Minako crouching beside him, her gray eyes unblinking as she stared back at him. "What?"

"You scared me," Iwao snapped.

Minako shrugged. "Just though you might like to know," she said, talking about the Gorimon. "I recognize him from my dad's cards—and how Terriermon keeps bragging about a battle he had with one."

Iwao turned his attention back to the Gorimon. "Think he might be the same one?"

"Doubt it." Then suddenly Minako shot up—banging her head on the table, but ignoring it—and shouted, "Aya! GET AWAY FROM THERE!" Without another word, she rushed off, towards her younger sister.

Even before Minako reached the center of the restaurant, Iwao could see the problem. The Gorimon was getting ready to attack, and there happened to be six people in his line of fire, all in a circle—Kazuki, Riiko, Aya, Satsumi, Yuko, and Kazuo. Then Iwao leaped to his feet. It was seven now—Minako had joined them, on the opposite side of where her sister was.

And the Gorimon had just lifted his arm, already fired up. "Energy Cannon!" he snarled. Iwao could see his feet preparing to spin in a circle. There was no way that the seven people trapped by fallen objects or, worse, their own fear, would be able to get out without fatal injuries.

A bright light flashed from within Gorimon's right arm cannon. And, in that second, several things happened.

Ari broke free from Kioshi's grasp and vaulted over a chair, shouting, "Yu-neechan, don't just stand there! Move!" and threw herself in the way of the cannon blast. Shion did likewise for his own brother, Kazuo, although he screamed, "Nii-san, you idiot!" as he jumped over his brother's frozen body.

Kaori and Seiichi bolted as one, Kaori shoving Aya out of harm's way quickly, her face unusually stern; Seiichi did the same to Minako, his pale face determined.

Tadao jerked forward, pushing Kazuki behind him. Miyuki, who had been crouched on the ground nearby, rushed into the circle and pulled a stunned Satsumi behind her. And Reiko, little Reiko, stood bravely and darted in front of Riiko, whose leg was trapped underneath an upturned table.

Then, just before each one of them was hit, there was a bright flash of light and a glowing symbol appeared in front of each of those who had rushed in. Ari's sign was a dark red, border lining maroon; Shion's was black, yet get off a warm feeling; Kaori's an ocean blue; Seiichi's golden; Tadao's green; Miyuki's was gray, and Reiko's a bright pink. All were outlined with a faint line of gold.

They were all the same, yet different at the same time. The symbol in front of Ari had two wings crossing at the end with a flame in the center; Shion's symbol had a diamond; Kaori's an ocean wave; Seiichi's a thunderbolt; Tadao's a simple circle; Miyuki's was yet another feather and Reiko's was a sun.

Without warning, a rainbow strand of light flashed between the symbols, bonding them together. The symbols began to shine even more brightly and as the cannon blast smashed into it, the symbols only seemed to grow even bigger.

Gorimon's eyes widened—whether in fear or surprise, Iwao couldn't tell—and began whipping his head around wildly. And then, as one, all seven symbols fired off a single beam—and Gorimon was no more, leaving only a roar of fury to remember him by.

Iwao, trembling, took a small step forward. The seven in the center—Ari, Shion, Kaori, Seiichi, Tadao, Miyuki, and Reiko—all had blank looks of astonishment. Then, out of the blue, they fainted as one.

Shouts erupted as the people the seven had tried to protect attempted to catch the falling ones. Only several succeeded. Iwao slowly walked to the center and helped Kazuki hold Tadao. "Just what," he asked no one in particular, "happened here?"

(Ari Matsuda; Matsuda Bakery, West Shinjuku, Tokyo; November 2nd; 10:23 AM)

Ari…I await you….

Who's there?!

Visit me soon, alright?

Not until you tell me who you are.

Fool. You know who I am. You couldn't have used my—no, our—power otherwise.

What are you talking about?


Ari bolted upright in bed, her brown eyes wide. Her breath came in fast pants. "Just what…was that?" she muttered, burying her face in her hands. Her left cheek throbbed and she touched it, feeling a small bandage. "Was it a dream? Or a nightmare…?"


Ari jerked her head up to see Yuko, her hands gripping at empty air, staring at her with a blank face. At her feet was a metal tray, the contents strewn over the floor, the teapot smashed into pieces.

"A-ari," Yuko gasped. "You're awake!" And with that, Yuko tackled her so hard that Ari couldn't breathe. Unable to get a word out, Ari resorted to flapping her arms wildly, attempting to get her sister's attention. Luckily Yuko noticed and let go, but not before shouting, "Ari's awake!" as loud as she could.

