A/N: For those of you being introduced to this for the first time, the background to this story is the fic 'Hazard's Sorrow', which follows up on some unresolved issues left in that story. This fic also takes place at the same time as 'A Time to Heal', which is a short, character thinking piece dealing with Takato in the aftermath of events of 'Hazard's Sorrow', so if you want a better idea as to what is going on in this fic, and what it's about, you may want to read those two fics. With that said, I now present to you the latest story in this series. On with the fic!
Disclaimer: I don't own digimon
Less than Human
A Digimon Tamer's Fic by Crazyeight
Prologue: Shattered World's
The girl winced as all around her sand blew, kicked up by the rush of wind that hammered her on all sides. Blinking her crimson eyes the dark haired, crimson-eyed girl forced herself to push forward, moistening her extremely dry lips as she did so. Her legs were unsteady as she walked through the sandy dunes that surrounded her, and she stumbled a few times on more than one occasion, nearly falling, but each time she did she would get steady herself as best she could and continue onwards. Her mind was a blank at this moment; all of her willpower was focused on moving forward and finding some shelter. Not that she could see any of that sort, there being so much sand in the air around her. The girl suddenly coughed as she inhaled some sand, nearly collapsing again at that, but once more stubbornly refusing to do so. Instead she just hugged herself protectively and staggered onwards.
It's so hard to breathe…
How long had it been since she had arrived here, in this land of desolation and endless sand? Where the days and nights came so quickly and a globe that resembled the Earth hung in the sky, and strange creatures haunted the land? How long had it been since she had seen the digimon Lucemon do battle with the group of children known to the city of Shinjuku, and the world, as the Digimon Tamers, and destroy one of them? A memory flashed through the girl's mind… a memory of a black armored knight with blue-trimmed plating breaking apart into shards of data that was swiftly absorbed by the angelic digimon, altering his appearance from that of a young, blonde haired child to a being that looked to not only be an adult, but also half angel and half demon.
The fact that this was the same angel that she had found in the park, injured after a battle with what he had called the Great Beast and had helped recover from his battle didn't do anything to ease her mind of the sense of guilt and anger that had pervaded her heart since arriving here after running up in that cloud of mist. The monstrous Great Beast that Lucemon had described turned out to be one of the Tamers who were responsible for defeating the red blob from last year, and the much more recent Parasimon invasion. A conversation with a boy in her class by the name of Henry Wong had revealed as much.
Even though she didn't know all the details behind the circumstances surrounding the Tamer's battles with Lucemon, or what precisely had happened to cause the angelic digimon to view one of them as a threat to his home (though from what she had learned she felt that she had something of an idea) girl felt as though she were a party to a crime done against the Tamers as a result of helping Lucemon heal from his injuries.
As the girl strove against the wind that constantly howled around her, she saw something begin to take shape a short ways off (though for all she knew that could have been misleading due to the amount of sand that obscured her vision). Something that looked huge. She couldn't be sure, but it looked like a building! Hope kindling in her heart, the girl quickened her pace, nearly falling down again as her right foot sunk in the sand, but she held her balance. With renewed determination she strove forward, keeping her eyes set on the shadowy form that stood before her, towering above her. It occurred to her that it could have been one of the digimon that she had seen roaming around the landscape, but at this point she didn't care. Sand! She was so sick and tired of it that she was starting to feel that anything was going to be better than this desert of endless sand and heat! Just how this desert could be so hot when there wasn't a visible sun in the sky or other form of illumination (other than the Earth globe) to make it so.
But then, there were plenty of things about this world that just didn't make any sense. Like those pink beams for example…
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity the girl was close enough to see that, yes, the obscure object that she had picked out in the storm was indeed a building; ruins of a temple of some sort by the looks of things. It's interior looked to be dark, though some cracks in the roof looked to be letting in some small amounts of light that she could see by. Sand too but she didn't care so much about that as they were in much smaller amounts than what she was currently grinding between her teeth. She wondered if there was anything living in there, but she soon found that she didn't care. She just wanted out of this storm…
Immediately upon entering the temple the dark haired girl fell the ground on her hands and knees, coughing, spitting, and gasping for air.
Can't begin to imagine what all that just did to my lungs, the girl thought bitterly before crawling deeper into the building, eventually collapsing and curling up into a fetal position, a small whimper escaping her lips as all the built in pressure began to take hold of her at once. Tears forced their way out of her eyes though she tried to hold them back. It was all just too much. One would think that after nearly a week and a half she would have been used to this, but her arrival here, in this strange world that could only be the digital world that she had heard so many rumors about back home, was so unexpected, so sudden, left to survive with absolutely nothing other than the clothes that she had on her and no one to help her, that she had immensely difficult time with coping with her situation. This world was filled with strange, frightening creatures that all too often fought each other to the death and… ate each other (she really had no other way to describe the sight of one digimon downloading the data of a defeated enemy), which went a long way towards discouraging her from asking for help. In addition to the hostility of the world's inhabitants and its environment (though how she was able to stay alive for so long with such small amounts of food and water that she had discovered so far was something that had crossed her mind during periods of either strangely lucid moments, or delirium), she couldn't find a way of getting back home. She had once thought that the pink beams were capable of doing that, but experimentation had just dumped her in yet another desert, completely defeating that idea and nearly causing her to give up then and there.