Thundering footsteps sounded as Juri, Takato—who was wearing his flour-covered goggles—and Mitsuru pounded upstairs and burst through Ari's door, skidding to a halt at the sight of the broken teapot, or, in Mitsuru's case, leaped over it.

"You're awake!" all three shrieked. And with that, Ari was smothered by hugs.

Finally, unable to take the heat and sick of being suffocated, Ari gasped out, "I can't breathe!" and they all backed away respectively from her. When she had taken in a few gasps of cool air, Ari asked, "What happened?"

They all hesitated. Then Mitsuru spoke up. "Well," he said carefully, "after you jumped in front of someone—I think it was Yuko—and that weird symbol appeared in front of you, and after Gorimon disappeared, you fainted. You've been out for two days, almost three."

"And after you collapsed," Yuko cut in, "we found this in your pocket." Slowly, she withdrew Ari's digivice and placed it carefully next to her pillow. "Strange thing was, Shion, Seiichi, Kaori, Reiko, Tadao, and Miyuki all had one, too."

Ari jerked her head up. "Tadao, Reiko, and Miyuki had one too?" she blurted out.

Takato gave her an odd look. "You knew Shion, Kaori, and Seiichi had one?" he asked instead. He removed his goggles from his head and folded his arms across his chest. "Ayame Matsuda, explain. Now."

Ari gulped; her father was rarely this stern. Yet she couldn't resist asking one more question: "Explain what?"

"About when you would decide on telling that you received a digivice," Takato answered.

"I got it on the day of the reunion," Ari admitted. "It…flew out of a bucket, when Shion and I were cleaning the classroom. There were three others, but they went out the window…" She trailed off, realizing that those must've been for Tadao, Reiko, and Miyuki.

Meanwhile, her parents and her siblings were exchanging glances. "What do you think this means?" Yuko asked, unusually serious as she tucked a strand of dark brown hair behind her ear.

"The only thing," her father replied, staring out of Ari's window. "She has to be a Tamer. It's the only explanation." He let out a groan of frustration. "But why? The Digital World has been in peace for over twenty years!"

Irritated, Takato slammed his goggles beside Ari's pillow, next to her digivice. Absentmindedly, she picked both up and began rubbing the flour off of the lenses, occasionally pressing buttons on the digivice.

That's where he's wrong.

Ari's eyes flew open—wide, wide open—at the sound of the familiar voice in her head. But before she could comprehend anything, a feeling of warmth overcame her—and she vanished.


(Kaori Yamamoto; Yamamoto Residence, West Shinjuku, Tokyo; November 2nd; 10:35 AM)

Kaori had only been awake for twelve minutes, and she was already wishing she was still asleep. Her parents had been arguing over the meaning of her digivice for ten minutes now. And since Yuudai had left for college, there was no one to make funny faces behind their parents' backs.

And then there had been that voice….

Kaori propped her face on her chin—not her left one; it was wrapped in thick gauze after a thick piece of glass had cut it—and stared out the window, drumming her fingers against the wooden table absentmindedly. "I await you, Kaori Yamamoto"…what was that supposed to mean?

Still thinking, Kaori got up to go get a drink of water from the refrigerator. As she pulled on the handle, the ground opened up from beneath her and she dropped down, eyes wide, disappearing from sight.

The fridge door was left to swing back and forth.


(Seiichi Shiota; Room 805, Yuzaku Apartment Complex, West Shinjuku, Tokyo; November 2nd; 10:30 AM)

"Want to play?" Riiko bounced excitedly, her hands clasped together, her blue eyes shining. "Please? Oh, please, please, please, pleeeaaase Sei-niichan!"

Seiichi gave a small smile. "Sure," he said, rubbing his arm where a large bruise had formed. Probably when he had been thrown against the counter after the Gorimon had appeared.

Riiko squealed and rushed off to her room, undoubtedly to retrieve her plastic dolls that the Americans had invented—what were they called…Barbies? In any case, they all looked the same, with their platinum blonde hair and unblinking eyes.

As he waited for his younger sister to turn up in his room, Seiichi processed the words in his dream once more. "Seiichi Shiota…I'm waiting for you…come soon…."

He frowned, pondering. "Who's waiting for me?" he asked out loud. Then, as if answering his question, the ground beneath him vanished and, before he could give a yelp, he dropped through it.