Round and round the girl's thoughts spun, until finally her mind, too exhausted too keep up with those thoughts, shut down, and she soon found herself falling into a deep sleep…
The girl opened her eyes sometime later, feeling a little bit better now, though still far from good. Her crimson eyes scowled as she looked out towards the entrance to the structure that she found herself in, noting the endless track of desert that lay behind her.
At least the storm is over, thought the girl as she struggled to her feet. Her legs shook beneath her. She wasn't all that knowledgeable about human biology but she had a feeling that that wasn't a good sign. If only she knew where she could get something to drink or eat, but such things were lacking around here. She had found an oasis a while ago, but the appearance of two large, dark colored dinosaurs with red stripes and green plates sticking out of their backs quickly put an end to the idea. Especially when they used their fiery breath on each other and inadvertently burned the oasis to the ground.
Carefully moving further into the building the girl sought out a niche that she could use to rest and recover some more before deciding whether or not to move on.
Strangely enough, she noted that she didn't feel hungry.
Must be because of the heat or something, the girl thought distractedly, and then a second later froze as she heard a noise. She stood still, straining her ears as she listened carefully. Yes. Yes, she did hear something. A… groan. There was someone in here with her! Someone…hurt? She couldn't tell for sure. Should she investigate? Or should she…?
Ignoring her better sense, the girl began to move towards the source of the noise, living up to the name that her mother had given her. If someone was hurt in here, she had to see if there was something that she could do for them. Besides. Maybe they could help her too…
Sweat trickled down his face, matting his golden hair to his skin as his body shuddered. Memories flooded through his mind as pain racked his body. Memories from the past few days, particularly that of his most recent venture to safeguard what he held dear the most came to mind. In his mind's eye, the visage of an angelic, female figure sapphire armor and golden, metallic wings stood above him, smiling gently at him as she heard him out. Her face held it's smile for a second; a smile that he would have died to make sure would never vanish from existence, and then the feeling of his hopes crashing down as her face became sorrowful. The next words out of her mouth involved something about how things were not always what they were, and that it was not their duty, his especially, to judge the actions of others. She knew in her heart that the wrong that had been done by the Great Beast outside of the fortress of the Sovereign was unintentional, and that the mistake had since been corrected. He remembered how he couldn't accept that. His duty…their duty was to safeguard the digital world, and that meant protecting it from all possible threats! There were so many things about her that he couldn't understand…like how she could feel sorry for something like the Great Beast or a monstrous program like D-Reaper, and regret their destruction even though they had proven themselves to be beyond redemption.
"If you knew more fully what you had been… what you were, you would not be so quick to sire death and destruction in the name of justice and protection.
What was she talking about? Of course he knew what he had been! What he had done! True, he didn't remember all that much about it but he was aware of it. Ophanimon and the other Celestial Angels had never hidden that information from him, and they never discouraged him from his looking for answers when he had questions. He wasn't proud of what he had done, and was well aware of the way that other digimon looked upon him when he was around, but he had been punished for his actions. There were times where he felt that he wasn't punished enough, but he always thought that in a way that was distant and detached, as though the punishment were a cold statistic that had to be adhered to, and it was pretty much how he viewed the world around him. Well, all except Ophanimon. She was a conundrum. How she could forgive him he didn't know. So much like that woman that he had met in the real world, Aiko. One would almost think that they were the same person if not for the fact that she was definitely and undeniably human. Willing to forgive no matter what. Loving everything with a love that was undeniable for most digimon. Perhaps the closest thing to a mother's love he had ever known in the digital world.
Loving everything. Caring for everything, even when it hurt her. The Great Beast; D-Reaper; even…
"L-Lucemon?" Trembled a voice from within the darkness. Responding to the sound of the name, and the strangely familiar voice that had spoken it, he opened his blue eyes.
His eyes settled on the figure of a girl with short, dark hair and crimson eyes that he knew all to well. Her face was smudged with dirt and red from sunburn, and her eyes, though hollow looking in appearance, still contained some spark of emotion at what she had just stumbled upon. Strangely, he felt a protective urge flow through him.
Noriko…Aiko's daughter…what is she doing here? This…this is no place for her…
"You…" Lucemon coughed. "What… are you doing… here?"
Noriko did not answer him, and instead began to inch away from the angelic Demon Lord, her eyes wide with fear and… something else. Revulsion? But why…?
Lucemon suddenly felt his body seize as a fresh wave of pain ripped through him as he felt his data destabilize for a brief second. His back arched, and he gritted his teeth to stop himself from crying out.
Even so, despite his efforts, a quiet groan escaped his lips. That was all it took for Noriko to stop moving away from him and look at him with concern.
"Are you all right?" The girl asked, reflexively taking a step towards him before pausing. Lucemon took a moment to wonder about what he saw in her eyes before sitting up to face her more fully.
"No," Lucemon whispered hoarsely. "No I'm not. Something… is wrong with me."
Three days ago he had found himself on this plain, continuing his journey to his level of the digital world. While making his way through the seemingly endless desert he had encountered…something. More precisely, it had attacked him. Strange wire like constructs, similar to what he had encountered during the war against the D-Reaper, but at the same time not; he had fought against the D-Reaper before, and he knew quite well what he sensed then. Whatever it was that had attacked him, it did not share the sense of malevolence that the D-Reaper had. He hadn't thought much of the injury that he had sustained in the battle… at least not until the first signs that something was wrong with him began to appear. Destabilization of data; a feeling of weakness, pain, disorientation, exhaustion…what humans termed as the whole nine yards. He didn't know what it was exactly that had happened, though he had some theories.
He had heard whispers of a program known as the X-Virus making its way through various plains along the digital world, wiping out digimon. There had been movements of large populations of digimon in response to it, as well as rumors that the Royal Knights were abroad as well to manage them. He hadn't taken them seriously when he first heard about them, though he had brought the issue up with the Celestial's as he felt that it was concerning enough to be worth investigating…
Now he wondered if those rumors had something concrete to them after all.
"There's nothing you can do for me," said Lucemon finally.
For the first time since he had seen her in this dark place, Noriko's eyes softened and she took a step closer towards him, the fear and disgust instantly vanishing from her eyes. She was about to say something when suddenly Lucemon was hit by another bout of pain. This time more than he had ever experienced before! He felt his data destabilize in such a manner that it felt like his body was trying to tear itself apart!
Or perhaps…something was trying to tear its way out of him.
Lucemon gave a bloodcurdling scream as a red Hazard symbol flared to life on his chest. His body blurred and phased out of view for a moment before shattering! The girl screamed in surprise and jumped back, falling over backwards. In her mind, Noriko was awhirl with confusion. Part of her was unable to comprehend what it was that had just happened while still another part knew full well what it was that she was seeing and refused to accept it. As she sat there watching, the shards of data began to break apart and disintegrate, and her mind paused. She wasn't all that knowledgeable about digimon but she had seen enough in the past few days to know that this meant that a digimon was affectively dead. Her mind screamed out against it. Though she hadn't accepted what Lucemon had done back when she knew him in the real world, what he had done to the Tamers, she had after a fashion understood his reasons. And to end like this… this kind of death…this suffering…
She didn't believe that anyone deserved to disappear like that.
No sooner then she had given voice to that denial a bright light suddenly appeared before her, illuminating the whole room. It reached out and connected with the shards of data, pulling at them and attempting to force them back into cohesion. A small amount of data however was separated from the rest and cast floating into the air. The light focused on the remaining data, attempting to fuse it together, but something seemed to prevent the data from doing so. Instead of combining as one, the cloud of data particles collapsed into two distinct forms, one light, and one dark.
…And one dragon.
Noriko sat there in shock as the white light began to dim and take shape as it fell into her hands.
A digivice… Noriko's mind whispered unknowingly to itself as her eyes traced over its white, arced shape and the silver trim around the screen.
The sound of a vicious growling caught her attention.
Looking up with widening eyes, Noriko saw a black colored reptile with red stripes staggering to its feet, pupils dilated while next to it an all too familiar, angelic child lay on the ground. Clutching the digivice to her chest Noriko began to back up nervously…
The action caught the attention of the dark dragon.
Before Noriko could react a searing heat slammed into her body, knocking her to the ground. Pain erupted throughout her body. A gasp escaped her mouth as her mind tried to grasp what was going on. The pain was everywhere. Her nerves were practically singing it! She felt something in her body let go and suddenly the pain began to feel…distant. She felt as though she was falling away from the world around her…things were starting to become faint.
As the world began to darken in her eyes she felt her energy drain away from her…
The last thing that she heard was Lucemon's cry of rage.
Lucemon was struggling to his feet when BlackGuilmon attacked…
As the angel watched in horror, BlackGuilmon's crimson fireball flew towards the girl and smashed into her, her body beginning to break apart into bits of data as she hit the ground.
Data that began to flow towards BlackGuilmon.
Lucemon suddenly found himself filled with a great surge of strength as he threw himself at the dark reptile. He still felt rather weak from…whatever it was that had just happened. He didn't understand it precisely but at this point was beyond caring. All he knew was a great rage at what he had just witnessed. It consumed him… it was all he knew.
As his hands made contact with the dark dragon's neck, the newly created digivice that now lay abandoned on the ground like so much refuse once more burst with light, enveloping the two combatants in its embrace. The two digimon screamed once…
And then there was darkness.