(Miyuki Lee; Room 345, Toshino Apartment Complex, East Shinjuku, Tokyo; November 2nd; 10:29 AM)

Miyuki twirled her calligraphy brush in her fingers amiably. After discovering that she was fine, her father—Rinchei Lee—went back to his room to put the finishing touches on a new game. Her mother, Kaede, rushed back to the florist shop she worked at, promising to brink back Miyuki's favorite meal.

A sigh escaped her lips. "I'm bored…." Absentmindedly, she began tracing invisible patterns on the tablecloth with her brush. "Miyuki Lee…the time has come…for us to meet…"

Miyuki whipped around. "Who's there?" she shouted.

A thump from down the hall. "Miyuki?" her father called. "What's going on? Is someone at the door?" His footsteps sounded but Miyuki wasn't paying attention.

"Who are you?" she hissed. "This isn't funny."

She never did hear an answer, because as soon as the words left her mouth, a warm feeling overcame her and she disappeared, just as her father appeared in the kitchen.


(Shion Akiyama; Akiyama Residence, West Shinjuku, Tokyo; November 2nd; 10:32 AM)

"And when you're in trouble, use this," Ryou continued. "It helps with defense. And this little one here will raise your partner's attack power so much, there's no way your opponent will be able to stand."

Shion lifted his head off of his arms and groaned, "Dad, I don't care about the cards. Will you just let me go back to sleep already?"

Ryou lifted an eyebrow. "Not care about the cards? Shion, 'the cards' are the reason why Cyberdramon and I were so powerful. And your mother and Renamon, too."

"Didn't you always say that it was the bond between the two partners that made them strong?" Shion asked, bored out of his mind. His leg still hurt; curse whoever shoved him on the broken chandelier... "Seriously, Dad, shouldn't you get back to Itadakimasu?"

"Nah," Ryou answered, stacking the cards back into a pile. "I took a day off. Besides, Lee and Shuichon can get on without me." He got up, smiling slightly. "You're right, you know. About the bond making partners strong."

"Glad to know," Shion muttered, burying his face in his arms once more. "I'm waiting…Shion Akiyama…don't take too long, now…" Shion's eyes widened and he sat up. "Wha…" he began.

Then feeling of warmth came over him and he felt himself disappear, just as Ryou turned back around. "SHION!"

(Tadao Itou; 7-Eleven convenience store, East Shinjuku, Tokyo; November 2nd; 10:34 AM)

Tadao exited the convenience store, a plastic bag full of Reiko's favorite sweets in one hand, his digivice in the other. "Just what happened that day?" he muttered, recalling the symbol that had appeared in front of him. And even before then, when an orb had clonked him in the back of his head.

Shaking his head, he stowed his digivice back into his pocket. "Well," he said aloud, "at least I'm not wearing my school uniform. Who can stand wearing those, anyways? So itchy…"

As he neared his house, he remembered the words of his waking dream: "Tadao Itou…I'm waiting for you…"

"Weird," Tadao mumbled under his breath, reaching for his keys. One of his fingers was covered in band-aids—his parents couldn't find anymore gauze. Then the ground beneath him vanished. His eyes shot open. "What the—!?"

(Reiko Itou; Itou Residence, East Shinjuku, Tokyo; November 2nd; 10:33 AM)

Reiko twiddled her thumbs as she watched a rerun of Pokemon on the television screen. Tadao had gone out to buy food for them—seeing as neither of their parents were home—and told her to call if anything happened.

As Satoshi yelled something out and Pikachu responded, Reiko yawned before getting up to get a drink. Pouring herself a glass of water, she thought about the words in her dream. "Reiko Itou…don't be afraid…I'm waiting for you…"

"Who could that have been?" she murmured, bringing the glass up to her mouth. As the water began tipping down her throat, a warm feeling came over her and she vanished.

The glass was left to smash onto the tiled floor, the water seeping everywhere.

(Ari Matsuda; Land of Battles, Western Hemisphere, Digital World; November 2nd; 10:37 AM)


Ari sat straight up, dimly feeling the weight of her father's goggles in one hand and her digivice in the other. Shaking her head, she took a good look around her and nearly fainted.

She was on a small ledge—barely enough to hold her weight—jutting over an ocean of molten lava. In the middle of the lava was an island with a volcano on it. And in the crater of the volcano was a fiery dragon.

"Welcome, Ayame Matsuda," the dragon rumbled. "Or should I call you Ari?"

Uh…yeah. I stink at updating this, don't I? But on the upside, I'm updating Chosen Empire faster! Probably because I think it's more interesting. (Nearly done with the next chapter; just have to write out the rest of a battle and it should be up.)